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History of Preventive War 1816-1992 - Penn State(10 posts)

History of Preventive War 1816-1992 - Penn StatePdxMark
Mar 5, 2003 4:00 PM

An interesting article by a Penn State political scientist. Some historical perspective on preventive war, looking at 85 interstate wars since 1816. Three examples of wars that they deem to be at least in part preventive are: Germany's attack of Russia in 1914, Israel's attack of Egypt in 1956, and Japan's attack of US in 1941.
Something I'm curious about . . .carnageasada
Mar 5, 2003 5:15 PM
I'll paste what I copied "In the 20th century, the United States, for the most part, employed its armed forces in retaliation for aggressive acts against U.S. citizens or territory, the primary cases being World I and II."

My memory is vague. For some reason I'm thinking that we'd been supplying France and England with weapons and in retalitation Germany sank a passenger ship of ours. What exactly was it that brought the US into WWI?

I'd heard that a major reason was economics. J.P. Morgan or maybe it was Rockefeller had loaned France tremendous amounts of money and that if Germany defeated France then the loans would have been defaulted on. So we sent the doughboys over to protect the money.
If memory (of history) serves me correctly...Wayne
Mar 6, 2003 7:07 AM
in WWI it was the sinking of a passenger ship (Lusitania ?)that was (supposedly) the straw that broke the camels back and prompted are open military entrance.

In WWII I think the Germans had been sinking our shipping to England for sometime prior to Pearl Harbor but we didn't declare war on them until after Pearl Harbor.
The truth lies in the middle.sn69
Mar 6, 2003 12:25 PM
Carnage was correct with his memory of the last of the robber barrons and their vested interests in France and England at the time. WW1 was, for all intents and purposes, a lengthy continuation of the Germanic wars of unification combined with an odd assortment of alliances in Europe. It's worth noting that Europe looked a lot different then, and WW1's "axis" was far less of an evil empire in that conflict than it would be 30 years later.
There was a power-play in effect for various territorial areas as the Germanic states coalesced into unified German under the Kaiser. At the same time, the Austro-Hungarian empire began to fracture while also continuing a vested competition with the Ottomans over control of the Balkan penninsula. The Russian empire was trying to stifle it's growing rebellion within while also waging a territorial conflict with the Japanese. To top it all off, there was a huge arms race underway that only served to increase tensions.

America's industrialists were satisfied with everything with two exceptions--namely, that they did in fact have vast holdings in France and Belgium; and, second, that they had a long standing prejudice against German-American immigrants stemming from their involvement in the union movement in Chicago in the 1880s.

The Lusitania was simply a convenient excuse, although it can still be argued that the AEF's presence did little more than provide just enough momentum to break the stalemate. (Of particular note, the Marine's performace at Chateau Thierry was so impressive that the German high command dubbed them "Dogs of the Devil....")

By way of comparison, WWII saw a vastly different set of circumstances that had many different characteristics. Many of America's high-powered industrialists and social figures alligned themselves with Nazi Germany. This was for two reasons. First, and perhaps least of all, many of them were simply anti-Semetic and found little issue with Hitler's "final solution." Joe Kennedy was one of these, as was Charles Lindberg. Second, and more compellingly, the re-industrialization of Germany was seen as a ripe market for capitalization. Greed, it seemed, was the ever-present motivator.

Incidentally, Joe came around after Joe Jr. morted flying bombers over Germany and Jack went off to become a PT Boat sailor. Lindberg suffered such negative publicity after Dec 7 that he re-activated with the Army Air Corps and flew some bomber missions over Germany, although his reputation never fully recovered. By way of comparison, a great many actors actually fought in real, front line units--Jimmy Stewart comes to mind.

Nonetheless, prior to Dec. 7 most Americans favored a modified isolationist stace, relying in stead on proxying American involvement via Lend/Lease. The truth was, however, that American troops were involved well before Dec. 7. Chennault's Flying Tigers were fighting a valiant battle over the skies of Buhrma, China and Indochina, and US Navy destroyers were actively engaging the U-boats--albeit unsuccessfully--in the Atlantic. In fact, the Navy lost the USS Rueben James to enemy action well before FDR's declaration of war.

There are still a great many conspiracy theorists who suggest that FDR needed WW2 to provide the final impetus to end the Depression. They typically cite ADM King's orders to remove the four PacFleet aircraft carriers out of Pearl prior to the attack. While I think the war was good for our economy (and definitely good for humanity in a grander scale), I tend to believe that the events of Dec. 7 were eerily similar to 9-11. A lot of people had critical pieces of the puzzle that would have tipped the Japanese's hat...but nobody was sharing it.
America in WWIMcAndrus
Mar 6, 2003 7:27 PM
The Lusitania is frequently given as the cause of American entry into the war. If so, it was a long drawn-out cause as the Lusitania was sunk in 1915 and we entered the war in 1917.

