Magazine article The Spectator

Devastating Tactics

Magazine article The Spectator

Devastating Tactics

Article excerpt

I spent most of last Sunday evening yelling insults at my TV screen. 'Berk!' I shouted. 'Twat!' Then later, 'Oily creep!' 'Traitor!' 'Tosser!' The first person to draw my ire was Franklin D. Roosevelt. He hadn't hitherto been that high on my list of historical hate figures -- poor old dying polio bloke with his blanket over his knee, I used to think -- but then I had not before seen part four of the excellent Warlords (Channel 4, Sunday).

This final episode dealt mainly with the embarrassing way that Roosevelt's bienpensant, patrician optimism allowed Stalin to run rings around him in the last years of the war, with disastrous consequences for almost everyone, but especially for Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe.

Here, straight from the horse's mouth, was Roosevelt's brilliant gameplan: 'If I gave Stalin everything I possibly can and ask for nothing from him in return, noblesse oblige he won't try and annex anything, and will work with me for a world of peace and democracy.' Not long afterwards, 'Uncle Joe' -- as so many in the West would insist on referring to him in a desperate act of collective wishful thinking -- was offered the perfect chance to demonstrate this noblesse oblige when his advancing forces reached the Vistula. Needless to say, he preferred instead to show his true colours by ignoring Roosevelt's and Churchill's requests to help the Warsaw uprising, only doing so at the very last minute when he knew it was too late.

All this had a catastrophic effect, not just on the Poles -- at least 150,000 of whom were killed, among them the wounded soaked in petrol by the Germans and burned alive -- but on the thinking of the three great Allied leaders. Roosevelt allowed Stalin's cynical last-minute U-turn to persuade him that Uncle Joe was open to reason; Stalin learnt that he could do what the hell he liked without fear of rebuke from Uncle Sam; Churchill, meanwhile, realised that, if Britain was to find a place in this new world order, it had better abandon principle and start cutting sneaky deals on the side with Uncle Joe.

Would the Cold War have been any less chilly if Roosevelt had got tougher with Stalin earlier on? That's one for the historians to thrash out, but I'll bet you this -- Roosevelt's limp gestures of appeasement won't have poured oil on troubled waters because appeasement never does. It just puts off till later the resolution of problems which should be solved today.

And here we go, all over again, with fundamentalist Islam. Having shamelessly pandered to the IRA in return for no concessions whatsoever, our government is now bending over backwards to appease the politicised Muslim grievance industry by sucking up to organisations like the Muslim Council of Britain. …

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