Seventy-two years ago today

December 8, 2013
"FDR asks for a declaration of war"

“FDR asks for a declaration of war”

On the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt delivered this speech to a joint session of Congress:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And, while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

You can listen to FDR giving the speech here. (Real media file.)

Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the US. Four years later, Mussolini had been executed by his own people, Hitler had committed suicide, and Germany, Italy, and Japan were under occupation.

Today’s lesson: It’s not a good idea to make us angry.

(Reposting of an old post, somewhat edited.)

#CommonCore: turning History into anti-American propaganda

December 4, 2013
x

Necessary

I honestly haven’t followed the controversy over the proposed Common Core national educational standards all that closely (1), though I’m somewhat familiar with the questions of lowered standards, loss of local control, and the constitutional issue over a national curriculum. But I do not claim to be an expert.

If, however, this is representative of how American History is to be taught, I’ll be reaching for my pitchfork and torch. The textbook in question is Prentice-Hall’s “The American Experience,” and its chapter on the Second World War, as well as the accompanying teacher’s manual, takes a, shall we say, “slanted” view of the war:

The opening page of the slim chapter devoted to World War II called “War Shock” features a photograph of a woman inspecting a large stockpile of thousand-pound bomb castings. The notes in the margins of the Teacher’s Edition set the tone:

“In this section, nonfiction prose and a single stark poem etch into a reader’s mind the dehumanizing horror of world war. . . .”

The editors of the textbook script the question teachers are supposed to ask students in light of the photograph as well as provide the answer:

Ask: What dominant impression do you take away from this photograph?

Possible response: Students may say that the piled rows of giant munitions give a strong impression of America’s power of mass production and the bombs’ potential for mass destruction.”

Translation: Americans made lots of big bombs that killed lots of people.

The principal selection of the chapter is taken from John Hersey’s Hiroshima. It is a description of ordinary men and women in Hiroshima living out their lives the day the bomb was dropped. A couple of lines reveal the spirit of the document:

“The Reverend Mr. Tanimoto got up at five o’clock that morning. He was alone in the parsonage, because for some time his wife had been commuting with their year-old baby to spend nights with a friend in Ushida, a suburb to the north.”

Further prompts from the margins of the Teacher’s Edition indicate how the selection is to be read and taught:

“World War II has been called a popular war in which the issues that spurred the conflict were clearly defined. . . . Nevertheless, technological advances . . . [and the media] brought home the horrors of war in a new way. Although a serious antiwar movement in the United States did not become a reality until the 1960s, these works by Hersey and by Jarrell take their place in the ranks of early antiwar literature.

Have students think about and record in writing their personal feelings about war. Encourage students to list images of war that they recall vividly. [Conveniently, there is a photograph of the devastation in Hiroshima next to this prompt].

Tell students they will revisit their feelings about war after they have read these selections.”

The entire section is littered with questions and prompts in this vein and plenty of photos that show the destruction of Hiroshima. In case the students would be inclined to take the American side in this conflict, the editors see to it that teachers will remind the students repeatedly that there are two sides in every war:

“Think Aloud: Model the Skill
Say to students:
When I was reading the history textbook, I noticed that the writer included profiles of three war heroes, all of whom fought for the Allies. The writer did not include similar profiles for fighters on the other side. I realize that this choice reflects a political assumption: that readers want to read about only their side’s heroes.

. . . Mr. Tanimoto is on the side of “the enemy.” Explain that to vilify is to make malicious statements about someone. During wartime, it is common to vilify people on the other side, or “the enemy.””

After a dozen pages of Hersey’s Hiroshima (the same number given to Benjamin Franklin in volume one of The American Experience), students encounter the anti-war, anti-heroic poem by Randall Jarell, “The Death of the Ball Turrett Gunner.” The last line in this short poem sums up the sentiment: “When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.” The textbook editors zero in for the kill:

“Take a position: Jarrell based his poem on observations of World War II, a war that has been called “the good war.” Is there such a thing as a “good war”? Explain.

Possible response: [In the Teacher’s Edition] Students may concede that some wars, such as World War II, are more justified than others, but may still feel that “good” is not an appropriate adjective for any war.”

