Tuesday, October 22, 2002
MarkBernstein.org
 

Australia

I, too, doubt the wisdom of this war against Iraq, but I think Jill lets politics foul up her historical sense when she writes that

The idea appears to be that if Australia helps the big boys, the big boys will protect Australia. They didn't though, not during the second world war.

Coral Sea and Guadalcanal saved New Guinea and, probably, Northern Australia from becoming part of the East-Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. No, it wouldn't have lasted, but it wouldn't have been a pleasant memory. That Fucking Island was about saving Australia. It was a terrible effort, and Americans fought there despite a firm policy of Germany First. For Australia, there was no other choice.

Germaine Greer (who Jill cites) is really expressing an old resentment about Germany First. This made some sense, from an Australian perspective, at the time: why, after all, was it more urgent to fight in Europe than at home? Yes, this was a colonial decision. But, in retrospect, Germany First seems a very good idea.

Germany's last stand was astonishingly tenacious; if it had lasted just three months longer, nuclear bombs -- many nuclear bombs -- would have ended that war. This would have changed everything. There would have been no Berlin crisis, because there would be no Berlin. The winter of 1945/46, with radioactive crops, radioactive ports, and crippled transport -- would have been truly horrific. What would have happened to the Red Army, caught in a hell that it could hardly understand? Between radioactivity and guilt, radical proposals to deindustrialize Germany might have found a receptive audience in the West, and Germany might have been made into a new Carthage.