20160912_210159_great-wars-and-great-leaders-a-libertarian-rebuttal_2.pdf

20160912_210159_great-wars-and-great-leaders-a-libertarian-rebuttal_2.pdf

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Unformatted text preview: Great Wars and Great Leaders Great Wars and Great Leaders A Libertarian Rebual Ralph Raico Ludwig von Mie Intitute AUBURN, ALABAMA Copyright © 2010 by the Ludwig von Mises Institute Published under the Creative Commons Aribution License 3.0. Ludwig von Mises Institute 518 West Magnolia Avenue Auburn, Alabama 36832 Ph: (334) 844-2500 Fax: (334) 844-2583 mises.org 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN: 978-1-61016-096-4 Dedicated to the memory of Murray N. Rothbard Lifelong mentor and friend Contents Foreword by Robert Higgs Introduction 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 iii vii E World War I: e Turning Point Rethinking Churchill Harry S. Truman: Advancing the Revolution Marxist Dreams and Soviet Realities Nazifying the Germans R Trotsky: e Ignorance and the Evil e Two “Testaments” of American Foreign Policy e Other War that Never Ends: A Survey of Some Recent Literature on World War I Starving a People into Submission John T. Flynn and the Apotheosis of Franklin Roosevelt On the Brink of World War II e Great War Retold i 1 53 103 143 157 165 177 185 197 207 219 229 Foreword by Robert Higgs For many years, I have described Ralph Raico as “my favorite historian.” When David eroux and I were making our plans in 1995 for the publication of a new scholarly quarterly, e Independent Review, and selecting the scholars we would ask to serve as associate editors, I knew that I would want one of them to be an excellent historian, and I knew also that the person I wanted most was Raico. I had complete confidence that he would bring to our project precisely the combination of personal integrity, scholarly mastery, and sound judgment I needed in an associate. In the fieen years since then, I have never regreed that I prevailed on Ralph to serve in this capacity and that he graciously accepted my invitation. ree of the marvelous review essays that appear here were first published in TIR. Much earlier I had developed a deep respect for Raico as a scholar and as a person. I insist that these two qualities cannot be separated without dire consequences. Some scholars have energy, brilliance, and mastery of their fields, but they lack personal integrity; hence they bend easily before the winds of professional fashion and social pressure. I have always admired Ralph’s amazing command of the wide-ranging literature related to the topics about which he lectures and writes. But I have admired even more his iii iv GREAT WARS AND GREAT LEADERS courageous capacity for frankly evaluating the actors and the actions in question, not to mention the clarity and wit of his humane, levelheaded judgments. Academic historians, who long ago came to dominate the writing of serious history in the United States, have not distinguished themselves as independent thinkers. All too oen, especially in the past thirty or forty years, they have surrendered their judgments and even their aention spans to a combination of hyper-sensitive multiculturalism and power worship. ey tend to see society as divided between a small group of oppressors (nearly all of whom are, not coincidentally, straight white males engaged in or closely associated with corporate business) and a conglomeration of oppressed groups, among whom nonwhites, women, homosexuals, and lowwage workers receive prominent aention and solicitude. When the historians write about the economy, they usually view it though quasi-Marxist lenses, perceiving that investors and employers have been (and remain) the natural enemies of the workers, who would never have escaped destitution except for the heroic struggles waged on their behalf by labor unions and progressive politicians. When they write about international affairs, they elevate the “democratic” wartime leaders to god-like status, especially so for Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Winston Churchill, and Franklin D. Roosevelt— politicians whose public declarations of noble intentions the historians tend to accept at face value. Raico, in contrast, steadfastly refuses to be sucked into this ideological mire. Having aended Ludwig von Mises’s famous seminar at New York University and having completed his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Chicago under F. A. Hayek’s supervision, he understands classical liberalism as well as anyone, and his historical judgments reflect this more solid and humane grounding. For Ralph, it would be not only unseemly but foolish to quiver obsequiously in the historical presence of a Churchill, a Roosevelt, or a Truman. He knows when he has encountered a politician who lusted aer power and public adulation, and he describes the man accordingly. He does not sweep under the rug the crimes commied by the most publicly revered Western political leaders. If they ordered or acceded to the commission of mass murder, he tells us, without mincing words, that they did so. e idea that the United States has invariably played the role of savior or “good guy” in its international relations Raico recognizes as state propaganda, rather than honest history. FOREWORD v us, in these pages, you will find descriptions and accounts of World War I, of the lead-up to formal U.S. belligerence in World War II, and of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Truman, among others, that bear lile resemblance to what you were taught in school. Here you will encounter, perhaps for the first time, compelling evidence of how the British maneuvered U.S. leaders and tricked the American people prior to the U.S. declarations of war in 1917 and 1941. You will read about how the British undertook to starve the Germans —men, women, and children alike—not only during World War I, but for the greater part of a year aer the armistice. You will be presented with descriptions of how the communists were deified and the German people demonized by historians and others who ought to have known beer. You will see painted in truer shades a portrait of the epic confrontation between the great majority of Americans who wished to keep their country at peace in 1939, 1940, and 1941 and the well-placed, unscrupulous minority who sought to plunge the United States into the European maelstrom. Raico’s historical essays are not for the faint of heart or for those whose loyalty to the U.S. or British state outweighs their devotion to truth and humanity. Yet Ralph did not invent the ugly facts he recounts here, as his ample documentation aests. Indeed, many historians have known these facts, but few have been willing to step forward and defy politically popular and professionally fashionable views in the forthright, pull-no-punches way that Raico does. e historians’ principal defect for the most part has not been a failure or refusal to dig out the relevant facts, but rather a tendency to go along to get along in academia and “respectable” society, a sphere in which individual honesty and courage generally count against a writer or teacher, whereas capitulation to trendy nonsense oen brings great rewards and professional acclaim. ose who have not read Raico’s essays or listened to his lectures have a feast in store here. ose who have read some, but not all of the essays in this collection may rest assured that the quality remains high throughout the volume. Any one of the main essays well justifies the price of the book, and each of the review essays is a jewel of solid scholarship and excellent judgment. Moreover, in contrast to the bland, uninspired writing that most academic historians dish out, Ralph’s clear, vigorous prose serves as a tasty spice for the meaty substance. Bon appétit. Introduction e King of Prussia, Frederick II (“the Great”), confessed that he had seized the province of Silesia from the Empress Maria eresa in 1740 because, as a newcomer to the throne, he had to make a name for himself. is initiated a war with Austria that developed into a world-wide war (in North America, the French and Indian War), and went on to 1763. Of course, many tens of thousands died in that series of wars. Frederick’s admission is probably unique in the annals of leaders of states. In general, rulers have been much more circumspect about revealing the true reasons for their wars, as well as the methods by which they conduct them. Pretexts and evasions have proliferated. In today’s democratic societies, these are endorsed—oen invented —by compliant professors and other intellectuals. For generations, the unmasking of such excuses for war and war-making has been the essence of historical revisionism, or simply revisionism. Revisionism and classical liberalism, today called libertarianism, have always been closely linked. e greatest classical liberal thinker on international affairs was Richard Cobden, whose crusade for repeal of the Corn Laws triumphed in 1846, bringing free trade and prosperity to England. Cobden’s two-volume Political Writings (reprinted by Garland Publishing in 1973) are all revisionist accounts of British foreign policy. vii viii GREAT WARS AND GREAT LEADERS Cobden maintained that “e middle and industrious classes of England can have no interest apart from the preservation of peace. e honours, the fame, the emoluments of war belong not to them; the bale-plain is the harvest-field of the aristocracy, watered by the blood of the people.” He looked forward to a time when the slogan “no foreign politics” would become the watchword of all who aspired to be representatives of a free people. Cobden went so far as to trace the calamitous English wars against revolutionary France— which went on for a generation and ended only at Waterloo—to the hostility of the British upper classes to the anti-aristocratic policies of the French. Castigating the aristocracy for its alleged war-lust was standard for liberal writers of earlier generations. But Cobden’s views began to change when he observed the