This is not a history lesson. It is anti-war propaganda masquerading as history. This is garbage designed to at best place America and Imperial Japan on an ambiguously equal moral ground, and at worst to make us out to be a villain or aggressor in the conflict. To focus on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki without presenting the reasons for the attack is intellectually bankrupt. The Truman administration dropped the bombs because of the experience of fanatical Japanese resistance along a whole string of islands, where again and again Imperial Japanese Army units fought until nearly wiped out. Imagine that occurring on the Japanese Home Islands themselves, in the event of invasion; bear in mind that the Japanese government was not of a mind to surrender and indeed was talking about “70 million dead” (essentially, fighting to the last man, woman, and child), and then look at the casualty estimates for just the American invasion forces, for which figures of 500,000 killed and wounded were common. And, should the invasion have been delayed until 1946 or the islands simply besieged, there was a very real risk of famine and the  mass starvation of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, because transportation networks had been destroyed. And that doesn’t even begin to account for hundreds of millions suffering under Japanese rule and who needed the war to end as swiftly as possible.

Beyond the question of military necessity and the lesser of two evils, Common Core “standards” engage in moral relativism. While quoting Hersey’s “Hiroshima” (actually, a good book) and Jarrell’s poem, students are apparently left in the dark about Japan’s aggressive intentions and regular atrocities from the 1930s through the end. No mention of the invasion of Manchuria, the war on China, the Rape of Nanking, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, Unit 731, or the horrors suffered by prisoners of war and civilians living under Japanese rule.

But we do get pictures of American bombs, vivid descriptions of the wreck of Hiroshima, and the lasting impression that we were the ones committing evil, not doing what was necessary to end it.

Let me be blunt: Imperial Japan was evil and had subjected Asia and the Pacific to a horrific nightmare, all to satisfy a national ideology that dehumanized everyone else. Once the war had started, it had to be crushed; the Truman administration was right drop the atomic bombs to force Japan’s surrender (2). It would have been a greater evil to let the war drag on. And while innocent people died in the fight against Japan, to teach any sort of moral equivalence between the two nations is insulting and obscene.

And yet these are the new standards? This isn’t education, it’s pedagogical malpractice.

Footnote:
(1) On the other hand, Michelle Malkin has been an avenging angel on the topic.
(2) A superb book on the end of the war and the decision to use atomic weapons is Frank’s “Downfall: the End of the Imperial Japanese Empire.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Want to know how badly China has bungled its foreign affairs?

December 10, 2012

map east asia

The Philippines says it supports Japanese rearmament:

The Philippines would strongly support a rearmed Japan shorn of its pacifist constitution as a counterweight to the growing military assertiveness of China, according to the Philippine foreign minister.

“We would welcome that very much,” Albert del Rosario told the Financial Times in an interview. “We are looking for balancing factors in the region and Japan could be a significant balancing factor.”

The unusual statement, which risks upsetting Beijing, reflects alarm in Manila at what it sees as Chinese provocation over the South China Sea, virtually all of which is claimed by Beijing. It also comes days before an election in Japan that could see the return as prime minister of Shinzo Abe, who is committed to revising Japan’s pacifist constitution and to beefing up its military.

Anyone who knows anything about the history of World War II in the Pacific knows the brutal, almost unspeakable suffering the peoples of East Asia suffered under Japanese occupation. The Philippines alone lost roughly one million people. Many who survived were nonetheless subjected to torture and starvation, or knew those who were. That’s still in living memory for many Filipinos, making it understandable why they would fear a militarily powerful Japan, and why Rosario’s announcement is such a shocker.

Walter Russell Mead comments:

Today, the Philippines is thought to be one of the countries most subject to Chinese pressure. It has a weak economy and a small military. That a country like this is rallying against China rather than joining up with it, and doing it in such a dramatic way, tells us a lot about what is going on in Asia and the effect Beijing’s foreign policy is having on its neighbors.

China has been anything but deft in its handling of its neighbors, making aggressive claims to islands in the South China Sea, possession of which would give it control of potentially vast oil wealth under the sea bed. This, however, has also had the effect of frightening its neighbors and leading them to seek allies from amongst old enemies.

And now the Philippines, worried by Beijing’s ambitions, wants a rearmed Japan to balance China. (How soon will they be inviting us back into Subic Bay, I wonder?)

This has implications for Japanese politics, too. Japan has a general election in a few days, and the expected winner, Shinzo Abe, has advocated changing Japan’s highly pacifist, restrictive constitution to allow for greater military spending and a larger overseas role for Japan’s military. Concerns about China, where nationalist anti-Japanese protests have become a regular occurrence, and a growing approval of Japanese rearmament from her former enemies could give Abe’s party a boost, in which case we could expect to see Sino-Japanese relations become much more strained.

Obama has made a “pivot to Asia” a focus of his administration’s foreign policy. That’s actually logical (1), but no one should underestimate the challenges Washington faces there.

Footnote:
(1) Yes, I’m surprised. Given the general incompetence Obama, Clinton, and the rest of the Smart Power team have shown in foreign affairs, they’ve generally done a good job in East Asia. I’m sometimes tempted to think it’s the doing of some Undersecretary acting on his own, hoping the bosses won’t notice…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Anniversary of a bad idea

December 11, 2011

On this date in 1941, Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini declared war on the United States in support of their Japanese ally.

Benito, I have this great idea...

How’d that turn out for you, guys?

Mein Führer?

Berlin, 1945. Second thoughts?

Il Duce?

Not what you'd hoped for?

Prime Minister Tojo?

That worked out well, didn't it?

Maybe you should have thought about it a bit more. See, it’s generally not a good idea to make us angry.

In fact, it’s a really bad idea.

Morons.

Note: This is one of a few WWII anniversary posts I put up every years.


Amazing video of the Japanese tidal wave

March 27, 2011

I may have seen this one before, but, still, this is just incredible:

via Verum Serum


The future of US nuclear power after Japan

March 18, 2011

Reason Magazine has a good article online looking at the the implications for the just-reviving nuclear power industry in the wake of the Sendai earthquake and tidal wave. After reviewing the damage at the Fukushima plants (they actually withstood the temblor surprisingly well, but the tidal wave that killed power to the cooling systems was the back-breaker) and the situations of nuclear plants in the seismically active American West (including California’s San Onofre), Ron Bailey examines newer technology that would make for safer reactors, even in the event of a huge natural disaster:

One hopeful possibility is that the Japanese crisis will spark the development and deployment of new and even safer nuclear power plants. Already, the Westinghouse division of Toshiba has developed and sold its passively safe AP1000 pressurized water reactor. The reactor is designed with safety systems that would cool down the reactor after an accident without the need for human intervention and operate using natural forces like gravity instead of relying on diesel generators and electric pumps. Until the recent events in Japan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was expected to give final approval to the design by this fall despite opposition by some anti-nuclear groups.

One innovative approach to using nuclear energy to produce electricity safely is to develop thorium reactors. Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive element, which, unlike certain isotopes of uranium, cannot sustain a nuclear chain reaction. However, thorium can be doped with enough uranium or plutonium to sustain such a reaction. Liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR) have a lot to recommend them with regard to safety. Fueled by a molten mixture of thorium and uranium dissolved in fluoride salts of lithium and beryllium at atmospheric pressure, LFTRs cannot melt down (strictly speaking the fuel is already melted).

Because LFTRs operate at atmospheric pressure, they are less likely than conventional pressurized reactors to spew radioactive elements if an accident occurs. In addition, an increase in operating temperature slows down the nuclear chain reaction, inherently stabilizing the reactor. And LFTRs are designed with a salt plug at the bottom that melts if reactor temperatures somehow do rise too high, draining reactor fluid into a containment vessel where it essentially freezes.

While recent research shows that the United States has far greater reserves of coal, oil, and gas than previously thought, nuclear is still the cleanest economical alternative energy source around and has to be a crucial part of any coherent* national energy strategy. Rather than react in panic (as we did after Three mile Island) and again cripple the development of nuclear power, we must recognize that there is no risk-free magic solution and should instead draw the appropriate technological, engineering, and disaster-planning lessons from Japan’s trauma, apply them to our own situation, and keep on a rational path toward energy self-sufficiency.

