“Homer Lea’s Valour of Ignorance will someday be studied by thousands of people. Lea understood more about world politics than all the cabinet ministers now in office.” -- Vladimir Lenin
(Valour of Ignorance is required reading at West Point & Japanese Military Academies)
Homer Lea was the lone white man who stood in the front row, watching as Dr. Sun, Yat-Sen took the oath as the first Provisional President of the new Republic of China. The last emperor of the monarchy vanished forever from this big old country.
From two of Lea’s books, The Valor of Ignorance and The Day of The Saxon, we know that Lea was a world geopolitical thinker and a military genius. He predicted the Japanese Pacific invasion, the Pearl Harbor attack, and the rise of the Nazi party that led to World War II. If you want to know more about Homer Lea, the information you receive may be confusing, incomplete, and contradictory, perhaps even fraudulent and controversial.
Many historians will not touch the subject. If we keep an open mind and are willing to explore through open discussion, we will be able to piece together a more complete picture of this rather enigmatical man. Politicians sometimes have to lie to conceal certain information in order to protect lives, to achieve their goals under pressure and within a limited time frame. During the Chinese revolution, there was top secrecy. In China and in the United States, you would not have known who was your friend or enemy, life a balance while walking on a thin wire.
As you walk through each web page, one attempts to answer the same puzzling question - Who is Homer Lea? If you can look at the whole picture, the people, the time, the milieu surrounding him, one may be at a loss for words attempting to describe the entire man and what he stood for. For the Chinese, they should always remember that there was an American hero within the Chinese revolution. Now is the time to recognize him, to honor him, and to celebrate his devotion and passion to the Chinese people. For the American people, Lea was a great American Patriot. His books continually warned the United States of their enemies. He helped China to balance the powers in the Pacific region in order to protect his country. Yet, despite his political expertise and martial maneuvering, Homer Lea was never pro-war. He would have done anything to avoid it. In fact, he was fundamentally a peace- lover, unselfish and devoted in his life, his work aimed toward the happiness of mankind.
Valour of Ignorance
Homer Lea | Valour of Ignorance (Excerpts)
“To free a nation from error is to enlighten the individual, and only to the degree that the individual will be receptive of truth can a nation be free from that vanity which ends with national ruin” -- Homer Lea
It was a melancholy, stifling night, but in the bright dry room, one talked, as every visitor in Manila did in those days, lightly enough of the possibility of a Japanese invasion of the Phillipines.
“If it comes, where will they strike first?” I asked.
Colonel Charles Willoughby drew a deft map of Luzon on the Major’s tablecloth. “The main attacks will probably come here, at Lingayen Gulf,” he said, making an arrow, “and then here – at Polillo Bight. Ye old pincer movement.”
“You’re not giving away military secrets?”
The officers all laughed. Colonel Willoughby pocketed his pencil. “No,” he said. “Just quoting military gospel – according to Homer Lea.”
“Who is Homer Lea?”
“Tell you a funny story,” the Colonel said. “When I first came out here, about a year ago, some nimble wit in Military Intelligence had just hauled in a ‘spy.’ Young college-bred Filipino. Seems he had written a letter to a pal, complete with rough maps, analyzing the Jap plans for invading Luzon.
The pal turned it over to G-2, who had the boy on the mat. His maps, and his analysis corresponded rather too well with the Department’s. The terrified kid swore he’d gotten the whole thing right out of an old book he’d taken out of the library. ‘Son, have you by any chance been reading Homer Lea?’ I asked. When he produced the library card which showed he had, we let him go… You see,” the Colonel said, “thirty-five years ago, a strange young man who called himself ‘General’ Homer Lea, wrote a book about a war to come between America and Japan. In it he described, in minutest details the Jap campaigns against the Phillipines, Hawaii, Alaska and California.”
“A sort of American Nostradamus?”
The Colonel said, “Not at all. Homer Lea was neither a mystic nor a prophet. He was a scientist. He studied the science of war – the fundamental laws of which are as immutable as those of any other science. He also sought to analyze the causes of war and diagnose the symptoms of an approaching conflict. And, having proven, at least to his own satisfaction, that great causes of war existed between the U.S. and Japan, that the symptoms of the approaching conflict were apparent to all but fools or wishful-thinkers, he proceeded to set forth the tactical course that war would take.”
The Major said, “I read him at West Point. Damned convincing militarily – if you accepted his political premise – that our democracy wouldn’t get ready in time to lick the Japs.”
“Is America ready?” the Colonel asked of nobody in particular.
“From which dismal question,” I said, “am I to assume that you, like Homer Lea, doubt for a moment we could lick the Japs, even if they attacked tomorrow?”
The Colonel said, “Don’t jump to conclusions. First, Lea wrote over thirty years ago. Since then, there have been revolutionary changes, not in the science, but in the instruments of warfare. Second, like all scientist, he did not make enough allowance for that forever inexact science: the science of the human soul. There are two things – and only two things – having to do with the defense of these Islands which Lea did not, could not, foresee. One was the courage and genius of a man called MacArthur. The other was a machine called the airplane. If these omissions are decisive factors – Lea’s analysis, that these Islands cannot be held will be proven wrong.”
“Are they decisive factors?”
“Well, I hope to God they are!” the Major said fervently.
“Amen,” said Colonel Willoughby. “But in any case, next month, when you get home – brush up on the General.”~!~
Writing eight years before the outbreak of World War I, twenty-nine years before the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, thirty-three years before the outbreak of World War II, Homer Lea states, as militarily axiomatic, that all these dire events – including the surprise attack on Hawaii – would be in time and space, inevitable.
Why? Because:“No state is ever destroyed except through those avertable conditions that mankind dreads to contemplate. Yet nations prefer to perish rather than to master the single lesson taught by the washing away of those that have gone before them. In their indifference, and in the valour of ignorance, they depart, together with their monuments and their constitutions…”
That single lesson is vigilance, the eternal price of liberty.
The Valour of Ignorance is charged with the bitterest apoghems ever penned against Isolationism and Pacifism. It explodes with florid and savage indictments of the smugness and conceit that lead fat rich contented nations to disarm while encouraging tough frugal hungry nations to attack them. Like a battle drum it beats the need of militant patriotism in times of peace – so that times of war may be avoided. Like the blast of a reveille bugle, it seeks to shatter “our mock heroism of dreams,” and our “valour of the rostrum.”~!~
The Day of the Saxon, the second book by Lea, is equally prophetic – and equally gloomy. Published in 1912, its thesis is also stark and simple: The British Empire (the Kingdom of the Saxon) shows certain specific military defects which leave it vulnerable to German aggression. Lea predicted that if the British Empire continued to rely solely on commercialism and sea power, if it could not, in short, quickly form a lasting military alliance with a great friendly land army power – it was doomed by the ever resurgent armies of Germany. But nowhere on the teeming greedy earth, except in the Western hemisphere, where America alone among all the great powers neither feared Great Britain, nor desired what was hers, could Homer Lea, in 1912, find for the Empire a “great land army” ally. And despairful that the United States would ever see – in time – “that the Brittish Navy” – not the Monroe Doctrine is this Republic’s true protection,” he foretold that “the day of the Saxon” was drawing to a close, and that on a hundred fields of battle – in Belguim, France, Holland, Russia and Egypt, the day of the Teuton was dawning. And, bitterest prophecy of all: Great Britain at long last, exhausted by her perhaps “victorious” Germanic wars, would then lose her Empire to Japan and Russia.~!~
I sought Who’s Who for 1912, the year his last book was published. He was there:“Lea, Homer, author, soldier, b. Denver, Nov 17, 1876…”
And with this as a clue, to other clues, in old newspaper files… It is the story of the Valour of Homer Lea.~!~
In the early days of the Civil War, Alfred Erskine Lea, fourteen year old son of a Tennessee doctor, living in Missouri, had made his way alone, through the bloody border states, in a mule-drawn covered wagon to the West. In Colorado, Alfred Lea mined at Cripple Creek, prospered mildly, married Hersa Coberly who bore him a son, Homer, and two daughters, and finally moved to Los Angeles.
There Homer attended a public high school for two years, where he was a “brilliant though erratic student.”
Homer wanted to be a soldier. And it was so very plain he could never be. He was a hunchback child, and after he was twelve years old and five feet tall, he never grew. As he approached boyhood a curvature of the spine grew more pronounced until it earned him the unhappy nickname of “Little Scrunch-neck,” among his classmates. But “Little Scrunch-neck,” nothing daunted resolutely played soldier. Two childhood friends, the late Harry Carr of the Los Angeles Times and Marco Newmark, recalled that after hours “he drilled the kids with broomsticks and laid out campaigns in his backyard.” His sister once wrote a friend that on Fourths of July Homer wasn’t content just to set off firecrackers like other brothers; he insisted on staging manoeuvres on the lawn, using the firecrackers as artillery to blast h is little sisters out of the “untenable positions” he had entrenched them in behind trees and bushes. Why his sisters and his schoolmates meekly took orders from the frail hunchback, whose manner was always gentle and whose voice was always soft, they could never quiet explain. Years later, a Chinese who had been with him on the field of battle said, “He had eyes that could bury you nine feet under the ground, if you disobeyed him.”
