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Wilson Schemes for the Big Idea

Claude Kitchin was born near Scotland Neck, North Carolina in 1869, and served in the US House of Representatives from 1901 until his death in 1923. In 1916, he witnessed US munitions manufacturers preening for war, and a proposal for an enlarged standing army that many saw as “a long step toward the Prussianization of America.” Kitchin stated that the only possible excuse for the army’s increase in strength “was a contemplated war of aggression.” Further, he said of the battleship building proposals: “If this program goes through, it will no longer be a question of whether we may become a nation given over to navalism and militarism, but we shall have become one.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Wilson Schemes for the Big Idea

“In July, 1916, Great Britain announced the most high-handed of all her blockade [of Germany] policies – that of the Black List. Neutral firms alleged to be German-owned, or friendly to Germany, or to have been “trading with the enemy” or with other neutral firms having “enemy” connections were subjected to a ruinous boycott. Even [Woodrow] Wilson was momentarily incensed by thus extreme course.

Colonel House had slipped in and out of belligerent capitals, seeking to draw out diplomats as to the prospect of a settlement through American mediation. He had naively drunk deep of British and French propaganda, flattering himself the while that he was being treated to the frankest intimacies of the mighty.

It was bad enough that he disclosed to the Allies in this way the [Wilson] Administration’s bias in their favor, thus making Wilson more impotent in dealing with their transgressions; but it was worse that he inveigled the President into backing his ill-advised schemes.

The most notorious of these was the House-Grey agreement [which intended that the US government] might secretly reach an understanding with the Allies as to peace terms which they would be willing to accept. Whenever they thought to time opportune, Wilson, as arbiter, might submit such a proposal to both sides. The Allies, for effect, might appear reluctant at first, and then accept.

If the Central Powers agreed, the war would be ended by Wilson’s mediation; if they refused, as they almost certainly would, the United States would enter the war on the side of the Allies to force a “righteous” settlement. Though hesitant at first, Wilson came embrace the scheme. Aware, however, that only Congress could actually declare war he inserted the word “probably” in the clause that promised intervention on the side of the Allies.

When [Sir Edward] Grey inquired whether our Government would participate in a proposed League of Nations to maintain the post-bellum status and to prevent future wars, Wilson’s interest quickened. Here was a Big Idea.

Was it really possible that this horrible slaughter might be turned to purposes benign? A war to end war! Destroy German Militarism, — therefore all militarism; — redraw the map of the world on lines of justice and right (such as the Allies would agree upon) . . . and to punish any Power that sought to alter the new order. Even a world war – even American participation – might be justified as the price of such an outcome.

[On January 31, 1917] Germany announced [unrestricted submarine warfare]. An exception was made whereby American merchantmen might go to and from Falmouth England through a designated lane without hindrance, provided they were marked on hull and superstructure with three perpendicular stripes, a meter wide, of alternating white and red, and displayed from their masts large red and white checkered flags.

Three days later the Wilson Administration severed diplomatic relations with Germany. This was an almost certain prelude to war. Armed neutrality was the next move of the Administration [as it armed merchant ships].

One of the most condemnatory letters which Kitchin received with reference to his pacific stand came from a Methodist parson in Wilson, North Carolina. On the other hand, from the town of Littleton, also in his district, he received a petition from the ministers of the Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Protestant, Christian and Presbyterian churches, stating:

“1. A war that could be averted is murder on a national scale. 2. This war could be averted on the part of the United States. 3. There is not sufficient justification. 4. We are dealing with a nation which in a desperate struggle for existence has become exasperated and war mad. To arm our merchant vessels will tend to promote war. Hence [we are] opposed to any such measure.

Perhaps [Kitchin] took the President at his word when, asking Congress for the right to arm merchantmen, he pledged that he was not moving toward war. And he promised that, if granted this sanction, he would do all in his power to prevent actual hostilities.

