From Ta-Nehisi Coates, who just finished a history of the Second World War by Antony Beevor:

This is what is ultimately most troubling for me about Beevor’s work. He—all at once—catalogues all the flaws of the Allies, but robs you of your moral superiority. How should we think about the Soviet Union, which, among “The Big Three,” bore the brunt of the Nazi assault? On one page Beevor will profile their heroic stand against an Army  [that] sought to starve them out of existence. On another he will profile that same Army raping its way to Berlin. How do you think about the subjugators of Poland and the liberators of Auschwitz, when it’s the same Army?

By reading Vasily Grossman‘s epic novel of Stalingrad, Life and Fate. Anyway, Coates continues:

Perhaps in the same way you tink about a Union Army enforcing emancipation, only to turn around and enforce the pilfering of Native American land. Perhaps in the same way you think about Britain holding out against the Nazis, while ruthlessly warring against Kenyans fighting for independence. During the Bush years there was a lot of debate about the usefulness of the concept of “evil.” I don’t have much trouble naming “forces of evil.” What I have trouble with is naming “forces for good,” to say nothing of “good wars.”

IMAGE: Dresden, Germany, 1946 (William Vandivert, Life magazine)


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