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a brief history of World War II

Provoked by this interview, which is worth reading even if you don't agree with Mr. Baker.

There really isn't a short history of WWII that doesn't oversimplify everything. Americans commonly believe that the war started on December 7, 1941 when the Germans Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, but Europeans know that it really started in September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. On the other hand, the Chinese have a good case for saying that it really started in 1931 when the Japanese took over Manchuria, but on the other tentacle most people agree that the Spanish Civil War wasn't part of WW2 at all despite having volunteer contingents from just about all the major combatants present on one side or another. (It wouldn't surprise me to find out there were Chinese and Japanese in the International Brigades or among the handful of Nationalist volunteers; there were, after all, Irish fighting on Franco's side, and they managed to stay neutral in WW2, probably out of residual spite at the English.)

Anyhow, it doesn't pay to consider the war as an isolated incident anyway, given that it grew directly out of the punitive clauses of the Versailles Treaty, which in turn was France's revenge for their humiliating defeat during the Franco-Prussian War. So you might as well take it as the last act of the Franco-Prussian Wars that started in 1871. When did it end? The consensus is that it was all over on V-J Day in 1945 when the Japanese signed the articles of surrender on board the USS Missouri, but Berlin remained an occupied city by the four Great Powers until the Berlin Wall fell at the hands of impatient Berliners in 1989. So technically, that's when it was really all over, over there.

EDIT: Wow, more topical and timely than I thought. Lo, Clive Davis gives Senator Obama a rhetorical kick in the ass in the Spectator, reminding him that "There were, in fact, some isolated outbreaks of fighting before Pearl Harbour." LOL.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
tokenfanboy
Mar. 20th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
One question I've had for years now. Considering the sheer number people that are currently employed by the Government at one level or another rather than private business, did the US ever actually recover from the Great Depression?
wombat_socho
Mar. 20th, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC)
From the way some "progressives" act, we haven't recovered from the Panic of 1893 yet.
qob
Mar. 20th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
I believe it's Mark Steyn (could be Christopher Hitchens) at Slate that posits that the war began in 1914 didn't end until 1945.
wombat_socho
Mar. 20th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
Well, the Brits and their Empire weren't involved in the Franco-Prussian War, but that's like us saying that World War II didn't start until late in 1941.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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