Memphis Belle

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The

Meaning of Modern History

 

I grew up during the 1950s and 1960s.  I and my playmate were constantly pre-occupied with building bomb-shelters to protect us and our families (and all the spare girls in the neighborhood—we were boys) from the big nuclear bomb we all thought the Soviet Russians were going to drop on Boston.  We’d dig a four-foot by four-foot square, and dig this dangerous pit down to a depth of five to six feet.  We never got deeper than that, and it’s amazing we never buried ourselves.  The sides never collapsed with us in them.  We grew up in the era of the “Bomb”, when we all sincerely believed the world was going to end in a giant nuclear confrontation between Soviet Russian and America.  We all knew that if one of those  Soviet 50 kiloton baby’s hit Boston, everything within Route 128 was toast, fried beyond all recognition.  And we were only 9 years old at the time.  Later I joined the US Submarine Service, and became a part of that huge naval cat-and-mouse game all our submarines took part in.  The whole world was aligned with either the United States, or Soviet Russia, with very few genuinely neutral nations.  Within a short walking distance of my neighborhood, on top of Belmont Hill, was a US Army anti-aircraft battery, 9 years after World War II ended.  Soviet Russia was trying to export it’s form of government, often, we were told, forcefully and through subversive methods.  We never gave a thought as to why these two great powers with their two divergent forms of government had locked military horns and were vying for world domination.  We just knew that it was so, never giving a thought as to why.  I vividly remember Nikita Khrushchev taking his shoe off in the U.N. building and banking it on his desk, and saying “We will bury you!”.  (I came closer to getting buried in my own half-dug bomb-shelter!)  I grew up to all this, but never understood what had brought the world to be this way.  Then recently I found an amazing short history book, written by a war correspondent during WWII.  The book was full of insight and not just straight reporting.  What follows is what I learned from this insightful book. 

 

Was Communism wrong?  What brought it on?

 

