Really, Pat Buchanan? Really?
Why, when Paris fell, did Hitler not demand the French fleet, as the Allies demanded and got the Kaiser’s fleet? Why did he not demand bases in French-controlled Syria to attack Suez? Why did he beg Benito Mussolini not to attack Greece?
Because Hitler wanted to end the war in 1940, almost two years before the trains began to roll to the camps.
Hitler had never wanted war with Poland, but an alliance with Poland such as he had with Francisco Franco’s Spain, Mussolini’s Italy, Miklos Horthy’s Hungary and Father Jozef Tiso’s Slovakia.
Indeed, why would he want war when, by 1939, he was surrounded by allied, friendly or neutral neighbors, save France. And he had written off Alsace, because reconquering Alsace meant war with France, and that meant war with Britain, whose empire he admired and whom he had always sought as an ally.
Now, this is not the first time that Pat Buchanan has expressed the opinion that Hitler is a tragically misunderstood figure who only killed about 14 million Jews, homosexuals, Roma, people with disabilities, Russians, Catholics, and other people who committed the sin of being not-sufficiently-Aryan because the Allies were mean ol’ bullies. In Buchanan’s mind, Hitler was simply going about his business, taking over Czechoslovakia because they only gave him the Sudetenlandand he wanted a better view of Hungary, and invading Poland because they wouldn’t agree to let Germany have Gdańsk, when suddenly, wham-o!, the Allies decide to fight him, simply because they had an alliance with Poland. The nerve! Then, what choice did he have but to commit mass genocide on a breathtaking scale? I mean, it’s pretty much the obvious course of action, am I right?
This is, needless to say, completely and utterly blinkered. Matt Yglesias does a nice job of summarizing:
[I]t’s perfectly clear that Hitler did want to invade Russia. The need for a German-Soviet war to obtain lebensraum was long at the center of his thinking. That’s whyGeneralplan Ost was prepared in the early years of the war and called for German occupation of vast swathes of Soviet territory. The answer to Buchanan’s riddle of how Hitler intended to invade Russia when Russia and Germany were separated by Poland is, of course, that Hitler intended to conquer Poland, the very thing that Buchanan is perversely trying to deny he intended to do.The real question for Buchanan is why, if Hitler had no intention of marching through Poland into Russia, did he follow up his conquest of Poland by breaking the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and invading Russia? The answer, of course, is that Hitler wanted to conquer Eastern Europe and the western USSR from the beginning.
The answer, of course, is that Pat Buchanan wants to believe Adolf Hitler was misunderstood, and wasn’t an enemy of America and the West, because deep down, he finds much of what Hitler stood for to be admirable. He’s anti-gay (not homophobic; he doesn’t fear homosexuals, he wants to eliminate them), he’s racist, he’s sexist, and he’s deeply, offensively anti-Semitic. He has trafficked in Holocaust denial, going so far as to refer to “group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics” from those suffering from “so-called Holocaust survivor syndrome.”
I know, I know, Godwin’s law says that I can’t say Pat Buchanan is a Nazi sympathizer. So I’ll just quote the man himself:
Hitler was also an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier in the Great War, a political organizer of the first rank, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him…Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path.
–Patrick J. Buchanan, 1977
So Pat Buchanan is an avowed admirer of Adolf Hitler who once claimed that nobody was gassed at Treblinka because “Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody.” This is not news. We’ve known this for thirty years. And yet he keeps showing up on MSNBC, over and over and over again.
I frankly don’t know what it would take for Pat Buchanan to lose his job at this point, although he most certainly should. Decent societies may let anti-Semites speak, but they don’t invite them to dinner parties. But in a way, I’m glad he sticks around. One can draw a bright line from Buchanan’s 1996 Presidential run — when he won New Hampshire and threatened Bob Dole for the nomination — straight through to the teabagger movement today. When Pitchfork Pat called on his supporters not to wait for orders from headquarters, but to mount up and ride to the sound of the guns, he inspired the worst elements of the right. He is the voice of a large segment of the Republican Party. And he is a supporter of the worst human being to live in the last two hundred years. And those two things, sadly, are not in conflict.