Rhea, on Mar 24 2003, 05:32 PM, said:
StarDust, on Mar 24 2003, 01:03 PM, said:
What gave us the right to attack Germany during WWII and smashed them into the ground? What gave us the right to put Nazis on trial for what they did in the camps? Who is to say we were right and the Nazis were wrong?
We did not attack Germany - Germany attacked us after we entered the war against the Japanese post-Pearl Harbor.
In point of fact, we we heavily isolationist until Pearl Harbor, which swung the balance.
Edited to add: I see the Tree got there before me.
Firstly, it is not true that Germany attacked us. They declared war on us. They attacked troops sent to attack them.
We were already becoming heavily involved in the war. From Britannica 2003, I don't have time to go to the library and do more thorough research, but this is the gist....
Upon being returned to office, Roosevelt moved quickly to aid the Allies. His Lend-Lease Act, passed in March 1941 after vehement debate, committed the United States to supply the Allies on credit. When Germany, on March 25, extended its war zone to include Iceland and the Denmark Straits, Roosevelt retaliated in April by extending the American Neutrality Patrol to Iceland. In July the United States occupied Iceland, and U.S. naval vessels began escorting convoys of American and Icelandic ships. That summer Lend-Lease was extended to the Soviet Union after it was invaded by Germany. In August Roosevelt met with the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, off the coast of Newfoundland to issue a set of war aims known as the Atlantic Charter. It called for national self-determination, larger economic opportunities, freedom from fear and want, freedom of the seas, and disarmament.
Although in retrospect U.S. entry into World War II seems inevitable, in 1941 it was still the subject of great debate. Isolationism was a great political force, and many influential individuals were determined that U.S. aid policy stop short of war. In fact, as late as Aug.12, 1941, the House of Representatives extended the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 by a vote of only 203 to 202. Despite isolationist resistance, Roosevelt pushed cautiously forward. In late August the navy added British and Allied ships to its Icelandic convoys. Its orders were to shoot German and Italian warships on sight, thus making the United States an undeclared participant in the Battle of the Atlantic. During October one U.S. destroyer was damaged by a German U-boat and another was sunk. The United States now embarked on an undeclared naval war against Germany, but Roosevelt refrained from asking for a formal declaration of war. According to public opinion polls, a majority of Americans still hoped to remain neutral.
From what I know talking to people from the time and what I've read over the years, the eastern US was very pro European defense where as the western US was not. It has been suggested by analysts that the west saw itself as removed from consequences in Europe. However, their extreme liberal tendencies changed after the attack came from the west, in their direction, instead of the east, and then all their liberal beliefs went out the window as the west rounded up Americans of Japanese decent and put them in camps. Talk about going from one extreme to another!
However, there were more than enough votes in congress to go to war before Pearl Harbor, and while not an overwhelming majority, the majority of the public would have supported a war. Roosevelt felt he should wait because the war would be difficult and he needed to drum up overwhelming support, something that ended up not being a problem in short order.
The problem of public opinion
Although there is no question that Roosevelt was concerned about public support for entering the war, this was not because he thought that he could not obtain a declaration without it—in late 1941, before the Pearl Harbor attack, he had enough votes in Congress to pass a formal declaration of war. Rather, according to most historians, his concern was that Americans would not be able to sustain such an enormous effort, with all its sacrifice of blood and treasure, unless they were united in the spirit of a moral crusade. Accordingly, in his major foreign policy decisions regarding the war in Europe in 1940–41, he was careful not to commit the country to greater involvement in the fighting than public opinion would support. The draft, the destroyer-bases exchange, thelend-lease program, convoying, and economic sanctions against Japan were all undertaken with Roosevelt's belief that the public regarded them as vital to American national security. Contrary to the revisionist view, most historians regard these incremental decisions not as attempts to drag the country into the war but rather as efforts by Roosevelt to exercise all other options, in keeping with his deep reluctance to enter the fighting without the firm support of the American public.
All this, however, is irrelevant to the case that we were attacked by the Japanese, on US territory, not the Germans. However we obliterated Germany and not the Japanese. Yes, 2 nukes were dropped on Japan (they were relatively small compared to what we have today) but outside of those two cities the damage was very measured. We went so far as to put the Emporer back in power, with rules and restrictions of course. Could you see us putting Hitler back in control? Or do you think, if he'd lived, it wouldn't have been for long, since he would have ended up hanging from a rope in Nurnberg. We hunt Nazis to this day.
I remember reading a book when I was a kid and discovering the attrocities that the Japanese had commited and asked my mother why we never heard or learned about any of this, when we heard so much about the Nazis. It's rarely discussed and then usually only in relation to European captives.
My mother's answer was simple, racism. She felt the reason was that people were shocked and appalled by what the Nazis had done, that Europeans could do such things, and were quick to try and remedy the situation. When it came to the Japanese the response was more like, 'what do you expect from Asians'. It wasn't surprising, or that important.
So, again, why do we hold one standard of behavior for and by Europeans, but have a different standard when it comes to non-Europeans, one mostly of indifference. As though they aren't entitled to the same human treatment, and shouldn't be held to the same standards of expected human behavior, as everyone else.