Browsing "Imperialist Adventures"

Wilson’s Worldwide Liberal Crusade

Woodrow Wilson campaigned for president with the vow that he would not send young Americans to their deaths in Europe, though once in power, his high-minded, progressive utopian collectivist ideals got the best of him. Any dissent was quickly crushed.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Coirca1865.com

 

Wilson’s Worldwide Liberal Crusade

“Modern liberalism did not originate in the New Deal. The concentration of state power, the use of government for humanitarian ends, the rise of the expert, all began with Wilson’s high-minded decision to take America into World War I (a war much of the country and the Congress didn’t want).

The word “liberal” first came into wide political usage in America during this period, when the editors of The New Republic began to substitute it for “Progressive,” which was now tarnished by their former hero [Theodore] Roosevelt’s political defeats and increasingly crankish jingoism.

They were importing the word from England, where it referred to the nineteenth-century European idea of enlarging individual freedom against the power of the state and to the Liberal Party’s activist program of using government to address modern social ills. In nineteenth-century America few people spoke of being politically “liberal” because almost all Americans were liberal in their belief in self-government and freedom. It was during the second decade of the twentieth century that the word came to mean a specific attitude toward government’s role in industrial society.

The declaration of war galvanized The New Republic’s New Liberals to claim Wilson as their own, his war as their war. “Mr. Wilson is today the most liberal statesman in high office,” the magazine editorialized, “and before long he is likely to be the most powerful. He represents the best hope in the whole world.”

The war would join “the forward liberal movement in American national life.” It would be a collectivist war, involving industry, labor, economic central planning, nationalization of railroads, the first large-scale conscription in American history, the most draconian suppression of dissenting speech since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, and a nationwide propaganda campaign waged by the new Bureau of Public Information. The population of Washington, DC would grow by 40,000 in one year. It would be America’s first truly national war.”

(Blood of the Liberals, George Packer, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000, pp. 77-78)

America Exports Democracy

John Quincy Adams said long ago that “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.” The North forgot his words, conquered the South, established it as an economic colony, and set off on imperial adventures to add colonies of subject peoples to the American empire.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

 

American Exports 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] 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 Perching: “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 turn 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.”

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

 

The Former Colony Becomes Colonialist

The American commander in the Philippines in 1898 was Gen. Thomas Anderson, a Northern lieutenant-colonel in the War Between the States, who knew firsthand about invasion and thwarting independence movements. In a twist of irony, Sen. George Hoar of Massachusetts, a radical Republican who was instrumental in subjugating the American South thirty-some years earlier, became outspoken in 1898 regarding US military force creating vassal states.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

The Former Colony Becomes Colonialist

“At the Paris Peace Conference of December 1898, where the terms of final surrender were fixed, Spain tried to retain Puerto Rico, arguing that the United States had never before challenged its sovereignty there. President McKinley rejected [this] . . . and said he decided that Puerto Rico was “to become the territory of the United States.” The Spanish, defeated and weak, had no choice but to accept.

No American alive in 1898 could have had any doubt about why the United States had gone to war with Spain. The conflict was fought to resolve a single question: Who would control Cuba? [But] as a result of Commodore Dewey’s victory at Manila, the United States suddenly exercised power over [the Philippines].

At first, McKinley seemed to want only enough territory in the Philippines to build a naval base at Manila. Then he considered the idea of granting the islands independence . . . [though] “One night late, it came to me this way.” He said. “there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and educate the Filipinos and uplift them and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could for them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died.”

What is certain is that McKinley, in the words of one historian, “knew the Filipinos not at all, and would misjudge their response with tragic persistence.” He himself admitted that when he heard news of Dewey’s victory at Manila, he “could not have told where those darned islands were within two thousand miles.” His fervor to “Christianize” the Filipinos, most of whom were already practicing Catholics, suggested his ignorance of conditions on the islands.

He certainly had no idea that they were in the throes of the first anticolonial revolution in the modern history of Asia. “The episode marked a pivotal point in the American experience,” Stanly Karnow wrote in his history of the Philippines. “For the first time, US soldiers fought overseas. And, for the first time, America was to acquire foreign territory beyond its shores – the former colony itself becoming colonialist.”

On May 1, 1898 . . . Dewey welcomed the Filipino guerilla leader Emilio Aguinaldo aboard his flagship, the Olympia. Their versions of what transpired are contradictory. Aguinaldo said they agreed to fight the Spanish together and then establish an independent Republic of the Philippines. Dewey swore that he made no such commitment. Whatever the truth, when Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippine, on June 12, neither Dewey or any other representative of the United States turned up at the ceremony.

General Thomas Anderson . . . was the first commander of American troops in the Philippines, sought to reassure them “I desire to have amicable relations with you,” he wrote Aguinaldo on July 4, “and to have you and your people cooperate with us in military operations against the Spanish forces.”

On December 21, [1898], McKinley issued an “executive letter” proclaiming American sovereignty over the Philippines. Rebels there were already proceeding along their own path. They had elected a constituent assembly that produced a constitution, and under its provisions the Republic of the Philippines was proclaimed on January 23, 1899. Twelve days later, this new nation declared war against the United States forces on the islands.

McKinley took no notice. To him, the Filipinos were what the historian Richard Welch called “a disorganized and helpless people.” Senator George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts warned that [this oppression] would turn the United States into “a vulgar, commonplace empire founded upon physical force, controlling subject races and vassal states, in which one class must forever rule and the other classes must forever obey.”

(Overthrow, America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, Stephen Kinzer, Times Books, 2006, pp. 46-49)

Unselfish American Imperialism

Often the imperialist views his own expansionist actions as more altruistic than previous imperialists, and even when assisting others in their exploitative operations. It is said that the United States went to war against Japan to protect British, French and Dutch colonial empires, while maintaining that the war was fought against Japanese colonialism – though the Japanese were simply emulating the Europeans.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Unselfish American Imperialism

“At the beginning of 1944 as British and American oilmen, with the backing of their governments, scrambled to win concessions from the Iranian government for its largely uncommitted oil lands . . . but [the Iranian government] came under growing internal pressure from forces opposed to the preponderance of the United States in Iranian affairs.

[In February 1944] Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Saed complained that Americans] refused to hire qualified Iranians, [and] employed too many incompetent Americans . . .

During the first half of 1944 . . . the State Department energetically backed the claims of the American oil company representatives then in Teheran, insisting that the two American firms – Sinclair Oil and Standard Vacuum – do everything possible to obtain the concessions.

Throughout the first third of 1944 Washington’s interest in Iran continued, and the reports of Patrick Hurley, Roosevelt’s special representative in the Middle East, reiterated the future importance of the area. Hurley’s saucy observations appealed to Roosevelt, over whom he exercised a powerful influence, for his categories of explanation and logic, and his frankness, were remarkably like the President’s own impulsive mannerisms.

Hurley associated Britain’s presence in Iran and the Middle East in general with the “principles of imperialism, monopoly, and exploitation. Evoking this belief, he appealed to Roosevelt to work for the “principles of liberty and democracy” by obtaining important oil concessions, maintaining a mission to straighten out Iran’s internal affairs, and breaking the economic hold of the British.

Hurley convinced Roosevelt of Iran’s importance, and in January [1944] the President told [Secretary of State Cordell] Hull: “I was rather thrilled with the idea of using Iran as an example of what we could do by an unselfish American policy.” As usual, Roosevelt left the critical details of implementing such a policy to others, and when the results came back he invariably endorsed them.

In this atmosphere of growing crisis and controversy over American [versus British] power in Iran, the State Department now had to formulate a basic policy on the country consistent with its larger Middle Eastern strategy. In mid-July, Richard ford, the American charge’, stressed the need for “a strong stand here both now and in the future,” one oil and the potential “market for American goods” justified, and the State Department sent its reply at the end of the month for his guidance.

[New Secretary of State Edward] Stettinius wrote . . . “a strong and independent Iran” was now a goal of United States policy [which included oil concessions and air bases].”

[State Department advisor Arthur C.] Millspaugh provided additional fuel [to the Great Power conflict in the Middle East] with an off-the-record interview in an Iranian newspaper suggesting that only the United States could save Iran from Soviet or British infractions of its independence.

Rumors of the oil-concession negotiations were also officially confirmed during August as more and more Iranians asked how Americans could be sitting on both sides of the negotiating table. Then everything stopped as the Russians entered the scene. What originally had been an Anglo-American conflict now became a three-way crisis among the major Allies.

American intervention in Iran was an excellent example of how the pursuit of national objectives provoked the redefinition of a regional situation and created the basis for international crises. It was primarily the struggle over oil and the extension of American control over Iranian affairs that caused the Russians to intervene not only for oil, but to establish the principle that affairs along their borders could no longer be determined without regard to Soviet interests and security.

Soviet references to the Iranian crisis in the fall of 1944 were for the most part critical of the growth of American power and influence there and the ability of the United States to define Soviet-Iranian relations. [US Moscow diplomat George] Kennan perceived this immediately, and warned Washington that “The basic motive of recent Soviet action in . . . Iran is probably not the need for the oil itself, but apprehension of potential foreign penetration in that area . . .”

By the end of 1944 the United States had won its struggle to monopolize Saudi Arabian oil concessions, but Britain and Russia had foiled its plan in Iran. Again Washington construed Soviet noncooperation with American objectives as an example of Soviet expansionist tendencies.”

(The Politics of War, The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1943-1945, Pantheon Books, 1968, pp. 308-310)

 

International Bunglers and Future Wars

The idealistic Woodrow Wilson could be called the father of today’s multicultural hell, while Clemenceau was the product of incessant European intrigue, political alliances, and ruthless postwar retribution against enemies. Both had a hand in the repressive peace crafted at Versailles, and the responsibility for the rise of a German nationalist.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

International Bunglers and Future Wars

“Georges Clemenceau was born in 1841 [and] . . . had journeyed far in those seventy-eight years, from the extreme Left to what was almost the extreme Right, and the old radical barnstormer, anti-clerical, and Dreyfusard was now, as he stood in this room handing the thick book to the German, a personification of national patriotism. The Germans had made him so.

His powers of sarcasm, vituperation and assault were almost without equal in his time, and with these powers he could castigate and finally sweep away the governments which showed any hesitation; for we are in a war to the death, he kept on saying, and we must win. Thus he became Father Victory to millions of French soldiers in 1918 and went into the peace conference with a personal authority none could question. The Tiger – Father of Victory.

Now, as he stood beetling at the Prussian aristocrat, beetling and growling and showing his fangs, the Tiger was so formed or transformed by the events in which he had played a great part that all memory of the international socialist had faded away, leaving a kind of quintessential residue of the purest nationalism.

Moltke, Hindenburg, Ludendorff and the Kaiser Wilhelm II produced this result, willy-nilly, just as the Tiger himself (along with Poincare and others whom he equally disliked) was to assist mightily in the production of Adolf Hitler.

[What] Clemenceau [wanted from the Versailles Treaty was] that Germany could be kept permanently subjugated. What Woodrow Wilson hoped was for something still different. He hoped that the whole world, in all its infinite diversity of races, religions and social organization, could be brought into a parliament of mankind so as to discuss and compose the differences that lead to war.

Wilson was wholly unprepared for the extent and complications of the passionate nationalisms his various groups of principles had fanned into flames. As he had never understood the Mexican Revolution, so he does not seem to have understood the whole exhausting tangle of racial and national repulsions in Central and Southern Europe, to which his own political philosophy had helped give such fierce vitality.”

(This House Against This House (excerpts), Vincent Sheean, Random House, 1945, pp. 7-16)

No Effective Political Opposition

From its inception the Republican party was focused on power and profit for its northeastern industrial supporters who sought protectionist tariffs at the expense of the rest of the county. After the war cemented Republican political hegemony, the Gilded Age marriage of government and business begat repeated scandals of political corruption and bribery unknown to the republic of Washington and Jefferson. Today the scandals and bribery continue unabated as both parties share the spoils.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

No Effective Political Opposition

“With a Third World President busy destroying the future of your and my American descendants in favor of foreign invaders, there has never been a greater need in American history for a real opposition party. But in fact, there has not been a real opposition party in US politics since Mr. Jefferson sent Colonel Hamilton and His Excellency John Adams heading back north.

In the 1830s, when there was a bitter conflict of opinion and interest between a prohibitive tariff and free trade, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren wafted into the White House by declaring themselves stalwart supporters of a “judicious tariff,” whatever that might mean.

In 1840 the Whigs beat them at their own game. They announced their bold program to fight the depression: “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!” (I omit the War for Southern Independence, in which massive and unprecedented government force was employed to “solve” the principled opposition of Southern communities and their citizens.)

