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September 27, 2006

Comments

Jim

This sort of view was an offspring of the "Kill the Injuns" attitude. If the US did pursue such an eliminationist extreme, they would have been no better than the Nazis who were clearly pursuing a genocidal goal. Besides, looking at the situation geopolitically. Why eliminate a nation that would profide an excellent buffer against a rival superpower after the war?

Unfortunately there are still people out there in the States who would be this bloodthirsty. Thankfully they are on the fringe of society that has a tendency for wearing silly pointy hoods and making crappy websites like Stormfront. Or at least I hope most of them are.

Won Joon Choe

Abiola,

In times of a prolonged, bloody war like the Pacific War, rational thought is often the first casualty. In this context, I think citing American public poll numbers that demonstrate the American racial animus toward the Japanese during World War II can be misleading.

Here's a another poll number that may supply some perspective: The same poll was asked on the same date asking what Americans felt about the Germans (omitting the genocide option), and 34 percent of all respondents favored the total destruction of Germany as a political entity as well. (My source is John Dower's War Without Mercy, p. 54).

This is not contradict, however, Dower's thesis that the Pacific War was essentially a "race war," and that the Americans behaved more ignobly toward the Japanese than the Germans, precisely because of greater racial animus. In fact, the war propaganda, as Dower and others have pointed out, essentially treated the Japanese as subhuman, in particular either of the simian or insect-variety. In contrast, this kind of racist propaganda obviously did not extend to the anti-German war propaganda.

Abiola

Won Joon,

I don't mean to argue that Americans under normal circumstances routinely think (or thought) in the manner you describe, only that they are no more immune to government-driven blanket hatred of "enemies" than anyone else. My point is simply that the difference between Nazi Germany and countries like Britain and the USA owed more to the good fortune of having won the last war and possessing "first past the post" election systems than to some supposed ethical superiority intrinsic to English-speakers - just look at the "nuke 'em all" contingent on LGF and you'll see that it doesn't take much to get lots of "decent" people to happily support genocide.

As for Dower's "race war" thesis, unfortunately I haven't read his book, so I can't say much about it, other than that without the racialized worldview which saw Japan as a "Yellow Peril" whose every effort on the international had to be frustrated - e.g. demanding Japan surrender most of her gains from the war with Russia, blocking Japanese efforts to get the League of Nations to pass a "racial equality" clause, imposing immigration restrictions on Japanese settlers, excluding Japanese goods from US and British Imperial markets, demanding Japan surrender all territorial gains made in China while doing nothing about, say, Italy's Ethiopian conquest, etc. - it is extremely unlikely that the ambitions of Japan and the United States would eventually have gone to war. That Western racism played a central role in the genesis as well as the conduct of the Pacific War is without a doubt*, although I'm not willing to accept the often made argument that it was what made the difference between nuking Hiroshima and, say, Berlin - had the bomb been ready, Germany would definitely have been nuked.

*Of course, racism notwithstanding, in the end it was Japan's own arrogant and foolish military leaders who took it upon themselves to start an unwinnable war against a power so many more times powerful than their own nation.

Ross

The woman wrongly imprisoned as "Tokyo Rose", Iva Toguri, has obituaries in most of the newspapers today. Her story seems to exemplify the kind of sentiments discussed in this post.

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