With tensions on the rise between nations, it is tempting to reflect on the immediate aftermath of WWII for clues
as to justification for long-standing distrust of governments. Once the US opted out of the League of Nations, an intense
isolationism built until America unleashed its forces against Japan, Germany and Italy. Despite the eventual success
of the "Get Germany First" campaign, a deep division arose about how to finish off Japan, as evidenced by complexities
at Potsdam and the ultimate use of the the atomic bomb against a nation that many scholars and historians argue was defeated.
Stanford Professor Barton Bernstein and Robert Messer are two such scholars who remind us that Japan had effectively surrendered
with the wish of keeping the Emperor, something even American diplomats thought would help keep the Japanese people more amenable
to American re-organization amidst occupation. However, despite this one condition, two cities were destroyed, yet within
days this same single condition was approved. Ironically, Emperor Hirohito lived another 44 years, dying in 1989.
Truman's own hesitance is documented in several places but meeting minutes show clearly that the expected invasion loss was
well below estimates inflated after the war.
A good question to ask, is, "Was this destruction necessary?"
: Can the context of the intense anti-Japanese feelnng be placed in a 2015 perspective to properly address this question?"
post-war world began after August, 1945. What is the state if the Cold War in 2015? Are fears of a nuclear North
Korea and Iran igniting fears, similar to the Cold War fears, that aliances may form which test the U.S. and NATO's
resolve as to how to defend huge populations and at what cost?
the least recognized, yet important figure of the 20th Century is James Byrnes of South Carolina. Here is a tantalizingly
short clip taken from a newsreel shortly after America, and only America, had access to the Bomb and why Russia shouldn't
worry about that. He occupies a rare place in history because during his career, Byrnes served as a Congresssman from
1911-1925, a Senator from 1931-1941, a Justice of the Supreme Court from 1941-1942, and Secretary of State from 1945-1947.
He also served as Governor from 1951-1955 and is the only person in American history to serve in all three branches of government:
a Congressman, Senator, Justice, and Secretary of State. Byrnes thought he would be Roosevelt's choice to be vice president
in 1944 and when Truman was chosen, then asked him to serve as the State Department, it was a blow to a proud man, and an
irony because he did not really view Truman as a formal superior. He knew more about the bomb than Truman, having been
instrumental in the Targeting Selection Committee work, for example.
In the above scene from the film Manchurian Candidate (1962), watch Frank Sinatra try and assist a member
of the cabinet as he appears before a committee talking about lowering defense spending. Suddenly, out of the crowd,
an opportunistic politician makes an assertion related to the fear of Communism present during this period.
Watch attorney Joseph Welch of the law firm Hale & Doerr simply skewer Senator Joseph McCarthy with his memorable line
putting Senator McCarthy in his proper place among the likes of other well-known political bullies.
Here is a remarkably candid clip of a candidate for president speaking about religion openly in 1960.
The candidate, John Kennedy, was finding himself on the defensive for being Catholic, But, being familiar with the Constitution,
Article VI, and the influence of Jefferson's Doctrine of Religious Freedom, Kennedy's remarks are a sharp reminder of the
importance of recognizing formal Separation of Church and State in the Constitution of the United States and as applied to
the lives of everyday Americans. It makes one wonder whether some candidates for president in 2012 would actually be
able to take the oath of office to preserve and defend a Constititution that contains Article VI.
Former President Harry Truman broke with tradition and was highly critical of candidate John Kennedy's handlers,
to the point that, in this speech, he refused to attend the 1960 convention and went further to accuse young Kennedy
of inexperience. Here's Truman speech and Kennedy's response.
AND NOW TO THE 2012 CAMPAIGN
Here is a remarkably different view of the Constitution
and, potentially, an utterance that may disqualify Rick Santorum from taking the Oath of Office as he publicly declares that
he cannot support the Constitution's provisions to keep Church and State separate. Does this nullify his ability to
assume the duties to "preserve, protect, and defend" the Constitution?