It is a fact that a firmly equivocal and nice-sounding blandness has always been one of the greatest keys to success for American politicians. When was the last presidential election in which any real issues were contested? One celebrity historian has promoted the idea that the lack of opposition in politics is one of the great virtues of the American regime.

This avoidance of ideas and principles has always been the Republican stock in trade. The Republican Party has won office claiming opposition and immediately abetted and institutionalized whatever revolution has been imposed. Whenever the party leadership has been challenged, money, electoral expertise, and cunning deceit have been employed to defeat the usurper.

In 1964, when the grass roots rose up, the leaders torpedoed their own candidate. In 1980, when there was a potential threat, the candidate was quickly co-opted. When George Wallace showed the potential of social-conservative voters, Republican leaders held their noses and successfully gathered the harvest, at least for a time, without ever having the least intention of pressing any of the issues.

When conservative Christians became politically active, giving great hope to many, they, too, were swiftly invited into the party and neutralized. For some time now the party has rested on the votes of conservative Christians and Southerners. It has never had any intention of giving these voters anything, never has given them anything, and never will give them anything.

To do so will not be respectable, would invite calumny from the press, and would interfere with the real objective: power and profits.

When George W. Bush launched an unnecessary war of aggression on the basis of lies to the American people and Congress, there was no effective opposition. The Founding Fathers would have instantly recognized this as treason – the most unquestionably impeachable offense ever committed by one holding high office.

No effective political opposition – although Bill Clinton could be impeached for a bit of ambiguous verbiage. Then both parties colluded to subsidize the financiers so that their immense wealth would not be threatened by their evil acts against the people. No opposition.

There is no reason to think that the illegal immigration juggernaut will be any different. In the future, intelligent observers (if there are any) will judge that the years of George W. Bush marked the de facto end of the American experiment in freedom and self-government.”

(The Missing Opposition, Clyde Wilson; Chronicles Magazine, November 2014, excerpt pp. 18-19)

Roosevelt's American Religion of Supremacy

The man who Mencken referred to as “Roosevelt the First,” sent sixteen aging white-painted battleships on an around the world cruise in 1907 for little more than a boost in his administration’s prestige and a reelection ploy. Mark Twain wrote in his essay “The President as Advertiser” that “The excursion will make a great noise and this will satisfy Mr. Roosevelt.” Admiral Robley D. Evans mentioned below was a longtime navy man, and wounded in the Northern attack on Fort Fisher in January 1865.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Roosevelt’s American Religion of Supremacy

“A voyage around the world was Theodore Roosevelt’s own idea. “I determined on the move without consulting the Cabinet precisely as I took Panama without consulting the Cabinet.” The idea had come to him in 1905, when Russia’s long cruise ended in disaster. For two years he shaped his plans secretly . . . By 1907, several excuses were available.

Roosevelt’s standard explanation . . . was that the Navy needed practice in navigation, communication, coal consumption, crew stamina and fleet maneuvering. Navy professionals had trouble hiding their contempt for such reasoning [and obviously] the fleet could practice better in home waters, free from diplomatic diversions. Even Rear Admiral Evans, who was to command the excursion, later admitted that he never understood its purpose.

Roosevelt’s adversaries criticized his “other motives.” The voyage was timed to influence the election of 1908. It was a scheme to make Congress so proud that it might vote a dozen or so new battleships. The President was “in” with steel tycoons who wanted a new boom in shipbuilding. A foreign adventure would take people’s minds off their own troubles in the depression which had begun in 1907.

America’s new apprehension [toward the Japanese after defeating Russia] was noticeable at the Portsmouth Conference in 1905 when Roosevelt blocked Japan’s demands for a cash indemnity from Russia. This inspired anti-American demonstrations in Tokyo, repeated on a larger scale in 1906 after San Francisco announced that Japanese children could no longer attend regular public schools.

Jingoes prodded Roosevelt with hundreds of letter. A Chicagoan wrote: “We must send the fleet and sink them. Show no mercy, teach tm a lesson that will inform them of our power and majesty . . . Seize Korea, Formosa and Manchuria . . . the idea is to overwhelm them with our power suddenly.”

