"Today it is we Americans who live in infamy," Schlesinger wrote, as our government adopts the policies of imperial Japan – thoughts that were barely articulated elsewhere in the mainstream, and quickly suppressed: I could find no mention of this principled stand in the praise for Schlesinger's accomplishments when he died a few years later.
We can also learn a lot about ourselves by carrying Schlesinger's lament a few steps further. By today's standards, Japan's attack was justified, indeed meritorious. Japan, after all, was exercising the much lauded doctrine of anticipatory self-defense when it bombed military bases in Hawaii and the Philippines, two virtual US colonies, with reasons far more compelling than anything that Bush and Blair could conjure up when they adopted the policies of imperial Japan in 2003. Japanese leaders were well aware that B-17 Flying Fortresses were coming off the Boeing production lines, and they could read in the American press that these killing machines would be able to burn down Tokyo, a "city of rice-paper and wood houses."
A November 1940 plan to "bomb Tokyo and other big cities" was enthusiastically received by Secretary of State Cordell Hull. FDR was "simply delighted" at the plans "to burn out the industrial heart of the Empire with fire-bomb attacks on the teeming bamboo ant heaps of Honshu and Kyushu," outlined by their author, Air Force General Chennault. By July 1941, the Air Corps was ferrying B-17s to the Far East for this purpose, assigning half of all the big bombers to this region, taking them from the Atlantic sea-lanes. They were to be used if needed "to set the paper cities of Japan on fire," according to General George Marshall, Roosevelt's main military adviser, in a press briefing three weeks before Pearl Harbor.
Four days later, New York Times senior correspondent Arthur Krock reported US plans to bomb Japan from Siberian and Philippine bases, to which the Air Force was rushing incendiary bombs intended for civilian targets. The US knew from decoded messages that Japan was aware of these plans.
History provides ample evidence to support Muste's conclusion that "The problem after a war is with the victor, [who] thinks he has just proved that war and violence pay." And the real answer to Muste's question, "Who will teach him a lesson?," can only be domestic populations, if they can adopt elementary moral principles.
Though not beauties, they are our Sleeping Press and they are responsible for the state of this country, they are responsible for people foolishly believeing Bush left the White House and Guantanamo closed, or torture stopped, or the PATRIOT Act ended. They are lulled into this by a press that refuses to do its job because, quite honestly, it's a fat, lazy and declawed press.
And it's a lot like Once Upon A Time in that its many failures are no longer even entertaining. It's just a big mess, an ugly stain on the nation that wastes time and intelligence and, bit by bit, makes us all a little bit dumber each day. Once Upon A Time at least stands the chance of being cancelled, but the press you will always have with you.