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Obsessed with World Power and Democracy

With the Philippine islands in American hands after the Spanish War, the natives imagined their islands free of foreign rule as a gift from America. The liberator determined that the natives “were ill-suited to the concept of representative democratic government” and decided to stay until such was the norm, no matter how many Filipinos lives it cost and years it took.  It will be recalled that the war against Spain began with bellicose headlines from the newspapers of Hearst and Pulitzer.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Obsessed with World Power and Democracy

“On July 4, 1901, William Howard Taft took the oath of office as the first Governor-General of the Philippines, and control of the islands passed from the military arm of the government. Not all the problems [of converting the islands] had been solved. Philippine society remained ill-suited to the concept of representative democratic government, primarily because it is not one culture, but several.

An election in Zamboanga was decided by which Filipino shot the other candidates first.

The Filipinos in the northern islands were Tagalog Christians, those in the south were Moro’s (meaning “Mohammedan”) who had long resisted Tagalog encroachment. A tribal people, they were fiercely jealous of their semi-savage freedom. Wisely, the Spaniards had left them to their own devices; but the Americans wanted to clean up and educate everybody.

So the [American] army established a garrison at Balangiga, on Samar, in the south where Magellan had sighted the Philippines and where he was to die at the hands of natives.

On September 1, 1901, the natives from the surrounding hills of Balangiga fell on the American garrison, and in a devastating surprise littered the street with the heads, brains and intestines of the soldiery. This was the beginning of a religious war with the Moros, one that took longer to settle than the war against Aguinaldo’s insurrectos.

The fight became a struggle to win the minds and hearts of the villagers, who supplied the guerrilla bands and offered them bases and sanctuaries. What was called for [to control the Moros], [General John J.] Pershing decided, was to disarm the entire Moro Province, to confiscate or buy every rifle, pistol, campilan, bolo and krise on the islands.

It was not an original idea. General Leonard Wood, who left the Philippines in 1910 to become Chief of Staff advised Pershing: “You cannot disarm the people. It means they will bury their best arms and turn in a few poor ones, especially some who want to make a show of obedience.” Moros who surrendered their arms were victimized by those who had not . . . it is as hard to disarm a people as it is to make them give up a religious belief.

In a letter to Avery D. Andrews, Pershing put succinctly the apostolic creed to which he himself subscribed:

“It has been urged by some people at home that the Filipinos should be given their independence. Such a thing would result in anarchy. To whom should we over the government? Tagalog, Viscayan, Igorrote, Macabebe or Moro?No one can answer that any of these tribes represents the people in any sense, any more than the Sioux represents all the Indians in America. There is no national spirit, and except for the few agitators, these people do not want to try independence.  They will have to be educated up to it and to self-government as we understand it, and their education will take some time and patience. It is a grand work cut out for us from which there should be no shirking.”

The Americans stayed on, Pershing said, because “the American people being obsessed with the idea of maintaining their new position as a world power, insisted on keeping the flag flying over a territory once it was in our possession.

In the long run, the only advantage the United States or the Philippines realized from the occupation was the military mission. The archipelago was never destined to become a great way station to exploit trade with the Orient. America and the world economy were finding uses for Philippine products, especially hemp, sugar, timber and minerals.

But as the world was discovering these products, the Filipinos were discovering corruption. By 1920, Wall Street learned that the directors of the [Wall Street-capitalized Philippine National] bank had dealt out so many unsecured loans that $24 million had simply evaporated. The bank’s reserves, which should have been retained in New York, had also vanished in alarming fashion. Similarly, American rail industries had capitalized the Manila Railroad Company, which piled up astronomical losses in only eight years. By 1921, the islands were insolvent.

Democracy and equal opportunity have always been problematic for the people of this archipelago. William Howard Taft warned the American electorate in 1912 that only 3 percent of the Filipinos voted and only 5 percent read the public press; to confer democracy on such a society was to subject the great mass to the dominance of an oligarchical and exploiting minority.

“The idea that public office is a public trust,” Taft said, “has not been planted in the Filipino mind by experience . . .”

