"People should go ahead and obey the law, keep their mouths shut, and let the government run the war."

On this day in 1918, Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs gave a speech in Canton, Ohio denouncing America's participation in what we now call World War I. For this "crime," Debs would spend nearly three years rotting in prison, convicted of violating Woodrow Wilson's vile Espionage Act, which essentially made it illegal to criticize the government during wartime (Wilson later refused to pardon Debs, leaving that act of basic human decency to the criminally underrated Warren G. Harding). That's the story told in Ernest Freeberg's new Democracy's Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent, which received a big thumb's up from Peter Richardson in yesterday's Los Angeles Times. Here's Richardson on the climate of obedience and cowardice that helped Wilson get his way:

Throughout this time, many civic groups and public officials defended the Espionage Act. One leader of the American Defense Society declared, "Those who are not for us, must be against us." A congressman advised: "People should go ahead and obey the law, keep their mouths shut, and let the government run the war." Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. dismissed criticism of the court's unanimous ruling against Debs as "a lot of jaw about free speech."

Whole thing here.

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  • No Name Guy||

    Instituting the federal reserve, introducing racial segregation to the federal government, essentially beginning the war on drugs, getting the US involved for no good reason in the pointless meat grinder of WWI, violating civil liberties, seizing private property...

    Is there any thing Wilson didn't screw up?

  • tarran||

    Wodrow Wilson also promoted the Ku Klux Klan through his fawning endorsement of that racist movie Birth of a Nation.

    His endorsement helped make the Klan respectable. The guy was a collosall scumbag.

  • ||

    Without Wilson, would we have had Hitler? Or Stalin? (I'm thinking that without the U.S. entry into the war, the Allies might have had to sue for a more equitable peace with Germany, and if that had come quickly enough, maybe the Kerensky government in Russia would have survived.)
    Does Wilson take at least a share of the blame for the worst disasters of the 20th century?

  • Shannon Love||

    For some reason, we've forgotten that WWI represented the zenith of intensity of government intervention in all actions of society. The degree of nationalization of industry, for example, was higher than that during WWII. I suspect the memory of this intense expansion of government control of everything faded because it only last a little under two years total.

    Even so, the perceived success of the mobilization it provided the template for all subsequent expansions of government power. If you read arguments for government programs in the 1918-1941 period you see constant references to the effectiveness of government action during WWI. Whether the argument was for Prohibition, the New Deal or the local sewage system, the argument always boiled down to, "if we can effectively use government control to fight a war why can't we use it to fight problem (fill in the blank)?"

    I would also note a correlation between the politics of eras dominated by generations who experienced national mobilization in both world wars and those generations who did not. The generation who grew of age during WWI supported the New Deal. The generation who came of age during WWII supported the Great society. Since those generations have passed, our view of such invasive, centrally managed state programs has weakened.

  • GinSlinger||

    Pedantic point of fact: Debs was charged and convicted under the Sedition Act of 1918; an amendment to the Espionage Act of 1917.

  • robc||

    Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. dismissed criticism of the court's unanimous ruling against Debs as "a lot of jaw about free speech."

    Did Holmes ever get anything right?

  • ||

    "Since those generations have passed, our view of such invasive, centrally managed state programs has weakened." This being true neither McCain nor Obama will win the election. Whew, I'm relieved.

    At the start of WWII D.C. was still full of "temporary" buildings from WWI. And so it goes.....

  • Fluffy||

    THANK YOU for this post.

    I would like to point out that it was in the context of defending the imprisonment of Debs that Holmes wrote his "fire in a crowded theatre" argument.

    So every last man-jack who ever quotes that asinine argument is by doing so lining up with Wilson and lining up in favor of imprisoning Debs.

  • ||

    One could argue that HOlmes was the worst supreme court justice in the history of the court.

    Example 1: His dissent in Lochner. Of course, all of the new dealers, progressives, democrats, republicans and big labor loved him for this dissent.

  • TallDave||

    There's an old Reagan speech from before he was President where he notes that one reason Vietnam is not a declared war is that it would mean the arrests of war protestors and other undesirables. Probably a good thing we don't declare them that often.

    Anyways, Wilson did give us the League of Nations, subject of a Dave Barry classic.

    League of Nations: final standings

    U.S. : 1-0
    Britain: 1-0
    Germany: 0-1
    Russia: 1-0
    Bulgaria: 0-1
    Austria-Hungary: 0-1
    Switzerland*: 0-0
    Spain*: 0-0
    Israel**: 0-0

    * - did not, technically, participate
    ** - did not, technically, exist

  • ||

    So every last man-jack who ever quotes that asinine argument is by doing so lining up with Wilson and lining up in favor of imprisoning Debs.

    I don't think that follows.

  • Elemenope||

    Woodrow Wilson also promoted the Ku Klux Klan through his fawning endorsement of that racist movie Birth of a Nation. His endorsement helped make the Klan respectable.

    There is every reason to believe he never saw, much less endorsed, that retched film.

    The guy was a colossal scumbag.

    Still true.

    Did Holmes ever get anything right?

    Abrams v. United States

  • ||

    Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. dismissed criticism of the court's unanimous ruling against Debs as "a lot of jaw about free speech."

    If that doesn't make you proud to be an American, I really don't know what will.
    [wipes tear from eye]

  • ||

    We've come a long way.

  • tarran||

    You're partially right Elemenope:

    Apparently the film was screened in the White House in front of Wilson, but the approving endorsement was fabricated by the film's maker.

