Townhall features an interview with Victor Davis Hanson, whom it describes as "a renowned conservative scholar of ancient history and military affairs."
He starts off by offering some candid observations on WWI:
If one were to look at the nature of German aggression in Europe, the nature of German colonies overseas, or what the German agenda was, it seems to me that it was very different than the liberal tradition in France and England that prevailed. It's a tragedy that it had to end in a war like that, but given the superiority of the German Wehrmacht in 1914, I don't know any other way how anybody would have stopped it.The Wehrmacht didn't exist in 1914. I'm nitpicking, I know, but a renowned scholar of military affairs should probably know better than to use this term.
He goes on to explain the cause and effect of the Great War in terms that anybody can understand:
The ambitions of the German Kaiser were so ambitious, I don't know how anybody could have done anything other than what they did. They would have either had to appease them or capitulate. It was a tragedy. But I do think there was a qualitative difference in the fact that the Allies won.Hanson is nothing if not judicious, so his daring theory that it actually made a difference who won WWI should not be taken as mere grandstanding. Indeed, we may be on the verge of an entirely new conception of armed struggle in the 20th century.
What does it take to develop a historical perspective like Hanson's, you ask?
I think it takes a half century.... It takes the death of people, and that's usually 50 years.This is what gives Hanson liberty to compare the Iraq War favorably with America's past missteps:
I'm not saying it was a blunder, but you could easily have used that terminology when we armed the Soviet Union and it killed 30 million of its own people to stop Hitler.I must say, I've never heard it phrased quite that way before.
Hanson goes on to observe that the Sherman tank was not all it might've been, as though this "blunder" were comparable in scale to a war that was launched against no identifiable enemy for no coherent reason, and has dragged on for six years without any clear definition of victory, let alone any clear evidence of it.
But perhaps I'm being too harsh. The thing about Iraq is, all that's required for it to be successful is for everything to turn out well, so maybe we should just stop worrying about it.
[I]f we stay and we are successful in creating a constitutional government, then you can see that that would be an amazing achievement. It would not only make Saddam Hussein's Iraq an ally rather than an enemy that attacked its neighbors, but it would have a very deleterious effect on Iran.If that's all we wanted, it sounds as though we never should've turned against Saddam in the first place.
Kidding aside, there's a point at which Hanson's nonsense stops being amusing, no matter how morbid your sense of humor may be. Get a load of this:
As far as the losses, I don't quite understand it. I don't like to be heartless, but in six years we've lost about the same amount of soldiers we lost in two or three days in a major campaign in World War II.I can actually explain the concern over these losses (which we'll pretend for a moment don't include Iraqis): A bunch of people are upset because people they love have died; the rest of us feel bad for them. It's really not that fucking complicated.
Hanson adds insult to injury by claiming that these deaths are somehow comparable to peacetime accidents:
I think in the eight years of the Clinton administration we lost over 7,000 dead in accidents.He's wrong, needless to say. But he'd be just as wrong even if he were right; 7000 accidental deaths under Clinton couldn't justify these deaths to any sane person, let alone lessen their devastating impact on survivors. Quite the opposite, in fact.
What makes this ghoulish lie even more offensive is that we know Hanson won't change his tune if American fatalities in Iraq officially reach the phony Clintonian milestone of 7000; if that sad day ever comes, he'll still be marveling that we've dared to go "into the heart of the Caliphate" (yes, that's an actual quote), and insisting that it'll all seem worthwhile once "the death of people" allows the correct historical perspective to emerge at last.
UPDATE: A commenter notes that Hanson may have been using "Wehrmacht" generically in reference to the German army, navy, air force, and intelligence service of 1914, rather than to the 1935-1945 entity the world has come to know and love. The possibility had occurred to me, and I stand by my belief that "a renowned scholar of military affairs should probably know better than to use this term."
The argument was welcome, though, because it raises a question I hadn't considered: Even if we were to accept this (at best) idiosyncratic usage, would it really be accurate to speak unequivocally, as Hanson does, of "the superiority of the German Wehrmacht"?