Tag Archives: history

“Fake News” Is Nothing New. The “Surprise” Attack on Pearl Harbor May Be Fake News.

There has been a lot of media talk recently about fake news.  But this is nothing new.  In fact, fake news has been around for as long as there has been news.

Take the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941, for example.  Conventional wisdom has it that this was a surprise attack by Imperial Japan on the U.S. Pacific fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor.  But a veritable cottage industry of second guessers has sprung up over the years, books and articles galore, making the argument that President Franklin Roosevelt not only knew about the coming attack ahead of time but did nothing to prevent it so as to form a basis for America to get into World War II.  Roosevelt did this, so the argument goes, to help revive a struggling American economy by putting it on a war footing,  to come to the aid of  America’s allies overseas, notably Great Britain, as well as to protect its own interests worldwide.

Needless to say, the U.S. was swept by anger and outrage over the attack, the prevailing question in effect being, “How could a great country like the United States  have been caught so flat footed?”   Several investigations were conducted into the causes of the lack of U.S. preparedness,  probably the best known being the investigation by a ten-member Congressional subcommittee, five Representatives and five Senators, six Democrats and four Republicans, which began in 1945 and concluded in July, 1946, with the issuance of a 41,000 page report.  The report, signed by eight of the ten subcommittee members, concluded that there had been no dereliction of duty by President Roosevelt,  various cabinet members, or certain members of the Army and Navy, but errors of judgement had been made.  The majority also stated that the Empire of Japan made the attack on its own and had not been tricked or coerced by the U.S. into making it.

However, there was a minority report signed by two Senators which criticized the majority opinion in a scathing, blistering  denunciation.   This dissenting opinion, some seventy-seven pages long, supported chapter, book, and verse, by detailed references to the record before the subcommittee, concluded that Roosevelt and other high officials in Washington were in fact at fault in not being prepared for the attack.  They were also very critical of President Harry Truman, who came into office after Roosevelt died in April, 1945.  They concluded that Truman had obstructed the investigation so that all the facts concerning U.S. preparedness, or lack thereof,  had not come to light.

To this day it appears that all of the facts about the attack have not been made public due to later restrictions on the release of certain government records having been imposed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.

Will all the facts concerning U.S. lack of preparedness ever be known?  Was the attack by the Japanese on December 7, 1941 really a surprise attack?  Did President Roosevelt have advance knowledge of it?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Is all of this managed news?  Was the “surprise” attack fake news to cover up for Roosevelt?  Who knows?  But I think the American people are entitled to know the facts, all the facts.

Incidentally, for those of you interested in reading  the majority subcommittee opinion, read my book, “Prelude to Disaster:  How Imperial Japan’s Diplomatic Treachery Led to America’s Greatest Military Disaster – Pearl Harbor.”  It is essentially based on the subcommittee report.  The book is a true account of Japanese diplomatic deception which led up to the Pearl Harbor attack and provides an inside look at the diplomatic exchanges between U.S. State Department representatives and Japanese diplomats while dark clouds of war loomed in the background.  It puts the reader in a position to be an eyewitness to history.  It is available on Amazon and eBay.

©2017 Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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The Misguided Public Media – Part 3

There is one more thought to be added to the last two blogs about having balance in the public media’s coverage of the presidential race, i.e., there must be accountability for irresponsible journalism.   What is  considered irresponsible is more likely to exist in the reader’s eye than anywhere else.  Finding any objective criteria to use  is undoubtedly out of reach.  But the lack of media scrutiny of Hillary’s career achievements, or lack thereof to be more accurate,  is startling.  That she is being given a pass by the liberal media is too obvious to merit serious discussion.   Only her “coronation” remains according to prevailing sentiment among liberals.  This is totally unacceptable, particularly where the stakes are so high as in a presidential race.

