Day By Day

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

This Day In History

Today is "National Brownie Day" so check and see if any of the little fairy critters are messing around in your house. I understand that they really like honey, milk and porridge and will do household chores for you if you leave a little gift out for them when you go to sleep. You can read about one of them here.

Or maybe it means the other kind of brownie -- the chocolaty kind that you bake up in a sheet pan and devour with great gusto. I prefer to think that's what is meant and if so I might as well go ahead and eat that bowl of honey and porridge we left out in the kitchen. Then tomorrow I can run down to the market and pick up some chocolaty goodness.

Or maybe it refers to junior Girl Scouts. I hope not. I understand that they really like cookies, and I finished off my last batch this evening.

I really need to start watching my waistline.

On this day in 1932 the League of Nations suffered its first major failure -- the first of many. This grew out of the infamous Mukden Incident. The League had been established in the Treaty of Versailles [1919-20] which officially ended World War I. The idea was to provide a mechanism by which major powers could cooperate to negotiate solutions to world problems, to prevent war, and to enforce human rights. Mukden provided the first real test of the League's effectiveness.

On September 18, 1931 near Mukden in eastern Manchuria a section of railroad owned by a Japanese company was dynamited. Manchuria at the time was part of China, but railroad security was provided by Japanese troops. The whole thing was a setup, cooked up by local Japanese army officers. They set off the explosion in hopes of provoking an incident that would justify an invasion of the area. It worked.

Claiming that the explosion was sabotage by Chinese dissidents Japanese soldiers from their base at Mukdun assaulted a nearby Chinese base slaughtering more than 500 soldiers. Japanese leaders belatedly gave their approval to what the local commanders had done while Chinese generals, under strict orders from Chaing Kai Chek, offered no resistance. Japanese troops poured into Manchuria and occupied several towns.

The Chinese government appealed to the League of Nations for assistance and the mythical "international community" responded as it usually does -- it sent a strongly worded resolution ordering the Japanese to withdraw their troops from the region and called for negotiations. Japan refused to comply and on December 7th declared that the League of Nations had no control over its actions in Manchuria.

Things did not go well after that. Chaing's government collapsed and he was forced to resign, the Japanese took over Manchuria and established a puppet state of Manchuko there. The United States protested, the League of Nations investigated, but nothing was done and in 1933 Japan withdrew from the League. As British historian A. J. P. Taylor noted, facing its first great test the international community buckled and capitulated. The problem with the League [indeed with any such organization] was that unless the great powers acted in concert nothing could be done, and the great powers had other interests that they deemed more important, so nothing was done.

Sound familiar?

Leaving the Building:

John Lennon, a pop singer and songwriter of some repute and a member of the "Beatles" singing group, was killed by Mark David Chapman who then took out a copy of "Catcher in the Rye", sat down near the body, and read until the police came to arrest him. Some people think that Lennon was important -- I don't.