(Pipe Clay and Drill; John J. Pershing: The Classical American Soldier”, Readers Digest Press, 1977, excerpts, pp 100-153)

 

Propping Strongmen and Juntas in Vietnam

Dwight Eisenhower announced his domino theory and resistance to communism in 1954, despite leading the massive effort ten years earlier against Germany with the welcome assistance of Stalin’s communist Russia – the latter armed to the teeth by the United States.  Robert E. Lee’s postwar comment to Lord Acton was clear about the new American empire becoming “aggressive abroad.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Propping Strongmen and Juntas in Vietnam

“By 1952, the United States was financing one-third of the French military effort in Vietnam. Despite American logistical support, the French lost the pivotal battle of Dien Bien Phu [in mid-March 1954] to communist forces. Ike offered a rationale for committing the United States to fighting communism in Vietnam. “You have a row of dominoes set up,” he explained, “you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly.”

On October 24, 1954, President Eisenhower pledged support to [Vietnamese prime minister] Ngo Dinh Diem, and even pondered sending direct American military aid to prop him up. The fall of Dien Bien Phu was followed by additional Viet Minh victories, which convinced the French to conclude with the Viet Minh and Geneva Accord . . . dividing Vietnam along the seventeenth parallel . . .

While Ho Chi Minh set up a communist government in the North, the United States worked with French and South Vietnamese authorities to build an ostensibly “democratic” South Vietnamese government as well as a military to defend it.

[After the French withdrew completely], Eisenhower and Diem, now president of South Vietnam, proclaimed their support for Vietnamese democracy [and] the Geneva Accord mandated . . . a plebiscite – a popular referendum reflecting the will of the majority – to decide the future of the nation.

Yet both Ike and Diem feared that such a popular vote would reunify Vietnam under the popular and dynamic Ho Chi Minh rather than Diem, a man incapable of commanding much popular support. Diem turned his back on the Geneva Accords and simply refused to hold the mandated vote in the South. Eisenhower voiced no objection to this abridgement of democracy.

On July 8, 1959, two US servicemen became the first Americans killed in action in Vietnam. Two months later Diem’s continued refusal to allow a plebiscite prompted the Viet Cong – a communist guerilla group that succeeded and absorbed elements of the Viet Minh – to begin concreted warfare against the South.

[After increased military assistance in 1960], popular support for the Diem government continued to decline and Eisenhower’s successor, John F. Kennedy, decided to prop up the government by authorizing increased numbers of military advisors . . . and by June 30, 1962, there were 6,419 American soldiers and airmen in South Vietnam.

[By the fall of 1963] President Kennedy acquiesced in a CIA-backed ARVN military coup d’etat that removed Diem and resulted in his assassination on November 2, 1963. The overthrow . . . served only to make the country even less stable. The incoming military junta was politically inexperienced and generally inept . . . Coups and counter coups followed, so that seven South Vietnamese rose and fell in 1964 alone, with a succession of four more to follow in 1965. [Each new leader] was compliant with US direction, yet each was incapable of commanding the loyalty of a majority of the South Vietnamese.

[After Lyndon Johnson’s ascent to the presidency, in August 1964, two US Navy ships were reportedly attacked in Vietnamese waters, though] current military historians and even some who were present on the scene have concluded that the radar signals were false targets and that no attack was taking place.

Both the president and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara characterized the reported North Vietnamese attacks as unprovoked, even though the mission . . . had been to provide intelligence in direct support of South Vietnamese attacks against the North . . .

McNamara and Secretary of State Dean Rusk both admitted that the attacks [against the North] had occurred, yet, with tortured logic, insisted that they were strictly South Vietnamese operations that did not justify North Vietnamese retaliation against the United States.”

(Profiles in Folly, History’s Worst Decisions and Why They Went Wrong, Alan Axelrod, Sterling, 2008, excerpts, pp. 325-329)

Isolationism and America

In his address on the Fourth of July, 1821, President John Adams reiterated the foundation-stone of American foreign policy with: “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion only of her own. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication . . . [and in doing so] She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Isolationism and America

“[President George Washington said]: Put not your trust in allies, especially those who are stronger than you. At worst they will betray or disappoint you; at best they will make you the pawn in their games. Trust instead in the Lord and yourselves in your dealings with aliens, and cast not away the protection conferred by a generous Providence.

The second great tradition of US foreign policy is habitually dubbed “isolationism.” This, despite dogged efforts by some diplomatic historians to instruct us that no such principle ever informed American government, and that the word came into general use only in the 1930s.

In the post-Civil War decades the word “isolation” up more often, but as an echo of Victorian Britain’s slogan of Splendid Isolation. What brought “isolation” to the consciousness of the American public was the propaganda of navalists like Captain A.T. Mahan, who sought to pin on their anti-imperialist critics a tag that implied they were old-fashioned curmudgeons.