    From the wikipedia article:

    Thomas Dixon, author of the source play The Clansman was a former classmate of President Woodrow Wilson at John Hopkins University. Dixon arranged a screening at the White House, for Wilson, members of his cabinet, and their families. Wilson was reported to have commented of the film that "it is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true." In Wilson: The New Freedom, Arthur Link quotes Wilson's aide, Joseph Tumulty, who denied Wilson said this and also claims that "the President was entirely unaware of the nature of the play before it was presented and at no time has expressed his approbation of it."[12]

    Relentless in publicizing the film, Dixon himself was apparently the source for the quote, which has been repeated so often in print that it has taken on a separate life. Dixon went so far as to promote the film as "Federally endorsed".

  • Fluffy||

    I don't think that follows.

    Tough.

  • ||

    (I'm thinking that without the U.S. entry into the war, the Allies might have had to sue for a more equitable peace with Germany, and if that had come quickly enough, maybe the Kerensky government in Russia would have survived.)

    These are mutually exclusive goals. Weaker allies don't translate into a quicker peace, unless you mean peace on German terms.

    Peace on German terms in the West would not have meant Germany goes easier on Russia; it would likely have meant Germany goes harder on Russia.

    Peace on German terms also does not mean no WWII, unless the peace involved Western Europe and big chunks of Eastern Europe as German possessions. Germany had a long history of invading its neighbors; "winning" WWI would not have broken them of this habit - hell, losing WWI didn't break them of it.

    If anything, the problem with Versailles wasn't that it was too hard on the Germans, it was that it was reached before Allied troops set foot on German soil, leaving German militarism untouched.

  • Elemenope||

    The very same Holmes (a few years later) in Abrams v United States, dissenting:

    "Holmes writes that "the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year if not every day we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country."

    He goes on to say that there is no way that a guy simply expressing an opinion in speech or print about war, the draft, or anything related could possibly present a "clear and present danger". I think he also called Congress a bunch of whiners.

    OK, I made that last sentence up. But just barely.

    p.s. Thanks, tarran, for the historical clarification re: Wilson.

  • robc||

    Example 1: His dissent in Lochner.

    I betg to differ. Example 1 is: Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore, Inc. v. National League of Prof'l Baseball Clubs, Inc.

    Abrams v. United States

    Blind squirrel. That said "What danger can these "puny" people pose to anyone?" sounds like he voted on the right side for the wrong reasons. I will grant only partial credit.

  • ||

    Apparently the film was screened in the White House in front of Wilson, but the approving endorsement was fabricated by the film's maker.

    I'm not sure about the fabrication. Wilson had ample opportunity to deny that he endorsed the film, yet never did so. At some point, that becomes an adoption of what is attributed to him.

    The source for the claim that he never endorsed it is one of his aide/sycophants. Not sure how much credibility to attribute to that personage.

  • robc||

    My 1st example is another case of Holmes voting right for the wrong reason. He votes against applying antitrust laws to baseball, but not because antitrust laws are bad.

  • Elemenope||

    Well, so far as I know, the Abrams dissent is the first expression of the notion of a "Marketplace of Ideas" in print, which many Libertarians certainly get all hot and horny over...so he gets bonus points for that.

  • ||

    I'm not sure about the fabrication. Wilson had ample opportunity to deny that he endorsed the film, yet never did so. At some point, that becomes an adoption of what is attributed to him.

    And he did also agree in his books that the KKK was a natural outgrowth of Reconstruction's prevention of southern whites to influence politics by voting, which would suggest that he bought into the (completely inaccurate) historical view promulgated by "The Clansman."

  • ||

    Woodrow Wilson is the most anti-libertarian president in U.S. history, even moreso than FDR.
    Fucking income tax, fucking drug prohibition, fucking war, fucking Christian moral righteousness, fucking fucking fuckety fucking fucker.
    If we could, we should go back in time and shoot the fucking fucker.

  • No Name Guy||

    RC Dean-

    If the Allies had imposed on Germany a Congress of Vienna-like light peace, there would've been no WWII.

    Likewise, if they had decimated Germany and split it up into four different countries there would've been no WWII.

    Versailles wasn't too hard or too soft, its problem was that it was neither hard nor soft enough.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    His endorsement helped make the Klan respectable. The guy was a collosall scumbag.

    Well, not to mention that Wilson fired every black government employee in DC when he took office. [turns and spits]

  • ||

    Jamie Kelly, I agree with you but you are such a rageaholic. Ever try transcendental meditation?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    ...fucking fucking fuckety fucking fucker.

    Ex-Marine?

    Walking across Hanger 296 at USMCAS El Toro one morning I was nearly knocked off my feet by a huge box wrench that came clanging & skidding across the hanger deck at a high rate of velocity . It had been thrown by a pissed off Phantom Jet mechanic and was followed by.....

    Fuck! The fuckin' fucker is fucked!

  • lunchstealer||

    If we could, we should go back in time and shoot the fucking fucker.

    Has anybody checked that against IATT bylaw 1147?

  • ||

    Reading his Wikipedia page, Woodrow Wilson truly might have been the worst president ever.*

    *Yeah, I know he faces stiff competition.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    ...transcendental meditation...

    I believe the street name is wine.

  • ||

    That story was awesome, lunchstealer.

  • No Name Guy||

    Jamie Kelly needs a Xanax.

  • ||

    I don't think that follows.

    Tough.


    I apologize for presuming that you were attempting to present a rational position.

  • economist||

    Everyone can find something to hate about Woodrow Wilson. Ironic that Debs was pardoned by a president who was probably farther from him (ideologically) than Wilson.

  • ||

    "a constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory.." Lochner v U.S. 198 U.S. 45, 75 (1905). No, I guess it is intended to be an empty vessel through which ever changing majorities pour their ever changing plans.

  • ||

    Ever try transcendental meditation?

