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HomeEditor's picksWith leftist historians on your side, you can stay neutral in any war: Here...

With leftist historians on your side, you can stay neutral in any war: Here is how

Will India be judged harshly by history for not taking the side of Ukraine in the current war? Of course, we will. We are lacking liberal privilege.

There is a war happening in Europe. How can India stay neutral? Or as woke liberals, freshly graduating from Instagram, would ask: how can India in good conscience, stay neutral? The more experienced liberals, with their think tank affiliations, would agree. India must stand up for democracy and freedom. With an added flourish, they claim that there is even a practical dimension to this. In order to be counted as a great power, India must start behaving like one. And that means India cannot sit on the sidelines when there is a major conflict happening.

If nothing else, they say that India must have a sense of history. Will history forgive us unless we choose correctly between Russia and Ukraine?

What if I told you that all of this is bullsh*t? You don’t need to pick sides in a war to have moral authority in the world. You can be a great power and still be neutral in a great war. All you need is a firm grasp on historians, journalists and intellectuals. If you have them on your side, history will be kind to you.

Let me show you how, from the greatest war of all time. The two-sentence summary of World War 2 goes something like this. There was Nazi Germany, Japan and Italy on one side, known as the Axis powers. There was the Communist USSR, the United States and the British Empire on the other, known as the Allies. This might give you the impression that the three big Allied Powers joined forces and defeated the combined might of the three big Axis powers.

The reality, however, is much more curious. Not everyone on the “same side” was fighting at the same time. And some of them even switched sides midway!

Here is the real timeline of the war:

Aug 23, 1939: Communist USSR and Nazi Germany sign an alliance to conquer the countries of Europe

Sep 1, 1939: Nazi Germany invades Poland

Sep 3, 1939: Britain and France declare war on Germany

Sep 17, 1939: Communist USSR invades Poland

Sep 1939 – Jun 1940: Nazi Germany occupies half of Poland, as well as Western Europe, including France. Communist USSR occupies the other half of Poland, as well as Eastern Europe, including Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland.

Jun 1940 : Italy declares war on France, shortly before France is occupied by Nazi Germany

June 22, 1941 : Hitler breaks his alliance with Communists, invades the USSR

Dec 7, 1941 : Japan invades the US at Pearl Harbor

Dec 11, 1941: Germany and Italy declare war on the United States.

Okay, so it all seems sorted by end of 1941 at least, right? The Communists may have started the war as allies of Nazis, but they have had to change sides now. From this point onward, surely we can go with the simplistic description:

(Germany + Italy + Japan) vs (United States + Britain + USSR)

Wait! Not so fast. Something is “missing” in that list. The Communist USSR and Japan are in opposite camps. But when did the Communists declare war on Japan or vice versa?

The mind blowing reality is that they did not. Yes, all through World War 2, the Communist USSR remained steadfastly neutral with respect to Japan.

So the US was at war with both Japan and Germany. The USSR was at war with Germany, but not with Japan! And bear in mind that the USSR was fighting its war with Germany almost completely with aid from the United States. This aid included everything, from butter to tanks, planes and trucks. Even the shoes for Red Army soldiers came all the way from the US. This aid was technically a loan, but nothing was ever paid back, which means it was 100 per cent free.

And yet, despite everything that the Communists got from the United States during World War 2, not one Red Army soldier raised a hand in support of America in the fight against Japan. How is that for hypocrisy?

What was the rationale of the Communists? Well, remember mid-1941, when Nazis and Communists were still allies. In April 1941, Stalin signed a “non-aggression pact” with Imperial Japan, similar to the one he had signed with Hitler. Stalin was now looking to do to Asia what he had already done to Europe. He had occupied Europe with Hitler as his ally. Now he was going to take over Asia with Imperial Japan as his ally.

Sure, Stalin’s plans were upended when Hitler betrayed him, but that did not make him change his mind about Asia. The Soviet-Japanese pact was to last four years from the date it was signed. And Stalin made sure that the commitment was kept. So Japan could go fighting the Americans. Stalin would fight Germany with American aid. But Stalin would not raise a finger to help America against Japan.

And let me remind you what the map looks like.

See how close Japan is to the Russian coastline? But don’t expect the Communists to help you out against Japan, even if you are helping them against Germany. It is a strictly one-way street. In fact, American pilots on bombing missions over Japan who landed in Soviet territory by mistake were always arrested.

So, did history judge the Communists harshly for their behaviour in World War 2? Did history judge the Communists for starting the war as Nazi collaborators, then freeloading on American aid, without doing anything against Japan in return?

Of course not. Because the Communists know what really matters. They got the historians on their side.

In order to be a great power, did the Communists have to take sides in World War 2? Again, of course not. Because the Communists have the historians on their side.

That said, will India be judged harshly by history for not taking the side of Ukraine in the current war? Of course we will. We are lacking liberal privilege.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

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