Thus the Washington Post proclaimed at the time of the Spanish-American War that “the policy of isolation is dead,” and the Oxford English Dictionary first made reference to the concept in 1901: “Hence, Isolationist, one who favors or advocates isolation. In US politics, one who thinks the Republic ought to pursue a policy of political isolation.”

The Encyclopaedia Britannica never made “isolation” a rubric, and only after World War II did its articles on diplomacy refer to the phenomenon. Most telling of all, not even the “isolationists” of the 1930s had any use for the term, preferring to call themselves neutralists or nationalists. So, our vaunted tradition of “isolationism” is no tradition at all, but a dirty word that interventionists, especially since Pearl Harbor, hurl at anyone who questions their policies.

Let us dispense with the term altogether and substitute for it a word that really describes the second great tradition in American foreign relations: Unilateralism. It was a natural, even inevitable corollary of the first American tradition, for if the essence of Exceptionalism was liberty at home, the essence of Unilateralism was to be at liberty to make foreign policy independent of the “toils of European ambition.”

Unilateralism never meant that the United States should, or for that matter could, sequester itself or pursue an ostrich-like policy toward all foreign countries. It simply meant, as Hamilton and Jefferson both underscored, that the self-evident course for the United States was to avoid permanent, entangling alliances and to remain neutral in Europe’s wars except when our Liberty – the first hallowed tradition – was at risk.

[And] if the United States became enmeshed in war and imperialism on the European model, it would have to raise large armies and navies, tax and conscript its people, and generally compromise domestic freedom, the [American] Republic’s raison d’etre.

[And if] it became enmeshed in foreign conflicts, the European powers would compete for Americans’ affections, corrupt their politics with propaganda and bribes, and split them into factions. And finally, if the United States joined in Europe’s rivalries, the arenas of battle would surely include America’s own lands and waters, as they had for over a century.”

(Promised Land, Crusader State, Walter A. McDougall, Houghton-Mifflin, 1997, excerpts, pp. 39-40; 42)

“{Words of Mass Destruction”

“Words of Mass Destruction”

“How many changes have been rung on this one phrase: Weapons of Mass Destruction. We are told we must eliminate the threat of, degrade his capacity to employ, send a clear signal that we w2ill not tolerate the existence of Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. Secretaries Cohen and Albright both inserted the key phrase into every possible sentence, sometimes more than once, and as journalists picked up the rhythmic chant, most of the American people goose-stepped their way to the same beat.

The technique of indoctrination is not new. There are two essential ingredients: first, the selection of a vacuous phrase, which — because it is meaningless – cannot be challenged; then the repetition of the mantra in every conceivable context until the words acquire a hypnotic force to quell both rational argument and moral scruples.

What do journalists have in mind when they obediently repeat “Weapons of Mass Destruction (WOMD).” Our immediate thought is of nuclear weapons, even though Saddam’s nuclear capacity was eliminated first by the Israelis and then by the US Air Force. Well, if not nuclear, then biological and chemical weapons. But in all three categories of WOMD, the United States is the unchallenged leader, followed by Russia, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and South Africa.

“But,” honk the gaggle of goslings trailing after Madeleine Mother of All Battles, “Saddam is the only leader who has actually used his WOMD.” Oh? And we are to believe that the US did not use chemical weapons in Vietnam?

“But what if some madman like Saddam got his hands on nuclear weapons, and what if he were to use them?” It is not an Iraqi, though, but an American secretary of state who says that the high civilian death rate in Iraq – higher than at Hiroshima – is an acceptable price to pay for the United States undefined political and military objectives in Iraq.

Weaponsofmassdestructionweaponsofmassdestruction. Keep on saying it long enough, and you will hear between the spaces, similar phrases like “running dogs of Yankee imperialism,” “un-American activities,” and “Arbeit Macht Frei.” The revolution changes its name and picks up new gangsters to run the operation under rewritten mission statements, but the project never changes, and the method never changes.

