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12 September 2010


Russ Steele

What bothers me are the muted voices of the “moderate muslims” when we are attacked by the extremists. If they are true Americans why the silence?

George Rebane

That's the point I have been making and the point that gives lie to the mass of moderate Muslims. These folks are lying low and refusing to stand up to the daily litany of Muslim atrocities across the world. Making a heavily veiled statement twice a year, and then returning to silence is worth a bucket of warm spit. The moderate Muslim must match the intensity of his protest with that of the radicalizing anti-western propaganda that washes over their youth daily. It is only the progressives who apologize for this kind of lame response to the Islamists who inflame worldwide Islam.

In WW2 the Nisei insisted on forming awesomely effective combat units that fought valiantly on the Italian peninsula, and American blacks formed the very effective Tuskegee air squadron. Both minorities demonstrated their loyalty to America and their equality as American fighters. Is there not a similar tack that can be taken by American Muslims?

Michael Anderson

"The moderate Muslim must match the intensity of his protest with that of the radicalizing anti-western propaganda that washes over their youth daily."

I would make the case that even the likes of George W. Bush was afraid to upset the apple cart, especially when it came to oil-soaked Wahhabis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahhabi).

The Nisei and Tuskegee examples are poignant, but come from a simpler time. Selecting certain Islamic sects to be targeted with Predator drones (not the Wahhabis certainly!, let's just blast the "rock apes" in Pakistani and Afghani no-man's land!!) is a terribly cynical strategy. Also a great way to lose the war in the big picture.

RL Crabb

Are you saying there are no muslims in the US military? I'd find that hard to believe. During WWII there wasn't a lot of press about the Tuskegee Air squadron, or the Navaho Code Talkers. It was years later that these Americans were honored for their service. A good buddy's dad was with Doolittle's crew in the Pacific. He used to say, "If you're going down in flames, aim for something big."

As for the religious question, I'm for religious freedom, period. It sickens me the way the ACLU is being misused to remove Christian symbols from public view, and it is a denial of our history. By the same token, the muslims deserve no different treatment.

And the bomb? Again we're in agreement. My dad was stationed in the Phillipines at the end of the war, and no doubt would have been part of the invasion of Japan that never happened. Years ago, I remember Utah Phillips speaking to school kids about the "atrocity" of the two bombings. It set me off and I did a cartoon that offered my opinion that if it had been my decision, I would have put it down the emperor's throat. (And it got published in the left wing Community Endeavor.) I hate when the left rewrites history as much as I do when the right does it.

And, as we've talked about before, I reluctantly agree that we will probably be forced into another world war by these assholes. It's too bad that Islam doesn't go through the kind of reformation that Christianty has, rejecting the kind of radical beliefs that led to the Spanish Inquistion and witch burnings. Of course, if anyone really tried they'd just cut off his head.

Still, we are a civilized nation, and will no doubt try every trick in the book to change their opinion of us and our decadent culture. Maybe it will work, maybe not. It sounds better than killing a billion muslims to make our point, and in the process, become that which we condemn.

RL Crabb

Oops...my buddy's dad was with Pappy Boyington, not Doolittle. His wake was briefly mentioned in the last cartoon in my new book. And by the way, he was a raging liberal who sent his medals to President Nixon in protest of the Vietnam war. Life is complicated, isn't it?

Michael Anderson

Great post Bob. You took a hundred years of history and condensed it into a digestible Triptik.

I have only one quibble, and that is how we might have avoided bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as avoided the Cold War and the post-WWII waste of going-on 60 years of US military industrial complex expenditure.

Oppenheimer and the other scientists, after Trinity (http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/atomictest.htm), implored General Leslie Groves to demonstrate first to the Japanese leadership, the deadly new weapon they had developed. There were competing interests at work. Some thought that Germany still had the wherewithal to build a nuclear weapon quickly, since they had been working on it for some time. Others believed that the next threat was the Soviet Union, and to demonstrate the use of the device on legitimate military targets such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki would discourage Soviet expansionism. All believed time was of the essence. In retrospect, maybe not so much.

