On this day in history, Japan surrendered in a ceremony aboard the U.S.S. Missouri. At the ceremony General Douglas MacArthur delivered some of his most famous words, in a career filled with them.
It is my earnest hope, and indeed the hope of all mankind, that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past — a world dedicated to the dignity of man and the fulfillment of his most cherished wish for freedom, tolerance and justice,” McArthur told the Japanese.
Over the radio, McArthur laid out an even more ambitious program.
“Men since the beginning of time have sought peace…. Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. We have had our last chance. If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door.
The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural development of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.”
No ambitious program to create a more equitable system succeeded. The United Nations is an ongoing and prolonged failure. No tremendous revolution in human character has occurred. And even if it had occurred, it would have availed little if America’s enemies did not similarly experience a tremendous spiritual advance as well.
Six years later, McArthur, was delivering a very different sort of speech to Congress.
The Communist threat is a global one. Its successful advance in one sector threatens the destruction of every other sector. You can not appease or otherwise surrender to communism in Asia without simultaneously undermining our efforts to halt its advance in Europe.
War’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision. In war there is no substitute for victory. There are some who, for varying reasons, would appease Red China. They are blind to history’s clear lesson, for history teaches with unmistakable emphasis that appeasement but begets new and bloodier war. It points to no single instance where this end has justified that means, where appeasement has led to more than a sham peace. Like blackmail, it lays the basis for new and successively greater demands until, as in blackmail, violence becomes the only other alternative.