In fact, it was Germany's open and continuous submarine warfare that most vexed the Americans as it endangered trans-Atlantic shipping. The Lusitania is but one example of dozens of such sinkings.

The precise trigger was something called The Zimmerman Telegram. Barbara Buchman wrote a fabuluous history in a book of the same name. In 1917 the Germans made a secret offer to Mexico if it came into the war and attacked America that Germany would aid Mexico and grant it certain territories if victorious.

Because of the on-going border skirmishes with Pancho Villa's forces, the Americans were not very pleased when the Zimmerman Telegram was discovered and made public. It's also highly doubtful that Mexico had any real interest in joining the war but it was Germany's offer - after years of submarine warfare, that exhausted America's will to stay neutral.
Good pointsn69
Mar 7, 2003 6:14 AM
I didn't delve into the issue of the Zim event for brevity's sake. The affairs along the border, particularly in Texas, were espacially violent and often overlooked in US History (or at least minimized). Villa and his raiders quite literally murdered entire towns and operated with impunity until Gen Pershing went in and invaded. Oddly, a young horse calvary officer under him was named 1stLT George Patton (one of my great grandfathers served under him).

The key piece of enticement for the Mexicans from the Kaiser was the return of Texas and New Mexico.

It's a really interesting story.....
You're related to Old Blood and Guts?McAndrus
Mar 7, 2003 9:05 AM
If you are then you know the line, "Yeah, our blood, his guts."

That's too cool for school. One of my favorite Patton stories is in the Mexican incursion where he commandeers a car, takes a patrol to some sleepy village, and jumps out of the car, pistol blazing, and shoots some bad guys: classic Patton.

Let's see ... how many histories of Patton have I read now? I've lost count. An absolutely fascinating man.
Not him,sn69
Mar 7, 2003 9:53 AM
just some poor schlub enlisted guy who was no doubt thinking the whole time "Hey, I'm a Jewish kid from Pittsburg. What the sh!t am I doing in Mexico, why didn't I become a doctor like mom said, and who the f is this psychopath First Lieutenant?!"

It musta been a hoot.

Incidentally, I inherited an old crack-breech .38 from him many years ago.

We had some amazing tacticians and warriors then. My personal favorite stories are from the Navy in the Pacific. Both occurred at Leyte Gulf. First, I've always wondered how big Jesse Oldendorf's smile was as he crossed the Jap's t at Sirigao Strait and wasted the Japanese southern task force with antiquated, old WW1 era battleships, most of which had been damaged at Pearl.

The second is from Spruance's heroic battle to survive as Kurita's main body bore down on the American amphibious forces landing ashore while Halsey was off chasing Ozawa. A handful of DEs and three tiny escort carriers launched a counter attack that was so fierce that Kurita was certain he had accidentally engaged Halsey...and he withdrew. If he had pressed home the attack, he could have slicked the entire amphibious group ashore at Leyte. So, follow this're a tiny destroyer escort crew with two 5 inch cannons, a handful of 40mm AAA guns and minimal armor, yet you repeatedly hurl your tiny tin can against the a task force of Japanese battleships and heavy cruisers until they finally sink you. ...Gives me chills. Those guys were not just America's finest generation, but humanity's too.
My grandfather was at Leyte gulfcarnageasada
Mar 10, 2003 5:03 PM
I spent many nights on his knee listening to stories of crossing the T and going right down the line. Later when I was older he talked to me about picking up passengers who'd been on the Bataan march. Even as he died he was still angry about it.
On another note it was very scary reading your reply to my vague memories about WWI. With people like you around you really have to think twice before shooting your mouth off on this board.
P.S. You've probably already seen it but Fort Knox, Kentucky has a great museum dedicated to Patton. It's worth a days drive if you ask me. They don't make them like Patton anymore. Of course, that's both good and bad.
"Preventive War"/"War of Aggression": What's the difference?torquer
Mar 6, 2003 7:36 AM
Given the examples cited, one could argue that anytime one country attacks another not directly responsible for overtly hostile acts, the "preventive war" smokescreen comes into play.

Japan's fears of being choked-off from its Asian sources of raw materials and markets by an expansionist USA (given as the reason for the attack on Pearl Harbor) were, no doubt, more than plausible to their leadership. As the victor in the ensuing war, we got to label it (in war crimes tribunals and our history textbooks) as Japanese aggression.

Hitler attacked his nominal ally, the Soviet Union, in 1941 without even bothering to fabricate any hostile acts (as he had done as a prelude to invading Poland two years earlier), but he surely felt this was justified by the hostility to Bolshevism which was fundamental to the Nazi political ideology. Coexistence was not an option.

This is meant to equate Dubya with Hitler or Tojo (although the reader is certainly free to draw their own conclusions); my point is that any aggressor, from Ghengis Khan to Milosevich (sp?) can come up with some excuse about how their actions were intended to eliminate an imminent threat, reduce the number of casualties, yadda yadda yadda. Whether they were justified depends on who gets to write the history.