- Historic Sites
Fdr: Not Guilty I Don’t Buy It
July/August 2001 | Volume 52, Issue 5
That this policy was unsuccessful is certainly beyond question, but neither the embargo nor any other U.S. action made war inevitable. The brutal military clique that controlled Japan in 1941 had convinced itself that the nation could not survive unless it conquered Manchuria, vast chunks of China, Indochina, Burma, Thailand, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, most of the Pacific Ocean, and—presumably after that—India, Australia, and New Zealand. In short, about a good half of the physical world. Such a policy was bound to bring grief upon the Japanese people, no matter what the United States did.
To suggest that we had no right to apply sanctions against a ruthless, paranoid dictatorship is to abridge our rights as a sovereign nation. It is also the sort of thinking that has been characterized as “Blame America first.”
Admiral Richardson writes that when he is asked whom to blame for the disaster at Pearl Harbor, he replies, “The Japanese.” I agree. Yet the admiral, like so many other conspiracy theorists, goes on to find other, American culprits, and I think his allegations are worth replying to at such length because I fear this sort of theorizing is threatening our national sense of reality. Recently, the Fox television network ran a documentary “exploring” whether or not the first moon landing really took place. An otherwise reputable publisher put out a book a few years ago that claimed General Eisenhower had deliberately starved hundreds of thousands of German prisoners to death in 1945. Millions of Americans now firmly believe in the most outlandish conspiracies concerning space aliens, devil worshipers, child molesters, and every major assassination in our history.
In order to continue as a mature and rational people—in order to continue as a democracy —we cannot continue to believe that our destiny, that our every course of action, is orchestrated by dark and mysterious forces beyond our control. This sort of fantasizing promises us enlightenment, but, in fact, it can bring us only apathy, paralysis, and submission.