Skip to comments.Commemorating a Major U.S. War Crime
Posted on 08/10/2010 5:42:30 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
click here to read article
It does sound fascinating.
See if you can find it.
As far as I know the Germans never really cared for the Japanese and it seems odd that they would give it to the Japanese. The Germans could have probably succeeded in bombing England or Russia, the Japanese couldn’t have bombed anything of significance.
Any naval advantage that the Japanese had was pretty much over after the Battle of Midway in June, 1942 and by the end of 1942 it would have been impossible for the Japanese to launch a send a ship across the Pacific.
It looks like subtitles, I hate subtitles.
I hate subtitles too. I don’t have whatever it takes to juggle the action with the script. I feel that I’m always missing something.
Maybe it goes without saying, I don't know. Or maybe it was okay because the Japanese attacked the military bases.
Anyway, I understand the author's argument, but I think he needs to go read Thucydides. I said, originally, that he was wrong, but to be more precise, I would say "clever but ultimately irrelevant."
Professor Fears points out that democracies, such as the Greek city-states and ourselves, as well as other modern industrial states, have the biggest, ugliest, most destructive wars. It is in the nature of the thing.
I found this on Wikipedia:
See also: German nuclear energy project
See also: Tube Alloys
See also: Soviet atomic bomb project
See also: Kahuta Project
A similar effort was undertaken in the USSR in September 1941 headed by Igor Kurchatov (with some of Kurchatov’s World War II knowledge coming secondhand from Manhattan Project countries, thanks to spies, including at least two on the scientific team at Los Alamos, Klaus Fuchs and Theodore Hall, unknown to each other).
After the MAUD Committee’s report, the British and Americans exchanged nuclear information but initially did not pool their efforts. A British project, code-named Tube Alloys, was started but did not have United States resources. Consequently the British bargaining position worsened, and their motives were mistrusted by the Americans. Collaboration therefore lessened markedly until the Quebec Agreement of August 1943, when a large team of British, Canadian and Australian scientists joined the Manhattan Project at McGill University in Montreal and at a new project site located at Chalk River, Ontario, with living facilities for those working in the newly created community of Deep River, Ontario.
The question of Axis efforts on the bomb has been a contentious issue for historians. It is believed that efforts undertaken in Germany, headed by Werner Heisenberg, and in Japan, were also undertaken during the war with little progress. It was initially feared that Hitler was very close to developing his own bomb. Many German scientists in fact expressed surprise to their Allied captors when the bombs were detonated in Japan. They were convinced that talk of atomic weapons was merely propaganda. However, Werner Heisenberg (by then imprisoned in Britain at Farm Hall with several other nuclear project physicists) almost immediately figured out what the Allies had done, explaining it to his fellow scientists (and hidden microphones) within days. The Nazi reactor effort had been severely handicapped by Heisenberg’s belief that heavy water was necessary as a neutron moderator (slowing preparation material) for such a device. The Germans were short of heavy water throughout the war because of Allied efforts such as Operation Gunnerside to prevent Germany from obtaining it, and the Germans never did stumble on the secret of purified graphite for making nuclear reactors from natural uranium.
Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Enrico Fermi were all colleagues who were key figures in developing the quantum theory together with Wolfgang Pauli, prior to the war. They had known each other well in Europe and were friends. Niels Bohr and Heisenberg even discussed the possibility of the atomic bomb prior to and during the war, before the United States became involved. Bohr recalled that Heisenberg was unaware that the supercritical mass could be achieved with U-235, and both men gave differing accounts of their conversations at this sensitive time. Bohr at the time did not trust Heisenberg, and never quite forgave him for his decision not to flee Germany before the war when given the chance. Heisenberg, for his part, seems to have thought he was proposing to Bohr a mutual agreement between the two sides not to pursue nuclear technology for destructive purposes. If so, Heisenberg’s message did not get through. Heisenberg, to the end of his life, maintained that the partly-built German heavy-water nuclear reactor found after the war’s end in his lab was for research purposes only, and a full bomb project had not been contemplated (there is no evidence to contradict this, but by this time late in the war, Germany was far from having the resources for a Hanford-style plutonium bomb, even if its scientists had decided to pursue one and had known how to do it).”
Well, I wasn’t imagining that I saw it.
Here’s a link where someone else asks about the same thing.
I know it’s not much better than wikipedia, but it’s the best I could do with a google search for now.
“These actions suggest to me that the formal, direct, primary, intended effect was to demonstrate to the Japanese government that we could easily, readily destroy everything they had that could possibly be used to make war, every economic asset, every bit of infrastructure, every factory, every port, every airfield, every building that could possibly used in any tangential way toward the war effort, without even breaking a sweat, and therefore, further resistance was futile.”