Communism is like a national version of a labor union that comes in and offers the workers of a big fat-cat company more equality in wages and opportunity.  When a nation has a few fat-cats, a small and wealthy upper class, while the majority live in abject poverty, communism although a very poor substitute for a fair democracy within a free-market society, offers educational equality, and thus a degree of equality of financial opportunity and advancement, based on performance to some degree.  A peasant in Czarist Russia had no opportunity for education and advancement, while the Soviet Communist system offered a fair degree of equality in education and thus advancement.  A peasant could become a skilled worker, or work his way up to general in the army, based on performance.   But the communist system, like all human systems, was prone to corruption at the top.  Communism, just like labor unions, stifle true advancement.  Just as a labor union can destroy a company’s ability to make a profit, so communism can cripple a nation’s productivity.  Although both communism and labor unions level the playing field for the individual under them, they destroy personal incentive.  But when a company ceases to offer true advancement in skills and wages, the labor union becomes the least of the two evils, and so it is with nations as well. So now let’s look at the national picture.  Take China at the beginning of World War II, under the able leadership of Chiang Kai-shek. Only problem was his political party that ran the country was a dictatorship.  99 percent of all Chinese were dirt poor, poverty stricken, had no medical services available to them, and worked under back-braking labor conditions.  “When Chiang Kai-shek visited India he threw a bombshell in the shape of a farewell statement which was utterly unexpected by the British officials.  The Generalissimo urged the British to give the Indian people “real political power” as speedily as possible, so that they might “thus realize that their participation in the war is not merely an aid to the anti-aggression nations for the securing of victory but also a turning-point in their struggle for India’s freedom.”  [They Shall Not Sleep, p. 207]  Chiang Kai-Shek realized what India needed, but failed to speedily implement the same recommendation in China.  “All of the Asiatic peoples, approximating no less than one third of humanity, are asking themselves what the Anglo-American spokesmen mean when they talk of freedom and democracy.” [ibid. p.206]  Four years after WWII, Communism swept the whole huge nation of China under Mao Zedong, over one fifth of the world’s population.  Is it any wonder?  Communism under the Bolsheviks swept Czarist Russia in 1917 for the same reasons.  The British colonial system collapsed in Burma and India, much as it did around the world, just after WWII, due to the excessive mining of national resources from these countries, without any subsequent betterment of the citizens within those countries.  And Vietnam, same thing.  Let’s take a look at what Leland Stowe wrote in They Shall Not Sleep, pp. 137-138, par. 1-2, and 1 resp.  “During more than one hundred years enormous fortunes were reaped in Burma by the British.  Burma has produced and still produces fabulous wealth in oil, teakwood, tin, silver, rubber, and rice.  It is extremely difficult to find traces of this great native Burma wealth in the lot and the lives of more than 14,000,000 Burmese natives.  You do not find well-built and attractive schools in Burma’s towns and villages.  You do not find many hospitals or clinics.  You do not find anything much that is halfway modern except what has been built for the use of white men, with the exception of a few missionary schools, mostly financed by American church groups.  The vast natural wealth of Burma, like a large part of the natural wealth of Mexico and the Central and South American countries, has been drawn out of the country for the enrichment of a small band of foreign capitalists who have no other interest in the land and the people who are the source of their fortunes….In Soviet Russia, covering one sixth of the earth’s surface, the gold and silver and tin mines, coal and minerals and oilfields, the forests and railroads and factories of production, all belong to the state.  This new kind of state may develop and exploit these great basic riches well or badly.  Nevertheless the people hold the title of ownership.  No small group of individuals may stake out and own any of these things.  The people’s title of ownership may be partly on paper as yet.  But the people of the Soviet Union have got an idea.  The idea is not on paper.  It is in a much more fertile spot.   It is in their heads.  The world of the Russians didn’t used to be like this at all.  The world of the Chinese and of India too, quivers in unprecedented ferment.  In each of these great crowded lands the ferment has produced an idea---nationalism.”  “India was merely a duplicate of Burma on a much greater scale.” [ibid. p 175]  “I was talking one day with an American army colonel who had visited Indian coal mines.  ‘Did you know those mines are paying about forty per cent dividends to the British shareholders?’  he asked.  ‘Well, I saw Indian women down there—some of them pregnant women—carrying baskets of coal on their heads all day.  Do you know what they get paid?  Four annas a day—just about four American cents a day!  Do you think those people are going to be much worried about the Japs taking over India?  Well, that’s what we’re up against.’  Sometimes I met Indians who spoke bitterly of the “master folk.”  They were not talking about Hitler and his Herrenvolk.  They were referring to those near at hand who treated almost all dark-skinned people as “bearers” and who owed their position and wealth to the exploitation of India’s riches and her people.” [ibid. p.177, par. 2-3]  Leland Stowe wrote this in 1944.  That nationalism “in each of these great crowded lands” took whatever form that would offer their people freedom from what they had been experiencing before, even if it turned out to be a communist dictatorship.  America, like the British, had an unsavory flavor of capitalism, which most of these people were all too familiar with.  Burma, now called Myanmar, is now a communist state.  Any wonder?  China, as mentioned before, went communist in four short years after the end of WWII.  The French tried to march in and re-install their colonial system of economic exploitation in South East Asia right after WWII.  Ho Chi Min was U.S. Marine trained to fight the Japanese during WWII.  He begged President Eisenhower to intervene.  Ike said he and the U.S. had to stay neutral, so Ho Chi Min asked Russia for help, and brought Communism to first North Vietnam, and then South Vietnam.  Laos and Cambodia are Communist as well.  Time for us to put things into the proper perspective of real, un-slanted, unbiased history.

Rule of thumb

 

Historic rule of thumb:  Whenever a large segment of people in the world, no matter what country they’re a part of, suffers from lack of educational and economic opportunity for their own betterment and advancement, that nation or group of people is ripe for another system to take over which offers them better opportunities than they presently have, even if that system is totalitarian, and not so perfect.  Often you see this same problem within large companies.  They pay their workers barely enough to keep them under control and make them feel like they’re pretty well off by song & dance propaganda, dished out at company meetings and social events.   Their employee profit-sharing is also an illusion compared to executive and upper-level management profit-sharing programs within the same company. Upper level management make obscene profits.  Lose your job and stay unemployed for too long, you lose your house, your car, whatever has been bought on long-term credit, which is the only way you can afford what they pay for with cash.  They lose their jobs, they lose nothing.  Nations are really no different from companies.  They contain a mixed society of workers who are working to support themselves and their families.  Socialism will sweep a country for the very same reasons as a communist system will, but stops short of dictatorship.  Financially the playing field has been leveled by cradle-to-grave medical and insurance services that the ordinary citizen would have to pay for out-of-pocket in a free-market democracy that is not socialist.  Socialism can take over a country by degrees, often gradually, and a nation can stop anywhere in the process.  Officials are democratically elected.  So the sweep of communist systems and governments that were spreading around the globe right after WWII has to be viewed in the light of the abject poverty and lack of economic opportunity for the citizens of those countries to achieve any other way.  The people in so many of these countries didn’t want to revert to the status quo which had been holding them back for so many years.  So they called in the “labor union” of governmental systems, to level the playing field for them.  My father worked for a decent company, at least it  was decent to it’s employees for a long time.  Nearing his retirement, he admitted to me (and he was a manager that hated labor unions), “Pete, United Carr is starting to deserve to have a labor union to come in.”  Companies, nations, it’s no different.  Look at Ethiopia.  Under Haile Selasi the citizens lived in abject poverty, filth and squalor.  That elderly leader, who could trace his lineage back to king Solomon of Israel, was killed in an uprising that brought a communist government to power in Ethiopia.  Any wonder?  I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, and I finally realized why the world I grew up in was the way it was.  The British empire had collapsed, and England itself had become a socialist government, as most of Europe had as well.  China fell to communism in 1949, and the United States found itself locked in a “cold war” with Soviet Russia, which was “marketing” its form of government to those nations which had become sick and tired of being exploited by mercantile fat-cats of the free-market democratic countries of the west.  Most people never bother to stop and analyze the times they grew up in.  I always wondered about the period of time through World War II, up to 1989.  Then I read a fine historic book written by a war reporter, Leland Stowe, written during World War II.  His book asked the same questions, as he witnessed the rise and fall of empires and social systems that had become rotten on the vine, ready to fall.  Many of his predictions came true, five, ten years after his book was published in 1944.

