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Who are the “Butchers of Dresden”

By Vladislav B. SOTIROVIĆ – Oriental Review – 12/02/2018

In the history of world, there are many actors who deserved a title of “Butcher” but there are only two persons whom the Western historians, journalists or political analysts pasted this label as the official mark of their participation in world history – General Ratko Mladić (the “Butcher of Bosnia”) and Slobodan Milošević (the “Balkan Butcher”). In the following paragraphs more candidates for the title of “Butcher” will be presented as a small contribution to the proper interpretation and understanding of global history.

The Three Men of Slashing

This year is the 73rd anniversary of the end of the WWII – the bloodiest and most horrible war ever fought in human history. The war that caused creation of the UNO in 1945 in order to protect the world from similar events in the future – a pan-global political-security organization whose first issued legal act was a Charter of the UN which inspired the 1948 Geneva Conventions’ definition of genocide.

The Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials were organized as “The Last Battles” for justice as the first ever global trials for the war criminals and mass murderers including and the top-hierarchy statesmen and politicians. However, 73 years after WWII the crucial moral question still needs a satisfactory answer: Have all the WWII war criminals faced justice at the Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials? Or at least those who did not withdraw from public life after the war. Here we will present only one of those cases from WWII which has to be characterized as genocide followed by the personalities directly responsible for it: The 1945 Dresden Massacre.

At the Old Market in the east German city of Dresden, following allied bombings 13 February 1945 (Photo credit should read WALTER HAHN/AFP/Getty Images)

The 1945 Dresden Raid was surely one of the most destructive air-raids during WWII but in the world history of massive military destruction and war crimes against humanity too.[1] The main and most destructive air-raid was during the night of February 13th−14th, by the British Bomber Command when 805 bomber military crafts attacked the city of Dresden which up to that time was protected from similar attacks primarily for two reasons:

  1. The city was of an extreme pan-European cultural and historical importance as one of the most beautiful “open-air museum” places in Europe and probably the city with the most beautiful Baroque architectural inheritance in the world.[2]
  2. The lack of the city’s geostrategic, economic and military importance.

The main air raid was followed by three more similar raids in daylight but now by the U.S. 8th Air Force. The Allied (in fact, the U.K.−U.S.) Supreme Commander-In-Chief the U.S. a five-star General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890−1969) was anxious to link the Allied forces with the very advancing Soviet Red Army in the South Germany. For that reason, Dresden suddenly came to be taken into consideration as a point of high strategic importance as a communication center, at least at the eyes of Eisenhower. However, at that time Dresden was known as a city that was overcrowded with up to 500,000 German refugees from the east. For the U.K.−U.S. Supreme Command Headquarters it was clear that any massive air-bombing of the city would cost many human lives and cause a human catastrophe. That was not primarily only on Eisenhower’s conscience to decide to launch massive airstrikes on Dresden or not as we have not to forget that Eisenhower was only a military commander (a strategy in Greek) but not a politician. Undoubtedly, the Dresden question in January−February 1945 was of a political and human nature not only of military one. Therefore, together with the Supreme Commander-In-Chief of the Allied Forces a direct moral and human responsibility for the 1945 Dresden Massacre was on the British PM Winston Churchill (1874−1965) and the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882−1945) also.

These three men, however, finally agreed that inevitably very high casualties in Dresden might in the end, nevertheless, help to shorten the war, that from a technical point of view was true. During one night and one day of the raids there were over 30,000 buildings destroyed and the numbers of those who were killed in the bombing and the ensuing firestorm are still in dispute among historians as the estimates go up to 140,000. Here it has to be noticed that if this highest estimate is going to be true it means that during the 1945 Dresden Massacre more people were killed than in the Hiroshima case from August 1945 (around 100,000 that was one third out of total Hiroshima’s pre-bombing population).

The “Bomber Harris” and the “Atomic Harry”