California papers . . . saved their best insults for Japan. They were joined by the yellow press, which mounted an assault upon public sanity just as it had done a decade in the war against Spain. Books about the “Yellow Peril,” “the Japanese menace,” and “the coming struggle” were popular in 1907. In May and June the New York Times and Collier’s Weekly published serials which described the future fighting around the Philippines and Hawaii.

The French press called Roosevelt a demagogue, imperialist and militaristic megalomaniac. The old American of freedom, democracy and peace was no more, having given away to violence, chauvinism, and the religion of supremacy.

Roosevelt muzzled the Navy. On threat of court-martial, officers could not criticize the cruise no matter how they scorned it as a waste of time. They were warned not to belittle the battleships, no matter how many improvements they thought the ships needed. The President also gave careful attention to the selection of the men who would tell the story to the public. Only “acceptable” correspondents were allowed to make the cruise. Everything must be “subject to censorship,” Roosevelt warned Admiral Evans.

All sixteen battleships had entered Hampton Roads by December 12 and anchored in neat rows near the spot where, on a night forty-five years before, a wooden United States Navy had awaited almost certain destruction by a crude iron ancestor known as the [CSS Virginia].

Riding at anchor, the battleships looked powerful as well as beautiful. The fleet was” one huge bluff . . . of little service in battle.” The appearance of such discordant notes brought bursts of indignation from the patriotic majority. A critic was a traitor, a saboteur, planting a kind of bomb that could destroy a quest for glory.”

(The Great White Fleet, Its Voyage Around the World, 1907-1909, Robert A. Hart, Little, Brown and Company, pp. 23-24; 31-32; 40-43; 52)

Lend-Lease Equals Dead American Boys

In his last major campaign speech of the 1940 election, to the “Boston Irish,” FDR reaffirmed his opposition to intervention in the European war, and added that “while I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I will give you one more assurance.  I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lend-Lease Equals Dead American Boys

“The 1940 presidential campaign soon settled into a phony contest to see who could most reassure American fathers and mothers that their boys would not be sent off to fight a war. [Republican presidential candidate Wendell] Wilkie kept calling FDR a warmonger and the public reaction finally got under the President’s skin.

The late Robert Sherwood, a Roosevelt ghost writer, has written that on a trip through New England on October 30 FDR was flooded with telegrams “stating almost tearfully that if the President did not give his solemn promise to the mothers, he might as well start packing his belongings at the White House.”

For this reason, Sherwood explained, the President that night in a speech in Boston spoke those unforgettable lines: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again – and again – and again – your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign war.” According to Sherwood, FDR rejected a suggestion by another speechwriter, Samuel Rosenman, that he add the phrase that was so important to him in the [Democratic] platform – “except in case of attack.”

The President’s campaign promises did not square with an impression I was getting from insiders. In October, Vice President John Nance Garner called me into his room off the Senate floor. He had just come from a Cabinet meeting.

“I’ll bet you a grand,” the Vice President [stated], “that we’re in the war by June first of next year.” Garner paused, ruminating, then added: “[Secretary of State Cordell] Hull is more anxious to go to war with the Japs than the Chief is.” I asked why.

“Because he thinks we’ve got to go to war with them sometime and we might as well do it now,” the Vice President said.

“That’s a hell of a reason,” I said. Garner agreed. Later, I mentioned Garner’s report on Hull’s attitude to Chairman Tom Connally of the Foreign Relations Committee and he grunted, “That’s right.”

The evidence that Hull wanted to go to war with Japan is overwhelming. Senator George W. Norris, the great liberal independent, knew it and once innocently assured me we would not lose any soldiers in a war with Japan.

Immediately after the election . . . Roosevelt [asked] Congress for authority to lend-lease all sorts of aid to the allies. It would be a revolutionary law giving him tremendous dictatorial powers to further our intervention – something he would not dare broach before the election.

When I arrived in Washington, DC, Senator Ed Johnson, a Colorado Democrat who shared my sentiments about the war, said he could not prevent its passage . . . . “The skids are greased and the Republicans and Democratic leaders are all for the bill,” Johnson said. I told him I would fight it even if the only vote I mustered was my own.

“When you pass this bill, it means war,” I told my colleagues. All the Democrats speaking for the Administration said the bill meant peace.

“If it is our war,” I said on January 2, 1941, “how can we justify lending them stuff and asking them to pay us back?” If it is our war, we ought to have the courage to go over and fight it, but it is not our war.”

