World War II myths justifying Iraq war

Peter Wilby, in last Friday’s Guardian, posted this article exploding some of the myths about World War II which are commonly used to justify the war in Iraq, particularly the last justification used after all the others have been demolished: that it was all about good democrats getting rid of an evil, fascist dictator. I found parts of it painful to read (both of my grandfathers served in that war and this country would really be a very different place if it had been lost), but there are important points in it, among them that the war was not really a moral struggle against fascism but a war “to maintain the balance of power and prevent a single state dominating the continent” and to prevent a major rival to the USA appearing in the Pacific. I am not even convinced by this myself - the very survival of the UK was under threat and Japan had serious plans for an occupation of the western USA and Canada, and (perhaps unlike France) both countries could fight, so they did, and the obviously monstrous nature of Hitler motivated people to fight in a way that a resurgent Prussian or Hapsburg-type empire might not have done. However, the fact that the losing side in that war perpetrated the Holocaust amplifies the moral superiority of the victors (and perhaps invites comparison with atrocities such as Halabja), despite the fact that fighting the war prevented serious action to arrest the Holocaust, which (or something like which) the governments of the US and UK knew was going on.

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