Our future prosperity and national security depend on it.

*While I give Obama props for sticking by nuclear power, his energy policy is anything but coherent or rational.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Japan earthquake: before and after photos

March 15, 2011

Want to see something impressive, in that “so shocking my brain almost can’t process this” kind of way?

Australia’s ABC News has before and after photos of areas in Japan devastated by the Sendai quake and tidal wave. Roll you mouse over the photos to see the difference, and then go donate some money to relief efforts.

By the way, the US Geological Survey has “upgraded” the quake from magnitude 8.9 to 9.0. To give you an idea of the force generated, the 6.7 Northridge earthquake that trashed Los Angeles in 1994 equaled the force released by the explosion of a 168-kiloton nuclear bomb. What was the equivalent for last Friday’s 9.0 temblor?

474 megatons. The largest warhead we ever deployed was the 9-megaton W53, and it would take 52 of those to match the power of last week’s quake.

Like I said, the mind almost can’t process it.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Japan quake: Gaea is angry with us!

March 11, 2011

Global warming explains all. So I have written. Amen.

 

God, I love the magical thinking some people indulge in. In the real world, an earthquake is caused by tectonic plates fracturing and shifting along a fault line. Most people with a basic high-school education know that.

But, in the Cult of Anthropogenic Global Warming, Man is guilty of horrid offenses against the Earth, and so it punishes him.

Yes, global warming caused the earthquake off Sendai:

Hours after a massive earthquake rattled Japan, environmental advocates connected the natural disaster to global warming. The president of the European Economic and Social Committee, Staffan Nilsson, issued a statement calling for solidarity in tackling the global warming problem.

“Some islands affected by climate change have been hit,” said Nilsson. “Has not the time come to demonstrate on solidarity — not least solidarity in combating and adapting to climate change and global warming?”

“Mother Nature has again given us a sign that that is what we need to do,” he added.

Global warming enthusiasts have also taken to Twitter to raise awareness of the need to respond to the earthquake by finally acting on climate change. And the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Lee Doren compiled some of the best ones.

Some examples:

AliceTMBFan said “2 hours of geography earlier talking about Japan has left me thinking…maybe global warming is way more serious then we thought…”

Arbiterofwords tweeted “I’m worried that Japan earthquake, on top of other recent natural ‘disasters’, is a sign we’ve passed point of no return for climate change.”

MrVikas said “Events like the #Japan #earthquake and #tsunami MUST keep #climate change at forefront of policy thought: http://bit.ly/cZe8To #environment

Click through for more fantasy science.

What’s next? Beseeching the forgiveness of the Goracle? Human sacrifice to propitiate Gaea?

I’m sure a drum circle is coming at any moment… .

RELATED FOOLISHNESS: I’m not sure how this meshes with the suntan and sex theories of earthquakes.

LINKS: Yid With Lid is just plain disgusted.


Did Obama throw Japan under the bus?

January 23, 2011

It sure smells that way. During the state visit of Chinese tyrant President Hu Jintao, a Chinese blogger asked a key White House official about America’s position over a territorial dispute with Japan:

The United States recognizes no claims to the sovereignty of a set of islets in the East China Sea, an adviser to the U.S. president said Friday.

“The U.S. does not have position on the question of sovereignty regarding the issue of the Diaoyu Islands,” Benjamin Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications in the White House, said in a video conference with Chinese bloggers set up by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

He was responding to Chinese blogger Ma Xiaolin, who questioned the United States taking the side of Japan on the issue by including the islets under the Japan-U.S. security treaty.

“We do not recognize the sovereignty claims by neither China nor Japan,” Rhodes said.

But, as L. Douglas Garrett points out at Competing Hypotheses, that highlighted statement simply isn’t true:

First, that isn’t historically correct. The U.S. in fact was the author of the postwar partitioning of territory in the area, and specifically mandated their return-by-transfer as part of the Okinawa reversion to Japan. P.R. Chinese and ROC claims to the area postdate that.

Second, it isn’t correct as extant policy. The status quo is expressly covered in the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty (1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security with the United States, under which the territory is specified as part of the territory of Japan to be defended, as amended since reversion).

Keep that in mind: the United States is obligated to take military action should some nation (i.e., China) try to seize them by force.

Japan calls the islands the Senkakus and maintains that they were terra nullius (“land belonging to no one”) when annexed in 1895, during the First Sino-Japanese War. China, on the other hand, claims those islands were coerced from it as part of the treaty that ended the war. There are good background pieces on this dispute here and here. Though themselves uninhabited, the islands are important to both nations (and to Taiwan) for the control they give over the surrounding sea lanes and potentially large underwater oil and gas fields. A recent incident in which the Japanese Coast Guard seized a Chinese fishing trawler off the islands last September brought this dispute to the forefront, again.

Thus, it seems more than a coincidence that the President’s Deputy National Security Adviser would suddenly equivocate on past bipartisan American policy during a visit from our biggest creditor. Maybe this was the price for the pandas?

And, let’s face it: Japan wouldn’t be the first US ally tossed under the bus in an act of appeasement. Poland and the Czech Republic were both knifed in the back over missile defense. Israel has been under intense pressure in order to please the Arab states. One of our closest allies, Great Britain, which has troops fighting at our side in Afghanistan, found out we didn’t have their back over the Falkland Islands. Japan is, apparently, just the latest example of the Lightworker’s brilliant foreign policy, by which he promised to restore our standing in the world.

But such betrayals in pursuit of our enemies’ favors come at a price: our allies, the nations we rely on in a crisis, will more and more wonder if they can depend on us in a pinch and may seek “other arrangements.” In the case at hand, Japan is the foundation of our policy in East Asia and the Pacific; without its support, our position vis-a-vis China in the western Pacific would be much weaker, perhaps even untenable.

This one incident will not cause Japan to walk out on our alliance in a huff, of course, but consider it as another example that should make chancelleries around the world wonder whether they should stick their necks out for us, when we won’t protect their interests.

Smart Power, indeed.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Neat newsreel footage: Japan’s surrender aboard the Missouri

January 13, 2011

Just thought I’d pass along some fascinating newsreel footage of  the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd, 1945, including MacArthur’s address to the assembled dignitaries:

Note the Soviet representative: Stalin only entered the war with Japan after it was nearly over, on August 9th. Yes, their rapid crushing of the Japanese Kwantung Army was a factor in the final surrender (and perhaps prevented the Japanese from fleeing to the mainland to continue resistance), but the main reason was to have a seat at the peace table and a claim to any territorial  adjustments or spheres of influence. North Korea was one result of this, a “gift” from Uncle Joe that the world has to suffer with to the present day.

Still, I love looking through these windows to the past.


Japan turns its guns from the Bear toward the Dragon

December 23, 2010

The New York Times recently published an intriguing piece on Japan’s strategic focus: having directed their self-defense forces toward the USSR/Russia since being allowed to rearm after World War II, they are now turning their  attention towards a growing threat – China:

In what would be a sweeping overhaul of its cold war-era defense strategy, Japan is about to release new military guidelines that would reduce its heavy armored and artillery forces pointed north toward Russia in favor of creating more mobile units that could respond to China’s growing presence near its southernmost islands, Japanese newspapers reported Sunday.

The realignment comes as the United States is making new calls for Japan to increase its military role in eastern Asia in response to recent provocations by North Korea as well as China’s more assertive stance in the region.

The new defense strategy, likely to be released this week, will call for greater integration of Japan’s armed forces with the United States military, the reports said. The reports did not give a source, but the fact that major newspapers carried the same information suggested they were based on a background briefing by government officials.

The new guidelines also call for acquiring new submarines and fighter jets, the reports said, and creating ground units that can be moved quickly by air in order to defend the southern islands, including disputed islands in the East China Sea that are also claimed by China and Taiwan. These disputed islands are known as the Senkakus in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese.

Read the whole thing, not only for general interest, but for a good glimpse  of the evolving strategic game in East Asia. Don’t let the mention of Taiwan claiming the Senkakus distract you; Taiwan is not what Japan worries about, not when Taiwan will need the help of Japan’s patron, the US, in any confrontation with China. (And Tokyo’s, too, even if just diplomatic and political.)

