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A necessary war

Posted by Richard on August 30, 2005

Callimachus has a wonderful new post at Winds of Change. A lot of people have declared various wars — from the American Revolution to Iraq, and especially Iraq — to be "unnecessary." He wondered what, in their eyes, a "necessary" war would look like, and offered his own idea:

I’ll give you my version of a necessary war: The brief 1936 conflict between Germany, alone, and France, Britain, and Czechoslovakia.

It began when Hitler, the German dictator now little remembered in history, marched 20,000 troops into the Rhineland demilitarized zone, in violation of articles 42 and 43 of the Treaty of Versailles. France pulled itself out of a political crisis and united behind this threat from its old enemy. It used the treaty violation as a pretext to declare war.

Go read the rest. It’s a marvelous alternate-history idea very nicely told. I especially like his take on what your average opponent of the Iraq War, transported back to 1936, would say about the "unjust and unnecessary" war on Hitler’s Germany.

Great minds think alike: In the comments to my post, "Purity" vs. principles, which discussed the right to self-defense and the non-aggression principle, Eric and I exchanged some ideas about the morality of pre-emptively killing Hitler.

Eric proposed that killing Hitler would have been justified in 1929. I disagreed, but thought it certainly would have been justified in 1939. I argued that somewhere between 1929 and 1939, "the decision tips, depending on the evidence available to you and your best judgement."

I like Callimachus’ idea of taking action in 1936. By then, it should have been clear that stopping Hitler was necessary and justified, and his sending of troops into the Rhineland provided the perfect excuse for military action. And I love the fantasy scenario of the French acting decisively and unilaterally.  

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3 Responses to “A necessary war”

  1. Anonymous said

    You know, the last time the French acted decisively that I know of is 1914. I think that the Guns of August and the subsequent four years of slaughter broke the will of the French in ways that are still being felt. I remember in August, 1990, my plane, en route to Saudi Arabia, had to make a refueling stop in Paris. We weren’t allowed off the plane because the French had not decided to openly support the effort against Saddam, and the French government didn’t want anyone to know that American planes were using French facilities. Sad.

  2. Anonymous said

    Well, at least you were spared all the insults, condescension, and sneering superiority. And the B.O.

  3. Anonymous said

    There is that. I took a vacation in Paris in 1987, actually, while I was stationed in Germany. The city is fabulous, but the only part of town where anybody was worth a damn was the Latin Quarter, which is primarily foreign university students. Go figure. It was clear, the bit of time that I was in Paris, that the French have lost that spark that made them a great people. And in the nearly two decades since, it has become even more clear, by their actions. Standing by while the Balkans went down the tube, doing the same with Rwanda, outright participating in the Iraqi corruption, opposing anything that might strengthen the US position in the world, even if it hurt them at the same time. Sad to see such a formerly great nation in the state they have been in since 1916. Did you know that most French deny the mutinies of the French Army during WWI? Even though they are well documented historical facts?

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