Monday, August 15, 2011

The Moral Blame Game of WW II

Yesterday, 14 August was the 66th anniversary of official notification to US citizenry that the Imperial Japanese government had agreed to a nearly unconditional surrender. This action ended WW II hostilities which had really commenced in 1931 with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria.

Much ink and many electronic bytes have been spilt supporting this or that motivation for the Japanese decision to capitulate. Most of what this writer has read, especially by leftist and libertarian "pundits" hastens to assign moral culpability to US political leadership for the employment of weapons of "mass destruction" against "innocent civilians". Those who subscribe to that position offer compelling and cogent arguments against the impersonal raining down  from high altitude horrific and indiscriminate death on young and old members  of a belligerent nation's population.

By accident of birth this writer not only has living memory but reached the so called age of reason during the most destructive war of written history. He therefore can recall having participated in not only such activities as air raid alerts and buying war bonds and stamps but collecting scrap material for the "war effort". It did not evolve in the US that the cottage, backyard industry of machining and assembling military weaponry occurred as was common throughout Japanese society in 1944 45. Had such been the situation, can any of the morally righteous essayists of recent history on that basis be excused from condemning a Japanese policy of not only launching jet-stream driven incendiary balloons on the US Northwest but the shelling from submarines of the US coastal areas of California?

Overwhelming evidence supports the position that the antagonists in the Pacific theater of operations during the war of 1941 45 represented vastly different cultural philosophies. The actions and policies of Japan's military during its conquests and occupation of parts of China 1937 1945 as well as Southeast Asia and the Philippines are compelling evidence of a society whose civilian culture spawned an absence of regard for humanitarian values. During the period December 1937 and February 1938  hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers were murdered and 20,000–80,000 women were raped by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.  "The stark differences in reported death rates for U.S. soldiers and civilians in German vs. Japanese camps dramatize the nature of the experience of Japan's camps for POWs and internees. Dr. Stenger's figures  list 93,941 U.S. military personnel captured and interned by Germany, of whom 1,121 died (a little over a 1% death rate), and 27,465 U.S. military personnel captured and interned by Japan, of whom 11,107 died (more than a 40% death rate)"

In view of these facts, can any scholar logically assert that were the fortunes of WW II reversed, the imperial Japanese war machine would have hesitated to visit a nuclear holocaust on San Francisco or Seattle? I would therefore advise those who have hastily assigned moral culpability for the unfortunate Japanese casualties of late 1945 to president Truman to rethink their condemnation.

We can all agree that war in all of its manifestations is man's most horrendous evil. However, as Plato observed concerning human nature: "Only the dead have seen the end of war". 

2 comments:

ruralcounsel said...

My father was a U.S. Army infantryman in a troopship off the coast of Japan when the atomic weapons were dropped. It is his firm belief that the only reason he is still alive, and thus that his children exist (e.g., me), is because of those weapons being used. So I may be slightly biased, but...

Unconditional war may be horrific, but that doesn't mean it isn't exactly what they bargained for. I have sympathy for those civilian individuals who had the bad luck to be caught in the middle of it, but the Japanese people as a whole deserved it.

Nick said...

You put that in far more civil and eloquent terms than i would have.

You see, people like him cannot be reasoned with. They have rejected objective reality and substituted their own. I do not compound their depletion of the global oxygen supply by providing a counterargument. Anyone gullible enough to believe them deserves no better.

I just give them my middle finger.

But thanks for bringing up the grim statistics of the fate of our POWs. We should never forget!