Free Zestoretic

What Hollywood Ignores.....war epics on screen skips mass slaughter of Japanese and German civilians The Firebombing of Dresden Germany The result of the bombing of Hiroshima By CHARLES BURRESS | The Japan Times | May 7, free zestoretic 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, free zestoretic who teamed up also on “Band of Brothers” and “Saving Private Ryan, free zestoretic” have sought to strengthen the authenticity of Hollywood renderings of World War II. Free zestoretic But while such portrayals may give us a keener appreciation of the courage and suffering of U.S. Free zestoretic troops on the battlefield, free zestoretic 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, free zestoretic 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, free zestoretic 1945, free zestoretic firebombing of Tokyo. Free zestoretic The two-volume World War II history “Total War, free zestoretic” by Peter Calvocoressi, free zestoretic Guy Wint and John Pritchard, free zestoretic describes the massive napalm attack on Japan’s capital as not only “the greatest air offensive in history” but also “deliberate, free zestoretic indiscriminate mass murder.” The raid by B-29 bombers probably ranks as history’s largest mass killing of civilians in a short time span. Free zestoretic The estimated death toll of 100, free zestoretic000 exceeded the immediate deaths in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, free zestoretic or the Dresden firebombing. “The street was filled with blackened corpses, free zestoretic” air raid survivor Haruko Nihei recently told a U.C. Free zestoretic Berkeley audience on her first trip to tell her story in America. Free zestoretic “There were so many of them that it was hard to walk on the streets.” Then an 8-year-old girl, free zestoretic Nihei survived after falling in the panicked tumult and being covered by other people. Free zestoretic When she came to, free zestoretic she found the bodies on top of her were “black as charcoal.” The U.S. Free zestoretic 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. Free zestoretic Their agonies were no less severe than those suffered at Hiroshima. Confronting U.S. Free zestoretic mass killing of civilians in WWII — particularly the Tokyo firebombing — is important now, free zestoretic not just because Americans should remember both the good and bad about their history. Free zestoretic The U.S. Free zestoretic 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, free zestoretic Osama bin Laden cited Hiroshima, free zestoretic as if to say the World Trade Center deaths represented only a small taste of the type of warfare that the U.S. Free zestoretic had long ago sanctioned. America was far from the first to bomb cities. Free zestoretic The tactic began as early as the 19th century with bombs dropped from balloons over Venice. Free zestoretic Indiscriminate killing of noncombatants from the air began, free zestoretic according to many historians, free zestoretic in the 1930s. Free zestoretic 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, free zestoretic” wrote Cornell University historian Walter LaFeber. Free zestoretic The most infamous early example, free zestoretic immortalized in a painting by Picasso, free zestoretic 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, free zestoretic bombing several Chinese cities. Free zestoretic The most destruction came from repeated air raids on Chongqing, free zestoretic China’s wartime capital after the 1937 fall of Nanjing. Free zestoretic Aerial attacks on Chongqing in May 1939 alone claimed an estimated 5, free zestoretic400 lives, free zestoretic according to Mark Selden, free zestoretic a Japan specialist at Cornell. In WWII in Europe, free zestoretic bombing tolls mounted, free zestoretic beginning with German air raids on Warsaw in 1939 and Rotterdam in 1940. Free zestoretic German bombing of British cities in the eight months following September 1940 claimed about 30, free zestoretic000 lives. Free zestoretic British bombing of German cities began in 1942 and was later joined by the Americans. Free zestoretic About 45, free zestoretic000 were killed in raids on Hamburg alone in July and August of 1943. Free zestoretic 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, free zestoretic especially in 1945. Free zestoretic In attacks on 66 Japanese cities, free zestoretic including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, free zestoretic the number of civilians killed by American bombs was “probably close to four hundred thousand, free zestoretic” estimated MIT historian John Dower. In the 2003 documentary “Fog of War” Robert McNamara, free zestoretic who served in World War II under the architect of the bombing campaign, free zestoretic