Point of Attack: Preventive War, International Law, and Global Welfare, by John Yoo (Oxford, 272 pp., $35)
‘There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action,” said Winston Churchill in his Iron Curtain speech of 1946, “than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe.” Had they confronted Hitler over Germany’s remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936, or the Anschluss of Germany and Austria in 1938, or his aggressive claims on the Czech Sudetenland later that same year, the French and British could have prevented the war — because Germany was still weak.
Instead France and England waited to declare war until Germany actually attacked Poland in 1939. But by then Hitler had already undone the straitjacket imposed on his country by the Treaty of Versailles and had put Germany in a position of overwhelming strategic superiority. By 1939, the conquest of Europe could no longer be averted.