Well said. Nothing else would have worked to demonstrate the futility of continued battle, and an invasion would have been more devastating to both sides.
I do think that the leafletting of the city is a morally relevant point, as it showed an acknowledged duty to discriminate between noncombatants and military. The U.S. would obviously not have been morally obliged to drop leaflets on the gigantic concentration of Japanese troops in southern Kyushu to invite them to escape annihilation, because nobody can dispute that those troops would have been a legitimate target for an atomic bomb. So this leads to the question: why did they drop these bombs on the city, and not on the troops?
Truman wrote, in his papers published after the war, that he intended the Japanese government to get the message that we could and would kill massive numbers of the military and civilian population, indiscriminately, unless they made unconditional surrender. Dozens of FReepers have already weighed in to say that the targetting of noncombatants per se is not, in their view, morally prohibited. This shows, if nothing else, a rather extensive decay of moral conscience, comparable to the acceptance of mass abortion.
In other words: the usual.
It is that intention to use an explicitly indiscriminate weapons against a city construed as, itself, the target, which is morally prohibited, since it uses the killing of noncombatants as a means to an end.
This difficulty comes up over and over in warfare, especially where the enemy themselves do not make distinctions between combatant and non-combatant, and where they use civilian structures for military uses: as the jihadis in Afghanistan, for instance, might use a hospital as an artillery emplacement, a mosque as an arm cache and bunker, a pregnant woman as a suicide bomber.
So the question comes up: can you target that hospital, that mosque, that pregnant woman? And the answer is Yes, if it is solidly probable that they have in fact been weaponized and are not any longer in fact noncombatant.
The question also comes up: can you target a whole city for annihilation, if it has in it military assets? And the answer is No. Why? Because a city --- unless it has been evacuated and its population replaced by military --- is always primarily a habitat for people who are, even under a fanatical, totalitarian system, blamelessly carrying out the acts of living. The sweeper sweeps. The mother mothers. The just man, as Hopkins says, justices.
This is not true for every sector of the city. The port facility, the rail hub, the weapons factories, etc. etc. --- they are all legitimate targets, and if a preschool and an opera company are unfortunately next door and get destroyed with them, thats what we call collateral deaths: very sad but strictly unavoidable, and not murder.
But the city as a whole cannot equal the target. This the Catholic Church teaches as an authoritative truth. The Catechism --- which is not irrelevant --- can be consulted here (Link)
What Thucydides might have said is, of course, interesting. But Thucydides did not die for my sins, and when I die he cannot save me.
My husband and I are going out of town Thurs-Sun and I am getting ready right now, which means I'm not going to be able to return to this discussion until early next week, which is most unfortunate. But I do hope the discussion will go on.
Anyway, thank you for thinking about this.
I have a sick baby, in addition to the usual turmoil, so I’m just wandering by occasionally, in a fog, presently, that suggests I’m coming down with whatever Frank’s got. Oh, joy. At least I’ll lose weight if I start throwing up.
The question I’m addressing, rather haphazardly, is whether there are “noncombatants” in a distinguishable sense in a total war. However, I have no stake in being right nor in persuading anyone else. The events of sixy years ago will not unhappen, nor will any of the other events we wish that they would. As it were.
Best wishes for your trip, Mrs. Don-o!
Yep. It’s subtitles fer shur.
I think it’s worth it.
I’ve looked and can’t find anything that supports that, or that supports Japan by itself being close to creating a nuclear bomb during WW2. There is historical evidence that Germany was close, however.
The Allies at the time did not know for certain that the troop concentrations would remain in place while we sent the bomber toward it. This was before spy satellites, and there was a significant time delay in intel.
Also, according the the accepted military theories of the time (accepted by all sides), cities were “valid targets” for strategic bombing. Hiroshima did have military value, and those same civilians were involved in supporting military. The idea was to cut off supplies to the fighting troops. Now, the Air Power studies after the war showed that the bombing Germany (often called terror bombing) did not have near the effect that we had hoped for. So much that US military doctrine change in target selection. But in 1945, they did not know that yet, and LeMay was not one to ask questions to. The view is the same as why Sherman's march worked. Cut out the supplies, and the army withers on the vine.
Also remember what the troops, and officers, had seen of the Japanese military at this point. Remember what had happened in the island campaigns. Invading Japan would have meant the end of Japan as a culture. They would have fought using suicidal attacks with pregnant women and children. The same that you said would have been spared if we didn't drop the bomb. These men had seen just a taste of what would have been in store for them if Operation Downfall was launched. The loss of millions of Japanese civilians from direct action and starvation would have destroyed the culture. Even after the bombs, the Warlords wanted to fight on. It took the conventional bombing raid of Tokyo to stop the coup (by chance).