But why take Humpty’s word for it, when you can read the words of the master: “Die breite Masse eines Voles einer grossen Luge leichter zum Opfer fallt al seiner kleinen.” Big weapons, big lies. If we cannot reclaim our language from the demagogues, we are not fit to be a free people. Humpty Dumpty”

(Words of Mass Destruction; Chronicles, March 1999, pg. 12)

 

Remember the Maine

President William McKinley had to be goaded into war against Spain by the yellow journalism and fake news of Hearst and Pulitzer, but his dispatch of the USS Maine to Cuba provided the incident, as Roosevelt’s dispatch of the US fleet to Pearl Harbor did 43 years later. Lincoln’s bludgeoning of Americans seeking independence in 1861-1865, cleverly disguised as a war to emancipate slaves, left future imperial-minded presidents with a reusable template for war.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Remember the Maine

“Henry Luce coined the phrase “The American Century” as an expression of the militant economic globalism that has characterized American policy from the days of William McKinley. Luce, the publisher of Time and Fortune, was the child of missionaries in China – a product, in other words, of American religious and cultural globalism. It is no small irony that this preacher’s kid was the chief spokesman for a global movement which, in its mature phase, has emerged as the principal enemy of the Christian faith.

The approach to Christianity taken by the postmodern, post-civilized, and post-Christian American regime is a seamless garment: At home, the federal government bans prayer in school, enforces multiculturalism in the universities, and encourages the immigration of non-Christian religious minorities who begin agitating against Christian symbols the day they arrive; abroad, the regime refuses to defend Christians from the genocide inflicted by Muslims in the Sudan, while in the Balkans it has waged a ruthless and inhumane war against the Serbs of Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia.

The inhumanity of NATO’s air campaign against villages, heating plants and television stations reveals, even in the absence of other evidence, the anti-Christian hatred that animates the Washington regime.

Luce did not invent the American Empire, he only shilled for it. His American Century began in the Philippines 100 years ago, when the American regime refined the policies and techniques discovered in the Civil War.

The oldest and best form of American imperialism is the commercial expansion advocated by the Republicans – McKinley, Taft, Hoover and Eisenhower – who warned against the military-industrial complex. Although all of these free-traders were occasionally willing to back up the politics of self-interest with gunboats, they preferred to rely, whenever possible, on dollar diplomacy. McKinley had no hesitation about establishing American hegemony in Cuba and the Philippines, but he had to be dragged into war.

Free trade, these Babbits believed, could be the route to market penetration around the globe, and one of the early slogans of commercial imperialists was the “Open Door.” Sometimes, however, the door had to be kicked in by the Marines.

As one spokesman for American industry put it 100 years ago, “One way of opening up a market is to conquer it.” This is what Bill Clinton meant when he justified his attack on Yugoslavia on the grounds that we need a stable Europe as a market for American goods.

Even the most tough-minded Americans are suckers for a messianic appeal; it must have something to do with the Puritan legacy. Even bluff old Bill McKinley, in declaring war on the people of the Philippines, a war that would cost the lives of more than 200,000 civilians, proclaimed the aim of our military administration was “to win the confidence, respect and affection of the inhabitants . . . by assuring them . . . that full measure of individual rights and liberties which is the heritage of a free people, and by proving to them that the mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation.”

The new American globalism has a logic all its own, one based on universal free trade, which destroys local economies; open immigration for non-Europeans and non-Christians, who can be used to undermine a civilization that is both Christian and European; and universal human rights, which are the pretext for world government.”

(Remember the Maine, Thomas Fleming; Perspective, Chronicles, August 1999, excerpt, pp. 10-11)

 

Reconstructing People in the American Image

In the same way victorious Northern armies were followed by political adventurers and reformers backed by Union bayonets in the American South, the multitude of Washington-directed foreign interventions to date have been justified with the intention of spreading what is said to be American democracy, though the founders never intended this nor does the word “democracy” appear in the United States Constitution. In 1821, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams stated that “[America] does not go in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom of freedom and independence to all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” A wise policy that was discarded after 1865. The French intervention in Vietnam mentioned below was financed with American tax dollars.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Reconstructing People in the American Image

“The policies we see today in Washington, DC reflect [a strategy of] the Federal Government [molding and reconstructing] societies at will with no regard for the population’s history, culture or values. Our ongoing meddling in Bosnia, where our advertised intention of forging a multiethnic society out of feuding Croatians, Serbs, and Moslems has only fenced people into a gladiators arena despite their clear preference to go about peaceably building their own communities in their own way.

Only continues military occupation by the United States working through the United Nations keeps this artificial political creation together, taking up the role formerly played by the Ottoman Turks, the Austrians, and [Marshal] Tito.

