Friday, December 03, 2004

Ted Rall, Uber-Isolationist

If you participate in a war of retribution, are you "fighting for your country"? There have only been four attacks on American soil by a foreign power. All were carried out by Japan during World War II: Pearl Harbor, the now-forgotten submarine strafing of a California oil refinery, balloon-borne bombs dropped without casualties on Oregon and Washington state, and an air raid on Dutch Harbor, a remote U.S. outpost on Alaska's Aleutian Islands, in which 43 residents died. Japan and Germany's declarations of war intuitively appear to justify the sacrifice of 291,557 American soldiers in World War II, but were those deaths necessary to defend us? There is no evidence that the Axis intended to invade the U.S., nor did it possess the logistical capability to occupy it. The defeat of Nazism liberated millions from tyranny, but that was a happy byproduct of a war we fought to expand our military and economic influence. Right or wrong, World War II was a war of choice against Germany and one of retribution against Japan.

Read the whole article here. Surprisingly, though, I can't post this on You've Lost, because although I think Rall's statements are wildly off the mark, his rhetoric is toned down quite a bit. There's a lot of conspiracy theorizing and idealistic isolationist speak, but very little out-and-out flaming. Good for you for once, Ted.

Which means I may have to do some actual debunking, rather than pointing and smirking. Okay, how about a Chamberlain comparison. Here's the British Prime Minister in 1939:

How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing. It seems still more impossible that a quarrel which has already been settled in principle should be the subject of war.

I can well understand the reasons why the Czech Government have felt unable to accept the terms which have been put before them in the German memorandum. Yet I believe after my talks with Herr Hitler that, if only time were allowed, it ought to be possible for the arrangements for transferring the territory that the Czech Government has agreed to give to Germany to be settled by agreement under conditions which would assure fair treatment to the population concerned. . . .

However much we may sympathize with a small nation confronted by a big and powerful neighbor, we cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the whole British Empire in war simply on her account. If we have to fight it must be on larger issues than that. I am myself a man of peace to the depths of my soul. Armed conflict between nations is a nightmare to me; but if I were convinced that any nation had made up its mind to dominate the world by fear of its force, I should feel that it must be resisted. Under such a domination life for people who believe in liberty would not be worth living; but war is a fearful thing, and we must be very clear, before we embark upon it, that it is really the great issues that are at stake, and that the call to risk everything in their defense, when all the consequences are weighed, is irresistible.


Since I first went to Berchtesgaden more than 20,0000 letters and telegrams have come to No. 10, Downing Street. Of course, I have been able to look at a tiny fraction of them, but I have seen enough to know that the people who wrote did not feel that they had such a cause for which to fight, if they were asked to go to war in order that the Sudeten Germans might not join the Reich. That is how they are feeling. That is my answer to those who say that we should have told Germany weeks ago that, if her army crossed the border of Czechoslovakia, we should be at war with her. We had no treaty obligations and no legal obligations to Czechoslovakia and if we had said that, we feel that we should have received no support from the people of this country. . . .

When we were convinced, as we became convinced, that nothing any longer would keep the Sudetenland within the Czechoslovakian State, we urged the Czech Government as strongly as we could to agree to the cession of territory, and to agree promptly. The Czech Government, through the wisdom and courage of President Benes, accepted the advice of the French Government and ourselves. It was a hard decision for anyone who loved his country to take, but to accuse us of having by that advice betrayed the Czechoslovakian State is simply preposterous. What we did was to save her from annihilation and give her a chance of new life as a new State, which involves the loss of territory and fortifications, but may perhaps enable her to enjoy in the future and develop a national existence under a neutrality and security comparable to that which we see in Switzerland to-day. Therefore, I think the Government deserve the approval of this House for their conduct of affairs in this recent crisis which has saved Czechoslovakia from destruction and Europe from Armageddon.

Does the experience of the Great War and the years that followed it give us reasonable hope that, if some new war started, that would end war any more than the last one did?

One good thing, at any rate, has come out of this emergency through which we have passed. It has thrown a vivid light upon our preparations for defense, on their strength and on their weakness. I should not think we were doing our duty if we had not already ordered that a prompt and thorough inquiry should be made to cover the whole of our preparations, military and civil, in order to see, in the light of what has happened during these hectic days, what further steps may be necessary to make good our deficiencies in the shortest possible time.

One can only wonder at the evil which could have been avoided if Chamberlain had taken a firm stance against Hitler's first act of aggression. Instead, he asked the same questions that Rall now asks -- why should we sacrifice in order to defend another country? The answer is obvious, at least to me: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. If we sit back and decide to wait for evil to come to us before we oppose it, rather than destroy evil when it appears, we are doomed as a civilization and we deserve to be doomed.

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