Maj. Free zestoretic Gen. Free zestoretic Curtis LeMay, free zestoretic quoted LeMay’s postwar assessment: “If we’d lost the war, free zestoretic we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.” McNamara, free zestoretic who later became U.S. Free zestoretic Secretary of Defense, free zestoretic added, free zestoretic “I think he’s right. Free zestoretic He, free zestoretic and I’d say I, free zestoretic were behaving as war criminals.” But if the U.S. Free zestoretic was guilty of war crimes, free zestoretic then weren’t Japan, free zestoretic Germany and Great Britain also guilty? All of them rained bombs indiscriminately on civilians. Free zestoretic America may have done so with the largest kill ratio, free zestoretic 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. Free zestoretic A Hague Convention that was drafted in 1923 explicitly banned aerial bombardment of civilians but was never ratified. Free zestoretic The League of Nations unanimously passed a resolution in 1938 outlawing aerial bombing of civilian populations, free zestoretic but Japan and Germany by then had withdrawn from the league and the U.S. Free zestoretic had never joined. The most relevant agreement was the earlier Hague Convention Respecting Laws and Customs of War on Land of 1907, free zestoretic which had been ratified by the major combatants of WWII. Free zestoretic It forbade bombardment of “undefended” towns, free zestoretic bombardment without prior warning and destruction of enemy property not demanded by military necessity. Free zestoretic But those who ordered the later bombings in Asia and Europe, free zestoretic though they were accused by their adversaries of violating international law, free zestoretic typically said they had met the required conditions. At the Tokyo war crimes trial, free zestoretic bombing of cities was not one of the charges brought against the Japanese defendants. Free zestoretic Nor was it charged against leaders at Nuremberg. Free zestoretic “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, free zestoretic” recalled Telford Taylor, free zestoretic chief prosecutor at Nuremberg. So, free zestoretic 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, free zestoretic” Tetsuo Maeda, free zestoretic who retired in 2007 as a professor of international studies at Tokyo International University, free zestoretic wrote, free zestoretic “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. Free zestoretic 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, free zestoretic especially by American patriots, free zestoretic in the many debates over “victors’ justice” at the Tokyo war crimes trial and American misdeeds in the Pacific war. Free zestoretic 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, free zestoretic though not precisely defined, free zestoretic are generally viewed as including more than just signed treaties and agreements. Free zestoretic Many scholars and jurists, free zestoretic including the judges at Nuremberg, free zestoretic have held that nations are bound also by “customary laws of war, free zestoretic” 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. Free zestoretic It sickens the human soul. Free zestoretic Saying “Somebody else did it too” is no excuse. All nations that bomb civilians are guilty and should account for their actions, free zestoretic and I believe the U.S. Free zestoretic owes a special accounting. Free zestoretic The scale and intensity of American bombing crossed a new threshold and, free zestoretic in the view of some critics, free zestoretic turned the bombing of cities into America’s chief weapon in concluding its war against Japan. “If others, free zestoretic notably Germany, free zestoretic England and Japan led the way in area bombing, free zestoretic the targeting for destruction of entire cities with conventional weapons emerged in 1944-45 as the centerpiece of U.S. Free zestoretic warfare, free zestoretic” Selden wrote. It was the Tokyo attack that “initiated the U.S. Free zestoretic government’s embrace of urban terror bombing as a legitimate form of warfare, free zestoretic” wrote Cary Karacas, free zestoretic an assistant professor at the College of Long Island who studies bombing of civilian populations. In 1945, free zestoretic U.S. Free zestoretic Brig. Free zestoretic Gen. Free zestoretic Bonner Fellers described the U.S. Free zestoretic air raids over Japanese cities as “one of the most ruthless and barbaric killings of noncombatants in all history.” The U.S. Free zestoretic — 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. Free zestoretic 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. Free zestoretic 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. Free zestoretic Original article found at: