by Terry Plotkin
Recently, I looked at the last 60 years of wars that the U.S.A. has engaged in and found little reason to have fought any of them. Now let’s retreat backwards further back in to history. I have heard it said that WW2 was the last “Good War” because Hitler was so bad. There is no such thing as a good war, but sometimes, albeit rarely, they do become a necessity. I remember a veteran of that war, who was a strong advocate for peaceful resolutions of conflicts, saying that, “He had to be stopped.” I know this is true. Hitler is the worst bully of all time. He was never going to stop until someone made him. Serial killers and sociopaths are like that. Some people say if you have to use violence you should still not hate your enemy, but, instead, feel love for him and honor him even as you hurt him. That is a tall order, and it probably would make you a worse fighter. The best fighters are those who have their backs to the wall with everything to lose. At that point, fear will not rule. This was the approach needed in that war, and there are times, human beings being what they sometimes are, where this is the case. WW2 was like that. I am very glad we won. It made a real difference for the world, then and now. I thank those who fought it, my father included. I doubt I would be here had Hitler triumphed.
However, WW2 did not happen in a vacuum, but was a sequel of WW1. And WW1 was a scandal of the highest magnitude. That horrible war was the one we entered on the side of England and France against Germany in 1917, 3 years after Europe had been busy bludgeoning itself to death for reasons that cannot be logically explained. (Russia pulled out in 1917 when its soldiers left the battlefield after realizing how wrong it was and how it didn’t serve their interests. Had Russia stayed out of the fight altogether then perhaps the communists would not have taken over. This would have served the cause of workers everywhere by removing the taint of socialism that the Bolsheviks created.) I remember being taught that WW1 was fought because of nationalism, and a system of alliances that were triggered when there was an assassination in the Balkans. Really? That is the best reason they can come up with for a fight that killed 20 million people? It was an atrocious, European, imperialistic event. What stake did we have in that ugliness? What did we gain from our sacrifice? We could have said that the war is wrong, that it is insanity on a mass scale, and that it serves no ones interest but the power hungry, profiteers, and the Grim Reaper. The only thing the United States should have done was to offer to be an honest broker to help put an end to the carnage. Had we not entered, that war would have probably ended a few years later in a stalemate with everyone exhausted, but Germany would not have been humiliated, blamed, and forced to pay reparations. If that had not happened then perhaps the conditions would not have been created for the rise of Fascism and Hitler. If true, then WW2 could have been avoided. There is no way to know for sure, but at least we would have taken the high ground in a very low time.