THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 691, October 7, 2012
"The first casualty of war is individuality, as the
lives, liberty, and property of each of us is
consumed in a mindless frenzy of destruction and death."
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
A few weeks ago I wrote an article for Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) that concerned itself with the great number of genocidal acts committed in the 20th century, and suggestedparentheticallythat the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II might belong on such a list. Among all the other things I said in that article, the one and only item that readers commented on was that one brief parenthetical statement.
The only times I've been called worse things was when I wrote to defend the rights of tobacco smokers, or to point out, correctly, that saintly Abraham Lincoln was a lying, hypocritical, racist, homicidal megalomaniac.
Mostly, my disgruntled readers wanted to talk about the "vile sneak attack" on Pearl Harbor, although one of them was also emotional about the "Rape of Nanking". Not one of my detractors appeared capable of distinguishing between the Japanese individuals guilty of those crimes and the much greater number of Japanese individuals who were not.
Nor, apparently, were they aware that certain Japanese officials had done things that were even more terriblelike sterilizing "comfort women", Chinese girls abducted for the sexual entertainment of the troops, or encouraging soldiers to _eat_ prisoners of war. If I were defending the nuclear bombings, I'd certainly want to throw that in.
So let's begin with what the Japanese were doing in Nanking in the first place. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been pathetically unsuccessful at ending the Great Depression, which had been brought on in the first place by the United States government's and the Federal Reserve System's criminal mismanagement of the money supply. In fact, more people were out of work in 1941after nine years of New Deal policiesthan had been the case in 1932, when he was first elected President.
Sound familiar? Much like the mess we're in today, everything that the then-current administration tried was the precise, geometrical opposite of what they should have done, and, predictably, only made things worse, like throwing gasoline on a house fire. Limited by their collectivist mindset, Roosevelt and his "Brain Trust" were out of ideas.
Except for one: what America (meaning Roosevelt) needed was a good war. It would take the Depression off of the voters' minds, and at the same time, provide an acceptable excuse for inflating the currency, generating the same false prosperity that Federal Reserve policies in the 1920s had. Getting involved in the war already raging in Europe would be perfect, but most Americans were determined to stay out of that.
Enter the Empire of Japan.
At the time, many Japanese were eager, for a variety of reasons, to drag their quaint monarchy, kicking and screaming, if need be, into the 20th century and onto the stage of world powers. In some ways, this was a good idea, but one of the saddest things I've ever seen is a photograph of high-ranking Japanese military officers dressed like British navy captains during the Napoleonic Wars, and carrying swords with ugly European-style hilts mounted awkwardly on superb Japanese blades.
They already had an Emperor, what they needed now was an Empire.
Roosevelt took to the airwaves making speeches about Japan's aspirations, using epithets and racial slurs against them that would have been out of place in the alley behind a sleazy bar. When he threatened to (and eventually did) cut of their oil supplyJapan has no petroleum of its ownthey did the natural thing for an empire on the make, they invaded a neighbor, Manchuria, that did have oil. However at the same time Roosevelt was running his oil embargo, he kept selling them scrap metal. If you were Japan, what would you do?
Owing to these and other affronts, Japan's ruling "peace party" was replaced by a "war party" willing and more than eager to fight. To say that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a military outpost lying isolated and nearly undefended halfway across the Pacific Ocean from the country it belonged to, came as a surprise to anybody would be dishonest, stupid, or insane, and maybe a little bit of all three. It was fruit ripe for the plucking. Moreover, such an attack had been predicted decades in advance by Sun Yat Sen's military advisor General Homer Lea, and by General Billy Mitchell, who invented the kind of aerial attack that was launched thereand was court martialed for it.
Roosevelt clearly wanted it to happen, and to make the target more attractive, the former Secretary of the Navy crowded the narrow- and shallow-mouthed harbor with the last generation's battleships (the U.S.S. _Arizona_ was commissioned in 1915), while leaving the nation's most modern fighting vesselsthe aircraft carriersand the overwhelming majority (all but four) of its submarine fleet safely at sea.
The Japanese carrier fleet was spotted several times on its way to Hawaii. Somehow, those reports were never relayed to Pearl Harbor. A midget submarine was detected and destroyed just outside the harbor an hour before the attack. An experimental radar installation on a hill above the harbor detected and reported the oncoming enemy, but its early warning was circular-filed between the Pacific and Washington D.C.
Thus Roosevelt and his administration are as equally to blame for the "sneak attack" as the Japanese. Roosevelt was saved from his own faulty economic policies, at the "acceptable" cost of 2,402 American lives.
Altogether, the Second World War consumed 60,000,000 lives.
The Roosevelt Administration spent millions, recruiting Hollywood and the radio to dehumanize the Japanese, depicting them as stunted, buck-toothed creatures wearing Coke-bottle glasses. At the same time, Japanese cities were saturation-bombed with incendiaries, creating fire-driven storms that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent subjects of a theocracy and absolute dictatorship they had no control over.
Which brings us to the point of this exercise. When _Enola Gay_ dropped her atom bomb "Little Boy" on the city of Hiroshima, it killed 80,000 people outright, producing casualties that brought the ultimate death toll to between 90,000 and 140,000 individuals. How many of those, do you suppose, had anything to do with the Rape of Nanking, or the air-attack on Pearl Harbor, or could have done anything to stop them?
When a second nuclear weapon, called "Fat Man", was dropped on Nagasaki three days later (after frantic attempts by the Japanese government to surrender were deliberately ignored), it killed about 74,000 people immediately, including 2000 Korean slaves, and at least a dozen Dutch prisoners of war (23 Americans had been similarly killed in Hiroshima, a fact left undisclosed by the government until the 1970s), and may have killed an equal number later due to injuries and radiation. Rumor has it the second bomb was spent to appease our ally Josef Stalin, who had been led to believe that two A-bombs were all we had.
One of my correspondents insisted that, after Pearl Harbor, "the Japs deserved 20 bombs!" And so I ask once again, how many of these quarter-million subjects of a military dictatorship had anything to do with that or with anything else the Japanese government did? Our own government, at the end of World War II, helped British troops please Stalin by rounding up Russian refugees in western Europetwo million of themand shipping them back where they were immediately shot to death. Would he, my correspondent, like to share the blame for that?
It has often been claimed that the nuclear attacks on Japan "saved a million American lives" but there is no more reason to believe that than there is reason to believe anything else that governmentwhich produces lies the way mildew produces sporeshas to say about anything.
It has also been famously saidby Aeschylus, the Greek dramatist, sometime between 525 and 456 B.C.that, in war, the first casualty is the truth. But Aeschylus was wrong. The first casualty of war is individuality, as the lives, liberty, and property of each of us is consumed in a mindless frenzy of destruction and death.
War is the ultimate collectivizer. The minute it startson September 11, 2001, for examplethe people of a free country have lost.
Was that worth reading?