Saturday 24 June 2023

For neo-cons it is always 1938 but they don't understand 1938 - Americans see foreign policy as overwhelmingly moralistic

It is good to be reminded that the League of Nations was set up on the assumption that the USA would be a member. The arch neo-con Robert Kagan, husband of Victoria Nuland, who has never apologised for his support for the invasion of Iraq and still thinks it a good thing, talking about his latest book back in February said this.

Advisors to Chamberlain are very clear that whatever else was true, the number one factor in his mind was the fact that he couldn't count on the United States and not count on the United States to come join the war against Germany, but merely to be a reliable supplier of goods during the war, as it was during World War I. And as it would later become after the Lend-Lease and other programs of the late thirties and early forties. But during that period when the Neutrality Acts were in place, the United States would not have been able to help, according to congressional legislation, would not have been able to help if there were a war. And so a tremendous missed opportunity came in 1938 when Hitler really was taking an extreme gamble in trying to take over Czechoslovakia. If France and Britain had supported the Czechs, the Czechs might well have succeeded in fending off the German invasion and Hitler, it might, well at that point have been overthrown. His military was gearing up to overthrow him if he invaded, and the French and the British defeated Germany. It's interesting to think about that today because of course today Ukraine is sort of in the position of Czechoslovakia, but lo and behold, this time they are fighting and they're fighting with the support of allies and look what's happening to Russia. Something similar could have happened in 1938, and the world would've looked like a very different place.

For neo-cons it is always 1938 (Paul Gottfried) but it is interesting that Chamberlain told the US ambassador Joe Kennedy, father of John, that 'America and the Jews were responsible for the war'. This is in contrast to Kagan's view that American neutrality prevented war in 1938.

To me it seems that it was impossible to contain Germany if the Soviet Union was outside the European system - and it had to be because Poland and Czechoslovakia did not want Bolshevik troops on their territory. 

I think the two priorities for British policy should have been to avoid war between France and Germany, in which Britain would have had to get involved to prevent a German victory, and to avoid war with Japan. In this respect our fatal error was to let our alliance with Japan lapse under strong American pressure. 

We need not have got involved in a war between the Soviet Union and Germany if the Polish question could have been resolved. Instead the British guarantees to Romania and Poland encouraged Poland not to find a modus vivendi with Germany along the lines of the proposals Germany suggested in late 1938 (extraterritorial railway and road across Polish corridor and the free city of Danzig returning to Germany).

The truth is that in 1938 and 1939 everyone, to use a rugby expression, fumbled the ball. And so they did in Ukraine after the Biden administration took power.

Robert Kagan's reading of 1938 is the one that is regarded as true and this tells us much about American policy to Ukraine under Biden. Of course this policy has led to Russia's terrible and unjustifiable invasion.

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