Australia won the wars, but Australians lost

Blinded by government propaganda, most people continue to think of the World Wars as a struggle between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. On one side were the Western nations, and on the other side were the totalitarian regimes of continental Europe.

This naive view leaves out several inconvenient facts. It ignores, for example, the deliberate targeting of civilians by Allied forces in the bombing campaign against Dresden, as well as the completely unnecessary annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by nuclear bomb. Left out also is the provocation of Japan by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – provocation that historians have shown led to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

But most thoroughly whitewashed from the annals of collective memory have been the domestic impacts of the wars.

In Australia, a tremendous increase in the size and scope of federal government occurred during the conflict period. The wartime socialization of the economy left fiscal, institutional and ideological legacies that allowed for the rise of Big Government throughout the remainder of the century. For example, the High Court discarded the original intent of the Constitution and greatly expanded the Commonwealth’s power vis-à-vis the states. Also, the World Wars were an opportunity for demagogues to play up nationalist sentiment; appeals to the flag were crucial in implementing a program of economic fascism and undermining free-markets.

Eventually, the Australian government “won”. But the price paid was steep: Australians had lost the rule of law and the free-market.

42 thoughts on “Australia won the wars, but Australians lost

  1. Umm, yeah, but this happened all over the world. Passports, ID cards, conscription, taxes.. in a war people tend to look to a leader and in the 1930s governments around the world took that role rather than the strongest man of the tribe.

  2. There is no reason why we can’t win a war and have to inflict ourselves with all manner of ID cards etc.

    If the Government is worried about terrorists, kill them and leave me the hell alone!

  3. I utterly, utterly dispute that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unnecessary.

    Look at the death toll from the Ryukyu Islands campaign. An invasion of Japan would have been much more bloody than use of nuclear power, starvation of the population through a Naval blockade would have brought a fate similar to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to millions. Now realise that the IJA High Command almost rebelled against the Emperor after Nagasaki. They still didn’t want to surrender, the Navy and Emperor had to talk some sense into them. The Navy and Emperor did not want to surrender after Hiroshima.

    This is all in the historic record.

    Japan needed to accept unconditional surrender. Anything less and they would have rebuilt their infrastructure for a prolonged war.

    Japan were provoked! They were provoked because they believed they had a right to oil to further expand their empire through aggressive war.

    Roosevelt did nothing wrong. The leaders of the Japanese regime by then were war criminals, murderers, conquerers and genoicidists. They were fair game for assassination etc.

  4. “War and the rise of the State” is a book written by an American, and it details how governments increase their control over the economy in times of war, and don’t let them go when peace comes. It fits in well with this argument. However, being neutral doesn’t mean that others will automatically respect your status. Napoleon invaded switzerland. and Hitler would have done if they had ever tried to oppose him.
    What we need is something to improve the toothless UN, an Allied Neutrals, who train their citizens’ militias together, whilst not uniting.

  5. What we need is sensible Jeffersonian diplomacy and military strategy.

    We will not get involved in your shit, but we will whack reprobates as we please. Otherwise, we’ll trade with you and be friendly.

  6. Left out also is the provocation of Japan by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – provocation that historians have shown led to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Just think; had Japan been a western democracy, the anti war crowd would be calling their aggression, “A war for oil,” instead of blaming the Americans.

  7. And even if you do need to fight, you should adopt nonstandard tactics. With Japan, we should have kidnapped the Imperial Family, and blackmailed the country into surrendering, if they ever wanted the Family back again.
    With Hitler, we should have put a price, in gold, on his head, and lesser amounts for other nazi leaders.

  8. This is why I say leaders of aggressive nations and terrorists are fair game. We ought to minimise collateral damage and decapitate.

    Nuke – your Germany plan would have worked if it could have kept on rolling until something gave but good luck getting the Emperor, and the IJA would have just installed a new Shogun.

    Assassinating Hitler would have seen new contenders up for the prize, you’d have to knock these guys off as well until the military had enough and were in open rebellion.

  9. I think Hitler kept them from killing each other. If someone had done him in, they might have torn themselves apart in recriminations! All to the good!
    As for Japan, the Imperial Family was considered Divine, literally! If we threatened to kill them all, and did kill some from the Emperor onwards, they would have surrendered. They only gave up when no-one could guarantee that the Imperial Family was absolutely safe from the dreaded Atomic bomb!

  10. Yes quite possibly. Churchill erred in not favouring his assassination – the Nazis became a cult of personality. Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.

    I dunno about Japan. Imagine how they could have spun it or hid it from the public.

  11. Fleeced. I’ll make it multi-choice. But the key was that the Japanese could have been used to keep communism out of ASIA for a generation. Thats a big loss to the human race that she wasn’t defacto recruited for that role. Thats hindsight but the general principles of diplomacy and statecraft are not.

    How ought the West have dealt with Japan?

    (b) Not go to war with Japan, and make sure diplomacy was designed, to stay at peace with her.

