Saturday, August 07, 2010

In Memory: Hiroshima 2

Today is Saturday, 7 August 2010.


The USA/USE originated as a continental power, as did France, Germany, and Russia. In each case, for good reason, military thought was dominated by building foot armies (supplemented by cavalry) and implementing infantry-centred strategies. In the American instance, the original targets were the Native American nations, then Mexico (the war of aggression to steal the Southwest), then itself.

This rational bias was reinforced by certain peculiarities in the American creation myth. Many Americans have long been flattered to imagine that the War of Upper-Class Independence which followed the Coup of ’76 was won by a combination of innate colonial righteousness, divine favour, and the superiority of the grunts and commanders of the Continental Army. Two images leap to mind.

One is the peregrinations of the Continental Army itself, which frequently ended in defeat, and were imagined by some to resemble the wanderings in the desert of the children of Israel, en route to the Promised Land. A second is G. Washington as Moses, depicted in more than one cheesy illustration as praying in the snow of the Calvary at Valley Forge.

In fact, of course, as I’ve recently noted, the War of Upper-Class Independence was fundamentally won by the intervention of the royal French army and navy, and by the fact that the British Empire’s paramount concerns lay in Old Europe rather than New Europe (the latter usually mistakenly characterized as the “New World” – ah, hubris!).


‘Tis a delightful irony of history that the two most incompetent US/USE commanding generals were both macs: George B. McClellan of the Civil War, and Douglas MacArthur.

MacArthur had been an adequate brigade commander in The Great War. Due to the relentless politicking of his (awesomely domineering) mother, his own relentless bootlicking of superior officers, and his hereditary status within the feudal atmosphere of the High Command (his father, General Arthur MacArthur, had won the Medal of Honor and was a military governor of the Philippines), Mac became Superintendent of West Point (1919-1922) and Chief of Staff (1930-1937). In 1932, he distinguished himself when he accepted Herbert Hoover’s orders to clear and raze an encampment of veterans who had come to Washington seeking early payment of a bonus promised them for their war service. Upon retirement, he became Military Adviser to and Field Marshal of the USA/USE puppet government in the Philippines, and, recalled to the US Army, became commanding general of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East in 1941.

MacArthur was possessed of undeserved god-like self regard; he imagined himself outranking all civilian superiors, including the president. (Between marriages, he enjoyed the sordid vice of hiring (female) prostitutes, not for sex, but to verbally humiliate and abuse them. Mommy displacement thing?) Assuming that no ‘little yellow monkeys’ would ever have the nerve to attack Him, he took no precautions when war began, despite enjoying 9 hours notice of Pearl Harbor. As a result, virtually the entire Far East Army Air Forces were destroyed on the ground.

MacArthur had also done a poor job of training and equipping the Philippine army. As a result, the islands were easily overrun by the Imperial Japanese Army, and he was forced to flee to Australia. Well, ‘forced’ was how Mac sold it. FDR ordered him to leave, so the USA/USE wouldn’t suffer the bummer to morale of its top theater general going into captivity. Mac pretended that he wanted to stay, but the thought of HRH voluntarily eating insect-infested rice for years … Right.

Mac would reprise his incompetence when he failed to insure that the Republic of Korea military was equipped for war, when he allowed the American occupation forces in Japan to deteriorate to a state in which they were only marginally combat-ready (an error for which the grunts would pay dearly), and when he marched his (disastrously divided) columns to the Yalu River in late 1950, all along assuming that the ‘little yellow monkeys’ (Chinese this time) would never dare oppose Him.

The one thing at which Mac excelled was orchestrating public relations campaigns designed to create, in the public mind, an image of himself as a military leader of Napoleonic proportions.

Thus, “I shall return [to the Philippines]”, not “We shall return”. (The plural "we", not the royal!)


The combination of the natural bias of USA/USE military thought toward infantry-centred strategies (the overriding factor), plus Doug MacArthur’s malignant personal needs for command and vindication (a contributing factor), led to a war in the Pacific which extended long enough for the creation of The Bomb.

The original impetus to American creation of an atomic bomb was the knowledge that an attempt by the German regime was already underway. While the Japanese regime was capable of great evil (as was the American), the Nazi state was an entirely different kettle of fish. Thus, on 9 October 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized determining the feasibility of a fissile device, resulting in the successful test of an implosion-style, plutonium-based device on 16 July 1945.

Had the Great Pacific War ended before that date, as I believe would most likely have occurred if a navy-based strategy had been adopted by the Americans, the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would never have taken place. Certainly, the USA/USE would have conducted a public test, to proclaim its world dominance, and a nuclear arms race would still have ensued, with tens of trillions of dollars wasted, hundreds of thousands killed or sickened by the fallout from above-ground testing, and the whole of humanity and the planet living on the brink of extinction for 65 years, and counting. (And, hopefully, not counting down.)

However, more than 250,000 Japanese, mostly civilians, would not have been murdered, and a few hundred thousand more sickened for life, and the USA/USE would not have borne, forever, the stigma of being the first, and to date, the only nation, to have unleashed these fires of hell on humans.


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