In yielding the point, Kitchin said to the House [of Representatives]: “I shall vote for this bill but not without hesitation and misgiving . . . The nation confronts the gravest crisis . . . Already the European catastrophe threatens the faith of mankind in Christianity – in civilization. Clothed with the powers given him by the Constitution, a President of the United States can, at his will, without let or hindrance from Congress, create a situation which makes war the only alternative for this nation.”

(Claude Kitchin and the Wilson War Policies, Alex Mathews Arnett, Little, Brown and Company, 1937, excerpts, pp. 202-207; 212-217)

Sep 17, 2016 - America Transformed, Future Wars of the Empire, Imperialist Adventures, Lincoln's Revolutionary Legacy    Comments Off on A Korean Miracle and the Illusion of Allies

A Korean Miracle and the Illusion of Allies

Reminiscent of antebellum Massachusetts mills and their overworked young female workers is the sentence below regarding young Korean girls “condemned to stitch their eyes and lives away.” Over a century later and while escalating the Vietnam war in the mid-1960s, Lyndon Johnson’s administration supported the military coup of General Park Chung-hee, who had a distinguished career in the Imperial Japanese Army and established friendly relations with Japan, which dismayed most Koreans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

A Korean Miracle and the Illusion of Allies

Gerhard Breidenstein observed the South Korean “economic miracle” for three years, 1968-1971, as a visiting professor at Yonsei University in Seoul. Bernie Wideman lived in South Korea in 1972-1973 as a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Washington . . . these were boom years when money poured in from the Vietnam War, and Seoul was transformed as new office buildings reached toward the sky. South Korea was being “developed.”

Neither Wideman nor Breidenstein disputes the impressive increases in GNP and exports over the last several years . . . [but] Both authors . . . refuse to equate increased GNP with economic well-being or to ignore the moral question of earning foreign exchange by mercenary military service in Vietnam.

Briedenstein read the statistics but he also visited the slums, interviewed deracinated, bewildered industrial workers, and saw the warren-like textile sweatshops in Seoul’s P’yongwha market. He saw the exploitation of young girls condemned to stitch their eyes and lives away fifteen hours a day for a pittance.

In theory, labor laws protected the workers, but the authorities and management were in collusion and the laws were ignored. Other aspects of South Korea’s “miracle” raised profound doubts about the values behind the development model. While American observers professed great satisfaction at South Korea’s “astounding growth,” Breidenstein concluded that any meaningful social justice was impossible under capitalism.

Wideman went to the countryside to see for himself what was being done to the Korean peasantry in the name of higher GNP. He found that governmental policies, compounded by pervasive corruption and bureaucratic arrogance, were driving farmers off their land and turning them into unskilled day laborers in urban slums. [For writing his observations in the Far Eastern Economic Review] the South Korean government deported him in August 1973 because of these articles.

To be fair to American and South Korean economic planners, they apparently believed that the development model criticized by Breidenstein and Wideman will eventually lead to social justice. Professional economists tend to compartmentalize economic and political moral questions, confident that development must precede such political questions as the equitable distribution of wealth.

The 1961 coup [in South Korea] brought military leaders to power . . . [who recognized the] potentially lucrative opportunities in Vietnam due to the expanding US military involvement there [which] could only be pursued with Japanese political support. As the United States began to negotiate seriously for ROK troops to be sent to Vietnam in 1964, the Park government moved to crush popular opposition and establish relations with Japan.

Many Koreans charged in 1964-1965 that ROK leaders concluded the treaty for financial gain, that they were selling out their country.

The integration of military interests in Northeast Asia [by US planners] is best illustrated by the US utilization of South Korean troops in Vietnam. In November 1964 the Johnson administration launched a “More Flags” campaign as a prelude to the impending US military intervention in Vietnam. While designed to elicit concrete support for the Republic of Vietnam . . . the “More Flags” campaign was directly aimed at the American people.

The administration apparently never expected militarily significant “allied” troop contributions and they were not forthcoming (except from South Korea). Rather, “More Flags” was intended to establish a pragmatic basis for US intervention – the visible, committed presence of allies who would associate themselves with US actions in Vietnam militarily, if only in a token way, and diplomatically.”

