They went to war for Poland, but Winston Churchill abandoned Poland to Stalin. Defeated in Norway, France, Greece, Crete and the western desert, they endured until America came in and joined in the liberation of Western Europe.
Yet, at war's end in 1945, Britain was bled and bankrupt, and the great cause of Churchill's life, preserving his beloved empire, was lost. Because of the "Good War" Britain would never be great again.
And were the means used by the Allies, the terror bombing of Japanese and German cities, killing hundreds of thousands of women and children, perhaps millions, the marks of a "good war"?
Cohen contends that the evil of the Holocaust makes it a "good war." But the destruction of the Jews of Europe was a consequence of this war, not a cause. As for the Japanese atrocities like the Rape of Nanking, they were indeed horrific.
But America's smashing of Japan led not to freedom for China, but four years of civil war followed by 30 years of Maoist madness in which 30 million Chinese perished.
For America, the war was Pearl Harbor and Midway, Anzio and Iwo Jima, Normandy and Bastogne, days of glory leading to triumph and the American Century.
But for Joseph Stalin, it was also a good war. From his pact with Adolf Hitler he annexed parts of Finland and Rumania, and three Baltic republics. His armies stood in Berlin, Prague and Vienna; his agents were vying for power in Rome and Paris; his ally was installed in North Korea; his protege, Mao, was about to bring China into his empire. But it was not so good a war for the inmates of Kolyma or the Russian POWs returned to Stalin in Truman's Operation Keelhaul.
Is a war that replaces Hitler's domination of Europe with Stalin's and Japan's rule in China with Mao's a "good war"? We had to stop the killers, says Cohen. But who were the greater killers: Hitler or Stalin, Tojo or Mao Zedong?
Can a war in which 50 million perished and the Christian continent was destroyed, half of it enslaved, a war that has advanced the death of Western civilization, be truly celebrated as a "good war"?