Saturday, August 16, 2008

Re, French could have preempted Hitler in 1936

Lydia quoted me to say, "6) The big difference between 1936 and 2003 is that in 2003, the US was interested. Would Britain have opposed Saddam on its own? I rather doubt it."

Lydia then wrote, "The big difference between 1936 and 1939 is that in 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany. Following the defeat of France, Britain stood alone. Was the US interested? No."

Lydia, You home in on an irrelevant point in regard to Hitler's invasion of the Rhineland, the disinterest of the U.S. But you are right on that point. I said as much. The prevailing U.S. opinion at the time was that Europe was always fighting amongst itself and the U.S. had no reason to get involved. Kennan is the first one I've read who suggested that the U.S. should have abandoned its isolationism and have stopped Hitler at some point prior to 1939, say in 1933. Even in 1936 it would have been theoretically possible. But it would have been politically impossible. Wilson took the US into World War One, but the Isolationist prejudice had reasserted itself shortly thereafter. This is well known, but how do you explain the British and French not enforcing Hitler's violation of Locarno?

You say the difference between 1936 and 1939 is that England and France declared war on Germany in the latter year, but consider the Treaty of Locarno: Britain, France, Germany, Belgium Italy and Poland signed that treaty. Germany violated it by militarily entering the Rhineland. [Note that the U.S. didn't sign this treaty. There is no reason to mention the U.S. in this matter.] But you seem in a mood to justify the actions of Britain and France; so why do you think it was proper for neither country to oppose Germany's breaking of this treaty by sending a military force into the Rhineland?

Lawrence Helm

No comments: