Overseas military adventures inevitably have unforeseen consequences

Overseas military adventures inevitably have unforeseen consequences

By Dino Drudi, Alexandria
(File Photo)

To the editor:

Gregory Paspatis’ response to my critique of a century of U.S. militarism (“U.S. intervention is often a force for good,” May 22) insists the “Axis powers … had to be destroyed.” Most Americans believe this, even though the record shows that the Allied victory enabled communist nations to perpetrate far worse atrocities.

We would well be advised to follow the Founding Fathers’ sage advice to not go about seeking monsters to destroy. Wars are filled with unforeseen, unintended consequences, which those who believe that monsters like the Axis powers must be destroyed via U.S. military intervention ignore, forget or fail to grasp.

Between 1933 and 1938, for example, the Nazi regime encouraged Jewish emigration to what would become Israel. But by the time Britain and France declared war on Germany for invading Poland, allowing Jewish emigration to continue would have been detrimental to the Nazi war effort because Palestine was under British control, so emigrants might have become Allied soldiers. While the Nazis remain solely morally responsible for their atrocities, intervention created conditions preventing the atrocities from being averted. Late in the war, the U.S. could have bombed the rail tracks leading to Nazi death camps, but did not.

Paspatis insists that the U.S. didn’t start World War I or World War II, but was minding its own business. He mentions the 1917 Zimmerman Telegram, which was a diplomatic proposal from the Germans asking Mexico to join their alliance if the U.S. entered the war on Britain’s side. The Zimmerman Telegram’s support for shrinking U.S. territory — if the U.S. didn’t mind its own business as related to the war in Europe — is the functional equivalent of the U.S. shrinking Germany’s territory after both world wars.

Similarly, the U.S. embargoed oil shipments to Japan, prompting Japan’s first strike at Pearl Harbor. Today’s U.S. policy, the 1980 Carter Doctrine that declares that any attempt by a foreign power to use oil as a political weapon would be construed as an act of war against the US, however, relies on the same fundamental justification as Japan’s.

Paspatis laments that we do not emphasize history enough in our education system. I quite agree, but suspect that we wouldn’t work from the same syllabi.