Peter Hitchens Rethinks the Good War

Peter Hitchens has recently read Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke and Patrick Buchanan’s forthcoming Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. The two books, particularly Buchanan’s, have compelled him to reconsider some of his assumptions about the Good War. Be sure to read the whole thing, but here’s a sample:

On a recent visit to the USA I picked up two new books that are going to make a lot of people in Britain very angry.

I read them, unable to look away, much as it is hard to look away from a scene of disaster, in a sort of cloud of dispirited darkness.

They are a reaction to the use – in my view, abuse – of the Second World War to justify the Iraq War.

We were told that the 1939-45 war was a good war, fought to overthrow a wicked tyrant, that the war in Iraq would be the same, and that those who opposed it were like the discredited appeasers of 1938.

Well, I didn’t feel much like Neville Chamberlain (a man I still despise) when I argued against the Iraq War. And I still don’t.

Some of those who opposed the Iraq War ask a very disturbing question.

The people who sold us Iraq did so as if they were today’s Churchills. They were wrong.

In that case, how can we be sure that Churchill’s war was a good war?

What if the Men of Glory didn’t need to die or risk their lives? What if the whole thing was a miscalculated waste of life and wealth that destroyed Britain as a major power and turned her into a bankrupt pensioner of the USA?

Funnily enough, these questions echo equally uncomfortable ones I’m often asked by readers here.

The milder version is: “Who really won the war, since Britain is now subject to a German-run European Union?”

The other is one I hear from an ever-growing number of war veterans contemplating modern Britain’s landscape of loutishness and disorder and recalling the sacrifices they made for it: “Why did we bother?”

Don’t read on if these questions rock your universe.

“It makes me feel like a traitor to write this,” Hitchens says, “The Second World War was my religion for most of my life.” See the rest of his thoughtful post here. Hitchens will have a full review of both books in a forthcoming edition of the Mail on Sunday. I’ll post a link when the review is up.

And if you’d like to see some more of the Good Hitchens, here’s footage of him recently debating his brother, Christopher:


The Conscience of a Paleoconservative

Princeton University Press’s deluxe re-release of Barry Goldwater’s The Conscience of a Conservative last summer has apparently brought forth a slew of other, cash-in re-releases of the book as well. (I’m not sure who controls the rights to Conscience, but whoever it is appears to be very generous.) Editions of the book are proliferating, and just yesterday I ran across a rather interesting one from MJF Books.

The MJF edition has two things going for it. First, it’s hardcover, though affordably priced. Barnes and Noble has it on sale for $5.98 — compare that to the $14.95 cover price for Princeton’s paperback edition. Second, it includes not only Patrick Buchanan’s 1990 introduction to the Regnery edition of the book but also a chapter from PJB’s Where the Right Went Wrong, “American Empire at Apogee.” That makes this in effect the paleocon edition of Conscience.

On the downside, this edition suffers from editorial negligence. Although “apogee” is spelled correctly on the title page of the Buchanan chapter, it’s misspelled in the running head on subsequent pages — “epogee.” That’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t mitigate the value of the book. It’s worth six bucks just to have a hardcover of Conscience, and the PJB material sweetens the deal.

Here’s what it looks like:

Conscience of a Paleoconservative

Buying it on-line is a little tricky: doesn’t seem to have it listed at all, and the Barnes and Noble listing doesn’t provide any edition-specific details, though I know it’s the right one because the ISBN matches. (The ISBN is 9781567319033.) In fact, as far as I can tell, it’s only available from Barnes and Noble. A rather mysterious edition — I’m not familiar with MJF Books — but a good one.