Very strange how WWI makes almost no sense from today's perspective. Every country was damaged either directly by the conflict, or indirectly through its protracted (and still ongoing) resolution.
Had those young men simply decided to do nothing rather than join, the world would have been a better place.
I'd be curious to know Butler's take on WWII (he died in 1940). That's the one that people seem most hung up on. It's the only war in living memory considered near universally "good" by those in the US. It's the war that's invoked by every administration trying to stir up popular support for a military adventure in a country most voters can't place on a map.
I'm doubtful our current reverence for WWII will stand the test of time. Long after Hitler has been replaced by the next boogeyman, history students of the future will scratch their heads at what could have possibly motivated a young man to volunteer for such a fool's errand.
US won big in that war. WWI nearly bankrupted the British Empire, guess who it was loaning money from? (Hint: it's the US). The only finally paid it off in 2015.
WWI turned the US into a world power, and marked the end of many (other) Empires.
As for the European powers, the war made a lot of sense before it started, as a lot of money was spent on making the shiny toys that killed so many people. Maybe not to the citizens of the countries that took part in the war, but surely to the profiteers.
Finally, one can argue that the war made sense for Germany in the long run, in spite of all the losses. Before the war, Germany was surrounded by Empires: the Russian Empire, the British Empire, the French Empire, the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman ones. Germany was allied with some of them, threatened by others, but the history shows how fickle the alliances were.
Fast-forward to today, and Germany is still there, while the Empires are gone. WW1 effectively took down the Russian Empire, and was the beginning of the end of the British one (to say nothing of the others).
I am being facetious here, but if the goal of WW1 was to establish a more friendly Europe for German ambitions, then that goal was eventually accomplished.
That's to say, the war made sense for Germany because it was surrounded by states that stood to lose more (if you ignore human life).
Of course, this argument doesn't make sense if you care about people to the slightest extent. But the people who start the wars rarely do.
The many countries (sometimes newly established after the fall of an empire like austrian-hungary or russia) suddenly found themselves with a completely new political system.
The november revolution in germany resulted in the abolishment of the monarchy and firmly entreched social-democrats inside the political spectrum. It also shows us why having a young democracy without a strong sense of institutional-ism and tradition is incredible fragile.
I am not so sure. I think the main reason that decolonization happened is that a whole generation of young men were lost and Europe was too exhausted and poor from the two world wars to keep its colonies.
Without WWI, there would not have been WWII which would have left the European nations as the premier powers in the world who would have held on to their colonies in Asia and Africa.
So without WWI, there would still be a pretty high chance that India would still be a British colony.
Europe may have been a better place, but probably not the rest of the world.
End of the day, it was all about resources, and is no different than today’s conflicts, which boil down to oil on the supply and the control of money on the demand side.
IMO the increasing irrelevance of the Middle East will continue to increase world peace and prosperity, at the expense of some truly awful regimes which will crumble.
We get to look back with hind sight and only remember negative consequences from positive actions. The US entered WW1 after Germany began unrestricted submarine ware fare for the second time, and coming on the heels of the Zimmerman telegram. France and Belgium were invaded by hostile power. Germany feared Russian modernization and fear of not being able to Compete with France and Russia. Russia sided with the Serbs. France Sided with Russia whose alliance it has sought to counteract the power of a newly unified Germany which had defeated France in 1871 taken territory and imposed a large reparation payment. Austria an absolute monarchy wanted to quite serb nationalism.
Hitler's extermination of the Jews will have him as a historical villain for a long, long time.
The difference was the US got FDR instead of Hitler.
Modern Economists hate talking about this and have managed to drop it down the memory hole.
Many germans simply didn't believe democracy was the form of goverment required to battle the great depression and return germany to it's former glory. Both on the left side aswell as the right side of the political spectrum. The nearly endless turmoil during the 20's was a result of that.
I don't envy the people living in those times. Hitler is one hell of a boogeyman to top.
The ethnically targeted nature of the holocaust is the main claim to 'worst of the worst' status, but honestly it isn't obvious to me that a dead Jew is more horrific than a dead anyone else. They are both pretty bad.
What made the holocaust particularly heinous, apart from the ethnic cleansing and antisemitism (the latter of which was not entirely uncommon in Western culture, unfortunately) was the industrial scale and effort applied to it. The Nazis weren't just killing Jews, which would have been bad enough, they set up (possibly the first ever) large scale automated data collection and processing network using IBM tabulators to efficiently process census data and find the Jews to kill, as well as organize and correlate the resources, personnel and urban infrastructure to be able to kill them by the trainload, with the eventual goal of killing every single Jew in Europe.
While it is true that other groups were targeted by the Nazis, the holocaust was still in a class of evil all of its own. It's one of the events that led to the coining of the word "genocide," after all.