 

Let’s analyze this

 

Let’s analyze this a bit. The ultimate cause of wars is a genuine lack of love and outgoing concern by those who have toward those who have not.  Wars and the rise of socialist or communist governments brought on by war are caused by the amassing of wealth amongst a very few, with very little outgoing concern or sharing in an intelligent manner that would help raise the base-line of well-being for all those below.  So far, mankind has not devised a form of government that does that, one that guarantees equality of opportunity and financial well-being for all.  This magical “utopian” form of government has eluded mankind, simply because basic human nature runs contrary to those altruistic motives.  Mankind for six thousand years of recorded history has not found such a government that for any appreciable period of time has given it’s citizens this opportunity.   In the end, in the final analysis, it is the rich in each system of government that get richer, while the poor get poorer.  Even in our “fair democracy” under the “free enterprise” system, we can see economic stratification becoming more and more pronounced, with the middle class becoming an upper-level poor class, which could bring on strong pressures from this expanding “poor class” to vote a socialist ticket, or for the political party that will help usher in socialism.  Looking at our new “global economy”, we see it does not foster educational and economic growth opportunities for the have-not nations either.  As a matter of fact, our new “global economy” is not really new at all.  This “new global economy” fosters a very similar mercantile system which the British used, and one which the United States had in South America, one which “mines” wealth without helping the “miners”.  Now let’s look at the poor Arab citizens (poor, even in oil-rich countries), held under dictatorial powers for centuries, and economic exploitation under the British colonial system during the past century.  They’re being sold a bill of goods, the average Muslim, that fundamental Islam will level the playing field.  Will it?  Or is it another totalitarian response to these age-old problems?  Nations and ideologies clash in wars and global wars, yes, world wars, when enough of these unmet needs of humanity build up.  How do the “poor and oppressed” vote in “labor union” type governments? It’s been said “A bullet is more effective than a vote.”  We have already witnessed how Communist type governments got swept into power.  But don’t forget, the men and women that fill their armies are those who are the “poor and oppressed”, it is they who have no choice but to vote with bullets.  Lenin’s soldiers, Mao’s soldiers, Ho Chi Min’s soldiers, Myanmar’s soldiers, Ethiopia’s soldiers, all destitute, all poor without hope under the system of governments they lived under.    Now with the British empire which allowed these southeast Asian countries to languish in abject poverty gone, some of these Communist governments, particularly the one in Myanmar, have gotten worse than the corrupt British monarchial government it replaced, as recent news has shown.  In the case of China, the average person is still much better off than he or she was under Chiang Kai-shek government.

 

Can we go on like this? 