One person with direct responsibility for transforming Dresden into an open-air crematorium, as the city was bombed by forbidden flammable bombs for massive destruction (Saddam Hussein was attacked in 2003 by the NATO’s alliance under the alleged and finally false accusation to possess exactly such weapons – WMD) is “Bomber Harris” – a commander of the British Royal Air-Forces during the Dresden Raid. “Bomber Harris” was in fact Arthur Travers Harris (1892−1984), a Head of the British Bomber Command in 1942−1945. He was born in Cheltenham, joined the British Royal Flying Corps in 1915, before fighting as a soldier in the South-West Africa. He became a Commander of the Fifth Group from 1939 till 1942 when he became the Head of this Group (Bomber Command). The point is that it was exactly Arthur Travers Harris who stubbornly required and defended the massive aerial bombing of Germany under the idea that such practice will bring the total destruction of Germany (including and civil settlements) that would finally force Germany to surrender without involving of the Allied forces in a full-scale overland military invasion. The crucial point is that this “Bomber Harris” strategy received full support from British PM Winston Churchill who, therefore, became a politician who blessed and legitimized massive aerial massacres in the legal form of genocide as it was described in the post-WWII Charter of the UNO and other international documents on protection of human rights (for instance, the 1949 Geneva Conventions). Nevertheless, there were the “Bomber Harry”, Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill who transformed the bombing of selected targets as transport systems, industrial areas or oil refineries into the massive aerial destruction of the whole urban settlements, transforming them into the open-air crematoriums as was done for the first time in history with Dresden – a city with a rare historical heritage (today the pre-war Dresden would be on the UNESCO list of protected places of the world’s heritage) but flattened during one night and one day.[3]

Arthur Harris

This successful practice was very soon followed by the Allied forces in the cases of other German cities,[4] like Würtzburg – a tightly packed medieval housing city that exploded in a firestorm in March 1945 in one night with 90% of city-space which had no strategic importance destroyed.[5] However, a strategic bombing of the urban settlements in WWII reached its peak with the destruction of  Hiroshima and Nagasaki under the order of the U.S. President (Democrat) Harry Truman – “Atomic Harry” (1884−1972) who authorized the dropping of the atomic bombs over these two Japanese cities in order to end the war against Japan without further loss of U.S. military troops, insisting on unconditional surrender of Japan.[6]

“The Last Battle for Justice” and the “Butchers of Dresden”

Surely, one of the most obvious results of the WWII was “its unparalleled destructiveness. It was most visible in the devastated cities of Germany and Japan, where mass air bombing, one of the major innovations of the Second World War, proved much more costly to life and buildings than had been the bombing of Spanish cities in the Spanish civil war”.[7] For that and other reasons, we believe that many Allied military and civil top decision-making personalities from the WWII should have faced justice at the Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials together with Hitler, Eichmann, Pavelić and many others. However, it is an old truth that the winners are writing history and re-writing historiography. Therefore, instead of seeing Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), Harry Truman or Arthur Travers Harris at the Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials’ courtrooms as indicted on such charges as crimes against humanity and genocide as were the German Nazi defendants, who included the NSDAP’s officials and high-ranking military officers along with the German industrialists, lawmen and doctors, we are even 73 years after WWII reading and learning politically whitewashed and embellished biographies of those war criminals who destroyed Dresden, Hiroshima or Nagasaki as national heroes, freedom fighters and democracy protectors.[8] For instance, in any official biography of Winston Churchill it is not written that he is responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the German civilians in 1945 but we know that the British PM clearly promised to the Poles to get after the war ethnically cleansed territory from the Germans.[9]

If the Nüremberg Trial, 1945−1949 was “The Last Battle” for justice,[10] then it was incomplete. Moreover, two the most ardent killers of Dresden – Churchill and Eisenhower were granted after the war by the second premiership and double-term presidency, respectively, in their countries.

There were many (Western) butchers in world history but only small fish (from the Balkans) are officially marked by such label.

Notes:

[1] On this issue, see more in [L. B. Kennett, A History of Strategic Bombing: From the First Hot-AirBaloons to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Scribner, 1982].

[2] On Dresden’s history and architecture, see [W. Hädecke, Dresden: Eine Geschichte von Glanz, Katastrophe und Aufbruch, Carl Hanser Verlag, München−Vien, 2006; J. Vetter (ed.), Beautiful Dresden, Ljubljana: MKT Print, 2007].

[3] On the case of firebombing of Dresden, see more in [P. Addison, J. A. Crang (eds.), Firestorm. The Bombing of Dresden, 1945, Ivan R. Dee, 2006; M. D. Bruhl, Firestorm: Allied Airpower and the Destruction of Dresden, New York: Random House, 2006; D. Irving, Apocalypse 1945: The Destruction of Dresden, Focal Point Publications, 2007; F. Taylor, Dresden. Tuesday, February 13, 1945, HarpenCollins e-books, 2009; Charler River Editors, The Firebombing of Dresden: The History and Legacy of the Allies’ Most Controversial Attack on Germany, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014].