As this thread shows, antisemites feel no need to hide themselves any longer, and nobody feels troubled enough to shout them down
The crimes of Nazism are horrific and put them in an entirely different level of evil.
Never underestimate the depths of muderous intent those who wield power can potentially inflict.
It wasn't publicized because the New York Times was involved in covering it up.
The things that caused WWII, Hitler's rise to power, and the systems that enabled and, frankly, bent him and the Nazis towards the evils they committed, I think we were culpable for, for how Germany was positioned on the world stage post WWI. Germany was ripe for a demagogue, and people needed the sense of security mindlessly following one provides.
I mean...we didn't have an unnecessary war that left us in a bad state; we got there ourselves.
Hitler wasn’t the fruit of Great Depression suffering. Most of the world was suffering the consequences of the Great Depression. Hell, many countries had autocrat leaders at the same time. None have committed anywhere near the level of atrocity that Hitler has.
Because Hitler was a product of German people’s fanatical antisemitism and anti-slavism. The roots of which reach back long before World War I.
Bismarck was famous for and boastful of his antipolonism and often called Poles “animals”, “wolves” etc. And he’s thought of as that “progressive” father of modern Germany.
With a dad like that it’s hardly a wonder that the kid turned out to be shitty.
I was not referring to the Great Depression. I'm talking about the War Guilt clause of the Treaty of Versailles. It left Germany with a huge financial burden to other countries, and did nothing to actually address any of the issues that had caused WWI.
Yeah, the Jews were a convenient "other" to blame. The playbook is pretty straightforward - blame the status quo, the economic pressures (fair or not) that the poorest are facing (which only works if those feeling they're poor are sufficient in number), while doing nothing that would actually benefit them, and blame some 'other'. You've seen it repeat time and again.
The point I was making is that the status quo in Germany at that time -was- onerous. Being economically liable for the entire cost of a war, both the damages inflicted on both sides, AND the financial cost incurred in waging it for both sides, is going to be felt. And people are going to chafe; after all, the country probably had a reason for going to war in the first place, even if it was just public sentiment. And forcing such a treaty on Germany was the decision of the Allies.
As it stands, a third of us were murdered by the "Third Reich", and our numbers have still not recovered.
Told by whom? Oh that's right, the news media. People really need to go look into why the NYTimes, WashingtonPost, Pulitzer's properties, Hearst's properties, etc were created and how their yellow journalism played into wars even to this day.
Also keep in mind, the biggest ( proportionally ) benefactor of war isn't defense contractors, it's the news industry.
People forgot that WashingtonPost went bankrupt in the first half of the 1900s and the news industry was in danger of collapse. What saved the industry? War.
Keep in mind that the news industry, especially the NYTimes ( a company created by a banker ) editorial board, attacked Butler as a "hoaxer" ( aka conspiracy peddler ). How times change, but the propaganda remains the same.
> Very strange how WWI makes almost no sense from today's perspective.
WW1 makes total sense. By WW1, the entire world had been conquered by European powers and America. Every piece of land on earth was under European/American control or influence. So european powers had no one left to fight but themselves.
> Every country was damaged either directly by the conflict, or indirectly through its protracted (and still ongoing) resolution.
Europe was in ruins and more importantly fractured. Go read TS Eliot's The Waste Land. It's partly about his angst of over a broken europe and the collapse of western civilization and the ultimate pointlessness of that war.
> It's the only war in living memory considered near universally "good" by those in the US.
It's considered good because propaganda tells us it's good. Propaganda tells us its good because we came out on top. But I don't see how a war with nukes and upwards of 120 million dead could be considered good. That's more dead than the worst pandemic in recent history - spanish flu which killed upwards of 100 million. I doubt anyone would say the spanish flu was "good".
> I'm doubtful our current reverence for WWII will stand the test of time.
Reverence of ww2 will be determined by who is in power. History, as all other propaganda, is written by those in power.
I think this occurs within some time frame of the event, and even then only among the better known, funded and "court approved" historians. There will be outcast historians that plug away at recording various facts surrounding the event (e.g., continued investigation into whether FDR was intentionally bellicose, was it truly necessary to nuke Japan, was fire bombing the German civilians tactically useful, etc.).
Which we all know is hot garbage. The government quite literally says, your individual freedoms are not greater than our goal for the country. If you ask me, that sounds NO different than communism! But when you fight for uncle sam, it must mean "the greater good" is good, just because the "greater good" isn't commie red "greater good."
The rational was to keep Poland and the Czech republic free. However at the end of the war neither country was free. They had fallen under the Soviet sphere of influence. The goals they set hence failed.
They KNEW Hitler planned to attack Russia. He had spoken for years about that. That meant they would go through Poland. The sneaky but rational solution would have been to sacrifice Poland temporary and let Hitler attack Russia. Russia and Germany would have worn each other out.
At the end a heavily built up allied military could have marched in and cleaned up.
So on the one hand, Cold War Poland ended up a puppet of the Soviets. Repression of dissidents, etc. But the Poles were alive. On the other hand, had Nazi Germany won and completed their plan there would be no Poles left to complain about their lack of freedom.
So was WWII really a mistake?
They war could very well have ended sooner.
Germany was not ready to fight a war in 1937, 1938, or even 1939, when it actually invaded Poland. Had the West actually responded to German aggression with a land assault, even as late as the actual invasion of Poland, then it's rather likely that the war could have been cleaned up before the Soviet Union would have invaded Poland.
Furthermore, an appropriate Western response to actually supporting the Central European states would probably have given the USSR pause before invading, as it would have demonstrated that the defensive treaties were not mere pieces of paper.
Ironically, none of the countries in WWI were actually obliged to enter into the war by virtue of their treaties.
The Triple Alliance didn't kick in unless one of the parties was "without direct provocation on their part, [...] attacked or [...] engaged in a war with two or more Great Powers nonsignatory to the present treaty" (or Italy attacked by France alone). But France and Britain declared war after Germany did, so the "two or more" doesn't kick in. Not to mention that the "direct provocation" is an ample loophole for anyone wanting to wriggle out of the treaty (as Italy, in fact did).
The Triple Entente wasn't a single treaty. The Franco-Russian Alliance was the strongest, requiring France and Russia to attack Germany should Germany attack one of them or merely mobilize in response to any of the Triple Alliance mobilizing. But again, this is a defensive trigger, and Russia mobilized before Germany did , so the clause didn't kick in. The Anglo-French Entente was not backed by any military alliance treaty, nor was the Anglo-Russian Entente. The Treaty of London merely guaranteed Belgian neutrality, and did not oblige anyone to enter into war against someone who violated Belgian neutrality.
For extra irony, in WWII, Britain and France went to war against Germany in defense of Poland, with whom they did not have a binding defensive treaty, but not in defense of Czechoslovakia, with whom France did.
 We know now that Germany actually decided its full mobilization before Russia did, but held back on announcing it just long enough to have the Russian mobilization announce first. In the event, France actually did not mobilize until after Germany mobilized against it, the German military having convinced Kaiser Wilhelm that mobilizing against only Russia was impossible.
Instead allies did the absolutely stupid thing and propped up Russia making it strong enough to take over half of Europe! Wow brilliant move there.
Helping Russia was a major strategic blunder. It helped create the cold war.
It really is a case where the Nazis picked a fight they just couldn't win.
The keyword is "lend-lease" . About 5% of weapons for 1942 Soviet offensive operations, decisive for the final outcome, were US-made. And 80% of cars and trucks. And lots of raw material.
Lend-lease, while critical help, is often overplayed in the West as a way to diminish the Soviet contribution to the war -- this is in itself the legacy of historical views shaped by the Cold War and (unsurprisingly) by ex Wehrmacht officers who collaborared with the West after WW2. There's no credible mainstream analysis that has Germany winning against the Soviet Union. In fact, it is often argued that by starting Barbarossa, Hitler effectively lost the war. Germany didn't have the manpower, logistics capabilities or equipment to take on the Soviet Union.
That's not to say it wouldn't have cost the Soviets a lot more time, effort and bloodshed to defeat the Nazi war machine without the help of the Western Allies.
I'm not Russian and I'm completely uninterested in how current Russia and Putin are spinning this, by the way.
It's a plenty popular idea, but people won't say so publicly because of social pressure: The Greatest Generation, The Good War, etc.
Words cannot express how disappointed I am with people who say things like this.
Assuming you believe that your country's political system is not worth overthrowing, then serving your country is an honorable act, and people who have served should not be criticized for taking on the burden that is service. Quite the opposite.
Now if your political system is beyond repair and unsalvageable through reform, then sure, service is not honorable.
It's unfortunate that so many of my fellow citizens seem to take the intellectually lazy way out: Criticize the choice to serve, but be unwilling to reform/overthrow their government. This line of thinking is so widespread, it's truly disheartening.
Some might think it's a fallacious argument from authority, but I don't think it is. Fortunately, or unfortunately?, the people I tend to argue with about this stuff likely don't know what that fallacy is.
Although it was almost 30 years later, you could also quote Eisenhower's parting words:
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex."
I think it's much deeper than "defend the country." For a lot of people, the military is the only ticket out of their bumfuck nowhere life. For some people, it's a chance to learn some self discipline and self confidence. For some people, it's a brotherhood of warriors they're part of. For some people, it's a way to get a college education. For some people, it's about defending their nation. Of course there are plenty of people who watch a Michael Bay movie and think they'll be some badass operator if they enlist.
I think someone like Smedley Butler might have viewed the military as a place that turns boys into confident men, teaches them valuable skills, instills discipline and self respect into them, and hooks them into a network of lifelong brothers.
War is not necessary for any of this, and he realized that when we go to war, he has to send his men to die so that people with contacts in Washington can get rich. He says in the linked paper that he suspected it when he was a Marine and finally realized it after he retired.
It aligns with the fact that the warmongers are putting out a lot of propaganda that makes it a virtue to go to war and die for the warmongers.
Much of the modern recruitment efforts I've seen focus on benefits like paying for student loan debts, workforce training and healthcare.
I would bet that most people who join the military today (at least in the US) do so hoping to avoid ever having to see action, rather than looking forward to killing for their country.
Having said that, though, do you remember people in that age bracked signing up in the aftermath of 9/11? They were doing so explicitly because they wanted to go out and "fight back." And we've been at war in those areas ever since. I don't think it's particularly plausible that, after nearly two decades of constant deployment to war zones in the Middle East, anyone would sign up for the Marines with the expectation that they would not be required to go kill for their country.
Sounds like you live in a nice bubble.
> Much of the modern recruitment efforts I've seen focus on benefits like paying for student loan debts, workforce training and healthcare.
highly branch-specific. They cater recruiting messages to the target audience. Look up Marine recruiting material.
> I would bet that most people who join the military today (at least in the US) do so hoping to avoid ever having to see action, rather than looking forward to killing for their country
you'd lose that bet
Most of the guys I went to basic with or deployed with could. Not. Wait. To see action.
As a result, it's worth cautioning people that just because a fact of foreign policy efforts was true 100 years ago does not mean that it is true today.
Perhaps we might say something contrarian to this: if it was something true 100 years ago, the burden of proof is on the side of proving it is no longer so. And I think you will have a hard time at it.
If you believe that the foreign policy is built on that premise, but that the government is lying about it, then the burden of proof is on you to show that lying is in effect.
Ok, literally true I guess? Not "explicitly" maybe. But you continue
>If you believe that the foreign policy is built on that premise, but that the government is lying about it,
>If you haven't noticed, we no longer invade countries (e.g., Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela) when they threaten to nationalize industries that the US has a large stake in.
What the US does nowadays isn't less appalling. I suggest the recent book The Wikileaks Files: The World According to US Empire, which goes around the world looking at the way US leaders/diplomats/agencies think and talk and act in relation to various countries and regions. Not how their press releases describe it, but quoting from their actual communications and instructions and advice and reports, in great detail. Mostly it's about the 2000s and 2010s, with some historical context. Warning: it will be very disheartening.
In the 1990s I read most of Chomsky's earlier political books, with each book focusing on a particular country/region, and following up his sources - books, papers, media, the UN voting record etc. That was incredibly depressing and sickening. The US crushing any show of real democracy and independence in country after country. Often training torturers and arming death squads in the service of dictators they installed and armed etc. (When they weren't actually invading and/or bombing) And covering it up with self-righteous propaganda about being pro-democracy.. It's hard to believe at first, so different from the glossy CNN/NBC/CBS/ABC picture of the world.
>the burden of proof is on you to show that lying is in effect.
Just read The Wikileaks Files and you should be amply satisfied on that score. (But sounds like your whole world-view will be shattered, sorry for that.) Yes, "built on the protection of American commercial interests abroad", yes, "the government is lying about it", it's plain as day.
And if those people revolt, then there's a "legitimate government" asking us to help them in a "police action" - not a war, God forbid! And then we train their troops and give them munitions. And if all that fails, then we send our troops to protect the "legitimate government".
And the last time this happened was... ?
Don't say on "me", I was just offering a plausible side. But I agree it is a difficult question. There is the point you make, but there is also the point made by asking "cui bono".
One would have to be fantastically incredulous to imagine the USA invaded Iraq for anything other than the loot.
As @yesenadam notes, there's mountains of evidence, readily visible to anyone choosing to notice.
On your point of commercial interests, as though there's a distinction from trade policy, Saddam and Gadaffi had the poor sense to seriously propose abandoning petrodollars, sealing their fates.
Every generation has a supply of young men who go to war simply because they want to go to war. That's a human universal as far as I can tell. The reasons for the war are unimportant. It isn't until they become older and more introspective that they consider the big-picture morality of it. Smedley Butler was in his 50s when he made that speech.
... not enough Americans know or care about what happens in other countries or what their government and military is doing in their name. Do many Americans know that there are at least 1000 American military bases around the world, or that there is a fast growing Africa Command branch of the military that is involved in almost every country in Africa? Certain politicians would like to cut “discretionary” spending for such unnecessary things as education, health care, infrastructure, and protecting the environment, but over $1 Trillion a year in allotted to the military, secret intelligence, and “homeland security” in order to continue such unholy activities we have seen for over 100 years.
It is telling that such a high profile person like General Butler could give such influential speeches in the ’30’s, and that even a president (who was also a general, perhaps not coincidentally) could warn against the military-industrial complex in 1961. Such a thing has been unimaginable since the Carter presidency. With the possible exception of Bernie Sanders, there are no politicians today brave enough to take on this problem, and certainly none with as high a profile as president. Maybe it’s time for less money in the hands of arms producers and war profiteers. It’s time for less war and weapons in general. Sadly, this means that it must be time for new politicians. Only a citizenry which not only votes, but is also informed and involved, can do this.
Imagine if this sum would have been used mostly nonviolently for bribing and buying influence in the region. Depending how the money is distributed, it would have been:
* $35k per each person in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you divide it into households maybe something like $100k - 150k per household.
* 2.5 million millionaires, or
* assuming you need to just bribe 20,000 most influential persons/families/groups in Iraq and 10,000 in Afghanistan that would be something like $80 million each.
corruption >> war, almost every time.
1. People who will change their opinion, reliably, when bribed.
2. People who won't backstab you (aka: take the money, and attack you anyway).
Figuring this out is an intelligence problem. To get good intelligence, you need boots on the ground. To have boots on the ground, you need to protect them. Etc. etc.
With regards to Afghanistan culture: they have a different way of thinking than us Americans. Sure, some can be bribed with money, but a history of being a warzone for... I think 200 years at least... has made their culture strange and alien to us.
IIRC, Afghanistan culture is about accepting and protecting of strangers, even when they are under attack. But as soon as the stranger leaves, you're allowed to shoot them or otherwise kill them again. So this makes #2 more difficult, you need to understand the local's religion, their culture, their legends and their stories. (I'm probably butchering the concept, but I read about the details a long time ago...)
In the case of Afghanistan, if US Troops could take advantage of the "accepting of strangers" culture, then US Troops will be protected by the locals. Diplomacy leads to better war-fighters and safer people. Play your cards right, and you don't even need to bribe people. You'll be a good-guy in their culture and they'll protect you.
In fact CIA and SOF had pinned Taliban and Al-Qaeda combatants into Kunduz in November 2001. Then came the order to stand down let them fly into Pakistan unharmed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunduz_airlift#Revelation
Western overtures with Saddam Husain would be a great example. Second to US granting asylim to all batshit insane military mutineers in hopes of using them any time the new freedom fighters don't dance their tune: Haftar Khalifa, Husain Altaf
The West has adopted a very orientalistic concept of war as of late, as of it being purely symbolic bloodshed and ritualised sabre rattling just to compel "tribal elders" of another side to talks on your terms.
Bitter lessons from European genocidal, uncompromising warfare to the last drop of blood has been largely forgotten.
The next time the West will encounter an opponent who treats the war seriously will be its own 6 day war.
You pay American soldiers and contractor salaries. You buy weapons and technology from American companies.
Bribes don't have the same economic effect.
For these large dollar amounts, how you spend it matters as much as how much you spend.
While there are wealthy individuals who profit from the military-industrial complex, it's hard to shake the impression that the majority of our bloated military budget is a federal make-work jobs program (with deaths of American troops and foreign civilians as a negative externality).
The majority of it is precisely that. It's the only jobs & wealth redistribution program Republicans are willing to fund (though they never call it that). Pity it's so inefficient for that purpose.
Middle-class voters may not actively be lobbying for the perpetual [Military/Prison/etc]-Industrial Complex; but the mere fact of who writes the checks for those voters' salaries and benefits makes the racket extremely difficult to unentrench, above and beyond the already problematic influence of the 0.001% who are shamelessly fleecing the taxpayer. It's a truly wicked problem.
If the choice is between immeasurable human suffering, domestic corruption and jobs or just solving the problem, the war racket wins. Removing the profit motive is the key suggestion in the War is a Racket.
Whenever talking about an economic issue people have to stop thinking in terms of money and start thinking in terms of goods and services made.
The point of an economy is not to circulate money for kicks and giggles. Money is just to facilitate exchange of goods and services.
A working economy creates a large number of goods and services which the inhabitants wants and needs. You pay a worker to build a car and he makes something people benefit from. You pay a worker to make a missile and he makes something which does not improve the lives of anything. It is a complete waste of time and effort.
There is ample evidence of defense contractor stock values appreciating, including a network of contractors that are hard to fully track, so not always assured they are US based, and same for the investors in those companies.
Ex. Mercenaries from other countries, airplane wiring from India, etc.
During peace-time, I think there's a lot to be said about the ROI for the military, if the military is at some reasonable scale (which I think it is not).
With regards to the many Middle East (ME) wars, I think a lot of that is about maintaining and enforcing the petro-dollar. If the ME decides to start selling their oil in Euros or gold or some other currency, it will mean the end of the USA as we know it. The dollar will collapse and China or Russia will take over as the world hegemon. Many people really have a distaste for US hegemony, but unfortunately the real options on the table are not US vs nobody. It's US vs probably China. So the ROI is much more complicated in that regard.
IMO there is no reason we should be killing people outside our borders or even have military outside our borders when there are much larger domestic problems that are unaddressed. I walk by homeless people shooting up right next to million+ dollar houses (yay Seattle + AMZN/MSFT) every day and fixing this shoes not seem to be the priority as the defense contractors and American people themselves are from this porkbarrel.
Yes, war is a racket.
What is your hypothesis on what happens across the globe in the absence of US hegemony and crazy wars. Do you believe a loss of the petro-dollar would lead to US collapse? Do you believe Chinese hegemony would happen, and if so, would it be better or worse than US hegemony?
Since the US just adds this to its national debt, there is no actual cost for the US. The cost is paid by holders of US government bonds (e.g. non-US central banks).
The US is literally paying for its wars with bonds. That’s why the US is so powerful — no other country can pay for wars using paper with stuff written on it (i.e. a bond).
(Read my comment in the context of the article. War ensures the cycle perpetuates, and our modern version of this article is maintaining the current status quo with the military industrial complex, ala the desired outcome of more wars.)
Anyway you don't have to dump a trillion in Iraq in one go. You would have bribed people with individual amounts over longer time and measured progress and outcomes.
There are a few translations, but I like the most one by Marcel Weyland (https://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?lang=en&id=36782, see also ones into German and Italian).
More on Tuwim in general: https://www.cjnews.com/perspectives/features/the-20th-centur....
A bit from 2010: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1897856
There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights.
Okay, so this was written in 1933. The obvious question to me is, would the author have supported US involvement in World War 2?
I guess with Pearl Harbor, the US was attacked. But the Japanese at the time might have said that the US really started the war because the trade embargo on Japan was destroying Japan's economic plans.
So was World War 2 about protecting American homes? Or was it about enabling the US to enforce a trade embargo on Japan to reduce the size of the Japanese empire?
I am not a history expert and I don't claim that these questions have simple answers. I am just saying, I don't think there is any clear-cut answer of when a war is really for self-defense or not.
So our options were to ignore that Japan was invading China, and continue to sell them steel, rubber, and gasoline, or to embargo them, or to declare war on them. We didn't declare war, which is consistent with the article's viewpoint. Should we have embargoed them (even at the risk of eventual war), or should we just continue to sell stuff to them that helps them attack China? To me, it's pretty clear that the embargo was the moral thing to do.
I disagree. I think his words are pretty clear. From the article:
> There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
It’s hard to argue that Smedley’s single sentence can possibly constitute a comprehensive set of rules when “defense of our homes” is so vague and can reasonably be interpreted to encompass so much.
In many cases, there is.
What about your allies' homes? If an aggressor can pick off victims one at a time, you won't have any allies left when they come for your home.
It also assumes that there is no form of dramatically assummetric attack that is hard to defend against. That may have been true when this was written, but nuclear weapons changed the game.
The US military is killing people in, what, 7 or 8 countries right now, today? Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger? I feel like I'm missing some.
I'm curious if he would write the same article after WWII.
When I was growing up in the 90s this was pretty fringe thinking. Now, though, 20-30 years later, multiple combat tours & a military career under my belt I realize we should have been listening to Butler all along. It’s painfully, agonizingly naive to think that WW2 of all things would somehow be a counterweight to Butler’s point.
The world we live in, our perceptions of it, the language we use to describe it, is deeply anchored in the technocapitalist empire America was empowered to establish in the unsettled world order left in the aftermath of WW2.
So, what are the alternatives to American hegemony? I don't know. What are the alternatives to capitalism? What are the alternatives to accumulating and hoarding wealth? Not doing that, I guess, right? So, the only answer I'm equipped to provide is that the alternative to American hegemony would be not American hegemony.
(Note: I could definitely articulate a market socialist position here that might reflect my political views but that could and would be picked apart in an Internet forum. The point is that we are all so institutionalized to this hegemonic world that any alternative will be seen as inferior. It will take revolution.)
There'd be a big war and after that who knows what the world would look like. The fact you still see the world as necessarily dipole, a tension between great powers vying for control over "the little people" kind of makes my point.
There is no difference between an American and a Chinese hegemony. The problem isn't that the hegemony we have is American. The problem is hegemony.
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." Jimi
Or, it won't.
> Well, eighteen years after, the world has less of democracy than it had then. Besides, what business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy. And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to assure us that the World War was really the war to end all wars.
