Revisionist History?

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Tom Houlihan
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Revisionist History?

Post by Tom Houlihan » Tue Oct 03, 2006 11:42 pm

This was an interesting read that I stumbled across...
http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson092701.shtml
What If?
Rethinking 1941 with Edward R. Murrow.
By Victor Davis Hanson, author most recently of Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power.
September 27, 2001 9:00 a.m.
What Should We Do?
By Edward R. Murrow
Washington, D.C.
December 8, 1941
resident Roosevelt will call for a joint session of Congress today to discuss yesterday's bombing of Pearl Harbor and the reported loss of 2,400 Americans. I can report that our commander-in-chief is calm and will not ask for a precipitous "outright" declaration of war against the Japanese, but instead leans toward a general consensus to "hunt down the perpetrators" of this act of "infamy." Speaking for the Congress, Senator Arthur Vandenberg promised bipartisan support to "bring to justice" the Japanese pilots. Many believe that the "rogue" airmen may well have flown from Japanese warships. In response, Secretary of War Stimson is calling for "an international coalition to indict these cowardly purveyors of death," and will shortly ask the Japanese imperial government to hand over the suspected airman from the Akagi and Kaga — "and any more of these cruel fanatics who took off from ships involved in this dastardly act." Assistant Secretary Robert Patterson was said to have remarked, "Stimson is madder than hell — poor old Admiral Yamamato has a lot of explaining to do."

Secretary of State Cordell Hull, however, this morning cautioned the nation about such "jingoism." He warned, "The last thing we want is another Maine or Lusitania. We wouldn't want to start something like a Second World War and ruin the real progress in Japanese-American relations over the last few years." Hull himself is preparing for a long tour to consult our allies in South America, Africa, and colonial France: "If we get the world on board, and make them understand that this is not merely an aggressive act upon us, much less just an American problem, such a solid front may well deter further Japanese action."

Even as Hull prepares to depart, special envoy Harry Hopkins is calling for a general statement of concern from the League of Nations, condemning not only the most recent Japanese aggression, but also an earlier reported incident in Nanking, China. "If we can get an expression of outrage from the League, Japan may well find itself in an interesting pickle. We're looking for some strong League action of the type that followed the banditry in Ethiopia and Finland." Hopkins finished by emphasizing the rather limited nature of the one-day Pearl Harbor incursion, and suggesting such piecemeal attacks were themselves a direct result of past American restraint. "We did not rattle our sabers when they went into China. Had we listened to the alarmists then, we might well be seeing Japanese anger manifesting itself from the Philippines to Wake Island in the coming days."

Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., a few hours ago reminded the nation of the current disturbing economic news. "Four million Americans are still out of work. Americans are not out of this Depression by any means. Are we to borrow money to build planes that we don't even know will fly?" The industrialist Henry Kaiser was no more optimistic: "There is simply no liquidity in these markets. We shouldn't even be considering rearming. It is not as if we are going to build a ship a day. Even launching a carrier every couple of years could put us back to 1932."

Military leaders, smarting over yesterday's losses, were no more ready for war. Even the usually colorful Admiral Halsey sounded a note of concern to this reporter, "Look, they have all the cards, not us. The bastards over there could give us a decade of war at least. Where do I get bases for my subs and flattops? Who gives me strips for the flyboys? This could be a new war with no rules. Believe me, brother, we ain't going to Midway or some place like that in six months and cut down to size the whole damn imperial fleet. It's just not going to happen."

Admiral King was nearly as blunt, "Hell's bells, no one has ever conquered Japan since they kicked the Portuguese out. Do the American people really want to go over to that part of the world and fight those samurai madmen? The logistics are impossible. These people have been at war for years. I've seen these Zeros — you put a suicide basket case with a wish to die for the emperor in with a tank of gas, and you've got a guided rocket that will blow our ships out of the water." Colonel James Doolittle was even more cautious than the top brass when told of calls for potential early American counterattacks. "Swell — the last thing we need is to send in some hot-dogger to drop a few bombs for the press boys that cause no real damage and get our fellas killed in the bargain."