    Yeah, but I fucking hated that load of hippie shit.
    Two of the four Beatles are dead, and I can't wait until the other two eat a dirt fucking sandwich.

  • ||

    'Germany had a long history of invading it's neighbors',and France had a much longer history of such conduct.WW I was a colonial war we which had no business being involved.France ,Great Britain and Japan expanded their empires,mostly at German expense and The German nation had only existed since 1871.Russia also went to war for reasons of empire.

  • ||

    In his Abrams dissent, and in Schwimmer, Holmes took essentially a Situational Libertarian position, as articulated in recent years by Charles Krauthammer. Any expression of ideas is permissible as long as it is ineffective.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes is a strong candidate for worst Supreme Court Justice ever.

    Woodrow Wilson was our worst president, with Bush the Younger following closely by example.

  • NP||

    Is it just me, or am I not alone in thinking Jamie Kelly may be suffering from an extreme form of Tourette's? Seriously, Jamie, you should try to calm down and swear less.

  • The Reverend Terence Fformby-S||

    We should be thankful of all the freedoms we have today, including freedom to criticize fighting a war.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Jamie, you should try to calm down and swear less

    Are you kidding? This IS calm for Jamie. You should have heard him before they airlifted the Zoloft.

  • ||

    Jamie Kelly is a masterhater.

    sir/ma'am, by hatin on the fab four, you have gone too far


    too far I tell you!

  • economist||

    I'm not sure how WWI would have turned out sans US. On the one hand, the allies might have eventually decided to seek a less harsh peace (possibly return to status quo) with Germany. On the other, they might have won anyway, and then ground Germany under their thumb even more than they did.

  • No Name Guy||

    WWI is the source of all modern clusterfucks, up to and including Iraq.

  • economist||

    With Micheal Pack on the whole German history thing. Until the mid-19th century, the Germans always got royally screwed by other nations' expansionism.

  • NP||

    TWC,

    Guess I should read the threads more often...

  • ||

    I had a blogger at another blog tell me that I should keep my pie hole shut and not criticize our Government's war policy because I was giving aid and comfort to the enemy and therefore was responsible for several deaths of American soldiers because the enemy was emboldened to fight on because of the criticism of the war protesters. His point was that if the enemy hit us harder, we protesters would succeed in getting the troops removed. I pointed out to the blogger that none of those deaths would have happened in the first place if we had not gone there.

  • Fluffy||

    'Germany had a long history of invading it's neighbors',and France had a much longer history of such conduct.WW I was a colonial war we which had no business being involved.France ,Great Britain and Japan expanded their empires,mostly at German expense and The German nation had only existed since 1871.Russia also went to war for reasons of empire.

    QFT.

    Germany had no history of invading its neighbors.

    The Franco-Prussian war was started by France. The Napoleonic era wars were started by France. Prussia participated in the attempted invasion of France during the Revolution, but since virtually every other country in Europe was involved in that invasion I think we have to give them a pass.

    Before that you have to go back to the partition of Poland, which was a quasi-diplomatic exercise.

    Peace on German terms also does not mean no WWII, unless the peace involved Western Europe and big chunks of Eastern Europe as German possessions.

    That's nuts. Germany had France flat on her back once before and only "took" Alsace-Lorraine, to which it had a historical claim. There is virtually no evidence Germany had any territorial designs in Western Europe at all. And as for eastern Europe, I fail to see how it really makes a difference if the Czar or the Kaiser ended up ruling eastern Poland, Byelorussia, and the Ukraine. Certainly the latter two areas didn't end up independent following Versailles - they got to enjoy Lenin and Stalin instead.

    The only reason there even was a war in Western Europe was because of the alliance of France with the Czar. I think we can be quite sure Germany would have been more than happy to fight the Czar one on one instead. [Or two on two, with Austria-Hungary and Serbia filling out the teams].

    "German terms" might also have meant parity for Germany in colonial terms with Britain, but again - so what? It's not as if Britain had some divine right to dominate everything outside of the Western Hemisphere, with the assistance of France. If the British Empire lost a few pieces to Germany, who gives a rat's ass?

  • ||

    On the other, they might have won anyway, and then ground Germany under their thumb even more than they did.

    That would not have happened. After the horrible trench warfare wasted away the armies of the Western powers, and mismanagement wasted the eastern ones, the Entente didn't have the energy left to put on a last big push and break through the lines. Neither did any of the Central Powers, for that matter. It would probably have been a situation similar to what we have in Korea, with the lack of power vacuum keeping a lot of extreme political powers out of control.

  • ||

    "With Micheal Pack on the whole German history thing. Until the mid-19th century, the Germans always got royally screwed by other nations' expansionism."

    Germany lost Bohemia to the Habsburg Empire in 1866. There was outrage when Hitler took back Bohemia just prior to World War II, but he was just taking back land that had previously belonged to Germany. It was because of Hitler's taking of Bohemia that led Chamberlain to draw the line at Danzig, which Germany was also entitled to take back as it was taken from Germany at Versailles. There was never any reason for Great Britain to enter in war against Germany. World War II was an unecessary war.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Man With No Name:

    Couldn't agree more.

    NP, Jaime Kelley makes me laugh. Every time.

  • ||

    "The German nation had only existed since 1871."

    It existed as Prussia prior to that.

  • ||

    Germany did eventually have some plans for Western Europe, mostly annexing some of Belgium and making a protectorate of Luxembourg. Perhaps those were regarded as negotiating points, but who knows?

  • economist||

    bookworm,
    Germany as a nation did not exist in 1866, unless you're talking about Prussia.

  • NP||

    TWC, I find Jamie Kelly amusing myself, but sometimes I do wonder whether he has real anger issues. But I suppose we both would take him over Lonewacko any single day.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Two of the four Beatles are dead, and I can't wait until the other two eat a dirt fucking sandwich.

