Americans Were Duped
Into Past Wars;
Is it Happening Again?
an interest in naval history I have been acutely aware of two troublesome facts about the two world wars. I believe we were
skillfully drawn into both conflicts. Certain people allowed major events to occur and then used them to inflame public opinion
so the United States would go to war.
The sinking of the Lusitania and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor appear to
have been allowed for political reasons.
Most historians agree that the destruction of the British liner Lusitania by German submarine U-20 on May 7, 1915, was a major contributory
event that stirred America to enter the war. The sinking killed 1,198 men, women and children, including 128 Americans. The
passengers on that ship ignored a warning published by Germany in various New York newspapers that the liner would be attacked
if it took its fateful trip into the war zone surrounding the British Isles.
Had the American people been given all
of the facts about this incident, they might have been more inclined to join Germany in the war against England, and perhaps
turn the course of history.
The Lusitania appeared to be a luxury liner, but in reality she was a navy cruiser in disguise. The British government commissioned the construction of this ship. Her decks
were carefully designed with gun mounts. Some believe her guns were stored below deck on the day it sank. While it carried
passengers on the upper decks, there is evidence that the Lusitania also was operating as a military cargo ship. Some say
that one of the reasons it sank within 20 minutes after a single torpedo from Kapitan-Leutnant Walther Schwieger's U-boat
hit the hull was that the vessel was laden with ammunition. The bombs and bullets exploded, blowing the bottom out of the
Yet another curious event made the Lusitania a virtual "sitting duck." Because German U-boats were known to be
patrolling for several miles off the coast, the British Navy was escorting friendly ships in and out of the nation's ports
of call. Yet on the day the Lusitania was scheduled to arrive, the naval escort vessels were called away. This order was given
by the first lord of the admiralty who was none other than Sir Winston Churchill.
Why would such an order be
given, especially after Germany specifically warned of plans to try to sink the Lusitania? I suggest that this ship and all
of the people who perished with it were sacrificed in a daring effort to get the United States involved in the war. Both sides
were at an impasse until the United States entered the war in 1917. Our forces helped turn the tide and Germany surrendered
within the year.
I can't help but wonder if there would have been a Hitler or a Nazi movement in Germany if England
had lost the war. The German defeat followed by the Great Depression plunged Germany into economic collapse. This set the
stage for a radical new form of government.
The war was again raging in Europe in 1941 and there were many Americans
who wanted to get the U. S. war machine cranked up for the inevitable conflict. But America has always been slow to go to
war when the decision is left to Congress. Politicians don't make hard decisions like that without first knowing that their
constituents are whole-heartedly behind them. Modern presidents can order troops into battle without first getting an act
of Congress, but that wasn't the case in 1917 and again in 1941. President Roosevelt had to wait until the majority of the
people wanted a war.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was the perfect solution to this problem. It plunged America into war with not only
Japan, but with Germany and Italy within days.
I have personally talked to former Navy men who survived the Pearl Harbor
bombing. They said the Navy knew the Japanese were coming but did nothing to stop them. It is public record that the 181 approaching
Japanese aircraft were on naval radar screens in time to launch a counter attack, but the order was never given. Consequently,
the 151 U. S. planes that might have warded off the attack were destroyed on the ground.
The attack sank or damaged eight outdated battleships and a fleet
of smaller ships, including some old four-stacker destroyers that had outlived their usefulness. Unfortunately, the raid also
left 2,343 U. S. service personnel dead, 960 more missing, and 1,272 wounded.
The Navy's fleet of aircraft carriers
and submarines were conveniently out to sea and survived to launch a counter attack against Japan. Naval leaders knew even
in 1941 that future wars would be mostly won with the help of carriers and submarines, not slow moving, coal burning dreadnoughts,
cruisers and other surface vessels. Were these old ships and their crews sacrificed for political reasons?
than the fact that Hitler poised a serious world threat in 1941, what other political reasons would there have been? Remember
that the world was still struggling from a serious depression in the 1930s when the Axis powers began rattling sabers. A world
war was a perfect solution to getting a sluggish economy stimulated again. Generating a Second World War worked like magic.
is said that the United States was not geared up for the war that fell on us so quickly. But don't let the history books fool
you. We made a conversion of our factories into a giant war machine in a remarkably short time. It is obvious that a lot of
planning had been going on before the war actually started.
World War II worked out so well for us that the United States was turned almost overnight into the
most powerful nation in the world.
Think about these things this week when you hear all of the tough talk and saber
rattling going on these days between the United States and China over spy planes and Taiwan's sovereignty. Think about them
when you hear of sending more NATO forces into Yugoslavia to stop the constant warfare going on there. And think about them
when you see our leaders taking sides in the ongoing Middle East conflict.
Many economists have been concerned about
the erratic movements of the U. S. and world stock markets. You can bet that the people in charge are thinking about launching
another world conflict just to keep the cash flowing.
It would help the Russian economy. It would certainly be a boon for the Chinese. And U. S. industry always sees dollar
signs when we start making war machines.
Money has always been the bottom line.
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