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"Human Smoke" Dope!
Nicholson Baker has written a new book, entitled Human Smoke, in which he argues that the Alliesí fighting against the Nazis in World War II was immoral. Mr. Baker is a novelist, writing, among other works, a book about phone sex allegedly given to Bill Clinton by Monica Lewinsky, and a book about a manís desire and plans to assasinate President Bush. His only other work of nonfiction, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, appears to be an interesting lament over the destruction of original periodicals in favor of microfilming. However, I write to excoriate, humiliate and ridicule Human Smoke. This book insults the intelligence of its readers by suggesting that Great Britain and the United States, by their heavy bombing of German cities, instead of negotiation with Hitler and his thugs, lost moral justification to prosecute the war.
Mr. Baker simply ignores the fact that the Nazis were evil. The National Socialist Workersí Party of Germany was, and is to the extent it still exists, the most evil organization that humans have ever created. Mr. Baker ignores the fact that the negotiation he suggests would have reduced civilian casualties had been conducted before. Nevill Chamberlain met with Adolf Hitler and he walked away with a piece of paper that ceded him all of the territories he had conquered to that date. What did the Nazis do? They invented a phony "attack" by Poland and used it as a pretense to conquer that country, starting World War II. The Nazis were not trustworthy. What sane person would think to himself, "well, Hitler was dishonest and dishonorable the last time we negotiated, letís negotiate again!?" Apparently Winston Churchill was immoral because he thought that an untrustworthy person ought not to be trusted!
However, the vapidness of Bakerís point does not end with the fact that previous negotiations ended in disaster. Baker ignored the Holocaust, the single most evil scheme since the beginning of the world. Assume for argument that England would have held its hand from war, and instead had sent anyone, even Chamberlain again, to negotiate. France and Belgium would be part of Hitlerís dream of "greater Germania," and there would be no war to divert resources or attention from the evil "Final Solution." Such an evil undertaking would have started earlier, and would likely have completed, before Hitler got antsy enough to attack Russia. In this respect alone, Churchillís aggressive prosecution of the war saved lives.
Bakerís problems donít end there. He maintains a premise that, unless a party can fight a war free of any morally questionable act, that party loses the right to prosecute the war. Excuse me? At what point is it possible to fight a war with no morally-questionable act? The Boston colonists incited the "Massacre" by rioting. Does that make the Revolutionary War immoral in toto? Sherman marched to the sea. Should the South have won the Civil War? Whose morality prevails to determine the justification to war? Some people hold that it is evil to kill anyone in a war. Who wins a war with no casualties? Should international conflicts be decided in a game of Wii Bowling? Aside from the fact that America could in that instance hire my 11-year-old son as its champion and never lose another war, Bakerís premise is utterly, so utterly, ridiculous.
The Nazis, not the Americans and Brits, crossed a rubicon of total, devastating warfare. We crossed it with them, not out of an evil desire, but of necessity. World War II was horrific. I am no lover of war. However, the British and the United States did what we had to to efficiently demolish the evil set before us. We did not unleash that evil, we contained it.