The United States have a long history of using force to erect and try to hold together artificial regimes. The most costly instance of such interference – so far – was he United States support for South Vietnam. As with every intervention since the War for Southern Independence, the advertised justification was to spread the American idea of freedom throughout the world.

Americans saw no need to ask the Vietnamese if they agreed to having their nation reconstructed in the American image, but the American government believed that their ideas applied to everybody. The Vietnamese, tightly organized and highly motivated to defend their way of life, managed to defeat a superior French force backed by American B-26 bombers.

Once the French decided they had had enough, American forces took up the fight. The assumption that the Vietnamese, like everyone else in the world, secretly wanted to adopt an American identity, led by Washington, DC into a self-manufactured disaster.

Assuming that all differences in world cultures are accidental mistakes and that force is necessary to impose a beneficial order upon uncomprehending and ungrateful recipients, advocates for armed intervention lull themselves to sleep at night with the assurance they have murdered no one but uneducable obstructionists.

By 1967, the US Air Force had dropped more than 1.5 million tons of bombs on the Vietnamese, more than the total dropped on the whole of Europe in World War II. The stimulus did not work, leaving the experts in the Pentagon groping for an answer.

“We anticipated that they would respond like reasonable people,” said one Defense Department official. Instead of responding reasonably, the Vietnamese responded like people, and won.”

(Confederates in the Boardroom: How Principles of Confederation are Rejuvenating Business and Challenging Bureaucracy; Michael C. Tuggle, Traveller Press, 2004, excerpt, pp. 52-55)

Liberator and Imperial Protector

What General Enoch Crowder warned of below was reminiscent of Reconstruction’s political control in the South, as Washington-recognized Northern carpetbag governors and legislators gained official recognition and were free to engage in fraudulent political methods and elections to remain in power. Under Lincoln and the Republican Radicals, the US government became “a blind instrument for fastening an undesirable or fraudulent government upon a people” – 50 years later the Cuban people were assured of fraudulent government fastened by Washington.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Liberator and Imperial Protector

“The conditions imposed on Cuban independence at the end of the American military occupation in 1902 had effectively subjected Cuban sovereignty to U.S. supervision. “The Government of Cuba,” Article III of the Platt Amendment stipulated, “consents that the United States may exercise the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for the preservation of life, property and individual liberty, and for discharging the obligations with respect to Cuba imposed by the Treaty of Paris on the United States.

By virtue of the Platt Amendment, Washington assumed ultimate responsibility for underwriting the solvency of national administration. The very conduct of [Cuban] national politics emerged as a source of policy concern in Washington. The American presence in Cuba loomed pervasively, functioning always as the understood coefficient of all political strategies.

Specifically, the Platt Amendment, as the understood basis of U.S. Cuban policy, encouraged outright an incumbent party, assured of American support, to embark on a course of partisan excesses, including reelection through illegal, if ostensibly constitutional, methods.

As early as 1912, General Enoch H. Crowder, the U.S. legal advisor during the second intervention, caution Washington against becoming captive to the political maneuvers of any single faction in Cuba. With a sober understanding of . . . U.S. – Cuban treaty relations, Crowder warned:

“Having once gained the official recognition of this government, and so become “the duly constituted authority,” . . . it could by fraudulent practices as was undoubtedly done in the last election for President prior to the election of 1906, secure its apparent reelection, and if the protest became too violent to overcome, such government would only have to notify the President of the United States and request assistance. The right of a people to change their rulers, and in fact change their form of government when it becomes subversive of the principle for which it is instituted . . . is essential to the preservation of a free government . . . Provision should be made that the United States will not be made the blind instrument for fastening an undesirable or fraudulent government upon a people whom we profess to be preserving a free government.”

Crowder’s plea went unheeded. On the contrary, within a year, Woodrow Wilson proclaimed constitutionality as the cornerstone of US Latin American policy . . . “We are the friends of constitutional government in America, Wilson averred, “We are more than its friends, we are its champions.”