intense popular enthusiasm for the Crimean War, against Russia and on behalf of the Ooman Turks. His outspoken opposition to that war, seconded by his friend and co-leader of the Manchester School, John Bright, cost both of them their seats in the Commons at the next election. Bright outlived his colleague by twenty years, witnessing the growing passion for empire in his country. In 1884, the acclaimed Liberal Prime Minister, William Gladstone, ordered the Royal Navy to bombard Alexandria to recover the debts owed by the Egyptians to British investors. Bright scornfully dismissed it as “a jobbers’ war,” war on behalf of a privileged class of capitalists, and resigned from the Gladstone Cabinet. But he never forgot what had started him on the road to anti-imperialism. When Bright passed with his young grandson in front of the statue in London, labeled “Crimea,” the boy asked the meaning of the memorial. Bright replied, simply, “A Crime.” Herbert Spencer, the most widely read philosopher of his time, was squarely in the classical liberal tradition. His hostility to statism is exemplified by his assertion that, “Be it or be it not true that Man is shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin, it is unquestionably true that Government is begoen of aggression and by aggression.” While noting the state’s inborn tendency towards “militancy”— as opposed to the peaceful intercourse of civil society—Spencer denounced the various apologias for his country’s wars in his lifetime, in China, South Africa, and elsewhere. In the United States, anarchist author Lysander Spooner was a renowned abolitionist, even conspiring with John Brown to promote INTRODUCTION ix a servile insurrection in the South. Yet he vociferously opposed the Civil War, arguing that it violated the right of the southern states to secede from a Union that no longer represented them. E. L. Godkin, influential editor of e Nation magazine, opposed U.S. imperialism to the end of his life, condemning the war against Spain. Like Godkin, William Graham Sumner was a forthright proponent of free trade and the gold standard and a foe of socialism. He held the rst professorship in sociology (at Yale) and authored a great many books. But his most enduring work is his essay, “e Conquest of the United States by Spain,” reprinted many times and today available online. In this ironically titled work, Sumner portrayed the savage U.S. war against the Philippines, which cost some 200,000 Filipino lives, as an American version of the imperialism and lust for colonies that had brought Spain the sorry state of his own time. Unsurprisingly, the most thoroughgoing of the liberal revisionists was the arch-radical Gustave de Molinari, originator of what has come to be known as anarcho-capitalism. In his work on the Great Revolution of 1789, Molinari eviscerated the founding myth of the French Republic. France had been proceeding gradually and organically towards liberal reform in the later eighteenth century; the revolution put an end to that process, substituting an unprecedented expansion of state power and a generation of war. e self-proclaimed liberal parties of the nineteenth century were, in fact, machines for the exploitation of society by the now victorious predatory middle classes, who profited from tariffs, government contracts, state subsidies for railroads and other industries, statesponsored banking, and the legion of jobs available in the everexpanding bureaucracy. In his last work, published a year before his death in 1912, Molinari never relented. e American Civil War had not been simply a humanitarian crusade to free the slaves. e war “ruined the conquered provinces,” but the Northern plutocrats pulling the strings achieved their aim: the imposition of a vicious protectionism that led ultimately “to the regime of trusts and produced the billionaires.” Libertarian revisionism continued into the twentieth century. e First World War furnished rich pickings, among them Albert Jay Nock’s e Myth of a Guilty Nation and H. L. Mencken’s continuing, and of course wiy, exposés of the lies of America’s wars and war-makers. In the next generation, Frank Chodorov, the last x GREAT WARS AND GREAT LEADERS of the Old Right greats, wrote that “Isolationism is not a political policy, it is a natural aitude of a people.” Le to their own devices, the people “do not feel any call to impose their own customs and values on strangers.” Declining to dodge the scare word, Chodorov urged a “return to that isolationism which for over a hundred years prospered the nation and gained for us the respect and admiration of the world.” Chodorov—founder of ISI, which he named the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, later tamed down to “the Intercollegiate Studies Institute”—broke with the “New Right,” the neocons of the that era, over his opposition to the Korean War. Murray Rothbard was the heir to this whole legacy, totally familiar with it and bringing it up-to-date. Aside from his many other, really amazing contributions, Murray