'Dancing in the streets' vs. somber relief

Dateline: Mon 02 May 2011

The debate over whether or not we should rejoice at the death of Osama bin Laden, or who should be permitted to celebrate, is fascinating to me.

People I respect are urging caution; it's unseemly to be giddy or even pleased over the death of any human being, including a mass murderer who killed innocent civilians and wanted to wipe the earth with our body parts. "It just doesn't seem right." "The outpouring of jubilation seemed a tad tacky." "I think dancing in the streets sends a poor message," were all emails coming my way yesterday, in discussions with family and friends.

One observer pointed out that the only real dancing in the streets was in Washington, D.C., and New York City, where the wounds of the attack are still painful, after 10 years. Topeka, Kansas, and presumably Indianapolis and elsewhere, did not engage in tap dancing or the singing of the Star Spangled Banner on Monument Circle.

However, my own sense of reaction was -- I admit it -- pure unrestrained happiness. Yes, there was relief and pride in our country (President Obama, the security forces, the SEALS, and on down the line) as well, but mainly, I am glad. I am glad he is dead, and I am even gladder to say so.

In looking for clues on how others with bigger brains were responding -- especially on the left, which seems more burdened with "sensitivity" than the right -- I turned to Juan Cole, the University of Michigan professor of history whose blog is called "Informed Consent." Cole (whose blog was born because of 9/11) "has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context." He is a Muslim scholar who lived in the Greater Middle East for 10 years, and he is very much an American whose fervent hope is that we will now exit Iraq. While he's far too nuanced to acknowledge any sense of "joy" at the death of the master jihadist, he did say he was depressed for an entire year after 9/11.

Some talking points from his post yesterday on Bin Laden and "the end of Al-Qaeda":

"Usama Bin Laden was a violent product of the Cold War and the Age of Dictators in the Greater Middle East. He passed from the scene at a time when the dictators are falling or trying to avoid falling in the wake of a startling set of largely peaceful mass movements demanding greater democracy and greater social equity. Bin Laden dismissed parliamentary democracy, for which so many Tunisians and Egyptians yearn, as a man-made and fallible system of government, and advocated a return to the medieval Muslim caliphate (a combination of pope and emperor) instead. Only a tiny fringe of Muslims wants such a theocratic dictatorship."

"The Arab Spring (the events taking place now in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, etc) has demonstrated that the Arab masses yearn for liberty, not thuggish repression, for life, not death and destruction, for parliamentary democracy, not theocratic dictatorship. Bin Laden was already a dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War and the age of dictators in which a dissident such as he had no place in society and was shunted off to distant, frontier killing fields. The new generation of young Arabs in Egypt and Tunisia has a shot at a decent life. Obama has put the US on the right side of history in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya (where I see crowds for the first time in my life waving American flags).

Read his full post to form your own opinion.

Here's the link:

http://www.juancole.com/

I plan to write more in a bit on where the sense of jubilation comes from, among those who feel it, at the death of a man Cole calls "the monster" .... and ending with this final quote from Cole:

"Now that Obama has eliminated the monster Usama Bin Laden and vindicated the capability of the United States to visit retribution on its dire enemies, he can do one other great good for this country abroad. He can get us out of Iraq altogether. The US military presence there is the fruit of a poisonous tree. It will always provoke Iraqi Muslim activists, whether Sunni or Shiite or secular nationalist. And it angers the whole Arab world."

Note the apt phrase: "the capability of the United Sates to visit retribution on its dire enemies."

Next: David and the Pslams.

 

 

 

 

Comments

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

I am glad OBL is dead. I am glad the SEALS took no casualties. I am not sorry that bin Laden's seed was terminated.

But I do not understand the jubilation expressed by people who have no skin in the game, don't understand what the game is, and just want to tap a keg and celebrate the game.

Satisfction is not the same as celebration. I take satisfaction that bin Laden is dead, terminated,, not currently breathing (as the Pythons said about the parrot). I have no objections to killing evil persons. But celebrate? Not quite. Unless you were one of the stirke team that did the job and got out whole. Then you are entitled.

2011-05-03 19:28:00

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Tom is right. OBL has assumed room temperature. Or, more appropriately, sea temperature.

Here's the rub on "celebrating" his death--yes, he was a miserable SOB, evidenced by his final act (grabbing a female to act as a human shield).

But the perverse reaction which seemed to dominate the media, was one of vengeful glee.

I would remind all gentle bloggers that the ridiculous desire for revenge has nearly been our downfall, more than once. Evidenced by Pres. Bush's stupid Iraqi invasion. Wrong man, wrong country, wrong war.

But the vengeful White House advisers, no doubt took this into consideration: a hurt America needed a pound of flesh. Their president had been declared a victor, and he faced a difficult 2004. What better to rev up the nationalistic pride, than a good ole' war?

"Mission Accomplished" and all.

This insanity morphs the definitions of righteous war, and marginalizes all our near-future definitions. Every action we take, creates a new boundary or corral.

Yes, OBL should be dead. No, we should not celebrate.

We should thank our God that he didn't inflict on then west, any more misguided Muslim hate/death.

2011-05-03 19:52:18

hendy [Member] said:

I'm with TTT. There is no joy in someone's death, no matter how evil that person might be. It's the end of one era. It demonstrated just how fragile the USA is, and how in our divisiveness, how much Bin Laden won. No, we weren't all that together on 9/10/2001. But we weren't like this.

We showed what bullies we are, and how we fix things with soldier's lives instead of astute diplomacy. We nearly bankrupted the country coming out of the initial financial disaster initiated by the fearful after 9/11/2001.

We showed how we supported those that put life and limb into saving NYC during desperate hours. We showed our allies how they would have to march in lockstep after initiating three wars-- that drag on to this day.

Could there be a trial where Bin Laden was shown that justice isn't at the end of a gun barrel? We'll never know. Liberty is a precious thing. Savor it. Remember what it tastes like. Teach your children what it tastes like, so that they remember, too, and how its currency diminishes when fear arises.

2011-05-03 23:18:58

Jason [unverified] said:

My first reaction is "what rock has everybody been living under?" Nevertheless, I'll bite:

It's not unseemly or uncouth to be joyous over these events. Bundles of psychological discourse will tell us that this is human nature. Have we become so incredibly politically correct that after years of grief and sorrow we're begrudged an ounce of happiness? I don't particularly understand the theory that all human life carries with it a great intrinsic value, because it ultimately contradicts itself, but even if you do, rejoice and be glad. The talking heads will argue over whether or not the world is a safer place, but it is unquestionably a better place without OBL. If you value all human life equally, be glad that countless human lives are saved and countless human lives lost have found justice. Yes, force HAD to be used, for the years of diplomacy that preceeded 9/11 left a body count in their wake.

The value of an individual is in direct relation to how much value they ascribe to everybody else. Be glad that a negative value has been removed from the equation. To call him a monster is to invite the wrath of a stray tarasque or bogeyman, because even they wouldn't have anything to do with OSL (I can't even think of an appropriate synonym or pronoun so I'll stick with the acronym.)

We have all grieved since 9/11. Many of us have lost a lot more than others, and I would never pretend to be the former. That having been said, nobody, and I mean nobody, should be telling anybody else how they should or shouldn't feel after everything our nation has been through. Obviously it's more personal for some than others, but I've never met anyone who wasn't affected by the events of 9/11. And to twist people's reactions into a political free throw is... not the right time to say the least.

If you want to grieve the loss of this life, go ahead. But if you truly believe it was a loss, grieve first for the tens of thousands this individual was responsible for sending home early. They deserve it more and they certainly didn't garner any headlines.

If you want to blame the American reaction on George Bush (really?), that's fine too, though this is a cynic's viewpoint at best. I understand progressives are upset because Obama resorted to "Bush-style" tactics in the war on terror, but for once be happy for your country and president... and proud.

It's odd, the pacifist in me is the part that's most elated.

2011-05-04 03:38:20

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Yeah, Jason, that is odd. Please consult Webster for "pacifist." I think you're confused. Please don't preach about the loss of life caused by OBL. I lost a cousin in the towers. He had a bright future. He was a second-year NYFD ladder-man who had a daughter on the way. Two college degrees and he wanted to help others.

There were no Bush-style tactics last weekend. Here's the difference: pay close attention:

Pres. Bush used faulty intelligence and was egged on by a maniacal VP and political adviser, in a Rovian attempt to create a nationalistic balm...he chased an elusive enemy into the wrong country, for the wrong reason, at the wrong time, and declared "Mission Accomplished" at the wrong time. After he landed a military jet on the deck of an aircraft carrier--something his brief (questionable?) NG career taught him. Fear not, gentle Americans: the despot Bushed chased and later hanged, was a disgusting dictator, too...albeit not for the reasons stated at the time.

Our "Kenyan President" vetted the intelligence much more thoroughly. He took a risk. If he had failed, I can't even imagine the hoots and hollers from the far right.

Revising history doesn't change facts.







2011-05-04 05:49:35

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Jason, nobody here has argued that bin Laden's life was worth saving.
What I am puzzled by is the unjustified celebration over something that most people had no investment in. It's like a drunken riot in Oakland because the Yankees win the pennant: what exactly is the cause for "celebration?"

You've twisted the argument to be one about the relative value of human life. There is no equivalency metric. Bin Laden, Idi Amin, Saddam, Stalin, these were lives that should have ended much sooner than they did. God bless the SEALS who did their job safely: they have reason to celebrate.

As for the grief you describe, Americans have been largely untouched by our current wars, we do not have a national sense of "being in this together," people have not sacrificed and we go about our lives fascinated with "America Idol" while service men and women wake in dangerous places. Complete disclosure: I have a Marine son who has seen Iraq and Afghanistan up close.

There is no genuine national "grief" and there has been no national sacrifice and thus in my opinion there is no entitled national celebration. There was national shock and outrage on 9/11, but the genuine grief then and now was deservedly felt by the loss of loved ones when the WTC went down, and when the responders became ill. (And as far as the nation being supportive of those responders, a decade later their health care payments are still impeded by an idiot (R) Congressman from Florida who wants each beneficiary to prove they are not a terrorist before funds can be received.)

2011-05-04 07:28:25

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Tom made my day. A complete home run, Tom.
Mazel Tov.

2011-05-04 07:39:21

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

Correction: Idiot Congressman Stearns is a (D).

2011-05-04 08:12:26

hendy [Member] said:

It's all relative.

Bin Laden probably was responsible for let's say, 6K lives and more injured; a lot of direct economic loss.

The heads of American tobacco companies take a lot, too. Bartenders across America help the toll along, too. Some deaths are slower than others, some tolls accounted for in different ways.

Bin Laden was an ideologue. He had to be countered. Being a pacifist isn't black and white. I'm one, but also understand when to stop killings, you have to take one. It's all a question of values, as Pirsig might say.

I'm happy that we might be on our way to stopping the killings of ideologues. But people will still die of malnutrition, malaria, and man-made problems. Those need our attention. The religious zealotry that spawned the war(s) for oil (we have four now, right? Tough to keep track of them) has been awful.

The US religious orthodoxy goads people into the hatred, the violence, and the expenditure of common assets. But do we do all we can to help people that are succumbing to other difficulties? Here and there, but by no means with the same fervor. Tough to beat God as an ostensible ally.

2011-05-04 08:44:56

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Hendy, very legitimate point about those who aren't generally considered evil enemies (your reference to tobacco company executives) but who also propagate human suffering and death. I might also point to the multiple thousands of innocent civilians (most disturbingly children) who have been victims of "collateral damage" in the warring on Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

There is a level of self-righteousness in this country that I haven't seen since the Vietnam War era.

I've been reflecting on Dietrich Bonhoeffer in light of the bin Laden killing. In case anyone reading this is not familiar with him, Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, a pacifist student of Gandhi, a Christian thinker cited as an inspiration by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bonhoeffer, though a pacifist, was involved in a plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler. Obviously, the plot fell through and Bonhoeffer was hung. In his writings, Bonhoeffer cited that the killing of one (Hitler) could save the lives of tens of thousands.

Had the plot been successful, I don't imagine that Bonhoeffer would have climbed a tree, chugged Jim Beam, waved a flag and shouted triumphalistic patriotic cliches.

I imagine he would have felt a profound sense of loss and sadness over the violent death of a human being, albeit an evil human being, whose death would have saved the lives of thousands.

2011-05-04 13:44:52

Jason [unverified] said:

Alright, let me put my back into a corner, ah, there. Now then:

TTT, we could argue over how every President (including the current one) since Reagan had an opportunity in the past to take OBL out and balked, but I don't think that's what this should be about. I don't really care to debate how many times Obama let him go here or there or wherever because I really don't care. In some scenarios you only have to be right once, and he was.

The idea that any one person can speak on behalf of 300 million people in the most diverse country that has ever existed is your own, Mr. Greenacres. If you and yours don't feel vested in what we've been dealing with for the past ten or so years you're entitled to your own opinion and you can be right. Don't cast doubt on those who do, though, and certainly don't label them some kind of sports bandwagon or speak on their behalf. Your experience is your own and you shouldn't expect it be everybody elses. I get it, people don't like George Bush, truly I do get it. But what in the h*** does that have to do with the way we're reacting to this news?

Now we've devolved into blaming ourselves, saying that people don't have a right to be joyous, and equating tobacco people with terrorists. Sometimes, folks, a cigar is just a cigar.

If you want to do a few little fistpumps in your cubicle and be largely muted out of a sense of professionalism, now THAT I can totally understand. Acknowledging that there is still some high ground that needs to be captured so it's a little early for celebration is fine too. Saying we shouldn't be celebrating because people are faking it, because it's so 'self-righteous,' or because it's the Republican thing to do is hogwash.

You're entitled to handle your joy or grief however you want, truly you are.
Don't expect everybody to agree with you, though, anymore than your coworker should expect you to join him or her in running laps around the office naked. Make no mistake, it was a VERY good day. In a series of conflicts that have had remarkably little concrete, tangible good news in years, this was a coup.

Seriously folks, cast off the yolk of political correctness, it's okay to be happy. There is such a thing as good and bad in this world and overwhelmingly we're still the good guys. If you want to be sad, okay great, be sad. But don't tell other people how they should feel or react. This is new ground for a lot of people as it is.

2011-05-04 16:15:23

hendy [Member] said:

No, it's not a yoke. Or a yolk. You can do as you like. I gain no happiness, only the understanding that one era is over, and a murderer was taken down.

A cigar is legal drug. It's addictive, and its output in the form of second hand smoke causes others problems. Nicotine, the active ingredient, acts like cocaine to the brain. Have you seen coke heads?

Have you seen people laying in the hospital on CPAP machines because they can't draw enough oxygen any more? How about kids that have asthma and can't handle a wind instrument because their parents smoke(d) around them?

Regardless of the politics you keep, real people die because of the legal drug dealers we keep. They're skunks. I know; I was a pack a day Camel smoker for 40 years. I am an addict; I love nicotine. And it's wicked tough to quit.

Yeah, it was a good day. Put it in perspective.

2011-05-04 18:56:24

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

NIce try, Jason. But not even close on the OBL thing. Not by a mile. Historically, or, re: fist-bumps. Have you paid attention to the national discussion? This is not a national fist-bump.

We took out a despot. The resulting nationalistic joy is uncomfortable. I didn't say it was wrong--it's just uncomfortable. To the degree we can chat about it logically, all the better.

And make no mistake: the more we push the corral out, to new frontiers of acceptance, we dull our edges. It takes more to shock and to win us over.

I'm hoping that we can redefine a few things after we digest this. I bet we can. The President made a good decision today--we won't see the gory pictures. That's fine.

How much does it take to buy a pound of flesh these days? What's the going rate?







2011-05-04 20:44:29

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

How anyone reacts is their own reaction. Me? I'm glad he's dead. I wish he'd never been born.

2011-05-05 13:55:37

Double Standards [unverified] said:

Since the USofA supposedly hates terrorism,can we now allow the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles to Cuba? Btw,not a word has been mentioned in the MSM of the recent passing of Orlando Bosch in Miami.

My guess is no. Just as Bin Laden was living unabated in Pakistan will also find its way down the memory hole.

2011-05-05 17:22:22

hendy [Member] said:

That would take arriving at the conclusion that harboring terrorists is illegal and amoral.

Oh, wait.

2011-05-05 18:55:11

Jason [unverified] said:

And a cigar is A legal drug. I've lost a few family members to smoking-related illnesses recently and I'm really struggling to come up with any relativity between that and terrorism. I think I see where you're coming from, but that's quite a stretch.

I understand the discomfort with the outright jubilation, I do, but what I don't understand is people refusing to empathize with that mentality and making blatant character stereotypes, such as 'false pride,' or what amounts to little more than political sour grapes. Since I'm in the group that celebrated, evidently now people are telling me how I 'really' feel. News to me...

If you want to point fingers at everything else our government is doing wrong, that's super. I'd invite you over for free beer, but I've got a hunch you'd complaint about the size of the paper cups.

I think it's silly everybody is expecting some kind of play-to-play, I think we can probably agree on that (I hope.) Nevertheless, I understand the mentality. We've had a fascination with violence since the caveman days and that's not going to change. Some of us are more used to it than others, and (especially today) some people simply refuse to acknowledge it.

And we'll never get that pound of flesh back. Ever.

2011-05-06 00:45:23

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I gotcha, Jason. It's a strange national fascination, and we'll probably debate it for years.

But you clearly don't understand what "pound of flesh" means. It's a revenge thing...

2011-05-06 05:57:22

varangianguard [unverified] said:

"Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar".

That is a statement of exception, not of a general rule. The obverse is the general rule statement.

Most times, a cigar is not just a cigar (see Freud, if you require details).

2011-05-06 07:12:06

hendy [Member] said:

A cigar as a penis or nipple substitute? Hmmmm.

We're trying to get away from the caveman; he's our animal ancestor. He was brutal. He had lots of fear, and was tribal in nature. Other tribes were bad. Women were for birthing more warriors and field hand.

In a civil world, we learned to get a long. We didn't live in fear of people with other skin colors. We recognized that sex could be use for other things than mandatory procreation. Some of us had same-sex appeals. Others of us didn't. Women, who were chattel along with children, were placed into actual sense of value as equals. Slavery ended. Royalty and fiefdom were banned, as we realized no person by right of their birth is better than another.

Civility became born of democracy and consensus, and remembering not to marginalize minority opinion and culture(s). We've been using drugs all along. In the early part of the last century, CocaCola had cocaine in it. We learned better. Cocaine operates on the brain much like nicotine-- and nicotine appears in many non-tobacco products in lighter dosages.

But we made addictive drugs illegal, and developed the concept of how drug dealers of illegal, addictive drugs were bad people, and why. What happened was that the tobacco companies lied and lied and lied about the harmful effects until the raw statistics told us the facts. All along, they were drug dealers, like the coke dealers but were exempted because our legislatures can be bought off.

Today, our legislature is bought off at the state and national level in insidious ways. It's like rust, it's like cancer, and it's evil. We're easily bribed, something else that goes back to our caveman days. One more bad habit to break.

2011-05-06 09:08:42

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

"And a cigar is A legal drug. I've lost a few family members to smoking-related illnesses recently and I'm really struggling to come up with any relativity between that and terrorism."
____________________

Jason, I appreciate your participation here. It is obvious you are a thinking person and though I may not agree with some (many) of your positions, I respect your passion related to getting to the truth as you see it.

I do want to comment on your struggle to find any relativity between tobacco corporations and terrorism.

Here's one to think about:

A man or woman is taken to his/her office in a limo. He/she does eight hours of work in the cigarette company's executive offices. Then, on the limo ride back home to his mansion, he smiles as he ponders all of the important contributions he/she has made to the world by overseeing and marketing the production of cigarettes.

During one of his meetings that day, he meets with his marketing people to see how the company can ramp up their advertising to appeal to more teenagers, so that the company can gain longer- lasting customers (geez, they keep dying on us).

Jason, MY teenage son swallowed that hook. He started smoking without my knowledge as a 13-year-old and now, five years later, can't quit because he is so addicted.

This "terrorism" is in my house. And, in the long run, it's more of a threat to my family's happiness than could be posed by any single Middle East terrorist.


2011-05-06 12:36:24

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Game, set, match...Whitebeard wins.

Has he tried the drug prescribed for quitting? My mom did it--it made her hallucinate, and she had t give it up. But it works for some. Chantel, or something like that...

2011-05-07 06:04:51

Pete [unverified] said:

Some day, it's my sincere wish, not just for the sake of my country, but the sake of my daughter, that the totality of American society might be able to organize itself around something other than 9/11.

It was horrific, yes. But during next year's election there won't be a single American child in Middle School who was even alive when it happened. And they'll be the ones who will suffer the consequences in our never ending quest to take down the Hitler of the Week or the 9/11 of the Week.

Sorry if that's impolite to point out, but eventually as a society we're going to have to stop wallowing in this.

2011-05-07 13:48:17

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Wow. Really?

2011-05-07 14:33:23

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

I get your point, Pete, and agree with the crux of your sentiments.

However, it's understandable that those who had loved ones die/injured on 9/11 would have strong feelings and I certainly respect their strong feelings connected to this event.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese people were killed when we unleashed the horror of nuclear war on the world and I hope we remember them as well.

Their lives don't matter any less to me because they weren't Americans. Ditto the lives of innocents who have been killed ("collateral damage") in our warring in the Mid East.

2011-05-07 16:22:36

hendy [Member] said:

Saddam Hussein was a skunk. He was probably responsible for a half-million Iraqi deaths in his war on Iran and other internal battles. We're probably responsible for at least a half-million more.

There were lots of Afghani non-Taliban Muslim and non-Muslims killed, too. But that's after the first Iraqi war.

When Clinton was in office, we ignored the Hutu/Tutsi slaughter. We looked the other way when the Somali hacked each other, and the mess in Darfur was really ugly.

There was pressure against the apartheid governments, but not enough. We closed our eyes in Central America as US business interests lead foreign policy, fighting the ostensible windmills of Nicaraguan 'rebels'.

The list goes on, and it goes on, and it goes on. We develop weapons, ghastly ones, ones that used to sit in Newport Indiana, waiting to gas the population of the earth 1.4 times over-- and every animal and bird living. VX is probably all gone, but there are those that believe that there is more around, hidden in the hills of W Indiana, waiting for a time when it might be used.

And we continue to keep a huge stockpile of damnable nukes, poised to punish in a most permanent way. Diplomacy? What fcuking diplomacy?

2011-05-07 18:20:07

Pete [unverified] said:

Whitebeard, I see where you are going with your response. However, please keep a couple of things in mind.

1. There is hardly a uniformity of opinion among the families of those who fell on 9/11 about things being perpetrated by the US government in the name of avenging that day.

2. 9/11 sadly is like the ultimate Christmas card to some on the far right. That horrific day has given them the permawar they've seemingly always wanted. Actual domestic governance is hard work, frankly, rolling out the 9/11 card is so much easier. It's amazing how far the right have moved the goalposts about the kind of "war" conduct the US is willing to partake in all because of 9/11.

3. 9/11 is akin to a really bad breakup, one that the dumped person in the relationship invokes as a catch all reason why their life has sucked from that day forth. Eventually, that person's friends realize that he or she is struggling in life not because the breakup really messed them up, but mostly because they are in all liklihood a loser. At what point will US warmongering stop being legitimately about 9/11 and in actuality because we want oil, power, control, etc?

2011-05-07 22:37:48

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"Hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese people were killed when we unleashed the horror of nuclear war on the world and I hope we remember them as well."

Now THERE'S a can-o-worms been opened. Beginning in 1933, the Japanese military had been fighting a war with barbarity and savagery unparalleled in modern times. You may want to read about the Rape of Nanking where the Imperial Army executed as many as 250,000 Chinese in incredibly savage ways.

One in 3 captives of the Japanese died from torture, disease, hunger and overwork.

There would have been a million casualties if we had invaded the Japanese homeland...most of them Japanese. They would have suffered far more than they did in the two atomic attacks, which killed about 150,000. And not to parse the horror, but our B29 fire bombings killed at least that many.

The atomic bombings were significant events because they were new warfare, but not because they killed many Japanese. For that whirlwind, the Japanese had themselves to blame.

2011-05-08 07:19:42

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Pete: you must have misunderstand what I have written. My point was/is that we basically are in agreement.

On the other matter (nuke bombing of Japan). I have studied this extensively - especially from Eisenhower's writings.
The Allies knew the Japanese Army was finished; the war was nearing a close. The "military/industrial complex" that Eisenhower so perceptively identified had a goal of scaring off an emerging Soviet Union by blasting Japan with nukes.
Eisenhower also wrote that military brass wanted him to nuke China, which he adamantly refused to do.

2011-05-08 14:52:05

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

P.S. The nuke bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed an estimated 246,000 Japanese - children, women, and old men well past the age of fighting.

No argument that the Japanese leaders and military were evil folks who did terrible things (My Dad was a decorated combat veteran in the Pacific Theatre in WWII). But these nuke bombings were civilian strikes, not military.

2011-05-08 15:00:44

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

W, I must respectfully disagree the Japanes knew it was over. Certainly MacArthur, a careful spender of lives, didn't believe they were defeated. There were a million uncommitted Japanese soldiers in China that would have vigorously opposed a landing.

The casualty count for Hiroshima is 150,000 dead AND wounded, and 75,000 dead and wounded at Nagasaki. The casualty count is generally marked from December, 1945, when Hiroshima deaths were given as 120,000, and Nagasaki as 80,000. It is no small matter for 200,000 persons to die within four months as the result of two explosions, but I believe those bombs were correctly used.

It isn't as though the genii would have been kept in the bottle absent Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

2011-05-08 19:21:38

hendy [Member] said:

What's a few thousand lives between friends, after all?

Ruth, you make interesting posts, which in turn, make interesting discussion fodder.

2011-05-09 06:40:27

Jason [unverified] said:

A) If I'm prepared to compare tobacco executives to terrorists, I would also have to include their shareholders as well as the recipients of their campaign contributions as such. I'm not prepared to call half of Washington terrorists. I understand it's a deeply personal issue so I'll leave it at that.

B) My familiarity with the 'pound of flesh' metaphor is in balancing scales of justice, or maybe retribution, but not revenge. I was pointing out that there is no way to regain balance after 9/11, because the other half of the scale is populated with people to whom life is cheap, so what can you truly do in the face of that?

C) Japan is a society that had exited in isolation for well over a thousand years. Their xenophobia was such that they were literally arming old women and children alike with everything from farm implements to school supplies. As a culture Japan had never been occupied throughout their entire history. They weren't expecting an offer of surrender, they were expecting wholesale annihilation of EVERYBODY (possibly because that's how they would have treated the situation had the roles been reversed.) Their propaganda machine put ours to shame as well, they convinced many of their soldiers that if they were taken captive by a black American soldier they would be eaten alive. This isn't from an American textbook, this is from my brother that lives outside of Tokyo talking to Japanese WWII vets (all of whom he's met believed the bombs were... understandable.) That's their side of the story.

Daggum, I leave for a weekend and look what I miss.

2011-05-11 02:56:02

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