It's Pearl Harbor Day – Trot Out the Official Fable

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Recently by Robert Higgs: If
the Government Does X, ItIsCalledY



years ago, Japanese forces attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl
Harbor, Hawaii, provoking the United States to declare war against
Japan. When Japan’s ally Germany declared war on the United
States on December 11, 1941, the United States immediately reciprocated.
These actions brought the United States into open warfare against
the Axis powers and made it a full-fledged participant in the
greatest war ever fought. For most Americans, this story is simple:
they attacked us; we fought back and defeated them.

have always known, however, that the true story was nothing like
this patriotic fable dispensed each year on December 7 for popular
consumption. Not long ago, I briefly reviewed
some of the elements of this history, linking my statements to
some of the most reliable histories publicly available to one
and all. (See also my account of how U.S.
economic warfare
provoked the Japanese attack.) It behooves
every educated American to learn this honest history and to pass
it along to others when an opportunity arises, because the myth
has long contributed, and continues to contribute, to a false
view of the U.S. place in the world and to a grave misunderstanding
of U.S. foreign policy. Ceaseless dissemination and widespread
acceptance of this view is the very model of how the U.S. government
tends to do foreign policy: provoke foreigners to attack Americans,
then tell the American people that foreigners have attacked us
for no reason and therefore we must strike back to defeat them
or at least to teach them a lesson about treating the United States
with deference.

Along with
the myth
of Munich
, the myth of the Pearl Harbor attack has performed
magnificently in keeping Americans dumb and belligerent and in
preparing them to sacrifice their children’s lives in the
service of the ruling oligarchy. Unless the American people can
rise above these historical myths, they stand little chance of
freeing themselves from those who would make them the living,
breathing but unthinking means for the attainment of their masters’

from the Independent

10, 2010

Higgs [send him mail] is
senior fellow in political economy at the Independent
and editor of The
Independent Review
. He
is also a columnist for His
most recent book is Neither
Liberty Nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government
He is also the author of Depression,
War, and Cold War: Studies in Political Economy
, Resurgence
of the Warfare State: The Crisis Since 9/11
and Against
Leviathan: Government Power and a Free Society

Best of Robert Higgs

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