Homer spouted the campaigns of Ceasar, Hannibal, Alexander, Turenne and Napoleon, which he knew far better than they knew their football and baseball scores. To this, he added another idiosyncrasy: a tendency to talk Chinese; which he picked up from the family cook, a pigtailed Chinaman. Carr said that Homer once confided to him that his interest in China was the result of a strange set of dreams, in which at last in a blare of Chinese trumpets, he saw himself revealed as the reincarnation of a great historic Chinese warrior called “The Martial Monk,” marching at the head of his army to defend China. The true dreams of a small sick body, or the “daydreams” of a sensitive boy who felt his physical inferiority keenly, or simply the imaginative reflection of the interest all political-minded Californians had in the “Chinese problem” in those days, the fact remains that by the time Lea entered Leland Stanford in 1895, to study law, his main preoccupations were all things military and all things Chinese.
Although still popular, as cripples are always “popular,” most of his college classmates thought him a full-fledged “nut.”~!~
The creation of a great strong democratic China – was more important to him than all the British Empire, for with uncanny vision, with a strategic insight that verged on mysticism, Lea knew that his America would need an Asiatic ally in it’s inevitable war against Japan.
At a presidential reception he congratulated the President, and is supposed to have uttered a strange word of warning, in which he paraphrased in his own written words:“Now China,” he said, “is like a Republic. America, too is a Republic. Your Republic, like ours, can only be preserved in its beauty and freedom by vigilant swords… China’s enemies now are its historic pacifism (apathy) and political corruption… and Japan. We have the same three enemies… I can do nothing for either of our two great countries. I am a dying man. I have warned America in my books. I now warn you, in words… Free China will yet perish unless there rises from your innermost bosom the militant spirit of another Martial Monk. If he does not come, Republic or no, the hour for this ancient kingdom has come…”~!~
Civilisation has not changed human nature. The nature of man makes war inevitable. Armed strife will not disappear from the earth until after human nature changes.~!~
High or low, the ambitions of the heterogeneous masses that now riot and revel within the confines of this Republic only regard it in a parasitical sense, as a land to batten on and grow big in, whose resources are not to be developed and conserved for the furtherance of the Republic’s greatness, but only to satisfy the larval greed of those who subsist upon it’s fatness.
If there is any patriotism worth having it belongs alone to the primitive principles of the Republic, to the militant patriotism of those who in simple, persistent valour laid with their swords the foundation of this national edifice and who after seven years of labour cemented with their own blood the thirteen blocks of its foundation. The continuation of this building, and the endless extension of the Republic, the maintenance of its ideals and the consummation, in a world-wide sense, of the aspirations of its founders, constitutes the only pure patriotism to which an American can lay claim or, in defence of, lay down his life.
Warfare, either ancient or modern, has never been nor will ever be mechanical. There is no such possibility as the combat of instruments. It is the soldier that brings about victory or defeat. The knowledge of commanders and the involuntary comprehension and obedience to orders is what determines the issue of battles. An army controlled by more than one mind is as many times useless as are numbered the minds that direct it. But what mankind does not take cognisance of is that, in the alteration of modes of combat by mechanical and scientific inventions, there must be a psychological readjustment of the militant spirit of the combatants. As the instruments of warfare become more intricate, the discipline and esprit de corps must be increased accordingly. Because of this fact volunteer forces become more and more useless as the science of warfare progresses.~!~
An army possesses a heart and brain as does every other living organism. This heart and brain of an army is made up of the officers composing it, while the soul of it is the spirit that inspires them. The worth of an army must be measured primarily by the character of his soul. In volunteer armies it is little more than embryonic, and in its absence armies are but mobs. It is immaterial how numerous they may be, how vast their armament, or how perfect their utensils of war, these things shall avail them not at all.
