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What Hollywood Ignores.....war epics on screen skips mass slaughter of Japanese and German civilians http://thepeopleofpakistan.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/herold2.jpg The Firebombing of Dresden Germany http://people.moreheadstate.edu/students/alsimp01/images/hiroshima1.gif The result of the bombing of Hiroshima By CHARLES BURRESS | The Japan Times | May 7, amoxi tabs online review 2010 SAN FRANCISCO — Does the history diet fed to Americans by Hollywood promote an unhealthy national memory? The latest screen epic about American heroism in World War II — the HBO miniseries “The Pacific” — is clouded by an unintended irony. Creators Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, amoxi tabs online review who teamed up also on “Band of Brothers” and “Saving Private Ryan, amoxi tabs online review” have sought to strengthen the authenticity of Hollywood renderings of World War II. Amoxi tabs online review But while such portrayals may give us a keener appreciation of the courage and suffering of U.S. Amoxi tabs online review troops on the battlefield, amoxi tabs online review they also add further weight to a lopsided World War II history that leaves the dishonorable part of America’s wartime behavior buried deeper in national amnesia. In what may be added irony, amoxi tabs online review the widely reported premier of “The Pacific” came but four days after the little noticed anniversary of one of the darkest events in American war history — the March 10, amoxi tabs online review 1945, amoxi tabs online review firebombing of Tokyo. Amoxi tabs online review The two-volume World War II history “Total War, amoxi tabs online review” by Peter Calvocoressi, amoxi tabs online review Guy Wint and John Pritchard, amoxi tabs online review describes the massive napalm attack on Japan’s capital as not only “the greatest air offensive in history” but also “deliberate, amoxi tabs online review indiscriminate mass murder.” The raid by B-29 bombers probably ranks as history’s largest mass killing of civilians in a short time span. Amoxi tabs online review The estimated death toll of 100, amoxi tabs online review000 exceeded the immediate deaths in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, amoxi tabs online review or the Dresden firebombing. “The street was filled with blackened corpses, amoxi tabs online review” air raid survivor Haruko Nihei recently told a U.C. Amoxi tabs online review Berkeley audience on her first trip to tell her story in America. Amoxi tabs online review “There were so many of them that it was hard to walk on the streets.” Then an 8-year-old girl, amoxi tabs online review Nihei survived after falling in the panicked tumult and being covered by other people. Amoxi tabs online review When she came to, amoxi tabs online review she found the bodies on top of her were “black as charcoal.” The U.S. Amoxi tabs online review Strategic Bombing Survey said at the time that “probably more persons lost their lives by fire in Tokyo in a six-hour period than at any time in the history of man.” The inferno was so intense that fleeing victims burst spontaneously into flame and were boiled alive in canals into which they had plunged to escape. Amoxi tabs online review Their agonies were no less severe than those suffered at Hiroshima. Confronting U.S. Amoxi tabs online review mass killing of civilians in WWII — particularly the Tokyo firebombing — is important now, amoxi tabs online review not just because Americans should remember both the good and bad about their history. Amoxi tabs online review The U.S. Amoxi tabs online review has trouble winning hearts and minds in today’s war against terrorists in part because the terrorism blood on America’s own hands leaves it vulnerable to effective enemy propaganda and charges of hypocrisy. In the aftermath of 9/11, amoxi tabs online review Osama bin Laden cited Hiroshima, amoxi tabs online review as if to say the World Trade Center deaths represented only a small taste of the type of warfare that the U.S. Amoxi tabs online review had long ago sanctioned. America was far from the first to bomb cities. Amoxi tabs online review The tactic began as early as the 19th century with bombs dropped from balloons over Venice. Amoxi tabs online review Indiscriminate killing of noncombatants from the air began, amoxi tabs online review according to many historians, amoxi tabs online review in the 1930s. Amoxi tabs online review The Japanese bombing of civilians in the Chapei section of Shanghai in January 1932 “horrified much of the world and anticipated the mass bombings of populations a decade later, amoxi tabs online review” wrote Cornell University historian Walter LaFeber. Amoxi tabs online review The most infamous early example, amoxi tabs online review immortalized in a painting by Picasso, amoxi tabs online review came five years later in 1937 when more than a thousand people died in the German bombing of Guernica. The Japanese military embraced the tactic during the Second Sino-Japanese War, amoxi tabs online review bombing several Chinese cities. Amoxi tabs online review The most destruction came from repeated air raids on Chongqing, amoxi tabs online review China’s wartime capital after the 1937 fall of Nanjing. Amoxi tabs online review Aerial attacks on Chongqing in May 1939 alone claimed an estimated 5, amoxi tabs online review400 lives, amoxi tabs online review according to Mark Selden, amoxi tabs online review a Japan specialist at Cornell. In WWII in Europe, amoxi tabs online review bombing tolls mounted, amoxi tabs online review beginning with German air raids on Warsaw in 1939 and Rotterdam in 1940. Amoxi tabs online review German bombing of British cities in the eight months following September 1940 claimed about 30, amoxi tabs online review000 lives. Amoxi tabs online review British bombing of German cities began in 1942 and was later joined by the Americans. Amoxi tabs online review About 45, amoxi tabs online review000 were killed in raids on Hamburg alone in July and August of 1943. Amoxi tabs online review Nearly as many were killed at Dresden in February 1945. The concentration of carnage saw a significant escalation when America sent waves of bombers over Japan, amoxi tabs online review especially in 1945. Amoxi tabs online review In attacks on 66 Japanese cities, amoxi tabs online review including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, amoxi tabs online review the number of civilians killed by American bombs was “probably close to four hundred thousand, amoxi tabs online review” estimated MIT historian John Dower. In the 2003 documentary “Fog of War” Robert McNamara, amoxi tabs online review who served in World War II under the architect of the bombing campaign, amoxi tabs online review Maj. Amoxi