I've spent too much time this morning trying to access information about the author to the detriment of this commentary/essay. Polner is the book editor of History News Network and has written several books and articles featured in many center-liberal publications. The best I could find on his bio is from Book Depository:
Murray Polner has had a rich and varied career as a teacher, college professor, writer and editor. He is the author of When Can I Come Home. His writings have also appeared in the New York Times, Newsday, the Washington Post, Commonweal, The Nation, Village Voice and the Boston Globe. He lives in Great Neck, New York. Murray Polner is an editor and the author of No Victory Parades: The Return of the Vietnam Veteran and has written for The New York Times,The Nation, Commonweal, The Washington Monthly, and many other publications.I want to use this article/book review which Polner writes about so favorably as an illustration of how a mainstream American intellectual writes about political subjects such as US wars thereby serves as a useful propagandist for the US-led Empire. Now that the Japanese government is a useful ally/puppet of the Empire, we Americans must forgive and forget that we were once adversaries.
In his favorable review of a book by James Bradley’s entitled The China Mirage he uses circumlocutions and abstractions to hide the nature of the rivalries the capitalist nations engaged in during WWII, and as a result he obscures and distorts the realities of these wars. He ends up arguing that our war with Japan was a mistake because "we" (at that time) simply didn't understand Japan's economic needs. In other words, the war was all about national interests and "we" didn't understand Japan's national interests and instead mistakenly aligned our policies with China. Balderdash!
It is Bradley’s contention that Americans have misunderstood and misjudged China, wedded as they were to the fantasy that China was yearning to be Christianized, Westernized and Americanized while ignoring that it had and has its own national interests. This was never more obvious than after 1931, when the Japanese –eager to control China as part of its sphere of interest– invaded Manchuria, which the U.S. promptly denounced as an act of aggression. For both nations the great prize was China. After that, Japan and U.S. were on the road to war.By referring to the competing capitalist national gang rivalries behind the abstractions of nations (China, Japan, US), he, like many ruling class propagandists, hides the real nature of the devastating wars in the 20th century.
Let me present a concise alternative view of history that focuses more specifically on competition among capitalist ruling classes to control access to markets and resources all over the world to satisfy their interests of profits and power.
In spite of the external military operations of other capitalist countries and internal threats posed by poverty, hunger, chaos, and epidemic diseases, the success of the Soviet revolution in 1917 posed an ongoing threat of a system that directly challenged private ownership of the economy that existed in all the other technologically advanced countries. Should the Soviet experiment succeed, all capitalist ruling classes were threatened by the alternative example of public ownership. Thus capitalist ruling classes, having failed to re-install a capitalist regime in the Soviet Union, waited to see if the new Soviet government simply collapsed under the weight of so many initial problems.
During the 1930s when Western nations were severely plagued by the Great Depression, the Soviet Union was making rapid economic strides and enjoying full employment. Obviously this was of great concern to Western capitalist ruling classes and they began a project to support right-wing fascist parties in Europe which ultimately brought the Nazi Party to power in Germany and the fascists in Italy. Because the "democratic" (the US, Britain, France, etc) nations stood by in neutrality, they allowed Germany and Italy to savage the far left elected Spanish government during the Spanish Civil War. Only the Soviet Union and volunteers from the non-fascist Western countries came to the aid of the Spanish government, and the Soviet leaders lost interest in doing so because they themselves felt threatened.
During this period American and other European ruling capitalist classes were split in their attitudes and policies toward the fascist countries. On the one hand, they saw the latter as a bulwark against organized labor unions and leftists, but on the other, especially as the latter grew in power, they feared that they might present a threat to the economic interests of capitalists in what became known as the allied nations. Also the more fascist oriented capitalists in the allied nations saw the splendid potential of the German Nazi government to expand eastward (Hitler had described this plan in Mein Kampf as Lebensraum).
Similarly Japan's ruling capitalist class had their own imperialist concept of Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. What most Americans are unaware of is that the US ruling class had their own concept, the Grand Area (this area was extended after WWII and became known as the "free world"). The Allies patiently let Germany expand and grow their empire on the European continent and move east toward the Soviet Union. However Germany unexpectedly invaded Poland, with which Britain had a defense treaty, instead of going from Czechoslovakia on to the Soviet Union. Thus began a phony war after which the Nazi government attacked Britain and continued to move east and invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. Because the Netherlands, Belgium, and France had been easily overrun by German forces, the Allied ruling classes expected that Germany would easily defeat the Soviet forces. But whereas the defeat of the Allied countries was mainly due to their ruling classes being split in their orientation to the fascist nations, the Soviet government was united in their opposition to fascism. As a result the German forces encountered great difficulty after only a month into their invasion.
Although I cannot yet prove it, I am convinced by much circumstantial evidence that leading US ruling class figures at this time saw that Germany was not going to succeed in conquering the USSR and therefore Germany was now a threat to the British Empire and the US. They and their British associates began formulating plans in the late summer of 1941 to prepare for war with the Axis powers. They saw the necessity of securing what they referred to as the Grand Area, which included the Western Hemisphere plus southeast Asia, in order to win the war against the Axis powers. Of course, this put them on a collision course with Japan's ruling class who vitally needed the resources in that area and oil from the US. The US government soon embargoed oil exports to Japan in order to force Japan along together their ally Germany into a war with the Anglo-American combination.
Capitalist ruling classes are very much like street gangs in that they compete over territories which provide them with opportunities of profit and power. Thus the Anglo-American capitalist combination were not going to permit the capitalist ruling classes in Germany and/or Japan to dominate the world and threaten their access to raw materials and markets. The Anglo-American Empire, soon to become the US-led Empire, went on to win WWII with the result that they have dominated the world ever since. However, the governments of Russia, China, Iran and other countries are now starting to challenge their dominance, and we can expect more major wars to follow--unless we organize an effective opposition against our profit and power addicted ruling class!