On Monday, far-left journalist Ben Norton defended former astronaut Scott Kelly for his apology in positively referencing Winston Churchill (read the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein for more on that). According to Norton, Churchill was an unusually bad person in that he defended using chemical weapons.

What Norton leaves out is that Churchill was referring to insurgents not innocents, that he was motivated by saving the lives of British forces, and that Britain's future wartime prime minister did not actually employ lethal agents anyway. That is not to say that British imperial policy was nice, but that the facts make Churchill's words far less egregious than they first appear. But then Norton followed up with two more tweets which deserve more attention.

Let's be clear, Norton's contention that the Soviet Union, not the Western allies, were responsible for proffering freedom from Nazi tyranny, is utterly absurd. While it's true that the USSR took grotesque casualties in its campaign to defeat the Nazis, and that the former USSR populations deserve respect for those losses and their gutting of the Nazi manpower reserves, the USSR did not wage war either in the same manner as the other allies, or for the same objective.

On the first count, where the Soviets relied on their massive manpower to overwhelm the Nazis, the allies used a mix of forces under integrated strategic planning to outmaneuver Hitler's forces. This allowed for casualty mitigation and retention of territory. But the USSR's wartime leader, Joseph Stalin, also heavily prioritized his armed forces over civilian interests. That meant the deaths of perhaps more than 10 million Soviet citizens due to impossibly harsh wartime living conditions. And let's not forget how the pre-1941 Soviet alliance with Hitler helped make Nazi territorial ambitions a reality.

Still, Norton's central idiocy is his contention that the USSR was responsible for the postwar democratic peace that came to exist in Western Europe. One need only look at the political developments that followed the war's end in 1945 to understand how false that is. Where the U.S. and the Western allies restored democratic peace to areas under their control and protection, the USSR imposed totalitarianism. By 1950, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania were all firmly under Moscow's dominion. Any semblance of democratic power or accountability in these lands was ruthlessly purged. In contrast, the U.S. gave Europe — including its erstwhile enemies — freedom and the Marshall aid plan. And so America planted the roots of prosperity and unity that would eventually birth the European Union.

It's worth considering one final point here. Namely, that what might have happened had America's vast war economy not been focused against the Axis and in support of the USSR thru lend-lease and massive infusions of equipment and fuel. America's absence from the war would have enabled Japan to consolidate its Pacific empire and then look to the rich resources of Siberia. In addition, considering that Germany retained an average of more than 50 divisions on its western front from 1943 forwards, the absence of a U.S. military threat would have enabled the Axis to mobilize at least 30 more well-equipped divisions and supporting logistical elements (such as fuel) against the USSR during that period. Would that additional force provision have been enough to break through the Russian lines in the Kursk-related offensives of summer 1943? When one considers how many more aircraft the Germans could have sent east, it's certainly an interesting proposition.

The U.S. and the Western allies played an indispensable role in defeating Nazi Germany and replacing it not with the tyranny of a leader who had once aspired to divvy up Eastern Europe with Hitler, but with democratic peace. Had the USSR dictated the war's outcome, its aftermath would have been characterized by communist totalitarianism across the European continent. Keeping his beleaguered and wearied nation (the First World War's carnage was recent memory) going until American help could arrive, Winston Churchill was and remains one of history's very greatest leaders. And if you want a good example of what America meant in World War II then read about the Holocaust and watch the video below.