Ally de jure, enemy de facto

Comment on The Times article We led the war effort, say British — others disagree by Lucy Fisher, May 8, 2020

The poll is asking the wrong questions.

The UK and the US allied with one of the two genocidal regimes in Europe against the other one. Collectively, they succeeded in defeating one enemy, while the other enemy expanded its occupation zone, gained international recognition and the ability to control the newly formed United Nations. That must be called for what it is: a failure. The war against Germany was won, but the war against the Soviet Union was lost.

The need for a myth of fighting a good war, being heroic and making all the right choices is tempting to all nations. The truth is more prosaic. The desire to create a myth and hold on to it may be understandable in the years immediately after the conflict, when the wounds, sacrifices and the loss of the loved ones is so palpable. However, as the years go by, one would hope for a more intelligent analysis.

The western Allies won the war against the Germany and Japan only, while losing it to the Soviet Union. Soviet Union won the war against everyone else. British and American governments deceived themselves and their citizens about USSR suddenly becoming their ally, when it was not.

Soviet Union was an ally de jure, i.e. on paper only, but not the facto. The inability to properly process these basic facts, was a self-inflicted wound.

The West tries desperately to cling to the binary logic, good guys vs the bad guys, although ever since 1917 this approach continued to fail. The situation has changed. The rise of the Communist state in Russia using different logic and different methods, a widespread terror and increasingly more sophisticated genocidal techniques, was an intellectual challenge, which the West, taken collectively, miserably failed to meet.

Antony Beevor wrote a very sensible comment in The Telegraph yesterday: “75 years on, have we got the Second World War all wrong after all?”

Indeed, you have.