    Why are you hatin' on Ringo? Nobody hates Ringo. Why would anybody hate Ringo?

  • ||

    NO fair, Wilson was my puppet....I was the one advising him on what to do....Morgan financed the whole deal....You guys should read about me and read my book Philip Dru: Administrator...it is free online.

  • economist||

    Fluffy,
    Bismarck engineered the beginning of the Franco-Prussian war in hopes of using it to stir up German nationalism for German unification. While I agree that a WWI without the United States' intervention would not have resulted in a German-dominated Europe (see 2:27 post), I have no doubt that the belligerent Kaiser Wilhelm II would have been happy to build a German Empire in Europe and overseas.

  • ||

    It's amazing how Iraq war supporters are also more likely to think intervening in WW1 was a good thing. Just another instance of "position bundling", I guess.

  • ||

    Why would anybody hate Ringo?

    Besides the fact that he's a shitty drummer who makes a dryer filled with bricks sound like Steve Gadd? Probably no reason.

  • economist||

    I think Jamie's just using hyperbole to make a point. By the way, are we all making posts while keeping an eye out for our bosses?

  • robc||

    It's amazing how Iraq war supporters are also more likely to think intervening in WW1 was a good thing.

    You are amazed that people who support Wilsonian foreign policy support Wilson? The neocons are Wilsonian. While not all Iraq war supporters are neocons, if they believe them about one war, why wouldnt they about the other?

  • No Name Guy||

    Fluffy, google the September Program. That tells you basically the terms Germany would have imposed on the west. Basically, the annexation of Belgium and the disarming of France combined with the annexation of several British colonies in southern Africa. So, they did have territorial designs.They were hastily put together in September 1914 and not part of any master plan for world domination, but they did have designs.

    It would have meant jack shit for us whether the seas were dominated by the British or German navies, though. We had good relations with both nations in 1914.

  • ||

    "Yeah, but I fucking hated that load of hippie shit."
    "Two of the four Beatles are dead, and I can't wait until the other two eat a dirt fucking sandwich."

    TM was just a fad for the Beatles, but Mike Love of the Beach Boys took it seriously.

  • Fluffy||

    Bismarck engineered the beginning of the Franco-Prussian war in hopes of using it to stir up German nationalism for German unification.

    Louis Bonaparte mobilized first and declared war first.

    He did this to avenge a mere insult.

    Perhaps Bismarck anticipated Bonaparte would react this way to an insult, but that doesn't change the fact that France started the Franco-Prussian war on essentially a whim.

  • Colin Clout||

    Fluffy,

    Germany had France flat on her back once before and only "took" Alsace-Lorraine, to which it had a historical claim.

    I would imagine that after the rather ugly amount of fighting in Paris the Franco-Prussian war that they didn't want the costs associated with trying to occupy all of France.

    There is virtually no evidence Germany had any territorial designs in Western Europe at all.

    Except the German High Command's plans for annexation of Belgium and large swaths of northern France. Right up to a few months before the end of the war there were discussions within the German government and military on what territories of Western Europe they would demand as part of a peace settlement. There is plenty of evidence of this.

    The only reason there even was a war in Western Europe was because of the alliance of France with the Czar.

    The primary cause of the war was German paranoia over the rise of Russia as an industrial and military power. That is evidenced by numerous documents, correspondence, etc. found in the archives, etc. of the German government, etc.

    Shem,

    From a material perspective the Allies could simply last longer than the Central Powers. Comparing the material situation on the home front as well as for the war effort shows that the Allies were never in the straights that the Central Powers were. Indeed, when Germany did fall it was in larger part because of the terrible economic situation at home.

  • ||

    "Besides the fact that he's a shitty drummer who makes a dryer filled with bricks sound like Steve Gadd? Probably no reason."

    But, he always got by with a little help from his friends.

  • NP||

    economist, describing Jamie's explosions as mere hyperbole is itself the polar opposite of hyperbole. :)

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    are we all making posts while keeping an eye out for our bosses

    My boss is right here and he tells me he is sick of me posting at H&R. And the blogging. And reading OPB's. He keeps reminding me that pushing work out the door is what pays the bills. He is suggesting that since it's noon I should skip lunch and get some fargin' work done.

  • ||

    If the Allies had imposed on Germany a Congress of Vienna-like light peace, there would've been no WWII.

    Without US entry into WWI, I don't see how the Allies could have imposed much of any peace on Germany, but I'm no scholar of WWI. At best, there would have been an armed stand-off, and I see no reason to believe that even that best-case scenario wouldn't have ended with the Germans breaking through the neo-Maginot line much as they did the actual one.

    WWII seems to me to be nothing more than an inevitable expression of German militarism. I don't know why that culture would have terminated under a peace treaty lighter than Versailles. Versailles strikes me as more of a pretext for doing again what they wanted to do anyway.

    While I agree that a WWI without the United States' intervention would not have resulted in a German-dominated Europe

    I don't think the US entry affected events in the East very much, so even a stalemate in the West would have left Germany in possession of its winnings in the East, the Bolsheviks on their way to power, etc.

    In the West, given that the Germans were quite close to Paris after their last offensive, I'm not so confident that, absent US troops, another German offensive might not have been successful.

    Still, this is all counterfactual; who knows?

  • ||

    "The primary cause of the war was German paranoia over the rise of Russia as an industrial and military power. That is evidenced by numerous documents, correspondence, etc. found in the archives, etc. of the German government, etc."

    Great Britain also had concerns about Germany's rise in power. They saw the potential that Germany would replace them as the greatest power in the world.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    but Mike Love of the Beach Boys took it seriously

    So that's what released the repressed memory of how he wrote all those Beach Boy hits......

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Indeed, when Germany did fall it was in larger part because of the terrible economic situation at home

    That and the ball bearings. We bombed the crap out of the ball bearing factories. No ball bearings = no war machines.

    Or am I engaging in exaggerated hyperbole? Maybe that's an oxymoron. I don't know any of these rules very well.

  • ||

    In Defense of Ringo, he was an aaight drummer. How many great drummers can you think of? I can only think of a few.

    John Bonham
    Keith Moon
    Neil Peart
    ?uestlove
    Roger Taylor
    John Dolmayan
    Malcolm Holmes
    Gene Hoglan

  • Colin Clout||

    Fluffy,

    Germany had no history of invading its neighbors.

    Prussia fought with a number of its neighbors prior to the Napoleonic Wars (see the Silesian Wars). Indeed, the Prussian state was focused quite heavily on gaining and maintaining military prowess throughout the 18th century. Furthermore, in the 1860s when Prussia was trying to rise to dominate central Europe it foguth first with Denmark and then with Austria.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Krupa, man, Krupa.

  • ||

    "WWII seems to me to be nothing more than an inevitable expression of German militarism. I don't know why that culture would have terminated under a peace treaty lighter than Versailles. Versailles strikes me as more of a pretext for doing again what they wanted to do anyway."

    The humiliation that the German people suffered from Versailles and the wrecked economy from a prolonged losing war created the conditions for a demagogue like Hitler to come to power. I don't think the German people are inherently militaristic. At least, I'm not.

  • Colin Clout||

    R.C. Dean,

    Without US entry into WWI, I don't see how the Allies could have imposed much of any peace on Germany, but I'm no scholar of WWI.

    U.S. entry did little to improve the material advatages of the Allies. Now it was a morale boost, but even by the time major German offensives had petered out in 1918 the AEF was in siginficant numbers on the ground. So yeah, the Allies could have won WWI without U.S. entry into the war. Now if American banks had stopped loaning money to the Allies that would be a different matter entirely.

  • No Name Guy||

    "WWII seems to me to be nothing more than an inevitable expression of German militarism."

    Theres considerable evidence both for and against that opinion. Its the sonderweg question and it probably won't be resolved anytime soon. Namely, was the Third Reich the inevitable outcome of Prussian/German militarism, a uniquely German event? or not? Conservative historians believe the latter, liberals the former.

  • Colin Clout||

    R.C. Dean,

    ...the AEF was not in siginficant numbers on the ground.

  • Colin Clout||

    The Wine Commonsewer,

    I don't know if many ball bearing factories were bombed in WWI.

  • ||

    TWC,

    Oh, yeah. I knew I was gonna miss some.

  • TallDave||

    If the Allies had imposed on Germany a Congress of Vienna-like light peace, there would've been no WWII.

    Alt-history is fraught with uncertainty. Who knows, if we hadn't had WW II maybe we would have had something worse, like a singular Eurasian Communist state that extended from Tokyo to London.

  • ||

    "So that's what released the repressed memory of how he wrote all those Beach Boy hits......"

    I think money did that, plus a little bit of jeolousy of his cousin, Brian.

  • Fluffy||

    The primary cause of the war was German paranoia over the rise of Russia as an industrial and military power. That is evidenced by numerous documents, correspondence, etc. found in the archives, etc. of the German government, etc.

    There is an equal amount of evidence regarding the paranoia of the British government over German industrial production and naval ambitions.

    Britain had started scheming against Germany in the 1870's, when Germany and Russia still had a military alliance.

    Also, the Czar mobilized before Germany did. How exactly is mobilizing in response to Russia' mobilization "paranoia"?

    Except the German High Command's plans for annexation of Belgium and large swaths of northern France

    I'd like to see a cite for the extent of your claim here, because although Germany contemplated annexing Flanders and Courland to justify the huge expenditure of life on the Western Front, this would have been exactly the kind of minor territorial adjustment that marked pretty much all European wars to that point, and not some sort of utter subjugation of northern France or a general Germany hegemony over Western Europe, as the post I responded to claimed.

  • ||

    "Alt-history is fraught with uncertainty. Who knows, if we hadn't had WW II maybe we would have had something worse, like a singular Eurasian Communist state that extended from Tokyo to London."

    I doubt that that would have been the case, but because we did have WW II, we ended up with a Soviet Empire and a Cold War and also Red China.

  • Colin Clout||

    bookworm,

    Great Britain also had concerns about Germany's rise in power. They saw the potential that Germany would replace them as the greatest power in the world.

    As a number of historians have pointed out throughout the whole summer of 1914 neither Great Britain was not terribly interested in the goings in eastern Europe or with Germany. What Great Britain was concerned with was a controversy over what to do with Ireland (so much so that there was fear of civil war).

  • No Name Guy||

    Bottom line is there were no good guys in WWI.

    Britain, France, Germany, and yes the USA were all pretty much moral equivalents at the end of the day.

  • No Name Guy||

    And "poor little Belgium" had just finished a rape of the Congo, so they weren't exactly victims either.

  • TallDave||

    but because we did have WW II, we ended up with a Soviet Empire and a Cold War and also Red China.

    Yeah, people generally don't appreciate that the Soviets were the big winners in WW II. It handed them half of Europe.

    But we were certainly better off having a Cold War than an unchallenged Communist expansion. What if America had never militarized?

  • Fluffy||

    Furthermore, in the 1860s when Prussia was trying to rise to dominate central Europe it foguth first with Denmark and then with Austria.

    Denmark's beef was with the North German confederation, and war with Prussia resulted from Denmark's attempt to annex Schleswig-Holstein, the Confederation's resistance, and Prussia's intervention on behalf of the Confederation.