And finally (for now), we need to really think about what the term “war crime” actually means. Akin is right in a sense, for some of the things we as a nation have condemned in others we have done our selves.
"The Japanese military during the 1930s and 1940s is often compared to the military of Nazi Germany during 193345 because of the sheer scale of suffering. Much of the controversy regarding Japan's role in World War II revolves around the death rates of prisoners of war and civilians under Japanese occupation. The historian Chalmers Johnson has written that:
It may be pointless to try to establish which World War Two Axis aggressor, Germany or Japan, was the more brutal to the peoples it victimised. The Germans killed six million Jews and 20 million Russians [i.e. Soviet citizens]; the Japanese slaughtered as many as 30 million Filipinos, Malays, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Indonesians and Burmese, at least 23 million of them ethnic Chinese. Both nations looted the countries they conquered on a monumental scale, though Japan plundered more, over a longer period, than the Nazis. Both conquerors enslaved millions and exploited them as forced labourersand, in the case of the Japanese, as [forced] prostitutes for front-line troops. If you were a Nazi prisoner of war from Britain, America, Australia, New Zealand or Canada (but not Russia) you faced a 4% chance of not surviving the war; [by comparison] the death rate for Allied POWs held by the Japanese was nearly 30%.
According to the findings of the Tokyo Tribunal, the death rate among POWs from Asian countries, held by Japan was 27.1%. The death rate of Chinese POWs was much higher becauseunder a directive ratified on August 5, 1937 by Emperor Hirohitothe constraints of international law on treatment of those prisoners was removed. Only 56 Chinese POWs were released after the surrender of Japan. After March 20, 1943, the Japanese Navy was under orders to execute all prisoners taken at sea. Mass killings R. J. Rummel, a professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, states that between 1937 and 1945, the Japanese military murdered from nearly 3,000,000 to over 10,000,000 people, most likely 6,000,000 Chinese, Indonesians, Koreans, Filipinos, and Indochinese, among others, including Western prisoners of war. "This democide was due to a morally bankrupt political and military strategy, military expediency and custom, and national culture." According to Rummel, in China alone, during 1937-45, approximately 3.9 million Chinese were killed, mostly civilians, as a direct result of the Japanese operations and 10.2 millions in the course of the war. The most infamous incident during this period was the Nanking Massacre of 1937-38, when, according to the findings of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, the Japanese Army massacred as many as 300,000 civilians and prisoners of war, although the accepted figure is somewhere in the hundreds of thousands. A similar crime was the Changjiao massacre. In Southeast Asia, the Manila massacre, resulted in the deaths of 100,000 civilians in the Philippines and in the Sook Ching massacre, between 25,000 and 50,000 ethnic Chinese in Singapore were taken to beaches and massacred. There were numerous other massacres of civilians e.g. the Kalagong massacre.
Historian Mitsuyoshi Himeta reports that a "Three Alls Policy" (Sankō Sakusen) was implemented in China from 1942 to 1945 and was in itself responsible for the deaths of "more than 2.7 million" Chinese civilians. This scorched earth strategy, sanctioned by Hirohito himself, directed Japanese forces to "Kill All, Burn All, and Loot All.""
Neither Akin nor I are arguing against acts of war or capital punishment. Did you notice that?
We are arguing against "shedding of innocent blood," which is condemned by God as an abomination multiple times in the Old Testament (Link), and is nowhere even remotely endorsed in the New Testament. St. Paul, for instance, says the prince has the right to wield the sword in punishment of evildoers. Amen to that. Nowhere in the Gospels or Epistles is there any permission to wield a sword--- or a bomb, abortion or a baseball bat--- in a manner that targets the innocent or kills them indiscriminately with the guilty.
Neither you nor I would have objected to dropping the A-bomb on the huge Japanese troop concentrations in the southern third of Kyushu: One bomb after another. As many as it took to destroy the hell-bent Japanese military machine.
Christians, at least, should adhere to Christ when it comes to distinguishing between the innocent and the guilty. But the Gospel has been one of the casualties.
This is not a war crime.
It is certainly regrettable, and we can wish it never would have been necessary. We can mourn for those killed, and we can pray that such a thing never happen again.
But, we can also do that regarding any collateral damage in any war or any police action.
When faced with cold, hard necessity, it is not a crime to respond with cold, hard force.
There are many facets to this issue. I chose one sort of at random. There are other places to defend the actions of the United States.
But continuing on along the path I've already chosen:
“Truman wrote, in his papers published after the war, that he intended the Japanese government to get the message that we could and would kill massive numbers of the military and civilian population,...”
First, I will note that Mr. Truman was not a Catholic, and likely was not adept at expressing himself in categories of Catholic moral theology. Thus, all I can do is look at what he instructed the military of the United States to do.
I would not count as a war crime trying to “get the message that we could and would kill massive number of the military and civilian population,...”
What I would count as a war crime is the direct, intentional, actual extermination of innocent civilians.
And the leafleting of the cities thus bombed is counterfactual to that direct intent.
In other words, Mr. Truman may have wished to scare the Japanese into believing we'd kill all the Japanese (and maybe he might have actually gone ahead and done it - but things didn't get that far and thus, he didn't have a chance to commit that sin), but still may not have intended as the primary effect to actually primarily, directly, intentionally kill civilians. And this is supported by what we actually did, not what anyone wrote or said after the fact. We actually told civilians to leave these cities.
“It is that intention to use an explicitly indiscriminate weapons against a city construed as, itself, the target, which is morally prohibited, since it uses the killing of noncombatants as a means to an end.”
There are two problems with this assertion. The first is the hidden premise - that using indiscriminate weapons against a city uses the killing of noncombatants as a means to an end.
If the city, itself, is a legitimate military target, then, if one warns the civilians to get the heck out of the city, one may legitimately destroy the city, by definition.
The question then, really, is whether a city, as a whole, may be a legitimate military target. One may not answer in the negative by saying, but a city is a place where people live, in that's sort of a begging of the question in a case where one can make out the argument that the city is, itself, a military target, and one has taken some care to encourge the evacuation of the city.
I believe that in the case of Japan in WWII, the Japanese government and people had made it clear that they would use every last resource available to them to resist in war, without discrimination between civilian and military persons or resources. By the time that we dropped the bombs, we'd wreaked unbelievable death and destruction on all manner of Japanese cities, towns, villages, etc., and yet they answered us that they would fight until a hundred million had died.
In face of such resistance on the part of the entire people, their enemy at least retains the right to destroy all resources (as, by definition, the nation has made ALL resources into military resources), as long as the enemy makes some effort to spare non-combatants, which is what the actual historical record shows actually happened.
And the reaction after both bombs were dropped is entirely relevant, that there were strong elements within the Japanese government and society that wanted to fight the war even after both bombs were dropped. That's relevant because it validates the intention of the Japanese to use every last resource and every last life to fight the war against us. And thus, it validates our judgment that all Japanese resources were liable to destruction, as long as we made the distinction between combatants and non-combatants, and made the effort not to indiscriminately kill non-combatants, because the Japanese had directly, intentionally, actually made all their resources available for military use to wage war against us.
It was the Japanese nation that was guilty of having eliminated the distinction between combatants and non-combatants. It was our sad fate to have to make the best of that elimination of distinction, and try to continue to act morally, yet also effectively, in the face of their rank civilizational failure and descent into absolute barbarism.
"...and if a preschool and an opera company are unfortunately next door and get destroyed with them..."
The difficulty is when the enemy has made clear that even the preschool and the opera will be used as military assets.
If we were to wage war and our enemy regularly shelled our ambulances and other medical services, we would count that as an atrocity. But if we were to announce that we would make dual use of these assets, both to provide medical services and to wage further war against the enemy, I'd hardly count the enemy guilty of a war crime for then shelling our medical resources.
I will not make the argument that there was no practical difference between civilian and military personnel in wartime Japan. There is a case to be made for it, but the conclusion of it is so morally repugnant to me that I am unable to type the case that could be made. Frankly, it reeks of Islamic thinking to me.
One may quibble about the dotting of the moral i's and the crossing of the theological t's when one's enemy erases all distinctions between their military resources and personnel and their civilian resources and personnel. However, in the main, even though Mr. Truman didn't strike me as being especially schooled in Catholic moral theology, I think he made a darned good attempt to follow that law which is written on the human heart, the moral law, the natural law, in his attempt to discriminate between the destruction of physical assets that had been formally declared available for military use and the indiscriminate killing of non-combatants.
My thoughts on the author of the article would get me banned.
I id notice that he made no mention of the Rape of Nanking, the Batan Death March, the slaughter of the Chinese and Koreans, including the 731 Unit, nor was Pearl Harbor nor the slaughter of the Phillipinos mentioned.
I have been busy and not well so haven’t been able to follow up on many of your interesting pings.
I will try to read this in its entirety later. But for short, here is some view from the Vedas:
Warfare is meant to follow rules - combatants fight only with other combantants, and it was considered a great sin to kill unarmed men, the elderly, children or women or indeed anyone not equipped, trained and ready and willing to fight ; or to destroy fields, forests and other natural resources. Battles were fought in battle fields, not where civilians lived. There were many other rules that in ancient times were respected.
Now, with enemies who “fight dirty” in every sense of the word, following such noble rules would ensure loss and defeat.
There is no white and black here. Or in these “modern” degraded times.