4-14: Passive-Aggressive Non-Aggression

When two countries sign a non-aggression pact, that’s a good thing, right? In the case of the Soviet Union and Japan during World War II such an agreement was signed and the countries agreed not to fight each other for five years. Although this sounds like a sweetheart deal between traditional enemies, the reason for the cease fire was so that their armies could march to louder drum beats.

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The nonaggression pact allowed both nations to free up large numbers of troops occupying disputed territory in Manchuria and Outer Mongolia …

The Soviet-Japanese pact came nearly two years after the Soviet Union signed a similar agreement with Nazi Germany which … bought Soviet leader Joseph Stalin time to prepare the empire for what he saw as its inevitable involvement in World War II.

All of the above seems anomalous. If two countries could agree to stop fighting for five years, why not 10, 25, 50 …? But let’s start with a given: Stalin was a bad man. Yet he was able to conduct negotiations with both Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan that led to periods of non-war (I hesitate to call these times “peace”).

The word that shrills in my modern ear is “empire.” Stalin was “preparing the empire.” Of course, Japan and Germany were doing the same in their own megalomaniacal ways.

By the way, Adolph Hitler was a bad man, too. Not to be trusted.

On June 22, 1941, just two months after the Soviet-Japanese nonaggression pact was signed, Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the USSR. Stalin was caught by surprise, and the German Wehrmacht penetrated deep into the Soviet Union … Although Japanese offensives into the eastern USSR during this time might have resulted in the defeat of the Soviet Union, Japan was forced to concentrate all its resources in a resistance against the massive U.S. counteroffensive in the Pacific which was underway by fall 1942.

The Allies of the West were, of course, the good guys in WWII, what with all that empire building stuff going on among the Axis Powers. Remember, however, that not so long before the Brits proudly proclaimed that “the sun never sets on the British empire.” The French had their colonies dispersed around the world, most notably at this time “French” Indochina, i.e., Vietnam.

Having been a colony ourselves, Americans loathe the words colony, empire, and imperialism. We don’t invade and conquer other territories to loot their natural resources. But to protect the American way of life and to enhance the greed of unfettered capitalism we have positioned our military on land and sea around the world.

The Atlantic fleet, e.g., keeps waterways open for the free flow of oil from the Middle East to America. The Pacific fleet stands ready to thwart any possible threat from China, North Korea, et al. Centcom protects us from terrorism. Conus (the 48 contiguous continental states) came about through a plundering policy known as Manifest Destiny.

We’ve added two states to Conus, Hawaii and Alaska, not presumably for profits from tourism and otter skins, but because of their strategic military locations. And if not empire, can anyone explain America’s connections with Guam, Samoa, Puerto Rico, American Virgin Islands, et al.?

We may not like the word empire–I don’t–but we can’t deny it.

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