Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 3 No. 2 Summer 1981

never faced the real issue inherent in the imperial way of life. Instead, as historians John Morton Blum and Stephen E. Ambrose have made apparent, Roosevelt and his associates crab-walked into two wars. They then determined to win them as fast and as thoroughly and as cheaply as possible—all with the least possible disruption of domestic society. We are back with Lincoln and the annihilation of the Confederacy, hoping that the casualties won’t be too high. There were three major consequences of that decision and approach. (1) We would help the Russians do most of the dying. That involved grave dissembling in our negotiations with them about a second front. (2) We would rely on machines, especially airplanes, rather than men. We were doing that long before Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Someone with a fancy for black humor might conclude that since we failed to invent a precision bomb-sight, or develop the long-range fighters necessary for its use, we settled for the atom bomb. But the real point is that we abandoned precision bcmbing very early in the game. One of the early firestorm raids killed 42,000 in Hamburg. Then Ekesden, where 2,372 bombers managed tc kill approximately fifty people apiece. And then Tokyo, where on one niglt some 83,000 people sizzled, suffocatedand fried. (3) The domestic Anerican political economy was sustained bz war rather than by reform. Perhaps th< most revealing episode of that part of he story occurred in January 1941, a 'ear before Pearl Harbor but after it vas apparent that armaments had becone the prescription for recovery. The nost militant and impressive black leade of that day, A. Philip Randolph of the Pullman Sleeping Car Porters Union, bejan to organize a massive march on Wahington to force the New Deal to honoi its rhetoric and promises to the poor and the blacks and other minorities. Roosevelt wanted nothing of that nature to confuse the issjes and so, after six months of shilly-shaliying, he finessed the crisis by issuing an executive order ostensibly ending discrimination in war- related industries, the military and the civilian Federal bureaucracy. There were no penalties for failure to comply. But it was enough to abort the demonstration. Thus were American leaders confirmed in their faith in their imperial outlook. And they thereby misled themselves. They concluded that other radicals and militants would compromise on American terms. But the Russians were not American blacks. Nor were the Chinese, or various others. Just as the American blacks, those peoples were deeply patriotic. But not to the American imperial way of life. Given all that, let us do a bit of routine cost accounting on the consequences of winning a war as quickly, thoroughly and cheaply as possible and with the least possible disruption of American society. The first line is very nice: only 405,399 deaths. Far better than Lincoln. The second line looks even better: the war created seventeen million new jobs safe from bombs or bullets. But the bottom line is not so good: the Russians know they have been lied to, they have lost twenty million, and the Red Army is ensconced in Central Europe. ignoring Churchill At that point, a disinterested observer from another galaxy might reasonably have expected Americans to face up to the price of their imperial way of life, perhaps even to consider an alternative. Now Winston Spencer Churchill was hardly disinterested, but he did his best to educate Americans about the elementary facts of imperial life. The fascinating and revealing part of our response to Winnie’s tutorials is how we accepted his recommendation to stand firm while ignoring his advice—indeed, his pleas—to negotiate a clear, explicit and rational imperial settlement. There are two primary explanations for that response. On the one hand, we simply could not confront the truth that we were an empire and so act responsibly as a empire. On the other hand, we could not imagine any alternative to empire as a way of life. Hence we revived Lincoln’s policy of containment, extended Theodore Roosevelt’s corollary to the Monroe Doctrine and set out once again to save the world for democracy—get hold of History and make it conform. Nothing documents that as clearly as National Security Council Document No. 68, approved by President Harry S. Truman in April 1950. Notice first two things about that date: it is before the eruption of the Korean War and it is more than two years after Churchill almost begged us to come to terms with reality. Furthermore, NSC-68 is a reaffirmation and extension of NSC-20/4 of November 1948, which also came after Churchill’s efforts to save us from ourselves. NSC-68 begins with a disturbed review of how all the old empires have collapsed. It summarizes that overview with this revealing conclusion: ‘‘Even if there were no Soviet Union we would face the great problem... [that] the absence of order among nations is becoming less and less tolerable.” Then, defining the United States as the only nation capable of imposing such order, it makes the Soviet Union the focus of the effort. It candidly admits Churchill’s main point: the United States and its allies possess greater power—enough to deter any direct attack. But, unlike Churchill, Americans leaders concluded that such power must be further increased and deployed to “foster a fundamental change in the nature of the Soviet system”; “foster the seeds of destruction within the Soviet system,” and foment and support “unrest and revolt in selected strategic satellite countries.” As for means: “any means, covert or overt, violent or nonviolent.” Then, pointing to the experience of World War II, the policy makers confidently predicted that the increase in military spending would prevent the possibility of any socially and politically explosive “real decrease in the standard of living.” Ill IN A RARE moment of candor. Secretary of State Dean Acheson admitted in 1953 that he and Tru man might not have been able to sustain their grandiose imperial policy if the North Koreans had not “come along and saved us.” On balance, however, it was simply one of those wars that anybody could have counted on to erupt sometime. Both halves of that divided country were dying to go to war to unite themselves. That old deb’l nationalism had been raised to fever pitch by very strong shots of mutually exclusive theology. In any event, the debate about who bears ultimate responsibility obscures the COUCHJNTS 3354 SE Hawthorn? Hcmemade Pastries Specialty Sandwiches, Kebob Dinners Beer, Oregon wines MONDAY-THURSDAY 1190 AM to 10:00 PM FRIDAY-SATURDAY 11:0t AM to 11:00 PM 232-4982 Tarot Readings Private Readings Karen Banfield Classes Lectures By Appointment Personal Growth & Discovery YESTERSHADES VICTORIAN STYLE LAMPSHADES Silks & Satins with Fringes & Beads Custom Designing to Suit Your Tastes & Needs 238-5755 3534 S.E. Hawthorne Portland, Oregon 97214 ....... -W it® 224-9586 YOUR SEWING CIRCLE Home of the DOLLAR TIE and o her GREAT DEALS! 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