On the home front, prominent voices in the arts expressed far stronger reservations about possible American "revenge". Robert Maynard Hutchins of the University of Chicago explained to me that the Pearl Harbor incident cannot be separated from its larger cultural context. "We must guard against this absurd and ongoing moral absolutism on the part of the United States in seeing complex cultural differences in black and white terms of the Occident and the Orient. We have no monopoly on morality or justice." His colleague, Mortimer J. Adler, elaborated: "Far too often we look at the world through Western lenses. But in Japanese eyes, this rather desperate attack is seen as a "slap", a lashing out of sorts to get the attention of the United States, really more of a desperate cry of the heart than anything else." Adler went on, "Japan has had a tradition of isolation from and distrust of Western civilization — rightly so in some respects, given everything from past European missionaries to racism, economic exploitation, and colonialism. If we inflame passions, they may well simply divorce themselves from the world community — or worse, set off a conflagration of pan-Asian hatred toward Occidentals that could last for generations. It seems to me Pearl Harbor is rather more of a case of Admiral Perry's chickens at long last coming home to roost."

Contacted at home, the noted naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison was pessimistic about the strategy involved in any U.S. response: "Good God, do they want us to fight the entire world — Germany, Italy, Hungry, Bulgaria, Romania, and now Japan? We lose 2,400 sailors — less than an annual poliomyelitis outbreak — and then we start a World War II? I find these calls for mindless retaliation not only naïve, but disturbing as well in their failure to take account of America's strategic impotence. That's a part of the world we know very little about."

Prominent American clergymen blasted the very idea of armed retaliation, calling instead for interfaith services and greater tolerance of Japanese religious beliefs. Cardinal Cushing warned against castigating the entire Japanese people for the actions of a few fanatics, adding that "Bushido, is, in fact, merely a variant of Shintoism, itself an age-old and misunderstood faith that is as humane as anything in Christian teaching." Cushing added, "There is nothing in Bushido, much less Shintoism that is inherently bellicose or at all anti-Western. These few extremists are hardly representative of either public or religious opinion in Japan." Cushing concluded, "The Emperor himself is a pacifist, a Zen scholar in fact deeply devoted to entomology, with no interest at all in bloodshed. And so the better question might be posed: 'Why does so much of Asia hate us?'"

Celebrated director John Ford reflected Hollywood's unease with the early rumors of war. "Hell, we are artists, not mouthpieces. What are we to do — join the Navy to make movies on government spec? Had we had more Japanese films available to the American people in the first place, we wouldn't have had this misunderstanding." A few Hollywood stars who were willing to speak on the record agreed. Jimmy Stewart called for a world conference of concerned actors and screenwriters. "There have been some great Japanese movies. We need to reach out to our brother actors over there. The last thing we need is a bunch of us would-be pilots storming over to Burbank to enlist." Clark Gable was adamant in his belief in keeping America from doing something "stupid," as he put it. "If you haven't heard lately: We're actors, artists really, not war-mongers. I'm sure that our Japanese counterparts feel the same way. We need to put away the B-17s and get the cameras rolling on both sides."

Celebrated veterans were especially angered about knee-jerk American anger. Alvin C. York, Medal of Honor winner and hero of the Great War, was reported as "madder than hell" at the "war scare." "We shouldn't fight in some jungle island just because the Japanese hate old man Rockefeller as much as we do."

In an in-depth newsmaker interview, 81-year-old General John J. Pershing told Henry Luce of Time magazine, "I've made war before — long and hard. I've seen it. These sunshine sluggers talk a great game, but wait until our dead pile up. No, it is time to collect our thoughts and think like adults for a change. Lashing back is just what these extremists want us to do. If a war breaks out, then their mission is accomplished. I'd hate to see us playing into the hands of a few militarists who want to topple the moderates and the emperor. This ocean war with carriers is an entirely new challenge, nothing like we have ever seen before. Why get our boys killed only to make a few samurai martyrs?"

