Friday, March 11, 2005

60th Anniversary of Tokyo Bombing

At the end of World War II, when Germany was on the brink of surender and the Japanese had lost air and sea superiority to the US navy, the US Air Force started its biggest Air to Ground bombing campaign in World War II with thousands of bombs on Dresden and on Tokyo in Japan. The bombs mostly hit wooden huts and were sometimes combined with explosives that made the job of firefighters extremely dangerous. 100 000s died in this slaughter.

Kenneth R. Gregg ( posted this piece on the last great air assault campaign before the two A-bombs (that didn't slaughter as many Japanese as the fire bombs).

I think this is interesting, because the US always hold high their ideals and the superiority of their society. But whenever they go into a war, they use means that exceed the end. It was the A-Bomb and Carpet Bombing against Civilists during WW II, the Napalm in Vietnam and the Air Assaults on Baghdad and Jugoslawia.
I think the reaction of the Japanese press after the first wave of bombings is very real and more humane than the "exaggerating and arrogant" US press:

Radio Tokyo, on the other hand, termed LeMay's tactics "slaughter bombing" and
the Japanese press declared that through the fire raids, "America has revealed
her barbaric character... It was an attempt at mass murder of women and
children... The action of the Americans is all the more despicable because of
the noisy pretensions they constantly make about their humanity and idealism...
No one expects war to be anything but a brutal business, but it remains for the
Americans to make it systematically and unnecessarily a wholesale horror for
innocent victims."

Now, to compare it to the US press (Times), this piece:

By May 1945, 75 percent of the bombs being dropped on Japan were incendiaries.
Cheered on by the likes of Time magazine-who explained that "properly kindled,
Japanese cities will burn like autumn leaves"-LeMay's campaign took an estimated
672,000 lives.

I don't think that "cities burning like autumn leaves" is a good description of how properly the US Air Force worked. It is as always the US obsession with exaggerated violence that lies beneath the rows of this news item. For a country that should care for individual liberty, this is as bad a wording as one can get. It seems that innocent Japanese are like leaves that have no significance.

This is the same attitude I have seen before the Iraq War and now, when I come to the topic of the war conduct. It is explained away by referring to the phrase "that always happens during wars, you can't avoid it". Well, I can tolerate it when it comes to the 2nd World War, because this war was forced upon the US. But in Iraq, we talk about a voluntary war that has nothing to do with Self-Defence.
Shame on you, Mr. Bush!

P.S.: For those with the argument that it shortened the war and saved US lives. There were no lives to safe, because the Japanese military was at its end only defending its main land and the US never had plans to invade it like in Europe.

Rather than denying this, a spokesman for the Fifth Air Force categorized "the
entire population of Japan [as] a proper military target." Colonel Harry F.
Cunningham explained the US policy in no uncertain terms: "We military men do
not pull punches or put on Sunday School picnics. We are making War and making
it in the all-out fashion which saves American lives, shortens the agony which
War is and seeks to bring about an enduring Peace. We intend to seek out and
destroy the enemy wherever he or she is, in the greatest possible numbers, in
the shortest possible time. For us, THERE ARE NO CIVILIANS IN JAPAN."
So, this is the conduct of human beings? I can understand their hatred, but I don't understand that you can give such a man his free will to bomb everything he wants.

On the morning of August 6, 1945, before the Hiroshima story broke, a
page-one headline in the Atlanta Constitution read: 580 B-29s RAIN FIRE ON 4
MORE DEATH-LIST CITIES. Ironically, the success of LeMay's firebombing raids had effectively eliminated Tokyo from the list of possible A-bomb targets. There was nothing left to bomb.

Nicely done! Erradicated a single city without any resistance of the Japanese Royal Air Force. The father of this strategy LeMay also had his line in history. He was the US Air Force Chief of Staff during the Vietnam War and said this undying words:

"Let's bomb [the North Vietnamese] back into the Stone Age."

And when he was asked about his role in the bombing of Tokyo, he answered:

"I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal. Fortunately, we were on the winning side."

I don't know what further to say to such a "man". So, he was lucky to come away with it?


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