Saturday :: Aug 6, 2005

The New Dr. Strangelove Club Of The New World Order

by pessimist

Long time reader, first time poster Warren Terrer takes me to task for my earlier post today, which caused some strong language to be levelled at me like I was Osama bin Laden.

(So THAT'S why he hasn't been caught yet! He's in California disguised as me! But I digress!)

Warren's post made the most cogent points, all of which deserve a response, which follows on the flip side:

Arguments can be made, even today, for and against the decision to drop the bomb. It's a legitimate debate. But I see too much false outrage in pessimist's post.

False outrage? What makes it false? And, if so, I share a membership with many persons of distinction who opposed the usage of nuclear weapons then as I do today!

He calls the decision to drop the bomb 'racist', but offers no real proof other than the propaganda films of the time. However, Eisenhower is on the record as having said if he'd had the bomb available to him in Europe he would have dropped it on Germany.

Do produce a link verifying your contention, Warren! I can't find one to support your claim, but I have this one - among many others - to support mine:

At one point during the Potsdam conference in Germany, Truman ate lunch with Gens. Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley. Though Truman didn't ask either about using the bomb, Eisenhower indicated he was opposed to using it because he thought Japan had already lost the war wrote Truman biographer David McCullough.

Earlier, Eisenhower told other top U.S. officials the weapon was so horrible he hoped the United States would not be the first to use it.

That doesn't sound to me like Ike was ready to use the bomb on Hitler at all. Put your straw man away before your flaming me causes it to catch fire.

Can pessimist call that a racist decision?

Asians in WWII were readily characterized in Allied propaganda as inferiors. Were those in America of German or Italian descent interned during WWII? No - only the Asians from all over the Americas - North and South.

If Eisenhower, as just cited, and Admiral Leahy and MacArthur and many others were all of the opinion that atomic bombs were unnecessary considering Japan's demise was only a matter of time, who the hell are you to question my belief that their opinions - far more informed then than yours is today - were the correct ones?

I also note that pessimist has omitted reference to the earlier firebombing of Tokyo which also caused enormous numbers of civilian fatalities. It seems to me, therefore, that pessimist's real quarrel is with the method used, i.e. the atomic bomb, rather than with the deaths inflicted on civilians.

Did I not cite the Tokyo firebombing attack in my post? Did I not quote General LeMay concerning war crimes? Do tell how that makes me more in favor of the burning death by napalm instead of the burning death by uranium or plutonium.

And while I did not cite Dresden in my post, it is because the anniversary today is that of Hiroshima. Germany was defeated long before this date in 1945. Can you even cite what the date was that Dresden was incinerated? [March 13, 1945] Do you remember Bomber Harris' comments concerning that bombing?

Here I will only say that the attack on Dresden was at the time considered a military necessity by much more important people than myself, and that if their judgment was right the same arguments must apply that I have set out in an earlier chapter in which I said what I think about the ethics of bombing as a whole.

This is what Harris meant:

Harris remained an unrelenting and unrepentant advocate of the strategy of area bombing by night throughout the entire campaign and thereafter, seeing "de-housing" of civilians and destruction of urban areas as the quickest, and therefore ultimately the least brutal, method of ending the war.

LeMay at least has the understanding of what his actions against Hiroshima and Tokyo, among so many other Japanese cities, meant on a legal basis. Harris also indicates that, as the Nuremberg Trials later refuted as a defense for Nazis tried as war criminals, he was only following orders. Churchill was quick to distance himself from the bomber offensive and its main strategist after the war.

Feelings of revenge for the Pearl Harbor attack linger to this day as an excuse to justify atomic war. Would it be better today if Japan had followed Germany's example of apologizing where wartime actions are concerned? Maybe not:

In Coventry, on the 50th anniversary of the attack, the German president Richard von Weizsäcker spoke of his nation's guilt; but when the Queen visited Dresden, she failed to lay a wreath at the cathedral ruins. Her advisers feared tabloid headlines. And, who knows, someone might throw an egg.

It was a sad failure of diplomacy. Yet maybe a few have accepted that in war, however just the cause, no one emerges with clean hands. Saying sorry is not a sign of weakness.

My post, if you care to re-read it, presents the words of a couple of WWII veterans of the Pacific War who would have been personally affected by Operation Downfall - the invasion of the Japanese homelands - and still felt it necessary to make amends for the atomic bombings which happened instead of the traditional massive invasion, thus saving their lives to be able to make apoligies. The post was mostly quotes of their words.

In addition, I posted about the censored film documentation of the after-effects of the bombings being discovered and presented so that the world could see for themselves the horrors of atomic war.

I would think that you war groupies would love to see on TV this weekend the misery caused by the usage of WMD since King George has yet to light one off for you, covered live on CNN!

(Note pessimist's willingness to 'starve' Japan into submission.)

Again with the straw men!

