Fosfax, Issue 205, Part 1, Page 59


Dublin Core


Fosfax, Issue 205, Part 1, Page 59


Science Fiction


Fifty- Ninth page of Fosfax, Issue 205, Part One: Book reviews Cont.


Timothy Lane, Lisa Major


Fosfax, Issue 205, Part 1, July 2002




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With the approach of the Casablanca conference, a major concern came up: what to do about Germany? Many in both Britain and Am¬erica sought a war against the whole nation. They complained about Germany as having three times disturbed European peace — although France, not Germany, started the war in 1870 (Bismarck did provoke France by, in our terms, "dissing" them, which is relevant if you con¬sider mockery a legitimate casus belli), and the situation in 1914 was very complex in terms of who really was to blame (perhaps the worst offender then was Serbia, but everyone bore some guilt). Hitler did start World War II, of course — but they proceeded to blame the old Prussian military class, even though many representatives of it urged the British to oppose Hitler as early as 1938. There was good reason to believe that many Germans disliked the Nazi regime, and had for a long time (though a long, increasingly unsuccessful war certainly did a lot to increase that number).
But few people knew this. Oddly enough, ordinary people had no hatred for Germany (which had not attacked the US, after all) for the most part. It was in the leadership, which should have known better, that such hatred flowed. This led to Roosevelt's decision to demand an unconditional surrender — and never mind that nobody outside the New Deal seemed to like the idea, which in fact was unprecedented in terms of national surrender. (Roosevelt defended the policy by point¬ing out how Grant treated Lee, which was historically inaccurate; he confused Fort Donelson with Appomattox.) The military believed, to the end, that it would prolong the war and thereby increase casualties on both sides. By all indications, it did.
As it happens, the policy was only fully put into place in Germany — e.g., the Japanese finally got at least unofficial assurances that the Emperor would remain (earlier assurances might have ended that war as well, though we can't be sure). There were many complaints from liberals about making use of Darlan in North Africa and Badoglio in Italy; far better to prolong the war and let more men die than make a temporary bargain with evil. Except Stalin, of course.
But then, they didn’t consider Stalin evil; many didn't learn for a very long time. The famine, the purges, the pact with Hitler, the in¬vasion of Finland, and the seizure of the Baltic states, eastern Poland, and Bessarabia and northern Bukovina meant nothing. Nor did Ka¬tyn, or Poltava (Fleming discusses this betrayal extensively, based on Glenn Infield’s The Poltava Affair, though he doesn’t go as far as In¬field himself did), or Warsaw. Not even Stalin's immediate, cynical betrayal of the Yalta terms persuaded them. The leftist (and especial¬ly intellectual) will to believe in Communism was above all that. It's no surprise there were so many Soviet agents in Washington, and that Roosevelt didn’t care about it. He and Hopkins were even willing to purge the State Department of skeptics (one of whom pointed out that Stalin killed more Jews than Hitler, which may have been true before the Wannsee Conference) at Stalin's behest, but fortunately Cordell Hull largely managed to block this.
But if FDR surrounded himself with dedicated New Dealers, his influence in Congress was another matter. An interesting example is Harry Truman, an unbossed Democrat (after Pendergast was convict¬ed, anyway) who considered himself a liberal and supported the New Deal for the most part, but regarded the Wallace wing of the party as "professional liberals" who placed their ideology foremost (and even defined their views of others ideologically). In language as harsh as anything I use, he called such people "the lowest form of politician" and thought that "no professional liberal is intellectually honest" (I'd be inclined to agree with him there). By the end of 1943, as a result, the New Deal was basically dead, though a few policies (such as the Ponzi scheme known as Social Security) lived on.
By 1944, the Democrats had a problem. Without Roosevelt, they had no chance of winning. For that matter, if the war ended (or even was just about over), even Roosevelt trailed Dewey badly. And the man they needed was a physical wreck, no longer capable of doing a full day’s work. Insiders knew that the VP would be the next Presi¬dent, and it had better not be Henry Wallace. Eventually — Fleming has a fine account of the maneuvering — they put Truman (probably as good a choice as was available) in. Meanwhile, four-hour days, a very light campaign schedule, and blatant lies about his health enabled Roosevelt to fool the public. He was also helped by Dewey's flaws as a candidate (demonstrated again four years later).
In 1944, certain disputes over the bombing war came up. There had always been a strong push for "area bombing", the idea of which was to kill civilians and destroy their homes on the grounds that this would also wipe out a few factories. Perhaps this could be justified in a war in which moral issues were raised. But there was no justifica¬tion for "morale bombing", which explicitly sought to terrorize people so that they would persuade their dictator to make peace. Arnold and Harris even considered strafing civilians at one point, though Ameri¬can aircrew -roved m^re civilized.

The same ideas, with the same fraudulent justifications, would be used in Japan. Fleming’s account of the firebombing of Tokyo is far shorter than Richard Frank’s in Downfall, but just as searing. As it happens, at least some of the bombers realized what they were doing. But when they got back to their base, they received a congratulation from Arnold for having the "guts" to do anything. True, just like the Einsatzgruppen did in Russia. The comparison is apt: Himmler once saw a mass shooting, and was sickened by it. So the commander, Dr. Frank Six of the SD, suggested that he consider what this meant for the men who had to perform such shootings day after day. Himmler's response was much like Arnold’s. At least he, unlike Arnold, saw the results of his orders. Whether this makes Himmler or Arnold the bet¬ter man, I can’t say.
The last major dispute concerned postwar plans for Germany. As many readers may know, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, who happened to be Jewish and rather vengeful (which is certainly under-standable), favored the elimination of German heavy industry, and an economy based on agriculture and light industry. Soviet agent Harry Dexter White, who proposed the idea, probably didn’t object when it was pointed out that Stalin might be the beneficiary. He did point out that the plan might lead to the starvation of millions; either Morgen¬thau didn't believe it, or he didn't care. Roosevelt supported him and went along as Churchill was blackmailed into accepting it; but in the end it didn't happen.
But it does make one wonder. The Nazi plan for Russia was very similar, and like Morgenthau they didn't care who starved as a result. Why, then, wasn't Morgenthau equally a war criminal? Admittedly, his plan wasn’t a plan of aggressive conquest, so we might consider it equivalent to second-degree rather than first-degree murder. It also never actually happened, whereas Hitler began to put his plans into effect. Yet even attempted second-degree murder is a serious crime. For that matter, if actually set in place with the result White anticipat¬ed, might it not have made such anti-Semitic arguments as the notori¬ous Blood Libel (a Muslim favorite today) more believable?
Finally, Roosevelt died, and Truman took over. Fleming, in his analysis of the VP battle, concludes that FDR didn't really want Tru¬man. Of course, like so many politicians, he was good at giving his visitors an impression of support. At any rate, he ignored the Vice- President, as did his entourage, despite the fact that most knew who would soon be running the country. It was a final piece of New Deal irresponsibility. Fortunately, the results weren’t disastrous; indeed, Truman was a great improvement over his predecessor, who by 1945 was no longer fit for the job.
This is all very negative, and perhaps deservedly so, though much similar deconstructions no doubt can be done of any administration — as symbolized by the statement (which I’ve heard attributed to Bis¬marck) that one should never watch the making of either laws or sau¬sages. So Fleming concludes with Truman's own comments about his predecessor: He thinks FDR didn't really care about people (I think this is a common problem on the left, that they're so busy caring ab¬out The People that they have no time to care about people), but was a great president because he brought America into the Twentieth Cen¬tury. Probably reasonable, though anyone who studies last century is entitled to wonder if that was such a good thing.
UNBRIDLED 1987-2001
by Lisa
I heard more sad news on the radio. Unbridled, winner of the 1990 Kentucky Derby, is dead of a severe case of colic. He was one of the last champions raced by Mrs. Frances Genter, who also raced the great In Reality. In one of the most heartwarming scenes in rac¬ing, the grand old lady finally saw one of her horses win the Derby. I still fondly recall the kiss Unbridled's trainer Carl Nafzger gave her when it became obvious Unbridled would win. At fourteen, Unbri¬dled should have had several more years left to him. He had already

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