I’m going to side with Robert Farley against John Quiggin on the nature of the settlement of the Second World War. There’s definitely a sense in which it all worked out for the best in the end, but the conclusion of the war in Europe was both very harsh on the Germans and also a spectacular failure in terms of cosmic justice. You can see this by contemplating the fact that a war France and Britain nominally launched for the sake of saving Czechoslovak and Polish independence concluded by sentencing Poland and Czechoslovakia and a great many other countries to decades of Soviet domination.
From the standpoint of 2010 one looks at prosperity in Central Europe and peace throughout the bulk of the continent and concludes that all’s well that ended well but there were an awful lot of twists and turns between here and there. What’s more, blogging from the vantage point of Ramallah it’s hard to miss the fact that the “Jewish Question” in Europe was substantially solved by creating one heck of a loose thread here in the eastern Mediterranean.
On all of these points, it’s not clear that there were a ton of realistic options available to the Allies to produce something more satisfactory but it’s really only relative to the carnage of 1914-1945 that the subsequent 45 years look like a good deal to anyone.