Germany, 1939; America, 2009; And Perverted Science

fdr_bhoIt has become commonplace for Congress to ignore the public’s yearnings for peace and to support the Pentagon’s now habitual wars of aggression. Last November’s anti-war vote illustrates this disconnect between public opinion and public policy. War-weary Americans went to the polls believing they were voting for peace but President Obama has instead merely shifted the focus of military action from Iraq to Afghanistan while planning to maintain a major garrison of 50,000 troops in Iraq, hardly a “withdrawal.”

U.S. taxpayers—who already pay more for wars than the rest of the world combined—are not blood-thirsty. They didn’t want any war against Iraq to begin with and have long preferred diplomacy to conflict. In January, 2003, a CBS News/New York Times poll found 63% of Americans wanted President Bush to find a diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis compared with just 31% who wanted to intervene militarily.

This great cry for peace, not war, arose despite a shower of lies from the White House that Saddam Hussein threatened America with WMD. As for Afghanistan, a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll last February, showed 5l% of respondents opposed to the war in Afghanistan, compared to 47% in favor. Yet, President Obama is plunging ahead against the majority and mindless of the cost to a tottering domestic economy starved for good jobs, good housing, good education, good medical care, and good credit.

Contrast President Obama’s attitude with President Franklin Roosevelt’s careful reading of public opinion in the Thirties that caused him to go slow even in aiding countries threatened by Hitler. FDR never did help the embattled Loyalist government in Madrid fight the insurgent generals led by Franco and their Nazi allies. And he moved slowly coming to Britain’s aid before providing “lend lease” to London. FDR consistently acted in concert with public opinion, reading the lips of an “isolationist” public that did not want to get embroiled in a second European war in 20 years.

The actions of Presidents Bush and Obama that run contrary to public opinion are not unique to America. This disconnect between public and presidential desire recalls the opposition of what likely was a majority of the German people to Hitler in 1939, people who feared to stand up to Hitler and were led to their doom by their Nazi leaders. A joke Germans told at the time asked: “Hitler, Goebbels, and Goering were in a plane that crashed and they were all killed. Who was saved?” The answer: “Germany.”

Back in 1938, ordinary Germans feared Hitler’s aggressiveness would lead to war. Commentator William Shirer, who covered Germany for CBS, wrote in his “Berlin Diary” on Sept. 27, 1938, that when a motorized column paraded through the streets after a Hitler speech, Berliners didn’t bother to watch but crowded into the subways to go home. They “refused to look on” and “the handful that did at the curb (stood) in utter silence unable to find a word of cheer for the flower of youth going off to the glorious war.”

Hitler, Shirer recalled, stood on his balcony “and there weren’t two hundred people in the street or in the great square of the Wilhelmsplatz. Hitler looked grim, then angry, and soon went inside, leaving his troops to parade by unreviewed.” Two hundred onlookers in a city of five million souls! Shirer said what he saw rekindled his faith in the German public because “They are dead set against war.” They were right to be, of course. By the time the war was over, Germany lost 5.5 million men and 1.5 million civilians.

The Pentagon recognizes Americans today do not want war, and has devised ways to circumvent the anti-war movement. There are no conscriptions as during Viet Nam. Today’s oil wars are being fought partly by contractors to hold down official military casualties. The Pentagon is also buying good will by farming out billions in biological warfare research to colleges and universities.

The challenge to Americans today is as formidable as that faced by the German people of 1939. We have a moral obligation to stop the Warfare State.

The robot planes now swooping down on Afghanistan and Pakistan are but crude harbingers of future Pentagon technology that will employ weapons of increasing sophistication directed by remote operators seated at surveillance systems like video gamesters. These operators may employ a variety of ever more lethal and incapacitating weapons—ranging from guided missiles to tungsten poles hurled down from space platforms at supersonic speeds to destroy victims. Moreover, the Pentagon is pouring over a trillion dollars into new research to refine its sophisticated killing systems. And what may be used on foreigners, may also be used on Americans.

Thus it has come to pass that the nation that gave the world such brilliant inventions as the electric light, airplane, phonograph, telegraph, movies, automobile assembly line, and telephone(all developed at private expense) now sags under the weight of a government war machine that pays fine scientific minds to work at the Devil’s Bench. In his famous address of June 18, 1940, Winston Churchill denouncing Hitler spoke words that sadly apply to America’s Pentagon today: “But if we fail, then the whole world…will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister…by the lights of a perverted science.”

sherwood-ross.jpgIf the American people do not stop the Pentagon war machine, like the German public before them under Hitler, they will bear a heavy responsibility for the ensuing calamities caused by their inaction.

Sherwood Ross

Sherwood Ross is a veteran reporter and public relations consultant. He formerly worked for the City News Bureau of Chicago, the Chicago Daily News, and as a columnist for wire services.sherwoodr1@yahoo.com

About Sherwood Ross

Sherwood Ross has worked as a publicist for Chicago; as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and workplace columnist for Reuters. He has also been a media consultant to colleges, law schools, labor unions, and to the editors of more than 100 national magazines. A civil rights activist, he was News Director for the National Urban League, a talk show host at WOL Radio, Washington, D.C., and holds an award for "best spot news coverage" for Chicago radio stations for civil rights reporting. He is the author "Gruening of Alaska,"(Best Books)and several plays about Japan during World War II, including "Baron Jiro," and "Yamamoto's Decision," read at the National Press Club, where he is a member. His favorite quotations are from the Sermon on The Mount.