 

Build-up of armaments and the spread of them to promote the various governmental systems that offer relief have brought the world to a level of possessing an arsenal of global-killer proportions.  So now we find that the world has reached a period of time where war itself has become  dangerously unthinkable, considering the nuclear fire-power that can be unleashed.  All this is due to the lack of a proper governmental system that can meet the needs of mankind, a government of love and outgoing concern, of justice and mercy.  Will we ever see such a government under mankind?  It’s doubtful.  We’re more than likely to see another round in the series of World Wars we’ve gone through during the 20th century.  Jesus said in Matthew 24 that if he did not return to put an end to the next World War, no flesh would be saved alive.  But the Bible promises that he will return, just in time.  As Old Testament prophecies indicate, a mere 10 percent of the present world population will be left alive when he returns, which has been the assessment of military men for years for the next World War.  Will Jesus set up the government that mankind has been desperately seeking over the past 6,000 years?  The Bible says he will.  Want to learn more about this amazing coming government, and the time of peace and universal prosperity it will usher in?  Log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm.

Recommended reading: “They Shall Not Sleep”, by Leland Stowe, available on http://www.amazon.com as a used book, published and printed in 1944.

 

[Comment about the Soviet Union (now the Russian Federation):  Oh, by the way, if it weren’t for the incredible sacrifice of the Soviet Union in soldiers and civilians, during the first two years of WWII, from 1941 through 1942, we Americans may well be speaking German today.  The Soviet Union absorbed and blunted 200 crack German divisions and brought them to a total standstill within those two bloody years, with almost no outside help whatsoever.  They lost an estimated 5 million soldiers and 10 million civilians within the first year of battle.  The battle and victory at Stalingrad was the crowning glory of this effort, with the encirclement and subsequent surrender of General Paulis’s 6th German Army (600,000 soldiers) at Stalingrad.  The recent movie “Enemy At the Gates” is a pretty accurate portrayal of Stalingrad during this period of time.  Was the “Cold War” an unnecessary waste of time, men and materials?  Why did the Soviets firmly believe they needed a “buffer zone” between themselves and Western Europe?  Who was the Premier in power right after Stalin during the period of the 1950’s?  Answer:  Nikita Khrushchev.  He was in Stalingrad during that key battle, and is portrayed in that movie mentioned above.  Did we give Stalin the excuse he needed when he said to the Soviet people that the West couldn’t be trusted?  Every man, woman and child, elderly to young children were all asking the same pitiful question of any Western journalist that they met, “When will you start a second front?”  We delayed until mid 1944.  They were asking that question relentlessly from 1941 onward.  So when Uncle Joe said the West couldn’t be trusted, because we had delayed our 2nd front invasion of Europe, they all knew to the man, woman and child of them, that he was speaking the truth.  He turned that truth right back at them as the reason they couldn’t trust the West and needed a buffer zone (the best propaganda has a lot of truth in it).  The Russians, as a people, are terribly security conscious, after having been deeply invaded, all the way to Moscow, in two consecutive World Wars.  Our foreign policy makers and State Department has consistently failed to understand the Russian people. Yes, their governments have stunk at times, and oppressed them as much as others.  But understand where the Russian people are coming from, and why they practically voted a dictatorship back in under Vladimir Putin, and again with his choice of Medvedev.  They were democratically elected more than we’re willing to admit (unless you properly understand the Russian people).  Just some food for thought.  As much as I love the Georgian people, and all the people of the differing Republics that were under the Soviet sphere---should we be meddling in Russia’s backyard?  I don’t think so.  We have enough problems right within our own borders. Boy I love history.  But a really accurate study of it will at times put the egg back in our own faces.  Oh, about Nikita Khrushchev, he tried to institute a lot of the changes Gorbechov finally did institute, but he was too early, and pro-Stalinists within Politburo and KGB ended up taking him out of power.  The Russians want freedom as much as the next guy, but not at the expense of security.  They are a warm-hearted people at the individual level, but are very tough when threatened by the outside, or when they perceive a threat from the outside.] 

 

Quotes

 

“History knows no greater display of courage than that shown by the people of Soviet Russia…”  Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War [World War II]

 

“We and our allies owe and acknowledge an everlasting debt of gratitude to the armies and people of the Soviet Union.”  Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy [World War II]

 

“The gallantry and aggressive fighting spirit of the Russian soldiers command the American Army’s admiration.”  George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army [World War II]

 

“I join…in admiration for the Soviet Union’s heroic and historic defense.”  Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet [World War II]

 

“…the scale and grandeur of the (Russian) effort mark it as the greatest military achievement in all history.”  General Douglas Macarthur, Commander in Chief, Southwest Pacific Area  [World War II]

 

How soon we forget, or sweep history under the rug.  I saw these quotes while watching an old Russian film about the Battle of Stalingrad, with an American narrator, because it was all in Russian.  The film itself was a real version of Enemy At The Gates, except that it featured thousands more heroes than merely Vassily Zaitzev, and was about two hours long.

 

 

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