A Piece of “Revisionist History” That Some Conservatives Have Long Accepted

A little while ago somebody who likes to think of himself as a conservative called me a “revisionist” — which in current U.S. “conservative” political rhetoric amounts to calling me a liar, since these people are sure that all the history ever taught to them was correct — for saying that  President Franklin Roosevelt provoked the Japanese to attack the USA in 1941. This is an example of how the truth, when revealed, can still fail to eradicate a lie that is emotionally charged. If that “conservative” won’t take it from me, maybe he will take it from the bona fide conservative columnist Charley Reese.

How our government started war with Japan
Charley Reese
16 August 1978

Have you ever stopped to think what a bad spot you’re in when your own government deceives you?

I’m not talking about the petty lies of a self-seeking individual, but a cold, calculated policy of deliberate deception by the government as a whole.

Suppose, for example, the government tells the people it is attempting to strengthen the value of the dollar when, in fact, it is embarked on a deliberate policy of destroying the value of the dollar. What are the implications of such a deception?

Well, consider the possible motives for deception. One obvious motive is to make the deceiver look better than he would look if the truth were known. It’s probably the most common motive for the lying that individual politicians do. But another motive is to prevent the deceived person from protecting himself from harm which he could prevent if he knew the true situation. The first motive is relatively benign, based primarily on the ego and fear of the liar, but the second motive is malicious. It is based on either an intent to cause harm or on a calloused disregard for the welfare of the person being deceived.

It is not a comfortable feeling to think that people who occupy positions of power are capable of such malice or callousness toward innocent people who have done them no harm. We can accept this when we see it in foreign governments, like the Soviet Union, but it is hard to swallow when you are talking about the government of the good old U.S. of A. Yet, in human affairs, anything is possible and in trying to understand our times, we should consider all possibilities.

Have you ever stopped to think, for example, why we went to war with Japan? Pearl Harbor, of course. But Pearl Harbor, as strange as it may sound, was only the superficial reason.

Why do you suppose Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in the first place? Obviously Japan did not believe that she could conquer and occupy the United States. By 1941, she had been fighting China for 10 years and still had not subdued that country.

No, historical research has shown that Japan was forced to fight and hoped that by knocking out most of the U.S. Fleet, she could gain the time to consolidate her position in Asia and then negotiate a peace.

Japan had gone to war with China in 1931. Japan clearly intended to dominate Asia which at that time was dominated by England, France, and Holland. Our government attempted to intervene. From the beginning of the Japanese-Chinese war, we began to apply diplomatic pressure. In April, 1939, we shifted the U.S. Fleet to the Pacific. In July, 1939, we informed Japan we would not renew a trade treaty and would continue to trade only on a day-to-day basis.

In September, 1940, we provided China with $55 million worth of aid and ordered all Americans out of Asia except for the Philippines. That same year we threatened Japan with an oil embargo, imposed a scrap iron and steel embargo on her, moved Marines onto Midway Island, passed the Selective Service Act, and began to build a two-ocean Navy.

In July, 1941, President Roosevelt halted all trade with Japan, seized all Japanese assets in the United States, and nationalized the Philippine forces. In August, 1941, Roosevelt delivered what amounted to an ultimatum to Japan.

After all of this, it was not until three months later, on November 7, that the Japanese made the decision to attack Pearl Harbor. As you can see, the U.S. government was clearly pushing Japan into war in an effort to protect French, British, and Dutch interests in the Far East. Yet during all of these preparations for war, the administration was telling the American people the opposite.

“And while I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I shall give you one more assurance,” Roosevelt said in a campaign speech in October 1940. “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!”

Think about that as you watch the Carter Administration “defend” the dollar.

[Source: Boca Raton News]

More recently, Pat Buchanan has weighed in. Buchanan says that Roosevelt really did not want war but was dragged into it by subordinates in his own administration. (This is a possibility not entirely to be dismissed: FDR was near the end of his life and not in good health. There is also a book [download], My Exploited Father-in-Law, by FDR’s son-in-law Curtis Dall, that makes this kind of argument.)

For some reason Buchanan doesn’t point out — although he surely knows it like the back of his hand — that Owen Lattimore, the State Department employee who blocked negotiations between the United States and Japan, was identified by Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1950 as a key pro-Communist influence on State Department policy. Getting the United States into war with Japan clearly benefited the USSR. Dean Acheson, whom Buchanan also names as playing a key role in forcing war between the United States and Japan — against FDR’s will, allegedly — was Lattimore’s mentor.

Buchanan seems to be trying to keep one foot in the mainstream by not talking about Communists in the FDR Administration — perhaps also with his somewhat surprising thesis that FDR really didn’t want war — and certainly that is the purpose of including a gratuitous reference to the “Rape of Nanking,” which seems to have been, at least to a considerable extent, a creation of Chinese propaganda and Hollywood studios. (You can see evidence of Hollywood’s role in creating the “Rape of Nanking” here.) Perhaps Buchanan would have dragged in the Holocaust too if he could have contrived a passable excuse. While Buchanan’s historical narrative is consistent with what Charley Reese wrote 33 years earlier, Buchanan  saccharine-coats his Pearl Harbor revisionism with undue reverence for other sacred cows.

