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High life

High life

15 December 2012

9:00 AM

15 December 2012

9:00 AM

Religion is in decline, tradition takes a back seat to fashion, and same-sex marriage is now looked upon as normal. Previous taboos are accepted, such as swearing on television, and watching films about flesh-eating zombies and blood-sucking vampires feasting amidst car crashes and explosions, not to mention non-stop violence on screen. How to balance ethics and entertainment seems to have been lost for ever among the creative types our media take so seriously. But it’s Christmas time once again, and the one thing the Christian religion preaches is to live in peace with our fellow man, which I suppose makes Christianity one hell of a failed doctrine.

Let’s face it, nothing is less Christian than war. Christianity promotes brotherly love, social and cultural continuity, and charity. Show me a war leader with such traits and I’ll show you one big loser. The first world war was the kind of mindless slaughter that led to Bolshevism in Russia and Hitlerism in Germany. Two great evils came about because of a great evil perpetrated by posturing popinjays in London, Paris and Berlin, and in that order. Germany lost its Almanach de Gotha in the trenches, not to mention the British and French nobility who bit the dust. I still insist that, if Germany had won in 1914 in the Marne, the world today would be a much better place.

In 1939, Poland was betrayed by the Nazis and the Soviets, as well as the Anglo–French. The last two went to war with brave words, but not a single rifle was sent to help the bravest people of Europe. No one went to Poland’s rescue in 1939, and no one helped in 1945. The Brits didn’t even have the courtesy to allow the Poles to march in the victory parade after Germany had surrendered. To paraphrase Churchill, some allies. Our own Anne Applebaum’s latest book chronicles the slaughter and betrayal of our ally and it breaks one’s heart to read it.

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Twenty million Germans died between 1939 and 1945, with two million German women alone being raped postwar by the commies. The Russkies, too, lost 20 million, but then enjoyed 40 years of playing big man to eastern Europe. Now comes The Untold History of the United States, by Oliver Stone, an old adversary of mine with whom I’ve now made my peace and agree very much on certain parts of his, shall we say, extremely controversial theories about his country. But unlike most other historians, Oliver has paid his dues. He won a bronze star in Vietnam as a grunt, even though he could have got deferments as he was at Harvard and near the top of his class. Stone sees Uncle Sam as a rapacious imperialist, citing American repression of the Filipino struggle for independence around the turn of the 19th-20th century, and the repeated US interventions and covert operations in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. He names capitalism as the bogie man. He also says that the United States, not the Soviet Union, bore the lion’s share of responsibility for perpetuating the Cold War.

Now that’s not what the great Greek historian Taki has taught us all these years. Yet Stone has a point. Stalin never trusted the west, but he had no designs on taking us over from the outside. Trotsky did, but thank God someone had stuck an ice pick in his head in 1940. Ironically, I disagree with Oliver only on empirical grounds. I travelled throughout the communist world all during the late Fifties playing tennis, and the one thing that always struck me about the people living behind the Iron Wall was the lack of smiles. In fact, the proof is incontrovertible. I’d seen very poor black townships in the American south, as well as the poorest sections of Harlem in New York, yet the smiles were there. Not in Budapest, or Bucharest, or Warsaw, for that matter. Not to mention Moscow, where I found myself in 1957.

Where I totally agree is Stone’s take on the two atomic bombs we dropped on the gallant Japanese. They were wholly unnecessary and the US knew it, for the Japanese were willing to surrender by May 1945. They only wished to keep their emperor; moreover it was the Soviet invasion into the Japanese theatre that precipitated the surrender. The myth that it would have cost a million American casualties if Uncle Sam had had to invade was invented after the war. According to Stone, the bombs were dropped in order to warn Stalin what he had coming to him in case he got big ideas. I agree on this, perhaps because of my love for the Japanese. But one thing is certain: the bombs were morally indefensible.

Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945–56 is proof of the godlessness of communism and its evils. Oliver Stone’s Untold History is a very courageous effort to set the record straight, and I applaud both writers. America has now become a nation permanently militarised, which seeks permanent hegemony over great swaths of the land mass of this planet. Uncle Sam has run up a debt whose numbers cannot be fathomed by anyone sane. And he continues to expand his military industrial complex making some people very, very rich. Yet the good uncle claims to be a Christian, which brings me back to where I came in. Unless we revert to Christian doctrines, and stop waging wars, we shall find ourselves either totally broke or very, very dead. I’d like to end up neither, but for the 36th year in a row and despite the gloomy message I wish all Spectator readers a very, very happy Christmas.

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