Why is it that my reporting that some planners were proposing such a strategy implies to you that it was my preference? I am merely reporting that such planning exists, not that I favored it. I was only pointing out that Truman had other options to finalize the defeat of Japan rather than introduce nukes to the war equation:

The U.S. Navy urged the use of blockade and airpower to bring about Japan's capitulation. They proposed operations to capture airbases in nearby Shanghai, China, and in Korea. These locations would give the U.S. Army Air Force a series of forward airbases from which to operate against Japan.

And what of the widespread hunger of the Japanese people under the Occupation? The war was over once the Occupation began, so how does one justify the fact that while Allied planes were delivering food into Berlin, Japanese citizens under the Occupation did without? Want proof? Read Embracing Defeat by John W. Dower, ISBN 0-393-04686-9 and then tell me how I favor starvation as a weapon of war.

Since that is a big book, and is such a very hard read for such a soft mind, I give you this short outline excerpt which reports on Japanese famine after the Occupation took over:

Hunger and the Bamboo-Shoot Existence

- Trying to promote “revolution from above” in a society with stagnant productivity and runaway inflation
- Most Japanese preoccupied with finding food
o “field vandalizing”: 46% of crimes in Osaka involved food
o Absentee rates in major cities was 40+% (food major factor)
o A large percentage of food came from China, Korea, etc… War severed these imports
o “Economic strangulation” of torpedoing supply ships cut off supplies to homeland
o Southeast Asian and Pacific theaters starving to death
o Gov’t provided recommendations for eating acorns, sawdust, silkworm cocoons, etc… “Eat This Way – Endless Supplies of Materials by Ingenuity”
o 1945 was most disastrous harvest since 1910 (40% shortfall)
o Exaggerated and widely reported figure was that 10M would starve to death if food imports not coming
o Food shipments from US enhanced its image
o June 1946, black market price of rice was 30X what official rationing program paid. 2 years later, still 7.5X
o “Bamboo-shoot existence” (takenoko seikatsu): urban people would go to countryside and change belongings for food, stripping of clothing and possession for food (peeling of bamboo shoot in layer). “Onion existence”: peeling and weeping.
o Government shipments unreliable. Tokyo failed to receive full month’s ration 6 months out of 12
o Hunger and scarcity served stimulated grass-roots activism
o Many (most?) descended to black market
o Rations supplied only ½ of daily required caloric intake, as little as 1/3rd

Enduring the Unendurable

- Letter “I Am About to Commit Suicide.” Can no longer work full month. Can’t afford black market food anymore. Borrowed money. Black market merchants making 50,000-60,000 yen/year. Criticized gov’t officials.
- Life for most did not recover until 1949 – 4 years.
- Death of judge (starvation): presided over black market cases. Most cases were of people struggling to survive. Forced to find them guilty while industrialists, politicians, and former military officers made $$$. 1.22M arrested in 1946 for black market transactions. Judge’s family relied on black market, but judge himself refused anything more than his rationed allotment to resolve moral dilemma.
- Story of starving family: pay hardly covered rapid inflation in price of rice. 1945, bag of rice 80 yen, made only 300 yen a month. Forced to sell possessions. Price of rationed rice tripled in 1946, forced to buy black market rice at 400 yen/mo, while making on 360 yen a month. At anything they could to supplement diet. Sewing (and making cigarettes for others) supplemented income. By 1948 food situation improved somewhat, but wife/husband fell ill and into debt. 1949 could eat meat and fish again, and by 1950 could finally survive on husband’s income

Doesn't that sound like so much fun you want to give up that Super-size Big Mac lifestyle and try living this Occupation way?

He is outraged at the very existence of the atomic bomb, so he expresses his outrage by criticizing the decision to use it because he knows, as we all do, that the bomb is here to stay.

While that may be so, I see no reason for the expanded distribution of such weapons in today's world, nor the threatened usage of them - not only by George Bu$h, but also by the North Koreans, by China, by India and Pakistan, by Israel [scroll down to read Ha'aretz article from August 15, 2002], by Iran, and soon, maybe even by Brazil.

That's just one of the many unfortunate realities of our times.

And you are unprepared to do anything to mitigate the likelihood that some insane idiot, like Kim Jong Il or George W. Bush, will decide to use one of these monsters in some misguided attempt to rule by force rather than try to do something about it like I am. Are you so enamored of the reams of propaganda that justify nuking Japanese cities during WWII that you are willing to allow the same excuse to be used again in some current or future war and do nothing to prevent the use of atomic weapons today? If survivors fear Japan has forgotten the lessons of Hiroshima, have not the American people also? Are we to relive those horrible times again and make George Santayana a prophet?

If so, I hope you are near Ground Zero when a Bomb goes off. Then maybe your ghost can explain to the rest of us what a fabulous experience that was for you as you turned to ash in a flash.

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