Which is a very dismissive viewpoint that America can simply wash its hands of everything outside its borders. Surely anyone who knew about the Holocaust saw our involvement in WWII as a moral imperative and more broadly John Donne put it very well that "No man is an island". Certainly a lot of wars have been fought on dubious grounds, but it's an overly cynical point of view to try to give such a pat answer to such a huge question.
I'd also argue that there's a huge fallacy in his premise. Yes, war is profitable for many industries. I think it's inarguable that peace is vastly more profitable for even more industries. Friendly international relations, stable supply lines and prosperous consumers are far more valuable than anything else.
To be fair, we didn't go to war for this reason.
This is nonsense we allied with one murderous dictator and fought another, our involvement in that war was in no way righteous.
> I'd also argue that there's a huge fallacy in his premise. Yes, war is profitable for many industries. I think it's inarguable that peace is vastly more profitable for even more industries. Friendly international relations, stable supply lines and prosperous consumers are far more valuable than anything else.
His point is that it is vastly profitable for a _few_ people, and also implicitly that what you are saying is true because he wants peace.
And my point isn't that he wants peace. My point is the wealthy industrialists and plutocrats also want peace. Some of them make money off of war and would lobby for more war, but 100X as many make money off of peace and would oppose war.
Just like club of rome report, this text is old news. Yet it pops up regularly and it means few.
If this guy was carrying water for the Imperial Japanese by 1933, he was making excuses for genocide, torture and horror on a scale impossible for a single person to take all in.
I'd add one more, when a genocidal meglomanic is intent on wiping out an entire race of people that I would say qualifies as one more reason.
War is terrible tragic and should be avoided at almost any cost, but there is also evil in the world that needs to be stopped.
I think part of our problem in today's society is that the anyone born after 1990 has spent the majority of our lives with the country at war. If a war is worth fighting it is worth winning, if it isn't worth winning than it isn't worth fighting.
And then you can look at events such as the Evian Conference before the war, where those same countries could have averted the worst of said genocide without firing a single bullet. But didn't, because they were hella racist themselves - as the famous quote from that conference went, "as we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one". Or you can look at the polls - one such in US in 1939 had 53% of the respondents saying that "Jews are different and should be restricted". I don't know if there are any stats on how many American soldiers in that war were KKK members, but it would be an interesting study.
WW2 was a war over state interests, which themselves boil down to economic and political power of the elites. It was retconned into this glorious crusade of the Free World against the Evil Empire, and it was spectacularly successful because the Evil Empire turned out to be even more evil than the war propaganda painted it; but we should never forget that it is a post hoc justification! WW1 actually had very similar propaganda (https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/otheringat...) - it just didn't hold up in retrospect, which is why our perception of it is so different today.
Has the US ever gone to war for that reason?
No. They've supported some of the worst dictators through out the world.
By that logic, six years later, were Britain and France wrong to declare war on Nazi Germany when it attacked Poland? Should the U.S. not have joined them in 1941 in declaring war in Germany, which had not attacked the U.S.? And even regarding our fighting Japan after Pearl Harbor, American homes in the continental U.S. were not under threat. So was Allied participation in WWII a "racket"? If not, why is this piece getting so many up votes?
I don't think anybody would look at the events of the next 10-years after 1933, and consider that war to be a "Racket". Nazis were evil. Imperial Japan, was evil.
By delaying our entry into the war for years, France was wiped out, and Japan sunk many battleships in a surprise attack. USA got lucky that our carriers were out on a training mission: if we lost our Carriers at Pearl Harbor, Japan may have very well won the war.
US had 3 carriers stationed there: USS Enterprise, USS Lexington, and USS Saratoga. All unharmed in Pearl Harbor, because they were elsewhere. And critical to the battles to come. USA won by the skin of its teeth, shear luck that our best ships were elsewhere during the surprise attack.
US Pacific Fleet was composed of ~200 ships, ~18 of which were lost in the Pearl Harbor attack. The singular attack wiped out 10% of the US Pacific Power, WWII would have been far easier if US Declared war on Japan.
If USA helped defend France in 1939, then the incredibly deadly Normandy Beach invasion would have been unnecessary. It was due to our failure to fight against the Nazis / Japan that France fell, and many more lives were needed to reclaim that territory.
Uh, no. The US wasn't capable of getting its troops to Europe fast enough in 1939, let alone supplying its troops. The Liberty Ship program only started in 1941. Hitler was already extremely dismissive of the capabilities that the Americans can provide, so any potential future threat the US might bring to bear would have been ignored in his plans.
> if we lost our Carriers at Pearl Harbor, Japan may have very well won the war.
If the Japanese had sunk the entire US Navy (Pacific and Atlantic) on December 7, 1941, and magically completed every vessel that they planned to construct for the remainder of the war on that date, and never lost another ship, and the US did not attempt to refloat or salvage any ship it lost in the magic death of the navy, by 1943, the US would have a larger navy than Japan.
Furthermore, how could Japan have turned even a decisive naval advantage into victory against the US? It lacked sufficient logistical capacity to contemplate holding Hawaii, let alone the US west coast.
> shear luck that our best ships were elsewhere during the surprise attack.
Yeah... no. In 1941, even the most enthusiastic carrier advocates would not have argued for carriers being the backbone of the navy (it's really not until the Battle of the Coral Sea that the value of carrier task forces over battleships is demonstrated). The Lexington and Saratoga were converted battlecruisers (admittedly, the best conversions, in large part because they were terrible battlecruisers), and were rather outdated by 1941.
Erm, by conquering the Philippines, China, and Korea. Japan had no reason to invade the US proper, its only goal was conquest of the Asian continent. Japan did conquer the Philippines for a short time, before the US counter-attacked to recapture it.
Japan had no reason to conquer the USA. Japan wanted to build the Greater East Asia Co-Propserity Sphere: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_East_Asia_Co-Prosperit...
Japan absolutely had a crushing victory vs United States Asiatic Fleet, and WON in Philippines. It was the pesky Pacific Fleet (and its carriers) that came in later and saved the day. Atlantic-fleet was busy with the German front.
If Japan won the Battle of Midway and finished off the US Pacific Fleet, Japan probably would have created its imperialist dream. US would have retreated from the Pacific, lost the Philippines, and focused on fighting Germany (winning at least in the Atlantic). Allied efforts would have been on defending Australia from the imminent Japanese threat (but Australia was far outside the scope of Japanese imperialism, and probably safe from attack).
Of course, in real history, Japan lost the Battle of Midway in a crushing defeat. Japan lost important ships (all four carriers committed to the battle) and its most experienced admirals. From there, the USA was able to stall out the war, win in Europe, and then swing to the Pacific for a finishing blow.
EDIT: Consider how a "reverse Midway" timeline would have occurred. Instead of losing 4-carriers in the Pacific, Japan would have destroyed nearly all remaining US Pacific Carriers. (!!)
The USA would have to enter 1942 with ONE carrier remaining in the pacific. It would have lost Midway, Australia would be threatened (but likely not taken, as it wasn't part of Japanese imperialism plans). Britain / Dutch / America would have pooled resources into defending Australia while retreating from the greater Pacific.
The Pacific Theater was extremely close. USA would have done far better, and had far less risk if we just attacked Japan first.
With only one or two capital ships left in the Pacific, why would the USA even decide to attack Japan anymore? Especially when the Allies were pursuing "Europe First" strategy? It was far more likely for the USA to give up in the Pacific and let Japan keep its new empire.
You're making the same mistake the Japanese made in 1941. The Japanese assumed that they could kick the US really hard enough, steal a few things, and the US would just go "oh, guess I can't do anything." But in reality, as long as the US had the capability to continue the war against Japan, it would. Even if it had to delay the war with Japan until after Germany was defeated--which was the actual war plans of the US in the 1940s, it just turned out that the US had such insane capacity that it could fight both Japan and Germany--the US still would have brought its inexorable military capacity to bear on Japan.
Wars don't end because the victor has achieved its objectives and want nothing more; they end because the loser has decided not to continue the fight (or, more often, because it finally realizes that it has lost). Britain continued fighting its war against Germany, even when it had no prospects of defeating it (during the Battle of Britain), and it was suffering greatly by continuing the war. Why would the US have decided to quit the Pacific merely from losing its carriers, especially since it would have gained as many carriers as it lost within a few months?
Another point to make: the other two US carriers at Midway were damaged, and the US had four operational carriers in total in the Pacific, even after the Wasp was transferred to bolster the Pacific fleet. Two of these carriers (Wasp and Hornet) would be sunk before the year was out and Essex commissioned. It wasn't until the US started churning out an Essex-class carrier (or two) every month in 1943 that the US had a decisive advantage in the Pacific.
Midway (rather like Gettysburg) is vastly overrated as a crucial turning point in war. It marked the first decisive victory for the winning side, and the start of a seemingly inexorable march to war. But the losing side in both engagements was already dangerously overstretched and would have been unable to actually press its advantage even had it won.
In 1933, the "next war" to come was WWII, roughly 1939 through 1945. Was WWII a "racket" ?
Hitler was bribing many of his own military leaders to keep them on side. The German corporations gained monopolies and power under Hitler. The rich sent Hitler to spy on a small political party because they feared the workers might stand together to gain political power and they stood behind him even after he took control of it and turned it into the Nazis.
Some historians think Germany's wars were obviously suicidal, even without the benefit of hindsight, but at the time a lot of people were living very lavish lives while it lasted. All the while casting the blame for everything on poor immigrants that they caged near the borders.