After Trinity, the scientists were shuffled off to the back room. Their input was no longer required. In all my years working with technological geniuses, my experience is that we ignore their advice at great peril, especially when it comes to the very devices they have created.

After Trinity, an allied invasion of Japan was no longer a reality. But this new weapon was a jarring change, and the momentum to invade was still prevalent, even after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Unfortunately, I don't think the human race has yet fully digested the social disruption caused by MAD. It turns conventional territorial acquisition and retention strategies on their head. But I have great hope that we will get it figured out eventually.

RL Crabb

There was always the possibility that we could have set up a demonstration for the Japanese, and then dropped a dud. No, war is hell, and the Japanese were responsible for untold suffering and cruelty. They deserved what they got. I'd also say that the bomb was responsible for saving us from a war with the Soviets. MAD was insane, but the leaders of both nations proved that they weren't. With the Iranians, who knows if they value their children more than their weird theology?

To add to the confusion, could we host another world war without borrowing money from the Chinese communists?

George Rebane

Bob, there are plenty of Muslims in the US military. Recall it was Maj Hassan US Army who did the Fr Hood massacre. American Muslims are marbled in the military as are any other subgroup, and therefore don't have an opportunity to show that as a unit Muslims can be a trusted and effective force in the field against our declared enemies. Perhaps such a unit can inspire some brass for the silent moderate Muslim-Americans. Hard problem.

Todd Juvinall

RL has it right about history and I have to say thanks to Truman for his decision. My dad was on the ship waiting over there. A million casualties of just Americans were expected based on the fanaticism the Japanese showed all along the way. I too think the Soviets were deterred until they got the secrets from the Rosenbergs and others. MAD was actually what kept the world safe as ridiculous as that seems. I remember the drills in elementary school of hiding under the desk. If the bomb had dropped the archeologist's would probably be scratching their heads about the location of all those little skeletons. So, people can second guess what has happened but the exercise is fruitless.

RL Crabb

Some other factors about Japan, and I'm not sure of the accuracy of the first one, so I invite others to correct me if it's wrong.

During the time that the US was planning to invade, a massive typhoon swept through the area which may have caused great damage to the fleet. The Japanese may have seen this as the "divine wind" at their backs and stiffened their resolve to fight on.

Also, Uncle Joe Stalin was jockeying for occupation rights with their late entry into the pacific war. If there hadn't been a swift decisive end to the conflict, he might have gotten his way and we would have ended up with a divided Japan, much like the Korea of today.

Mikey McD

Speaking of the war in the Pacific.... I thought this detailed account of FDR lying to men in battle highlighted his character (or lack thereof) very well. Taken from William Manchester’s GOODBYE, DARKNESS:

“On January 6, 1942, they (MacArthur’s US Marines) sowed mines, dug trenches, and wired themselves in, awaiting the enemy’s assault on their line…MacArthur’s men, ridden by malaria, beriberi, smallpox, dysentery, hookwarm, dengue fever and pellagra…All MacArthur’s men needed was help from the United States. And Therein lies a tragic tale. They had every reason to believe that convoys were on the way. Roosevelt cabled “I can assure you that every vessel available is bearing…the strength that will eventually crush the enemy…I give to the people of the Philippines my solemn pledge that their freedom will be retained…the entire resources in men and materials of the United States stand behind that pledge.” ALL THIS WAS UNTRUE. Not a plane, not a warship, not a single U.S. reinforcement reached Bataan or Corregidor.

Add to this that FDR’s army chief of staff (Gen George Marshall) radioed MacArthur: “A stream of four-engined bombers…is enroute…Another stream of bombers left Hawaii… two groups of powerful medium bombers leave this week. Pursuit planes are coming on every ship we can use…”

ALL THIS WAS UNTRUE. Not a plane, not a warship, not a single U.S. reinforcement reached Bataan or Corregidor.” FDR left MacArthur’s men, America’s brave, lied to and abandoned on the bloody battlefields of Bataan and Corregidor.

