Friday, May 22, 2009

Victory in Europe Virtually Forgotten

May 8th marked the 64th anniversary of the end WWII in Europe. It’s sad this day declaring peace in Europe, the end of fascist tryanny, and great sacriface by millions wasn’t recognized.

The Reich was finished a week earlier with the fall of Berlin. The only fighting going on there being against the Russians. The advance of the Americans and British was much easier, with Germans willfully surrendering, much like the Iraqis did during both U.S. invasions. Americans were known as the guys in white hats. Women and children would throw flowers, while our troops threw them candy and other western goods. Those days are over.

While it made sense to the German soldier to lay down his arms to the Yanks and the Brits, as their father's Great War (WWI) had showed that the west treated prisoners humanely, it would be suicide or worse to not fight the Russians to the death. The “worse,” of course is torture and maiming. This wasn’t fighting for Hitler or the homeland, this was fighting to survive the war unscarred.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and others say torture is a military and intelligence tool that helps saves lives and win wars. They are wrong, but then their goal has never been to win wars, but to create wars, as their lies to create these wars has proven.

Torture is a crime. Dick Cheney and those that promulgated its use are war criminals, as certain as Goring, Hess or Borman were found to be at Nuremburg. America needs to rejoin the civilized world, and once be known as the guys in white hats. That requires rejoining the International Criminal Court at The Hague, and that means if extradition of U.S. citizens is required for the illegal renditions and torture, then so be it. At least we would be honest in accepting accountability, something that seems lost on our Congress and President.

1 comment:

  1. Read your VE remarks and much agree. The guys with other priorities have just made sure those good Americans who do choose to serve their country will face far more implacable foes in the future.

    Of course, just wait until VJ day (8/14), for which there is now a movement to rename VP (Victory in the Pacific) Day, as if we were fighting numerous nations over there and not just the Japanese. The studied obtuseness of the left when it comes to the behavior of the Japanese military during WWII is my pet peeve. I see nothing particularly liberal or broadminded in ignoring such major and outsized atrocities by another country’s military. Our dropping two nuclear bombs, causing some 300K casualties, and thus ending a terrible war before millions more died, is somehow worse than anything the Japanese ever did in the previous eight years of their unprovoked war against their neighbors. They killed twice that many civilians in Nanjing alone, and did it the old fashioned way—with guns and swords. And they still won’t apologize for it to the Chinese. Indeed, I noted this week that the Chinese have just made a new film about the Nanjing massacre (City of Life & Death), which was declined for screening at Cannes. One wonders if the festival committee felt uncomfortable showing a film certain to upset the Japanese.

    As I recently wrote a friend, the casualty totals in the both WWII theatres is remarkably close—about 35/36 million each. In the European theatre there were death camps, Stalingrad, Leningrad, carpet bombings of German and allied cities, several large-scale and multinational invasions, etc. In the Pacific theatre, well, the two nuclear bombs, some terrible island fights, a few city sieges and bombing raids, several pitched land battles…but overall not as much to compare in scale because the numbers of front line troops involved in those engagements were rarely as great as in Europe (we used our navy for much of the early fighting, and for our European allies it was of necessity the secondary theatre of war). The simple explanation for the high Pacific count is twofold: 1) the Japanese didn’t surrender, and 2) the Japanese didn’t like administering occupied civilian populations. They got their casualties up by fighting to the death and by butchering or maltreating just about anyone who fell into their hands. But since we dropped the Bomb, we have no grounds to criticize.

    Of the nearly 20 million Chinese casualties during their occupation, less than four million are counted as military deaths. The rest were civilians. (By comparison, of the 23+ million Russian casualties, the greatest carnage endured by any one nation, the split between civilian and military war casualties is almost even-not quite, but nothing like the lopsided Chinese numbers.) When Hitler’s ambassador to Peking witnessed the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, he wrote to the Fuehrer (in admiration?) that the Japanese army was simply a killing machine. It took Hitler years to develop his own version—the “elite” SS corps—which could be counted on to slaughter without mercy any population in their path. Hirohito had one from the get-go. But nowadays most Westerners refuse to say this, that there was something terribly sick about Japanese society prior to their invasion of the Asian mainland, something which explicitly sanctioned treating anyone who was not Japanese with remorseless brutality. And elements of that sickness are still present in the Japanese government and society today. But you’ll never hear anyone in Washington, and certainly not among the big international corporations, pointing it out. We’ve sold our own military legacy and the morality of our victory for corporate profits and a few political chips to play against the region’s communists.