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Sheamussslant is a website by James F. Dunn. Seamus is simply the Gaelic version of James. (It was my baptismal name. Seamus is James, James is Seamus or Sheamus if you Americanize it.) I am on the radio at WNRI 1380 am Tuesday nights from 6-7:00 on a program of the same name, Seamus's Slant. I deal with all things political, cultural, and sometimes sportical. There is no shortage of topics. It is my position that all news outlets, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News. MSNBC etc. are slanted. All put their opinion and supposed expertise out front hoping you will accept it as gospel truth. I state that I present my slant honestly, not hiding it behind a cloak of objectivity. As such you have the ability to accept or reject-what I might say. I dare you to challenge my slant. This way we will engage together on that All-American field of political debate.
The United States of Empire-The Passing of the
Mantle From the United Kingdom to the United
Table of Contents
1.) Formation of Germany and the Franco-Prussian War.
2.) The Last War of Empire Building:The Boer War.
3.) Location, Location, Location.
4.) Dreadnought:The Gospel According to Mahan.
5.) The War to End All Wars.
6.) The Battle of Jutland.
8.) The United States Enters the War.
9.) The Great Depression and World War II.
10.) The Cold War: A Solemn Moment for American Democracy.
The Twentieth Century in Retrospect
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States was an also-ran in the global race for world-wide preeminence. In 1906, President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt sent the “White Fleet” around the world. It sailed in an ostentatious attempt to flex American muscle and show the world that the United States was equal to any other nation. In spite of this, the United States was not taken seriously as a world power. How is it that in the “American Century” the United States came to lead the world?
Compared to the European armies and navies, the United States hardly ranked. Despite winning the Spanish-American war, and a few minor excursions into China, the US was a power only in its own hemisphere. Its army had ventured only 300 miles outside its own borders during the Mexican War in the 1840's, or to Cuba in the 1890's. Just before the turn of the century, the United States successfully defeated a decrepit and dying empire during the short-lived Spanish-American War. Although the United States armed forces numbered 2.5 million men in arms during the American Civil War (accounting for both sides), this army had quickly dispersed following the war. This was owing to the lack of a significant armed threat against it, even considering the Indian Wars of the late 1800s. Compared to the armies and navies of Europe, the United States hardly ranked. As far as armies were concerned in the beginning of the twentieth century, Russia had the largest. Germany’s was smaller but the most feared, and France, once the dominant European power, came in a strong third. Great Britain’s army was the smallest of the European forces, but very mobile and able to reach any spot on the globe quickly because of its navy. Considering the navies, Great Britain’s was the largest and most feared. Germany, unexpectedly flexing its nautical muscles, grew to a close second. The United States could, however, revel in the fact that no European power could harm it; it was safely separated from them by the Atlantic Ocean. It remained protected from those imposing powers following two successful wars against the greatest sea power in the world, Great Britain. The former colony of Great Britain was now its commercial competitor, but offered no real naval competition to the acknowledged ruler of the seas. It is interesting to note that during the Spanish-American War, the former mother country was on board with the United States, giving advice and consent to her offspring’s first attempts at international power. Great Britain sold colliers and supplies to Admiral George E. Dewey, before his attacks on the Philippines, and some of his ships carried British naval personnel. The Spanish-American War was a battle between an up-and-coming third-rank pugilist and an old, worn-out opponent, who no longer had any punching ability. It was hardly a sporting show, but necessary in the jungle warfare of power politics.
At the turn of the twentieth century Germany and Great Britain were locked in a fierce competition to build bigger, faster, more heavily armed battleships called Dreadnoughts. President Roosevelt was doing the same but Great Britain did not take this as a direct threat. In fact, Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet was editorialized as “a Godsend” in a newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, which was then still an essential part of the British Empire.
In 1914, well after Theodore Roosevelt was out of office, war broke out on the European Continent. It was a war for empire. Germany wanted an empire like what Great Britain had. At first, it was a war pitting Germany and Austria against France and Russia. Great Britain joined the French and the Russians in the battle for two main reasons. First, Germany’s new fleet threatened the British High Seas Fleet; secondly, a victorious Germany would be a major continental power. The coupling of this potential land power with a competitive naval fleet was not something that Great Britain would allow to exist; the resulting threat would be too great. The propaganda of the time promoted the thinking that Great Britain went to war to fight for democratic rule and the sovereignty of Belgium. But that ignores that when Chancellor Otto von Bismarck cobbled together the Germanic states with Prussia to form the modern state of Germany in the 1860s, he did so with the consent of the majority of its member states. They formed the Reichstag, a European-style parliament like the Reichsrat in Austria. Neither of these two parliaments was as powerful over its monarch as the British Parliament was over its own monarch, but that was due to the distinct history of England. In reality, the Entente’s (British, French, and Russian) claim that World War I was a conflict between a warmongering monarch and freedom-loving democracies was the result of well-distributed Entente propaganda. This line of propaganda was so effective that it resonates to this day. In reality, France was fighting for its life, the authoritarian Czarist Russia was allied with France, and Great Britain was fighting to maintain its empire.
