Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Today -100: December 5, 1917: This is a war of high principle, debased by no selfish ambition of conquest or spoliation


Woodrow Wilson, in his State of the Union address (as they didn’t call it yet) to the new session of Congress, asks it to declare war on the Austria-Hungarian Empire but not Bulgaria or Turkey. He says his goal is not to “impair or rearrange” the Empire. Oh, it so is. He portrays the populations of Austria, Turkey and the Balkans as in need, just as much as those of Belgium and northern France, of liberation from the “impudent and alien dominion of the Prussian military and commercial autocracy”.

Impudent and alien dominions are the worst kind.

So really, declaring war on Austria is for the benefit of Austria, which these days is “simply the vassal of the German Government.” This great act of charity extends even to Germans: “We are in fact fighting for their emancipation from fear, along with our own”. But do we ever get a thank you? no, we do not.

Wilson responds to critics of the war: “I hear the criticism and the clamor of the noisily thoughtless and troublesome. I also see men here and there fling themselves in impotent disloyalty against the calm, indomitable power of the nation. I hear men debate peace who understand neither its nature nor the way in which we may attain it, with uplifted eyes and unbroken spirits. But I know that none of these speaks for the nation. They do not touch the heart of anything. They may safely be left to strut about their uneasy hour and be forgotten.”

Gen. Nikolay Dukhonin, who refused to give up his self-designated title of Supreme Commander of the Russian military, is removed from office with extreme prejudice by “infuriated members of the Bolsheviki.”

Hey, Apocalypse Now was nearly 40 years ago, do people still understand “extreme prejudice” references?

Siberia and Ukraine have declared themselves independent republics.

Secretary of War Newton Baker denies that there is any discrimination against negroes in the (segregated) army and says any complainants are suffering from “overworked hysteria.”


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