[Wheeler said on the radio:] “The lend-lease program is the New Deal’s triple-A foreign policy; it will plow under every fourth American boy.”

Joe Kennedy, a friend since the early 1920s, shared my concern about our avoiding the war. He once told me that he liked Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain better than Winston Churchill because Chamberlain was interested in working out a peaceful solution. If this was so, I asked him, why did Britain let itself get involved in a war. Kennedy said it was “pressure from the United States.”

(Yankee From the West, Burton K. Wheeler, Paul F. Healy, editor, Doubleday & Company, 1962, pp. 24-27)

 

Wilson's League of Economic Exploitation

Behind the façade of Woodrow Wilson’s utopian idealism at Versailles in 1919 was the reality of the victor’s retribution and the predictable result of their repressive terms for peace. Lenin was already consolidating his merciless regime in Russia, the British were busy seizing Middle Eastern oil fields as their own, and the French desired an independent Rhineland. General Tasker Bliss wrote his wife” “The submerged nations are coming to the surface and as soon as they appear they fly at somebody’s throat. They are like mosquitos, vicious from the moment of birth.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Wilson’s League of Economic Exploitation

“According to all the Paris dispatches, President Wilson has authorized the statement that the league of nations plan is to be an integral part of the peace treaty. If this be true, we regard it as a deliberate attempt to dragoon the Senate of the United States, and as such, a logical and fitting climax to the whole discreditable course of the Paris Conference.

It is a familiar trick of the “rider.” The people of this country want the peace treaty signed and out of the way, the business interests being especially impatient of delay. At the same time, they are very imperfectly informed about the implications of the league covenant, and reluctant to wade through the diplomatic jargon which half-conceals its sinister purposes.

We may be quite sure . . . that every agency at the disposal of the [Wilson] Administration will do its utmost to manufacture and strengthen public sentiment against the opposition of the Senate . . .

This alliance of victorious Governments, masquerading under the pretentious lying title of a league of nations, organized for sheer economic exploitation, has nowhere in its constitution sincerity enough to make fitting one single inch of furtherance by aid of any honorable means whatsoever. It should continue and end under no other that the auspices of its beginning.

[There is no reason economically for the league as] the removal of economic barriers and restrictions now imposed by political governments upon industry and trade would, we believe, at once effect the same free economic union among world states that now prevails among the United States of America; and we think that a free economic union is the only one that will have stability or permanence.

[The proposed league] has no quality or characteristic which essentially differentiates it from treaties that have heretofore bound the European states into competitive and predatory groups. The war has made the liberal spirit impatient of opportunism and compromise. If all the cost and sacrifice involved in the struggle to “make the world safe for democracy” have purchased nothing better than a rescript of old treaties, if it has not brought about the practical affirmation of a single democratic principle, we cannot see any place for opportunism in judgment. Faith, under such circumstances, is not faith, but indolent, shirking credulity.

What we have [in the league] is a calm, arrogant, and ruthless formulation of a plan of world-domination by the five conquering powers, a device for causing the exploitable territories of the earth to stand and deliver without the risk and cost of war.

The Governments of the United States, Great Britain, France Italy and Japan are the league of nations; they are the executive council; they appoint the dummy directors; they pass finally on the qualifications of candidates; they are, in short, an absolute and irresponsible oligarchy.

International commerce cannot be carried on except at their pleasure, under their jurisdiction, and, it is surely by this time superfluous to add, to their profit. Teleologically considered, we are offered an economic alliance which has as its primary object, in general, the exploitation of a property-less dependent class of the world over, and, as between nations, the exploitation of the vanquished by the victors, and of weaker nations by the stronger.

It is an organization of what Mr. Frederic C. Howe calls “financial imperialism” raised to its highest possibility. It contemplates only a political peace, and that a pax Romana. Of economic peace it gives no hint; on the contrary, it contemplates the inauguration of unprecedented economic war.”