While “Freedom of the Press” must be given full rein in a democratic society, media irresponsibility is not an isolated occurrence and should not be tolerated.   The media is not perfect by any means.  One blatant example of media irresponsibility, albeit not in a political context, comes to mind, the publication on December 5, 1941, by the Chicago Tribune,  “practically in full,” of “the most highly secret paper in the possession of the U.S. Government.”   That paper contained the U.S. plans for fighting a global war if one should eventuate.   Secretary of War Frank Knox advised reporters that day that an investigation of the Tribune would be likely.  This episode is mentioned on page 300 of my new book “Prelude to Disaster: How Imperial Japan’s Diplomatic Treachery Led to America’s Greatest Military Disaster – Pearl Harbor,” available on Amazon.com in Kindle and in print.   I am not aware that any such investigation ever took place but no doubt it was considered by many and had it taken place may have been well justified.  Why the Tribune would stoop to such a tactic as revelation of the most closely guarded Government secret at a time when the possibility of war was close at hand was definitely not in the public interest.  Freedom of the press?  This was an abuse of that freedom.  Such an abuse is beyond my understanding and clearly qualifies as irresponsible journalism.

What is going on in today’s presidential race may not be as clear cut as the foregoing example but still qualifies as irresponsible journalism.  I’m talking about the media favoritism that is being accorded Hillary Clinton.  Here is a power hungry woman who brings nothing to the table.  She does not even qualify as a light- weight, she is a no-weight.  But many, far too many, in the media continue to give her a pass so far as her questioning her qualifications is concerned.  Electing a president is serious business.  It’s not a popularity contest.  It runs deeper, much deeper, than partisan politics.  We’re talking about qualifications for running the country.  Where has it been shown that Hillary has the experience to make the difficult, the very difficult decisions that a president must make?  Why doesn’t the media jump on her total and complete lack of a track record so far as success in life is concerned and give that as much coverage as it gives to Trump?  Trump is scrutinized continually.  The imbalance  is  totally unjustified.

No partisanship is intended by singling out Hillary’s lack of performance credentials.  On the Republican side, Carly Fiorina has the same basic flaw as Hillary, i.e., no track record of proven success, nothing to show she has been weighed in the balance and found able to perform.  True she was  once CEO of Hewlett-Packard but she was also fired.  Where is her track record of performance?  There is none to speak of.

The country simply cannot afford to repeat the same mistake it made with Obama, to wit, electing someone as president with no proven experience in making difficult decisions, with no proven qualifications as a leader.  It may well be the right time for a woman president, but it has to be the right woman.  That woman is not Hillary.  Hillary is dangerous for this country, not to mention the free world.   She is incompetent, inexperienced, and totally lacking in the leadership skills, judgement,  and temperament necessary for the chief executive.  She is a world-class liar to boot, and the pending FBI investigation portends possible dishonesty.  In order to strike a fair balance in media coverage of the presidential candidates, those premises all deserve to be and must be fully vetted by the media.

Copyright© 2015.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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“Prelude to Infamy” – Now on Amazon’s Kindle

“The Japanese Navy is itching for a fight with the American Navy.”  News item, ascribed to a Japanese Navy official, on or about October 24, 1941.”

To commemorate the  forthcoming 74th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, I have posted a new ebook on Amazon’s Kindle.  It describes the diplomatic exchanges between the United States and Japan in the months leading up to the attack. Here’s the complete title:  “Prelude to Infamy: How Imperial Japan’s Diplomatic Treachery Led To America’s Greatest Military Disaster – Pearl Harbor.”

This book is a true account of Japanese diplomatic deception which led to the surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Naval Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in the early morning hours of Sunday, December 7, 1941.  It provides an inside look at the virtual day to day diplomatic negotiations, including reports, conversations, communiques, and telegrams, from August to December, 1941, between officials of the U.S. Department of State and diplomats of the Japanese Empire as dark clouds of war continued to loom in the background.  Essentially based on the report of a Congressional investigation into the attack, released in July, 1946, it effectively puts the reader in  position of becoming an eyewitness to history being made as the process of searching for peace is continued.

The book  reveals in depth how the U.S. continued to negotiate for peace but at the same time sought to build up its military and naval forces to counter Japanese aggression in the Far East.  Militaristic Japan,  bent  on expanding its sphere of influence by force and violence to assure, it asserted,  its survival as an empire, had been reaching out to acquire the raw materials and other natural resources needed for its survival.  It  had invaded and subjugated large parts of China in 1937,  occupied  French Indochina in 1940, and was threatening the Dutch East Indies and other countries and areas in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Region.  Peace negotiations faltered as it continued to resist U.S. efforts to pull back its forces.