China, a rising, potentially hypernationalistic power with global ambitions and an increasingly offensively oriented military, poses much more of a strategic threat to Japan than declining Russia. Small wonder than that, faced with China’s growing challenge to the 65-years old total dominance of the Pacific by the US Navy, America is encouraging Japan to rearm and expand its strategic mission.

And it’s not just China Japan is worried about: Beijing’s obstreperous protege North Korea has repeatedly caused jitters in Tokyo, with its recent nuclear tests and violent acts against South Korea. While the history between Japan and Korea (both of them) is difficult to say the least (colonization, sex slavery, and kidnapping tend to spoil even the best of relationships), the US has been working to encourage a greater strategic cooperation between the two, and there are some signs of early efforts to reach an understanding.

All things considered, this represents a significant change in Japanese policy with important strategic implications  for the region and America. Japan may be on the verge of a serious demographic decline, but it is a technological powerhouse of the first order and has in the past shown an amazing ability to adapt to new circumstances. (Its one failure to adapt, during its war with the US, lead to Japan’s only defeat. Don’t think they haven’t learned that lesson.) Should the Japanese feel threatened enough by China, where anti-Japanese feelings frequently erupt, or the mountain bandits in Pyongyang, I have no doubt they would find the will to quickly amend their constitution to allow for a larger, more active military. And if they felt the need to go nuclear? Regardless of the memories of the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they could do it within month, folks. Within months.

While the Jihadi War is our immediate concern, our strategic competition with China is a long-term crucial issue. Japan is one player to keep a very close eye on.

And to keep on our side.

via DaveedGR on Twitter

RELATED: Like Japan and Russia, China is facing its own demographic decline. Like Imperial Germany prior to World War I, this may lead China to feel the need to strike for domination before its position weakens.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Anniversary of a bad idea

December 11, 2010

On this date in 1941, Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini declared war on the United States in support of their Japanese ally.

Benito, I have this great idea...

 

How’d that turn out for you, guys?

Mein Führer?

 

Berlin, 1945. Second thoughts?

Il Duce?

Not what you'd hoped for?

Prime Minister Tojo?

That worked out well, didn't it?

Maybe you should have thought about it a bit more.

Morons.


Obama’s bow not so bad?

December 6, 2009

President Obama was roundly criticized and mocked when, on his trip to Japan last month, he bowed low before Emperor Akihito:

For example, in an article at BigGovernment.com, Warner Todd Huston wrote that the bow was a particularly self-debasing one that even embarrassed our Japanese hosts and was representative of an overall failure of the summit meeting:

Before we get to his other multiple fluffs and diplomatic errors, let’s explain what Obama was telling the Japanese people with his absurdly low bow. The sort of bow that Obama made is almost that of a “dogeza” bow. This is a sort of bow that is so low as to be considered a prostrated position. It is seen as an apology, a supplication, not a sign of respect. So, as we see, Obama once again showed that he wants to be known as the less-than president, that he is representing a prostrated people, and that he feels that to everyone he meets overseas he must apologize for this horrible U.S.A.

The inappropriate bow, however, wasn’t the only mistake that Obama committed in Japan. According to the mainstream Japanese weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun the visit was termed “miserable,” and “the worst US-Japan summit meeting in history” by Japanese insiders. Worse, the Japanese government was so upset at the visit that it retaliated at various points issuing slights right back to President Obama during his stay on Japanese soil.

As fortune would have it, however, I could check this story and analysis for myself: a friend teaches English in Japan and has been there for a couple of years, now, so I thought I’d ask him how the bow was seen there and how representative of Japanese opinion Shukan Bunshun really was. His reply was as follows:

So I had never heard of this mainstream weekly they refer to, but seeing as how I don’t read many Japanese magazines I decided to ask around. I started with some English teachers and then worked my way up to asking Social Studies teachers and they all gave me the same answer: they had heard of it but had never read it themselves. One Social Studies teacher even went so far as to say that, “no normal person would read something like that.” So while I don’t doubt that the publication made such remarks, it is definitely not an accurate portrayal of Japanese opinion.

In fact, most news stations out here were pretty much wooed by Obama’s visit, and practically everyone I talk to is rather satisfied regarding his visit.