With Great Britain’s entry the Great War was engaged. Almost all of Europe became engulfed in the conflict. France and Russia bore the heaviest tolls of death and destruction. France lost 1,400,000 men to the war, Russia, 1,800,000. Millions more were maimed or injured. It was expected to be a short war, but it dragged on for four years. Russia was forced out first, in 1917, when losses on the front translated into the collapse of the Czarist Romanov government. German troops remained on the Russian front when successive Russian governments refused to give up the fight. It was not until the Germans sent a train into Russia carrying the Communist Vladimir Lenin that the Russian troops withdrew from the battle. Lenin’s Communists toppled the fledgling democracy and ended Russia’s war effort. When this happened, almost one million German troops were released to go to the western front. These troops were unable to produce the single decisive blow of defeating the French army, something the German planners had been striving for years to accomplish. Buoyed by the declaration of war by the United States in 1917 upon Germany, Entente troops dug in and fought doggedly. Once the United states was fully engaged in the war, the balance of power swung, then the German war machine ran out of men and fuel and beat a hasty retreat.
Germany was defeated by the Entente forces in 1918 but retained the dynamic and the will to be a great country. A leader with maniacal ambitions would soon harness that energy for evil. Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and seduced the German people back onto the battlefield in six short years. He did more to unify the German-speaking people than Chancellor Otto von Bismarck ever did. He united a Greater Germany (including Austria) in his Lebensraum (living space). Militarily he was more successful than Kaiser Wilhelm. He brought Paris to its knees in a matter of weeks at the beginning of World War II, and continued to occupy it until near the end of the war. But he also did more to destroy the German people than had occurred since the Thirty Years’ War of the seventeenth century. Without the defeat of Germany in World War I, there would have been no abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm. Without the Kaiser’s abdication, there would have been no power vacuum into which Hitler could walk. With a strong Kaiser in power, the Communists, who had been set up in Russia, would have had a strong German threat. It is unlikely that Russia, the Soviet Union, would have become the international enemy that it became if Germany had not been defeated.
If Germany had been victorious in WWI, would it have turned its military might against the British Empire? Would it have attacked the United States or would it have been occupied by clashes in the east with the Communist government it had put in place in Russia?
Just before the start of World War II, Germany and Russia secretly planned to divide Poland. When the German army, with its blitzkrieg, invaded Poland in September of 1939, the Polish army was beat back. The French and British troops that came to aid the Poles were routed. A new British Prime Minister in 1940, Winston Churchill, promised to fight for Polish freedom; however, Poland would not see freedom until 1988. .
Once Poland was secured, Hitler turned to the north and then west, to France. German troops were successful in the west for several reasons. They did not attack France’s strong Maginot Line, where France was prepared to repel an attack. Instead, they sought a weak spot and went around the defensive line. They made excellent use of new technologies; the tank and the airplane, which they coupled with techniques, which had been developed and honed since the 1870s in the Franco-Prussian War. Hitler inherited a well-disciplined motivated army, which Europe, even with the British Empire’s help, could not stop. That is why the United States was needed to bring an end to World War II.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was well aware that the United States needed to enter World War II long before Pearl Harbor. The real question about the entry of the United States into WWII was not “if” but “when?” Some have claimed that FDR allowed Pearl Harbor to be attacked in order to get the United States involved in the war. This book will show that there is strong evidence that he was well aware that the attack was imminent days, if not months, before it happened. The evidence is weighty that a Machiavellian president did what he had to do to attain the goals that he determined were best for himself and his country. It is clear, judging by the outcome of World War I, that Germany would have been the victor if the United States had not tipped the balance of power in the Great War. In WWII, it is inconceivable that Great Britain and the fragmented French forces under Charles de Gaulle could have been successful, even after Russia became a combatant, if the United States had not joined the war effort.