(Intervention, Revolution and Politics in Cuba, 1913-1921; Louis A. Perez, Jr., University of Pittsburgh Press, 1978, excerpts pp. 11-12)

Wilson Confronts Old-Fashioned Imperialism

Despite being one of the most scholarly men to ascend to the presidency, professional historian and political scientist Woodrow Wilson was described as being “surprisingly uninformed about foreign affairs.” After election on the promise that no American boys would die on Europe’s battlefields, he was bullied into the war by steel, munitions and financial lobbies, as well as British propaganda, while dreaming of his part in erecting a world peace that would endure forever. Washington presciently warned of foreign entanglements; Wilson’s secrecy and blunders brought nearly 117,000 American dead by 1918, and as he helped lay the foundation for a German nationalist to replace the Kaiser, another 407,000 American dead in World War Two.  It was far better to leave European intrigues to Europeans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Wilson Confronts Old-Fashioned Imperialism

“President Wilson apparently at first thought that American participation in the war would be confined primarily to economic and financial contributions, with the navy to help cope with the U-boat menace. As Allied needs became more fully known, however, it became apparent that victory would necessitate the training and transportation to the western front of vast numbers of American troops.

Wilson and Secretary [of State Robert] Lansing, despite subsequent denials to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, were aware prior to the peace conference of the existence of the secret treaties among the [European] Allies which provided for territorial gains after the war. These treaties and agreements, such as the 1915 Treaty of London between the principal Allies and Italy, were not necessarily evil but were in fact the inevitable results of a coalition war.

To Wilson, however, they represented old-fashioned imperialism which would endanger the future stability and peace of the world. During his visit to America, [Britain’s Lord] Balfour had revealed most of the terms of the territorial arrangements whereby Germany’s colonies were to be apportioned among the victors and important territories in Europe and the Near East would be similarly allocated.

The only major agreement of which the major American officials were not then informed was that relating to Japan’s acquisition of the German holdings in Shantung Province, China. There can be little doubt that the president and his secretary of state knew the essential details long before the peace conference convened. The official attitude, however, remained one of indifference and formal ignorance:

“This Government is not now and has not been in the past concerned in any way with secret arrangements or treaties among European powers in regards to war settlements. As to the secret treaties [released in Russia] . . . the Department [of State] has no knowledge of their existence or their terms except through reports emanating from the Bolshevik press.”

Aware of these arrangements to divide the spoils, Wilson wrote [Colonel Edward] House that “England and France have not the same views with regard to peace that we have by any means.” Yet to discuss postwar settlement at that time would only precipitate disagreements and a probable weakening of the war effort, to the benefit of Germany.”

(The Great Departure, The United States and World War One, 1914-1920, David M. Smith, John Wiley and Sons, 1965, excerpts, pp. 85-87)

Nov 20, 2016 - Future Wars of the Empire, Imperialist Adventures    Comments Off on Economic Prelude to World War

Economic Prelude to World War

Pushed into a war he had pledged not to become involved in, Woodrow Wilson tipped what was a stalemate of exhausted combatants into an Allied victory and forced abdication of the Kaiser. The result was a ruined Germany, an expansion of communism, and the predictable rise of a German nationalist who promised to right the wrongs of Versailles. To rebuild its devastated economy, Germany turned to bilateral trade with other nations but was met with resistance from the US.  During the mid and late 1930’s, German diplomats in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay reported home that the US was “exerting very strong pressure against Germany commercially” in order to keep the market for themselves. The Times of London reported well after war began that “One of the fundamental causes of this war has been the unrelaxing efforts of Germany since 1918 to secure enough foreign markets to straighten her finances at the very same time when all her competitors were forced by their own debts to adopt exactly the same course. Continuous friction was inevitable.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Economic Prelude to World War

“German economic nationalism in the 1930’s was, first of all, conditioned on the horrifying experience that Germany had had with runaway inflation and currency depreciation during the early 1920’s, culminating in the monetary collapse of 1923.

In this economic climate, [German economic minister] Dr. [Hjalmar] Schacht was particularly successful in making bilateral trade agreements with individual countries, agreements which amounted to direct “barter” arrangements that angered the United States and other Western countries in totally bypassing gold and other international banking or financial arrangements.

Actually, there was nothing either diabolic or unilaterally exploitive about the barter deals. Part of the essence of barter arrangements has been neglected by historians – the deliberate overvaluation of the exchange rates of both currencies involved in the deals. May not Western anger at successful German competition through bilateral agreements, and Western desire to liquidate such competition, have been an important factor in the Western drive for war against Germany?

Lloyd Gardner has demonstrated the early hostility of the United States toward German economic controls and barter arrangements, its attempts to pressure Germany to shift to a multi-lateral. “Open Door” system for American products, and the repeated rebuffs to German proposals for bilateral exchanges between the two countries.