    Austria declared war on Prussia to kick off the Austria-Prussian war.

  • Colin Clout||

    Fluffy,

    Someone has already mentioned the "September Programme."

    Also, the Czar mobilized before Germany did. How exactly is mobilizing in response to Russia' mobilization "paranoia"?

    Why did the Germans ok there approval of the demands of the Austrians re: the Serbians? Without the German approval of these demands they would have likely never have been sent. Without such approval there would have been no ham-handed declaration of war on Serbia by the Austrians. Sorry, but the key to all of this was the Germans.

  • No Name Guy||

    TallDave, had the allies been soft on Germany and made the new republic a full member of the international community, there would've been a united front against the Soviet state blocking any expansion. Again, they should've looked at Vienna. Bringing the restored monarchy of France into the international community successfully stopped outbreaks of liberal revolutions until 1848, after all. There could've been a similar alliance against communist revolution in 1918, but that required Germany to make it effective.

  • No Name Guy||

    BTW, we still would've had a Pacific War even w/out WWI. Conflict between Japan and the USA was pretty much inevitable. So America would've been militarized, regardless.

  • Colin Clout||

    Fluffy,

    Denmark's beef was with the North German confederation, and war with Prussia resulted from Denmark's attempt to annex Schleswig-Holstein...

    Which was part of the domain of the Danish king.

    Austria declared war on Prussia to kick off the Austria-Prussian war.

    Doesn't this ignore Bismark's efforts to bring about the war in the first place?

    No Name Guy,

    I'm not claiming that the Allies were good guys.

  • ||

    Ex-Marine?

    "Walking across Hanger 296 at USMCAS El Toro one morning I was nearly knocked off my feet by a huge box wrench that came clanging & skidding across the hanger deck at a high rate of velocity . It had been thrown by a pissed off Phantom Jet mechanic and was followed by....."

    "Fuck! The fuckin' fucker is fucked!"

    If you see two construction workers talking and want to join into the conversation, all you have to do is walk up and say "fuck" and you're in.

  • ||

    "BTW, we still would've had a Pacific War even w/out WWI. Conflict between Japan and the USA was pretty much inevitable. So America would've been militarized, regardless."

    It was only inevitable because FDR made it so by his meddling which was deliberate to provoke Japan into attacking us. FDR's purpose in all this was to bring us into the war to help Great Britain. Japan was FDR's back door to war.

  • No Name Guy||

    Bookworm, we had several colonies in the Pacific that Japan wanted to take posession of before the war in Europe and before FDR. Unless you seriously think that rolling over and giving them to the Japanese Empire was a good idea, the war would've come. That and we were committed to ensuring free trade in China, etc.

  • ||

    Eh, I don't like the idea of WWII w/o US involvement anyway.

  • ||

    "But we were certainly better off having a Cold War than an unchallenged Communist expansion."

    What if Great Britain had never declared war on Germany? What if Great Britain had allowed Germany to fight it out with the Soviets? Maybe both countries would have been weaker and we would have not ended up with a problem with either.

  • ||

    bookworm,

    At what point would Germany have withdrawn from all the countries they'd be occupying? And what about Japan?

  • ||

    "Bookworm, we had several colonies in the Pacific that Japan wanted to take posession of"

    Do you really think Japan would have challenged us for them? Japan attacked us over our meddling with their designs on China. They believed they would win a few key battles with us and then we would not think it was worth it and then leave them alone.

  • No Name Guy||

    Bookworm, the writings of the Japanese generals the early 20th Century suggest that yes, they wished to challenge us for the Phillipines, Hawaii, and other Pacific islands. If you take them at face value, they wanted domination in the Pacific.

    They were the ones meddling in China, btw, violating an international consensus that China was to be left alone. That didn't even include Manchuria, but it wasn't enough for them.

  • No Name Guy||

    Don't get me wrong, I'm non-interventionist pretty much, but I don't see how the western hemisphere can be secured unless the US has domination of both oceans. I think theres a good enough argument to be made that the domination of the Pacific by an Asian power is unacceptable to US and Hemisphere security.

  • ||

    "At what point would Germany have withdrawn from all the countries they'd be occupying? And what about Japan?"

    Germany was only occupying the lands they lost at Versailles, and Bohemia, which had belonged to the German Federation in the past. They didn't occupy France until after France and Great Britain declared war on Germany. They had designs on eastern Europe and Russia, but that didn't need to concern Great Britain or the US.

    Japan believed Asia should be run by Asians, not Europeans. Was it our business to protect French and British colonies from the Japanese?

  • No Name Guy||

    Japan believed Asia should be run by Asians Japanese.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "On this day in 1918, Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs gave a speech in Canton, Ohio denouncing America's participation in what we now call World War I. For this "crime," Debs would spend nearly three years rotting in prison, convicted of violating Woodrow Wilson's vile Espionage Act, which essentially made it illegal to criticize the government during wartime"

    Thanks for proving that all those Bush haters who keep raving about how his administration has engaged in massive and unprecedented violations of "civil liberties" don't know what they're talking about.

    None of the multitudes of Iraq war critics are being tossed into the slammer for speaking out against the war.

  • ||

    "None of the multitudes of Iraq war critics are being tossed into the slammer for speaking out against the war."

    Not yet, anyway, but I suspect Bush would if he could get away with it.

  • ||

    As pragmatically as I'd like to look at it, Japan and Germany had abhorrent regimes during WWII.
    I can't disregard Japan's human rights abuses in the countries it was occupying, nor can I ignore the Holocaust.
    We can definitely argue about how the situation went down, but forcing Germany to fight a war on two fronts was the right thing to do. If they'd've beaten Russia, uh oh. Uh oh.
    And Japan would've settled for no less than the complete domination of the Pacific theater.