In February, 1941, unknown to the U.S. and apparently to its own diplomatic corps, the Japanese military began planning an attack on the United States.  In October, 1941, Hideki Tojo, a General in the Japanese Imperial Army and Minister of War under former Prime Minister Prince Konoye, who resigned on October 16, 1941, was appointed Prime Minister by Emperor Hirohito.  Chances for peace dimmed when Tojo, a hard liner, resisted U.S. efforts to have Japan pull its troops out of China, a key point in U.S endeavors, and took a tough stand against continued peace negotiations with the U.S.

On December 6, 1941, Japan began delivery of a 14 point reply to the latest U.S. peace proposal of November 26, 1941.  Due to its own bungling, the 14th point, breaking off talks with the U.S. was not delivered until well after the attack on Pearl Harbor had begun on December 7.  No formal declaration of war by Japan against the United States was received in Washington until 4 p.m. (EST), long after the attack had ended.

The book concludes with  two noteworthy quotes.  One is from the lyric of an old Glenn Miller tune, “You must be vigilant, you must be vigilant, American Patrol…”, and the other is  from a 1790 speech by John Philpot Curran  in Dublin, Ireland, that  “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”  These timeless words still ring true today.

For those readers who may not be aware of the diplomatic background behind the attack, this ebook should prove to be very enlightening.

Arnold G. Regardie

 

 

 

 

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Remembering President Richard Nixon – 40 Years Later

On March 1, 2012, I published a blog about President Richard Nixon. He resigned from the presidency 40 years ago, on August 9, 1974, the only president to do so. Despite the shadow of Watergate, he accomplished a lot as president. To honor his presidency, here is a reprint of my blog.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON’S EMBRACE OF “RED CHINA” – A MASTER STROKE OF FOREIGN POLICY.
The impact of relations between the U.S. and China should be examined in the context of President Richard Nixon’s legacy.

Before Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to the U.S. fades from memory, and bearing mind the occasion of President Obama’s visit to China in 2009, it is fitting to put those visits in historical perspective. Recall that it was President Richard Nixon’s historic trip to Peking in 1972, some 40 years ago, which opened the door to improved relations with “Red China,” as the Chinese mainland was then known. This trip took place after two decades of bitter hostility, isolation, and non-existent diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China. The two countries had no framework in place for dealing with each other.

Some would say there is nothing about Richard Nixon worth remembering. But if one can cast aside the disgrace of Watergate and the horrors of Vietnam, horrors he inherited from his predecessor, Lyndon B. Johnson, and focus instead on the visit to China, it stands out as a major foreign policy accomplishment, one which should have earned Nixon the Nobel Peace Prize. Whatever else the personal shortcomings of Richard Nixon were, and there were apparently many, credit should be given where credit is due. Opening up the gateway to China was a brilliant master stroke of foreign policy which revolutionized world diplomacy and world trade. It was all the more remarkable in light of Nixon’s strong anti-communist stance during his political career.

The benefits of Nixon’s decision cannot be understated. What had been a miniscule dollar amount of trade between the two countries, roughly five billion dollars in 1979, has grown to the staggering total of between four hundred billion and five hundred billion dollars today. Moreover, cultural exchanges continue apace, involving many hundreds of exchange students. Last year there were over 3 million mutual visits between the two countries. Further, China, while still harboring a communist government, embraces an emerging capitalist economy, resulting in an ever improving life style for its people. For example, China today is the number one automobile market in the world. American capitalistic icons GM and Ford are strongly entrenched there, as are McDonalds and Coca Cola.

Obama’s 2009 meeting with Chinese President Hu, and his recent meeting with Vice President Jinping is hopefully a harbinger of deepening ties between the two countries, as well as mutual cooperation on trade and other issues.

However, historical perspective notwithstanding, the fact remains that Obama received a tepid response in his efforts to gain China’s cooperation in responding to the global economic showdown. This may be due to China’s recognition that America should focus on its own problems first, or it may be that China is simply not impressed with Obama and his administration.

It is clear that Obama is an excellent politician and a gifted speech maker, but it is equally clear that he is simply a novice when it comes to government management and making major decisions. He has no experience at all in administration and governing of anyone or anything. In other words, he comes across as a lightweight president, a figurehead, who has yet to prove himself as a leader. So, China has humored him, adopting a wait and see attitude before agreeing to anything. It remains to be seen whether Obama will have any real impact on the course of world affairs or whether he will be swept into the dustbin of history.

Copyright 11/20/09, updated 2/27/12, All Rights Reserved. Arnold G. Regardie.

