Monday, March 15, 2010

Stop Analogizing World War II with “the War on Terror”

Dad (left) with his brother Wallace (right) just before shipping out to the Pacific in World War Two. (A REAL WAR- against formidable adversaries- not just an occupation!)

If I see one more comparison of the “implacable enemy Japanese Empire” to the Taliban or al Qaeda, I think I will blow a gasket. NO – there is no comparison, apart from maybe having a willingness to kill themselves for their respective causes. Apart from that, the inveterate and dishonest perpetrators are simply trying to ascribe some noble or justified purpose for the current occupations by using false analogies.

The Japanese Empire by the time of Pearl Harbor was massive, and already had committed genocide of hundreds of thousands in China. It controlled almost half the globe by six months after Pearl Harbor and had one of the most fearsome militaries ever assembled. They’d also been fighting to expand their Empire for decades.

Their vast forces, including ships, men and accessory materiel dwarfed every other military before or since, except perhaps the Soviets, and the current U.S. I believe they even would have downed Hitler and the Nazis had they been pitted against each other.

This is not merely talking off the top of my head, but based on my dad’s war diaries and notes - carefully put together as he fought for over three years in the Pacific theater (Phillippines, New Guinea) . Thus the new HBO series, ‘The Pacific’ brings home many of those old diary entries.

What he noted, and fortunately HBO’s series also portrays, is the unrelenting impetus to kill at any cost. The Japanese forces were ready to kill even if they were losing, and they had the might to back up that stance. Thus, a favorite tactic (as shown in Part One of ‘Pacific’) was to provide each soldier with his own personal grenade. If wounded he was to call out for help, fully expecting American medics to run to his aid, then when they did, pull the pin and kill them plus himself.

The Japanese Zeros were also used in suicide missions – to fly directly at U.S. ships and carriers, to destroy both the planes and the ships. In their history, Americans had never beheld such insane fanatics before. All for the honor of the Emperor (Hirohito) and the Empire.

By the time Japan was all but vanquished, and even after the first A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese military (mainly the Army) was still prepared to continue fighting to the last man. They were prepared to sacrifice the entire Japanese population rather than surrender to the Americans. Also, they didn’t believe the Americans had more than one A-bomb (“special bomb”) so the 2nd drop at Nagasaki was needed.

Now, are there parallels here to the modern terrorist Islamics? Sure, but there is no comparison in terms of threat or force available. Had the Japanese not been stopped (with the A-bombs- but effectively much earlier at Midway) there’s little doubt in my mind given their massive force, we’d now all be speaking (and writing) Japanese. Thus, to compare the current foe with the Japanese (or the Nazis) is like comparing Florida red ants (which can do some swarming and sting a bit) to the dreaded Marabunta of South America which marches in the teeming billions and can strip a horse or cow to its bones in mere minutes.

One thing I hope The Pacific does, is show Americans who’ve been led to believe we’re fighting “two wars” – what a REAL war looks like, fought with real ferocity. (And yes, I do make the distinction between war and occupations) And moreoever, a war which had to be paid for by universal sacrifice! That meant not only mass rationing for then citizens in the States, but also higher TAXES!!!!

So far, since the launch of these invasions and occupations, I have not seen one single tax raised to pay for them. This means the sacrifice is not spread, and it also tells me that the politicians and legislators and congress understand themselves these are not real wars. If they did, they’d find the means to pay their freight. Not impose the burden as a tax on future generations.

Indeed, one of the most cognitively dissonant recollections of the past ten years was right after 9-11 when on one side of their mouths the Bushies were describing it as the “worst attack since Pearl Harbor” and on the other side of their mouths, telling Americans to go out an do their patriotic duty by SHOPPING!

Obviously, convinced that most Americans are or were dumb asses, or such frightened sheep they’d believe anything that their masters told them. But my first thought, based on my intimate knowledge from studying the history of WWII and the lead up to it (by extensive talks with both parents) is that it was all a sham. That indeed, if 9/11 was such a comparable attack to Pearl, and marked the start of a “war” – then immediate sacrifice needed to be called for, including taxes and gas rationing. It wasn’t done, not up to now, so my skepticism remains.

Only later, after reading Noam Chomsky’s “9-11” and the book ‘Collateral Language’ did I arrive at the conclusion that the “War on Terror” was fomented and constructed not to fight the terrorists, but Americans’ own Civil liberties. Sure enough, in the wake – we saw the Patriot Act emerge (2002, with most in congress never reading it before voting for it) whose most odious sections have even been extended (they came up for vote to extend or not last month – the sheep in congress, especially the pusillanimous Dems, approved). One of these sections allows for total violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights in what are called Black bag searches. Wherein agents can surreptitiously enter a home (when no one is there) collect evidence and copy computer files or other materials, then depart without having to inform anyone they were ever there. Sound like the Stasi of East Germany, or the Gestapo, or the KGB? Well, if so then you see where I’m coming from.

No one disputes or argues that means need to be marshaled to counter terrorists or wannabe ones like “Jihad Jane” but we can’t lose our minds over it, or our liberties. (Though with the Military Commissions Act of 2006, we are now also without habeas corpus the oldest right there is – from the time of the Magna Carta).

Many of us believe that the biggest mistake ever made by the U.S. (which played right into bin Laden’s hands) was to treat 9/11 as an act of war rather than a criminal act in which the criminals could have been held accountable. By making it an act of war, and essentially mobilizing forces equal to the Second World War with a length of occupation even longer, we essentially elevated a gaggle of robed lunatics to super power status. Because, think about this, the only other scenario such mobilization would be seen would be if Russia had invaded Poland, or China invaded Taiwan.

Which leaves open the key and critical question: Given our parlous military overstretch and being bogged down with over 300,000 troops in the mid-East, WHAT would the U.S. do if either of the above mentioned events came to pass? I warrant not a whole lot! We already have so overly committed forces and resources to counter small bands of zealots, that the Russians and Chinese would likely eat us for lunch if we attempted any kind of realistic engagement.

Further, where the hell would we get the money to conduct these extra battles or campaigns? Oh wait, I got it! We can go back to CHINESE BANKERS! Or get China to buy another trillion in T-bonds!

Don’t make me laugh! The current engagements with the Taliban, al Qaeda are not wars. They were never declared by Congress (the Iraqi War Resolution itself - the green light to invade- was done by RECONCILIATION) and they certainly haven’t been paid for by higher taxes- which World War II was. Nor have citizens been asked to sacrifice like the tens of millions of Americans were during WWII.

One thing I do hope The Pacific does, is wake Americans up once and for all, and let them see how they’ve been had in terms of supporting military occupations and agendas that actually aim to not only do the REAL bankrupting (while Tea Baggers yap about health reform) but extirpate civil liberties in the process.

Right now, most of those dead or dying WWII vets, like my dad (who died last year) must be turning over in their graves wondering what the hell they fought for. When anyone tells you it's "for our freedoms" - in the current circumstances, BEWARE! It's more than likely to use the current atmosphere of perpetual fear as an expeditious excuse to REMOVE them!

No comments: