The First Casualty
By Kris Millegan
The ends justifies the means . . .
Everything is quiet here. There is no trouble. There will be no war. I wish to return.
You furnish the pictures. I will furnish the war.
William Randolph Hearst - 1897,
This exchange was first reported by Hearst correspondent James Creelman in his 1901 memoir, On The Great Highway. He was quite proud of his boss and the methods used to whip-up war hysteria.
The time has not come when all the machinery employed by the American press in behalf of Cuba can be laid bare to the public. . . . Things which cannot be referred to even now were attempted.
. . . If the war against Spain is justified in the eyes of history [and Creelman clearly thought it would be], then yellow journalism deserves its place among the most useful instrumentalities of civilization. It may be guilty of giving the world a lop-sided view of events by exaggerating the importance of a few things and ignoring others, it may offend the eye by typographical violence, it may sometimes proclaim its own deeds too loudly; but it never deserted the cause of the poor and downtrodden.
Reporters, including novelist Stephen Crane and a young Winston Churchill, had been writing dispatches from Cuba, for years. Some reporters did their job, others completely fabricated tales from the safety of their hotel bars.
There were other folks also looking into the Cuban Question.
Lieutenant Commander Richard Wainwright took over the Office of Naval Intelligence in April 1896. One of his first acts was to order a strategic study of the Spanish-American situation, War with Spain, 1896, General considerations of the War, the results desired and the Consequent Kind of Operations to be Undertaken. The report outlined quick action towards the Philippines and to have superior forces in the Caribbean for the action of a naval blockade of Cuba.
Wainwright most vocal and helpful supporter was Teddy Roosevelt, Asst Secretary of the Navy, who assured growing ONI influence . . . in the incoming administration of William McKinley.
Roosevelt at the annual Gridiron Dinner, just before the Spanish-American War said, We will have this war . . . in spite of the timidity of the commercial classes.
In November of 1897, Lt Commander Wainwright was transferred to the USS Maine. January of 1898 President McKinley ordered the USS Maine to Cuba. On February 15 the USS Maine blew up in Havana harbor killing 260 American sailors which then put into play the very war planning that Wainwright had earlier overseen.
The Maine disaster mobilized naval intelligence. Between the sinking in February and the declarations of war in April, ONI undertook extensive and secret measures for war preparations against Spain. Once again Roosevelt coordinated activity.
The first casualty when war comes is truth."
Senator Hiram Johnson
Next-----Patience will be required for the duty ahead
Om, Shalom, Salaam.
Em Hotep, Peace Be,
All My Relations.
Omnia Bona Bonis,
Adieu, Adios, Aloha.