Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Build the Wall A Little Higher, Please!

Friends, this week's Newsmaker Show with me and Brian O'Neil covers a host of intriguing topics.  First, Brian and I discuss the murders of virtually an entire American family in northern Mexico.  Mexico, and much of Central America and the Caribbean, suffers from very high rates of violence.  Drugs and organized crime are largely to blame.  A great argument for open borders, right?  Uh, no thanks!  In addition, Brian and I talk about the turning of the tide on impeachment, the upcoming Conservative victory (I trust) in the UK's general election, and the media's suppression of the Epstein story.  Historically, Brian and I talk about the horrifying legacy of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the Japanese strategy in the opening rounds of World War II, and what the 1912 and 1968 elections can teach us about how Trump can prevail in 2020.  Don't miss it!


  1. Dr. Waddy: The Japanese industrialized starting in 1868 because they were afraid the West would prey on them as it had on the rest of E. Asia. They did a good job of it; they built a military which probably could have defeated any Western attack. But in doing so they created for themselves a need for raw materials they did not have, eventually and most importantly, oil . Naturally they sought them nearby and being an island nation, necessarily by sea. At some point this, perhaps along with other factors - eg. the example of the island British Empire, with its obvious power and prosperity - got them thinking about empire. They had never had one before. Perhaps they thought the West would deny them these resources or would at least be an ever present threat to do so and that that necessitated an eventual probably forceful annexation of much of East Asia and the Western Pacific. They may well have thought this morally justified because it would mean the expulsion of the hated Westerners, who had done such obvious wrong to China and who they had heard were mistreating Japanese immigrants in Hawaii and California.

    China was the first step in 1895, when they took very strategically important Taiwan. But that alarmed the U.S., Russia and Great Britain. They beat Russia in 1905 and allied themselves with Great Britain. But the idea of empire stuck.There was still the U.S. to be considered and both Japan and the U.S. were planning for war against each other by the '20's. They invaded China in the '30's but always with an eye to the U.S. (and now Great Britain, with which they had ended their alliance).

    By 1941, the Japanese perceived the U.S. closing in on them and that it was now or never. At the time they had a Navy roughly equal to that of the U.S., the French were out of it and the British were mortally engaged in Europe, as was Russia. So they staked all on an all out onslaught thinking that they could quickly make of their conquests an impregnable ring around Japan which would keep the West away for good.

    But: Japan, despite its demonstrated ability to adopt some features of other civilizations from which it could benefit (eg. much of China's culture and technology, the British Navy, western industrialization and massive armed forces,baseball(?) was yet a very culturally insular country which defended its traditions with ferocity and intolerance. This had tragic consequences when victorious Japanese troops thought it ok to treat the despised defeated by standards established in the very restricted military society of traditional Japan. This, and the fact that so many Japanese outside of their very ordered society, felt freed from any restraint, led to mass atrocities which completely condemned the Japanese war effort.

    And with this and Pearl Harbor as incentives for the U.S., Japan invited upon itself the full attention (yes, despite the European war) of a nation so productively powerful that it could not be beaten.

    Ironically, Japan's defeat led to its prosperity and security under the aegis of the U.S.

  2. Dr. Waddy:Wilson: An intensely interesting person. First, had Teedy have won instead of Wilson in 1912 the U.S. would probably have entered the war after the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. A massive U.S. force would have arrived on the Western front before the Russian Revolution and Russia would still probably have been engaged. The German reaction? An all out offensive to drive Russia out of the war; that would have weakened it on the Western front but, who would have commanded the American Army? Pershing? He might have been still engaged in the punitive expedition in Mexico. Who then and would he have been as adamant as Pershing was in preserving the American force and denying its piecemeal introduction to the meatgrinder of the Western Front?

    Secondly: bookish and idealistic Wilson went to the Versailles Conference full of his Fourteen Points and unexposed to centuries old European antipathies. One could argue that TR, tempered by many tragic trials in his personal life and demonstrably able to endure extreme hardship, might have been, say, more practicably able to understand the concerns of such as Clemenceau, who viscerally hated the Boche. Too,then TR might have been free of the consuming grief he felt for the death of his son in 1918 on the Western front.

    Wilson pushed for a treaty considerate of German interests but was unable to enact all of it. Had he been successful, could WWII been prevented? I think probably not. The German nation, once motivated, was an incredibly puissant force and defeat itself in WWI, together with the exacerbation of the murderous antisemitism which surely did proliferate in 19th and early 20th century Germany, may well have bought Hitler to power.

    Wilson was probably powerless to prevent this. The worldwise Europeans probably looked on him as a Naif. But would they have seen TR as so?. He might have been able to persuade some restraint.

    A very interesting aspect of Wilson is that he watched Union troops marching into his native Virginia in the Civil war and that he is now widely considered to have been hostile to the advancement of the civil rights of blacks. I am not convinced of his putative hostility. It would seem to be at odds with his post WWI humanity but it is perhaps not yet settled.