[4] On this issue, see more in [J. Friedrich, The Bombing of Germany 1940−1945, New York: Columbia University Press, 2006; R. S. Hansen, Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942−1945, New York: Penguin Group/New American Library, 2009].

[5] On Würtzburg’s case, see [H. Knell, To Destroy a City: Strategic Bombing and its Human Consequences in World War II, Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press/Pireus Books Group, 2003].

[6] On this issue, see more in [C. C. Crane, Bombs, Cities, & Civilians: American Airpower Strategy in World War II, Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1993; A. C. Grayling, Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan, New York: Walker & Company, 2007].

[7] J. M. Roberts, The New Penguin History of the World, Fourth Edition, London: Allien Lane an imprint of the Penguin Press, 2002, p. 965.

[8] See, for instance [R. Dallek, Harry S. Truman, New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2008; J. E. Smith, FDR, New York: Random House, 2008; S. E. Ambrose, The Supreme Commander: The War Years of Dwight D. Eisenhover, New York: Anchor Books A Division of Random House, Inc., 2012; A. D. Donald, Citizen Soldier: A Life of Harry S. Truman, New York: Basic Books, 2012; W. Manchester, P. Reid, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940−1965, New York: Penguin Random House Company, 2013; B. Johnson, The Churchil Factor: How One Man Made History, London: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 2014; B. Harper, Roosevelt, New York City, Inc., 2014; P. Johnson, Eisenhower: A Life, New York: Viking/Penguin Group, 2014].

[9] T. Snyder, Kruvinos Žemės. Europa tarp Hitlerio ir Stalino, Vilnius: Tyto alba, 2011, p. 348 (original title: T. Snyder, Bloodlands. Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, New York: Basic Books, 2010).

[10] D. Irving, Nuremberg: The Last Battle, World War II Books, 1996.

February 14, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sad Nuclear Anniversary

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | August 6, 2015

On 1 September 1939 – the date of the beginning of the Second World War – the President of the United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt, wrote to «the Governments of France, Germany, Italy, Poland and His Britannic Majesty» saying that «The ruthless bombing from the air of civilians in unfortified centres of population during the course of the hostilities which have raged in various quarters of the earth during the past few years, which has resulted in the maiming and in the death of thousands of defenceless men, women, and children, has sickened the hearts of every civilized man and woman, and has profoundly shocked the conscience of humanity».

He was rightly appalled about the aerial slaughter of civilians and desired each country to which he addressed his appeal «to affirm its determination that its armed forces shall in no event, and under no circumstances, undertake the bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities, upon the understanding that these same rules of warfare will be scrupulously observed by all of their opponents».

We are now marking the seventieth anniversary of the explosion of the atomic bombs that destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 and Nagasaki three days later, killing a total of over 100,000 «defenceless men, women, and children,» prompting the nuclear scientist Robert Oppenheimer to quote from the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu religious and philosophical text, that «Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds».

Development of the atomic bomb began in 1939 but went into high gear as the Manhattan Project three years later. What is intriguing is that President Roosevelt approved the programme on 9 October 1941, a full two months before the Japanese attacked America at Pearl Harbor killing 2,403 people — including civilians. The subsequent declaration of war by the US resulted in concentration on means of war-winning by any means, and resulted in development of the ultimate weapon.

Even before the atomic explosions it was apparent that the major nations involved in the Second World War had no qualms about inflicting devastation. The British considered that their «aim is, therefore, twofold: namely, to produce (i) destruction, and (ii) the fear of death» and to that end mercilessly bombed German cities. The rationale was that it was the Germans who started it and who in 1940-41 subjected London to a non-stop 60 days and nights of aerial bombardment that killed 30,000 people.

In a macabre game of explosive ping-pong the countries at war sought more and deadlier ways to wreak havoc on their opponents, and it would have been difficult to have found a citizen of any of these countries who would have failed to agree with the actions of their government. It was thus that Project Manhattan received its massive impetus, and in an amazing display of technical prowess and organisational proficiency its scientists designed and produced the Atom Bomb.

It was astonishing that President Roosevelt had not told his Vice-President, Harry Truman, one single thing about the bomb project which some well-informed people believed was a potentially catastrophic venture. The first bomb was tested on 16 July 1945 at Alamogordo in New Mexico and caused concern among the scientists who had been involved in its development, 70 of whom sent a letter to President Roosevelt pointing out that use of the atomic bomb would likely presage «an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale» and that «a nation which sets the precedent of using these newly liberated forces of nature for purposes of destruction may have to bear the responsibility of opening the door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale».

