Friday, March 23, 2007

Fractured History

I was watching this BBC documentary on the bombing of Hiroshima and I could not help but notice how the first segment of the documentary was devoted to illustrating how the Japanese would never surrender with much emphasis on Japanese suicide bombers and the like. The documentary went to great pains to portray the Japanese as fanatical crazies with no regard for their own lives and how they would fight the allies tooth and nail to the bitter end. According to this America would have to fight a long and protracted war on the Japanese mainland incurring huge amounts of American and Japanese deaths but nothing could have been further from the truth and to this day people continue to rewrite history eschewing fact in favor of fiction -- The reasonable American government and the unreasonableness of the Japanese people which led to the inevitable dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by a reluctant American government who did all they could to prevent a non-humanitarian end to World War II.

However the true history paints quite a different picture via the Institute for Historical Review.

A Beaten Country

Apart from the moral questions involved, were the atomic bombings militarily necessary? By any rational yardstick, they were not. Japan already had been defeated militarily by June 1945. Almost nothing was left of the once mighty Imperial Navy, and Japan's air force had been all but totally destroyed. Against only token opposition, American war planes ranged at will over the country, and US bombers rained down devastation on her cities, steadily reducing them to rubble.

What was left of Japan's factories and workshops struggled fitfully to turn out weapons and other goods from inadequate raw materials. (Oil supplies had not been available since April.) By July about a quarter of all the houses in Japan had been destroyed, and her transportation system was near collapse. Food had become so scarce that most Japanese were subsisting on a sub-starvation diet.

A Secret Memorandum

It was only after the war that the American public learned about Japan's efforts to bring the conflict to an end. Chicago Tribune reporter Walter Trohan, for example, was obliged by wartime censorship to withhold for seven months one of the most important stories of the war.
In an article that finally appeared August 19, 1945, on the front pages of the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Times-Herald, Trohan revealed that on January 20, 1945, two days prior to his departure for the Yalta meeting with Stalin and Churchill, President Roosevelt received a 40-page memorandum from General Douglas MacArthur outlining five separate surrender overtures from high-level Japanese officials. (The complete text of Trohan's article is in the Winter 1985-86 Journal, pp. 508-512.)

This memo showed that the Japanese were offering surrender terms virtually identical to the ones ultimately accepted by the Americans at the formal surrender ceremony on September 2 -- that is, complete surrender of everything but the person of the Emperor. Specifically, the terms of these peace overtures included:

Complete surrender of all Japanese forces and arms, at home, on island possessions, and in occupied countries.

Occupation of Japan and its possessions by Allied troops under American direction.
Japanese relinquishment of all territory seized during the war, as well as Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan.

Regulation of Japanese industry to halt production of any weapons and other tools of war.

Release of all prisoners of war and internees.

Surrender of designated war criminals.

Is this memorandum authentic? It was supposedly leaked to Trohan by Admiral William D. Leahy, presidential Chief of Staff. (See: M. Rothbard in A. Goddard, ed., Harry Elmer Barnes: Learned Crusader [1968], pp. 327f.) Historian Harry Elmer Barnes has related (in "Hiroshima: Assault on a Beaten Foe," National Review, May 10, 1958):

The authenticity of the Trohan article was never challenged by the White House or the State Department, and for very good reason. After General MacArthur returned from Korea in 1951, his neighbor in the Waldorf Towers, former President Herbert Hoover, took the Trohan article to General MacArthur and the latter confirmed its accuracy in every detail and without qualification.


President Truman steadfastly defended his use of the atomic bomb, claiming that it "saved millions of lives" by bringing the war to a quick end. Justifying his decision, he went so far as to declare: "The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians."

This was a preposterous statement. In fact, almost all of the victims were civilians, and the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (issued in 1946) stated in its official report: "Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen as targets because of their concentration of activities and population."

If the atomic bomb was dropped to impress the Japanese leaders with the immense destructive power of a new weapon, this could have been accomplished by deploying it on an isolated military base. It was not necessary to destroy a large city. And whatever the justification for the Hiroshima blast, it is much more difficult to defend the second bombing of Nagasaki.

All the same, most Americans accepted, and continue to accept, the official justifications for the bombings. Accustomed to crude propagandistic portrayals of the "Japs" as virtually subhuman beasts, most Americans in 1945 heartily welcomed any new weapon that would wipe out more of the detested Asians, and help avenge the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For the young Americans who were fighting the Japanese in bitter combat, the attitude was "Thank God for the atom bomb." Almost to a man, they were grateful for a weapon whose deployment seemed to end the war and thus allow them to return home.

After the July 1943 firestorm destruction of Hamburg, the mid-February 1945 holocaust of Dresden, and the fire-bombings of Tokyo and other Japanese cities, America's leaders -- as US Army General Leslie Groves later commented -- "were generally inured to the mass killing of civilians." For President Harry Truman, the killing of tens of thousands of Japanese civilians was simply not a consideration in his decision to use the atom bomb.

Also this.

"The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing ... I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon," Eisenhower said in 1963.

Well what can one say but go ahead and read the whole article if you are interested in the truth. Part of the truth is we had a democrat president, Truman, willing to kill vast numbers of people and a republican president who believed it was uncalled for at the time. Today we have another insane president, this time a republican, who is awash in death and people who are pinning their hopes on democrats to stop the bloodshed yet to date they have literally done nothing other than mouth platitudes. I think it should be quite clear by now that the democrats are just as much war mongers as their republican counterparts and if history is any indication one might say democrats are even bigger war mongers than the republicans. Some day it would behoove us to do away with our preconceived ideas as who knows perhaps it might save some innocent lives.

I would just like to add that I am not saying that the republican party is better than the democrat party for clearly on many issues the republicans are awful. Republicans have historically done a terrible job of handling the economy and have caused much damage to the poorer segments of the American population. But let us not forget that wars like Vietnam were quite bipartisan and death was dealt quite liberally by both democrat and republican presidents.

If we are willing to look at reality it is up to us to not be fooled by propaganda and wishful thinking and it is really up to us to find the facts if we are to judge what is right and what is wrong and what is truth and what is fiction.

Today we have several democratic hopefuls yet none of the candidates who have a serious chance of winning the election question the right of America to pursue wars that are imperial in nature rather their main criticism is how the war in Iraq was mishandled which is to say that if it had been successful rather than a disaster they would be behind this kind of aggression completely. We simply must change the whole dynamic of these attitudes to one where military aggression is morally wrong and not merely a question of competence.

There is no such thing as a good war