Thoughts about D-day (5)


The 70th anniversary of the D Day landings is currently being celebrated in Britain, with Ireland in tow.  It is being asserted that Freedom depended on it.

A German historian was invited to take part in a discussion of it in BBC's Newsnight.  She was asked how largely D-Day figured in German awareness.  She was brave enough to say it was hardly noticed.  For Germans the watershed event was Stalingrad.

When the USA entered the war on Germany it wanted to fight it.  Britain did not.  American efforts to engage in battle in France were thwarted by Britain in 1942 and 1943.  

1942 was Stalingrad.  1943 was Kursk.  After Kursk the outcome of the War was as certain as it ever is in warfare.  Russia had developed a military expertise equal to that of Germany, and Russian resources were greater.

If, after Kursk, the Second Front had been delayed for a further year, the probability was that the War started by Britain would simply have been won by Russia—the Anti-Fascist War would have been won by the force which Fascism had arisen to save Western civilisation from.

That is not a certainty, of course, but it is very much more probable than that Hitler would have done what he did, if the Danzig issue had been settled by negotiation.

Therefore Britain allowed the Second Front in 1944 and a Western presence was established on the Continent (with Britain acting as a drag on American energy), though the hard fighting continued to be done by Russia.

Britain had been calling the US/UK alliance with Russia "the United Nations" since 1942.  In 1945 a world organisation called the United Nations was established and grandiloquent statements of Rights were issued by it.  These statements were understood in essentially different terms in Russia and the West.  Russia had no more intention of giving up Communism than US/UK had of giving up Capitalism—it would be surprising if it had, since it was only Communism which had the power to resist and defeat Nazism.  

Fascism had been recognised frankly by Churchill as a force within capitalist civilisation, which dispensed for the time being with the conflict of parties in the Parliamentary system which had become anarchic in the disrupted condition of Europe after the Great War, in order to save the system.   (See for example The Times report of Churchill's speech in support of Mussolini in Rome, 21.1.1927.)

Erratic and destructive conduct of foreign policy by Britain led it to declare war on Nazi Germany, with which it had been collaborating for five years.  Then Fascism came to be depicted as a common enemy of humanity that had somehow risen above the conflict of Capitalism and Communism and was the deadly enemy of both.  And it was pretended that the UN declarations related to a common medium of life created by common opposition to this transcendental enemy.

Churchill understood that this was nonsense.  He had to play along with it, but he was looking for ways to resume the old conflict before the War ended.  When the War ended with Communism in control of central Europe he favoured strong measures against it, but the power to apply those measures lay elsewhere, and the US was not ready to use them until it was too late.  Russian development of nuclear weapons determined that the war within the unprincipled alliance against Germany should be a Cold War in Europe, fought by small proxy wars elsewhere.


That Fascism was as Churchill depicted it in the 1920s and 1930s was demonstrated by the easy transition to capitalist democracy arranged by the Spanish Dictator, Franco—and by the rapid establishment in Germany, after only token 'de-Nazification', of functional multi-party democracy, utterly unlike the chaos of Weimar ultra-democracy.

Fascism, while curbing fissiparous party-politics that had become destructive of social cohesion, always allowed considerable scope for individualist economic enterprise.  And free enterprise, combined with a narrow range of party politics in which nothing fundamental is ever at issue but much is made of slight differences, appear to be the essential components of what the Western Allies meant by Democracy.  It was not what was meant by the Eastern Ally which broke the power of Nazi Germany.

Franco, in the course of a generation of Fascist dictatorship, scotched the divisive political elements and made possible the transfer of Spanish life to party-political democracy within a strong, unquestioned national state under the form of constitutional monarchy

Spain had been neutral in the World War during the two years when Britain was running it.  But it might be argued that he saved Britain in that period by refusing Hitler's urgent offer of a joint campaign to return Gibraltar to Spain.  If the Straits had been closed to the Royal Navy, the widely scattered pieces of the British Empire—the Elsewhere Empire as Casement called it—would have lost their hub, and the great wheel would have collapsed.

In June 1941, when the War changed its character and became the Anti-Fascist War, Franco joined it on the Fascist side.  He had deplored the Anglo-German War as a kind of Civil War.  When Germany invaded Russia, he joined it—but without prejudice to his neutrality in the Anglo-German War.  He denied that there was any integrity to the combination of those two Wars by the Anglo-Russian alliance.

After the War Spain, while still a Fascist dictatorship, became an important member of the military alliance of Western democracies against Soviet democracy, NATO, demonstrating that capitalism was the fundamental thing in Western democracy.

There was an easy transition in Spain from Fascism to Western democracy because the capitalist infrastructure of democracy was in place.  When the Soviet system broke up under Western pressure in 1990 and Westernising set in, the result was a grotesque caricature of Western democracy because there was no capitalist infrastructure.