The creation of this martial soul necessitates year after year that callouses not alone the hands, but also the weakness inherent in man and wrings sweat from his heart. In the lessons of these years they learn that in warfare a relentless absorption of individuality must supervene, an annihilation of all personality. Only then can they reach that pinnacle of human greatness, to seek glory in death.~!~
NATO: Battle of Jus Sanguinis River Campaign (08:09)
It is through empirical knowledge alone that man is able to ascertain what laws do or do not regulate his activities. Inventors do not invent; they only apply in a new manner laws and forces that have existed from the beginning of time. Chemists do not create; they only make known the presence of elements and conditions existent already in nature. Thus it is that sophists and theorists and all that category have not left to mankind, throughout the ages of the human race, one single substantial legacy, and for no other reason than that they try to invent out of airy nothings that which the laws and forces governing the world deny; or labour to create, out of nebulosity of their own sick brains, elements unknown to nature.
As far as the world is concerned they might as well be a louse on the back of a wild duck as it wings its way through the stormy night.
It is in relationship to these forces that govern the formation, duration, and dissolution of political entities, that International Arbitration and Disarmament are to be considered. Not that they themselves are worth even a passing word, but for the fact of the mischief that their illusive ideas are capable of bringing about, especially in this Republic, where education is so prevalent, while knowledge and capacity to discern between what is true and what is superficial is proportionally absent.
No people are so visionary and none hang more persistently onto the coat-tails of false gods as those who have enough education to read by not enough learning to be able to distinguish between what is false and what is true.
It is on account of the prevalency of this smattering of education that every ism has its followers, every form of religious dementia its sanctuary and apostles, every visionary his devotees; and it matters in no way from what depths of absurdity they may come up, they have their adherents.
Usually these delusions are harmful only to the individual, and as such are not worthy of concern, but when the hallucination is apt to become so widespread as to affect the welfare of the nation, then it is time to point out the mockery of their hopes and the quicksands into which their aspirations have led them.
In this class of visionaries we place International Arbitrationists and Disarmamentists, who are so persistently striving through subservient politicians, through feminism, clericalism, sophism and other such toilers to drag this already much deluded Republic into that Brobdingnagian swamp from whose deadly gases there is no escape.
The idea of International Arbitration as a substitute for natural laws that govern the existence of political entities arises not only from a denial of their fiats and an ignorance of their application, but from a total misconception of war, its causes and its meaning.
The source or origin of war must always be searched for, not in disputes between states, but deep down in the bowels of one or all of them. There alone will be heard those bruised noises, political, industrial or revolutionary, sooner or later to end in that eruption of mankind called – war. Disputes or disagreements between nations, instead of being a source or cause of war, are nothing more nor less than the first manifestations of approaching combat, or are the preliminaries thereto. To remove them by arbitration, or any other means, is at best but procrastination.
Investigation shows that whenever two nations have become engaged in warfare they have been advancing on converging lines of self-interest and aggrandizement. When the contact takes place, the struggle for supremacy, or even survival is at hand. This inevitable hour is approximately fixed and determined by the angles of convergence plus the sum of the relative speed by which the nations are moving along their respective lines. Thus it is that, when the angle of convergence of both or even one of the nations is acute and the speed or progress along one or both of the converging lines correspondingly great, war results in a few years or decades.~~!*!~~
The morality of any nation whose people have electoral rights is no greater than the morality of its people. No republic can be free from any of the motives, passions, ambitions, hate or delinquencies to which the majority of its people are subject.
Whenever the time comes that nations are not obliged to enforce their own laws with a power superior to that of individuals and communities, then and then only can they hope to substitute International Arbitration for the power of armies. But from whence and when will that devoutly wished-for day come wherein states may discard the use of power in enforcing justice and in exacting obedience to their laws?
When will that Golden Age be ushered in upon this unhappy earth, and arbitration between individuals substituted for law and dynamic force in which it originates and ends? When will laws made by man for the government of man, together with his courts, his penal institutions, be put aside and voluntary arbitration between man and man take their place?
Only when arbitration is able to unravel the tangled skein of crime and hypocrisy among individuals can it be extended to communities and nations. As nations are only man in the aggregate, they are the aggregate of his crimes and deception and depravity, and so long as these constitute the basis of individual impulse, so long will they control the acts of nations.~!~
The suddenness with which the precipitating causes of war break upon public consciousness almost invariably hides the true reasons – in all probability extant many years prior – that tend to bring on the conflict; hence it happens – as is the case with this Republic – that nations go rushing blindly along acutely converging lines to that point of contact – which is war.
Whenever a nation fails or scorns to differentiate between the sources and causes of war, it enters into the conflict unprepared. But those nations whose affairs of state are carried on by men fully cognisant of the difference between the trivial and the immutable are not only always prepared for battle, but they determine the time and place of the conflict; which, more often than otherwise, is an assurance of success.
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