Did the US Provoke the Axis Powers?

758px-The_USS_Arizona_(BB-39)_burning_after_the_Japanese_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor_-_NARA_195617_-_EditIn her latest hit piece on the Mises Institute, WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin quotes a David Weigel hit piece on the Mises Institute in which Weigel attacks David Gordon and Ralph Raico for daring to criticize Winston Churchill.  The occasion for these remarks is a comment made by Rand Paul about American policy before 1941:

“There are times when sanctions have made it worse,” Paul said. “Leading up to World War II, we cut off trade with Japan. That probably caused Japan to react angrily. We also had a blockade on Germany after World War I that probably encouraged some of their anger.”

It’s not my job to defend Rand Paul, but as Weigel notes, these ideas are likely influenced by this article, and this article.

Rubin’s purpose in mentioning it is to imply that merely mentioning established facts about the pro-war behavior of the American regime prior to world War II somehow constitutes sympathy for the Axis powers. Such an assertion is nonsense, of course, since the Japanese and Nazi states are responsible for the actions of the Japanese and Nazi states. Pointing out that Roosevelt’s regime was doing everything it could to provoke a war with the Japanese, on the other hand, simply highlights the barbarity of the American state in putting its own citizens in danger and seeking a conflict that led to the placing of Japanese Americans in concentration camps, and the enslavement of millions of Americans through conscription. Reducing every conflict to a comic-book-like battle between good guys and bad guys, on the other hand, is just the sort of thing that people like Rubin live for.

For those who actually seek a more complete and detailed view of the lead-up to the Second World War, see Robert Higgs’s article based on this video:


  1. Is it the Mises’ position that the US should have continued to trade and do business with the Japanese in early 20th century after the invasion of Manchuria and Korea? Just simply ignored what was happening there? And the Germans after 1935-ish? We should have continued with business as usual with both nations?

    Maybe a link to a longer explanation of the Mises’ position would be helpful.

  2. There’s also the deafening silence about the extent to which many portions of the Nazi apparatus, i.e., science and intelligence, were grafted onto the American government at the advent of the so-called space and national security ages. Operation Paperclip was just the tip of the iceberg.

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