(Without Parallel, the American-Korean Relationship Since 1945, Frank Baldwin, editor, Pantheon Books, 1973, pp. 21-22; 26-28)

 

Critic of Roosevelt’s Imperialism

Senator Ben Tillman of South Carolina was a painful thorn in the side of “Roosevelt the First,” as Mencken referred to TR. When Roosevelt seized control of the Dominican Republic’s customs office after the United States Senate refused to ratify a treaty sanctioning this act, Tillman demanded that Senators should stand on their feet and say to Roosevelt, “You have got to obey the law or we shall take you by the throat, sir.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Critic of Roosevelt’s Imperialism

“The most durable of Ben Tillman’s many animosities was his hatred of Theodore Roosevelt. This grew out of the President’s withdrawal of an invitation to attend the White House banquet of February 24, 1902, in honor of Prince Henry of Prussia. The South Carolinian was invited because he was a member of the Senate naval committee, but between the invitation and the dinner occurred the Tillman-McLaurin brawl. “Had the President sent a mutual friend in a quiet way suggesting that it would be an awkward situation, any man who knows me at all knows how quickly I would have relieved him of his obligation to me.”

He let it be known that he considered the President’s implications indecent and insulting and that he was willing to abide by the judgment of “all brave and self-respecting men.” Privately he declared that he had been treated “in a cowardly and ungentlemanly way” by “this ill-bred creature who is accidentally President.” He swore never to enter the White House again until it was occupied by another.

Earlier attacks upon imperialist policies were intensified when Roosevelt became responsible for them. The South Carolinian’s first foray was against efforts to subjugate the Filipinos. While the President insisted that for “every guilty act committed by our troops . . . a hundred acts of far greater atrocity have been committed by the hostile natives,” Tillman questioned the conduct of American soldiers. Were they not “occupying the attitude of butchers and practicing cruelties that would disgrace the Inquisition?”

Behind the administration’s plan of government for the Philippines he saw “the desire of some men to get ungodly and indecent wealth.” The President’s agents were given “the same autocratic power the Czar exercises in Russia” and were frustrating plans for local self-government.

The coup by which Roosevelt secured Panama was of a startling character . . . [and it would have been preferable, Tillman said, to have taken Panama openly rather than intrigue] “in the disreputable, dishonorable creation of a so-called republic in a back room.” If it was true that the President had used the method of the “sneak-thief” and the “bully,” he ought to be impeached.

When Roosevelt denied complicity in the Panama Revolution, Tillman said that circumstantial evidence against the President was such that he should reveal all facts before the Senate ratified the treaty. This was a fair and simple demand [but] the Republican majority, brushing constitutional sophistries aside, acquiesced in what the President had done. To this day the mystery of the Panama Revolution remains unsolved.

Roosevelt’s extremely Northern attitude toward the black man seemed especially designed to inflame [Southern society]. Protests by Southern whites [against Reconstruction-like policies] were treated “with contumely and contempt” by the President. Venal motives underlay this action. The Republican machine desired to secure the Negro vote in the border States and to control the Southern Republican delegates in the national conventions. Such conditions accounted for the fact that outraged Southerners “rush to do an unjust and improper thing.”

(Pitchfork Ben Tillman, South Carolinian, Francis Butler Simkins, LSU Press, 1944, pp. 408-411; 415-416)

 

TR’s League for Enforcing Peace with War

Theodore Roosevelt proposed a world organization well-before Woodrow Wilson’s, this to use the military of the world powers to enforce peace. Roosevelt the First, as Mencken referred to him, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese conflict, where he advocated giving the Japanese the Korean peninsula as a subject colony. The Japanese annexed Korea and forbid the teaching of native history, customs and traditions, while teaching the young the Japanese language. In 1950-1953, the United States devastated the Korean peninsula with an unnecessary war in which 37,000 American soldiers perished, over 600,000 Korean men died on both sides, as well as 500,000 Chinese casualties. Millions of Korean civilians died from bombing, crossfire and starvation.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

TR’s League for Enforcing Peace with War

“In Europe . . . Roosevelt and his family went on with their grand tour. In Paris on April 23, the former president gave an address at the Sorbonne on “The Duties of a Citizen,” in which he talked of the need for sound character, homely virtues, virility, and the desirability of maintaining a high birthrate; the effect of his speech on the audience was, as he put it, “a little difficult for me to understand”; his listeners may have found a beguiling innocence in his advice.

