The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Hiroshima, Holocaust Denial and Hypocrisy

Posted by Bill Nance on August 7, 2009

Today is August 7. As usual, this is the day my anger over the previous day’s marking of the bombing of Hiroshima subsides.

On August 6, 1945, Colonel Paul Tibbets and his crew dropped a single Atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy,” on Hiroshima, instantly incinerating some 50,000-70,000 Japanese and injuring another 100,000, resulting in an estimated 60,000 additional deaths over the next five years or so. This bombing, and the one of Nagasaki three days later, resulted in the Japanese’ unconditional surrender to the allies and the end of world War Two.

No one would argue that the loss of some 580,000 Japanese civilians during the war was anything but tragic. Most of these died as a result of the US strategic bombing of Japan, though at least 100,000 were killed in the bloody house to house and cave to cave fighting on Saipan and Okinawa, including at least 5,000 Japanese civilian suicides on Saipan alone.

The civilian death toll during the Second World War was apocalyptic in scale, probably reaching forty million souls.  some of these were inevitable “collateral damage.” That is, civilians inadvertently killed during combat operations.  Some were killed as a result of strategic terror bombings on all sides, designed to sap the enemy’s will to fight.

But the vast majority, estimated to be at least 30,000,000 people, were killed deliberately or from a purposeful policy of neglect, brutality or  murder, to say nothing of the murder of helpless military captives, notably by the Japanese, Germans and Soviets.

Much ado has been made over the German perpetration of the Holocaust against the Jews, Gypsies and others during that war. Museums on the subject dot the world. And rightfully so. But the world has acquiesced to a conspiracy of almost total silence on the Holocaust perpetrated by the Japanese in every land they occupied, as well as in Japan itself, where until the very end of the war, the Japanese government was actively pursuing germ warfare weapons to be used against US civilians and where prisoners of war were vivisected whilst still alive.

If you live in Germany for a while, you will be struck by what even now, some 60 years after the fact, remains a collective consciousness of guilt and shame over the Nazi years and the atrocities of that period. There is of course, no reason for young people, who’s parents weren’t even born until after the war to feel any sense of shame, and many have rejected this with I think a justifiable sense of having paid whatever debt is owed. And collectively, Germany remains a deeply pacifist nation as a result of the memory of those horrible years.

The same sense of Pacifism remains in Japan, but for an entirely different reason.

While I have not lived in Japan, I do have many friends and several relatives who have lived there for years.

In Japan there is little in the way of shame. In fact, Japanese children aren’t even taught about the extent of the atrocities committed by their forbears. The entire nation, from the end of the war until this day have and continue to be in utter denial about both their own guilt in launching an imperialist war of aggression and the horrors committed by their armies, the worst of which was the genocide committed against the Chinese, in which an estimated 20,000,000 Chinese civilians were slaughtered.

In the last few years, Americans, notably the Neoconservatives, have noted with horror that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a holocaust denier. In fact, to be a holocaust denier is counted by most people to be a grave sin.  Yet Japan is an entire nation in utter denial of the systematic butchery and unprovoked aggression perpetrated by their country and no one says a word.

Which leads us back to yesterday, August 6, where the usual somber remembrance of the Hiroshima bombing took place all over the world in a sign of collective guilt over the killing of Japanese civilians in that city.

Enough. I’m sick of hearing about it. It was without doubt, a brutal act in a brutal war. but it pales in comparison with the deliberate mass murder perpetrated against helpless civilians in an unprovoked war of aggression. Hiroshima was bombed because the alternative was a bloody invasion of Japan in which many many times the numbers killed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined would have been killed. Alternatively, a blockade of the islands would have resulted in the death by starvation of millions of Japanese. In comparison, the bombing of Hiroshima was a trivial price to pay for ending the war.  The fact that the Japanese and their willing co-deniers of history across the globe continue to forget the atrocities of the Japanese, the utter unwillingness to surrender under the terms offered by the Allies and the comparative death tolls of the alternatives to the bomb disgusts me, and it should disgust you as well.

On the day the Japanese government starts printing the unadulterated truth about those years in their school textbooks and officially acknowledges, without equivication or excuse, the crimes they committed, I will begin to have more sympathy for the civilian casualties of the Second World War. But even with compassion for civilians caught up in an awful war, August 6 should rightfully be remembered as the day that led to the end of a nightmare, not as a day of mourning.

The Japanese were victims of their own evil. They were not and are not martyrs.

*For two excellent scholarly works on the subject of the bomb, I reccommend Weapons for Victory, and Hiroshima in History: the Myths of Revisionism by Prof. Robert J. Maddox.


