Sunday, January 18, 2009

Allied War Crimes against Iran in 1941?

Bevin Alexander wrote a book entitled How Hitler Could have Won World War II, the Fatal Errors that Led to Nazi Defeat. In this book Alexander doesn’t engage in what Niall Ferguson would call a “counterfactual,” at least not as far as I’ve read, but he does touch on key moments and events that resulted in Hitler’s ultimate defeat. Perhaps one such event was the extension of the American draft in August of 1941. The draft extension was approved by a vote of 203-202. Alexander puts this in a positive light saying that “Narrow as the vote was, it demonstrated American determination to rearm and defend itself.” Perhaps it indicated that, but what was the common American view of the war in August 1941? “Americans in general were gleeful that the world’s two worst dictatorships were tearing at each other’s vitals and hoped they would fight to mutual exhaustion.” [Alexander, p. 100]. Another reason would be the strong tendency in the U.S. toward “isolationism.” The reason which ought to be of most concern to us, however, is America’s short-sightedness. We didn’t really understand what was at stake. It was one thing to hope that our two greatest potential enemies would exhaust themselves against each other, but quite another to believe we needn’t prepare to defend ourselves. Surely when we look at the lessons of World War II, this is an important one for us to learn. We need to remain ready to defend ourselves, and we weren’t ready in August of 1941.

Roosevelt made the decision to help the USSR against Nazi Germany because, “President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill . . . were terrified that Hitler would win and the democracies would be faced with the combined resources of Europe and the Soviet Union.” [ibid, p. 100]

While the U.S. wasn’t in the war yet in August of 1941, Roosevelt agreed to extend aid to Soviet Russia but Russia and Britain were going to have to figure out how to get it to them. Here is what they did: “On August 25, Britain and the Soviet Union occupied Iran and ensured an all-weather, unopposed supply line to Russia. Soviet forces from the north and British from the south took over the country, required Shah Reza Pahlevi to abdicate in favor of his son, and mobilized forced labor to build a highway between Shatt al Arab and the Caspian Sea to expedite American exports.”

How could the Anti-Americans blame America for this aggression against Iran? I suppose they could say that unless America had agreed to aid the Soviet Union there would have been no need to occupy Iran, therefore America is ultimately guilty of this war crime. Some Anti-Americans would be sure to go back and discover that no American had objected to what the British and Russians did in Iran; which would be another reason for blaming America.

On the other hand, I don’t recall running across this bit of information before and while this could have merely been a defect in my studies, I wonder if the Anti-Americans haven’t given America a pass on this particular set of war crimes -- after all, occupying Iran was for the greater good of Russian State Socialism which to many American Anti-Americans was of paramount importance.

No comments: