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When a Significant Book Strikes You

Occasionally the lyrics of a song can make a great impression on the listener. They aren't just trying to rhyme. Nor are they wailing about their frustrated lusts and infatuations. The thoughts are important and fundamental, and they managed to make them so concise that they fit into a song. Incredible!

Books can be like that, too. The 'soul' of the reader is so weary of being insignificant flotsam, rushed along by the cultural effluvium of the times. If it manages to get even a glimpse of a truthful Big Picture, then life hasn't been wasted.

That is the effect that reading a book had on me, recently. The book was Pat Buchanan's "Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War." You may enjoy the book even if you don't agree with every opinion of his.

Here we are, a century after the 'Great War,' and we are still suffering the consequences of World Wars I and II and the Cold War. None of the fundamental assumptions of the American Empire ever get talked about in the daily news. 

The glorification of the military can not be questioned in America. Flying on an airplane for the first time in 20 years, I noticed them announcing that military personnel were allowed to board the plane first. How hopeful it would have made me if ten civilians had shouted 'Why?' when that announcement was made. At least I had the satisfaction of boycotting my sister's burial in a national military cemetery, you know, with all the other "heroes who have sacrificed to protect our freedoms." I would believe in the Easter Bunny before I believed that whopper.

By taking aim at the foundation (or 'creation') myth of the American Empire, the "Good War" of World War II, Buchanan is doing a bold thing. Doesn't it seem strange that an Irish Catholic kid like Pat would be such a radical debunker of the prevailing myth of modern America?

Perhaps not. Maybe the greatest courage is likely to be demonstrated by the believers in one myth, such as Buchanan's Catholicism, when they take aim at a rival myth.


  1. Normally I'm not interested in attempts to rewrite history but I did order this book and will give it a try. I always remain hopeful, as I think you do as well, that somehow humans can find their way beyond war as the method of choice. However, I have resigned myself to accept that as wishful thinking for I believe, based on the evidence, that war is in our DNA. I think if we weren't so able to be so ruthless and so aggressive that we would have become extinct long ago.
    So sorry to hear it was your sibling.

    1. Of course, history wouldn't need to be RE-written if it had been objective and balanced in the first place. But somebody -- usually with something to gain -- gets control of the narrative, and the widely-accepted "official" version becomes myth and propaganda.

      Be careful about saying that "war is in our DNA." Tribal squabbling and suspiciousness need not lead to modern, mechanized war. And getting sick of war pretty quickly is also in our DNA.

      It is the power of the modern state over the ignorant masses (aka, the cannon fodder) that leads to modern war.

  2. It is not just Pat's Catholicism but also his Conservative political beliefs. Everyone knows that all Conservatives want nothing more than more wars. For him to debunk the "Great War" will give him grief from both sides of the political aisle.

    The same kind of grief that he would get if he pointed out that WWI was started by a Progressive (Wilson), WWII a Progressive (FDR), Korea a Progressive (Truman), Vietnam two Progressives (JFK & Johnson). Since then all the 'small wars' have been started by Progressives from both political parties but the only one that has received any opposition was started by Bush II. Now the Progressives are clamoring for war with Russia and/or China, I just hope The Donald can keep us out of one.

    1. It is really too bad that the insatiable bloodlust of conventional Republicans and Protestant Bible-Christians gets confused with terms like "conservative." Nothing is more un-conservative than a political system dedicated to permanent war.

    2. A correction, Ed. The US did not start any of the wars you mention except Iraq/Afghanistan, hardly "small" wars. Regardless, most of the "small" wars and Iraq/Afghanistan could have been avoided if more of our members of Congress would have done the right thing and shut down the imperialists and propagandists.



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