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Japan 1945: possibility of a negotiated peace


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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 8:00:28 AM PST
IGS says:
RMS

"What I don't think you realize is that in war, the most ruthless participant sets the rules. "

Thank You!!!! That is the hard truth. Dodges's nonsense concerns regarding "unintentional" starvation being morally distinct from killing them quickly still results in the deaths of civilians. In short there is no distinction, except in Dodge's mind. It is, as I said, a convenient fig leaf to assuage the consciences of people who don't want to feel like the "got their hands dirty". Starvation is absolutely discriminatory as well. Moreover it hurts in the exact opposite order that Dodge would like. First it kills the children who can sustain it least, then the civilians, and lastly the soldiers on who the regime depends. That's not better Dodge, in fact slow death of civilians first is an interesting price to pay for your fig leaf. But, there is no enforcement mechanism when the big boys fight ... except one, reciprocity. I am sorry it is this way.

Richard and Dodge, Merry Christmas.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 8:49:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 13, 2012 9:00:57 AM PST
Laker Fan says:
IGS, RS,
If that is true, then what about all the other "laws and rules of war". For example, bans against chemical and biological wepaons. The rules against the torture and mistreatment of prisoners. The rules that protect medical personnel, chaplins, etc. from direct attack. the rules against perfidy and human shields. What makes these laws any more or less special than the laws against direct attacks on civilians? IS retaliation the only form of enforcement with all of the aobve? And is retaliation morally justified? And does everyone have the equal right to retaliate as they see fit?

The fact that these laws and rules never have been, and never will be, perfectly complied with and perfectly enforced, does not mean that they lack legitimacy and moral authority. If everyone thought like you do, we'd still be stuck in the Middle Ages with slavery, cruel and unusual punishment, human sacrifice, racial and religious oppression, etc. being accepted as morally legitimate.

"In short there is no distinction, except in Dodge's mind."

Actually, the distinction also exists in modern international law. Which happens to be much larger than your mind and my mind combined.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 8:58:54 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 13, 2012 8:59:45 AM PST
The rules against the use of chemical and biological weapons are enforced by reciprocity, and you only have to look to Japan in WWII and Iraq in the eighties to see how well the legal bans work. Japan used both classes of weapon against Chinese civilians in WWII and Iraq used chemical weapons against both the Iraqi Kurds and the Iranians in the eighties. Every opponent we have fought in the 20th or 21st centuries, with the possible exception of the Germans in WWII, have mistreated and tortured our servicemen as well as civilians. Our opponents also have deliberately targeted civilians and used their own civilians as well as neutrals as human shields.

So, in the real world, all the idealist laws of war have failed. The only way they work is if transgressors fear that the same conduct will be applied to them.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 9:08:16 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 13, 2012 9:28:26 AM PST
Laker Fan says:
Richard Smith wrote:
"you only have to look to Japan in WWII and Iraq in the eighties to see how well the legal bans work. Japan used both classes of weapon against Chinese civilians in WWII and Iraq used chemical weapons against both the Iraqi Kurds and the Iranians in the eighties."

Nobody ever said the bans will work perfectly. Just like the laws against robbery and rape will never work perfectly. There will always be those who break the law. That's why they are called criminals. But that doesn't mean everybody who gets robbed or raped has the moral authority to retaliate in kind. Weren't you taught this stuff when you were a kid?

And where do we derive the moral legitimacy to punish civilians, for the crimes committed by their political and military authorities?

Let's grant your point for a moment. Then we should dissolve the UN, withdraw from the non-proliferation act, renounce the Hague/Geneva Conventions and all other instruments of international law. Why even have them? Just rely on threats of retaliation, which work far better anyway.

