September 28, 2003




The sudden criminal attacks perpetrated by the Japanese in the Pacific provide the climax of a decade of international immorality.

Powerful and resourceful gangsters have banded together to make war upon the whole human race. Their challenge has now been flung at the United States of America. [...]

The course that Japan has followed for the past ten years in Asia has paralleled the course of Hitler and Mussolini in Europe and in Africa. Today, it has become far more than a parallel. It is actual collaboration so well calculated that all the continents of the world, and all the oceans, are now considered by the Axis strategists as one gigantic battlefield. [...]

I repeat that the United States can accept no result save victory, final and complete. Not only must the shame of Japanese treachery be wiped out, but the sources of international brutality, wherever they exist, must be absolutely and finally broken.

In my Message to the Congress yesterday I said that we "will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again." In order to achieve that certainty, we must begin the great task that is before us by abandoning once and for all the illusion that we can ever again isolate ourselves from the rest of humanity.

In these past few years -- and, most violently, in the past three days -- we have learned a terrible lesson.

It is our obligation to our dead -- it is our sacred obligation to their children and to our children -- that we must never forget what we have learned.

And what we have learned is this:

There is no such thing as security for any nation -- or any individual -- in a world ruled by the principles of gangsterism. There is no such thing as impregnable defense against powerful aggressors who sneak up in the dark and strike without warning.

We have learned that our ocean-girt hemisphere is not immune from severe attack -- that we cannot measure our safety in terms of miles on any map any more.

We may acknowledge that our enemies have performed a brilliant feat of deception, perfectly timed and executed with great skill. It was a thoroughly dishonorable deed, but we must face the fact that modern warfare as conducted in the Nazi manner is a dirty business. We don't like it -- we didn't want to get in it -- but we are in it and we're going to fight it with everything we've got.

I do not think any American has any doubt of our ability to administer proper punishment to the perpetrators of these crimes. Your Government knows that for weeks Germany has been telling Japan that if Japan did not attack the United States, Japan would not share in dividing the spoils with Germany when peace came. She was promised by Germany that if she came in she would receive the complete and perpetual control of the whole of the Pacific area -- and that means not only the Ear East, but also all of the Islands in the Pacific, and also a stranglehold on the west coast of North, Central and South America. We know also that Germany and Japan are conducting their military and naval operations in accordance with a joint plan. That plan considers all peoples and nations which are not helping the Axis powers as common enemies of each and every one of the Axis powers.

That is their simple and obvious grand strategy. And that is why the American people must realize that it can be matched only with similar grand strategy. We must realize for example that Japanese successes against the United States in the Pacific are helpful to German operations in Libya; that any German success against the Caucasus is inevitably an assistance to Japan in her operations against the Dutch East Indies; that a German attack against Algiers or Morocco opens the way to a German attack against South America and the Canal.

On the other side of the picture, we must learn also to know that guerilla warfare against the Germans in, let us say Serbia or Norway, helps us; that a successful Russian offensive against the Germans helps us; and that British successes on land or sea in any part of the world strengthen our hands.

Remember always that Germany and Italy, regardless of any formal declaration of war, consider themselves at war with the United States at this moment just as much as they consider themselves at war with Britain or Russia. And Germany puts all the other Republics of the Americas into the same category of enemies. The people of our sister Republics of this Hemisphere can be honored by that fact.

The true goal we seek is far above and beyond the ugly field of battle. When we resort to force, as now we must, we are determined that this force shall be directed toward ultimate good as well as against immediate evil. We Americans are not destroyers -- we are builders.

We are now in the midst of a war, not for conquest, not for vengeance, but for a world in which this nation, and all that this nation represents, will be safe for our children. We expect to eliminate the danger from Japan, but it would serve us ill if we accomplished that and found that the rest of the world was dominated by Hitler and Mussolini.

So we are going to win the war and we are going to win the peace that follows.

And in the difficult hours of this day -- through dark days that may be yet to come -- we will know that the vast majority of the members of the human race are on our side. Many of them are fighting with us. All of them are praying for us. But, in representing our cause, we represent theirs as well -- our hope and their hope for liberty under God.

Three things leap out about this speech:

(1) If you're education was anything like mine--at utterly conventional public schools and a liberal arts college--you'll have heard innumerable times that Hitler's declaration of war on the United States was a totally unnecessary, almost deranged, blunder, that came out of the blue. In fact, it followed this address by FDR, which all but officially declared war on Germany.

(2) Given that there was practically no coordination between Japan and Germany and that we well knew that to be the case, we might consider this FDR's own Iraq speech, overstating the case against an obvious enemy of freedom in order to drag a reluctant, even dubious, into war with his chosen target, rather than theirs.

(3) We can probably go out on a limb and say that no one ran editorials the next day complaining about his references to evil or about his closing line being too religious.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 28, 2003 9:53 PM

You mean that nice Mr. Hitler was forced against his wishes--positively forced--to declare war on the US because of one hostile speech? He must have had a first class Foreign Ministry. I don't think countries engaged in a two front war take on another great power because they are miffed that someone made an inflammatory and presumably inaccurate speech. And why are you so sure the Allies had such an accurate bead on the extent of German-Japanese coordination?

The guy set out to conquer the world and was giving it a very good run. Meanwhile, the Japanese Government was in the grip of completely irrational bushido types who were assasinating one another and whose army and navy acted completely independantly and competitvely.

Doesn't your theory rely on painting Germany and Japan as rational governments operating on familiar concepts of reasoned self-interest?

Posted by: Peter B at September 29, 2003 6:52 AM


No, Pearl Harbor bringing us into the war was the primary cause.

Posted by: oj at September 29, 2003 7:36 AM

My impression was that Hitler declared war on the U.S. on December 8th, 1941. This speech of FDR's is dated 10pm December 9th, so, I presume, it was a _response_ to Hitler's delaration of war against us and intended to encourage Congress to respond to Germany in kind, which it did by Declaring war on Germany on December 11th.

Posted by: Steve Sailer at September 29, 2003 6:29 PM


No, Germany's declaration of war followed FDR's speech, not Pearl Harbor:

On the morning of December 11, the Government of Germany, pursuing its course of world co nquest, declared war against the United States.

Posted by: oj at September 29, 2003 6:43 PM

Peter, you have got Orrin in a sling now. He has said, many times, that Hitler and the Hitlerites were rationalists.

Of course, at almost the same time, he's argued that such regimes have to fall, and soon, because they are ineffective.

Many who were in the White House (Sherwood, for example) have written that FDR was worried that the war would be limited to the Pacific. He understood, as did almost all his military advisers (even King, who hated the notion) that Germany was the primary enemy and had to be dealt with first.

Now, you can admire that outlook or not, but you cannot disparage it and simultaneously claim that Roosevelt baited Japan into war in order to get a conflict with Germany.

FDR was devious, not insane.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 30, 2003 1:19 AM


Even getting into the war with Japan didn't work. FDR had to basically declare war on Germany first.

Their governments would have failed precisely because they were rationalist. Their well-reasoned dream of how the world might work if only men forceful enough to impose the vision took power was delusional, as was communism as is Islamicism, as is every totalitarianism. Hand-wringing over the imagined military superiority of such systems ill becomes demiocrats.

Posted by: oj at September 30, 2003 7:51 AM

Rationalist is a poor word here; one could say 'humanist', one could say 'animalistic', one could say 'Darwinist', one could say a lot of things, but rationalist just won't do. Rational is not an appropriate adjective for people trying to live out the uber-mensch. Post-modern humanists may say they are guided by reason, and then live like Chirac, but the Nazis and the gangsters in Tojo-land did not even have the pretense of living under 'reason'.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 30, 2003 9:44 AM

Hand=wringing over imagined military superiority was what your hero Lindbergh was good at.

It was democrats and Democrats who believed in the superiority of freedom.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 30, 2003 3:49 PM

I doubt Hitler was very rational in December 1941 - he had been corrupted by the Nazi victories of the previous 10 years. He took over supreme command of the German army in that month and thereafter rarely listened to professional advice.

This was also due to Hitler's own beliefs. This is a quote from German General Dittmar:
"Hitler taught and believed that reason and knowledge are nothing, and that unbending will to victory and the relentless pursuit of the goal are everything.". I don't think this is a rationalist point of view.

Hitler's views on America were also colored by his racialist views - he believed America was a mongrel nation that could not possibly compete militarily with the pure Aryan Germanic race. I call that a loopy belief rather than a rationalist theory.

However I will say that on first reading the Atlantic Charter declaration drawn up by Churchill and Roosevelt in July 1941, I hadn't realized how much it is a declaration of hostility to Nazi Germany.

"Sixth, after the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny ..."

Well come on President Roosevelt, don't equivocate, tell us how you really feel about the Nazis.

Posted by: A at September 30, 2003 5:04 PM

Except for anyone in Eastern Europe?

Posted by: oj at September 30, 2003 5:06 PM


Not only is that rationalist, but it's the atheist in chief Nietzsche.

Posted by: oj at September 30, 2003 5:22 PM

It's too long since I did a Philosophy course at school. I'll have to read up again on the various Philosophical schools of thought to debate that one.

Posted by: A at September 30, 2003 6:10 PM

Hitler and the Nazis were not a rationalist movement. It was a romantic movement, and romanticism is based on irrationality. If someone is spouting off about the mystic ties of the blood and the soil and the fuhrerprinzip, you know it wasn't based on reason.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at September 30, 2003 8:26 PM

The principle that a fuhrer is a more effective leader is entirely rational--it's just wrong. So too were racial theories and germ theories--but they were just Darwinism applied.

Posted by: oj at September 30, 2003 10:44 PM


Oj is right. Sure it had its poetic side, just like communism with its absurd socialist realist art and tall tales of partisans. But if Nazism didn't have a purported rational base, it would hardly have captured the imagination of an educated, sophisticated people like the Germans. Would have started somewhere like Albania.

