THE SOLDIER SPEAKS: SHOULD THE U.S. GET MIXED UP WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD AFTER THE WAR?

Opinions From GIs From All Over the WorldWWII GIs around the world

“Isolationist Way Failed” – Sgt. James Keeley, South Pacific

I haven’t met a man yet who plans to stay in the Pacific after the war is over; even the men who’ve married New Zealand and Australian girls plan to bring them back to the States. We want to get home—and quick. (Although there’s a lot of talk about rotation, we haven’t seen any yet—except for the Air Forces.)

But just going home isn’t enough. My dad fought in the last war and got a piece of shrapnel in his leg at Chateau-Thierry. He came back from France convinced that the U.S. had fought its last war. So did most of the rest of us. Obviously they were wrong, and a lot of their sons are wondering why.



Some of us think that the “mind-our-own-business-and-to-hell-with-everybody-else” boys have had their chance. We minded our own business when they formed the League of Nations at Versailles: we closed our eyes when the Japanese marched into Manchuria; we beat our chests for “Neutrality” when Mussolini sent his thugs to Ethiopia; we shouted “Propaganda” when anyone suggested that it was Hitler and Mussolini who were directing the Spanish War, and we whistled “Yankee Doodle” when Austria fell and Czechoslovakia was carved up for Adolf’s breakfast. And right up to Pearl Harbor we were trying to pretend what the Japanese did to the Chinese was none of our affair; they’d never do it to us if we just kept them supplied with scrap iron and oil.

Okay. So we tried the isolationist way, and it failed. It failed so bad several million of us are scattered from hell to breakfast cleaning up a mess that almost everybody now agrees is definitely our business. It might have been easier if we’d started sooner, at Manchuria for instance. Maybe just the Marines and the Regular Army could have stopped the Japanese there. Maybe if the British, the Russians, the Chinese and the U.S. had said “no” then and backed it up with the willingness to fight, the Japanese would have thrown their guns away once and for all.

Maybe getting together with the rest of the world in a strong, determined organization won’t work. Maybe we’ll still have World War III. Maybe not.

Down here a lot of us want to give the new way a chance.



“A Hard-Headed America” – Sgt. Newton H. Fulbright, Italy

All the GIs I know are militantly rebellious against practically all-they have read and heard about Europe, Asia or Africa.

Most of the men who have been with us for some time have rubbed hard against realities both here and in Africa. Most of all they have been shocked by the dirt, the lack of cleanliness in both places, by the ignorance of the people, and by the yawning difference between those who rule and the ruled.

Of one thing I am confident. The returned GI will know the facts. There is going to be a great deal of hard-headedness and less sentiment in the future American foreign attitude.

These beliefs have grown among the GIs here:

Americans are getting too little for the money they are spending so gratuitously.

Americans are naively supposed that the utterances of a few “lordly anointed” represent the considered views of an interested people.

Americans have been sentimental and foolishly tearful over the “downtrodden” and have not given credit to the spirit and spunk that have enabled other people to do something for themselves.

And Americans are never further from the truth than when they suppose that a few million dollars is going to give spunk and spirit to people who are perfectly content to go living as they have for the past 6,000 years.

I think that the GI has a feeling that there is work at home for everybody. The American taxpayer has so much at home to spend his money for. Every community should have its own community hospital. There is no conceivable reason why every American youth shouldn’t have a college education. And money which has been spent in the past, charitable or otherwise, for hospitals and schools in the jungles of Africa and in the back reaches of India would have done a great deal more good if wisely spent at home.

The average GI abroad has no desire to intrude in the strict internal affairs of another country; he is not particularly hostile, but he does believe with blazing intensity that the American dollar should be rescued as a pawn in the international game of greed, graft and grab. He declares for a new kind of independence. The theory that you can buy friendship, respect or peace will vanish forever with the return of the GI to the home community.



“Cooperation Will Win” – Sgt. Dave Golding, North Africa

The U.S. should assume enough responsibility to prevent another World War. To be more specific, our participation should be in keeping with our influence and prestige as a democratic nation. The Moscow Declaration and both the Cairo and Teheran Conferences have established the framework for continued collaboration by the U.S. during the post-war period. If such Allied cooperation can win the war, then it should be able to win the peace that will follow.

If we look at the bitter and sordid pages of history of the past two decades, we can well realize to what extent our withdrawal to the side lines weakened the will of the smaller nations to resist the growing demands of the aggressor nations. Our spectator approach to international affairs certainly did not bring us the splendid isolation envisioned by some of our ostrich-minded public figures.

We are too much a part of the family of nations in Europe and Asia to forsake them for a monogamous existence among the clover of isolationism. Our national economy and security are bound up with the economy and security of other nations. Consequently our national interest can be best served if we share the responsibility of bringing peace and prosperity to the countries around the world.

Too long we have deluded ourselves that like King Canute we could sweep away the tides of aggression by assuming that isolation had given us an exalted power of omniscience. With amused and muddled tolerance we watched the tides of Fascism spread from Manchuria to Ethiopia, from Spain to Czechoslovakia until it burst over the Continent, deluging millions of free peoples in a blood bath. After all this, it took a Pearl Harbor to galvanize our nation into action.

Our plight resulted from our failure to recognize our responsibility as a great and democratic world power. The war and our stake in the post-war world have made it clear that we can no longer shirk that responsibility.



“A Nationalist U.S.” – By Pfc. Harold Wagoner, China-Burma-India

Actually, I don’t believe an international organization will work, and, frankly, I see no indication that isolationism will either.

Take the internationalists. Some of them talk about “freedom for everybody”—so long as they’re not asked to include people of India, the Netherlands East Indies, Puerto Rico, and Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. They declare themselves for “equality” until somebody insists that they sit in the same Pullman with a Negro or abolish the poll tax. They want to give milk to the Hottentots but are opposed to job security for Americans.

Take the isolationists. Quite a number of them are so busy raising hell with Roosevelt that they never get around to damning Adolf Hitler. They denounce democracy but demand all its protections when they are accused of sedition. They are opposed to fighting Germany but seem to want a battle with Russia and/or Great Britain at the drop of a lend-lease bullet.

I say a plague on both their houses.

The U.S. should be nationalist, should have  huge peacetime Army and Navy, enough to take on the world, should cooperate with other countries when that is possible but should, above all, always expect a great war every 20 years or so.



For Related Articles See:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Past and Present WWII History Posts