  3. Jack, that's a mighty good retelling of Japanese history, 1868-1945. I wouldn't take issue with most of it, except for one small part. I don't think Japan's atrocities had much of a role in its defeat. Plenty of Asians, including Chinese, demonstrated a willingness to collaborate with the Japanese fascists, despite their beastliness. It all came down to firepower and industrial might, if you ask me. The Japanese took on vastly superior foes, assuming, not unreasonably, that Nazi Germany had Russia and Britain well in hand. But for Stalin's pluck, they might have pulled it all off...but probably not, simply because of the USA's might. My take: they should have attacked Hong Kong, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, etc. and dared the U.S. to initiate hostilities. I honestly don't think we would have, and in any case had the war started in that fashion our unity and ferocity would have been blunted.

    I agree -- Wilson is an intriguing fellow. I don't think there's much evidence that he exerted himself on behalf of civil rights, but he was, in most respects, an idealist (the ultimate putdown?). Your alternate universe in which TR gets elected in 1912 is dizzying in its implications. You say after the sinking of the Lusitania we would have joined the war, but you're assuming the sinking of the Lusitania. My guess is that an America led by TR would have created an entirely different political calculus for the Germans. My take: no Wilson, no world as we know it.

  4. Dr. Waddy: A major factor in Japanese thinking may have been that most of their naval decision makers - and this was true in the U.S. and Britain too - still believed the battleship and the battle line to be the decisive factor in naval warfare. The battleships we had at Pearl in Dec. 1941 were roughly equal to what the Japanese had ready at that time. They may have thought that a threat they could not ignore and actually the longstanding American plan for war with Japan was for the battleships to have it out with the Japanese in a neoJutland in Philippine waters. Since Roosevelt had recently sent the battleships to the relatively forward position of Pearl from California, the Japanese may well have discerned in this aggressive intent. What the Japanese might not have appreciated was that they were much stronger in carriers than we were.This was demonstrated at Midway where, had the Japanese had six carriers instead of four, including in addition their best two, Shokaku and Zuikaku, they would surely have beaten our three carriers. Their carriers were followed by at least one of their very new 18 inch gunned behemoth battleships and more older dreadnoughts, which would have cleaned up the American surface fleet(which had NO battleships at that time). Hawaii would have fallen and then? There would have been no island chain for an American force to approach to take a very heavily fortified Japanese Hawaii. Had Japan have fully realized how important the carrier proved to be they might have seen it as an adequate defense against the American battle line and might have refrained from attacking Pearl. They might even have very wisely bypassed the Philippines, leaving them for later. All of this supports your view. Let's not though, underestimate the bad will Japanese presumptuous cruelty generated in the assuredly eventually conquered Phillipines. Japanese sailors from sunken ships, coming ashore in the islands, were carved up by partisans and Americans were joyfully welcomed. Would Germany have declared war on us sans the attack on Pearl Harbor by their putative allies, the Japanese? Would Britain have thereby survived as Churchill thought it did, by Pearl Harbor?

    Thanx for indulging my frivolous speculation about what if?

    Would Germany in 1915 have refrained from attacking all shipping in British waters for fear of killing Americans and incensing feisty TR? There was an earlier provocation, the German sinking of the liner Athenia in 1914, which had American passengers. How would President TR have reacted to that? Would he have sought a declaration of war and could he have gotten it?He was the one who sent the "Great White Fleet" around the world. Perhaps he would have stationed the by then grey American battleline, with its many modern dreadnoughts, just outside German waters. Or, he might have pioneered his cousin FDR's neutrality patrol, though the convoy system was still controversial - TR had a strong understanding of naval warfare; he had written a book on the naval war of 1812 which was, well into the 20th century, a textbook at Annapolis - so he might have foreseen the success of the convoy system. I do see him as an American Churchill, in many respects. Ironic, since he disdained the Churchill he knew.

    But all of my speculation on this is airy; the 3rd party Bull Moose candidate had little chance. In saying " no Wilson, no modern world", are you referring to his shortcomings and his failures?

  5. Jack, it's interesting to speculate on what would have come to pass if the Japanese had won a crushing victory at Midway, which certainly was in the cards. I suppose the fall of Hawaii can't be ruled out. That would indeed have presented us with a dispiriting fait accompli. I still think, though, that the survival of Russia was a far more important factor than the status of Hawaii. If the Germans had done their job in Operation Barbarossa, then the Japanese would have been in a far stronger position in general. As for how the Germans would have behaved towards the US minus the Japanese attack at Pearl, good question. Given that they believed Russia to be on its knees, we can't rule out almost any form of self-destructive lunacy!

    Jack, I can't say for sure, but I would assume that, until they became desperate in 1917, the Germans would have done virtually anything to avoid American belligerence, including foregoing unrestricted submarine warfare. If I were them, I would have handled an America led by TR with kid gloves!

    And yes, by "No Wilson, no world as know it," I certainly meant the world as we know it, warts and all. I could make a very good case that Wilson made it worse.

  6. Dr. Waddy: Sorry, I messed up on the Athenia. It was sunk in 1939.

  7. Jack, I find it inconceivable that you could be in error! The Athenia must have been double-sunk. It's the only rational explanation. :)

  8. Dr. Waddy: Not, not! And it is necessary that I acknowledge it. It might, perhaps, not detract from my main point, that a President TR might have thrust us into WWI far earlier than Wilson, with world historical consequences.