(The End of the Means, Albert J. Nock, The State of the Union, Essays in Social Criticism, C.H. Hamilton, editor, Liberty Fund, 1991, pp. 76-77; 79)

Unrestricted Presidential Foreign Policy

Eisenhower was an internationalist and moved ahead of conservative Robert A. Taft for that reason by the GOP leadership in 1951. This successor to FDR and Truman would not relinquish control of United States foreign policy to Congress and helped organize opposition to the Bricker Amendment in 1953. For reference, Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution provides that the President “shall have the Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur . . .”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Unrestricted Presidential Foreign Policy

“[Eisenhower] usually had Democratic support for an activist, presidentially-dominated foreign policy. Many of his fellow Republicans, however, had a lingering fear from the Roosevelt-Truman years of the chief executive’s preeminence in international affairs. Such Republicans – basically the Midwestern and Western, formerly [Robert A. Taft supporter], element in the GOP – furnished most of the support for the effort to limit presidential power in foreign policy. That effort took the form of the Bricker Amendment.

As early as 1951 Republican Senator John Bricker of Ohio had introduced a constitutional amendment which, though taking several different forms over the next three years, retained three main provisions: (1) The executive branch could enter into no treaty that conflicted with the Constitution. (2) Any treaty, to become effective as internal law in the United States, must have supporting legislation “which would be valid in the absence of a treaty.” (3) In addition to the constitutional requirement that two-thirds of the Senate must approve a treaty, Congress would gain the power to reject or regulate all executive agreements with foreign countries just as if they were formal treaties.

Although Bricker had originally offered his amendment out of opposition to Democrat foreign policy, especially the Yalta agreements, he revived the measure early in the Eisenhower administration with the backing of a majority of Republican senators. The amendment also had the support of the American Bar Association, the American Legion, the American Medical Association, and other powerful organizations.

It was the second article . . . evocation of States’ rights — that generated the greatest controversy, rallied the opposition in both parties, and eventually caused the amendment’s demise. The administration could charge that the “which” clause, by forcing the State Department to square every treaty with existing laws in every State, would reduce foreign policy to its feeble condition under the Articles of Confederation.

Contenting himself with platitudes and suggestions for compromise, Eisenhower shrewdly left the major attack on the Bricker Amendment in the hands of the State Department. Privately . . . Eisenhower exploded, “I’m so sick of this I could scream. The whole damn thing is senseless and plain damaging to the prestige of the United States.”

As the debate over the amendment dragged through 1953 into the next year, the administration finally succeeded in organizing the “internationalist” opposition inside and outside Congress. In the end the administration narrowly won its case [and defeated the amendment].

The failure of the Bricker Amendment left the Eisenhower administration with a relatively free hand in foreign policy. Building upon the inherited frameworks of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization of American States (OAS), the ANZUS treaty with Australia and New Zealand, and various bilateral pacts, Secretary [John Foster] Dulles brought into being an elaborate global system of alliances. Supplemented by more bilateral treaties, the expanded American alliance system encircled and pointed SAC’s nuclear power at the hearts of the Soviet Union and mainland China.

Moreover, while they paid more heed to congressional opinion than would their successors, the President and Secretary of State were usually able to commit American armed forces whenever and wherever they perceived a threat to the global status quo.

Finally, the Central Intelligence Agency, with Eisenhower’s full approval and indeed enthusiastic support, vastly broadened its role and functions. Under Director Allen Dulles the CIA went beyond its original statutory responsibility for gathering data on conditions in foreign countries (i.e., espionage) and became a powerful instrument for implementing American policy and objectives.

On a number of occasions the CIA intervened clandestinely in the internal politics of other nations, sometimes to shore up shaky regimes favored by the United States, or at times to subvert and overthrow objectionable governments. The first occasion was in Iran within six months after Eisenhower entered the White House . . . [when] key portions of the American national security bureaucracy had come not only to share the British view of overthrowing [Mohammed] Mossadeq was necessary to insure Western access to Iranian oil, but to believe that Mossadeq was sympathetic to his country’s Marxist Tudeh party and was moving into the Soviet orbit.

After Mossadeq refused to give in to the new administration’s threats to withdraw its aid, the CIA began working undercover to bring him down. Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and the CIA’s top covert agent in the Middle East, operated closely with the American Military Assistance Mission in Tehran, the Iranian capital.

Late in August the Mossadeq government capitulated, [pro-Western Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlevi] made a triumphant return, and an army general friendly to the Western powers was installed as premier.”

(Holding the Line: The Eisenhower Era, 1952-1961, Charles C. Alexander, Indiana University Press, 1975, pp. 71-74)

 

Pages:«123456»