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A Centennial Salute To The Babe

Lost amid all of the swirling problems arising from the Middle East and the Ukraine, among others, and the many scandals engulfing Barack Obummer, er, Obama, is the fact that this year marks the 100th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s breaking into major league baseball. Babe Ruth is one of the great athletes produced by this country. His feats deserve some recognition in this centennial year.

It was 100 years ago, 1914, that The Babe, as a 19 year old, jumped from reform school into the major leagues. Enrolled at St. Mary’s School for Boys, Baltimore, Maryland, since he was about 6 years old, in and out since then but mostly in, he was signed to his first professional contract with the then minor league Baltimore Orioles. Later that year he was sold to the Boston Red Sox.

Hidden among his many batting feats is the fact that Ruth was a premier American League pitcher for many years. He won 89 games for the Red Sox from 1914 to 1919, including 23 wins one year and 24 another. He also pitched 29 consecutive scoreless World Series innings during that stretch, a record that lasted for many years.

In 1919, after recognizing Ruth’s value as a hitter, Ruth became an every day player, playing as a full time outfielder for Boston. It was a momentous year for Ruth as he hit 29 home runs, setting a new major league record. No one had ever hit that many home runs in a single season before. But the best was yet to come.

Following the 1919 season, Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees. Harry Frazee, who owned the Red Sox, was also a Broadway producer and he needed money for a new show, “No No Nanette.” The sale of his biggest star helped to ease his financial strain.

In 1920, his first year as a Yankee, Ruth hit 54 home runs, an astounding feat, and another single season home run record. Ruth thus virtually single handedly helped the world of baseball awake from its lethargy following the Black Sox scandal of 1919, as fans clamored to get a glimpse of this budding new star. And then in 1921, as if to prove the previous year was no fluke, he hit 59 home runs, yet another single season record, the third year in a row for new home run records, a feat never since duplicated, as he led the Yankees to their first American League pennant. It was the first of many to come.

The 1920s was to see Ruth continue to hammer out home runs, including 60 in 1927, a record that stood for many years. In 1925, he was joined in the Yankee lineup by first baseman Lou Gehrig, who batted fourth, right behind the Babe. Together they became an integral part of the famous “murderers row” as the lineup was to become known, a lineup that was to give headaches to many pitchers in the coming years.

Ruth retired in 1935, finishing with 714 career home runs, a record that stood until finally eclipsed by Henry Aaron many years later. He was one of the charter members of baseball’s Hall of Fame, being one of the first five players elected in 1936.

Babe Ruth was truly a giant among baseball players. No one else in the annals of baseball has been both an outstanding pitcher as well as a great hitter. Ruth did a lot for the game of baseball. His accomplishments should be remembered as long as the game is played.

Copyright 2014. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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Chris Christie Tips the Scale (No Pun Intended) In His Favor

Republican Governor Chris Christie’s recent overwhelming victory as Governor in New Jersey, one of the bluest of blue states, is a truly welcome event to behold. In trouncing his democratic challenger Barbara Buono by some thirty-odd points, Christie proved that he is a force to be reckoned with in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes.

With apologies for any unintended reference to Christie’s weight as an issue (it shouldn’t be), it appears to me that Christie tips the scale in his favor. That is, using the word SCALE as an acronym, he should be chosen as the Republican presidential candidate for 2016. Here’s how it breaks down:
S – strength
C – credibility
A – accomplishments
L – leadership
E – electability

Christie scores points in each category. He has a strong personality and is credible. His accomplishments as governor of New Jersey are manifold. By reaching out across the aisles to broker legislative reforms in the state, he has demonstrated needed leadership skills, lacking in Washington D.C. He is a staunch fiscal conservative, a strong critic of Obamacare, President Obama’s signature healthcare law, and has stood his ground against public employee unions. SCALE clearly shows that he is not only qualified to run for the office of president, but is electable, capable of winning. He has broad charismatic appeal not only to males but to women, blacks, and hispanics. In the recent election, he carried male voters by 63% and female voters by 57%.

Using the same acronym for Hillary Clinton, backed by the liberal media for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, she fails on several counts. Her credibility is lacking in view of her record as having lied when the occasion suits her, a matter of public record. Her accomplishments are questionable. Although having been elected to the U.S. Senate on the strength of the name of her husband, Bill Clinton, an impeached president, there is no record of legislative accomplishments in the Senate she can point to. As Secretary of State under President Obama, four Americans died on her watch in Benghazi, a matter for which there are still many unanswered questions. She lied after the Benghazi attack, as did President Obama, falsely attributing it to anger over a publication criticizing Muslims. In short, she has not shown her ability to govern anyone, and is hardly qualified to lead a country of some 300 million people.

