by Jacob G. Hornberger
Given that today is the anniversary date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we’ll no doubt be treated to standard interventionist articles stating what a great thing World War II was.
The American people were overwhelmingly opposed to entry into World War II. That’s not surprising given the consequences of World War I. There was absolutely no reason for the United States to intervene in that war.
The Founding Fathers had warned against entry into the never-ending conflicts in Europe. They had also warned about how war is the greatest enemy of liberty, since it provides statists with the maximum opportunity to expand government power over the lives and fortunes of the citizenry.
But Wilson and the interventionists were hell-bent on getting involved in the conflict. They were sick and tired of those centuries-old European wars and were determined to use America’s military might and economic strength to bring them to an end, once and for all.
The aims of U.S. intervention in World War I were twofold: to make the world safe for democracy and to bring a final end to all war.
What a sick and deadly joke that turned out to be. Only 15 years later, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis had assumed power in Germany, and within only a few more years, World War II had broken out. And guess what the major factor was in the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. You guessed it: U.S. intervention in World War I, which led to the total defeat of Germany, rather than a negotiated peace, followed by the vindictive Treaty of Versailles.
Neither of the U.S. goals was achieved: the world was not made safe for democracy and World War I only led to World War II. It was a total waste of American life and money.
That’s why Americans wanted nothing to do with it when fighting broke out again some 20 years later. They wished to return to the founding principles of their country — stay out of European wars and work to establish a model society of freedom and prosperity at home.
Roosevelt told people that he felt the same way. In his campaign for reelection in 1940, he stated, “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.”
It was a smart political move. If he had told Americans the opposite, they might well have rejected his bid for reelection.
There was one big problem, however: Roosevelt was lying — knowingly, deliberately, and intentionally lying. In actuality, he had every intention of sending America’s boys into foreign wars. He just had to figure out a way to do so.
In addition to public sentiment against the war, FDR had another enormous obstacle: the U.S. Constitution. This was a time when presidents, unlike today, were still complying with the constitutional requirement of a congressional declaration of war. Roosevelt knew that given the prevailing sentiment of staying out of the war, he would never be able to convince Congress to declare war on Germany.
So, FDR did the next best thing to get the United States into the war. He started goading and baiting the Germans into attacking the United States. In that way, he’d be able to say, “We’ve been attacked! We’ve been attacked! Give me my declaration of war so that we can defend ourselves.”
But the Germans refused to take the bait.
That didn’t stop FDR, however. He started focusing on Japan, in the hope that he could get the United States into the European conflict through the back door with a war in the Pacific. Of course, war with Japan didn’t automatically mean war with Germany, but FDR figured it was the best chance he had.
So, Roosevelt did everything he could to squeeze Japan into attacking the United States. Knowing that Japan was mired down in a vicious war in China, he froze Japanese bank accounts in the United States, placed an embargo on oil to Japan, authorized the Flying Tigers to attack Japanese troops (without a congressional declaration of war), and issued terms in negotiations that were intended to humiliate the Japanese.
Moreover, knowing war tensions were building and that the chances of a Japanese attack were growing, he deliberately left U.S. troops in the Philippines, Hawaii, and elsewhere in the Pacific, knowing that they would be sitting ducks for a surprise Japanese attack.
When secret Japanese diplomatic messages were intercepted and decoded that indicated that war was imminent, FDR chose one of the slowest routes possible to advise the U.S. military commanders at Pearl of what was occurring. They received FDR’s message after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had begun.
Ever since Pearl Harbor, there have been debates over whether FDR had foreknowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack. The circumstantial evidence is damning, but few historians now dispute that Franklin Roosevelt wanted the United States to get involved in World War II, that he lied when he publicly claimed otherwise, and that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which was followed by Germany’s declaration of war against the United States, gave FDR what he wanted — entry into World War II.
To this day, interventionists celebrate World War II because Hitler’s Nazi control over Eastern Europe was replaced by Stalin’s communist control. Stalin, who had invaded Poland soon after Hitler did pursuant to the pact between them, was FDR’s World War II partner against Hitler.
How laughable is that! Go ask any Pole, Czech, or other Eastern European if he celebrates World War II as a victory, the way U.S. interventionists do, and they’ll laugh in your face. Replacing Nazism with communism was no victory for the Eastern Europeans, at least not from their perspective.
Moreover, look at what World War II did to us here at home: thanks to that great communist victory in World War II, we Americans got saddled with a permanent national security state, including the Pentagon, the CIA, the military-industrial complex, and a vast overseas military empire, none of which has no intention of ever disappearing despite the fact that World War II ended in 1945 and the Soviet Union ended in 1989.
Don’t forget China. Sure, World War II forced Japan to withdraw from China, which soon came under the control of the Mao and the communists. The Chinese people remain under brutal communist control to this day.
And then came the Cold War, Korea, and Vietnam.
With victories like that, who needs losses?
The next time you see a U.S. president imposing sanctions, embargoes, and other such actions, the probability is that he is modeling his actions after those of FDR, who succeeded in circumventing the will of the American people against entry into World War II by doing the same things to Japan.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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