War is hell; it is even more hellish when you can't trust your commander and chief.

George Rebane

Those complexities in the last months of the Pacific War are generally correct. Truman, who had mostly been a doorstop in the administration, suddenly had a lot on his plate when FDR died in April 1945. Not only was Stalin prepared to pounce on Japan’s home islands (which they did do in a limited fashion), but Mao and the communists were now a factor in taking over China from the corrupt and ineffective Kuomintang (Chiang Kai-shek). Added to that were the thousands of allied prisoners on the home islands whose lives were forfeit had the US invaded. In short, a lot of balls in the air that our current leftwing educational system totally ignores and continues to rail against America as the evil first user of atomic weapons.

These important and fascinating details of the last year of WW2 are laid out by Britain’s premier living war historian Max Hastings in his recent definitive history of the last year of WW2, Retribution – The Battle for Japan, 1944-45. This volume also presents the submerged history of the campaigns in the Indochina peninsula that materially affected our successes in the Philippines and the terminal stage of island hopping. It also documents the sad, dishonorable, little-known performance of the Australians in the Pacific War.

For those similarly afflicted with all things historical, I also recommend Hastings’ companion volume for the last year of the European war, Armageddon – The Battle for Germany, 1944-45. Of this history my family and I were witness since we arrived in Germany in the spring of 1944, and then had the apprehensive pleasure of welcoming Patton’s army into our single room in the attic of a German farmhouse in May 1945.

RL Crabb

Leave to Mikey to crank up the hate machine of all things Democratic. The US didn't have the resources to evacuate the doomed contingent at Corregidor. A rescue mission would have led to even more deaths and loss of valuable military hardware. You can question the promise that never came to pass, but that's another consequence of war. Similar actions/inactions have happened in every theater of conflict.

For all his faults, it was Roosevelt who foresaw the threats from abroad, unlike the isolationists in his own party and the Republicans. For someone who is so despised by the right today, remember that "that man" was elected four times.

Macarther had his own dark side. After his rout of the Bonus Army in Washington D.C., he tried to sue Drew Pearson for slandering his character, but was forced to settle after Pearson threatened to expose his mistress in court. (Did everyone have a mistress in those days?)

Then there was his attempt to start WWIII by invading China from Korea. Truman fired him, and rightly so. There can be only one commander-in-chief, whether you agree with him or not.

On the other hand, his administration of occupied Japan was brilliant, as was his war record up to the time of his dismissal.

As I have said so many times, history is complicated, and cannot be painted with the broad brush of partisanship.

Michael Anderson

Bob wrote: "There was always the possibility that we could have set up a demonstration for the Japanese, and then dropped a dud."

That's too true. And there was only enough material for a couple of more bombs, so the production line was fallow. I realize that my wondering about what might have happened with a demo instead of a city detonation is only so much armchair woolgathering. The real tragedy of war is that it is the leaders who make the decisions of war, and the citizens who suffer the consequences.

George, don't mistake my woolgathering for an accusation that the US was "evil" for using the A-bomb first. I am under no such delusion. My speculation about different paths are only of a strategic nature. For example, if the demo had been on a north island of Japan, would Uncle Joe have received a stronger message? I think the Cold War was a huge policy failure--could we have not "infected" the Russian economy with capitalism in the 1940s and 50s, as we seem to have managed to do with the Chinese after the Nixon Visit?

If you are wondering about how a real liberal thinks about this current thread, check out today's Jon Carroll column - http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/carroll/

George Rebane

Mikey's quote about FDR's actions reflect another tragic complexification of war (and not IMHO 'cranking up the hate machine'). FDR's perfidy as President was sophisticated, pervasive, and now well-documented. Congress and the country knew this, and therefore in great haste amended the Constitution without having to endure FDR's fourth term. Three was enough, and his imbecilic swansong performance at Yalta in Feb 1945 (no doubt abetted by his illness) was a tragedy that directly led to uncountable post-WW2 deaths and a half century with hundreds of millions of ruined lives.