As reported in the media recently, Christie’s election victory also reflects his capacity to appeal to independent voters as well as to those Democrats who are willing to cross party lines. These are the types of voters who are necessary to carry him to a presidential victory in 2016.

The question remains as to whether Republicans can stop quarreling among themselves long enough to back Christie as a moderate candidate who can clearly appeal to a broad swath of voters. Traditional ideological purity on issues such as abortion and gay rights may have to give way among conservative Republican supporters in favor of a more pragmatic approach, an approach that carries with it a path to victory in 2016.

Copyright 2013. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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“Common Sense” Revisited In The 21st Century – A Requirement For Presidential Leadership Should Be Written Into The Constitution

It was back in early 1776 that Thomas Paine argued in his pamphlet “Common Sense” for independence by America from the British Crown because it made good sense to do so. The little booklet was a big hit selling 100,000 copies and providing a huge emotional uplift in the run up to the American Revolution.

There is more than enough room for common sense in this time as well. In view of the total and complete lack of experience of President Obama in making decisions and providing the leadership required to properly run the country, it makes good sense to impose an important new qualification for anyone seeking the presidential office, i.e., he/she must have had substantial experience in governance in order to be considered as a candidate. Only by showing that the candidate has leadership abilities, governed people for some quantifiable period of time, made important decisions, and demonstrated the ability to solve problems including fiscal and budgetary problems and, importantly, including the ability to negotiate and compromise when necessary, should the candidate be considered as qualified to run for President.

This approach is eminently sensible. In a country of some 300 million people, it makes no sense to put someone in charge of running the country unless that person has clearly demonstrated the ability to do so. That qualification would exclude a candidate who has merely served in Congress or a state legislature without more, i.e., a demonstrated capacity for leadership. No successful private corporation would allow anyone to become Chairman of the Board unless that person has previously exhibited the ability to make the important decisions to run the company profitably. That individual will inevitably have experience in effectively overseeing a large number of people, have demonstrated the ability to solve problems, possess the ability to negotiate and compromise when necessary, make difficult budgetary decisions, and make decisions about what direction the company should be headed to insure profitability. On the job training is out of the question. The same qualities should be present in anyone seeking to run the country.

As things now stand, American presidential politics is a joke, and the joke is on us. The presidency is no place for amateurs. Nor should it be a popularity contest. The country cannot afford a repeat of the current fiasco, to wit, the election of an unqualified and inexperienced but smooth talking politician with no clearly demonstrated leadership skills. To proceed otherwise makes no sense. Today’s world is vastly more complicated than the world of 1788 when the Constitution was signed. To maintain its position as the world leader, the United States must have a president who can lead, not an inexperienced politician. A constitutional amendment to this effect reflecting the foregoing qualifications as a prerequisite for running for office is clearly justified.

There is no doubt when the Constitution was adopted that the Founding Fathers contemplated presidential candidates of special ability, candidates other than inexperienced politicians. Such qualifications are expressly provided for in The Federalist, a series of eighty-five essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in 1787-1788, to further the public’s understanding and support of the forthcoming Constitution of the United States. The following words from Federalist No. 68, penned by Alexander Hamilton, clearly envisioned well qualified presidential candidates:

“This process of election [use of electors] affords a moral certainty, that the office of president will seldom fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents of low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honours [sic] of a single state; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole union, or of so considerable a portion of it, as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters preeminent for ability and virtue…”

With apologies to Thomas Paine, if these are indeed “times that try men’s souls,” then it behooves the country to take all necessary and proper steps to see that these times are not revisited. The country has an obligation not only to itself but to the world at large to make sure that only qualified candidates with well defined leadership skills become President. Otherwise, we are in for more of the same political and fiscal quagmire that pervades Washington today. This situation has attendant dangerous ramifications for all of us in terms of our monetary stability and our national security, i.e., our survival as a nation.

Copyright 2013 Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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Countdown To Infamy

INTRODUCTION
Posts of historical interest will appear on this site from time to time. The current subject, an account of informal conversations between the United States and Japan during the period from October 17, 1941 to December 7, 1941, leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, will be presented in a series of several installments.

STATE DEPARTMENT REPORT
In its Official Report, forty eight pages long, the U.S. State Department describes in minute detail the deteriorating relations between the United States and Japan from October 17, 1941, to and including December 7, 1941. Prepared by state department officials and dated May 19, 1942, this memorandum purports to be an accurate account of informal conversations between the United States Government, including Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Under Secretary Sumner Welles. It includes verbatim copies of correspondence between from various U. S. and Japanese officials, as well as memoranda authored by certain of them. The Report summarizes events leading up to the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval forces at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the ensuing American declaration of war against Japan the following day.

There are many interesting observations to be made from a historical standpoint. The Report opens with the resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Prince Konoye on October 16, 1941. Apparently unable to reconcile the conflicting forces that raged within his own government between those who favored continued negotiations with the United States and those who favored war, Konoye resigned in the hope that someone would be found who favored keeping the door open to continued negotiations.

Each article in this series will present a summary of the almost daily communications between the two countries. Although there are countless histories of the relations between the United States and Japan in the period leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, I am not aware of any which describe in such minute detail as contained in the State Department memorandum the communications between officials of the two countries.

This historic vantage point provides a first-hand insight into the efforts undertaken by the two countries to negotiate a continuation of the uncertain but ongoing efforts to preserve peace. As will be made clear in the articles to follow, the position of the United States was clear: There must be specific responses by Japan to the points made by the U.S. as to Japanese intentions in the Far East, not the vague generalities which had marked their previous replies to U.S. communications.

THE WORLD STAGE AT THE BEGINNING OF 1941
The opening days of 1941 portrayed a grim picture of the world. The Tripartite Pact, concluded in September, 1940, had unified Germany, Italy and Japan into a formidable force of Axis powers. Prospects for world peace ranged from nonexistent to shaky at best, depending on what part of the world drew your focus.

The all too real specter of war had become a terrifying reality as conflict once more engulfed Great Britain, France, Germany, and most of the rest of Europe. The acuteness of the situation in Europe was but one of many significant factors facing the United States in January, 1941.

Nazi Germany’s huge military machine, including massive land and air forces built up surreptitiously over a period of years, had subjugated most of Europe. Austria had been annexed in March, 1938 without firing a shot. The Sudetenland was occupied in September, 1938 without opposition, by agreement. The entirety of Czechoslovakia was sacrificed to the Nazi beast by the Munich arrangement, with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returning to England proclaiming to the crowds, “peace in our time.” The unprovoked Nazi attack on Poland in September, 1939, and its subsequent occupation was followed by declarations of war on Germany by Britain and France.

In 1940, after the German breakthrough of French defenses, France was overrun in six weeks. What remained of the British Expeditionary Force, however, was successfully evacuated from France at Dunkirk. The Dutch were overwhelmed by the Nazi onslaught, brought on without any pretext or warning. Belgium had surrendered, and Bulgaria and Rumania were being crushed under the Nazi heel.

In mid-1940, Mussolini had thrown the weight of his Italian forces behind Hitler by declaring war on Great Britain and France. But Mussolini’s efforts to assert himself as a force to be reckoned with would eventually lead to the failure of Italian Fascism and his own capture and summary execution in 1943.

Events unfolding in the Far East, however, were also of great concern to the United States. The threat from Japan had continued to grow over the years. Its 1931 invasion and occupation of Manchuria had signaled its expansionist aims. Despite diplomatic conversations with Russia, large Japanese forces were still maintained there. The Japanese had invaded China in 1937 and moved into Northern Indochina in the summer of 1940. The growing potential threat from Japan extended to all powers interested in the Pacific. These included the Netherlands, British Malaya, Burma, India, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

By early 1941, restrictions on exports to Japan from the United States of iron, steel, most important metals, machinery, high quality gasoline and blending agents, together with plants and plans for the production of high quality gasoline, had further increased tensions between the two countries.

While Japan’s expansion into China and Southeast Asia was a continuing source of concern for the United States, the country had passed through a Presidential election whereby both major political parties had written into their respective platforms unequivocal opposition to involvement in foreign wars.

Copyright © 2013. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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Union Disaster at Chickamauga – Prelude To Its Death Grip on the Confederacy

With the approach of Memorial Day, it seems fitting to devote this week’s blog to one of the Civil War’s most notable, if lesser known battles, Chickamauga Creek.