Later he met with Parisians at a salon held by Mrs. Roosevelt’s cousin Edith Wharton, at her place on the rue de Varenne. Few of the French could speak English, and TR spoke French “with a rather bewildering pronunciation,” according to Mrs. Wharton.

In Norway, on May 5, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, the first to go to an American, TR gave a speech that was especially noteworthy because of his suggestion that a world organization be created to prevent war. In words that foreshadowed Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations, Roosevelt called for the creation by the great powers of a “League of Peace, not only to keep the peace among themselves, but to prevent, by force, if necessary, its being broken by others. TR’s League, unlike Wilson’s, would have a strong military component to enforce its dictates.”

(1912, Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft & Debs, The election That Changed the Country, James Chace, Simon & Shuster, 2004, pp. 20-21)

 

Undermining the Constitution

Thomas J. Norton notes below in 1951 that Congress has no authority to “lend money or to give it away” – and cites James Madison’s warning of paper barriers being insufficient to stop evil persons in government. Jefferson Davis stated in 1881: “Of what value then are paper constitutions and oaths binding officers to their preservation, if there is not intelligence enough in the people to discern the violations, and virtue enough to resist the violators?”

Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865.com

 

Undermining the Constitution

“The Constitution gives power to Congress (1) “to coin money” and (2) “to borrow on the credit of the United States” — but not to lend money, or to give it away, either at home or abroad.

What is expressed in a Constitution is equivalent to a prohibition of what is not expressed. The powers over money mentioned are the only ones that the Constitutional Convention brought in from the world of inherent powers and fixed in the Fundamental Law.

Those specifications reject the theory of unlimited powers exercised by European monarchs in 1787. Not long before that, Louis XIV had kept Europe embroiled in wars by loans or grants of money to belligerent rulers. Did the Constitutional Convention, at least one member of which was born in his reign, intend to give that power to Congress? It did not say so. The power was therefore withheld by the people from their servants.

The United States is now, without authority — under a denial of authority — lending or granting money to Europe, and to the rest of the world. Postwar programs, twenty-two in number, for aiding foreign nations, in addition to the military aid program, have piled on top of the costs [330 billion] of [World] War II $30,757,000,000, according to Senator Byrd of Virginia, speaking in September 1949.

Thus, the limitations of the Constitution become what Madison gave warning of — “paper barriers.”

(Undermining the Constitution: A History of Lawless Government, Thomas James Norton, Devin-Adair Company, 1951, page 22)

Southern Historians Sapping and Mining the Northern Myth

Historian and author Frank L. Owsley dedicated his professional life to righting the revisionist history of postwar Northern textbooks and relating an honest appraisal of why the War was fought between North and South. He viewed the conflict of 1861 as a struggle between Southern agrarian culture versus Northern industrialism intent upon political and economic control of the entire country.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Southerners Sapping and Mining the Northern Myth

“In describing the writings of one New Southerner, Frank Owsley wrote Allen Tate on February 29, 1932: “He is the typical “New Southerner,” the defeated [and] conquered . . . American. Dodd [William E. Dodd, Frank’s major professor at Chicago] remarked to me that it did not hurt him so much to be whipped! Or to see the South whipped! What broke his heart was to see the South conquered . . . he says it is the most completely defeated and conquered people of all history.”

Frank continued: “I believe that the spiritual and intellectual conquest of the South, which Dodd laments, is superficial. The leadership is in the hands of [these New Southerners] . . . and the history textbooks have been written by Yankees.

