Thursday, May 12, 2016
Hiroshima Apology? Historical Revisionism At Its Worst
Some critics in the United States have urged President Obama to apologize for Hiroshima; but just as many have asked, “What on earth for?”. The nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and its civilian population was a clear and final message to Hirohito and Japan’s ruling elite that the war was over. They didn’t listen, and so Nagasaki was incinerated. Japan finally realized that its imperialistic ambitions were at an end and that they had completely and absolutely lost the war.
The justification for the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was clear – it would force the capitulation of Japan, end the war, and save thousands of American lives.
The unwritten and unspoken reason for using nuclear weapons was perhaps the most honest – it would be the shot across the bow of the Soviet Union. Mess with us, and this is what you’ll get.
The nuclear bombing of Japan is debated to this day. Some observers say that by 1945 Japan was already a defeated nation, and that an acceleration of their final rendition was hardly worth the loss of hundreds of thousands of civilian lives.
Others say that in the calculus of war, the life of even one American soldier is incalculable; and saving it is of inestimable value. One cannot compare civilian enemy deaths with American ones.
All well and good, say still others; but the United States with its questionable use of the A-bomb introduced the world to the weapon of mass destruction. A fiery Armageddon was now not just a Biblical prophecy but a secular reality. It is disingenuous to think that Truman, his generals, the Pentagon, and the entire military complex had no idea of the future.
Those who participated in the building of the bomb – Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller among others – knew quite well what they were doing, and regretted what they had done. They had unleashed unimaginable power and destruction on the world, heretofore only the domain of Siva The Destroyer and God Almighty.
Japan was a brutal and implacable enemy which had caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans from Pearl Harbor, to Guadalcanal, Guam, and the Marianas. Armies since Ancient Rome have used the most horrific weapons conceivable to defeat their enemies. Marcus Aurelius’ wars against the German tribes were as bloody and uncompromising as any. Massive catapults hurled buckets of fiery oil on the advancing pagan armies.
Civilian casualties were an afterthought as the armies of Genghis Khan marched out of the steppes, marauded, raped, and pillaged to the east and west until he had established his empire, one of the largest in history. The Christian Crusaders under Pope Urban II made no distinction between civilian and military casualties. Anyone who sided with the enemy was the enemy. The expulsion of the
Muslim armies which had occupied Jerusalem and slaughtered thousands of Christians had no cost.
The Allies didn’t blink when they ordered the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo. Every military strategist since Julius Caesar has known that the civilian population of the enemy is an enemy – not just because they are complicit in the rise to power of the leaders who declare war, but because their casualties have political value.
Obama, therefore, has no cause for concern or apology. War is war, and civilians have always been part of the calculus. The case for an apology for having unleashed nuclear Armageddon on the world has more saliency; yet that too is subject to historical context. It is in the nature of nations to arm themselves to the teeth against all comers. It is in our human nature to protect and defend our interests, to expand our territories, and to exert every measure of our power to assure dominance.
If anyone, it is the Japanese who should apologize (which they have not) for their imperial ambitions which provoked the Pacific War and caused the unnecessary death of thousands. It is the German Republic which should apologize for the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland, the Battle of Britain, and the brutality of North Africa – not the bombers of Dresden and Berlin.
The point is that no one should apologize or regret past actions. Human nature dictates aggression, war, and imperialism. If nothing else, those of us living in the 21st century should have learned that lesson. There are no rights and wrongs in history. No higher or lower moral ground. Nor any victors or conquered. History is nothing if not a repetitive, circular, unending tale of violence, war, territorialism, and safe perimeters.
A few years ago Queen Elizabeth’s advisors suggested that she apologize to Kenya for the abuses of Britain’s colonial armies during the anti-colonial uprisings of the Fifties. No such thing, her supporters argued. The Mau Mau were as evisceratingly savage in their rebellion as the British might have been in their reaction.
There are those who insist on reparations for African Americans whose ancestors suffered under the yoke of slavery for over two hundred years.
Nonsense, say objective historians who point out that slavery was universal, common, and unquestioned since ancient Athens, Rome, Persepolis, and Mohenjo-daro. Why penalize the descendants of slave traders and plantation owner who, given the context of 19th century science and social understanding, assumed the inferiority of Africans and the consequent legitimacy of slavery?
Moreover, why penalize sixth-generation American whites and not the descendants of African tribes who facilitated and enabled the slave trade? Slavery had always been de rigeur in Africa, chronicled by 18th century European adventurers like Mungo Park and Rene de Chaillu; and persists to this day?
Historical revisionism is a natural outcome of post-event observers. Since truth and reality are only subjective commodities, then it is not surprising that latter-day observers challenge the received wisdom of generations past.
Modern progressives with their insistent focus on race, gender, and ethnicity as contribute to the distortion of history. Rather than assess Hiroshima, Genghis Khan, or Persian imperialism objectively within the proven context of human nature and observed history, today’s progressives prefer to review history through a very narrow, Marxist lens.
The victorious war of the Allies against Japanese imperialism should not be seen through the distorted lens of European dichotomies, but through the more nuanced and human perspective of human rights. Given this optic, the accepted ‘victory’ of the United States over an aggressive, imperialist Japan was no such thing; but simply a capitalist victory. A war won to destroy the old, archaic and outmoded socio-religious foundations of Asia and implant the new, materialistic culture of the West.
Human nature is immutable, ineluctable, and undeniable. War will always be part of human events until genetic modification has altered it. Under such conditions not only does war have no morality, but misguided attempts to subject it to moral considerations – e.g. the Geneva Convention – will always be futile and counter-productive.
Reparations, apologies, and revisionist history are absurd given even the most cursory look at human history and behavior. The current ‘politically correct’ movement to deter if not cloture free speech in the name of higher values is a prime example of historical and genetic reality. Slavery, enslavement, violence, deprivation of human rights in the name of authority; and order, aggression, territorialism, and tendency to hegemony and uniformity are the rule, not the exception.
There is as little chance of suppressing such self-serving, natural instincts as there was of containing Genghis Khan and Tamburlaine in the steppes.
‘Let the world unfold’ is not a capitulation or a nihilist, laid-back idea. It is a confirmation of reality.
Posted by Ron Parlato at 11:22 AM