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Churchill Embroils the United States in War

England’s 1914 guarantee of Belgian sovereignty resulted in a death struggle with Germany that only US intervention and 53,000 American dead could rescue it from . England took the same path in 1939 when it guaranteed the sovereignty of Poland, which it could do nothing to secure (Poland’s sovereignty was lost to the Soviets in 1945). The action of 1914 lost England it naval preeminence; the 1939 action lost England’s empire, bankrupted the country, and cost the US over 292,000 battle deaths by 1945.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Churchill Embroils the United States in War

“Although the war had begun in Europe the scattered empires of friend and enemy were drawn ineluctably into the struggle. “Neutralization-plans,” said Sir Eyre Crowe, “are a futile absurdity. What is wanted is to strike hard with all our might in all the four corners of the world.” [The] Foreign Secretary told Colonel House, President Woodrow Wilson’s personal emissary, in February 1915, England would continue the war indefinitely. Publicly, the government was committed to the Prime Minister’s pledge given at the Guildhall on November 9:

“We shall never sheath the sword which we have not lightly drawn until Belgium recovers in full measure all . . . and until the military domination of Prussia is wholly and finally destroyed.”

In pursuit of victory, the cabinet explored many schemes. A naval blockade would hasten the process by cutting off vital shipments of war material and food. Sensitive consciences – not yet anaesthetized by casualty lists from Flanders – were disturbed by the stringency of the blockade policy.

[Board of Trade President] Walter Runciman was warned by his erstwhile colleague Charles Trevelyan:

“I feel great uneasiness about the trend in action of the Government towards trying to exclude German food-supplies passing through neutral countries . . . I do implore you to take care what you are doing. It would be bad enough to alienate Dutch opinion. But it would be infinitely worse if you alienate the USA. Remember that under very analogous circumstances the USA went to war with us against its will.”

Trevelyan feared that the government would act precipitately, especially if Winston Churchill’s influence were not checked. But the Foreign Office was alive to the danger of antagonizing the Americans. As Professor Link has written in the third volume of his biography of Woodrow Wilson: “Conciliation of America was perhaps the Foreign Office’s chief concern at this early juncture.”

The War Lords,” wrote Walter Runciman on 6 January 1915, “are sad in their stalemate, & Winston in particular sees no success for the Navy (& himself) anywhere” [and it seemed that] sturdy endurance as a method of waging war had a limited appeal. The [British] war council and the cabinet weighed great strategic alternatives and investigated the promise of mechanical contrivance in tipping the balance against Germany and Austria. On 25 February 1915, the minutes of the war council record:

“Hankey proposed (a) igniting German crops and (b) distributing a “blight” over the crops. Mr. Lloyd George approved the idea: Mr. Churchill saw no objection to burning the crops, but drew the line at sowing a blight, which was analogous to poisoning food. Mr. Lloyd George did not agree. A blight did not poison but merely deteriorated the crop.”

Churchill’s finely calibrated conscience gave him no trouble when he dealt with the desirability of entangling the United States in the war on the allied side. Walter Runciman, while trying to decide on new rates of insurance for neutral shipping [coming to England], was assailed by the First Lord [Churchill] who wrote three letters in five days urging that the rates should not go up.

“My Dear Walter,” began the first entreaty:

“It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores, in the hope of embroiling the U.S. with Germany. For our part, we want the traffic – the more the better; & if some of it gets into trouble, better still. The more that come, the greater our safety & the German embarrassment.”

(Politicians at War, July 1914 to May 1915, A Prologue to the Triumph of Lloyd George, Cameron Hazlehurst, Alfred A. Knopf, 1971, excerpts, pp. 185-189)

War Fever with Japan, 1913

 

Without the spreading of American influence to Hawaii and the Philippines under Republican administrations, the tension with Japan mentioned below would probably not have occurred.  It is noteworthy that Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of War Jonathan Daniels were both Southerners who exhibited a conservative political nature. Wilson, despite his promise to not send American men to die in Europe, was bullied into intervention by T.R. Roosevelt and his Navy League propagandists, financed by American steelmakers and munitions makers.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

War Fever with Japan, 1913

“[The] California Assembly on April 16 [1913] passed an alien land bill that prohibited Japanese landownership in the indirect manner that [Woodrow] Wilson suggested. Underneath the surface, however, an international crisis of the first order was in the making.

The Japanese representatives in Washington and the American Charge’ in Tokyo had repeatedly warned the State Department of the inevitable Japanese reaction; but it was not until public opinion in Japan erupted in full fury around the middle of April that the Washington government awoke to the realization that the two countries might be moving toward a break in relations.

The crisis was made all the more acute, moreover, when the leaders in the California Senate announced on April 21 that they intended to ignore the cautiously worded Assembly bill and to substitute a measure aimed specifically at the Japanese, by prohibiting land ownership by all persons “ineligible to citizenship.” This, and a rising war fever in Japan, impelled [President Wilson] at last to take a hand.

Firstly, on April 22 he addressed a public appeal to Californians, urging them to exclude Japanese from landownership only by polite and indirect means, and not to embarrass the federal government by making the bill openly discriminatory.

Meanwhile, relations with the Japanese government were rapidly approaching the point of tension. On May 9, the day the California legislature passed the alien land bill, the Japanese Ambassador, Viscount Chinda, lodged his government’s protest with the State Department.

The American naval chiefs, fearful of a surprise attack on the Philippines, on May 13 urged the immediate dispatch of three American warships in the Yantze River to those islands. The following day, the Joint Board of the Army and Navy reiterated the recommendation and Admiral Bradley A. Fiske warned that war with Japan was “not only possible, but even probable.”

These recommendations precipitated a spirited discussion in the Cabinet on May 16. Garrison favored strong action and approved the Joint Board’s recommendation, while [Secretary of the Navy Jonathan] Daniels argued that moving the warships would only irritate the Japanese without making it possible to defend the Philippines if war occurred.

The spreading of the First World War to the Far East, a development that Bryan tried unsuccessfully to prevent, brought a new tension in the troubled relations between Japan and America.”

(Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910-1917, Harper and Brothers, 1954, pp. 85-87)

Jul 10, 2016 - Crusaders and Revolutionaries, Future Wars of the Empire, Lincoln's Revolutionary Legacy    Comments Off on War to End War Primes Future Wars

War to End War Primes Future Wars

Without Woodrow Wilson’s entry into a European war which he had promised not to enter, the British, French and Germans would have had to settle for a negotiated settlement to the war. Author John Mosier wrote (in The Myth of the Great War): “The Americans buried their dead, built their monuments, and went home (not in quite that order). Then they forgot entirely about the war. The War Department spent the next seven years doing a disappearing act on the casualties, and did so with such success that few Americans realized the magnitude of either losses or the victories.” Wilson’s intervention cost the lives of 117,000 American men, and laid the foundation of a future war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

War to End War Primes Future Wars

“What, if anything, was achieved by this Armageddon? The German, Russian and Turkish empires were diminished; the Austrian altogether destroyed. Hungary shrank; so too did Bulgaria – and Great Britain, which by stages lost most of Ireland. New states were formed: Austria and Hungary went their separate ways; the Serbs achieved their goal of a South Slav state – called after 1929 “Yugoslavia” along with the Croats and Slovenes (as well as the Bosnian Muslims); Czechoslovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland became independent.

France reclaimed Alsace and Lorraine, lost in 1871. She and Britain also enlarged their colonial empires in the form of “mandates” of former enemy possessions: Syria and Lebanon for France, Iraq and Palestine for Britain, who had committed herself to the creation of a Jewish National home in the latter.

In the British War Cabinet’s concluding meeting before the Versailles Conference, Edwin Montagu had commented drily that he would like to hear some arguments against Britain’s annexing the whole world.

America, however, rivalled Britain as the world’s banker; it stood on the brink of global economic supremacy. As President Wilson’s vision of a “new world order” based on a League of Nations and international law was realized, if not quite in the utopian form of his dreams. Little heed was paid to the pretensions of Japan, which laid claim to Shantung, another German relic, as its share of the spoils.

Perhaps most remarkably, the Romanovs, Habsburgs, and Hohenzollerns were toppled (the Ottoman Sultan did not last much longer); republics took their place. In that respect, the First World War turned out to be a turning point in the long-running conflict between monarchy and republicanism; a conflict which had its roots in eighteenth-century America and France, and indeed further back, in seventeenth-century England.

Russia’s descent into civil war might have seemed like the achievement of Germany’s original war aim: to knock out the military threat in the East. But all the other combatants (the Germans included) came to regret the triumph of Lenin . . . [but] it gradually dawned that Soviet Russia had the potential to be an even greater military power than Imperial Russia . . .

The victors of the First World War had paid a price far in excess of the value of all their gains; a price so high, indeed, that they would very shortly find themselves quite unable to hold on to most of them. All told, the war claimed more than 9 million lives on both sides, more than one in eight of the 65.8 million men who fought in it. In four and a quarter years of mechanized butchery, an average of around 6,046 men were killed every day.

With the Kaiser triumphant [had America not entered the war], Adolf Hitler could have eked out his life as a mediocre postcard painter and a fulfilled old soldier in a German-dominated Central Europe about which he could have found little to complain. And Lenin could have carried on his splenetic scribbling in Zurich, forever waiting for capitalism to collapse – and forever disappointed.”

(The Pity of War, Explaining World War One, Niall Ferguson, Basic Books, 1999, pp. 433-436; 460)

 

Applauding the Death of Our Young Men

The Battle of the Somme was fought from July, 1916 to November 1916. This was the murderous cauldron young American men were sent to their deaths by Woodrow Wilson, the man who campaigned on a promise not to allow Americans to die in a European war. Had Wilson not intervened, Germany, France and England would have fallen exhausted into an armistice and a negotiated treaty among themselves; the German Kaiser would have remained and precluded the rise to power of a corporal named Hitler.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Applauding the Death of Our Young Men

“At 7:28 A.M. on July 1 [1916] . . . The French and the British infantry climbed up from their trenches and jumped off into the exploding unknown. Like many British commanders a sedulous diarist, Sir Douglas Haig just thirty-two minutes later was making this entry:

“Reports . . . [are] most satisfactory. Our troops had everywhere crossed the enemy’s front trenches.”

All along the line his soldiers were falling in windrows to zeroed-in enemy machine gun and artillery fire. It was a catastrophe. By day’s end more than 60,000 soldiers of the British Empire were corpses littering the field, dying men trapped in the beaten zone, burdens for the stretcher-bearers, or walking wounded.

But not one pivotal plot of ground had been won. Here and there, sections of the German forward defense zone had been shallowly penetrated, and that was all.

Haig should have called off the Somme that night and cut his losses. But having failed, he was too bulldoggish to quit. In consequence, this hideous turmoil must be recorded as the most soulless battle in British annals. The Somme deteriorated into a bloody purge rivaling Verdun. It was a battle not so much of attrition as of mutual destruction, and it continued until November 18.

[Marshal Joseph] Joffre wanted it that way. He kept prodding Haig, insisting that the offensive be continued. At the same time, noting by the numbers (infantry were but digits to him) that his own army was fading away from the effects of Verdun and the Somme. Joffre was pressuring the War Ministry to call up the class of 1917 for training, though 1916 campaigning was hardly begun. If at this time his strategic reasoning had any end in view, it could only be that the side that could scrape up the last 100,000 men would win.

The [United States] of more than seventy million had fewer than 200,000 men in its army. Its armament from top to bottom was obsolete; the cannon and automatic weapons were hopelessly antiquated, cumbersome and scarce. None would do for Europe.

[In April 1917 and after American ships were sunk supplying England with war materiel, the] President said: “There is one choice we cannot make, we are incapable of making; we will not choose the path of submission.”

The President continued to a more meaningful expression of purpose: “We must make the world safe for democracy. Its peace must be founded upon the trusted foundations of political liberty.” For the sake of [the] nation, he asked the Congress for a joint resolution declaring war against Germany.

On leaving the rostrum, Wilson got the greatest ovation of his life. Later, at the White House, he said to his secretary, Joseph Tumulty: “Think of what it was they were applauding. My message of today was a message of death for our young men. How strange it seems to applaud that.”

(World War One, S.L.A. Marshall, Houghton-Mifflin, 1964, pp. 258-260; 280-281)

The US Country-Splitting Business

The Truman administration is considered responsible for the unnecessary postwar intervention in Korea, and the subsequent Korean conflict which was greatly instigated by the Rhee puppet regime. As the internal Korean civil war began in the late 1940s, Truman only called in the United Nations “to add the weight of what was considered to be “world opinion” in support of America’s policy.” The initial American commander, General John R. Hodge, presciently commented that it would be better to “leave Korea to its own devices and an inevitable internal upheaval for its own self-purification.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The US Country-Splitting Business

“Senator Symington. “We go into this country splitting business . . . First we split Germany. Then we split China. We stay with billions and billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of people. Then we split Korea, and stay there with billions of dollars and tens of thousands of military, all at heavy cost to the American taxpayer. Then we split Vietnam . . . Now we split Laos . . . Do you know of any other country we plan to split soon?”

Mr. Porter [US ambassador to South Korea]: “No sir.”

Senator Symington: “This has been quite an interesting policy hasn’t it, over the years? . . . Our allies don’t do [this], not do our possible enemies. We do it all over the world . . .”

(William Porter Testimony, US Security Agreements and Committees Abroad, Republic of Korea, Hearings before the Subcommittee on US Security Commitments Abroad of the Committee on Foreign Relations, US Senate, Ninety-first Congress, Second Session, 1970, pp. 1579-82. Without Parallel, The American-Korean Relationship Since 1945, Frank Baldwin, editor, Pantheon Books, 197, pg. 109)

A Vast Tidal Wave of Fire Across Japan

Joseph Grew had been the American minister to Japan for ten years before the war and felt that the conflict could have been averted. Grew had not ceased to regret what he regarded as the failure of not only Japanese but also if American diplomacy. It is recalled that he reported to Washington in late January, 1941 that the Tokyo newspapers stated that in the event of a break with the United States, there would be an all-out attack on Pearl Harbor. Fleet Admiral Joseph O. Richardson pleaded with FDR to move his fleet from Pearl Harbor as it was a tempting target for the Japanese – FDR relieved him of command and left the bait at Hawaii.  The moral question of Americans firebombing Japanese civilians can be said to have its origins with an American general of the 1860’s.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Vast Tidal Wave of Fire Across Japan

“The real blitz against industrial Japan began in early March of 1945 with a series of low-level attacks that marked a revolutionary change in tactics and employment of B-29s in the Pacific. Perhaps most important: low-level attacks . . . would decrease fuel consumption, thus permitting greater bomb loads.

The significant aspect of [targeted Japanese] cities – as seen from the air – was a solid mass of one and two-story houses, over 90 percent flimsy wooden structures . . . by widespread fires could they effectively be destroyed.

After careful analysis, it was decided to make a low-level incendiary night strike against the most densely populated area of Tokyo. One of the most important contributing factors of this decision was its great element of surprise. If the Tokyo strike should be successful, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka would be hit in rapid succession on alternate nights. It was a daring plan, calling for maximum effort and maximum courage.

Tokyo, one of the world’s three largest cities, had a population in 1940 of about 7,000,000. The [incendiary] flames, started in the northeast section of the target area, were fanned over the area by a twenty-knot wind.

The Japanese were given no time to rest. Two nights later Nagoya was hit by nearly 300 B-29s. The target area was a triangle three miles long on each side. Population density in this area ranged up to 75,000 per square mile. Osaka was next. The target area was about ten square miles. On March 14, nearly 300 B-29s carried 1733 tons of incendiary bombs to Osaka, delivered from 5000 to 9000 feet. Once again, enemy defenses were ineffective.

Early on the morning of the seventeenth, Kobe hears the air raid warning signals. It must have seen the fires of Osaka three nights before. It must have known what to expect. Over 300 B-29s dropped 2328 tons of incendiaries on the urban area of Kobe. Early on the morning of the nineteenth, the wave of fire struck Nagoya again, engulfing areas . . . Over 300 B-29s dropped 1858 tons of incendiaries.

It was as if a vast, fiery tidal wave were sweeping across the great cities of Japan. There was no hiding from it, no stopping it. For the Japanese there was only the hope it would burn itself out. What made it possible?

First, daring and intelligent planning based on a thorough knowledge of the B-29 as an offensive weapon, and a complete study of the defects inherent in the Japanese industrial machine. Second, well-trained combat crews with the courage and stamina to maintain the momentum of maximum effort. Not one aircraft was grounded for lack of parts. Only 1.3 percent of the total airborne aircraft were lost.”

(Air Force Diary, James H. Straubel, Simon and Schuster, 1947, pp. 231-235)

The Atomic Jolt Forward for City Planners

The US armed the Soviet Union to the teeth as an ally against Germany, in the process creating a postwar enemy it has spent trillions combatting. The atomic age also spurred city planners into central planning action to disperse city inhabitants which triggered urban blight and suburban sprawl. Jefferson wrote: “I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health and the liberties of man”; and noted that “the inhabitants of the commercial cities are as different in sentiment and character from the country people as any two distinct nations, and are as clamorous against the order of things [republicanism] established by the agricultural interest.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Atomic Jolt Forward for City Planners

“In the atomic age, [a] report concluded, it was the nation’s newspapers that would “set the pattern and pace” of the public’s scientific knowledge and hence determine its ability to make informed decisions on life-and-death issues.”

City planner Tracy B. Augur told the American Institute of Planners in 1946 that the planning profession had a crucial role to play in guiding the urban dispersal being widely advocated as a civil defense measure. If properly conducted, he said, such a project would involve not just piecemeal resettlement [of Americans outside cities], but a whole new urban planning approach.

The starting point, he went on, was for experts to define “the qualities of social life that are worth having” and then to “plan the kind of urban structure that will make them more fully possible.” Demonstrating the readiness of his profession to rise to this challenge, Augur presented a series of charts showing how a “typical city of half a million could be rearranged from a concentrated to a dispersed form without weakening its capacity to function as a single metropolitan unit.”

Such a systematic attack on the problems of the city, Augur insisted, was in any case overdue. “Long before the threat of the atomic bomb,” he said, urban planners had warned of the need for comprehensive programs to save the American city from “the blight . . . gnawing at its innards” and to convey to the larger society their dream of a totally-planned urban environment. Now suddenly Hiroshima and Nagasaki had propelled the question of the urban future to the top of the public’s agenda.

In the realm of city planning, Augur concluded hopefully, “the threat of atomic bombing may prove a useful spur to jolt us forward!”

At long last, city planners would assume the central social role they had long sought. Having lost the public ear after their heyday in the Progressive Era, city planners, under the spur of the atomic threat, would finally take charge of urban development and guide it along rational lines.

In a 1947 address to the National Recreation Association, a longtime activist in the park and playground movement painted the familiar grim picture of mass leisure in the atomic age, but hastened to offer a solution: “The answer to all this is, of course, Education and Recreation.”

The government must take the lead, he said, in expanding the nation’s recreational resources, including “parks and playgrounds, game reserves, public theaters, opera houses, orchestras, [and] hobby centers.”

Echoing Tracy Augur’s message to the city planners, this speaker assured the recreation specialists that their profession would be crucial to society’s survival in the era of atomic energy. “Unless ability to make wise use of leisure increases,” he insisted, “there is no doubt that our civilization is doomed.”

However implausible and even comic such views seem in retrospect, they were advanced in all earnestness in the perfervid post-Hiroshima cultural climate.”

(By the Bomb’s Early Light, American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age, Paul Boyer, UNC Press, 1994, pp. 152-153)

Jun 11, 2016 - America Transformed, Future Wars of the Empire, Imperialist Adventures, Lincoln's Revolutionary Legacy    Comments Off on Deluded American Generals in Vietnam

Deluded American Generals in Vietnam

The administration of FDR spent billions arming the communist Soviet Union in order to help defeat Germany, and by 1953, the Eisenhower administration was spending billions to help a bankrupt France preserve its colonial possession in Indochina from communist takeover. The US News & World Report of July 31, 1953 states: “The French Government is serving notice that the United States must put up another 200 million dollars for war in Indochina or expect the Communists to take over that country, and, perhaps, the whole of Southeast Asia.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Deluded American Generals in Vietnam

“In July of 1963, nine years after the debacle at Dienbienphu, Denis Warner, the Australian journalist, told me how astounded he was to find the American generals in South Vietnam deluding themselves with the same false optimism the French generals had professed during the first Indochina war.

Warner . . . had just returned from a trip through the villages and rice paddies of the Mekong Delta south of the capital. Warner noted sadly that the Saigon government’s position was crumbling there just as rapidly under the hammer blows of the Vietcong guerillas as the French position in the Tonkin Delta in North Vietnam had eroded under pressure from the Vietminh insurgents in 1952.

On his return to Saigon, however, Warner had been shocked to hear the American generals assure him with the same false self-confidence the French had shown, that they were winning the war in the Delta. They had cited similarly meaningless statistics on the number of guerillas supposedly killed and on the number of fortified hamlets that had been supposedly built. “I’ll bet I could dig out my old notebooks and find almost identical statements by the French,” Warner said.

The enemy was no longer called the Vietminh. They were now know as the Viet Cong (Vietnamese Communists), but they were the same black-clad little men, lean and hardened by years of warfare, determined to finish the revolution they had begun against the French in 1945 and to unite Vietnam under their rule. At home in the United States, most Americans, just as the French before them, were too preoccupied with their own lives to become interested in a war in a small Asian country thousands of miles away . . . Many probably didn’t even know where Vietnam was.

Listening to the Americans one got the impression that the French had fought badly and deserved to lose. In any case, they said, the French had been attempting to maintain an outdated colonial system and thus were doomed to failure. They, the Americans, knew how to fight wars, since they had defeated the Nazis and the Japanese and had bludgeoned the Chinese Communists to a stalemate in Korea. They were also fighting for democratic ideals and deserved victory, since Communism is bad and Democracy is good.

The Americans, however, did not know that the French Expeditionary Corps had usually fought with more bravery and determination than the Vietnamese government troops they were arming and advising. The Americans also forgot that many Vietnamese peasants saw little difference between the corrupt and brutal administrators of the Ngo family regime the US was trying to preserve and those who had plagued them during the earlier French days.

Like the French before them, the Americans placed their faith in classic Western military axioms and in practice sought a conventional military solution . . . [and] overwhelm the Vietcong with their vast amounts of money and materiel, their thousands of advisors, and the helicopters, fighter-bombers, armored vehicles and artillery batteries they were pouring into the country.

I remember with what confidence Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara assured us . . . ”Every quantitative measurement we have shows we’re winning this war.”

(The Battle of Dienbienphu, Jules Roy, Carroll and Graf Publishers, 1963, pp. xi-xvii)

Liberalism’s New World of Freedom

Liberal internationalists can be counted on to explain the complex causes of war as simply “unprovoked aggression,” and eliminating aggression anywhere they saw as the only way to make the world safe for democracy. Regardless of public opinion, diplomats like George Kennan advised the public to allow national leaders to speak for them in “councils of the nations,” Republican presidents replaced Democratic presidents “without the slightest diminution of executive power,” and Congress was seen as an obstruction to liberal progress.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Liberalism’s New World of Freedom

“Since the beginning of this century, American liberalism has made little measurable progress toward two of its most important goals: a more equitable distribution of income and an improved level pf public services. Confronted with the realities of corporate power and the conservatism of Congress, the reforming zeal of the liberal state has been easily frustrated.

This is mirrored in the stymied hopes of the New Freedom by 1916, the stalemate of the New Deal by 1938, and the dissolution of the Great Society by 1966. What is left by these aborted crusades is not the hard substance of reform but rather the major instrument change – the powerful central state. In the process the ideological focus of liberalism have moved from the concepts of equality and democracy to those of centralization and governmental unification.

The liberal search for national unity and an expanding domestic economy could not be separated from the vision of an internationalist order which was “safe from war and revolution and open to the commercial and moral expansion of American liberalism.”

This was a vision shared by Woodrow Wilson and Cordell Hull. To Hull and Wilson and later to Dean Rusk, peace required the restructuring of diplomacy through an elaborate network of collective security arrangements; prosperity demanded the removal of national trade barriers.

Such a vision, as N. Gordon Levin has brilliantly argued, could not contain within it the forces of either revolution or reaction and led almost inevitably to a foreign policy marked by conflict and crisis. Each new foreign policy crisis in turn strengthened the state apparatus and made the “National Idea” seem even more appropriate – a development which liberals, especially of the New Deal vintage, could only see as benign.

Peace and prosperity, political themes of the Eisenhower years, were considered indulgences by Kennedy liberals such as Walter Rostow. Eisenhower’s cautious leadership was considered without national purpose.

To those liberals the American mission could be no less than “the survival and success of liberty.” The “National Idea,” glorified by such transcendent goals, became a Universal Mission, viz., Arthur Schlesinger, Jr’s assessment, “The United States has an active and vital interest in the destiny of every nation on the planet.” Presidents felt mandated not only to complete a mere domestic program but rather, to quote the Kennedy inaugural, “to create a new world of freedom.”

Nevertheless, such missionary rhetoric was eminently compatible with the liberal mission of government problem solving and reform emanating from the top. Setting the tone in 1960 for another liberal return to power, Townsend Hoopes insisted, “Under our system the people can look only to the President to define the nature of our foreign policy problem and the national programs and sacrifices required to meet it with effectiveness.”

After a generation of such fawning rhetoric, it is little wonder that the modern president’s conception of himself bears closer resemblance to the fascist notion of the state leader than even the Burkean concept of democratic leadership. As President Nixon described his role, “He (the president) must articulate the nation’s values, define its goals and marshal its will.”

(The Ideology of the Executive State: Legacy of Liberal Internationalism, Watershed of Empire, Essays on New Deal Foreign Policy, Myles Publishing, 1976, Robert J. Bresler, pp. 2-4)

Carpetbaggers in the Philippines

The entrance of the United States into the game of imperialism came after an unnecessary war with Spain and the seizure of the latter’s former imperial possessions of Cuba and the Philippines. The promise of independence for the natives was soon realized to be empty, and the standard procedure of installing US-friendly regimes in conquered regions began — and continues today.

As articulated below, it is worth pondering if exploitation by the dominant Tagalogs after the US military departed was worse than exploitation by American carpetbaggers. The latter believed, and still seem to believe, that all people of the world are really hard-working New England Puritans in native clothing and if taught to master the art of democratic town hall meetings they could be left alone.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Carpetbaggers in the Philippines

“The problem of giving self-government to the Filipinos was made difficult by the existence of several distinct tribes speaking different languages and cherishing race enmities among themselves. The most important tribe was the Tagalogs, numbering 1,466,000 out of a population of nearly 8,000,000. They exceeded the others in culture and in the will to dominate the islands. If left to themselves it was believed that they would establish supremacy over the islands both political and economic. This policy has weighed down our policy in the islands.

Whatever the reasons why the United States should withdraw from the conduct of government there, it would be against the spirit of our promises to all the people if by so doing the large majority of the natives were left to the exploitation of the Tagalogs.

[In 1900], a governmental commission was appointed, with William H. Taft at the head, with instructions to introduce civil government as far and as rapidly as possible. The commission itself was at the top of the system with wide executive and law-making powers. It was directed to establish schools and create courts of justice.

Provision was made that the language of the United States should be taught in the schools, and that the officials should be taken from the natives as far as possible. These instructions were written by Secretary of War [Elihu] Root after a careful study of conditions in the Philippines.

The next step in developing government for the Philippines was McKinley appointing Taft Governor] and made him with the other members of his commission a Council to assist him in governing. At the same time three of the ablest natives were added to the membership of the Council, in which they were a minority.

Taft’s first care was to establish local self-government in the provinces . . . The suffrage for this process was awarded to persons who had held office in the islands, or owned a specified amount of property, or who spoke, read, and wrote Spanish or English. Elections were held in 1907, and the Assembly fell at once into the hands of a nationalist party.

The natives, that is, the Tagalog ruling class, were disappointed that no larger share of the government of their own country was given them, and they likened themselves to the [American] South when it was ruled by carpetbag officials from the North.

When President [Warren] Harding came into authority he sent General [Leonard] Wood and Lieutenant-Governor General Forbes to investigate and give advice on the withdrawal of the United States from the islands. They reported, in 1921, that the natives were not ready for self-government and advocated the continuance of the existing system. The natives were disappointed at the decision of the commissioners and continued to protest against the continuance of United States authority over them.”

(Expansion and Reform, 1889-1926, John Spencer Bassett, Kennikat Press, 1971 (original 1926), pp. 103-107)

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