This blog marks my third venture into writing about significant Civil War battles. The first one dealt with the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg, two pivotal battles that saved the Union. The second one focused on the battle of Shiloh and the rise of U.S. Grant. Both are available as articles on amazon.com/Kindle Books. Here, I continue the thread addressed in the second article, which follows the career of U.S. Grant. In this blog, Grant, as a Major General, is named commander of all Union armies, save for a small area in the southwest, and immediately exercises his authority to relieve beleaguered General William Rosecrans following the disaster at Chickamauga Creek, south of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The counterattack led by General George H. Thomas, who replaced Rosecrans, drove the Rebels back into northern Georgia and opened the gateway to the South for Union follow up and ultimate Confederate collapse.

The year 1863 saw a continuation of the fearful struggle of the Civil War. In early 1863, after the battle at Stones River near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Confederate General Braxton Bragg withdrew his forces southward leaving Union General William Rosecrans (“Old Rosy”) in possession of that town. The spring of 1863 saw U.S. Grant driving down the Mississippi River as part of the renewal of his campaign against Vicksburg, Mississippi, some 200 miles upriver from New Orleans, Louisiana. In northern Virginia, Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s attacks caused withdrawal of Union General Joseph Hooker’s forces north from Chancellorsville, Virginia and across the Rappahannock River. In July, a major Union victory at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the second attempt by Confederate General Robert E. Lee to invade the north was repulsed by Union forces led by General George Meade. However, there were events shaping up in western Tennessee as well which were also significant.
With the approach of Memorial Day, it seems fitting to devote this week’s blog to one of the Civil War’s most notable, if lesser known, battles, Chickamauga Creek.

President Abraham Lincoln wanted Rosecrans to get moving in Tennessee as well to keep pressure on the Confederates in as many places at one time as possible. In August, 1863, the skillful maneuvering of the Union Army of the Cumberland led by Rosecrans had feinted Confederate General Braxton Bragg into abandoning Chattanooga, a vital railroad junction, and to pull back his army into northern Georgia. This very successful result obtained with relatively few Union casualties caused Rosecrans to be hailed as a hero in his native Ohio. But it was soon followed by Rosecrans overextending his lines as he chased Bragg through mountain gaps below Chattanooga and presaged a Union disaster that was soon to follow at Chickamauga Creek (a Cherokee word meaning “River of Blood,” according to some historians), just south of Chattanooga.

But a heavily reinforced Bragg halted his retreat from Chattanooga and turned on the pursuing Federal army. Engaging Rosecrans along Chickamauga Creek, the collision of the two opposing armies resulted in a bloody two-day battle. When a poorly worded order caused one of Rosecrans’s divisions to pull out to support another unit, a huge, two mile gap was created in the Union line which was exploited by Confederate General James Longstreet as attacking Rebel troops poured through the gap and overran the Federals. Rosecrans ordered General Thomas to take over as Rosecrans was forced to fall back to Chattanooga. For his valiant efforts in shielding Rosecrans’s withdrawal, Thomas became known as the “Rock of Chickamauga.”

The devastating Union loss at Chickamauga Creek on September 19-20, 1863, could have spelled doom for Rosecrans’ Union Army of the Cumberland. But Confederate General Braxton Bragg, appalled at his own losses, hesitated in following up the Rebel triumph by allowing Rosecrans to retreat to Chattanooga and thereby preserve his army while Bragg occupied Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, mountains south of Chattanooga. Bragg had followed the retreating Rosecrans from Chickamauga and taken possession of Missionary Ridge overlooking Chattanooga and also occupied Lookout Mountain, west of Chattanooga, which Rosecrans had abandoned. Rosecrans also lost control of the Tennessee River and River Road to Bridgeport. Chickamauga became the worst Union loss in the Western Theater. These circumstances in Grant’s view justified Rosecrans’s replacement, effectively ending his military career.

Bragg’s mistakes ultimately led to a Union triumph after Grant, in October, 1863, ordered Rosecrans to be replaced by General Thomas. This order had come about after Grant had received a personally delivered notification from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton naming him as commander of the newly formed Military District of Mississippi. This district combined the departments of Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee under Grant’s command and included all of the territory from the Appalachians to the Mississippi River north of the area occupied by Banks forces in the southwest.