As early as June 26, 1933, the influential American Consul-General at Berlin, George Messersmith, was warning that such continued policies would make “Germany a danger to world peace for years to come.”

In pursuing this aggressive policy, President Roosevelt overrode AAA [Agricultural Adjustment Administration] chief George Peek, who favored accepting bilateral deals with Germany and, perhaps not coincidentally, was to be an ardent “isolationist” in the late 1930’s.

Instead, Roosevelt followed the policy of the leading interventionist and spokesman for the “Open Door” to American products, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, as well as his assistant Secretary Francis B. Sayre, son-in-law of Woodrow Wilson.

By 1935, American officials were calling Germany an “aggressor” because of its successful bilateral trade competition, and Japan was similarly castigated for much the same reasons. By late 1938, J. Pierrepont Moffat, head of the Western European Division of the [US] State Department, was complaining that German control of Central and Eastern Europe would mean “a still further extension of the area under a closed economy.”

And, more specifically, in May 1940 Assistant Secretary of State Breckenridge Long warned that a German-dominated [trade in] Europe would mean that “every commercial order will be routed to Berlin and filled under its orders somewhere in Europe rather than in the United States.”

Not only were Hull and the United States ardent in pressing an anti-German policy against its bilateral trade system, but sometimes Secretary Hull had to whip even Britain into line.

[In the mid-1930’s], the American Chamber of Commerce in Brazil repeatedly pressed the State Department to scuttle the Germany-Brazil barter deal, which the Chamber termed the “greatest single obstacle to free trade in South America.” Brazil was finally induced to cancel its agreement with Germany in exchange for a sixty-million dollar loan from the U.S.

And in late 1938, President Roosevelt asked Professor James Harvey Rogers, an economist and disciple of Irving Fisher, to make a currency study of all of South America in order to minimize “German and Italian influence on this side of the Atlantic.

In the spring of 1935, the German ambassador to Washington, desperately anxious to bring an end to American political and economic warfare, asked the United States what Germany could do to end American hostilities. The American answer, which amounted to a demand for unconditional economic surrender, was that Germany abandon its economic policy in favor of America.”

(The New Deal and the International Monetary System, Murray N. Rothbard; Watershed of Empire, Essays on New Deal Foreign Policy, Leonard Liggio, James Martin, editors, Ralph Myles Printer, 1976, excerpts, pp. 44-46)

 

 

Liberal Visions and Missionary Rhetoric

 

With Lincoln’s revolutionary actions in April 1861 — assuming the power to raise armies, suspect habeas corpus at will and arrest Supreme Court justices who defied him — the presidency changed from one of conciliation and compromise to near dictatorship. He and his liberal Northern power base concentrated all power in Washington, and thus ended the formerly decentralized federation of republics. The office of president became an end in itself with powers remaining impaired today, and never-ending crusades.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Liberal Visions and Missionary Rhetoric

“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 of public services. Confronted by 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 of change – the powerful central state.

The demands of a strong central government and an aggressive foreign policy were ideologically reinforcing. 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 Dean Rusk, peace required the structuring of diplomacy through an elaborate network of collective security arrangements; prosperity demanded the removal of national trade barriers.

Such a vision . . . 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 . . . 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.” President’s felt mandated not 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 vision of governmental problem solving and reform emanating from the top. For those who gloried in the legacy of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, the president was the incarnation of the “National Idea,” or in Richard Neustadt’s phrase, “the sole crown-like symbol of the Union.”

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 to a Burkean concept of democratic leadership. As President Nixon described his role, “He (the president) must articulate the nation’s values, define it goals and marshal its will.

Republican presidents replaced Democratic presidents without affecting the slightest diminution of executive power. At the propitious moment of international crisis the Congress is circumvented, the public, then most vulnerable to demagoguery and deception, is confronted with a fireside chat, a special address, or a televised press conference.

The result, as conservative James Burnham has pointed out, is Caesarism – the culmination of the executive state: “The mass of people and the individual Caesar, with the insulation of the intermediary institutions removed, become like two electric poles . . . the vote is reduced to a primitive Yes-No . . . and the assemblies become a sounding board for amplifying Caesar’s voice.”

(The Ideology of the Executive State, Robert J. Bressler; Watershed of Empire, Essays on New Deal Foreign Policy, L. Liggio and J. Martin, editors, excerpts, pp. 2-7)

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