Monday, May 27, 2013

"The Untold History of the United States" by Michael Moore (2012)

I don’t give many bad reviews. As a matter of fact, in the 4 and a half years in which I have been doing this, there have only been three books which I have reviewed negatively. It is no coincidence that these 3 books were all written with an agenda to misinform. One was written by an Islamic, one was written by a Conservative, and now this one written by Michael Moore; no explanation of his agenda necessary. I offer this as proof on my consistency in reasoning.

As he takes us on a whirlwind tour of our American misadventures, concluding that we have met the “Evil Empire” and it is us, he neglects to position his arguments against the backdrop of history as he deplores, page after page, our imperialistic designs. His take on the acquisition of Hawaii is that we were bent on world domination. Completely ignored is the fact that Russia and Japan were already rattling sabers at one another, and would fight a horrific war between them over domination of the Pacific; its resources; and of course Hawaii. Had we not gained possession of Hawaii when we did, then Japan would have been able to launch her planes from carriers based there against San Francisco. But details have never bothered Mr. Moore before, so why was I expecting something different from this book?

Our domination of the Philippine Islands is fairly accurate, though he does seem to gloss over the fact that we did grant them Independence after helping them to defeat the Japanese. And although there have been problems with our still having troops and ships stationed there, for the most part, the people and government of the Philippines seem to regard our presence in the area as more of a positive than a negative.

This is likewise in just about every one of the 132 countries which Mr. Moore laments about, where we have troops stationed. His thinking seems parallel to that of most Conservatives, who continually lament that we cannot be the “world’s policeman.” This is odd reasoning for an avowed liberal such as Mr. Moore claims to be. It gives one pause to think about just why he writes what he does. Is it how he really feels, or just the lure of easy money? By the way, the lure of easy money is one of the things Mr. Moore complains about the most, blaming many of the world’s ills upon it.

Like a reverse image of Rush Limbaugh, Mr. Moore goes charging through the history of America with an agenda. Where Mr. Limbaugh would have you think us Gods; Mr. Moore paints us as devils. He even takes our country to task over the Cuban Missile Crisis, labeling us as the reckless aggressors, even while acknowledging the massive buildup of tactical nuclear weapons which we did not know about at the time. Had we invaded, we would have been wiped out. The policy Of Mutual Assured Destruction, often derided as MAD, is also something which Mr. Moore fails to realize actually saved us from coming to actual nuclear war. Had one side only been able to launch a first strike, there would have been a nuclear war.

Only the fact that neither side could afford to pull the nuclear trigger on the other saved us from catastrophe. Contrast that against today’s post-Cold War world, with rogue nations; and terrorists ones such as Pakistan; in possession of nuclear unarms. Do you feel safer now? Under the policy of M.A.D., there was never a nuclear confrontation after the bombing of Japan at the conclusion of the Second World War. This is something which the author fails to acknowledge, or even mention.

While taking careful and deliberate aim at the policies of the United States in the 1950’s, Mr. Moore paints a bleak picture of the hare brained schemes being considered by the scientific community. Some of these plans were outright wacky; such as the plan to use nuclear weaponry to hasten the melting of the Polar Ice Caps, raising the world’s temperature by 10 degrees; or the scheme to use the atomic bomb to change the course of hurricanes, regardless of the fallout which would occur. There was also thought given to Project Chariot, which would have had the United States military blast holes in Alaska to harvest the shale oil beneath the frozen surface. What he never tells you is that these plans were never implemented, just tossed about. In Mr. Moore’s world, even ideas are prohibited.

The book is not all negative. But even where his facts are correct, he never gives America the credit it is due for the good things she has done. For instance, what other nation in the world would go to the lengths which we did during the Bosnia-Serbian War, when we helped Islamic people from genocide at the hands of their Christian neighbors? And, we did that at a time when tensions were reaching an all-time high between America, which was being billed as the Great Satan, and most of the other Islamic nations of the world. Where was their help in the aftermath of 9/11, when they danced in the streets, while hiding Bin Laden for 10 years?

When it comes time to examine the Second World War, once again we are the evil ones who firebombed cities, which was even worse than the atomic bomb, notwithstanding that had we not done so, the world today would be desolate place as far as freedom is concerned.

In typical fashion, Mr. Moore laments that the bomb was built without necessity, since we already knew that the Germans had abandoned their efforts at gaining such a weapon in favor of further developing the V1 and V2 rockets which they were using to kill civilians in Britain. He seems not to realize that once the tide of the war had changed back in favor of the Germans, they would have continued the experiments towards obtaining a nuclear weapon, if only to subjugate the Soviets.

As a matter of fact; Mr. Moore inadvertently tips his hand here; as it was only the pressure exerted on Roosevelt by the 3 main scientists who had fled Germany, including Einstein, that the bomb was an absolute necessity if we were to win the war. They even corroborated the fact that Germany was then, indeed, working on such a weapon herself, thus fueling the Roosevelt administration’s decision to go ahead with the bomb. It was only Oppenheimer and Davis who slowed the pace down enough to ascertain that the bomb would not ignite the earth’s atmosphere and destroy all life on the planet before proceeding with the experiments. So, one might conclude that the German scientists on both sides were pushing their respective governments to obtain this new weapons technology. Therefore, it is absurd to place the blame for the resultant Cold War on any one leader’s shoulders. This whole section had me wondering about Mr. Moore squares this view of Roosevelt with his hero of the New Deal? Me, I don’t have that problem; I think he was right on both occasions.

As far as the decision to drop the bomb which ushered in the Cold War, without it we would have lost at least 100,000 more Americans in order to take the island fortress of Japan.
By page 392 it becomes apparent that this book will never cease to amaze me. The author blames the policies of Henry Kissinger for the ruin of America’s stature in the world, and uses that as a pretext for the failed Presidency of Jimmy Carter. He uses the logic that the same people were still calling the shots for the White House. Jimmy was a well-intentioned, but un-involved bystander. By this logic, Reagan was innocent of any wrongdoing during the Iran-Contra affair, and Bush was misled into the war in Iraq by faulty advisers with agendas of their own.

This is an interesting book, with a lot of information in it. As such, it needs to be read carefully. Facts are funny things, and in the hands of professional writers and movie makers such as Mr. Moore, can be bent to support whatever conclusion you care to make them support. But, in the end, this book is mainly an apology for being American, and though my government may be temporarily in the hands of idiots, being born American is one thing for which I will never apologize.

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