When I was a kid, I saw Milosovic being tried for war crimes at the Hague on the evening news, the formation of the ICC, the increasing public profile of Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, and other developments. I'm guessing this never occurred when you were a kid, and we have totally different mindsets. I grew up while these things were developing, WW2 is almost as far away from me as the ACW. Heck, even Jim Crow seems so very far away, it's amazing this used to be tolerated here in the US. Nuking civilians, racial oppression of minorities, and gay bashing just seem so 20th century. The process is in its infancy, but I think there might be a generation gap here. Perhaps the process is too new for you to wrap your brain around.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 10:09:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 13, 2012 10:15:47 AM PST
Dodger,
I don't think it is so much a generation gap as a social one. Both Surfin and I are Vets and have seen the seamy side of war and what happens when one side is restrained by following laws and the other isn't. You seem to have been fortunate enough not to have those experiences. Our experiences color our opinions about how much other countries are willing to follow laws that they find inconievient.

A big difference between criminals being punished for violating the law and a country being punished for violating the law is that while you can arrest an individual, you must fight and win a war to prosecute a country. In fact Milosovic is a perfect example of that. As long as he was in power in Serbia no one could touch him, no matter what he did. It wasn't until his government was overthrown that he was turned over to the Hague for prosecution. He is an almost singular example of the leader of a rogue state being held legally responsible for actions being taken under his control. There are hundreds, if not thousands of "leaders" just as evil as he was that will never be punished because no law can touch them. There is very little that can deter people who commit "crimes against humanity" or "war crimes". The only way to deter their behavior is to make clear that the people who allow them to be in power will recieve the exact same treatment that they allow to be done to others. It's not perfect, or humane, but in thousands of years of warfare it's been the only system that works.

In Vietnam, the NVA and the VC routinely conducted terrorism campaigns against leaders, teachers and village elders who supported the South Vietnameese government. The only time it stopped was when the US started covert programs to terrorize the VC and NVA leaders who were giving those orders. The VC and NVA weren't planning on losing the war so they had no fear of South Vietnamese or US justice for their war crimes, and in the end the were correct. NO North Vietnamese or VC official ever was even brought up on charges of terrorism or war crimes despite the mountains of evidence and first person reports of torture and murder. No one that abused and tortured American POWs was ever brought to justice.

You have lived in a kinder and gentler place and time, but it isn't the real world, and in the end the ruthless will always take advantage of the principaled. You can apply reciprocity without being savage, but in the end, ruthless people only understand and respect force.

Posted on Dec 13, 2012 10:58:34 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 13, 2012 12:05:24 PM PST
IGS says:
RMS

Kim Il Sung, never be prosecuted. Mao, never prosecuted. Uncle Joe, never prosecuted. Law irrelevant. Unless the country wants to turn him over, the big boys walk. It won't change in this or my kids lifetime.

But, truth be told, my experience in war was relatively free of observed war crimes. It wasn't Vietnam. However, the man we fought ... was real bad dude.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 11:12:34 AM PST
Bubba says:
The Americans were able to, and did, provide food and necessities to the Japanese from the stocks that they had built up in preparation for a land invasion. My guess is that they had toilet paper in those stocks, along with a lot of canned food; but little or no rice. There was also a lot of food in the Pacific supply train that could have been made available to the occupied Japanese.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 11:19:40 AM PST
briefcandle says:
"there is that moving footage of that small Japanese child sitting violently trembling "

I won't watch it. Stuff like that brings me undone. What terrible things happen in the world. What a tide of misery was that war, and it still hasn't gone out. Is it little wonder so many veterans don't speak of what they have seen.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 11:22:53 AM PST
Bubba says:
http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/masabumi-hosono.html

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 12:17:47 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 13, 2012 12:41:17 PM PST
Laker Fan says:
Richard M. Smith wrote:
"In fact Milosovic is a perfect example of that. As long as he was in power in Serbia no one could touch him, no matter what he did."

True, but that doesn't mean it would have been legally or morally acceptable to start wiping out Serbian civilians in response to Milosevic's crimes.

"There are hundreds, if not thousands of "leaders" just as evil as he was that will never be punished because no law can touch them."

Again, this is not sufficient to morally justify deliberate attacks against the civilian populations of these criminals.

"It's not perfect, or humane, but in thousands of years of warfare it's been the only system that works."

Recently the Palestinian Authority was granted UN status as a "non-member observer state". One of the privileges of this status is the ability to join the ICC and file charges. Although the chances of Netanyahu actually standing trial at the ICC are very slim at this point, this does give the Palestinians leverage that would have been impossible even ten years ago. I have read that some US and Israeli political figures are "concerned" about the possibilities of Palestine requesting ICC investigation into Israeli "war crimes". In the "worse-case scenario" for Israel, the ICC can issue arrest warrants and confine Israeli leaders to Israel and the US. If they set foot in the EU or other ICC jurisdiction, they could face immediate arrest.

The ICC has been in operation for 10 years. It has a long, long way to go. Perhaps in another 10, or 100, or 1000 years it will be much more effective. You are looking back at 1945. I am looking forward to 2052, 2512, even 3012. That is the difference between us, whether you want to call it generational or social.

Perhaps one way to explain the forward-looking mindset is to look at the carnage of WW2 and say, "In 1945 we had two choices. Do nothing and just let it get worse and worse. Or, create the beginnings of a new international order that will hope to reduce the horrible suffering we just witnessed. If we don't start, we'll never get anywhere." It appears the world chose the second option. It's not perfect, it has a long way to go, but it is undersay.

"NO North Vietnamese or VC official ever was even brought up on charges of terrorism or war crimes despite the mountains of evidence and first person reports of torture and murder. No one that abused and tortured American POWs was ever brought to justice."

Again, I don't see that as sufficient to morally justify nuking Hanoi. And we didn't nuke Hanoi, although under your logic there were many reasons to do so. Same thing goes for Hussein's crimes, which were not seen as moral justification for nuking Baghdad, or other direct attacks against Iraqi civilians.

According to modern law and moral standards, civilians cannot be attacked in response to crimes performed by their leaders. You can either understand that or not. It doesn't matter.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 12:43:15 PM PST
IGS says:
Bubba

What is your point?

"There was also a lot of food in the Pacific supply train that could have been made available to the occupied Japanese."

Much of it was. But we are talking a country of 70,000,000 people. How much do you think was in that supply train. The best thing we did was to stop damaging the rail system and road nets and to rebuild it. That is what ending the war did, that is how it addressed starvation in the most significant way. I would point out that this was the most important factor that kept Japan from suffering even more privation. I am not sure the US could provide the basic level of sustenance without a cessation of destruction of transmission channels enabling some sort of transit within Japan.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 1:39:48 PM PST
Will the ICC take criminal complaints from the Israelis about the leaders of Hamas and Hizbollah deliberately attacking civilians inside Israel? Until I see that I'll contunue to feel that the ICC is a joke and a tool of governments who hate democracies and freedom. For every "crime" that Israel has committed against Gaza, I'll match you with a hundred or more committed against Israel by the Islamic militants running Gaza and the West Bank.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:14:58 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 13, 2012 2:20:02 PM PST
Laker Fan says:
Ricahrd M. Smith wrote:
"Will the ICC take criminal complaints from the Israelis about the leaders of Hamas and Hizbollah deliberately attacking civilians inside Israel?"

There are many, many Israel vs Palestine discussions going on right this minute in the History and Political forums. I do not have an opinion on that particular subject, and I definintely have no desire whatsoever to join any of those discussions.

All I was doing was pointing out the existence of an international process to charge, try, and punish war criminals. In my exact words, "It has a long, long way to go." I was just pointing to a recent development that may one day prove to be an effective alternative to retaliation against civilians.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:18:17 PM PST
What I'm saying is that the ICC is apparently starting off biased and nothing improves over time. If something starts bad, it just gets worse.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:22:28 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 13, 2012 2:22:50 PM PST
Laker Fan says:
Richard M. Smith wrote:
"If something starts bad, it just gets worse.'

Personally, I don't think it gets much worse than nuking hundreds of thousands of civilians. I think I'll take an imperfect system of due process over mass summary civilian executions any day of the week.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:27:09 PM PST
"due process" assumes an independant, objective process. I very much doubt the ICC will be either. I applaud your desire for fairness and your idealism, but based on my realworld experience, neither will work against evil and there is a lot of evil in the world. The same forces that have turned the UN into a debating society for tyrants will corrupt the ICC before it has a chance to ever set traditions of fairness to live up to.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:29:01 PM PST
patrick says:
and what happened a year or so later is a great example of the potential folly of an indecisive end to a conflict , such as the modern anti-Abomb lobby were advocating having been done with Japan.

Storey's history that Im just finishing is one of the "they could have just dropped the Bomb on an island or in open-country in Japan for same political dividend" and the "it was the Russian threat which made Japan suddenly capitulate" side, I notice with dismay.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:36:01 PM PST
patrick says:
Actually, the distinction also exists in modern international law. Which happens to be much larger than your mind and my mind combined.

actually I dont think it is.
Your mind his mind and and my mind are real, no matter how big or small or effective or ineffective.

International Law is about as real as " Star Trek " and that "Once Upon a Time" TV show, Im pretty sure.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:36:39 PM PST
The Paris Peace Treaty wasn't exactly an inconclusive end to the war. It's reasonable to expect nations to keep their words, although history has shown that communists never feel bound by agreements they make with capitalists. I guess Nixon was under so much pressure to end the war that he was willing to take the chance, it's sad that the RVN had to pay the price of Nixon being wrong.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:40:35 PM PST
International Law is only what can be enforced, and the enforcement mechanisms of the UN and the ICC have been shown to be pretty toothless. Otherwise Saddam wouldn't have had to be fought twice, Iran wouldn't be developing a nuclear bomb, North Korea wouldn't have one and be test launching ICBMs and a host of other things that violate UN resolutions.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:40:51 PM PST
Laker Fan says:
Richard M. Smith wrote:
"but based on my realworld experience,"

You are but one single solitary human being in the endless river of time. Greater persons than you have come and gone over the millenia, and their experiences, musings, beliefs, and principles have been supplanted by newer ones. You cannot, any more than they, predict the future course of our species. But we do know that fairness, idealism, and advancement of basic human rights has increased over the past three thousand years. It seems very arrogant and presumptuous for you to assert that you and your personal experiences represent the ultimate and final development of human morality and justice.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:47:08 PM PST
IGS says:
RMS

I doubt you will come up with anything close. Every single west bank settler from 1967 until now is a violation of Palestinian rights. So it is a further flaunting of authority to do something tangible. Until the day I see NATO and US tanks and Infantry pack up each of those settlers and march them politely accross the border I will consider such resolutions as having meaning. But this discussion is about Japan not Israel which I don't give a rat's _)(*oj about.

The real deal is and was, were there any conditions whereby other than an unconditional surrender were possible. With continued reading I have now come to the conclusion that until the dropping of the bomb, they had no intention whatsoever of surrendering without keeping Korea and China and chunks of Manchuria. Given the American mindset of no more 1918 I can't see any way that it could happen other than it did.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:47:34 PM PST
patrick says:
thats right, Richard, its a political-correctness court with a comparable tilt and agenda to the UN GA.

and you can toss in a raft of "respected humanitarian organisations" such as Amnesty....they all pick and choose their marks.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:48:40 PM PST
Of course it's presumptous, and I've never made that assertion. What I am is a realist and believe in preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. Your mindset seems to be just the opposite. I don't mean to be abrasive, or seem to be putting you down. You are probably a better human being than I am, but I think I've seen more evil at work than you have. I would love to see a world where strife and violence go the way of the passenger pigeon, but I doubt that our great great grandchildren will see that in their lifetimes. For now we have to do what has been shown to work and expend energy ,in probably futile efforts, to encourage the tyrants, fanatics and fools who rule most countries to act a little more civilized. Homo Sapiens has a long way to go before it is civilized.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2012 2:53:19 PM PST
patrick says:
so you think that anyone believed that it would be honoured any longer than it took for withdrawl and Vietnamisation to be effectively complete and irreversible?
That it had been pretty much decided that the US must get out either way, whether a piece of paper defends Saigon or not?
Abandoning RVN on the back of that agreement at least saved more face than abandoning RVN with no apparent agreement at all.

And the fact that that negotiation itself also seemed to have been forced or strongly induced on Hanoi by Linebacker etc probably added some to the face saving of it.
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Initial post:  Aug 16, 2012
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