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    Mart

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    jaywit
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    Mart

    Post by jaywit on Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:26 pm

    The non-fiction book The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley is getting higher on my queue list for upcoming reads. This is a story about a cruise taken in the early 20th century by US dignitaries on a diplomatic mission during which Japan is encouraged to become the predominant power in the far east at the expense of the other countries, supposedly paving the way toward the events leading to WWII. Apparently, your guy Teddy Roosevelt doesn't come off very well. James Bradley wrote Flags Of Our Fathers and Flyboys, both good reads although I thought Flyboys was better. He seemed to present his stories with diligent research yet kept things from getting too dry. Hopefully, it will be an interesting read.

    MGJOHNSON
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    Re: Mart

    Post by MGJOHNSON on Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:57 pm

    Jay, I'm sorry that I didn't respond to you earlier, but I just ventured over to this section late last night and noticed your post with my name on it. My first thought until I read the post was, "Oh, shit! What did I do now?" Wink Anyway concerning looking for books, I don't read as much as I used to. My eyesight never was good, but it's deteriorating with age. The last time I had an eye exam to get new glasses, the optometrist told me that I was up to the maximum strength on the reading part of my progressive lenses. At least I'm not blind and do read to try to keep up on current events - and will still tackle the occasion book if it perks my interest enough, although it takes me much longer to get through it than it would have in years past.

    As far as Teddy Roosevelt goes, he did send out a fleet of Navy ships to foreign ports "officially" as a sort of good-will mission, but really it was done as a show of force. It was a policy that he became noted for as "speak softly but carry a big stick"... Still, he had a much more of a hawkish nature than I would care to see in a President today. But the times were different. It was late in the Imperial Age when European powers, primarily Britain and France, had already carved up most of the world into colonies or spheres of influence. If a country showed any weakness, it would invite meddling and foreign intervention from these predatory European powers.

    Given the close ties between Britian and the U.S. today, it might be somewhat surprising to many that it was not so during much of the nineteenth century. Besides the War of 1812, the U.S. and Britian almost went to war in the 1840's over the Pacific Northwest and in the 1860's during our Civil War (around the time BTW that the French were actively engaged in trying to control Mexico). Even in the 1890's, relations between Britain and the U.S. were strained over the American takeover of the Hawaiian Islands, a strategic gem "discovered" by British Captain James Cook a century earlier, that Britian coveted. One could easily argue that the biggest outside threat to U.S. sovereignty during the nineteeth century was Britain, especially considering that the area above our long northern border was inhabited by an often hostile people who, by and large, considered themselves British subjects and would probably happily slit our throats upon command from the motherland.

    Even in the case of our banking system, the British had a strong influence. The banking House of Morgan run by John Pierpont Morgan was closely allied to the extremely powerful House of Rothschild banking dynasty which had followed the British royal family to England from it's ancestral home in Hesse in the 18th century and rode the wave of British Imperialism to immense wealth and power. One of TR's finest moments IMO was when J.P. Morgan, perhaps by then the richest man in the country, came to see Roosevelt shortly after he became President with a list of demands and TR just about bodily threw Morgan out of the White House.

    As the 20th century dawned, Britain was thus the preeminent world power while the U.S. was an up and coming rather new player on the world stage being under-respected by the old European power structure. Signals of change to that old power structure came with our defeat of Spain in the Spanish-American War and Japan's defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, which BTW the U.S. gained some world prestige when Roosevelt mediated an end to that conflict. As a result of the Spanish-American War (fought under McKinley), the U.S. gained possession of the Philippines and Guam setting the U.S. up to have more trade and influence in the Far East. Previously, in the 1850's the U.S. had opened Japan to trade and later in the 19th century had the Open Door Policy toward trade with the weak Qing Dynasty in China as a rather failing attempt to keep the European powers from carving up China into individual spheres of influence. Also, TR's goal to build the Panama Canal was largely driven by America's desire for increased influence throughout the Pacific.

    Although I never thought about the possibility that the U.S. favored a strong Japan before reading your post, it could have made some sense at the time as a counter balance to the strong British influence then in the Far East. I don't know if it's true, but it does sounds like the old "find a dog to eat a dog" idea that is similar to the more recent Reagan Administration policy of building up Muslim fundamentalists to fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. In a world of ever-shifting alliances, however, a country may find itself someday, as happened to us on 9/11/2001, getting bit by the monster that it had helped create. Still, whether or not with American support, Japan was well on it's way toward imperialism before TR became President.
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    jaywit
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    Re: Mart

    Post by jaywit on Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:56 pm

    The Imperial Cruise gives quite a different take on the Teddy Roosevelt image that I've come to know an accept. It's a good read and provides several disturbing events in the history of the United States as it grew to be the powerful nation it was in the early 20th century. It is clear why such a distrust toward the US developed in China, Japan, Korea, the Phillipines and rather than go into a long diatribe why, I'd just recommend to the readers that this is worthy of your time.

    One of the more interesting points touches on the negotiation of the end of the Russo-Japanese war as mentioned in Mart's post. While Japan was easily winning the land battles and had completely destroyed the Russian Navy, they realized they were not going to completely quell the Russians. Doing so would mean they'd have to send their army across the thousands of miles of Siberia to Moscow. So, while they were routing the Russians, they approached Roosevelt in confidence and asked him to broker a peace deal with the Russians while making them believe it was his idea, not a Japanese initiated deal. In addition to ending the war, the Japanese were also seeking a monetary indemnity from the Russians for the war costs. Roosevelt agreed, brokered the deal, ended up winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The deal, however, was with no monetary payment to the Japanese. Instead of monetary payment, Roosevelt thought the Japanese could keep all the land they had conquered (part of Manchuria and all of Korea). Japan had already considered the land they conquered was theirs, they wanted the money. The Japanese were pissed at their representative who agreed to the terms and at Teddy for not pursuing the indemnity and as a nation felt that their honor was slighted because of their race. So, in effect, while brokering the peace deal, Teddy ultimately set the groundwork to make an enemy of the Japanese, the Koreans (who were now Japanese subjects), the Russians and the Chinese.

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