August 05, 2005

60 Years After the Whirlwind

On August 6, 1945, Col. Paul W. Tibbets of the 509th Composite Group took off from Tinian Island hours before sunrise and piloted his B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay towards Japan. At 8:15 a.m., Mocksville, North Carolina native Major Thomas W. Ferebee pulled a lever and watched the 8,900-pound "Little Boy" fall away towards Hiroshima's Aioi Bridge. 43 seconds later, the world officially entered the nuclear age with a boiling, blinding white flash.

Three-score years have passed since that fateful morning, and the veil of time allows revisionists, apologists, and activists to portray the Japanese people as innocent victims of horrible weapons they didn't deserve, and indeed, many individuals were innocent. Japan, however, was reaping what it had sown in Nanking, Bataan, and course, Pearl Harbor.

While our valued allies today, the military society that dominated Japan sixty years ago was more akin to today's Islamic fundamentalists than most would comfortably admit. Fanatical Japanese soldiers were expected to fight to the death, as were all able-bodied Japanese civilians of any age or sex, many only armed with as little as sharpened sticks.

The planners of the invasion of Japan, code-named Operation Downfall, had constructed a two-pronged assault on the Japanese home islands. The opening assault—Operation Olympic—on the southernmost island of Kyushu was expected to generate 250,000 American casualties just in establishing a foothold in the Japanese mainland. The 790,000 Japanese defenders of Kyushu were expected to die, to the last man.

Operation Coronet, the assault on the main Island of Honshu and the Tokyo Plain, was expected to generate one million American casualties by the fall of 1946. The national slogan was "One Hundred Million Will Die for the Emperor and Nation," and every indication was that many Japanese planned to do just that, as 28 million Japanese had become part of the National Volunteer Combat force, armed with everything from obsolete firearms to bow and arrows, swords and spears.

Tens of millions of millions would have died in a Japanese jihad that would have left shell-shocked American soldiers guarding a shattered landscape, and a savaged nation that might have never recovered.

Millions dead, or 200,000 dead?

Major Ferebee never lost a night of sleep for pulling the lever that dropped "Little Boy" from the belly of the Enola Gay. He shouldn't have.

Update: He really shouldn't have. 1996 Nobel Peace Prize finalist R.J. Rummel calls the American decision to use atomic bombs on Japan "democide" and claims it was mass murder worthy of a war crimes trial.

I responded in his comments:

Dr. Rummel, I posit that you start with a false hypothesis: can you categorically state that all democide—which you define vaguely as “murder by government”—is a crime?

Homicide is discouraged in most situations, and yet, there are legally and morally acceptable times when it is implemented in civil societies. The same can be said for suicide, and for your concept of democide.

The Japanese people—not just the military, but the civilian culture that generated that military—were fanatical in a way we most commonly associate now with Islamofascist suicide bombers. From the well-known kamikaze pilots of the air to civilians equipped with primitive blackpowder satchel charges or even swords and spears, the Japanese people were not civilians in the sense we westerners commonly use. They were valid targets, and were expected by our leadership to provide armed opposition to the death.

You further misstate a truth when you make the claim that bombing the “civilians” of Hiroshima, Tokyo, etc were in violation of the Geneva Conventions. That is wrong on many levels, the first being that the Fourth Geneva Convention that covers the treatment of civilians was not signed until August 12, 1949, almost four years after the Japanese surrendered.

Even if the Fourth Convention has been signed before the war instead of after it, the expected use and training of Japanese “civilians” in attacks against American military units would have likely legally classified them as unlawful combatants according to this exact same Convention, just as the Taliban are today.

According to the Geneva Conventions, lawful combats satisfy four criteria: "(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; [and] (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war."

The Japanese “National Volunteer Combat Force” of 28 million “civilians did not satisfy even one of these four criteria. These “civilians” were expected to fight to the death or commit suicide rather than surrender, as tens of thousands of their countrymen, military and civilian, had done on islands across the Pacific, including civilian men, women, and children.

The People's Handbook of Resistance Combat was distributed by the hundreds of thousands in Japan, and sought to teach Japanese men, women, and children to fight with spears against American soldiers with machine guns. They were preparing for a self-induced genocide for their emperor's honor.

The use of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and later Nagasaki, were not war crimes, nor were they examples of genocide, nor were they examples of terrorism, nor were they examples of murder.

It was war, a most horrible war against a fanatical enemy that did not honor the concept of “civilians.” This something you seem determined not to understand in your headlong rush to issue condemnation.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 5, 2005 09:10 PM | TrackBack