Thursday, November 27, 2008

America made Germany look like pacifists

An interesting overview of America's "imperialist agenda" from the book:

The Pity of War --- Niall Ferguson (concerning World War I and it's causes)

Another example may be given of an aggressive power which posed a direct threat to Britain in the Atlantic and Pacific; a power which shared a border over three thousand miles long with one of the Empire’s most prosperous territories. This was the United States.
Though the two powers had not come to blows since 1812, it is easily forgotten how many reasons they had to quarrel in the 1890’s. The US took issue with Britain over the border of Venezuela and British Guiana, a dispute not settled until 1899; went to war with Spain over Cuba and in the process acquired the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam in 1898; annexed Hawaii in the same year; fought a bloody colonial war in the Philippines between 1899 and 1902; acquired some of the Samoan Islands in 1899; and eagerly took a hand in the economic carve-up of China. The next stage of American imperial expansion was to construct a canal across the Central American isthmus. Compared with the US, Germany was a pacific power. Once again Britain appeased the strong. The 1901 Hay-Paunceforte Treaty waived Britain’s objection to American control and fortification of the projected Panama Canal; and London allowed President Theodore Roosevelt to ride roughshod over Colombian objections by assisting a Panamanian revolt in the chosen Canal Zone. In 1901-2 Selborne took the decision to wind down Britain’s naval capacity for war with the United States in the Caribbean and the Atlantic. (R. Williams, Defending the Empire, pp. 70f.) This appeasement had predictable results. In 1904 the Americans established financial control over the Dominican Republic; the same thing happened in Nicaragua in 1909 (with military backing in 1912). Woordrow Wilson claimed to deplore “dollar diplomacy” and the “big stick”; but it was he who sent the marines to take over Haiti in 1915 and to the Dominican Republic in 1916; and it was he who authorized military intervention in Mexico, first in 1914 to change the Mexican government and then in March 1916 to punish ‘Pancho’ Villa for a raid on New Mexico. (M. Jones, Limits of Liberty, pp. 396-411.) But no one in Britain said a word. America was powerful; so there could be no Anglo-American antagonism.
British foreign policy between 1900 and 1906, then, was to appease those powers which appeared to pose the greatest threat to her position, even at the expense of good relations with the less important powers. The key point is that Germany fell into the latter category; France, Russia and the United States into the former.
(the bold emphasis is mine)
This is from the view of an English professor. For those among us who stand by a strict, constitutional, isolationist policy....this list is not only shocking, but enlightening. Upon this foundation came about our entrance into World War I, and WW II, and Korea, and Vietnam, and the "cold war", and the first Iraq war, and the current "war on terror".

I'll bet 99% of Americans have no idea that all this happened, or that any of it is a problem.
I'll bet--no, I KNOW that a lot of them also think that the "war on terror" is a decisive battle between freedom and dictatorships. They want us to get "victory" and "liberty" before we pull out. They think that all the death and expense and destruction is justified by the social ends that we are "achieving".

I'll bet most of them don't know or won't believe the quote:
"When war comes, the first casualty is truth..." US Senator Hiram Johnson


childofprussia said...

I'm so fascinated by this topic, and want to thank you for bringing it to our attention! Furthermore, this year's whole campaign and election process in the United States has brought something possibly even more fascinating (and encouraging) to my attention, namely that there exists a solid group of US citizens, Ron Paul among them, for whom loyalty and devotion to one's country is NOT translated into refraining from looking with a critical and discerning eye at the activities of the country's various administrations throughout history. This, of course, is what I've heard a lot of in the media - whisperings that any sort of criticism or disapproval of US military actions abroad is somehow unpatriotic and therefore bordering on treason, as far as public opinion is concerned. But not so for those who seem to be dedicated to the Constitution and the Constitution Party. It seems that true loyalty, for them, includes being educated and honest about both the good and the bad in US foreign policy, and reinforcing adherence to Constitutional ideals.

Being a Canadian, I don't have the same type of loyalty that you do to the Constitution. I do, however, have a very strong interest in being informed and honest about the good and bad decisions that have been made by the US in foreign policy. (After all, the whole world has always been affected by the foreign policy decisions of super-powers, so we must always remain aware and concerned!) The quote at the end of your post about Truth is one of the big reasons I feel so strongly about this issue - for a country's population to be able to make wise decisions when voting, and for its leaders to make wise decisions in governing, history (not a glorified history with blemishes erased, or bad political decisions swept under the rug, but the good and the bad - warts and all) should be one of the first places people look.

I recently saw a YouTube video of Ron Paul, standing alongside a number of other Republican hopefuls (I think this was early in the Republican primaries). Watching it, I felt my breath suspended for a moment as Ron Paul dared to mention the US's reprehensible actions taken in Iran between the 1950s and 1970s. Ron Paul was then sharply scolded by Rudy Giuliani (sp?) for daring to suggest that the US's overseas activities in decades past might have influenced the events leading up to 9/11, which was followed by the thunderous applause of the Republican audience. I just can't imagine how much backbone Ron Paul had to say what he suspected to be the truth, in what (he must have known) would be an unsympathetic crowd!! I'm not surprised that he later endorsed Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party.

Anyway, I don't often run across friends who are as interested in these aspects of recent history as I am, so your post was a treat for me to read. In terms of the comparison of the US's imperialistic actions in the late 1800's and early 1900's: I honestly wasn't aware of quite how internationally active the US was during this time in acquiring foreign resources for itself, so this was news to me. I recently learned, however, that Germany was quite jealous of its wealthier imperialistic European neighbours who had acquired far more wealth overseas than it had during the previous few centuries, which might have been one potential driving force behind Germany's imperialistic appetite during WWI. It's interesting that WW1 was essentially fought between a bunch of bullies who were all hungry for wealth and power at any cost, yet our countries (Canada included) glorify our part in that war. It's something I need to look into further, though, before I can feel confident about my analysis.

Any thoughts?

Warbler said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Basically, Germany wanted what everyone else had/was getting/wanted. Britain had about 60% of the world under it/as it's colony. France and Russia clinched a bit less, and Spain was quickly loosing it's interests as America began it's power quest.

The "evil Germany" ideology is one of the biggest lies in the 20th Century. As an imperialist state, Germany was the youngest on the map. Bismark created a bunch of ramboling states into an empire, and the new nation wanted it's piece of the global pie. It helped in the "carve-up" of China, took colonies in Africa, and took Aslace-Lorraine from France (I may have the name wrong...I forget).

This book is one of the best I have read. I am not even 100 pages into it, and I am in love. It ranks 2nd to the Maybury books, which deal with the economic and sociological aspects behind, during and after the war. You should check them out.

This chapter was giving a history of German-English peace ventures and the alliance that almost-was for many years. The next chapters deal with conscription in the big countries (Russia, France, England/ Germany, Austria-Hungary), the military spending, the wartime manpower, industrial capacity, and the looming wars on all fronts.

Once a war has begun/is over, all history is taken from the after viewpoint. It is interesting to read memos of Germany's fear of a Russian attack which would crumple Austria and then turn on Germany. (which fears were in striking first, Germany was wise!)

It is interesting to think of the "balance of power" game which Britain played and which America played. Basically, the game is to not let anyone get as strong as you, and to make wars so that the strong get weaker, and not letting anyone lose so that there will always be a the last paragraph points out.

Yes, Canada fought blindly and heartily for the motherland. Why....because Britain fought. Why did Britain fight? So that Germany, under marvelous generals with inspired people would not wipe France out and have a highway to attack their island fortress.

If you read any material on the Treaty of Versailles, you will probbably read about the paragraph that puts all the blame for the war, AND all costs of reparations on Germany and Germany alone. This can be touted as the cause of WW 2.

Germany, as the ally of Austria (which succomed to rebellion and anarchy in the last phase of the war, toppling an century of Hapsburg reign) fought because Austria wanted to punish the Serbs for killing the crown prince. Russia fought because it didn't want Austria to wipe out the Serbs and attack Russia (from a strengthened position). France fought because it was allied with Russia.

This is just an example of why the framers of the American Constitution forbid America to make alliances with the "nations of eternal war" as one of them called the Old World.

America's involvement in both World Wars was what made the war a "world" war. It was not only un necessary, un Constitutional, but downright stupid, wasteful, and elitist.