Veteran’s Day has come and gone, with many of us remembering the heroic struggles our soldiers have had to endure throughout the history of our country in the various wars that America has participated. So, Campus Reform’s Eduardo Neret went to Howard University in Washington D.C. to ask various students if they could think of any war the U.S. has participated in that could be considered a “just” war or a war that we could find justifiable reasons for entering and fighting (video below).
Not one student could come up with any war that they viewed as justified of their own merit. And even when asked if they thought WWII was a justified war for the U.S. to get involved, some students still believed there was no justifiable reason for having entered the conflict.
One student argued: “I don’t believe America fought [WWII] for the just reasons.” Another student said: “I don’t think [WWII] was necessary.”
Although a few students recognized World War II and the Civil War as being justified wars (once they were mentioned after previously having argued that there were no wars that were justified), many still held their ground and argued that no war was justified.
However, I know exactly why it is that many think this way: ignorance.
Now, I’m not trying to insult these kids. I’m not calling them dumb. But they are lacking in knowledge, which is what ignorance is. Why do I think this way? Well, one of the students who actually came around to the idea that World War II was justified gave the following response to having changed her mind:
“[WWII] [was] a good cause for the greater good because at the end of the day we got our freedom, and we are no longer under Great Britain.”
The poor girl is confusing World War II with the Revolutionary War. Either that or she thinks that Great Britain was in Nazi Germany’s place in World War II and we were under their control at the time, but I think the former is more likely.
The ones that continued arguing that WWII was not a justified war, when Pearl Harbor was brought up, said that that was a reason for having entered the war, but not a justified one. Again, I gotta blame ignorance here.
During the early 1940s, the general sentiment regarding World War II was that we shouldn’t enter the war. We had no reason to. Hitler was not a direct threat to us and we were supplying Great Britain with weapons and equipment.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has in their records public opinion in the U.S. about joining the war. When World War II began on September 1st, 1939, Gallup asked the following question: “If it looks within the next few months as if England and France might be defeated, should the United States declare war on Germany and send our troops abroad?” 42% said “yes”, 48% said “no” and 10% said they didn’t have an opinion.
The poll was close between the two answers, but the more popular idea was to stay out of the war, even if England and France were defeated over the next few months. I think the reason for it to have been this close is because if Germany had defeated both so quickly, it might’ve sent people in the U.S. into a panic, considering we were at least friendly towards those two countries, so the next target could’ve either been us or the Soviet Union.
On October 6th, 1939, when Poland was conquered by the Nazis and divided between them and the Soviets, Gallup asked the same question: if Germany defeats England and France, should we declare war on Germany? This time around, we found that only 29% of those surveyed said “yes” and 71% said “no.” We didn’t want to get ourselves involved in what was mostly seen as a European conflict.
On May 10th, 1940, when Germany invaded the Netherlands, Belgium and France, Gallup asked if we should declare war on Germany. This time, only 7% said “yes” and 93% said “no”. It should be noted that our military wasn’t exactly in tip-top shape before we entered the war. We only had a little more than 450,000 total military personnel in 1940. In 1941, with the draft having been passed by Congress in late 1940, that number jumped to 1.8 million, then to 3.9m in 1942, 9.1m in 1943, 11.6m in 1944 and 12.2m by the end of the war in 1945.
Our military was in poor shape but once drafting and more spending was implemented, we created the most powerful military the world had ever seen by that point.
By June of 1940, when France surrendered to Germany, public sentiment was still largely against going to war, but those who wished to enter the war and help became more numerous. 35% said they wanted to help England win against Germany, even at the cost of entering the war, and 61% said they should stay out of the conflict altogether.
By the time the draft was implemented in September of 1940, more people wanted to help (52%) than not do anything (44%). By November of 1940, when FDR was elected to his third term as POTUS, 60% wanted to help England and 40% wanted to keep out. In March of 1941, when Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act which authorized Roosevelt to provide Britain with weapons, vehicles and equipment, 67% wanted to help England and 33% wanted to keep out.