Posted by: Peter B at October 1, 2003 6:45 AM


I disagree. ONLY because it started in an educated, sophisticated place (which was also morally and spiritually imploding) could Nazism go as far as it did. In a more primitive society, Hitler would have been killed by some rival around 1932. I have often wondered if the scene in the third Indiana Jones movie (when Harrison Ford bumps into Hitler) accurately reflects the excitement and insanity. In a more primitive society, those kinds of bonfires happen all the time (for one reason or another). But when you relish the Bacchanal for the first time, watch out.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 1, 2003 1:37 PM


Well, let's take Albania, which was as unsophisticated as they come in 1945. Hohxa took power and kept it in an iron grip until his death. Same with Mao in China, Ho in Vietnam and Stroessner in Paraguay (just to give a litle bi-partisan flavour to the argument). And then there was Uncle Saddam. I'm not sure I understand where you are going.

Posted by: Peter B at October 1, 2003 7:20 PM

Doesn't help that we just had Burning Man here in the States.

Posted by: oj at October 1, 2003 7:43 PM

Let Orrin alone. Hee's trapped in his Mobius-strip where rationalism is bad, Naziism is bad and secularism is bad, and he sees all of them as one side of the same thing.

That's what happens when you marry an ideology that is not based on evidence.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 1, 2003 11:11 PM

There's nothing wrong with rationalism and secularism, so long as they recognize their inherent limitations. Applied rigorously, as in Nazism, they go badly wrong.

Posted by: oj at October 1, 2003 11:28 PM

Nationalism and racialism are NOT derived from the rationalism of the 19th century. Socialism is. The combination of the top-down, elitist nature of socialism with the romantic and pseudo-scientific nature of racialism or nationalism (see The Descent of Man) produces fascism, National Socialism and Marxist Leninism once the supposed competition between race or nation is replaced with competition between classes.

All of the 20th century despotisms have two commonalities: a) Scientific pretensions b) Atheistic/Materialism

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at October 2, 2003 9:34 AM

Except Franco, Pinochet, Duvalier (not much scientific pretension there), Ne Win, Bokassa I, Mobutu, Horthy, Hirohito . . .

I hardly know where the stop.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 2, 2003 8:47 PM

Franco and Pinochet weren't socialists. Hitler was. They cultivated alternative sources of power to the State--Church, military, industry, etc. Hitler brought all to heel. It's the difference between authoritarian rule, which can save a democracy in the long run, and totalitarianism, which can not risk democracy, though it's not necessarily incompatible.

Posted by: oj at October 2, 2003 11:36 PM

A few things here:

#1 The Nazis never had any intention of "taking over the world."
#2 Britain and France declared war on Germany, not the other way around.
#3 The Nazis primary goal was the defense of Europe against Communism and the expansion EAST of the German Empire, essentially the conquest of Russia to eliminate Communism. They only attacked to the West becuase war had been declared on them and they sought to protect needed resources and hoped that Britain, like France, would become supporters of Nazism against Communism.
#4 FDR definately baited Japan into Pearl Harbor, its a proven fact.
#5 Whoever is talking about Marxism and Leninism has no idea what they are talking about. Nazism and fascism in general were anti-Marxist/anti-Communist. Marxism was about equality of all people on all levels, race, gender, class, etc.
#6 and lastly Hitler did not WANT to declare war on America, he was forced to because of his treaty with the Japanese.

Posted by: geoff at October 14, 2003 5:59 PM

Oh, and to add, the Nazis were not secularists, our American Founding Fathers were secularists, the Nazis broke the Separation of Church and State.

Nazi culture was state enforced Christianity.

The Nazis were trying to do what they thought was rigt and good, they wanted to preserve Western Culture. They viewed the Jews and Communsits as secualrist "liberals" who wanted to destroy Western Culture.

Hence the Nazis were anti-Communist anti-Semites, mainly because the Bolsheviks were themsleves Jews, i.e. the October Revolution and Soviet Russia was run by Jews as well as much of the Communist International, hense the Nazis sought to eliminate the Jews as they were a primary group that was promoting Communism.

The Germans, though no one admits this now, actually were pro-Israel and had set asside from land during the early part of the war to let Jews move to in preparation for a move to Israel because the Germans favored the Zionist movement to get the Jews out of Germany.

The Communist movement was ganing public support in the 1920s and 1930s. This is why the fascists were anti-democratic, because they feared that a democratic majority could elect Communist regimes to power in Germany and Italy and Spain.

Thus, when they got into power, each of the regimes independantly arrived at the same conclusion, that in order to prevent a Communist takeover by democratic majority they had to enact fascist dictatorships and then rehabilitate the economies of the countries, which they did. The Italians and Spanish were happy to do just that and go no further, but Hitler wanted to invade Poland and then Russia. Once Hitler invaded Poland then Britan and France declared war because THEY feared that Germany would become too powerful and challenge thier colonial empires.

Posted by: geoff at October 14, 2003 6:13 PM


Loosen the tinfoil.

Posted by: oj at October 14, 2003 7:34 PM