Thursday, May 12, 2005

An Isolationist Re-interpretation of WWII

Isolationist-conservative Pat Buchanan (with past Nixon and Reagan administration affiliations) who, in 1992, made a stunning call to arms over a self-perceived "culture war" in America, has penned a controversial column questioning the world's understanding of WWII.

Because the war was fought to defend Eastern Europe and because Eastern Europe, subsequent to the outrage at Yalta, fell behind the odious iron-curtain, Mr. Buchanan feels the war was fought in vain.

He fails to mention the moral imperative of fighting the terrorists responsible for the holocaust. He also leaves out the fact that the West continued resisting totalitarianism for half a century after WWII (Mr. Buchanan himself being a cold warrior); consequently, the immoral Russian Revolution was turned back and the liberation of Eastern Europe was finally achieved.

Not surprisingly, his column has provoked strong controversy.

This is an important discussion for Indians to follow since there is a deep isolationist tendency among many Indians as well. Our advocates of military reticence (in the name of peace & prosperity, they say) do not see strategic value in moral imperatives. To them, India should mind its own business and befriend its neighborhood dictators, even if the latter are leading their nations (thus our neighborhood) over a socio-political cliff.

They also fear that India's muscling our neighbors into democratic modernity, notwithstanding the moral validity of such action, might provoke all sorts of terrible outcomes, some (e.g., China's ire) even worse than current nightmares. This is basically Pat Buchanan's argument over why the West should've kept out of WWII.

We reject such thinking completely, believing instead that it is India's moral duty to persuade, failing which coerce, our neighbors into political modernity. It's possible this leads to short-term costs, but there is no denying the long-term gains that will accrue. Pat Buchanan is wrong about West's role in WWII; so are Indians who'd rather not set unilateral standards for modern political conduct in our neighborhood.

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