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Posted Tuesday, September 21, 1999


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Monday, September 20, 1999

Buchanan Downplays German Threat

By DOUGLAS KIKER
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Pat Buchanan, a possible candidate for president under the Reform Party banner, maintains in a new book that following the Battle of Britain in 1940, Germany's ability to threaten the United States with attack "was history."

Buchanan also wrote that a promise by France and Great Britain to support Poland in the face of a German invasion might have contributed to the spread of the war to Western Europe.

"By 1939, it was virtually impossible to save Poland, but the democracies of Western Europe and the Jewish population of Western Europe might have been saved," Buchanan said, in summarizing some of the points in his book "A Republic, Not An Empire."

Buchanan argues in his book that Adolf Hitler was not a direct threat to the United States after 1940 and his ambitions for conquest were toward the east, not the west.

"Hitler's real ambitions lay in carving out an empire in the east ... He had given up the idea of global empire," said Buchanan, a frequent critic of U.S. intervention overseas.

But, Buchanan said the United States was right to fight in Europe after Germany declared war.

"Of course we should have fought because Germany declared war," Buchanan said in an interview Monday.

Buchanan wrote in his book that the British and French declarations of war against Germany in 1939 forced Hitler to focus some of energies fighting on the Western Front, and that in turn "bought Stalin two extra years to prepare for Hitler's attack -- and thus saved the Soviet Union for communism."

Buchanan's interpretation of the threat of Hitler is not accurate, said Roger Chickering a professor of history at Georgetown University's Center for German-American relations.

"That Hitler was eventually going to war with the Poles was without doubt," he said. "Hitler had been planning that a successful European war was but a prelude to a worldwide conflict with the United States. There are not many historians anywhere that believe he should not have been stopped."

One of Buchanan's potential rivals for the Reform Party nomination, New York developer Donald Trump, criticized Buchanan's views Sunday.

"Buchanan denigrates the memory of those Americans who gave their lives in the Second World War in the effort to stop Hitler," Trump said in the statement. "I am proud of the role that the United States played in defeating the Third Reich."

This is not the first time that Buchanan's words have sparked criticism. In 1991, he referred to the U.S. Congress as "Israeli-occupied" territory while discussing his opposition to the Persian Gulf War. The following year, he said there was a "religious war going on for the soul of America" in a speech to the Republican National Convention.

Buchanan said Monday that people need to read the book for themselves.

"I implore people: Please read the book and do not rely on misrepresentations and falsehoods about it," Buchanan said.

It is not clear how Buchanan's comments on World War II might affect support for his possible bid for the Reform Party nomination.

"It clearly shows his protectionist views," said Dean Barkley, chairman of the Minnesota Reform Party and an opponent of Buchanan's switch to the party. "This was a poor example he chose to illustrate that protectionism."

But, Barkley acknowledged, there exists a faction of the Reform Party that might agree with Buchanan's positions, particularly those who agree with his strong anti-NAFTA and anti-GATT leanings.

Russell Verney, national chairman of the Reform Party, said that Buchanan, like all candidates, will have to explain his views to voters.

"Every candidate is going to have to speak to their past actions, give his vision for the future and be responsible for their own campaigns," Verney said. "It should be a vigorous debate."

Our opinion
BUCHANAN joins the ranks of a growing number of historians and commentators who agree with the position first stated by David Irving in his biography of the British war leader, Churchillıs War, vol. i.

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