All this arm-twisting, threatening, and spying by Bush and his bullyboys against Chile, Mexico, and all the "coalition" member countries during the build up to war against Iraq got me thinking about this famous exchange between Hitler and Roosevelt.
By the time Roosevelt had sent his telegram, Hitler had already signed the orders for the invasion of Poland. You can be sure all the nations mentioned in the telegram knew which way the wind was blowing and eventhough everybody knew damn well they were lying, they were sure to say they didn't fear Germany.
You might notice some familiar names on the list.
Some things never change.
President Roosevelt to the Chancellor of Germany (Hitler) , [Telegram], 14 April 1939
THE WHITE HOUSE, April 14, 1939.
You realize I am sure that throughout the world hundreds of millions of human beings are living today in constant fear of a new war or even a series of wars...
I am convinced that the cause of world peace would be greatly advanced if the nations of the world were to obtain a frank statement relating to the present and future policy of governments...Because the United States, as one of the nations of the Western Hemisphere, is not involved in the immediate controversies which have arisen in Europe, I trust that you may be willing to make such a statement of policy to me as the head of a nation far removed from Europe in order that I, acting only with the responsibility and obligation of a friendly intermediary, may communicate such declaration to other nations now apprehensive as to the course which the policy of your Government may take.
Are you willing to give assurance that your armed forces will not attack or invade the territory or possessions of the following independent nations: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain and Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Russia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Iraq, the Arabias, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iran.
April 28, 1939 before the Reichstag
Members of the German Reichstag:
The President of the United States of America has addressed a telegram to me, with the curious contents of which you are already familiar. Before I, the addressee, actually received this document, the rest of the world had already been informed of it by radio and newspaper reports, and numerous commentaries in the organs of the democratic world press had already profusely enlightened us as to the fact that this telegram was a very skillful tactical document, designed to impose upon the states, in which the people govern, the responsibility for the warlike measures adopted by the plutocratic countries.
Mr. Roosevelt asks that assurances be given him that the German armed forces will not attack, and above all, not invade, the territory or possessions of the following independent nations. He then names as those to which he refers: Finland, Lithuania, Latvia,' Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain , Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iraq, the Arabias, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iran.
Answers I have first taken the trouble to ascertain from the states mentioned, firstly, whether they feel themselves threatened, and, what is most important, secondly, whether this inquiry by the American President was addressed to us at their suggestion or at least with their consent.
The reply was in all cases negative, in some instances strongly so. It is true that there were certain ones among the states and nations mentioned, whom I could not question because they themselves - as for example, Syria - are at present not in possession of their freedom, but are under occupation by the military agents of democratic states and consequently deprived of their rights.
Apart from this fact, however, all states bordering on Germany have received much more binding assurances and -particularly, more binding proposals than Mr. Roosevelt asked from me in his curious telegram.
But should there be any doubt as to the value of these general and specific statements which I have so often made, then any further statement of this kind, even if addressed to the American President, would be equally worthless. For in the final analysis it is not the value which Mr. Roosevelt attaches to such statements which is decisive, but the value attached to these statements by the countries in question.
But I must also draw Mr. Roosevelt's attention to one or two mistakes in history. He mentions Ireland, for instance, and asks for a statement to the effect that Germany will not attack Ireland. Now, I have just read a speech delivered by Mr. de Valera, the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), in which strangely enough, and contrary to Mr. Roosevelt's opinion, he does not charge Germany with oppressing Ireland, but reproaches England with subjecting Ireland to continuous aggression.
With all due respect to Mr. Roosevelt's insight into the needs and cares of other countries, it may nevertheless be assumed that the Irish Taoiseach would be more familiar with the dangers which threaten his country than would the President of the United States.
Similarly the fact has obviously escaped Mr. Roosevelt's notice that Palestine is at present occupied not by German troops but by the English; and that the country is undergoing restriction of its liberty by the most brutal resort to force, is being robbed of its independence and is suffering the cruelest maltreatment for the benefit of Jewish interlopers.
The Arabs living in that country would therefore certainly not have complained to Mr. Roosevelt of German aggression, but they are voicing a constant appeal to the world, deploring the barbarous methods with which England is attempting to suppress a people which loves its freedom and is merely defending it.
This, too, is perhaps a problem which in the American President's view should be solved at the conference table, that is, before a just judge, and not by physical force or military methods, by mass executions, burning down villages, blowing up houses and so on.
For one fact is surely certain. In this case England is not defending herself against a threatened Arab attack, but as an uninvited interloper, is endeavoring to establish her power in a foreign territory which does not belong to her.
...Lastly I have the following statement to make:
The German Government is in spite of everything prepared to give each of the states named an assurance of the kind desired by Mr. Roosevelt, on condition of absolute reciprocity, provided that such state wishes it and itself addresses to Germany a request for such an assurance, together with correspondingly acceptable proposals. [and you can take that to the bank!]