Comments

  1. Economic Bill of Rights; Excerpt from a President’s State of the Union address.
    “Our country began and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights, among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. These were our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our nation has grown in size and stature and our economy has expanded.
    Have our current rights proven inadequate to assure all of us equality in the pursuit of happiness? Have we come to the realization that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence? Are men in great need truly free men? Have these economic truths become accepted as self-evident? Should we accept an Economic Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity would be established for all, regardless of station, race, or creed? If so, which among these should we pursue and which would we disregard?”

    1.The right to a useful and meaningful job in the industries, shops, farms, or mines of the nation;
    —-guaranteed employment,

    2.The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
    —-the abolition of child labor

    3.The right of farmers to raise and sell products at a return that gives his family a decent living;
    —-the abolition of market-based lending

    4.The right of every family to a decent home;
    —-the expropriation of land without compensation

    5.The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
    —-the expansion of health services

    6.The right of protection from economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
    —-increased entitlements for the aged

    7.The right to a good education.
    —-universal education

    8.The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
    —-the nationalization of industry.

    Large font entrees are from FDR speech, small font entries from 1930s German social platform.

    FDR asked. Are people who are hungry and out of a job the stuff of which dictatorships are made? All of these rights provide for security, so should we move forward with the implementation of these rights, these new goals of human happiness and well-being? America’s rightful place in the world may depend on how fully these rights are put into practice for our citizens. President FDR, who proposed these new economic rights, is thought by historians to be one of our greatest presidents (but not economists). I would suggest that when the time comes that Congress can create “new rights” then also the time will have arrived that Congress can also take away “older rights”.

    While in college, I had to select a president to be my topic for a political paper. I selected FDR and his economic rights as many of my family were living during his administration. I was too young to have a good recollection so I interviewed about twenty relatives about his administration and this is a excerpt of what I was told. All those interviewed are now deceased.

    My mother’s father owned five houses during the FDR administration. My grandfather lived in a railroad town and worked for the rail road. He and his family lived in one house and rented the other four to others who also worked for the railroad. Soon the economy was so bad that banks would no longer lend money. In those days, home mortgages were funded by 5 year personal loans and re-issued each five years until paid in full. As each loan became due, the bank would not issue a new loan, even though he had a good job and could pay. Payment was required in full or the bank would foreclose and sell the house if full payment was not received. He was unable to sell any homes himself. Thus year after year, another home was lost to the bank. The bank would then sell the home to an investor, who would then collect the rent from my grandfather’s old renter. Sometimes the family had to find a new place to rent as did my grandfather.. People with cash could buy a home at a very good price and rent it to railroad employees, who were still working. That is how my grandfather lost all of his wealth and savings, he had invested in real-estate and even though he could pay his loans, no loans were offered, he became a renter, and his home equity was gone.

    1.The unemployment rate climbed month after month for years during the FDR administrations.
    2.Attempts to pass spending bills to jump start the economy were met with mix results.
    3.The supreme court found many of his actions unconstitutional so he attempted to pack the court with new justices and increase the total justices beyond nine.
    4. After years of a bad economy, a war enabled the country to reach full employment, even women were working in factories. I can remember black outs in DC during my youth.
    5.He was considered to be an effective commander in chief. Some thought he was too sick during the last six months of his life and made weak decisions that led to trouble for USA latter in history.
    6.The most interesting thing happened during his administration, our constitution was changed to allow only two terms of elected office for future presidents. Changing our constitution is a fairly controversial idea but the feat was completed in record time. My mother told me no family member wanted another person to serve as president for such a long period of time. I noted that the congress, in it’s wisdom, did not set term limits on themselves.

    A 1939 Gallup poll asked America; “Do you think the attitude of the Roosevelt administration toward business is delaying business recovery?’ The American people responded ‘yes’ by a margin of more than two-to-one and the business community felt so even more strongly. Then Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, angry at the Keynesian spenders, confided to his diary May 1939: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and now if I am wrong somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosper. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started. And enormous debt to boot.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Deal

    I took my grandfather’s bad luck to heart. Had there been real estate mortgages then his wealth may have survived. When I began to build wealth I recalled his problems. Had I put my wealth into real estate rental homes as did my grandfather, I may have lost all in 2008 as he did then.

    Any claim that our current president is the best since FDR is hard to believe. What of Truman or Reagan? So far he has only one accomplishment, a prize from a scholiast country. Our current president may want to model himself after someone other than FDR. I think he should pick former president Lincoln instead. I saw the FDR address to congress on TV in 1945 and I remain doubtful about FDR’s economic abilities and his economic rights. When Truman became president, I heard many relatives saying “Lord Save Me From Truman” and showed me the letters on a pack of Lucky Strikes cigarettes (L.S.M.F.T.). I was 20 when I knew it was; lucky strike means fine tobacco.

    Harry Wood, USA ret

  2. marie vogel says:

    Sadly there is a lot of truth in this article.
    Still I feel the presidency of Obama an improvement after the Bush disaster.
    Though if Obama is not living up to his promises of military withdrawal and anti-torture (investigation and closing of those centers) I don’t expect him to win a second term. Many of the enthusiast voters (and donors) did so believing in a real change. Disillusioned many will stay home next time, making it an easy victory for the Republicans.

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