Why World War 2 Cannot Be Considered the Good War … Essay
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WW2: Not the Good War
World War 2 was not the Good War that some have made it seem. It was a harrowing time not only for Americans but for everyone involved, whether in Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Japan or Soviet Russia. Millions died -- and many of them because of the fire bombing of civilian populations by the Allied Powers: cities in Germany and in Japan were decimated, hundreds of thousands of non-combatants brutally killed under such assaults. Cities like Nuremberg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshimo, and Nagasaki were places where so much death resulted at the hands of the nations who years later would say that they were fighting a good war; the idea is almost despicable. The Good War myth is nothing more than a propaganda narrative designed to make Americans think that throughout WW2 as well as before and after, their country was fighting the good fight against despots, dictators, Fascists and socialists. The fact of the matter is, however, that America was allied with the greatest Communist in the world in Uncle Joe Stalin. The fact of the matter is, as well, that American forces deliberately attacked civilian populations in order to undermine the infrastructure of its foes. This may have seemed like a good military tactical decision at the time, but in hindsight one should ask oneself whether dropping two atom bombs on Japan was really necessary considering that Japan posed almost no threat to America by the time the bombs were dropped. The reality of the situation is that Truman had the technology and wanted to demonstrate to Stalin that he had it. For this act of bravado, people who had nothing to do with the combat were vaporized in an instant. If this is the definition of a Good War, one should hate to see what a Bad War looks like.
The American experience prior to the war (1931-1939) was still sunk in depression. Roosevelt's New Deal programs were designed to put Americans back to work and ease the strain that the Depression was putting on the populace, but the expansion of credit and then restriction of the same in the decade prior that had produced the conditions perfect for the type of bubble that was the 1920s (till it popped in 1929) still had its hooks in the American infrastructure and it was only the war machine and its fiery furnaces that would really bring GDP back up. This machine would become what Eisenhower would warn about at the end of his presidency some twenty years later -- the military-industrial complex (MIC), as he called it.[footnoteRef:1] The war, in other words, would lead to the creation of the MIC, one of the most death-dealing businesses in the history of the world, making a living by exporting weapons of destruction to countries like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and many, many others. In other words, this MIC is responsible for weaponizing the world and allowing conflict to be exacerbated. Would ISIS exist or be as powerful as it is were it not for the American MIC which exports so many arms and munitions to "rebels" in the Middle East (which are then scooped up by terrorists)? Thus, if a good tree is known by its good fruits, the fruits of the so-called "Good War" are that the MIC is one of the biggest powerhouses in the world, it delivers weapons to countries around the world that then engage in endless assaults on one another, and all the while the risk of nuclear war still hangs over the head of the global population. If this is a good fruit, rotten fruit would be truly awful to behold. [1: "President Eisenhower warns of the Military-Industrial Complex in his Farewell Address to the Nation, 1961." History Matters. Web. 2 Apr 2016.]
During this same inter-war period voices rang out in support of Isolationism -- just as they had prior to WW1. Presidents had a knack for promising non-intervention and then going back on those promises, however. The spoils of war were too tempting for Wilson and they were too tempting for Roosevelt. Charles Lindbergh spoke his grievances, and as a member of the America-First Committee and a national hero for his aviation success, he supported the anti-war movement.[footnoteRef:2] Others did as well, including Henry Ford -- but, of course, once war broke out he "did his part" by supplying the bombers that would, ironically, drop bombs on one of the only countries in Europe actually fighting the Communists (whom Ford despised). One would think that if this were a Good War, it would not have been fought in order to help strengthen the very regime the U.S. would spend the next forty years battling in the Cold War. But maybe strategy and foresight are not considered "good" enough when black-and-white photographs of sailors coming home and kissing women in the streets is all one needs to know that we did indeed fight the "good war." Sentimentality trumps all -- even common sense rhetoric from a man like Lindbergh. [2: Lindbergh, Charles. "An Independent Destiny for America." History Matters. Web. 2 Apr 2016.]
The experience of the war and the home-front itself should also be enough to show that there was nothing glorious or noble about WW2 or America's role in it. The hypocrisy of the American nobility was on full display in the U.S.'s own concentration camps for Asian-Americans -- as at Manzanar in California.[footnoteRef:3] The U.S. could publish all manner of propaganda vilifying Hitler and Mussolini and acting like it was the world's great liberator for entering Germany and Poland and opening the concentration camps there (which were full of starved, emaciated and disease-ridden bodies because these same noble Allies had deliberately bombed the supply lines that would otherwise have been used to bring food and medicine to these bodies). [3: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga. "Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga Recalls Caring for her Baby in the Manzanar Incarceration Camp." History Matters. Web. 2 Apr 2016.]
But when it came to Manzanar, no amount of propaganda could really ease the guilty conscience that America would nurse afterwards. In fact, in more ways than one, the U.S. was no different from the supposed "enemy" it was fighting in Europe: it was engaged in the same twisted eugenics and medical experiments it accused the Germans of doing (all of whom it would later employ of course in the grand bomb building endeavor) -- the Tuskegee experiments would go on for decades, in fact. But, still, WW2 was somehow a "good war" -- because to the victors belongs the shaping of the narrative.
Perhaps WW2 can be called "good" because we "won" -- but what did the U.S. win? The war put America in a position of global dominance, what with the USD rising as the world's reserve currency through all manner of behind-the-scenes machinations. But America had already ceded power to a "deep state" within its own governmental system and November 22nd, 1963, showed what happens when a president attempts to take control away from that state. Israel got its nuclear weapons (Kennedy had been pushing for non-proliferation), the whole shoddy affair was white-washed by an investigation led by the former-director of the same agency the dead president had threatened to smash into a thousand pieces, and later his brother was executed along with two other voices of opposition to the ruling regime and the War Party (aka Republican Party taken over by the neoconservative dual Israeli-U.S. citizen-hawks within the "deep state") -- but these two voices were given a white-wash as well; Martin Luther King, Jr. got a day on the calendar and streets named after him as we looked the other way about his message, and Malcolm X was just forgotten and put out of memory by the Establishment that preferred to reflect on WW2 as the "good war" which brought it into power.
And that is the real reason, WW2 is called the Good War today -- it ushered into power in America, the very forces that control it today, aka the Establishment. The Establishment loves anything that is good to it, and war is good to it, so, therefore, it loves war. Other people do not love war, for obvious reasons, but they do not matter so much -- especially when Hollywood produces movies glamorizing the role they play in "spreading democracy" and making the world safe -- though how the world is safer now after more than a decade of American intervention in the Middle East is a riddle that only the craftiest neoconservative Establishment hawk could unravel. One can look back on the warning that Henry Wallace gave to Truman in 1946: he framed this "Good War" perfectly when he wrote, worth quoting in full:
How do American actions since V-J Day appear to other nations? I mean by actions the concrete things like $13 billion for the War and Navy Departments, the Bikini tests of the atomic bomb and continued production of bombs, the plan to arm… [END OF PREVIEW]
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