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Dangerous Summer

February 2024
1min read

John Lukacs replies: What is this man writing about? In my article, I deplored, and regretted, the condition that the Western democracies would not have been able—indeed, they were not able—to conquer the Third Reich by themselves. That is very different from the advocacy of a quid pro quo. In World War II Britain and the United States fought Germany, Italy, and Japan rather than “totalitarianism.” If the raison d’etre of the United States is to war against totalitarianism, we should hasten to declare war not only against the Soviet Union but against Bulgaria, Zimbabwe, Iran, Nicaragua, Angola, Libya, Uganda, Albania, China (President Nixon’s favorite), etc., etc. My typewriter is running out of ribbon.

No novelist would dare concoct the series of remarkable coincidences that helped England survive the military might of Germany in “The Dangerous Summer of 1940.” History is often stranger than fiction.

But is it good history for author John Lukacs to assert that by the end of 1941—with the heavyweights, Russia and the United States, finally lined up with England—Hitler and his Axis partners were “doomed,” caught in the “war they could not win”? Were remarkable coincidences necessarily at an end now that the bigger battalions were on England’s side?

In others of our longer wars—the American Revolution, the Civil War, Vietnam—it is difficult to maintain that one side or the other was foreordained to win, and World War II is no exception. Victory for the Allies was by no means so certain as it may seem now in the security of hindsight.

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