Also, another glaring mistake that the article makes is in reference to Obama’s bow. The “dogeza” that they mention is an actual prostration where you kneel on the ground and bow. Obama’s bow was nothing of the sort, and if anything, was very polite and made no reference of kowtowing or inferiority. In fact, in Japan, being humble like that is a sign of strength. They have an old saying that says “even grains of rice bow their head.” Meaning that something as powerful as Japan’s staple food is humble enough to bow lowly (stalks of rice actually do bow down because the rice grains are too heavy for the stalks to support).

Though, an amateur mistake that Obama made was shaking hands while bowing. It’s one or the other.

Emphasis added.

To be honest, it seems we on the Right hyperventilated a bit at the bow. Fair enough. Consider it a mild case of Obama Derangement Syndrome. I still don’t think he should have bowed, however.  As pointed out in several places, heads of state do not bow to each other, because it’s interpreted in diplomacy as a sign of deference and inferiority, not as a meeting of equals. Also, in the specific American context, the President heads a republic founded in an anti-monarchical revolution and that at its birth loudly proclaimed the principle that all men are created equal. He should never bow to a monarch, as The New York Times itself observed in a similar situation.

So, the bow, while evidently fine in Japan, was still a gaffe. Just not a total facepalm moment.


Anniversaries

June 4, 2009

Two anniversaries today almost escaped my notice, but there’s still time in the day to remember two important occasions that happened on June 4th:

First, today is the 20th anniversary of the massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in Beijing by the Chinese Army. The people demanded the rights of liberty natural to all Mankind; instead, the Chinese communists sent in the tanks:

tiananmen_tanks

The fascists running China crushed the demonstrations that day, the leaders were imprisoned, and the events went down the memory hole in the state-controlled media — officially, nothing much happened. But people remember, people who can tell others what happened that day when the government called the army out against its own nation.

One day there will be a reckoning, and this time it won’t be just one lone man standing against the tanks.

Taking us from sorrow to somber pride, today is also the anniversary of the Battle of Midway, when a badly outnumbered and outgunned United States Navy, still reeling from losses in the battles of Pearl Harbor and Coral Sea, crushed a Japanese fleet under Admiral Nagumo. It was one of the greatest victories in naval history, ranking with the Greek defeat of the Persians at Salamis, the Christian victory over the Turks at Lepanto, and the Japanese destruction of the Russian fleet at Tsushima. It changed the course of World War II in the Pacific, stopping the Japanese advance, killing scores of irreplaceable pilots, and buying time for the American Navy to rebuild for a counteroffensive. The US Naval Institute has a very good web site commemorating the Battle of Midway.

Mikuma

So today is a day when freedom both was beaten and when it beat its enemies. Each deserves to be remembered. Coffee

 


Harry Truman was not a war criminal

May 3, 2009

At PJTV, Bill Whittle rips into Jon Stewart’s historical and ethical ignorance for saying that President Truman’s decision to use atomic bombs against Japan in 1945 made him a war criminal. Yes, I know Stewart later apologized, but do watch Whittle’s refutation — it’s entertaining, it’s educational, and it’s free. Happy

For a good book on the last months of World War II in the Pacific, including the decision to use atomic weapons, I recommend Richard Frank’s Downfall: the end of the Imperial Japanese Empire.

 


Harry Truman was not a war criminal

May 3, 2009

At PJTV, Bill Whittle rips into Jon Stewart’s historical and ethical ignorance for saying that President Truman’s decision to use atomic bombs against Japan in 1945 made him a war criminal. Yes, I know Stewart later apologized, but do watch Whittle’s refutation — it’s entertaining, it’s educational, and it’s free. Happy

For a good book on the last months of World War II in the Pacific, including the decision to use atomic weapons, I recommend Richard Frank’s Downfall: the end of the Imperial Japanese Empire.

 


Apocalypse Meow!

March 25, 2009

I love Japanese anime: it can be weird, hilarious, wonderful, moving, and grotesque — sometimes all in the same film. And if this trailer is any indication, Apocalypse Meow may be near the top of the list:

American Special Forces bun-buns versus evil jihadi camels — and all in Japanese! It doesn’t get better than this. Hiro

And in case you’re wondering about the titles, "Apocalypse Meow" is the US title, while "Cat Shit One" is the title of the Japanese manga.

