Why we fought WWII

Not, apparently, to make the world safe for democracy:

As a result, we liberated one half of Europe at the cost of enslaving the other half for fifty years. We really did win the war against one genocidal dictator with the help of another. There was a happy end for us, but not for everybody. This does not make us bad—there were limitations, reasons, legitimate explanations for what happened. But it does make us less exceptional. And it does make World War II less exceptional, more morally ambiguous, and thus more similar to the wars that followed.

And also the wars that preceded it.

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6 Responses to Why we fought WWII

  1. RS says:

    Eastern Europe got a sweetheart deal, relative to what Hitler had in store for them. Maybe he would have had a hard time wiping them out if there were no war on. (For example Op T4, the euthanasia of schizos and such, was pondered in peacetime but considered politically impossible until there were bullets flying. Fighting made available the logic that heroic injured warriors needed the same facilities that were occupied by the dramatically disabled.)

    But Hitler, in case of victory in Europe, would have at least had the excuse of possible future war with the USA. He would also have had the most political capital and adulation of anyone since Augustus – or maybe since the birth of the cosmos. I think he would have found a way to at least make sure that conquered Slavs had few children, but it could easily get much worse. Being conquered by Uncle Joe and taxed at the Laffer max is paradise compared to some things. Though maybe some of the Soviet Empire’s provinces were taxed somewhat above the Laffer max; I’m not certain.

    • Foseti says:

      That’s tough. I have to say that I’d pick living under Hitler over living under Stalin if those were my only choices.

    • sconzey says:

      Erm; I’m not sure how well Laffer’s theories apply to a command economy.

      As to -cides, I think people find Hitler so terrifying (hangovers of inter-war propaganda notwithstanding) is that his killing was internally consistent; there was a twisted, terrifying logic to it. If you were disabled, or homosexual, or jewish etc. whereas the poor souls Stalin sent to the gulags were chosen semi-randomly, and justified ambiguously. People could kid themselves that if they kept their head down and worked hard they’d be okay.

      Maybe similar to how people are okay with car accidents, but terrified of serial killers and paedophiles.

      Hitler or Stalin? It’s hard. Not being homosexual, Jewish or disabled, it’d be in my rational self interest to go with Hitler, but I’m not comfortable with that. Maybe Hitler still, because Nazi Germany was easier to escape than the Soviet Union.

  2. Tschafer says:

    Stalin killed about one million Eastern Europeans, according to “The Black Book of Communism”, he deported several million others to the GULaG, and looted the entire area of just about every piece of industrial equipment. Hitler may have been planning worse, but that’s a little bit more serious than being taxed at the Laffer max…

  3. Tschafer says:

    It’s also important to remember that the Romanians, the Hungarians, the Bulgarians, and a good many Ukrainians, Belorussians and Balts fought for Hitler, not entirely unwillingly, so we can guess their opinion on the whole Hitler-Stalin thing. Of course, they may have been wrong, and there’s no doubt that Hitler had some nasty surprises in store for the Ukraine at least; and if you were a Jew or a Pole, there’s no doubt Stalin was better. But Eastern Europe is a pretty diverse place, and who would have been better depends a lot on who and where you were.

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