Democracies are peaceful, these spread peace and are the answer to a war-torn world. Toppled dictatorships ought to be replaced with democracy for a more peaceful planet.
Let’s take a closer look.
Recently, we read a series of articles on the causes of the much misunderstood First World War which was raging 100 years ago. One author pointed out the conflict was not really a conflict between nations but rather one of contending empires (commercial, mercantile or colonial). The moral of the story was that if the participants had been acting as nations rather than as empires there would have been no World War One, and no loss of millions of lives. The difference being that true nation states act to build or develop from within whereas empires act to acquire wealth from other states near and far. Of course, when empires contend with each other in armed conflict it is a zero sum game, and can even be worse as in a lose-lose proposition.
We read of how noble the Western democracies of Britain and France were in WW I. Yet, Britain wanted war with Germany because it did not like the increased competition it faced from German industry and commercial success. It was cheaper in the minds of the powerful elites in England to make war on Germany to destroy her industry than to work harder and smarter in an environment of free market competition among nations. France’s leaders were still suffering from a hatred of Germany due to France’s defeat in 1871 in the Franco-Prussian War. France encouraged Tsarist Russia to oppose Germany. (We have already (2012) written on the culpability of Tsar Nicholas II in helping to start the conflagration. Albeit made a saint in post communist Russia by the Russian Orthodox Church, he bears much responsibility for the war and for the disaffected masses rising up against him in 1917.)
What is little known to many in the West today is that Germany made peace overtures in 1916 to England at a time when Germany was gaining an advantage militarily over the Western Allies. Basically, Germany was saying let’s call off this war and return to the borders of 1914 and make peace. Basically saying this is a stalemate so let’s stop fighting. England rejected this offer and not long after, with the connivance of Jewish Zionists, the Balfour Declaration was made. Britain would back the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine (at the time still under Ottoman rule) in return for world Jewry’s help to bring the US into the war. Amazingly, or not so amazingly, the newspapers in the US changed over night from being neutral or pro-German to being anti-German and in favor of US involvement in the war. There was an eruption of wartime atrocity propaganda (later debunked) of alleged German atrocities and outrages committed in Belgium and in France. The bottom line is that noble Britain, when offered peace on equitable and fair terms, consciously chose to continue making war. Let us not overlook nor trivialize a true atrocity which was the British naval blockade after the end of the war that lasted months and caused hundreds of thousands of German women and children to starve to death!
With the unjust peace that was the Versailles Treaty (truly vindictive and punitive), the seeds were sown for a future war. Many at the peace conference expressed serious misgivings and feared a future war because of the treaty’s harsh terms. The victorious allies, noble democracies, demanded and obtained their many pounds of flesh quite literally.
What of the even larger scale war a generation later – the outcome of which made large areas of the globe safe for communism?
World War II is not treated fairly and accurately in the history texts in high school and college in the US. We speak from personal experience here having been educated in the US. In Europe, with even less freedom of speech and thought, it is doubtful that the history of World War II is anywhere near being fair, objective and comprehensive.
Similar to 1914, in 1939 powerful elites in Britain (primarily) wanted war in Europe. Again, Germany was becoming too powerful for Britain to feel secure in its dominant position. Hitler, no saint, made peace overtures to Britain in those critical days of September 1st and 2nd just prior to England’s declaration of war on Germany on 3 September 1939. Sadly, war in Europe had been decided upon early in 1939, months before Hitler invaded Poland. The banking interests, the militarists in England had gained the upper hand and with the encouragement of Franklin Roosevelt had decided on war with Germany. They just needed a justification, a pretext. Thus, the British gave a security guarantee to Poland early in 1939 that gave no incentive to Poland to negotiate with Germany over the former German territories in dispute. (Little known in the West is the fact that there were atrocities committed in these years against ethnic Germans in these former German provinces.) Here we must stop. Suffice it to say that Britain was not sincerely interested in preserving and promoting peace as it rebuffed Hitler’s serious peace offers in the critical days. (A tangential point is worth noting here. Stalin dreamed of and desired the conquest of Europe. In recent years, books have been written with the thesis that Stalin was preparing to invade Europe and Hitler beat him to the punch in 1941.)
As to both world wars, one may assert that the Western democracies were only responding to the aggressive actions of other nations and were peace loving nations after all. But this assertion does not stand up to close scrutiny.
For those who think FDR had no hand in bringing about World War II, please read Professor Charles Tansill’s classic work, Back Door to War. He lays out all the state department and other government correspondence of the period that makes the case not persuasively but rather compellingly. Simply put, FDR’s so-called “New Deal” abysmally failed to get the US economy out of the depths of its depression. Mass unemployment persisted until full mobilization in December, 1941. Through his diplomats, he assured the British and the French that the US would be in the European war at the end. Many Americans who grew up during the time of FDR believed him to be a demigod but the truth is that he was more of a demon.
The value of revisionist history (the attempt to bring history into accord with the facts as Professor Harry Elmer Barnes put it) is that it seeks to understand critically and objectively why wars break out. With greater and more accurate understanding of the forces that promote war, we may be able to avoid them in the future.
One of the takeaways here is to be wary of what is in the official history texts. So much of what passes for history is propaganda that serves the interests of those who have power, including those who are not clearly seen and are not elected.
other related thoughts
Western interventions in other nations’ power struggles and civil wars has not worked out too well in recent years. Consider the cases of Libya and Syria. Does anyone other than the jihadists believe that Libyans are better off today and that Libya poses less of a threat to the West than when old Moammar Ghadafy ran the country? Obama and then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton saw the Muslims in the streets in early 2011 (the so-called Arab Spring) as agents of radical change and backed them. France and other European nations helped to bomb Ghadafy’s forces on the assertion that he was going to massacre his people in Benghazi. Without the interference of the West, Ghadafy would still be in power and the jihadists would be lying low in Libya.
The US encouragement of the mobs in the streets of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt in early 2011 served to incite rebels and terrorists in Syria against Assad. This 6-year-old civil war in Syria has caused the ongoing Muslim refugee invasion of Europe. There are psychotic US Senators such as John McCain (to be sure, a poster child for mandatory retirement ages for elected officials) who cheer for war in the Middle East, but to what purpose? Whoever eventually prevails in Syria, the country will be in ruins as much of it is now. Readers take note: Israel has long wanted Assad to go as Israel feels threatened by any strong leaders in the region that it cannot bully or control. Some will say that the Syria debacle is ultimately about oil in the Golan Heights and/or about possible pipelines to be built through that country. Be that as it may, we look to Obama and Clinton for starting the fire back in 2011.
Nation building does not work in areas that have deep fault lines of tribe and religious sect because tribal loyalties and religious fervor too often overcome man’s reason. Democracy can not take root in societies that are not yet civil. Just consider the examples of Afghanistan and Iraq. (“Democracy” is not a panacea for all the problems of the world.) The autocrats and dictators in such non-Western countries can be replaced through elections, yes, but to what good? They would be replaced by religious fanatics of one stripe or another.
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