  • TallDave||

    I think theres a good enough argument to be made that the domination of the Pacific by an Asian power is unacceptable to US and Hemisphere security.

    Unless the Asian power is a liberal democracy, or group of liberal democracies.

    What if Great Britain had never declared war on Germany? What if Great Britain had allowed Germany to fight it out with the Soviets? Maybe both countries would have been weaker and we would have not ended up with a problem with either.

    That would have been an ideal outcome. OTOH, a victor might have emerged from the conflict as the world's sole military superpower and established global hegemony behind nuclear weapons.

  • No Name Guy||

    Regardless of their government, Dave, we wouldn't accept it.

    Thats why we still won't let the Japanese re-arm.

  • ||

    Germany was only occupying the lands they lost at Versailles, and Bohemia, which had belonged to the German Federation in the past.

    I just find the thesis that Nazi Germany would have stopped at that point incredibly naive. They invaded neutral countries after France and England declared, they broke their deal with Russia in the East, they in no way acted like their only goal was to recover what they lost in WWI.

    Lets not forget that France showed no inclination to actually send an army out of French territory before the Germans came through the Maginot line. If the Germans had wanted to sit pat where they were, they could have easily done so. Their Eastern Front was secure, their Western Front was in no real danger of being breached. The only real threat was a British naval blockade.

  • ||

    Art-P.O.G.

    As one who has laced them up for the empire, I am not surprised that you have bought the empire's version of events.

    Are you not troubled by our efforts to harass Japanese shipping? Our aid to the British Empire? What business did the Brits have in southeast asia? What business did we have getting ourselves entangled in these foreign adventures?

    What about Dresden? How about the fire bombing of Tokyo? Never mind Nagasaki and Hirshima. Oh. That's right-it was to "save" the lives of a million of ours. That'll convince them.

  • ||

    What if Great Britain had allowed Germany to fight it out with the Soviets?

    A Germany allowed to focus entirely on its Eastern Front might well have beaten the Soviets - they came damn close as it was.

  • TallDave||

    No Name,

    I don't see why not. We accept it in Europe. And the Japanese don't re-arm because they remember what happened last time they tried their hand at empire-building, not because we're stopping them. There was even some talk in the 1990s of encouraging them to go nuclear to counterbalance China.

    Liberal democracies tend to band together to protect each other.

  • ||

    What is incredibly naive is the notion that the united states was the "good guy" in world war two.

  • No Name Guy||

    TallDave, we haven't accepted anything in Europe. We dominate that continent militarily to this day. The military of France and Germany are jokes next to the US military.

    Its also why we never push really hard for an EU-wide military and common foreign policy, because in reality we fear how powerful that would be. It would be another competitor, and hegemons don't like competitors. Forms of government don't really enter into that consideration.

    Don't think a conflict of US and EU interests will ever happen? I give you 2003 and Iraq. Imagine if the EU had a military the size of ours with a common foreign policy. Its quite possible they would threaten to use force to stop us from going into Iraq at that point.

  • ||

    What is incredibly naive is the notion that the united states was the "good guy" in world war two.

    While "good guy" is an oversimplification, we were on the side of justice and righteousness. What more do ya want?

  • ||

    Tall Dave-

    Your speculation at 4:59 pm -"a victor might have emerged from the conflict as the world's sole military superpower and established global hegemony behind nuclear weapons."

    Why speculate when you can point to the fact that the American empire is the sole military superpower backed with nuclear weapons?

  • No Name Guy||

    BTW, Dave, the ancient democracies of Greece fought eachother all the time in very bloody wars. Democratic peace theory is bunk and utopian wishful thinking.

  • ||

    Justice and Righteousnes?

    1. The incarceration, rape and murder of Japanese Americans?

    2. The continued opression of black folk by means of Jim Crow? Lynchings? Anti-miscegenation laws?

    3. The fire bombings of german and japanese cities resulting in the murder of tens of thousands of civilians?

    4. The harassment of Japanese shipping? Mining Japanese harbors? Aiding and abetting the British Empire in southeast asia? ALL BEFORE PERAL HARBOR?

  • Nigel Watt||

    While "good guy" is an oversimplification, we were on the side of justice and righteousness. What more do ya want?



    There is no just side in war.

    We were on the less abhorrent side, though. I will give you that.

  • ||

    No Name Guy-

    You are on key. Perfect pitch with reality

  • Fluffy||

    I tend to think that Germany in WWII was, in fact, determined to conquer everything in its path and then some, and I don't accept bookworm's thesis that Germany only sought to retrieve its Versailles losses.

    The Kaiser, on the other hand, was merely engaged in imperial politics of a kind identical to that of every other major European state at the time. The propaganda conducted then [and now] to claim that Germany was the guilty party in WWI is pure BS.

    Japan believed Asia should be run by Japanese.

    Well - so what, really?

    The sanctimony of the US and Europe with regard to China is, in retrospect, really annoying. Europe and the US had carved up Africa, south Asia, and the Pacific for itself, but somehow decided China should be sacrosanct. I tend to think China was sacrosanct mainly because only Japan was positioned to imperially exploit China, and while the imperial atrocities of Europe in Africa and India and the US in the Phillipines were A-OK, it was completely unacceptable for Japan.

    I'm not saying that ANY of the empires was good. Japan's included. I just fail to see why the empires of Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and the US were OK, but Japan's was anathema and justified casting her as a world-threatening belligerent.

  • ||

    What is incredibly naive is the notion that the united states was the "good guy" in world war two.

    While "good guy" is an oversimplification, we were on the side of justice and righteousness. What more do ya want?



    Well that and we won. And you know...the little morsel of a fact that the other side were FUCKING NAZIS!!!

  • ||

    Your speculation at 4:59 pm -"a victor might have emerged from the conflict as the world's sole military superpower and established global hegemony behind nuclear weapons."

    Why speculate when you can point to the fact that the American empire is the sole military superpower backed with nuclear weapons?


    I think the US's conventional capabilities are enough...no nukes required.

    In fact in a world without nukes we might be a hell of a lot worse then our little adventures into Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • No Name Guy||

    Fluffy-

    Theres an Indonesian saying that 300 years under the Dutch was better than 3 years under the Japanese. They were much more brutal than the Europeans, with the possible exception of the Belgians in Congo.

  • ||

    2. The continued opression of black folk by means of Jim Crow? Lynchings? Anti-miscegenation laws?

    Considering that I'm black, you trying to wave this in my face is laughable. Do you think I'm unaware of any of this? Do you think there's a reason I said "good guy" was an oversimplification? Does the word antihero mean anything to you?

  • ||

    To wit, it's possible to acknowledge that one's country is deeply flawed and at the same time be proud of one's country. Look at the shameful treatment of American Indians at the hands of the Federal Gov't, but look at the exemplary record of Native Americans fighting for the same government in the Armed Forces.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Besides the fact that he's a shitty drummer who makes a dryer filled with bricks sound like Steve Gadd? Probably no reason.

    I don't get it. Why would you judge Ringo by his drumming skills? Can you think of any celebrity who would be more cool to hang out with? Of course, not. Ringo IS cool.

  • ||

    Ringo is indeed cool.

  • TallDave||

    TallDave, we haven't accepted anything in Europe. We dominate that continent militarily to this day. The military of France and Germany are jokes next to the US military.

    Again, not by our choice. We've been btiching for years they can't even pull their own weight in Afghanistan.

    I don't understand the paranoia here. Would we throw a fit if Australia became a world power and signed defense agreements with Japan and Taiwan and S Korea?

    Defending the free world on our own is a tiresome burden, not a glorious crown we jealously guard.

    Europe and the US had carved up Africa, south Asia, and the Pacific for itself, but somehow decided China should be sacrosanct.

    A lot of that was because of things like the Rape of Nanking.

  • TallDave||

    3. The fire bombings of german and japanese cities resulting in the murder of tens of thousands of civilians?

    It was actually more like hundreds of thousands or millions. That was weighed against the 1.2M estimated Allied casualties and 5-10M Japanese casualties involved in taking Japan by ground assault.

    And you have to weigh that against the industrial-scale repression Japan was carrying out in Asia. By some estimates they were killing a million a month.

    The Chinese casualties were 3.22 million soldiers. 9.13 million civilians who died in the crossfire, and another 8.4 million as non-military casualties. According to historian Mitsuyoshi Himeta, at least 2.7 million civilians died during the "kill all, loot all, burn all" operation (Three Alls Policy, or sanko sakusen) implemented in May 1942 in North China by general Yasuji Okamura and authorized on 3 December 1941 by Imperial Headquarter Order number 575.[9]

    They were no better than the Nazis.

  • Fluffy||

    A lot of that was because of things like the Rape of Nanking.

    The "Gentleman's Agreement" that China was supposed to be off limits for imperial expansion - the "Open Door Policy" and all that - predate the Japanese military adventures there. A policy can't be a reaction to events that haven't happened yet.

    And the Japanese military savagery in China lines up pretty neatly with British, French, Belgian, and American military policies when crushing resistance in Africa and the Phillipines.

    I don't dispute that the Japanese military occupation of China was monstrous and that's not the point I'm trying to make. I'm merely arguing that there was very little special or unique about it in the annals of imperialist history other than the date. It was unacceptable for Japan to do to China what the West had done to the rest of the world scant decades before. It was unacceptable for Japan to do to China what one of the European powers would have been happy to do itself, if it enjoyed the logistical advantages for operating in China that Japan enjoyed. China was a slightly tougher nut to crack than Africa had been, so the Europeans suddenly discovered their compassionate side. Funny how that happened as soon as Japan had the power and access to do what they had wanted to do but couldn't.

    Consider the history surrounding the Italian occupation of Ethiopia. This is an even better example of the hypocrisy of Britain, France and the US. The Italians were denounced for conquering Ethiopia by European powers who had conquered and ruled the rest of the continent of Africa. Isn't that just a teensy weensy bit absurd?

  • Fluffy||

    It was unacceptable for Japan to do to China what the West had done to the rest of the world scant decades before.

    Strictly speaking, this should read "...what the West had done to Africa scant decades before, and to the rest of the world centuries before."

  • robc||

    Fluffy,

    Isn't that just a teensy weensy bit absurd?

    Not at all.

    The United States had legal slavery 150 years ago. That doesnt mean we shouldnt criticize countries that still practice slavery. If we were criticizing them while we still practiced it, that would be hypocritical.

  • economist||

    Fluffy,
    What did the west do to the rest of the world centuries before WWII?

  • anon||

    And back to Woodrow Wilson. . .

    I can't think of any other president who stock has declined soooo much in the past 20 years. So many problems, both foreign and domestic, eventually lead back to his administration.

  • ||

    Yeah, the Wilson presidency doesn't seem to have "aged" gracefully.

  • economist||

    anon,
    Woodrow Wilson's stock hit bottom by the early '20s. He made it practically impossible for a Democrat to be elected in that decade. His reputation went back up somewhat during WWII (when "making the world safe for democracy" was once again a catchphrase) and has declined significantly since.

  • ||

    Anyone fuckin' fucker who says Ringo isn't cool should be locked up. Forever.

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