tabs online review Gen. Amoxi tabs online review Curtis LeMay, amoxi tabs online review quoted LeMay’s postwar assessment: “If we’d lost the war, amoxi tabs online review we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.” McNamara, amoxi tabs online review who later became U.S. Amoxi tabs online review Secretary of Defense, amoxi tabs online review added, amoxi tabs online review “I think he’s right. Amoxi tabs online review He, amoxi tabs online review and I’d say I, amoxi tabs online review were behaving as war criminals.” But if the U.S. Amoxi tabs online review was guilty of war crimes, amoxi tabs online review then weren’t Japan, amoxi tabs online review Germany and Great Britain also guilty? All of them rained bombs indiscriminately on civilians. Amoxi tabs online review America may have done so with the largest kill ratio, amoxi tabs online review but virtually all laws against killing of innocents are not conditional on the number killed. International law on bombing cities at that time was not clearly established. Amoxi tabs online review A Hague Convention that was drafted in 1923 explicitly banned aerial bombardment of civilians but was never ratified. Amoxi tabs online review The League of Nations unanimously passed a resolution in 1938 outlawing aerial bombing of civilian populations, amoxi tabs online review but Japan and Germany by then had withdrawn from the league and the U.S. Amoxi tabs online review had never joined. The most relevant agreement was the earlier Hague Convention Respecting Laws and Customs of War on Land of 1907, amoxi tabs online review which had been ratified by the major combatants of WWII. Amoxi tabs online review It forbade bombardment of “undefended” towns, amoxi tabs online review bombardment without prior warning and destruction of enemy property not demanded by military necessity. Amoxi tabs online review But those who ordered the later bombings in Asia and Europe, amoxi tabs online review though they were accused by their adversaries of violating international law, amoxi tabs online review typically said they had met the required conditions. At the Tokyo war crimes trial, amoxi tabs online review bombing of cities was not one of the charges brought against the Japanese defendants. Amoxi tabs online review Nor was it charged against leaders at Nuremberg. Amoxi tabs online review “Aerial bombardment had been used so extensively and ruthlessly on the Allied as well as Axis side that neither at Nuremberg nor Tokyo was the issue made a part of the trials, amoxi tabs online review” recalled Telford Taylor, amoxi tabs online review chief prosecutor at Nuremberg. So, amoxi tabs online review should anyone be blamed? One Japanese scholar said the 20th century’s ghastly record of civilian slaughter from the air had its origin in Japan’s attacks on Chinese cities. In the book “Bombing Civilians, amoxi tabs online review” Tetsuo Maeda, amoxi tabs online review who retired in 2007 as a professor of international studies at Tokyo International University, amoxi tabs online review wrote, amoxi tabs online review “The sudden horror from the skies that took place in wars of the 20th century had its roots in tactics used by the Japanese forces during the Asia Pacific War. Amoxi tabs online review This horror boomeranged back to Japan in extreme form with the disasters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” The argument that “Japan started it” is often expressed, amoxi tabs online review especially by American patriots, amoxi tabs online review in the many debates over “victors’ justice” at the Tokyo war crimes trial and American misdeeds in the Pacific war. Amoxi tabs online review Can earlier Japanese bombing in China — along with German and British bombing in Europe and the uncertainty of international law at the time — exculpate the later American bombing of Japanese cities? International laws of war, amoxi tabs online review though not precisely defined, amoxi tabs online review are generally viewed as including more than just signed treaties and agreements. Amoxi tabs online review Many scholars and jurists, amoxi tabs online review including the judges at Nuremberg, amoxi tabs online review have held that nations are bound also by “customary laws of war, amoxi tabs online review” regardless of what particular treaty was signed by what country. The indiscriminate slaughter of noncombatants violates customary laws of war as well as universal moral values. Amoxi tabs online review It sickens the human soul. Amoxi tabs online review Saying “Somebody else did it too” is no excuse. All nations that bomb civilians are guilty and should account for their actions, amoxi tabs online review and I believe the U.S. Amoxi tabs online review owes a special accounting. Amoxi tabs online review The scale and intensity of American bombing crossed a new threshold and, amoxi tabs online review in the view of some critics, amoxi tabs online review turned the bombing of cities into America’s chief weapon in concluding its war against Japan. “If others, amoxi tabs online review notably Germany, amoxi tabs online review England and Japan led the way in area bombing, amoxi tabs online review the targeting for destruction of entire cities with conventional weapons emerged in 1944-45 as the centerpiece of U.S. Amoxi tabs online review warfare, amoxi tabs online review” Selden wrote. It was the Tokyo attack that “initiated the U.S. Amoxi tabs online review government’s embrace of urban terror bombing as a legitimate form of warfare, amoxi tabs online review” wrote Cary Karacas, amoxi tabs online review an assistant professor at the College of Long Island who studies bombing of civilian populations. In 1945, amoxi tabs online review U.S. Amoxi tabs online review Brig. Amoxi tabs online review Gen. Amoxi tabs online review Bonner Fellers described the U.S. Amoxi tabs online review air raids over Japanese cities as “one of the most ruthless and barbaric killings of noncombatants in all history.” The U.S. Amoxi tabs online review — and especially Hollywood’s shapers of national memory — have a special responsibility also to make amends for past omissions and tell the full truth about the past. Amoxi tabs online review A more forthright confrontation by Americans with their own war crimes would not only provide a model for other nations with dark pasts but also undermine the ability of America’s present enemies to win recruits for committing similar crimes against the U.S. Amoxi tabs online review and its allies. Charles Burress is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance journalist who researched war memory as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Tokyo and Keio University. Amoxi tabs online review Original article found at: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20100507a1.html