Hiroshima-truman_2292872bTheir letter wasn’t allowed to reach the President. He never knew of its existence, but in any event was convinced that the A-bomb was essential and had written to Oppenheimer, who had grave doubts about the military’s attitude to nuclear developments, that «whatever the enemy may be planning, American science will be equal to the challenge». The Bomb was going to be used, no matter the consequences, although the president who gave the order to drop the bombs in August 1945 was Harry Truman, who learned of the project’s existence on 13 April 1945, the day after Roosevelt died.

As recorded by Eric Schlosser in his edifying book Command and Control, there had been air attacks on Japan of staggering intensity in the months before the atom bombs were employed. On the night of 9 March 1945, for example, «American planes struck Tokyo with 2,000 tons of bombs containing napalm and jellied gasoline… Within hours the firestorm consumed one quarter of the city. It killed about 100,000 civilians… «Worse was yet to come because Truman icily warned that the Japanese «may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth».

There were not many large concentrations of Japanese that had not been subjected to firebombing, and choosing the ultimate victims was not easy. Kyoto was removed from the list of four targets because the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, pointed out that it was a major cultural centre of great importance to Japanese art and history — and Nagasaki was chosen instead. By such decisions are the fates of human beings decided. Countless thousands of Kyoto citizens were spared, but 39,000 in Nagasaki were condemned to death.

First came Hiroshima, where on 6 August «a firestorm engulfed the city» and 66,000 people were killed. Next on the target list was Kokura, and in yet another horrible twist of fate the city was covered in smoke and haze and the plane was diverted to Nagasaki where the second bomb, hideously named Fat Man, was dropped on 9 August.

The war against Japan then ended, but it should be remembered that between the destruction of the two cities there was a Charter was being approved, on 8 August in the German city of Nuremburg, signed by the victorious allies, that included guidelines for the forthcoming trial of German war criminals by the International Military Tribunal. In an alarming example of double standards, the judges were informed that «The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual responsibility… (b) War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include… wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages». It did not include the words of President Roosevelt, that it was sickening to «undertake the bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities,» but made it clear that such attacks were against the laws of war.

The Nuremburg Charter guided the conviction of German war criminals, and it is hideous coincidence that it was signed at the very time when «Death, the destroyer of worlds» was thundering down on Japan in what Truman called «a rain of ruin from the air».

Which goes to show that justice is reserved for those who win wars.

Really, Sad Nuclear Anniversary.

Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

August 6, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK played a key role in US decision to nuke Japan during World War II

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Nagakaki before and after being nuked by the US
Press TV – August 6, 2013

Britain supported the vicious US nuclear attacks against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War, newly released top secret documents show.

The US government documents, declassified by the National Archives and Records Administration after almost 70 years, show London was involved in Washington’s decision to carry out the nuclear attacks as a close ally.

London’s support was officially expressed to US officials one month before the first and only nuclear attacks on a real target killed an estimated 250,000 civilians on August 6 and 9, 1945.

The go-ahead was given in a meeting of the Combined Policy Committee of the US and the UK in Washington on July 4, 1945 in which British officials referred to the nukes as Tube Alloys, a codename they used for their research on nukes and plutonium at the time.

British Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson told the meeting chaired by U.S. Secretary of War Henry Stimson that the British government “concurred in the use of the T.A. weapon against Japan”, Kyodo News Agency reported.

“The Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States had agreed that T.A. weapons should be used by the United States against Japan, the agreement of the British Government having been communicated” by Wilson, the documents said.

According to the documents, the initial agreement for the use of nukes against Japan when they are developed was made back in September 1944 in a meeting of the then US President Franklin Roosevelt and the then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

August 6, 2013 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama: Shooting People “Evil … Senseless”

By Jay Janson | Dissident Voice | July 22nd, 2012

While reading the text of Obama Statement on Shootings in Colorado, one line struck this writer as quite astounding:

“We may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil is senseless. It’s beyond reason.”

The President may have realized afterward that since he has been ordering the shooting of thousands in a half-dozen countries, the words “evil, senseless, beyond reason” could easily reflect back on himself. A later Obama statement on the massacre in a Colorado movie house did not contain the words “evil,” “senseless,” “violence beyond reason.”

