July 07, 2006

More revisionist history from the States

This guy is Charles Krauthammer (great name, utterly unpronounceable) and he's written an opinion piece for the Washington Post.

He writes:

Our big wars — and the war on terrorism ranks with the big ones — have a way of starting in the first year of a decade.

By way of example he includes 1861, 2001 and… 1941. Yes, that's right. According to Krauthammer (an apt name if you split it in two in the right place), World War Two began in 1941.

His point – if there is one – seems to be that in 1861 and 1941, things were sorted within five years (works fine when you fiddle the figures!), and that after 2001, Bush hasn't "won" the War on Terror. Well, no shit, Sherlock.

Now, it's not a particularly good point, as it could be argued that 1861 and 1941 were ever so slightly different to the "war" that began in 2001. Perhaps 1,000,000 died in the American Civil War, many of disease. It's estimated that 62,000,000 died in WWII. And how many have died in the War on Terror? 10,000? 60,000 if you include those killed in Iraq?

Krauthammer is talking nonsense, his metaphor is crap and his revision of history is offensive to those who died between 1939 and 1941.

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  1. Chris Hawley

    As factually incorrect as it is to say that WWII started in 1941, most Americans will probably see it as having started then as they weren't involved until the Pearl Harbour bombing in December of that year.

    As for the "war" on terror… surely you need an actual enemy rather than terror, which last I checked was a psychological entity… but either way, I suspect that all the "War on Terror" will actually do is to make things worse for people. When will America (and to an extent Britain) learn that meddling with other countries isn't a wise idea, and just pisses more people off…

    07 Jul 2006, 22:16

  2. It's pretty arrogant of them to assume that a war only began when they joined in…

    07 Jul 2006, 22:19

  3. Chris Hawley

    Well that sounds like Americans to me…

    Plus if you're being really pedantic about the war, it only ended in 1990 when Germany was re–unified, so it took slightly longer than 5 years even if you do fudge the figures.

    07 Jul 2006, 22:23

  4. No–one was at war with East Germany until 1990 though, were they?

    07 Jul 2006, 22:55

  5. Chris Hawley

    No, but since Germany didn't exist as a single country between the end of hostilities in 1945 and 1990, officially the war couldn't end, or something like that at least.

    07 Jul 2006, 23:31

  6. And if you belive Niall Ferguson, then WW2 began in 1937 not 1939.

    08 Jul 2006, 10:07

  7. But no–one believes him, except for the American University which pays him ££££££££ to work there.

    Which says it all.

    08 Jul 2006, 12:23

  8. Chris Hawley

    True the war didn't really start until 1939, but you can see the argument for saying that it started in 1937, given how (at that time) Germany was going round annexing countries while the rest of the world just sat back and watched, thinking "Well, they're only reclaiming their territory, it'll be fine"... until they realised in 1939 that perhaps they weren't going to stop there, and that something needed doing about it.

    08 Jul 2006, 12:32

  9. Actually, the 1937 reference is to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, not Hitlers annexing of any country (which anyway happened in 1936 and 1938)...if you take a global perspective on history its very arguable. Enough eurocentrism! Trust me, I'm an historian.

    08 Jul 2006, 17:13

  10. "Trust me, I'm an journalist" doesn't quite work so well, does it?

    08 Jul 2006, 17:59

  11. It's on par with "trust me I'm a doctor" or "trust me I'm a techie" or "trust me I'm Jeffrey Archer

    08 Jul 2006, 22:47

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