After his early successes, Hitler began to feel invincible in his battle decisions. It was in the spring of 1940 when he began planning his attack on Russia. This had always been his objective. He believed that Germany’s strength lay in going to the east and developing Lebensraum there, in contrast to the Kaiser’s belief that Germany’s strength lay to the west or on the seas. At first, Hitler was pragmatic enough to sign a peace treaty (or nonaggression pact) with Russia; however, he foolishly did not abide by it. In fact, he was still fighting British and French forces in North Africa at the time of the attack on Russia. It was Hitler who opened up a war on two fronts, something the Kaiser had dreaded. This predicament was what almost destroyed the brilliant Emperor Frederick, in the 18th century, as he fought the various alliances of the French, Austrians, and Russians. Hitler’s attack on Russia, opening up a two front war, was his ultimate doom. Many of his generals argued against it. They asserted that Germany could attack Russia in its soft underbelly, at some later time, without repeating the mistakes of Napoleon Bonaparte, or duplicating his ignominious defeat. Hitler, however, did not pay heed to his advisers, and on July 31, 1940, he announced to his generals his desire to conquer Russia.
Hitler exceeded his limits in a number of ways. He overextended his reach by pushing his troops too far to the east. The path that brought the United States into the war could have easily been avoided had Hitler worked to limit his potential enemies. Instead, he made Russia a combatant rather than keeping them on the sideline. He failed to remove the smaller targets of Britain and de Gaulle’s troops in Africa and the Middle East. As a direct consequence of this failure, he was unable to secure control of the rich oil fields of Arabia. Because of this failure, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States were able to continue pressuring Germany and Japan, whose lack of natural resources in oil greatly hindered them. With control of Middle Eastern oil, Germany could have supplied Japan’s and its own military machines need for oil and assured Japan’s control of South Asia. Without the oil, Japan needed to attack Pearl Harbor to ease America’s oil embargo. Without this attack, the United States might never have entered the war, but this attack ensured it.
A huge breakdown occurred in the balance of powers in Europe after WWII which was settled with an Allied victory. For centuries, there had been a Western power on the Continent, France. There had always been a central Germanic power, most recently Germany, before that the Austrian Empire, and prior to that, the Holy Roman Empire. In the East, the great power was Russia, dominated for 300 years by the Romanovs, but now under Communist rule of the Soviet Union. Germany had now been utterly defeated and divided. The Austrian Empire was long gone. France was a power in name only, having piggybacked its way into the European power structure carried by Great Britain and the United States. Now there was no continental power to stop the Soviet Union from engulfing all of Western Europe to the Atlantic. Great Britain was the last remaining military force in Europe, but it was weakened and deeply in debt following the two world wars. Its empire was in the process of being dismantled. After fighting two wars for freedom and democracy, it could hardly deny the same to its far-flung possessions. FDR, throughout the war, pushed for greater freedom for the former British colonial lands from India to Palestine. This left only one other world power to stand up to the Soviet Union, the United States of America. Although the United States had lost many men fighting WWII and had spent millions of dollars, the country was not physically touched (with the exception of Pearl Harbor) by the war. It had the economic strength, the will, and the resources to fight a decades-long battle for dominance in the world that would pit it against the Soviet Union. It was capitalism versus communism, Anglo-Saxon democracy versus feudal overlords, and individualism versus collectivism, between a God-fearing country and one that denied the existence of God and put man above all.
The United States almost abandoned its new found role as a superpower after WWII. The Americans were looking forward to returning home, getting back to the farm and businesses and girlfriends. But the United States and Great Britain wanted a rebuilt Germany resuming its peacetime position as an economic engine for Europe, the Soviet Union wanted it turned into a backwater wasteland. Joseph Stalin, the Communist dictator of the Soviet Union did not think that the west had the stomach for another war, one fought over their previous enemy-Germany. He dared the United States and Great Britain to a new war by trying to starve the city of Berlin. Britain was first, they stood up to Stalin, followed closely by the United States. With the west's decision to fly food and fuel into Berlin to stave off the strangulation by Stalin the Cold War commenced. After a year of the Berlin Airlift, Stalin backed down, though Germany remained divided for four more decades. But airlift and an economic aid package named the Marshall Plan, that helped Europe rebuild, stood as anew era for the United States. The first President, George Washington had admonished his countrymen to avoid the dangerous entanglements of foreign and especially European affairs. Now the United States was firmly linked to Europe. Also, it replaced the centuries long Germanic powers (whether Germany, Prussia, Austria, or The Holy Roman Empire) as the bulwark against a Russian invasion into Europe. Finally, the United States had by this point taken over Great Britain's role as the master of the seas. As Britain dissolved its empire over the next couple of decades, the United States patrolled the seas and sent its armies to foreign wars. The United States had accepted its new role in the world. Still no one, until now, dared to call it what it is, The United States of Empire.
James "Seamus" Dunn
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