    (c) Voice concerns about human rights and give low-key aid to anti-Japanese resistance.

    (d) reinforce forward positions (like Singapore and Hawaii) making them unassailable to the Japanese.

    (e) rearm to make a Japanese attack implausible.

    (f) Make it known to Japan that taking territory off Stalin would not be viewed by the West as an hostile act. But that taking Singapore or anything South of that would.

    (g) b through f

  12. Graeme, (b) and (d) were incompatible. They wanted Singapore no matter what, and from their they wanted oil – either buy it or take it by force if not for sale.

  13. I utterly, utterly dispute that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unnecessary.

    Harry Truman, as some readers may recall, was the American president (and war criminal) who authorized the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now imagine if, instead of using the impersonal method of a bomb, Truman had authorized death squads to go and shoot every man, woman and child in those two Japanese cities. How is dropping a nuclear bomb any different from using death squads? Why is one means of mass murder acceptable while the other would no doubt lead to howls of protest among the public?

  14. “Graeme, (b) and (d) were incompatible.”

    No Mark. Don’t talk rubbish alright? You’ve ruined many a thread with your nonsensical jibber.

    Here is (b) and (d) again.

    (b) Not go to war with Japan, and make sure diplomacy was designed, to stay at peace with her.

    (d) reinforce forward positions (like Singapore and Hawaii) making them unassailable to the Japanese.

    Its just silly to say that these two were incompatible when FDR and various communists in his employ were provoking Japan and backing her against the wall.

    Don’t tell ignorant lies and think before you type.

  15. Sukrit,

    This makes very little sense. How would they do that with an undefeated home guard and Army of Manchuko?

    Please tell me how an invasion or blockade would have been less lethal and more humane than dropping the nukes.

    Anything less than unconditional surrender would have been unacceptable.

  16. (d) reinforce forward positions (like Singapore and Hawaii) making them unassailable to the Japanese.

    A little difficult for the Yanks to do without declaring war, it was after all a British territory.

  17. Let’s say the U.S. hadn’t yet developed the atomic bomb, so Truman sent in the U.S. Army with machine guns to shoot all of the civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Would that have been okay?

    How about if the U.S. Army had rounded up all of the citizens in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and marched them into gas chambers. Would that have been okay?

  18. They are very good questions. You cannot, however you squirm, avoid the hard reality that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was calculated mass murder and terrorism. You are yet to admit this truth, even though you implicitly accept it with all your “the ends justify the means” rhetoric.

  19. ??? Good questions?

    How were the Americans going to waltz in and do that with three million undefeated IJA soldiers in Manchuria?

    This is why they are stupid, irrelevant questions.

    “bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was calculated mass murder and terrorism”

    That’s bullshit.

    The ends do justify the means. The Axis needed to be beaten into submission (unconditional surrender). Now this is where you squirm.

    The nukes where the least bloody of the alternatives. If you can say how an invasion or blockade would have been less so, please explain. Don’t bother trying to sell the idea of anything short of unconditional surrender.

  20. “How were the Americans going to waltz in and do that with three million undefeated IJA soldiers in Manchuria?”

    Are you seriously questioning the practicalities of a question designed to illuminate moral reasoning?

    “The ends do justify the means.”

    Then hand in your libertarian badge, and apply for membership in your local fascist club.

  21. They are not good questions at all because if the Americans were able to militarily do what is suggested and basically take over whole Japanese cities there would have probably been no need for deploying the nuclear option in the first place.

    Hence ‘necessary evil’ – a word that utopians don’t understand

  22. Are you seriously questioning the practicalities of a question designed to illuminate moral reasoning?

    Yes, you dunce, since it renders completely moot the issue of necessity of using the bomb, see my earlier comment. We might as well ask ‘if scarcity didn’t exist would you still support property rights?’

  23. Yes, dropping the nuclear bombs may have been necessary to save lives, because it pushed the Japanese into surrendering more quickly. But save the lives of whom? Government soldiers, who were spared some of the difficulties of launching a ground invasion into Japan.

    However, I say let soldiers die; they knew exactly what they signed up for. Just leave civilians alone.

  24. The Axis needed to be beaten into submission (unconditional surrender).

    Sure, bomb government facilities and kill government soldiers. I have no problem with that. Kill them with gusto! But don’t kill civilians, who are considered non-combatants and often neutral.

  25. Sukrit, I’m sorry to say this but you are completely ignorant of history.

    The US had conscription in World War II. The Japanese armed their civilian population who were also conscripted as a reserve army.

    MORE Japanese soldiers and civilians would have died in an invasion. The nuclear weapons saved lives of Americans and Japanese service personnel and civilians.

    “But don’t kill civilians, who are considered non-combatants and often neutral.”

    Not possible in WWII against Japan. The ones who could not fight (infants and the invalid) were killed in the nuclear bombings but many more of them were saved by not invading.

    You need to look at the data more. The Okinawan campaign would have been a prelude to industrialised slaughter. The bombings saved the lives of people from every category of combatant and non combatant.