And so it is with confidence today that this reporter assures the American people and the world that sobriety, maturity, and prudence — not bombs — are the watchwords on the home front. Remember — our enemies can only win if they make us answer their violence with more needless violence.
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Post by phylo_roadking » Wed Oct 04, 2006 7:23 am

The question would be, what was the man or woman in the street saying? These were the views that had been expressed by those same people ever since 1939 - but NOW with the added emphasis that events were on top of them. BUT down at lower, voting, levels what were the opinions expressed??? I've heard it argued that in nthe age-long history iof democracy that December 8th 1941 was one of those days that threw democracy's starkest problem into full relief again - when you vote for a politician and put him in office, are you selecting a "representative" who will represent your views in the deicisonmaking process (then what about the people who DIDNT vote for him.her) or are you voting for a "delegate" and for a set period of time giving him the right to make decisions for you???

P.S. calling people in the lower House fo the U.S. Congress "Representatives" doesn't make them so, just calls them so!

Everyone knows here was a a huge amount of anti-war sentiment before Pearl Harbour - what happened to that sentiment AFTER it? Did it vanish? A lot of the names cited above didn't change their opinions obviously, so what happened at grass-roots level? Are there any opinion polls etc., available from that time?
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Post by Paulus II » Wed Oct 04, 2006 11:09 am

What to think of this article? At first I thought it was an original article from 1941 but the parallels in the action and reactions with 9/11 and it's aftermath got me suspicious.
Came up with this:

Claim: In 1941, newsman Edward R. Murrow penned a piece about the need for restraint in the American response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Status: False.

Origins: No, this isn't a vintage 1941 piece by famous newsman Edward R. Murrow. Once again, more than a few Internetters have been fooled by the appearance in their inboxes of a clever piece of satire stripped of its attribution and other identifying information.

This article is a speculative piece entitled "What If?: Rethinking 1941 with Edward R. Murrow" by writer Victor Davis Hanson, which was published on 27 September 2001 in the conservative journal National Review. Hanson has used the conceit of Murrow's reporting on American reaction to Pearl Harbor in 1941 as a framework for lampooning calls for understanding and cautious diplomacy rather than military action in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.


Seems more like propaganda for swift military action after 9/11 than anything else. Translating possible reactions (or real ones ripped out of context) to an earlier act of violence to a new one to provoce a certain reaction is beyond revisionism in my book. Purposely distorting history (for whatever reason) is something I dislike a lot.
9/11 was bad enough and didn't need this kind of BS to merit a military reaction.

Regards,

Paul

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Post by phylo_roadking » Wed Oct 04, 2006 11:49 am

Right, see what you mean. I though Tom meant what did we think of it generally. Didn't appreciate first-off that it was a spoof as I wasn't looking for that element, I managed to look past it. Its very clever, but I wouldn't even call it satire. Satire makes a point with entertainment, this is too thought-provoking....but now that I read it again, my thoughts ARE taken off in another direction....there are just too many people referenced here expressing views that are diametrically opposed to their stated views all those years ago. Cordell Hull should have warned me, and DID ring alarm bells earlier, as it was HULL had the meetings over the last days with the Japanese ambassador. But now that I look closer, Jimmy Doolittle, James Stewart and Alvin York, all ring alarm bells, as what's put in their mouths here was VERY different to real life words and actions.

Yes, reading it again....there are too many anachronisms; Doolittle talking about the size of bombloads, Bull Halsey talking about the Battle of Midway for god's sake!!!

Tom, where was this? Somewhere where a cursory reading with very litle background knowledge could do some opinion-changing damage?
"Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." - Malcolm Reynolds

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Post by Paulus II » Wed Oct 04, 2006 1:42 pm

Here's where the original article came from:
http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson092701.shtml
and this is where I found my suspicions confirmed:
http://www.snopes.com/rumors/murrow.htm

The rumors site has some stuff on it that isn't exactly objective but still.....

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Post by Tom Houlihan » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:59 pm

Honestly, lads, I didn't mean to mislead. That's why I kept the 2001 information on the article!

Actually, I was trying to find information about Cordell Hull and messages to Finland regarding the US view on attacks on the Murmansk railroad. That just came up in the search!

I caught the satire right off. I've seen a similar take on the Normandy invasion somewhere.
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Post by phylo_roadking » Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:39 pm

Its well done - only certain bits of it are a dead giveaway once you get into it -and heaven help someone who doesnt catch on they could be scarred for life LMAO
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pzrmeyer2

Post by pzrmeyer2 » Wed Oct 04, 2006 8:24 pm

Its not revisionism. It is an honest look at how WW2 would have been fought/viewed by today's media and intellectual "elites".

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Post by Paulus II » Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:55 am

pzrmeyer2 wrote:Its not revisionism. It is an honest look at how WW2 would have been fought/viewed by today's media and intellectual "elites".
I can hardly imagine that. Would the media and 'elites' really react like it says in the article to a largescale attack on US military installations by a foreign nations military. An attack of such magnitude that it must have that nations government/political approval? A legitimate nation that was recognised by all other countries.
A nation that was quite modern (in it's own way) for the period, that played it's part in international affairs and relations (even a member of the League of Nations till 1933) and behaved much like many European countries did pre-1914 is an entirely different beast than Afghanistan in the past decades. I think, based on what I get fed by the media (both regular and alternative), that the American media and 'elites' would understand the difference between the two and react quite differently too. At least I hope that would be the case.
But besides that, what's the point of writing such an article? The whole (western) world reacted in shock to 9/11 and a military reaction was accepted by most people in the western world as being appropiate. Hey, even the Dutch supported that! Why distort history to find/create support for a cause that was already widely accepted and supported, not only by the American people but also by it's major allies and many non-aligned nations, as being the right thing to do?

regards,

Paul

As for Murmansk and Cordell Hull, I found this thread on a forum.
http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/s ... 248&page=3
Towards the bottom of the page there are some quotes from a memorandum by Hull after his talks to the Finns in 1941. The discussion itself also has some interesting stuff here and there. Maybe this helps a little.

regards,

Paul

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Post by Cott Tiger » Thu Oct 05, 2006 3:10 am

It's a clever and very amusing piece of satirical writing. I chuckled out loud at some of it (the filmmaker and actors bit is particularly comical)

In the context of 9/11 it may well have had some political intention, but on it’s own I found it plain funny
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Post by phylo_roadking » Thu Oct 05, 2006 3:52 am

Regarding filmmakers and actors - that was the one thing twirled my moustache on first reading - the statement about the Japanese having mmade some great films. Not before Pearl harbour they hadn't!
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Post by Michael N. Ryan » Thu Oct 05, 2006 7:38 am

I too find these things interesting as they reflect what the elite of today are like compared to those of the past.

There were certainly journalists like that back then. Journalists like Walter Duranty who openly denied Stalin's attrocities, for which he was awarded a Pulitzer prize.

How would WWII have been run if today's elites were in charge?

Would they treat Germany like Serbia? or Iran and North Korea?

If I recall, most Americans wanted America to keep out of European conflicts. Many still angry over being tricked into WWI by Roosevelt's mentor, Woodrow Wilson, who told Americans they were going to go into Europe to make the World 'Safe for Democracy'. Wilson tossed the Civil Rights of dissenters. Conscripted men as few volunteered. Sent vigilantes after people who didn't want to buy war bonds or spoke out against what was going on. Then sent American troops into the meat grinder, poorly armed, ill equipped, badly trained.

Back then, like now, America's 'Peace Movement' was for the most part the left of center. They loudly denounced Hitler's agressions into Czechoslovakia. Then shut up after Hitler and Stalin struck a dea. And didn't rejoin the war lovers until after Hitler marched into Russia.

Overall, I think that little bit of fiction interesting.

It would be interesting, how would they have reacted if Congress declared war on Japan but Germany and Italy didn't declare war on the US?

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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Fri Oct 13, 2006 11:13 pm

How would WWII have been run if today's elites were in charge?
We'd be speaking German and riding in Japanese automobiles.....

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Post by sid guttridge » Sat Oct 14, 2006 2:45 am

Hi Commissar,

The US is already speaking a Nazi-approved Germanic language and riding in Japanese automobiles!

Cheers,

Sid.

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Post by Michael N. Ryan » Sat Oct 14, 2006 7:07 am

Our governments would be abolished. Our contries would be ruled by appointed collaborators. Democracy would be abolished and the women of your countries would be serving in Japapese comfort stations. Jews would be extinct.

I suppose under 'modern' liberal morals nobody would have a problem with these things.

Anybody foolish enough to embrace the pacifist agenda deserves these things.

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