The purpose of my life will be to undermine by “careful” and “detached,” “well-documented,” “objective” writing the entire Northern myth from 1820-1876. My books will not interest the general reader. Only the historians will read them, but it is the historians who teach history classes and write textbooks and they will gradually, and without their own knowledge be forced into our position. There are numerous Southerners sapping and mining the Northern position by objective, detached books and Dodd is certainly one of the leaders.

By being critical first of the South itself, the Northern historian is disarmed, and then Dodd hits where it will do the most good . . . [Dodd told Davidson] that the younger Southern writers were making the Northern writers look unimportant.”

Frank’s essay in I’ll Take My Stand, “The Irrepressible Conflict,” concerned “the eternal struggle between the agrarian South and the commercial and industrial North to control the government, either in its own interest, or negatively, to prevent the other section from controlling it in its interests.”

At the time the Union was formed, the two sections were evenly balanced both in population and in number of States. The conflict worsened as the balance of power began to change. Slavery was an element of the agrarian society, but not an essential one. Even after the war, when there was no slavery, the South was an agrarian section. The irrepressible conflict was not a conflict between slavery and freedom, nor was it merely a protest against industrialism. It was equally a protest against the North’s brazen and contemptuous treatment of the South “as a colony and as a conquered province.”

(Frank Lawrence Owsley, Historian of the Old South, Harriet C. Owsley, Vanderbilt University Press, 1990, pp. 78-81)

Wilson’s Ideals Shattered by Bolshevism

Woodrow Wilson’s dream of a new world order to end all war was shattered by the scramble for territory, industrial machinery and reparations from a Germany defeated by American troops Wilson had promised voters he would not send into a European war. Within his idealism lay a benevolent collectivist view of the world, not much different than socialist Eugene Debs who he had imprisoned under the Espionage Act.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Wilson’s Ideals Shattered by Bolshevism

“Woodrow Wilson’s first wife’s brother Stockton Axson, then serving as Secretary of the American Red Cross, was a frequent visitor [in the summer of 1918]. Dr. Axson remembered a conversation they had one Sunday afternoon in late June of that year . . . When Axson and the Wilson’s were alone after the meal, Wilson suddenly asked him whom he would name for the next President.

Axson suggested William McAdoo. [Wilson] said Newton D. Baker was the best man but he could never be nominated. “The next President will have to be able to think in terms of the whole world,” he went on. “He must be internationally minded . . . the only real internationally minded people” – Wilson was thinking aloud –“are the labor people. They are in touch with world movements.”

After the war the world would change radically. Governments would have to do things now done by individuals and corporations. Waterpower, coalmines, oilfields would have to be government owned. “If I should say that outside,” he exclaimed, “people would call me a socialist. And it is because I’m not a socialist that I believe these things.”

He added that he believed this was the only way communism could be prevented – Dr. Axson told Ray Baker he wasn’t sure Wilson used the word communism, which wasn’t yet in circulation, perhaps he said Bolshevism – “the next President must be a man who is not only able to do things, but after having taken counsel and made a full survey, be able to retire alone, behind his own closed door, and think through the processes, step by step.

At home, now freshly stimulated by Bolshevik propaganda against capitalism and war, there was than “baneful seething among the working class and the foreign born that never ceased to worry him. There was the troublesome agitation for the pardon of the syndicalist Tom Mooney convicted of bombing a [war] preparedness parade in San Francisco . . . Strikes kept interrupting war production.

From Americans in Russia came conflicting reports. Some saw in the Bolshevik government merely a final phase of the revolutionary upheaval destined to pass away in a few months like the Jacobin terror that ended the French Revolution. Others saw in it the foundation of a new social order. Ever since the Bolshevik seizure of power had shattered his dream of a democratic Russia he had been allowing the news from that revolution-torn empire to pile up against some closed door in his mind.”

(Mr. Wilson’s War, From the Assassination of McKinley to America’s Rejection of the League of Nations, John Dos Passos, Hamish Hamilton, 1963, pp. 373-375)

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)

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)

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