(hat tip: The Jawa Report)

 


L’il Kim wants attention

March 8, 2009

North Korea claims it is planning to launch a communications satellite for "peaceful purposes." The nations most concerned with North Korean intentions, South Korea, Japan, and the United States, believe this is a cover for another test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. They have good reason for their suspicions: not only has North Korea violated it’s treaty commitments and developed atomic weapons (though the test was pathetic), it has also fired missiles "over the heads" of Japan and may even have aimed for the region around Hawaii.

Given that the possibility of a delusional hill bandit such as Kim Jong Il having both nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them is an unpleasant prospect at best, some American figures have suggested destroying North Korea’s missile test site. This is an action I once favored, but now oppose, because the possible North Korea response could devastate the South Korean capital, Seoul, with artillery fire. Japan, meanwhile, is considering deploying its own missile interceptor ships to the waters between the Home Islands and the Korean peninsula.

But, so far, the world’s reaction has been restrained, hoping that Kim will get bored or distracted by his country’s burgeoning cartoon industry (insert jokes as needed). Not yet, however, as Kim has decided the world still isn’t paying enough attention, and thus comes the predictable North Korean threat of war:

North Korea warned Monday that any move to intercept what it calls a satellite launch and what other countries suspect may be a missile test-firing would result in a counterstrike against the countries trying to stop it.

"We will retaliate (over) any act of intercepting our satellite for peaceful purposes with prompt counterstrikes by the most powerful military means," the official Korean Central News Agency quoted a spokesman of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army as saying.

If countries such as the United States, Japan or South Korea try to intercept the launch, the North Korean military will carry out "a just retaliatory strike operation not only against all the interceptor means involved but against the strongholds" of the countries, it said.

"Shooting our satellite for peaceful purposes will precisely mean a war," it added.

And war would mean the utter destruction of that prison camp he calls a country, an idea that I think even Kim understands.

This would be the perfect occasion for playing a YouTube clip of Kim singing "I’m so Ronery" in Team America: World Police, but it’s been pulled for copyright issues. (Killjoys. Phbbbttt ) So, you’ll just have to make do with a picture of Dear Leader:

barack obama capitol

Ooops! Wrong "Dear Leader." Doh

Let’s try that again…

KimJong

That’s better. Big Grin

(hat tip: Reader Lance)

 


Pearl Harbor Day

December 7, 2008

I was going to post something about the sixty-seventh anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but I think what I wrote on the sixty-sixth anniversary is still fitting.

One additional thought, though: from that day until August, 1945, Japan, which was a brutal dictatorship, was our deadly enemy. Decades later, after occupation and reconstruction, they’re our close ally.

Keep that in mind when thinking of Iraq. Thinking

 

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Why we have a 2nd amendment

June 8, 2008

An atrocity like this is almost impossible to predict and prevent, once someone is determined to act out:

A man who police said “was tired of life” drove into a crowd of pedestrians Sunday and then went on a stabbing rampage in Tokyo’s top electronics and video game district, killing seven people and wounding 10, authorities said.

The deadly lunchtime assault paralyzed the Akihabara neighborhood, which is wildly popular among the country’s youth. The killings were the latest in a series of grisly knife attacks that have stoked fears of rising crime in Japan.

A 25-year-old man, Tomohiro Kato, was apprehended in the attack, authorities said.

“The suspect told police that he came to Akihabara to kill people,” said Jiro Akaogi, a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. “He said he was tired of life. He said he was sick of everything.”

News reports said the man crashed a rented, two-ton truck into pedestrians, then jumped out of the truck and began stabbing the people he’d knocked down before turning on horrified onlookers.

The attacker grunted and roared as he slashed and stabbed at his victims on a street crowded with Sunday shoppers, reports said.

“He was screaming as he was stabbing people at random,” a witness told NHK.

Japan has the most stringent gun-control in the democratic world. As Diplomad points out, one armed citizen could have saved a lot of lives.

Maybe the founders knew what they were talking about.

 


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