Saturday, August 06, 2005

Mark Steyn On Total War

The etiquette of modern warfare

Were we to re-run World War Two, advisors to the president would counsel against the poor optics of dropping the big one, problems keeping allies on board, media storm, Congressional inquiries, UN resolutions, NGOs making a flap, etc. And chances are the administration would opt to slug it out town for town in a conventional invasion costing a million casualties.

There's no doubt the atomic bomb wound up saving lives – American, Japanese, and maybe millions in the lands the latter occupied. The more interesting question is to what degree it enabled the Japan we know today. They were a fearsome enemy, and had no time for decadent concepts such as magnanimity in victory. If you want the big picture, the Japanese occupation of China left 15 million Chinese dead. If you want the small picture, consider Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands. It fell to the Japanese shortly after Pearl Harbor, when the 22 British watchkeepers surrendered to vastly superior forces. The following year, the Japanese took their British prisoners, tied them to trees, decapitated them, and burned their bodies in a pit. You won't find that in the Geneva Conventions. The Japs fought a filthy war, but a mere six decades later and America, Britain and Japan sit side by side at G7 meetings, the US and Canada apologize unceasingly for the wartime internment of Japanese civilians, and an historically authentic vernacular expression such as "the Japs fought a filthy war" is now so distasteful that use of it inevitably attracts noisy complaints about offensively racist characterizations. The old militarist culture – of kamikaze fanatics and occupation regimes that routinely tortured and beheaded and even ate their prisoners – is dead as dead can be. - More @ The Jerusalem Post


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