segunda-feira, 13 de novembro de 2006

A mãe de todas as guerras

A propósito do dia do armistício na guerra que destruiu o que poderíamos denominar de período do liberalismo clássico (nasce como reacção ao absolutismo monárquico e acaba com o nascimento do absolutismo totalitário republicano e o advento da estado-social-democrata) e um monumento dramático aos males que o idealismo pode causar - não é por acaso que Wilson é uma referência do neo-conservadorismo.

Blame Wilson

(...) When Wilson, who had already invaded Mexico, Nicaragua, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, finally got Congress to declare war against the Central Powers on April 8, 1917, based on the ridiculous Zimmerman Telegram, the renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans, and trumped up charges of atrocities against the Belgians, he didn't just get more than 100,000 Americans killed, he solidified the last century's turn toward warfare and totalitarianism that eventually killed over two hundred million people. So says Jim Powell, author of Wilson's War: How Woodrow Wilson's Great Blunder led to Hitler, Lenin, Stalin and World War II. (...)

Powell makes a compelling argument that by the time the U.S. got involved, World War I was a stalemate. Peace was sure to break out soon. The soldiers on all sides were sick, freezing, and in various states of mutiny.

The Russians in particular had been devastated, many of their soldiers were without weapons, and their luck on the battlefield was running out. (...)

Primarily due to his refusal to withdraw from the war, Nicholas II was deposed in a popular uprising on March 15, 1917. As soon as the U.S. Congress declared war less than a month later, Wilson began applying diplomatic pressure and paid the Russians $325 million to continue the fight. An Anglophile to the core, Wilson didn't care about the fate of the Russians. His concern was in keeping German forces split along two fronts. The payoff worked: Russia's provisional prime minister Aleksandr Kerensky kept the Russians involved in the war.

Finally, on their fourth try, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and his sidekick Leon Trotsky seized power. As Powell says in the book,

"If Russia's Provisional Government had quit the war and negotiated peace with Germany in early 1917, we might never had heard of Lenin. (...)"

Wilson's intervention led to the creation of the Soviet Union(...) Without the help of conscripted American soldiers it is much more likely that the Allies would have negotiated sooner and demanded less vengeful terms. And vengeful terms they were: Clause 231 and 232 of the Treaty of Versailles forced the Germans to accept blame for the entire war, and to "make compensation for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allied and Associated Powers" (...) This, as all school children presumably know, caused the German Government to turn on the printing presses, leading to terrible hyperinflation and the complete destruction of the German economy.

One wish of Wilson's was granted: he had demanded that the German Kaiser resign. He would only accept surrender from a "democratic government," presumably meaning one like his. Due to this decision, the German democrats who had opposed the war were discredited for being those responsible for signing the terrible treaty. The opposition took all the heat, rather than the people who got the country into the war in the first place.(...)

The series of maneuvers Hitler used to seize power were difficult enough as it was. Without the destruction of the German economy by the demands of massive reparations and the discrediting of the moderate factions, Adolph Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers' Party would never have been able to seize power. Hitler's entire propaganda program was based on the idea of punishing the "traitors of 1918" (those who signed the Versailles treaty), and restoring dignity to a country so humiliated by the aftermath of the first world war. Wilson enabled the rise of Nazi Germany and its bloody fruition, World War II – 50 million individuals killed(...)

Wilson's blunder also paved the way for our current conflicts in the Middle East. With the overwhelming victory of the Allies, made possible by US involvement, the British Empire expanded by over a million square miles. The French were able to greatly expand their territories as well. The current nation-states of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and what was then called Palestine were drawn on a paper napkin by Winston Churchill with no regard for local populations at all. On top of all this, Lord Grey's successor, British foreign secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour, issued his famous "declaration," in the form of a letter to Lord Lionel Rothschild declaring the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people..." This has been, and will continue to be, a cause of major problems for the West, and the United States in particular, to say nothing of the people who live there.(...)"

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