Tuesday, July 15, 2014

World War II: Just Another Government SNAFU

I claim in an earlier post that World War II, like every other government program, accomplished “the exact opposite of its stated intention,” and I will here defend my claim.
To make my case I need to specify who it was who stated the intention, what that stated intention was, and that the actual result was the opposite of the stated intention.
Since Franklin Roosevelt stood head and shoulders above all other US political figures on December 7, 1941, I believe he should be my source for the stated intention. From his speech to the Congress: “The Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace. … Japan has … undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. … As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.”
As a result of World War II, Japan ceased to be a military threat, as did Germany and Italy. The war accomplished its stated goals. The Quill Pig is wrong. Court is adjourned.
Mr. Security Guard, before you throw me out of the empty courtroom, please let me whisper some words to the fly buzzing around the light above me.
According to Woodrow Wilson, World War I—which was not called that at the time, of course—was being fought “to make the world safe for democracy.” Yet it didn’t. As it raged it literally turned much of Europe into rubble. The treaty that ended the war starved Germany—hardly a safe situation—and made a prophet of David Lloyd George, who predicted that England would “fight another war again in 25 years time.” During those years the Germans sharpened their war-making skills in Spain bringing Franco to power. The world was not made safe for democracy.
That was World War I, not World War II. The job was not done completely the first time, which necessitated a second war. The second war did the job. What’s your problem?
What if World War II were a pyrrhic victory, “a victory with such a devastating cost that it is tantamount to defeat”? Would it still be considered a success? Would a program that accomplishes its goals as stated but not the goals as understood by the hearers be moral?
As an example of the last, consider the American Revolution. It was sold to the patriots with such slogans as “no taxation without representation.” Most patriots hearing the slogan would have thought that by being represented they would be able to keep their taxes low, don’t you think? But after the war was won and the patriots were represented in their federal government—surprise!—their taxes were higher than those in Great Britain. Stated goal reached: expected result not.
Or another example: The enslavement of the blacks in the US was an abomination. Emancipation was supposed to be a good thing because freedom is a good thing. Yet the post-emancipation Jim Crow era was worse than slavery for so many blacks that the song “Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child” composed in those days became an instant hit. Stated goal reached: expected result not.
Were the losses from World War II so great that winning was tantamount to defeat? Did the government deliver on what those who believed the rhetoric were expecting?
I would suggest that the first loss in World War II was freedom, the very thing the citizenry understood Roosevelt’s request for a declaration of war as a call to defend. One of the first actions the government undertook was to institute military conscription. Conscription by definition puts those conscripted under the control of the government. It is the most lethal form of state slavery. Compared with literally dodging bullets and bombs, a 95% tax rate in peacetime looks like freedom.
Does slavery have to be called slavery to be slavery? Or can de facto slavery be sold as something else? Is a mugging only a mugging, or to the degree that the mugger has control over the actions and resources of the muggee is it not a form of slavery? If it is, the same is true of military conscription: it is slavery by another name.
Wilson conscripted soldiers for World War I, so you can’t blame that on World War II.
Sure I can. By your own admission, World War I was incomplete: World War II finished the unfinished business of World War I. They are in essence one war.
Sneaky. Besides, Lincoln conscripted soldiers for the Civil War, so you can’t pin conscription on World War II.
Only if I can’t call a burglary on Wednesday a robbery because the same guy mugged the same guy on Tuesday. Lincoln conscripted soldiers to kill, if necessary, their fellow citizens to prevent them from getting out from under his rule. Funny that US government propaganda these days tells us the conquest of the Confederacy was about ending black slavery when Lincoln not only said in his first inaugural address that he had no intention of interfering with black slavery but he also enslaved white boys to go fight. Between conscription and Jim Crow, I see a difference between what the government advertises and what it delivers.
Yes, but if we hadn’t gone to war against Germany and Japan, European Jews would all have been killed, and the Japanese would still be using Korean women as sex toys and treating all of China the way they raped Nanking.
I see no mention of Jews, Koreans, or Chinese in Roosevelt’s speech. As president he swore to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Period. And we know he hated the Constitution. He began the War on Drugs, though again not by that name, by making marijuana illegal without amending the Constitution. (As bad as the alcohol prohibitionists were, they at least got an amendment passed.) Roosevelt also openly flouted the Constitution when he tried to increase the number of Supreme Court justices so he could get the majority needed to vote down objections to his welfare state measures. In the same way, to the degree he was fighting the war to protect Jews, Koreans, and Chinese, he was violating the Constitution.
But the war saved innocent lives and preserved freedom!
Lenin is quoted as saying, “Politics is all about who does what to whom.” It makes all the difference in the world whether you’re one of the “who” or one of the “whom.” Innocent lives were indeed saved, but it’s also true that innocent people were killed. The carpet bombings of Dresden and other German cities, the firebombing of Tokyo, and the two atomic bombs all targeted civilians. And yes, US soldiers had targeted civilians previously: Indians in the Southeast before the conquest of the Confederacy, whites in the Confederacy during the conquest, Plains Indians, Hawaiians, and Filipinos. To quote a term paper I just edited,
In one incident [in Dicken’s Hard Times], Mr. M’choakumchild, a teacher in Gradgrind School, … tries to convince [a student] that a city of a million inhabitants in which only twenty-five starve to death is prosperous. Sissy responds that [and here’s the quote I want you to see] the deaths must be just as hard on the families of the twenty-five when the survival rate is high as it is when it is low.
In the same way, the death of the innocent civilians who opposed Hitler and Hirohito but happened to be where the bombs fell is as horrible as the death of the the innocents from the buzz bombs and the Holocaust. The moral logic of killing innocent people to save innocent people escapes me. And, of course, anyone today who questions the current zeal (there’s no other word for it) for collateral damage, whether by the Clinton sanctions or the Bush-Obama military, is referred back to—Ta daaah!—Dresden and Hiroshima.
Since World War II we as a nation consider ourselves just that much more justified in killing innocent people in the pursuit of our interests than we did before. I call that a pyrrhic victory at best.
As for preserving freedom, I’m not sure the Eastern Europeans, whom (there’s that word again) Stalin and Hitler took turns pillaging and slaughtering, would say their freedom was preserved. Nor would the Chinese, who were given the choice between a seriously flawed US puppet and a Communist butcher. To say lives were saved and freedom preserved is to echo the sentiments stated so well by Randy Newman:
Brother Gene
Was big and mean
And he didn’t have much to say.
He had a little woman that he whupped each day,
But now she’s gone away.
He got drunk last night and pushed Mama down the stairs,
But I’m all right, so I don’t care.
And finally, there’s the question whether the war was necessary to begin with. I see no compelling reason for England, let alone the US, to have entered World War I. The best explanation for England’s involvement is their desire to take over Germany’s colonies, as they did in New Guinea. We got in because the Germans sank a passenger ship that our government knew was carrying war materiel to England and because Wilson wanted to have leverage in creating the League of Nations. We got into World War II because the Japanese bombed the base of operations for the sanctions we were applying to Japan because we wanted their colonies in China.
We went to war to rescue the Jews? Don’t make me laugh. The Final Solution wouldn’t have been needed if Roosevelt had let Europe’s Jews immigrate, but he shut the door on them. To rescue the Koreans? We told the Japanese when we took over the Philippines that we’d keep mum about their treatment of the Koreans if they’d keep mum about our treatment of the Filipinos. The Chinese? Tell me they weren’t gooks twenty years before the term was coined.
“War is the health of the state.” War stimulates government spending. Read any social studies textbook and they’ll tell you that it was wartime spending that ended the Depression. Do you think no one in power expected that to be the case (or at least that once the fighting was over they’d be able to make the case successfully)? The Keynesians who ran the government wanted war so it would end the Depression. They took tax money and gave it to the armaments manufacturers: tax money for politically connected businesses is the textbook definition of fascism. Uncle Sam instituted slavery to fight slavery and fascism to fight fascism. In enriching politically connected industrialists he succeeded marvelously, and he set the stage for wars ever since, where the object has been to start them and prolong them, not to win them, as winning them would mean mothballing the gravy train.
Death, rubble, taxes, and cronyism: Situation Normal: All “Fouled” Up.
Japan and Germany ceased to be military threats. The war delivered precisely what the government promised. It accomplished the stated goals. You have failed to prove your point.
You’re right. So shoot me.
Up against the wall, mother-“fouler.”


  1. Just found your blog and am reading through it.
    WWII started when England declared war on Germany when it invaded Poland in 1939. The purpose of the war was to come to the aid of Poland and liberate it from its invaders. Before the war was over England and the U.S. agreed to let Stalin have Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe. So, looking at the original cause of WWII, the war was a complete failure.

  2. Thanks for reading, and double thanks for commenting. Now if I can just get people who really disagree to enter the fray ...