Re the purposive lies told to the men on Corregidor - that may also have been the necessity of a very confused war in the early part of 1942. FDR decided that we needed that bastion to hold out and occupy the Japanese as long as possible for both strategic and propaganda purposes - we had to look like we were doing something to counter the Japanese onslaught. Lying to them about non-existent reinforcements was a timely 'field expedient' that served the purpose. Corregidor veteran and POW Ben Waldron recounts this in his Corregidor - From Paradise to Hell.

Todd Juvinall

Before WW2 the R's were isolationists and I think they were against the Lend-Lease agreement as well. When Japan attacked, every member of Congress, save one, voted to go to war. I agree it is not a partisan issue. The freedom of the planet was at stake and most Americans saw the necessity of fighting. There were CO's who disagreed, and I dare say they would probably had been the traitors if the NAZI's had won. They would be the prison guards undoubtedly. Anyway, the comparison to 9/11 is similar regarding the coming together in outrage and cries for justice by most Americans. I must say I have never been proud of democrats except for the two months they shut their yaps after the attack. It didn't take them long to start their hate talk against Bush which is still going on today. Regarding Carroll and his opinion. Thank GOD he is not in charge or we would be talking German or Japanese.

George Rebane

MichaelA - did not so ascribe your "woolgathering", I think I understand your perspective on Hiroshima et al.

Re the Cold War - I don't think there is any evidence to support the notion that we could have "infected" the USSR's brand of international communism to death with capitalism. To this day, I, and most people who have witnessed war and the Iron Curtain, strongly believe that very few in the US understand what modern totalitarianism is like or all about (and the next version abetted by advanced technology will make the last look like a walk in the park). The Cold War was a necessary, and after the fact, a brilliant exercise by half of humanity to forestall and then sink the greatest threat to life and civilizaton in human history. Before it happened, we didn't even know that such a state of global affairs was even possible.

But all this does not guarantee a happy future. I believe the people for an international collective are smarter and more determined than ever that the next attempt shall succeed. Most certainly they are better armed and more sophisticated in their use of state-sponsored 'dumbth', propaganda/media, environmental issues, 'immigration', and global economics. And so far it looks like the wind is at their backs.

RL Crabb

George, I realize that, once again, we have gotten off track with the original thread of 9/11, but I'd like to add one last comment on the subject of the bombing of Japan.

Back in the 80's, when I was a regular attendee of the San Diego ComicCon, I picked up a comic book called "I Saw It!" by a Japanese survivor of Hiroshima. He was a young boy in August of 1945, and the only reason he wasn't vaporized was that he happened to be behind a stone wall that shielded him from the blast. He described that horrible day in grisly detail, with drawings of the unfortunates who staggered by with their blackened skin peeling from their bodies, blinded, but trying to find the river to relieve them from the pain. Crying out for water, but unable to swallow.

He didn't blame the United States. His reason for doing the book was to warn the world of what could happen if if nations didn't control the awesome power they had created.

Some say they were innocent victims, but as I see it they were guilty of allowing their military industrial complex to lull them into the notion that they could rule the world by terror and conquest. That is the lesson of Hiroshima. Always question authority, especially in matters of war.

George Rebane

Fully agreed Bob.

Mikey McD

Crabb, you sound like a libertarian: "Always question authority, especially in matters of war."

I am critical of government, no matter what initial is next to the politicians name... yes, I am very critical of FDR (but, he was only mentioned above because he was the boss during 'Pearl Harbor Era')... here is one example of me going after a Bush with an R next to his name.. http://rebaneruminations.typepad.com/rebanes_ruminations/2008/08/bush-signs-hous.html

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