In any case, history books, in some future, probably not too distant, day will deplore Obama’s pathetic 9/11 excuse for increasing and extending a ten-year-old military occupation war in dirt poor Afghanistan, killing, and killing easily, young and old Afghani, who are fighting invaders of their nation as they have always done. And perhaps one day independent investigative journalism will reveal whose instructions Obama was following from within that “financial element” that FDR confided “has owned the government since the days of Andrew Jackson.”1

Historians will denounce his shameful exceeding of his executive powers under the Constitution, to have assassinated even American citizens without trial, and ridicule the pack of lies he offered in sick defense of his frightening Hellfire and Predator drones murdering intentionally and collaterally while menacing all citizens in some of the most poverty-stricken populations on earth. Historians will judge his character by his once infamous joking about using a drone on his daughters boyfriends — “they’ll never know what hit them.”2

Very possibly, scholars will chronicle a time when Americans were no longer kept in ignorance by a commercial media blackout of the last year of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, when King called his country “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” and condemned US wars as all meant to maintain “unjust overseas predatory investments.”3 Such a time might well arrive in the racing era of instant world-wide personal communication while Barack Obama is still alive and prosecutable for crimes against humanity, or in his own words of 2012, “for violent, evil, senseless and beyond reason, terrorizing fellow human beings.” With the recording of his words, Obama would have difficulty pleading insanity.

  1. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Wikiquote.
  2. Obama Jokes About Killing Jonas Brothers With Predator Drones.
  3. Listen or read: King’s April 1967 New York sermon: Beyond Vietnam – a Time to Break Silence click here;
    or see International Awareness Campaign, King Condemned US Wars.

July 23, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Comments Off on Obama: Shooting People “Evil … Senseless”

Maxing Out

Toward a Maximum Wage

By JOHNNY E. WILLIAMS | CounterPunch | April 10, 2012

Tackling income inequality through the minimum wage alone is an inadequate way to counter the economy’s anti-egalitarian tendencies. The minimum wage exists because the federal government recognizes the economy undervalues the average worker’s contribution and fails to provide a fair livable wage. Conversely, the economy’s overvaluing a few people’s contribution is also in need of governmental oversight. Since the government believes the economy is not a reliable gauge for determining how little is too little, it cannot assume the “market” is capable of determining how much is too much. Given this it is incumbent on the federal government to implement an income ceiling to eliminate the extreme income disparity between top and average wage earners.

Before dismissing the maximum wage idea outright, consider President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s call for 1942 maximum wage of $25,000 a year (in 2012 dollars $364,000) as a means to fuel economic growth and reduce income inequality. In a recent Le Monde Diplomatique article Sam Pizzigati of the Institute for Policy Studies revealed that two short years after President Roosevelt’s proposal, Congress increased the top tax rate to 94% for individual incomes over $200,000 (in 2012 dollars $2.6 million) The 94¢ tax on every dollar over the $200,000 limit helped initiate the longest period of economic growth for the middle class in U.S. history. This tax rate remained in place until President Lyndon Johnson dropped it to under 70% in the late 1960s. About two decades later President Reagan reduced the rate to 50% and then to 28% in 1988 before it settled at today’s 35% rate. But this tax rate overstates the rich’s tax burden given that most of their income [tax payment] comes from the 15% capital gains tax on profits acquired from buying and selling stocks, bonds and assets. This tax rate is about the same as that for working Americans earning between $50,000 and $75,000 before itemized deductions and exemptions.

Opponents of the maximum wage assert that cutting the top tax rates rather than increasing them will spark revenue and job growth. Their “trickle down” rationale assumes that making the rich richer will create good paying jobs, making working people more prosperous. But the trickle down approach and other piecemeal provisions like the minimum wage, earned income tax credit, and other minimalist economic programs and policies have proven ineffective in reversing the growth in income inequality over the last four decades. The ineffectiveness of such programs and policies is apparent in Emmanuel Saez’s recently released study showing that during the current recession one-percenters captured 93 percent of the income growth in both 2009 and 2010. In real dollar terms this means that the bottom 90% income on average declined $127 while the top 1% income increased $106,000.

One the best and most proficient ways to restart job growth and alleviate poverty and inequality, the imposition of a maximum allowable wage tied to minimum wage and enforced through a progressive income tax. The maximum is set at a specific multiple (maybe twenty five times) of the minimum wage, so that all income over the multiple limit is subject to a 95% to 100% tax. Limiting and linking average and top wage earners in this way will help Americans clearly see that poverty and suffering is necessary for an individual to accumulate wealth.

The fact is that income and wealth inequality impedes economic recovery, and efficiency and stability because it weakens demand for goods and services. By implementing a maximum wage the government could generate billions in revenue that can be invested in health, education, technology and infrastructure maintenance in ways that ensure the economy is sustainable, productive and efficient.

Europeans, especially those dealing with economic austerity measures, are already debating how to enact a maximum wage policy to ameliorate economic calamity. The idea of the maximum wage is also starting to resonate in the United States with a public that is increasingly aware of the destructive and anti-democratic consequences of lopsided disparities in income and wealth. This emerging awareness encourages people to question and challenge the legitimacy of economic values and a political system that, as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it: “permit necessities to be taken from the many to give luxuries to the few.”

Johnny E. Williams is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Trinity College.    

April 10, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Maxing Out

Pearl Harbor: A Successful War Lie

An excerpt from War Is A Lie

By David Swanson | December 7, 2010

One type of “defensive” war is one that follows a successful provocation of aggression from the desired enemy. This method was used to begin, and repeatedly to escalate, the Vietnam War, as recorded in the Pentagon Papers. Setting aside the question of whether the United States should have entered World War II, in either Europe or the Pacific or both, the fact is that our country was unlikely to enter unless attacked. In 1928 the U.S. Senate had voted 85 to 1 to ratify the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a treaty that bound — and still binds — our nation and many others never again to engage in war.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s fervent hope for years was that Japan would attack the United States. This would permit the United States (not legally, but politically) to fully enter the war in Europe, as its president wanted to do, as opposed to merely providing weaponry, as it had been doing. On April 28, 1941, Churchill wrote a secret directive to his war cabinet:

“It may be taken as almost certain that the entry of Japan into the war would be followed by the immediate entry of the United States on our side.”

On May 11, 1941, Robert Menzies, the prime minister of Australia, met with Roosevelt and found him “a little jealous” of Churchill’s place in the center of the war. While Roosevelt’s cabinet all wanted the United States to enter the war, Menzies found that Roosevelt,

“. . . trained under Woodrow Wilson in the last war, waits for an incident, which would in one blow get the USA into war and get R. out of his foolish election pledges that ‘I will keep you out of war.'”

On August 18, 1941, Churchill met with his cabinet at 10 Downing Street. The meeting had some similarity to the July 23, 2002, meeting at the same address, the minutes of which became known as the Downing Street Minutes. Both meetings revealed secret U.S. intentions to go to war. In the 1941 meeting, Churchill told his cabinet, according to the minutes: “The President had said he would wage war but not declare it.” In addition, “Everything was to be done to force an incident.”

Japan was certainly not averse to attacking others and had been busy creating an Asian empire. And the United States and Japan were certainly not living in harmonious friendship. But what could bring the Japanese to attack?

When President Franklin Roosevelt visited Pearl Harbor on July 28, 1934, seven years before the Japanese attack, the Japanese military expressed apprehension. General Kunishiga Tanaka wrote in the Japan Advertiser, objecting to the build-up of the American fleet and the creation of additional bases in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands:

“Such insolent behavior makes us most suspicious. It makes us think a major disturbance is purposely being encouraged in the Pacific. This is greatly regretted.”

Whether it was actually regretted or not is a separate question from whether this was a typical and predictable response to military expansionism, even when done in the name of “defense.” The great unembedded (as we would today call him) journalist George Seldes was suspicious as well. In October 1934 he wrote in Harper’s Magazine: “It is an axiom that nations do not arm for war but for a war.” Seldes asked an official at the Navy League:

“Do you accept the naval axiom that you prepare to fight a specific navy?”
The man replied “Yes.”
“Do you contemplate a fight with the British navy?”
“Absolutely, no.”
“Do you contemplate war with Japan?”
“Yes.”

In 1935 the most decorated U.S. Marine in history at the time, Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler, published to enormous success a short book called “War Is a Racket.” He saw perfectly well what was coming and warned the nation:

“At each session of Congress the question of further naval appropriations comes up. The swivel-chair admirals… don’t shout that ‘We need lots of battleships to war on this nation or that nation.’ Oh, no. First of all, they let it be known that America is menaced by a great naval power. Almost any day, these admirals will tell you, the great fleet of this supposed enemy will strike suddenly and annihilate our 125,000,000 people. Just like that. Then they begin to cry for a larger navy. For what? To fight the enemy? Oh my, no. Oh, no. For defense purposes only. Then, incidentally, they announce maneuvers in the Pacific. For defense. Uh, huh.

