]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]      A 50-YEAR-OLD LESSON        [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[
                                                          (12/8/1989)
       This editorial appeared in The Wall Street Journal
                       (Europe) 1 Sept 1989.

            [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 20217GIAN]


     Fifty  years ago today, the lights in Europe started  to  go
out for the second time in the 20th Century. Before they came  on
again,  the most terrible conflict in human history had  engulfed
five continents and consumed 50 million lives.
     World War II destroyed the fascist regimes of Germany, Italy
and  Japan, but of course it did  not eliminate  totalitarianism.
Stalin,  emerging as a victor, looked on his former  allies  with
contempt as he rang down the Iron Curtain and made Eastern Europe
the world's largest prison.
     Such  profound thinkers as George Orwell and  Hannah  Arendt
then  feared  that  totalitarians might yet  conquer  the  entire
world.  Orwell  in  his  book  "1984"  described  the   merciless
efficiency  of a modern police state, and his warning  was  taken
seriously  in  the  West.  Rightly so,  because  Stalin  and  his
disciples,  under guise of communist egalitarianism, were  busily
creating such states.
     Now  we  know  that  the  Stalinist  scourge,  as  with  the
Hitlerian  one, could be effectively resisted,  given  sufficient
courage and will power. The human spirit is resilient enough  and
the love of freedom deep enough to survive the jackboot.
     Even  in the aftermath of World War II, there were  positive
political  changes  in  world  politics,  some  of  them   little
perceived  in  the U.S. even today. The 1940s war  furthered  the
breakup, begun in World War I, of ancient class systems in Europe
and  in Asia that had restrained the creative energies of  people
for  centuries. Broader-based democracy  submerged  nationalistic
impulses,   moving  Western  Europe  towards  a  true  sense   of
community.  Some Asian nations, having discovered the  liberating
influences  of  market  economics, have  been  moving  away  from
authoritarianism   and  towards  Western  concepts  of  law   and
individual  rights.
   Indeed, non-communist nations as a whole have become more of a
community, with the U.S. democracy and its $5 trillion economy at
the center. Japan and Germany have become serious economic rivals
to  the U.S. but friendly competition in the production and  sale
of  goods and services is to be welcomed, not feared  by  peoples
seeking higher living standards. There now is a remarkable degree
of  economic policy coordination among  non-communist  industrial
nations.
     War   must  never  be  taken  lightly,  but  World  War   II
dramatically  illustrated  the  consequences of  fearing  it  too
much.  The  lesson  can't be repeated too often. In  a  new  book
entitled  "How War Came," British historian Donald  Cameron  Watt
reviews   yet  again  the  tragic  sequence  of  events   between
September,  1938, when Czechoslovakia was dismembered at  Munich,
and  September,  1939, when Hitler and Stalin carved  up  Poland.
Britain's  Neville  Chamberlain  acted  out  of  a  sincere,  but
misguided,  "incredulity  that  anyone of an age  to  have  lived
through the events of 1914-18, let alone to have fought in  them,
could,wittingly,  wish to go to war again." He did not  see  that
Hitler,  motivated by a deep hatred for a society  that  rejected
him,  was  a  natural  destroyer. His  hunger  for  conquest  was
whetted,not  diminished, when he learned how easy it was to  dupe
and bully the aristocrats of Europe.
     We  now  believe  that  had the  ancien  regimes  of  Europe
resisted  Hitler early on, World War II would not have  happened.
They  were  too  weak,  morally,  spiritually  and,  of   course,
militarily. The war began a restorative process, and particularly
so  when  the U.S. took a hand. That  restoration  proved  strong
enough to resist the postwar totalitarians in Moscow. Today, with
communism in decline and Moscow itself looking for new answers to
its  deep-seated social, political and economic problems, we  can
believe  more strongly than ever before that Western  democracies
will not only survive, but prevail.
     Future generations may look back on the mid 20th Century and
conclude it was then than imperialism, mercantilism, and  statism
reached their zenith and were finally discredited. More and  more
regimes   have  concluded  that  power  cannot  be  enhanced   by
territorial  conquest  and oppressive control of   the  populace.
Economic  and  political  power is flowing to  nations  that  are 
freeing  up their systems and joining the global economy.
     But as bright as this future might be, it is still perilous. 
The  Soviet Union may yet conclude it is too far behind  to  ever 
catch  up with the West's vibrant economies and attempt to  seize 
power  through  conquest or intimidation. That is  why  the  Free 
World  will be risking so much if it falls once more  into  self-
delusion and moral decay. The enduring lesson of World War II  is 
that  the  costs  of appeasement and  unreadiness  are  far  more 
terrible that the price of military preparedness and vigilance.

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