  26. Before you accuse me of not knowing much history, I suggest you first inquire into the difference between a civilian and a combatant.

    Conscription means nothing. If there was conscription today, I would rather go to jail than fight for the government. Those who choose to fight instead of choosing jail are combatants.

    A nuclear bomb doesn’t distinguish between combatant and civilian. An invasion would have made some discrimination possible, and is therefore the preferable alternative.

  27. Before you accuse me of not knowing much history, I suggest you first inquire into the difference between a civilian and a combatant.

    In the context of conscription, it’s simply a uniform. It’s certainly not a free choice, as you seem to be arguing.

  28. The only point of that article is that they maybe should have chose a better target. Everything else is in la la land.

    I wonder if Sukrit knows the IJA did not want to surrender after the bombing of Nagasaki and nearly rebelled against the Emperor?

  29. I suggested an alternative way to end the war- kidnap the entire Japanese Imperial Family! since they were regarded as literally divine, the Japs would have done anything to get them back unharmed. Indeed, one of the arguments that were used to make surrender palatteable was that no-one could guarantee that an A-bomb would not hit the Imperial family, so they surrendered.

  30. “A little difficult for the Yanks to do without declaring war, it was after all a British territory.”

    Churchill was busy redirecting resources to Stalin, and had just invaded neutral Iran to do so. Yes with American materiel help they ought to have shored up Singapore. And Churchill having his ass to the wall would have gone along with such a scheme had the Americans pushed it. But the American zeitgeist was pretty much skewed in favor of Stalin.

    You see forward bases, if they are unassailable can save lives on both sides and save you even having to fight.

    I try to point this out to libertarians but they want the defense to start at their own border. That would be nice. And I say that the US only really needs about 20 bases (they have I think more than 700)

    But its a disaster to fight on your own territory. So if one can get away with it, excellent forward defense can be a way to ensure peace, but with the Americans its morphed to foreign aid, interventionism, and general busy-body behavior.

  31. “Yes, dropping the nuclear bombs may have been necessary to save lives, because it pushed the Japanese into surrendering more quickly. But save the lives of whom? Government soldiers, who were spared some of the difficulties of launching a ground invasion into Japan.

    However, I say let soldiers die; they knew exactly what they signed up for. Just leave civilians alone.”

    Bad argument Sukrit. Our job is to send our soldiers home to MOMMA. Even if they want to stay and fight. It takes an whole family to put a soldier in the field. The families tend to be taxpayers, thats who we have to be loyal too. We take a paternalistic attitude to our soldiers. And so we need to bring them home now from Afghanistan, though many of them want to stay and fight.

    I agree that by definition Truman is a war criminal. But he’s one of the least blameworthy of all of them.

    He came in when the mess was already created. He was out of the loop and early on when briefed just after the launch of Barborossa, he said in a meeting ….. We ought to aid whoever is weaker …. until they wear themselves down, or words to that effect.

    That was the obvious thing to do.

    And we cannot be pacifists Sukrit. Thats a losing battle. We have to be out there taking care of business. But if we keep our loyalty to the families of the soldiers in mind we will make better decisions.

    And I’m not a Catholic. But they have a truly excellent theoretical history of what constitutes JUST WAR. We ought to go with that. We wouldn’t have screwed up so bad had we gone with JUST WAR.

    My position is you train your armed forces with a bias towards them being SHOCK TROOPS.

    But in practice they have to work mostly in logistics, helping put-upon people who are already fighting.

    Since I ask you? Is it JUST…….. to have to fight and also have to foot the bill for the fighting? I say nay. If you are already put-upon by Hitler and Stalin I say we will kit you out with the gear and the resources to hold your ground, and we can give safe haven to your women and kids while you are reclaiming your turf.

    We cannot cut costs when it comes to doing the right thing. If we do our best to help those that are fighting against enslavement, then its our boys who won’t have to pay the blood-tax.

  32. Pingback: Geo-strategy And Moral Theory « A Better World: Graeme Bird For High Office

  33. This article is another reason I am not a libertarian. Firstly I wouldn’t equivocate WWI and WWII.
    Secondly and more importantly, war is entirely moral in self defense. Once a person or nation makes it clear that they operate by physical force (ie: they choose not to behave as humans but more like dogs), then you are entirely justified in stopping them with physical force, in fact it’s the only way to protect your rights. From a bully in the playground, to Imperialist Japan, force is necessary. Overwhelming force is historically the quickest, most effective and efficient. Japan is a perfect example.

    It may be that emergency war time laws accelerated the decline of freedom, but this doesn’t imply that WWI and WWII are themselves the primary causes of this loss of freedom. It’s important to identify and tackle the root causes of the problem, ie: ideology. Philosophy is the prime mover.

  34. “This article is another reason I am not a libertarian. Firstly I wouldn’t equivocate WWI and WWII.”

    Come off it fella. These were disastrous events. And the scale of the disasters was as much to do with the policies of the victorious belligerents as it was of any other factor.

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