“The Pacific is a great big ocean. We have a tremendous coastline in the Pacific. Will the maneuvers be off the coast, two or three hundred miles? Oh, no. The maneuvers will be two thousand, yes, perhaps even thirty-five hundred miles, off the coast.

“The Japanese, a proud people, of course will be pleased beyond expression to see the United States fleet so close to Nippon’s shores. Even as pleased as would be the residents of California were they to dimly discern, through the morning mist, the Japanese fleet playing at war games off Los Angeles.”

In March 1935, Roosevelt bestowed Wake Island on the U.S. Navy and gave Pan Am Airways a permit to build runways on Wake Island, Midway Island, and Guam. Japanese military commanders announced that they were disturbed and viewed these runways as a threat. So did peace activists in the United States. By the next month, Roosevelt had planned war games and maneuvers near the Aleutian Islands and Midway Island. By the following month, peace activists were marching in New York advocating friendship with Japan. Norman Thomas wrote in 1935:

“The Man from Mars who saw how men suffered in the last war and how frantically they are preparing for the next war, which they know will be worse, would come to the conclusion that he was looking at the denizens of a lunatic asylum.”

The U.S. Navy spent the next few years working up plans for war with Japan, the March 8, 1939, version of which described “an offensive war of long duration” that would destroy the military and disrupt the economic life of Japan. In January 1941, eleven months before the attack, the Japan Advertiser expressed its outrage over Pearl Harbor in an editorial, and the U.S. ambassador to Japan wrote in his diary:

“There is a lot of talk around town to the effect that the Japanese, in case of a break with the United States, are planning to go all out in a surprise mass attack on Pearl Harbor. Of course I informed my government.”

On February 5, 1941, Rear Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner wrote to Secretary of War Henry Stimson to warn of the possibility of a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor.

As early as 1932 the United States had been talking with China about providing airplanes, pilots, and training for its war with Japan. In November 1940, Roosevelt loaned China one hundred million dollars for war with Japan, and after consulting with the British, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau made plans to send the Chinese bombers with U.S. crews to use in bombing Tokyo and other Japanese cities. On December 21, 1940, two weeks shy of a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, China’s Minister of Finance T.V. Soong and Colonel Claire Chennault, a retired U.S. Army flier who was working for the Chinese and had been urging them to use American pilots to bomb Tokyo since at least 1937, met in Henry Morgenthau’s dining room to plan the firebombing of Japan. Morgenthau said he could get men released from duty in the U.S. Army Air Corps if the Chinese could pay them $1,000 per month. Soong agreed.

On May 24, 1941, the New York Times reported on U.S. training of the Chinese air force, and the provision of “numerous fighting and bombing planes” to China by the United States. “Bombing of Japanese Cities is Expected” read the subheadline. By July, the Joint Army-Navy Board had approved a plan called JB 355 to firebomb Japan. A front corporation would buy American planes to be flown by American volunteers trained by Chennault and paid by another front group. Roosevelt approved, and his China expert Lauchlin Currie, in the words of Nicholson Baker, “wired Madame Chaing Kai-Shek and Claire Chennault a letter that fairly begged for interception by Japanese spies.” Whether or not that was the entire point, this was the letter:

“I am very happy to be able to report today the President directed that sixty-six bombers be made available to China this year with twenty-four to be delivered immediately. He also approved a Chinese pilot training program here. Details through normal channels. Warm regards.”

Our ambassador had said “in case of a break with the United States” the Japanese would bomb Pearl Harbor. I wonder if this qualified!

The 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG) of the Chinese Air Force, also known as the Flying Tigers, moved ahead with recruitment and training immediately and first saw combat on December 20, 1941, twelve days (local time) after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

On May 31, 1941, at the Keep America Out of War Congress, William Henry Chamberlin gave a dire warning: “A total economic boycott of Japan, the stoppage of oil shipments for instance, would push Japan into the arms of the Axis. Economic war would be a prelude to naval and military war.” The worst thing about peace advocates is how many times they turn out to be right.

On July 24, 1941, President Roosevelt remarked, “If we cut the oil off , [the Japanese] probably would have gone down to the Dutch East Indies a year ago, and you would have had a war. It was very essential from our own selfish point of view of defense to prevent a war from starting in the South Pacific. So our foreign policy was trying to stop a war from breaking out there.”

Reporters noticed that Roosevelt said “was” rather than “is.” The next day, Roosevelt issued an executive order freezing Japanese assets. The United States and Britain cut off oil and scrap metal to Japan. Radhabinod Pal, an Indian jurist who served on the war crimes tribunal after the war, called the embargoes a “clear and potent threat to Japan’s very existence,” and concluded the United States had provoked Japan.