On June 22nd, 1941, when Hitler decided to turn his armies towards the Soviet Union, 62% said they wanted to help England and 33% said they wanted to keep out. Even on September 4th, 1941, when a German U-boat submarine attacked an American destroyer, the USS Greer, prompting FDR to authorize US ships to attack German vessels on sight, 64% wanted to help England and 30% wanted to keep out.
By November of 1941, when relations between the U.S. and Japan were at some of their most tense (pre-war, of course) and it looked as though we would fight them, 68% said they wanted to defeat Germany and 28% said they wanted to stay out of the war.
However, on December 7th, 1941, when the Japanese orchestrated a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where 2403 people died, mostly military personnel and 68 civilians, this served to ignite the spark of war in the American engine. Gallup asked: “Should President Roosevelt have declared war on Germany, as well as on Japan?”, 91% said “yes”, only 7% said “no” and 3% said they didn’t have any opinion.
This was the 9/11 of 1940s America (and the only attack of this scale on American soil until 9/11) and our country cried for war, cried for justice against Japan. And so, we officially declared war on Japan, which prompted Germany to declare war on the U.S., leading us to join World War II against the Axis powers.
No, we didn’t enter the war out of the kindness of our hearts to help Great Britain to defeat Hitler. Why would we have, when FDR’s New Deal was so similar to Mussolini’s fascism, wherein the welfare state was created and capitalism was put into the hands of the state, instead of the private sector? FDR was every bit the Leftist that Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin were and sought to socialize our economy. The eventual matchups of FDR-Stalin vs. Hitler-Mussolini (and Hirohito) were matchups of convenience for the time being. They were all Leftist, “government is God” type of leaders. Mussolini praised FDR’s book titled “Looking Forward” and the official Nazi newspaper, “Volkischer Beobachter” praised the New Deal.
We entered World War II not because FDR saw much or any threat in the fascists and Nazis in Europe infecting the rest of the world (he had his own brand of fascism that he was already implementing) but because we were attacked and over 2000 of our servicemen died at the hands of an Imperial Japan that we weren’t exactly getting along with.
When you are attacked, you have to respond. And that’s what we did. Those who would argue that we entered WWII without justifiable reasons are ignorant of history. For the most part, Americans wanted nothing to do with World War II, or to at most help out England without getting involved in the fighting if at all possible. But once it appeared war was imminent, and especially once it was brought to our shores, sentiment changed and we wanted to join and win the war.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Generally speaking, I’m anti-war. If it can be avoided, I would like to not get ourselves involved in wars, particularly in endless wars, which is why I hate that pro-war Republicans and Democrats are in Congress.
However, there are wars that we simply cannot avoid and wars that can be easily justified. The Revolutionary War was a war in which we sought our independence from a tyrannical monarch in Europe. That was justified. The Civil War was a war in which the North sought to both free all slaves in the country and reunite the Union after Southern Democrat States seceded following Lincoln’s election. That was very much justified.
And World War II most certainly can be justified considering both the threat that Hitler posed on the world and the attack that we suffered in Pearl Harbor.
Again, there are wars that are not justified and simply make no sense. But there are those that are essential and there are justifiable reasons for entering. I couldn’t imagine telling Poland that they weren’t justified in fighting Germany when they were being invaded by them.
These children, the ones that said no war was justified and stuck to it after being reminded of World War II, should be educated regarding history. But it’s a sad state of affairs when they are attending a college and have such minimal knowledge of the history of this country.
Ignorance is the real problem here. I would like to mention that every single one of the students asked were African-American, so you would think at the very least, they would’ve brought up the Civil War, since if the North had not done anything about the South, most black people in the country would be slaves (or at least would’ve been for a longer period of time).
But nope. Not one instance could they think of a just war. These kids aren’t being educated; they are being indoctrinated. They were taught that war is generally bad and that America is at fault for most of the conflicts we see today and the world has seen for some time. That no war America gets involved with is justified because we are the bad guys.
This is the sort of nonsensical and untruthful garbage being taught in our education systems today. How is it that these kids, or at least one of them, thinks that World War II was a war where we gained our independence from Britain?! The fact that there even is one person who thinks this is a damning statement about our education system.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
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