What we can learn from World War II
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World War II is supposedly the one "just" war America has fought. Even critics of the Vietnam War or the so-called War on Terrorism feel obliged to say that World War II was necessary.
And that war provided a justification for all sorts of military adventures afterward. In fact, whenever I write that Americans shouldn't be bombing Iraq or Serbia or Afghanistan or some other hapless Third World country, I get e-mails from critics saying such things as:
"You would have turned the other cheek after Pearl Harbor."
"Munich showed you have to stop a dictator before he's too strong to resist."
"If you'd been in charge in the 1940s, we'd all be speaking Japanese or German today." World War II has always been of great interest to me. I've known for decades that it was just one more war the politicians suckered us into. But I still learned a great deal from reading Richard Maybury's new book "World War II: The Rest of the Story."
Maybury provides no startling new evidence. But he sifts through the known facts - which nearly all historians agree on - and assembles the evidence to show irrefutably that:
The U.S. could had stayed out of the war, because Hitler had no chance of conquering England - let alone America. (His doom was sealed the moment his troops invaded Russia in August 1941.)
The Pearl Harbor attack was neither a surprise nor "unprovoked." (The Japanese code had been broken 16 months before, and Roosevelt had bullied the Japanese in order to provoke a war. On Nov. 26, 1941, Secretary of War Stimson wrote in his diary, "The question was how we should maneuver them into firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.")
There was no military reason to drop atomic bombs on Japan. They were used as terrorist weapons - killing innocent people to influence other people. (Japan was already offering to surrender, their homeland was blockaded, and the Japanese couldn't have survived six months even without an invasion.) There's much more, of course. But the main point is that America should never have intervened in the age-old quarrels of Europe and Asia. If our politicians had minded their own business, 292,131 Americans wouldn't have died - died thinking they were defending American freedoms, but actually sacrificing for the benefit of politicians.
The Roosevelt myth
Why did America get in the war?
Because Franklin Roosevelt thought it was to his personal advantage.
In 1939, most people considered the New Deal to be an abject failure. The unemployment rate was still at 17 percent, with no end in sight to the Depression.
Roosevelt still managed to be re-elected in 1940 because he had great personal charisma, and because he was running against a typical me-too Republican, Wendell Wilkie - a man with no solution for the economic crisis. Roosevelt insisted he would keep America neutral, proclaiming "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."
But in reality, Roosevelt saw getting into the war as a way to redeem his reputation and join the ranks of the "great" presidents - wartime leaders like Washington, Lincoln and Wilson.
Making the world logical again
Maybury writes in a lucid, easy-to-follow style. He explains how Hitler made impressive early victories in the war, but still never had a chance once he decided to invade Russia. His sources of information are the same available to anyone else, but many of his insights and conclusions are original and refreshing.
He ties what happened in World War II to what is happening today in the so-called War on Terrorism. In fact, he shows that today's crises are simply an extension of one century-long war.
Reading this book may help you see the world as a logical place again. It answers a question that might concern any lover of liberty: Why did a nation devoted to freedom and small government - blessed by being isolated from the age-old turmoils of the Old World - cross two oceans, sacrifice a quarter-million Americans, and become embroiled in everyone else's affairs?
The answer: It was done to satisfy the personal ambitions of politicians - not to save America from tyranny.
It's too much to expect tens of millions of Americans to understand that our wars are just a political racket - not when their historical knowledge consists of the one-liners fed to them in government schools. But it is important that you understand - if you hope to be effective in restoring liberty to America.
If you want to know more about World War II, I urge you to read "World War II: The Rest of the Story," which you can obtain at Maybury's website.
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Harry Browne is the director of public policy at the American Liberty Foundation. You can read more of his articles and find out about his network radio show at HarryBrowne.org.