Yesterday, brought us media pundits stumbling through basic citizenship questions, today brings us John McCain nemesis J.D. Hayworth stumbling through basic U.S. history questions…sort of. Hayworth is making some headlines for telling an audience member at local GOP gathering that technically speaking the U.S. never declared war in Nazi Germany. Cue collective gasp (and a lot of Texas textbook jokes). But does he have any wiggle room? Here’s what he said in full in response to an audience member who remarked on how the U.S. no longer formally declares war in modern conflicts:
I would also point out, that if we want to be sticklers, the war that Dwight Eisenhower led in Europe against the Third Reich was never declared by the United States Congress…Recall, the Congress passed a war resolution against Japan. Germany declared war on us two days later. We never formally declared war on Hitler’s Germany, and yet we fought the war. [And later, when an audience member disagreed] I think we should check it. Perhaps we made the rationalization — since there was the Axis alliance — that the attack of Japan was tantamount to the attack of the Third Reich. But as I recall in my history, Germany declared war on the United States, not vice-versa.”
Obviously, the U.S. went to war against Nazi Germany. Maybe Hayworth was trying to say the U.S. didn’t declare war unprovoked and got overzealous? Regardless, here’s where Hayworth (or at least his spokesperson) seems to think the wiggle room comes in. Following Pearl Harbor the U.S. Congress resolved to declare war against Japan, and shortly thereafter proceeded to attack Japan as best it could with its damaged fleet. The rules of the Tripartite Pact required that Nazi Germany declare war on any country that attacked Japan, which they did on Dec 11, 1941. Later that same day in a message to Congress, Roosevelt requested “the Congress to recognize a state of war between the United States and Germany, and between the United States and Italy.” And Congress resolved “that the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared.”
The language of the two war resolutions is more or less identical, except for two lines: Japan “committed unprovoked acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America” and Germany “formally declared war against the government and the people of the United States of America:” Either way, in the lines that followed war was officially “declared.”
Hayworth is now attempting to split some hairs by saying he was referring to Roosevelt’s “message,” regarding Germany but the outcome, and the wording of the outcome, is the same. Probably in the future Hayworth should just stick with the basic facts and not attempt any frivolous interpretation. Video below.
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