Meet Your Enemy
December 7, 2000
now been 59 years since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and
the debate continues: Did Franklin Roosevelt know of the attack in advance
and deliberately refrain from informing the American commanders in
The controversy has been renewed by
Robert B. Stinnetts recent book, Day of Deceit, which
argues that Roosevelt did know and did withhold the information for the
purpose of allowing the United States to be drawn into the war the great
majority of Americans passionately wanted to stay out of. The interesting
thing is that Stinnett thinks Roosevelt was justified in doing this, on
grounds that only the United States could prevent a German victory in the
war and had a duty to do so.
Critics retort that Stinnett
hasnt fully proved his case. Roosevelt did try to provoke the
Germans and Japanese into some military strike that would inflame
American opinion and lead to war, they agree, but he didnt
necessarily know that Pearl Harbor would be the site of the crucial
incident. Besides, he couldnt have known that Adolf Hitler would be
foolish enough to declare war on the United States a few days later,
thereby giving Roosevelt license to enter the war in Europe.
What nobody now disputes is that
Roosevelt lied to the American public for two years when he continually
insisted that he was trying to keep America out of the war. He was
secretly scheming with Winston Churchill for precisely the opposite
purpose, and he told his advisor Harry Hopkins that he could be impeached
if the extent of his illegal aid to the British were discovered. Roosevelt
knew very well what he was doing.
Apart from being diabolically
treacherous, keeping the people in the dark about the fateful decision to
go to war is the antithesis of everything democracy is supposed to be. Like
most demagogues, Roosevelt flattered the people and pandered to them
while holding them in profound contempt. Those who defend him are forced
to defend lies that are no longer deniable.
The alleged lesson of Pearl
Harbor is that we must always be ready for war. But the real
lesson is broader: your own government is your natural enemy. Those in
power cant be trusted. They will take your money, your freedom,
and if necessary your life.
Thats why we have constitutional safeguards, dividing
power to prevent the sort of one-man rule Roosevelt, like Hitler, Stalin,
and so many others, aspired to. One of the evils of monarchy, as opposed to
the republican form of government envisioned by the Framers of the U.S.
Constitution, was that a king could, by his own arbitrary will, plunge his
nation into war. Roosevelt saw the Constitution purely as an obstacle to
But the wars of the old kings were
minor skirmishes compared with the total wars waged by modern rulers
who dont call themselves kings. Men like Stalin and Roosevelt
didnt wear jeweled crowns and ermine robes; they styled
themselves men of the people. But they were far deadlier
than any George III or Ivan the Terrible.
Over two centuries our rulers have
learned to outflank, ignore, or destroy many of the limits on their power.
They pose a greater threat to us than the foreign countries and
terrorists they warn us against and claim to protect us
from. Its not a hypothetical threat, either: by expanding the taxing
power and debasing money, they have made government a system of
The most successful terrorist
organizations on earth are government tax agencies, which are called
revenue services. When the government gives things names,
you should keep your sense of irony handy. These services
serve only the state; they control the rest of us by force and fear.
There are many evil governments
around the world, but they are chiefly the enemies of their own subjects.
By the same token, our own enemies are not in Baghdad or Tehran or
Peking, but in Washington. That is where the immediate peril to our
freedom resides. Saddam Hussein may be a beast, but you arent
forced to work for him five months of every year.
Fifty-nine years ago the real enemy of
the American people was not Hitler or Hirohito. It was the man they had
elected to a third term as their president.
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