It is noteworthy that in 1941 the propaganda about “Neville Chamberlain the appeaser” was already in full swing: according to Buchanan it prevented the United States from accepting reasonable  concessions from Japan lest the President be accused of “appeasement.” This form of propaganda amounts to questioning a leader’s (or a nation’s) manhood, and it has probably greatly increased the willingness of less thoughtful people to support unnecessary wars. While that kind of worry about what will be said may have pushed some politicians into war, there is evidence that Franklin Roosevelt actually wanted war, having even exerted pressure to get the European war started: this is the thesis of a book by Congressman Hamilton Fish published in 1976. Buchanan does not go as far as Fish.

Why Did Japan Attack Us?
Patrick J. Buchanan
11 December 2001

Of all the days that will “live in infamy” in American history, two stand out: Sept. 11, 2001, and Dec. 7, 1941.

But why did Japan, with a 10th of our industrial power, launch a sneak attack on the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, an act of state terror that must ignite a war to the death it could not win? Were they insane? No, the Japanese were desperate.

To understand why Japan lashed out, we must go back to World War I. Japan had been our ally. But when she tried to collect her share of the booty at Versailles, she ran into an obdurate Woodrow Wilson.

Wilson rejected Japan’s claim to German concessions in Shantung, home of Confucius, which Japan had captured at a price in blood. Tokyo threatened a walkout if denied what she had been promised by the British. “They are not bluffing,” warned Wilson, as he capitulated. “We gave them what they should not have.”

In 1921, at the Washington Naval Conference, the United States pressured the British to end their 20-year alliance with Japan. By appeasing the Americans, the British enraged and alienated a proud nation that had been a loyal friend.

Japan was now isolated, with Stalin’s brooding empire to the north, a rising China to the east and, to the south, Western imperial powers that detested and distrusted her.

When civil war broke out in China, Japan in 1931 occupied Manchuria as a buffer state. This was the way the Europeans had collected their empires. Yet, the West was “shocked, shocked” that Japan would embark upon a course of “aggression.” Said one Japanese diplomat, “Just when we learn how to play poker, they change the game to bridge.”

Japan now decided to create in China what the British had in India – a vast colony to exploit that would place her among the world powers. In 1937, after a clash at Marco Polo Bridge near Peking, Japan invaded and, after four years of fighting, including the horrific Rape of Nanking, Japan controlled the coastal cities, but not the interior.

When France capitulated in June 1940, Japan moved into northern French Indochina. And though the United States had no interest there, we imposed an embargo on steel and scrap metal. After Hitler invaded Russia in June 1941, Japan moved into southern Indochina. FDR ordered all Japanese assets frozen.

But FDR did not want to cut off oil. As he told his Cabinet on July 18, an embargo meant war, for that would force oil-starved Japan to seize the oil fields of the Dutch East Indies. But a State Department lawyer named Dean Acheson drew up the sanctions in such a way as to block any Japanese purchases of U.S. oil. By the time FDR found out, in September, he could not back down.

Tokyo was now split between a War Party and a Peace Party, with the latter in power. Prime Minister Konoye called in Ambassador Joseph Grew and secretly offered to meet FDR in Juneau or anywhere in the Pacific. According to Grew, Konoye was willing to give up Indochina and China, except a buffer region in the north to protect her from Stalin, in return for the U.S. brokering a peace with China and opening up the oil pipeline. Konoye told Grew that Emperor Hirohito knew of his initiative and was ready to give the order for Japan’s retreat.

Fearful of a “second Munich,” America spurned the offer. Konoye fell from power and was replaced by Hideki Tojo. Still, war was not inevitable. U.S. diplomats prepared to offer Japan a “modus vivendi.” If Japan withdrew from southern Indochina, the United States would partially lift the oil embargo. But Chiang Kai-shek became “hysterical,” and his American adviser, one Owen Lattimore, intervened to abort the proposal.

Facing a choice between death of the empire or fighting for its life, Japan decided to seize the oil fields of the Indies. And the only force capable of interfering was the U.S. fleet that FDR had conveniently moved from San Diego out to Honolulu.

And so Japan attacked. And so she was crushed and forced out of Vietnam, out of China, out of Manchuria. And so they fell to Stalin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh. And so it was that American boys, not Japanese boys, would die fighting Koreans, Chinese and Vietnamese to try to block the aggressions of a barbaric Asian communism.

Now Japan is disarmed and China is an Asian giant whose military boasts of pushing the Americans back across the Pacific. Had FDR met Prince Konoye, there might have been no Pearl Harbor, no Pacific war, no Hiroshima, no Nagasaki, no Korea, no Vietnam. How many of our fathers and uncles, brothers and friends, might still be alive?

“For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been.'” A few thoughts as the War Party pounds the drum for an all-out American war on Iraq and radical Islam.

[Source: The American Cause]

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