October 21, 2005


The First Time Was Tragedy... (Eric Alterman, October 24, 2005, The Nation)

Outrageous even by his own considerable standards, George W. Bush has tried to hijack Roosevelt's World War II legacy for his own, most recently at a speech in San Diego commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of V-J Day. The obvious difference between FDR's and Bush's wars is necessity. True, FDR led the nation into war by less than forthright means, but he did so because he knew that Germany and Japan were genuine and unavoidable threats to American security and prosperity.

Supplying the warring parties got us out of the Depression after ten futile years of New Dealing, while the Nazis couldn't take Britain, Spain or the Soviets: how were they any threat to us?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 21, 2005 6:04 PM

The reminds me of how Democrats complained when President Nixon congratulated the first astronauts to land on the moon. How dare he intrude on something begun by JFK!

Posted by: John Weidner at October 21, 2005 6:27 PM

You're right! We should have waited until Germany became a mortal threat and then acted!

How very French of you, OJ.

Posted by: Brandon at October 21, 2005 6:37 PM

But only one of our wars was helpful to Stalin.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 21, 2005 7:20 PM


psssst...Nazism didn't work.

Posted by: oj at October 21, 2005 7:43 PM

After we bombed and shelled it back into the Stone Age, no. Absent that you have no idea how it would have fared, and no business assuming the best.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 21, 2005 9:02 PM

It's always better to fight wars earlier rather than later, the Axis deserved to be bombed back to the stone age and we really like war. But the Nazis and the Japanese were decades away from posing a real threat to us, if they ever would have.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 21, 2005 9:07 PM

Except decades away is now right now. I would point out that it's bad enough that we are have the remnants of both Nazism (as it survives in the ideology of the jihadists) and Bolshevism (as it survives in the ideology of Alterman and his ilk, who are as respectable as you or I precisely because they weren't bombed back into the stone age) to contend with. I'm glad for one that ideology is all they're armed with at this point.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 21, 2005 9:41 PM


1. I'm all for WWII. I think that Roosevelt's reasons for dragging us into the war were perfectly valid, as have been all the reasons presidents have given as they have successfully dragged us into unnecessary wars.

2. Alterman is a lot more respectable than we are.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 21, 2005 10:13 PM

One could argue that Japan was not a threat until FDR moved the HQ of our Pacific Fleet from San Diego to Pearl Harbor, and that Germany only declared war on us after we declared war on her ally, Japan.
Now, there may have been sound reasons for moving the Pacific Fleet, but one can hardly imagine the attack on Pearl Harbor if our ships had not been moved there.
The US also embargoed strategic materials such as oil and steel from going to Japan, for MONTHS before Pearl Harbor, in spite of memos warning FDR of retaliation, and despite the fact that we were a "neutral" nation when these actions were taken.
Still, once Japan attacked, Americans united in the war effort.
And, although 1944 GOP nominee Tom Dewey privately opined that Roosevelt should have been impeached, he refused to divide the nation during wartime by making Pearl Harbor a partisan issue in his Presidential campaign.

Posted by: Roy Nichols at October 21, 2005 10:45 PM


They'd already lost.

Posted by: oj at October 21, 2005 10:53 PM

Yes, your fantasy life was on full display this spring.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 21, 2005 11:15 PM

And in the months since Hitler didn't cross the Channel, the Pyrennees or get to Moscow. It was over. Fighting him was ideological, not a necessity.

Posted by: oj at October 21, 2005 11:47 PM

The Dolpher didn't have to declare war on us after Pearl Harbor, but made things easy on Roosevelt by doing so.

Also the Germans were fair to middling rocket designers in the 1940s, so it wasn't the worst thing in the world that we went to war and ended up with the best of them working for us.

Posted by: John at October 22, 2005 12:27 AM

OJ's attitude towards the Nazis is like a guy who looks out his window and sees a scrawny junkie with a rusty knife, and figures it's nothing to worry about: the junkie is clearly unhealthy and probably won't live long enough to cause much trouble.

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 22, 2005 2:35 AM

Um. Wasn't there a little problem with the scientific experiments the Germans were doing. If they had gotten the bomb first ....

Posted by: Steve at October 22, 2005 2:47 AM

...and they were/had developed jet airplanes.

Posted by: AllenS at October 22, 2005 5:35 AM

Looks into a telescope.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2005 7:39 AM


It was FDR's speech that mattered.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2005 7:41 AM

Joe S.,

We didn't bomb Germany back to the Stone Age. Their war production actually INCREASED in 1945. Read James Ellis' book Brute Force. A very eye-opening tome.

Posted by: Bartman at October 22, 2005 9:37 AM

If we couldn't justify entering WW2, what are we doing in Iraq?

Posted by: Genecis at October 22, 2005 11:09 AM

. . . or still in Germany, for that matter.

Posted by: obc at October 22, 2005 12:05 PM

BillMill: P-51s, not B-17s. I'm aware of the postwar analyses of strategic bombing.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 22, 2005 12:50 PM

Bartman: weirdly, it was decided early in the strategic bombing campaign that targeting Germany's electricity production capability would not be worthwhile!

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 22, 2005 2:00 PM

OJ --

Mr. H could have just turned the other cheek (though past history shows he wasn't exactly the sort of guy to favor the passive resistance form of opposition).

Posted by: John at October 22, 2005 2:03 PM

Bartman. Sorry.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 22, 2005 2:32 PM

FDR wasn't interested in entering the war until Nazi Germany invaded the USSR in June. By mid July things were looking grim for the Kremlin friends of FDR's inner circle so Roosevelt,slapped the oil embargo on Japan. One could predict right then when (but not exactly where) the Imperial Navy would strike and that we would be at war in 1942.

Posted by: David at October 22, 2005 4:44 PM


Alterman is more 'respectable'? He may get his stuff published, but I think you and a few others surpass him by quite a bit. And doesn't it seem churlish for him to gripe at President Bush for talking about a former President? FDR has been gone a long time - if Bush started talking about the 8 points of freedom (or some such thing), would Democratic pundits shriek because Woodrow Wilson was being pinched?

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 22, 2005 7:36 PM


No, he couldn't; he was a psycho.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2005 8:26 PM


Any war we choose to fight is justifiable--the point is they've all been by choice.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2005 8:32 PM

Can I say rude things about Alterman?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 24, 2005 9:41 PM