Combined Federal forces led by Thomas, Hooker, and General William Tecumseh Sherman, under Grant’s overall command, led their troops in attacks on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain causing the Rebels to retreat in chaos and ultimately led to the resignation of Bragg. The pell-mell pullback of Rebel troops from Missionary Ridge was particularly galling as the Rebel position had been supposedly impregnable.

The Union victory ultimately opened the way for Sherman’s campaign to Atlanta and subsequent epic march to the sea. Confederate armies would never mount another counterattack and would be reduced to parrying Union blows like an aging, worn out, and overmatched fighter. It marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.

In Retrospect

As a long time resident of the Los Angeles vicinity there were many times that I drove south on the I-405 freeway past LAX airport. The first off ramp west past the airport is Rosecrans Blvd. With my continuing interest in the Civil War over the years and in particular my research for this blog, I came to realize and understand General Rosecrans’s contribution to the war effort for the Union cause.

In this era of electronic communications not everyone has the chance to read books on the Civil War. Hopefully this blog will help to fill the gap in knowledge that may be present in those who are interested in this area but do not have the time to read deeply about it.

Copyright © 2013. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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Echoes From The Past Revisited, The Panic of 1857 and the Continuing Saga of The Discovery of Gold In California

An interesting sidelight to gold’s saga revolves around the tragic loss in September, 1857, of the SS Central America, a sailing vessel bound for New York carrying passengers and three tons of gold ingots and newly minted gold coins from California. Lashed by a massive hurricane, the ship went down in 7,200 feet of water about 160 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C, at a time when U.S. bankers desperately needed the ship to reach its destination safely. The story was front-page news across the country and was accentuated by the Panic of 1857, which lasted for three years. Many people lost their jobs.

The sinking of the Central America was one of the worst at sea disasters in American history, claiming over 400
lives, and was front-page news all over the country. The loss of the approximately $1.5 million in gold the ship had carried, valued at roughly $18 per ounce, stunned the financial community and compounded the woes of the New York bankers, adding to the Panic.

The Panic was marked by a decline in wheat prices when the Crimean War ended in February, 1856. This drop was keenly felt by American farmers who had profited from the war. On a wider scale however, there had been a decade of land speculation and investment in railroad securities, aided by heavy borrowing. Banks had invested in businesses that were failing, causing people to panic. Investors were losing heavily in the stock market, railroads were unable to pay their debts, and businesses and factories failed idling hundreds of thousands of workers. People feared financial ruin and ran to the banks to withdraw their money. But the banks did not deal in paper money; they used gold and silver. But because of their failed invedstments, the banks could not gather all the gold their customers demanded. From August to September, 1857, a run on New York banks had required them to pay out more than twenty percent of their gold reserves and many banks failed.

However, the tragic loss of the Central America had a remarkable ending so far as the gold is concerned. In 1988, the ship and its treasure were located on the ocean floor by Tommy Thompson, an oceanographer from landlocked Ohio. Images aboard his vessel revealed a veritable king’s ransom in gold ingots and coins on the sea bottom where they had lain for over a century. Boosted by modern technological advances, the gold was recovered in 1989. The salvaged gold was estimated to be worth in the neighborhood of $1 billion, a record gold treasure haul.

The largest ingot recovered was an astonishing 933.94 ounces, nearly 80 pounds, with an 1857 value of $17,433.57. Nearly 7,500 coins were also recovered, many of them 1857-S Coronet double eagles. After being subject to a special conservation process, many coins were found to exhibit the brilliant proof like luster imparted to them the day they were struck at the San Francisco mint. The brilliance of the coins and gold bars was made possible by the oceanic conditions in which they were discovered, submerged under thousands of feet of ocean water at a temperature of 34 degrees Farenheit.

In my book, “The Art of Clear Writing,” (available on amazon.com through Kindle Books and in print), to demonstrate the use of parenthesis and brackets, I point out that coin collecting can be interesting as well as a good investment. Here is what I wrote:
Coin collecting can be very interesting, historically speaking,
as well as a good investment. Coin grading is subjective (a matter of
opinion, which can change over time), so never buy any coin without
first inspecting it.

Carson City silver dollars, aka Morgan silver dollars [named for the designer, George T. Morgan], minted in Carson City, Nevada between 1878 and 1893, are still popular today because of their attractive design and because they are a throwback
to the days of the Old West.

Copyright 2013. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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