On August 7th four months before the attack the Japan Times Advertiser wrote: “First there was the creation of a superbase at Singapore, heavily reinforced by British and Empire troops. From this hub a great wheel was built up and linked with American bases to form a great ring sweeping in a great area southwards and westwards from the Philippines through Malaya and Burma, with the link broken only in the Thailand peninsula. Now it is proposed to include the narrows in the encirclement, which proceeds to Rangoon.”

By September the Japanese press was outraged that the United States had begun shipping oil right past Japan to reach Russia. Japan, its newspapers said, was dying a slow death from “economic war.”

What might the United States have been hoping to gain by shipping oil past a nation in desperate need of it?

In late October, U.S. spy Edgar Mower was doing work for Colonel William Donovan who spied for Roosevelt. Mower spoke with a man in Manila named Ernest Johnson, a member of the Maritime Commission, who said he expected “The Japs will take Manila before I can get out.” When Mower expressed surprise, Johnson replied “Didn’t you know the Jap fleet has moved eastward, presumably to attack our fleet at Pearl Harbor?”

On November 3, 1941, our ambassador tried again to get something through his government’s thick skull, sending a lengthy telegram to the State Department warning that the economic sanctions might force Japan to commit ” national hara-kiri.” He wrote: ” An armed conflict with the United States may come with dangerous and dramatic suddenness.”

Why do I keep recalling the headline of the memo given to President George W. Bush prior to the September 11, 2001, attacks? “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S.”

Apparently nobody in Washington wanted to hear it in 1941 either. On November 15th, Army Chief of Staff George Marshall briefed the media on something we do not remember as “the Marshall Plan.” In fact we don’t remember it at all.” We are preparing an offensive war against Japan,” Marshall said, asking the journalists to keep it a secret, which as far as I know they dutifully did.

Ten days later Secretary of War Henry Stimson wrote in his diary that he’d met in the Oval Office with Marshall, President Roosevelt, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, Admiral Harold Stark, and Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Roosevelt had told them the Japanese were likely to attack soon, possibly next Monday. That would have been December 1st, six days before the attack actually came. “The question,” Stimson wrote, ” was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves. It was a difficult proposition.” Was it? One obvious answer was to keep the fleet in Pearl Harbor and keep the sailors stationed there in the dark while fretting about them from comfortable offices in Washington, D.C. In fact, that was the solution our suit-and-tied heroes went with.

The day after the attack, Congress voted for war. Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin (R., Mont.), the first woman ever elected to Congress, and who had voted against World War I, stood alone in opposing World War II (just as Congresswoman Barbara Lee [D., Calif.] would stand alone against attacking Afghanistan 60 years later). One year after the vote, on December 8, 1942, Rankin put extended remarks into the Congressional Record explaining her opposition. She cited the work of a British propagandist who had argued in 1938 for using Japan to bring the United States into the war. She cited Henry Luce’s reference in Life magazine on July 20, 1942, to “the Chinese for whom the U.S. had delivered the ultimatum that brought on Pearl Harbor.” She introduced evidence that at the Atlantic Conference on August 12, 1941, Roosevelt had assured Churchill that the United States would bring economic pressure to bear on Japan. “I cited,” Rankin later wrote, ” the State Department Bulletin of December 20, 1941, which revealed that on September 3 a communication had been sent to Japan demanding that it accept the principle of ‘nondisturbance of the status quo in the Pacific,’ which amounted to demanding guarantees of the inviolateness of the white empires in the Orient.”

Rankin found that the Economic Defense Board had gotten economic sanctions under way less than a week after the Atlantic Conference. On December 2, 1941, the New York Times had reported, in fact, that Japan had been “cut off from about 75 percent of her normal trade by the Allied blockade.” Rankin also cited the statement of Lieutenant Clarence E. Dickinson, U.S.N., in the Saturday Evening Post of October 10, 1942, that on November 28, 1941, nine days before the attack, Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., (he of the slogan “kill Japs, kill Japs!” ) had given instructions to him and others to “shoot down anything we saw in the sky and to bomb anything we saw on the sea.”

Whether or not World War II was the “good war” we are so often told it was, the idea that it was a defensive war because our innocent imperial outpost in the middle of the Pacific was attacked out of the clear blue sky is a myth that deserves to be buried.

December 7, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , | Comments Off on Pearl Harbor: A Successful War Lie