and his colleague Leonard Liggio introduced historical revisionism to the burgeoning American libertarian movement (including me). is is a work now carried on with great gusto by Lew Rockwell, of the Mises Institute, and his associated accomplished scholars, particularly the indefatigable Tom Woods. e essays and reviews I have published and now collected and mostly expanded in this volume are in the tradition of libertarian revisionism, animated by the spirit of Murray Rothbard. ey expose the consecrated lies and crimes of some of our most iniquitous, and beloved, recent rulers. My hope is, in a small way, to lay bare historically the nature of the state. Tangentially, I’ve also taken into account the strange phenomenon, now nearly forgoen, of the deep affection of multitudes of honored Western intellectuals in the 1930s and ’40s for the great experiment in socialism taking place in Soviet Russia under Josef Stalin. eir propaganda had an impact on a number of Western leaders and on Western policy towards the Soviet Union. To my mind, this is worthy of a certain revisionism even today. C 1 World War I: e Turning Point With the World War mankind got into a crisis with which nothing that happened before in history can be compared. . . . In the world crisis whose beginning we are experiencing, all peoples of the world are involved. . . . War has become more fearful because it is waged with all the means of the highly developed technique that the free economy has created. . . . Never was the individual more tyrannized than since the outbreak of the World War and especially of the world revolution. One cannot escape the police and administrative technique of the present day. Ludwig von Mises (1919)1 e First World War is the turning point of the twentieth century. Had the war not occurred, the Prussian Hohenzollerns would most probably have remained heads of Germany, with their panoply of subordinate kings and nobility in charge of the lesser German states. Whatever gains Hitler might have scored in the Reichstag elections, could he have erected his totalitarian, exterminationist is is a much expanded version of an essay that originally appeared in e Costs of War: America’s Pyrrhic Victories, 2nd edition, John V. Denson, ed. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 2001). 1 Ludwig von Mises, Nation, State, and Economy: Contributions to the Politics and History of Our Time, Leland B. Yeager, trans. (New York: New York University Press, 1983), pp. 215–16. 1 2 GREAT WARS AND GREAT LEADERS dictatorship in the midst of this powerful aristocratic superstructure? Highly unlikely. In Russia, Lenin’s few thousand Communist revolutionaries confronted the immense Imperial Russian Army, the largest in the world. For Lenin to have any chance to succeed, that great army had first to be pulverized, which is what the Germans did. So, a twentieth century without the Great War might well have meant a century without Nazis or Communists. Imagine that. It was also a turning point in the history of our American nation, which under the leadership of Woodrow Wilson developed into something radically different from what it had been before. us, the importance of the origins of that war, its course, and its aermath. I In 1919, when the carnage at the fronts was at long last over, the victors gathered in Paris to concoct a series of peace treaties. Eventually, these were duly signed by the representatives of four of the five vanquished nations, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria (the final selement with Turkey came in 1923), each at one of the palaces in the vicinity. e signing of the most important one, the treaty with Germany, took place at the great Palace of Versailles. Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles reads: e Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies.2 It was unprecedented in the history of peace negotiations that those who lost a war should have to admit their guilt for starting it. 2 Alan Sharp, e Versailles Selement: Peacemaking in Paris, 1919 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991), p. 87. e Allied Covering Leer of June 16, 1919 filled in the indictment, accusing Germany of having deliberately unleashed the Great War in order to subjugate Europe, “the greatest crime” ever commied by a supposedly civilized nation. Karl Dietrich Erdmann, “War Guilt 1914 Reconsidered: A Balance of New Research,” in H. W. Koch, ed., e Origins of the First World War: Great Power Rivalries and German War Aims, 2nd ed. (London: Macmillan, 1984), p. 342. WORLD WAR I: THE TURNING POINT 3 e fact that the “war-guilt clause” implied German liability for unstated but huge reparations added fuel to the controversy over who was to blame for the outbreak of the war. is immediately became, and has remained, one of the most disputed questions in all of historical writing. When the Bolsheviks seized power, they gleefully opened the Tsarist archives, publishing documents that includ...
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