Back in the Year of Birth of the writer who calls himself Your Intrepid Reporter, that is to say in 1947, there were held the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunals — I believe it is the Bush Junior Administration flunky who used the term “quaint” to describe such ancient history as that. Nineteen forty-seven was also the year, of course, in which Bush Junior Himself was born (which I know to be true because he and I are exact contemporaries).
The year 1947 saw the publication of Nuremberg Diary by the American citizen and fluent German speaker Gustave Mark Gilbert, assigned to keep watch on the Nazi war criminals, including the former head of the Luftwaffe Hermann Goering.
On the date 18 April 1946 the psychologist in US Army pay Gilbert records:
We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.
You see our Man Gilbert has no inkling of the Tragic View of life. Lots and lots of people are very pleased indeed to devote their lives, fortunes, and families to leaders who bring war. But the under-appreciated thinker Hermann Goering did not take such a direct route to confute his interlocutor.
“Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany.”
Goering explained to his somewhat dimmer dinner companion that political science is not simply a preference poll.
“That is understood.”
Rather, the political choices made in a functioning society involve the leaders.
“But, after all
continued Goering directly
it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is in a democracy or a fascist dictatorship ore a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”
In pithy prose the Number-Two Nazi explains: it is always a simple matter to drag the common people along. It does not matter what the superficial form of government be.
“There is one difference,” I [Monsieur Gustave Gilbert] pointed out. “In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”
Yeah, how’s that doin’ for ya, Gustave? We haven’t voted for war since 1943, and therefore all those um, police actions um, did not um, really happen to be um, like, wars.
But the ever-polite Hermann Goering did not gainsay the officious Gustave Gilbert: he was sitting on Death Row at the time. He was too busy telling the wet-behind-the-ears American, accurately, that It Works the Same in All Countries.
“Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
As my headline for this post says, Goering Was Right.