Posted in history, International, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Affirmative action in history courses

Posted by Bill Nance on September 29, 2008

As you may or may not know, I’m somewhat of an historical enthusiast. One of the things I enjoy is finding out little details in great historical narratives which add color and depth to the greater story.

An excellent example of this was the story of Harriet Tubman, the heroic escaped slave who returned over and over again to lead other escaped slaves from slavery in the south to freedom in Canada. Learning about Tubman’s courageous actions (and that word courageous doesn’t do adequate justice to her actions) helped personalize for me the deprivations and horror of slavery. I get the same feeling when I read Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, or the diary Joseph Plumb Martin.

So last night when I heard a re-broadcast of the Boston University’s World of Ideas I was excited by the prospect of hearing about Agrippa Hull, a black Revolutionary War soldier who was also an orderly to General John Patterson and to also Tadeusz Kosciuszko, an important but little known Polish General who was in charge of building fortifications at West Point.

I wasn’t terribly interested however, in a lecture on the need for affirmative action in history courses.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in education, history, Left-Wing Nut-Jobery, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Breaking news on Sarah Palin

Posted by Bill Nance on September 8, 2008

A video has emerged with shocking new allegations about Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin.

Swedish tourists who visited Alaska last year have made public a home video taken last winter, which they allege shows Palin in yet another unflattering light.

That’s right, Sara Palin shot Bambi’s mother!

Just kidding.

Posted in Election 08, history, Politics, Sarah Palin | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Iraq, what went wrong. Part I

Posted by Bill Nance on September 5, 2008

Editorial note: This is the first in a series of articles in which I will attempt explain what has happened in Iraq and how. By necessity the series is long, so I will break it up into somewhat more manageable bites. There is a great deal of complexity to to situation, and it deserves better treatment than can be reasonably addressed in a single post. I have been studying this matter intensely since 1993, and in doing so have come to many conclusions, which disagree with many of the most common arguments both for and against the current conflict in Iraq.

In 1993, two years after the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s army in Kuwait, one thing was abundantly clear: We screwed up in 1991.

The war ended for a several reasons, most of which seemed reasonable at the time. Indeed, the majority of those decisions were the right ones given the realities of February 1991. Hindsight is always 20/20, but in this case, the hindsight wouldn’t have changed most of the decisions about ending the conflict when and how we did. Mistakes were made, some things were just plain bad judgment. But many of the so-called mistakes were simply necessities. No war-time leader has unlimited options. To blame George HW Bush for “not finishing the job,” is to badly misunderstand the realities he faced.

First, the carnage among the Iraqi forces retreating out of Kuwait was playing very badly in the press around the world. We didn’t do anything wrong, but the grim reality of war is something few people are prepared to deal with, particularly after it’s clear the enemy has been utterly defeated. The coalition was absolutely right to do what it did. The goal was to destroy Iraq’s capability to retreat behind it’s borders only to launch another war after re-grouping. But war is an ugly thing; and seeing it’s consequences up close revolted many. We risked losing public support for the war if we continued.

Second, the assumption made at the time was that the Iraqis themselves would get rid of Saddam Hussein.

This was a miscalculation on the part of George HW Bush, and a predictable one. Hussein had launched an absolutely devastating war on Iran only a few years earlier. A war which the Iraqis lost and in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqi soldiers perished to no purpose. There were no repercussions for Saddam at that time, and it was overly optimistic to assume that things would be different in 1991.

Third, The prospect of invading Iraq with a western army was something our Arab “allies” (who were allies only in that we either bribed or frightened them into cooperation) would have decried. They would certainly have pulled out of the coalition completely, including Saudi Arabia, our only real base of operations. This would have made supporting such an invasion nearly impossible. Kuwait was in tatters, the condition of it’s ports unknown but suspect, and the oil-fires raging in the country presented serious problems for aviation. Imagine if, on day-6 of the Normandy invasion, Britain demanded total withdrawal of US troops and bases from its shores. That is the situation we would have faced had Saudi Arabia, already under enormous internal and external Arab pressure, kicked us out.

And so a ceasefire was signed, the Iraqis agreed to inspections and the relinquishing of of its weapons of mass destruction, and we called it good enough.

To be honest I don’t see what else we could have done. We might have hit the Iraqi army harder, we might have done a more thorough job blasting the Republican Guards, but even that would have produced a lot of problems for the coalition. Bush was stuck between a rock and a hard-place and I think he took the only road available to him.

The real mistakes, the ones which were predictable and frankly unforgivable, happened later. But it is important to remember how we got there in the first place. Cries of “We should have finished the job in the first place” are flat-out wrong. They ignore the facts on the ground at the time.

-To be continued-

Posted in history, iraq, National Security, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »