May 28, 2016

WWII "was fought among the wealthiest and most powerful of nations. Their civilizations had given the world great cities and magnificent art."

"Their thinkers had advanced ideas of justice and harmony and truth. And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints."

Said Barack Obama at Hiroshima. I'm extracting that line for those who think Obama failed to blame the aggressors in that war.

This is a very processed speech. You have to look for the ways in which he is criticizing other cultures. It's hidden in the high-flown abstraction. For example, I read this as a criticism of the Islamic terrorism of today:
Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill.

119 comments:

MayBee said...

"For example, I read this as a criticism of the Islamic terrorism of today:
Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill. "

I read this as Obama telling Christians to get off their high horse.

Michael K said...

"I'm extracting that line for those who think Obama failed to blame the aggressors in that war. "

No, he just considers us the aggressor. We are ALWAYS the aggressor, especially if we are white, which most of America was in 1941.

pm317 said...

It's hidden in the high-flown abstraction.

Ha.. is that what is called political correctness?

MayBee said...

" And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints."

Japan teaches that we were the aggressors (or at least the instigators), and so Obama's speech is vague enough to let the Japanese audience hear him criticize us.

What does Obama have to say about his drone program, and the wars he is now leading? Are they base instincts guiding him? What of the new capabilities and lack of new constraints?

pm317 said...

Wonder how Obama would describe Nazi aggression if he were there at that time. What high-flown abstraction would have fit?

Rusty said...

You see what you want to see,professor.

mockturtle said...

Enough of the pretty speeches and broad abstractions. Time for plain talk and truth.

Chuck said...

Maybe what Obama should have said was, "They weren't like you [pointing]; they weren't like you [pointing the other way]. They were people with lots of problems. They were rapists, they were war criminals... and some, I assume, were good people."

It would have been, uh, so much clearer. Fewer big words.

bagoh20 said...

"You have to look for the ways in which he is criticizing other cultures. It's hidden in the high-flown abstraction."

What is the purpose of camouflaging something? To hide something useful from everyone until later when you need it yourself.

Hagar said...

High-flown abstractions is Mr. Obama, all right.

David Begley said...

Would Obama please just shut up?

Listen Mr. Peace Prize winner. You can't elminate war by wishing it away. You can't fight by half measures. You can't declare a war over. You have given us ISIS through your personal incompetence with an assist from Corrupt Hillary.

Your job was to ruthlessly and quickly wipe ISIS out. You failed.

Please go away.

AReasonableMan said...

bagoh20 said...
What is the purpose of camouflaging something?


It's called diplomacy. And rest assured that the statements of US presidents are read very carefully for their meaning.

Daniel Richwine said...

I'm drawn to the concept of a high flying abstraction, but my school and life has taught me a great lesson, abstractions without examples are blind. Given Obama was doing this at Hiroshima, I'm supposing he means the backdrop to be the example without explicitly saying so.

Jim Gust said...

Moral relativism at its finest.

I am so tired of Obama. Lets ignore him, okay?

AReasonableMan said...

Michael K said...
No, he just considers us the aggressor. We are ALWAYS the aggressor, especially if we are white,


Racial hysteria.

Jason said...

Garbage.

It's the week before Memorial Day.

The President doesnt belong smiling in front of giant statues of Ho Chih Minh or doing mea culpas at Hiroshima. If he wants to go to the Pacific this week he belongs at Pearl Harbor and Bataan.

Michael K said...

"Racial hysteria."

Yes. It is also called Black Lives Matter.

There is no more racist culture on earth than Japanese. They are originally Korean but hate Koreans.

bagoh20 said...

"It's called diplomacy"

I think that's exactly the point of the criticism.

Gahrie said...

They are originally Korean but hate Koreans.

To be fair, the Koreans hate them right back.....

AReasonableMan said...

bagoh20 said...
I think that's exactly the point of the criticism.


Then it is flawed criticism. The rest of the world has very different frame of reference to ourselves. We can try to nudge them towards our view or we can fail at diplomacy.

traditionalguy said...

No wonder Obama hated Churchill. Winston called out evil
Enemies for what they were. He was a realist about men and war. Obama is a Fantasist that surrenders us to any enemy of the USA that asks.

Fernandinande said...

Load of drivel.

But the memory of the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, must never fade.

December 7, 1941

We’re not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Guess again.

"I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world because they'd never expect it." -- Handy

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Beth said...

A processed speech. The American cheese of speeches.

Fernandinande said...

General Jack D. Ripper: No, I mean when they tortured you. Did you talk?

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Ah, oh, no... well, I don't think they wanted me to talk really. I don't think they wanted me to say anything. It was just their way of having a bit of fun, the swines. Strange thing is they make such bloody good cameras.

MayBee said...

Yeah, it's called diplomacy. But keep in mind this was a completely optional trip and a completely optional speech from Obama. So he actively wanted to get out there and say these words. This was a message he felt was important.
So what was the point? Is there some big call for diplomatic speeches in the world right now? Or did Obama think he was going to make a name for himself (like he thought with the Egypt speech and the Brandenburg Gate speech)

Charlie Eklund said...

mockturtle said...
Enough of the pretty speeches and broad abstractions. Time for plain talk and truth.

5/28/16, 9:29 AM

Exactly.

AprilApple said...

Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill.

Nothing new from this man.

That quote is code for: Islam cuts off heads and parades naked elderly women through the streets, but but but.... Christians are horrible too. Crusades and stuff.

Michael K said...

"To be fair, the Koreans hate them right back....."

Yes, but much of that is reaction to things like "the comfort women."

I am reading "The Rising Sun" by John Toland which is about World War II from the Japanese POV. It's pretty interesting so far, which is the period prior to Pearl Harbor.

They were being pressed pretty hard by Roosevelt and they knew they would probably lose a war longer than a year.

David Begley said...

Jason said," The President doesnt belong smiling in front of giant statues of Ho Chih Minh ...."

And the White House insisted that symbols of Christianity be covered when he spoke at Georgetown.

M Trumble said...

Then say the words. He had no problem identifying the police in Cambridge as stupid. No trouble identifying the bitter clingers. If he had a son he'd look just like Trayvon.

Nuclear weapons were not the problem 71 years ago. They were the solution. It was the right, humane thing to do then, and were all things equal, it would be the right thing today.

buwaya puti said...

They do (and did) make bloody good cameras, I collect them. Very cheap now too. Better than collecting bottle caps.

Anyway, the fellow had to make some sort of speech that wouldn't annoy anyone. That's the simplest explanation of the whole thing. It's another hobby to hunt subtexts and so forth, and you are welcome to it. I'm just glad nobody made me sit staring at him as he delivered it.

As for the why of the Pacific war (and the China wars from 1937), my theory is demonic possession. It's just as good from a practical sense of why you need an explanation, it fits at least as many facts also.

Paco Wové said...

"A processed speech. The American cheese of speeches."

"In other news today, the President emitted 2500 words of processed speech product."

geoffb said...

"Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill."

And yet he is blind to the fact that his own "great religion," his endless faith in unlimited government as the only force for good in the world, has made those same promises to gain power and then used that power to destroy hundreds of millions of innocent lives in just the 20th century alone.

Moral equivalency and projection in just one sentence.

AJ Lynch said...

Really? "Tribes have been fighting other tribe like for forever"......more wisdom from the arrogant narcissist.

Does anyone still think he is really smart?

EDH said...

"And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints."

Said Barack Obama at Hiroshima. I'm extracting that line for those who think Obama failed to blame the aggressors in that war.


It's not that he didn't blame the "aggressors". It's that Obama believes all sides were the "aggressors."

When he mentioned the "domination" part, did he mean the Allies, for instance, through the Treaty of Versailles and the Japan Oil Embargo of 1941?

I think he did.

Amadeus 48 said...

Obama never disappoints. The smug, Olympian tone. The moral equivalence. He is the perfect pseudo-educated, lightweight junior faculty member in American Comparative Studies who breathes third-rate Marxism and calls it "nuance."
Heaven help us.

Achilles said...

Obama is such a piece of shit. The vet community is not amused right now. Obviously.

SteveR said...

There is a lot of great thinkers telling us what he said, what he didn't say, what he meant, what he didn't mean. As if we are to reach a different understanding of him than his actions as President would lead us to believe. He's going out with a case of ideological diarrhea.

EDH said...

Obama can see a clear link between the "domination" imposed under Treaty of Versailles and the rise of Nazism.

Yet Obama can't see any link between his brand of PC tyranny and the rise of the anti-PC Trump, despite the plethora of specious comparisons between Trump and Hitler by his acolytes?

Joe said...

I'll give Obama a pass on this one. Speaking in Hiroshima is a loser proposition, in large part because the Japanese refuse to accept the truth about their actions before and during World War II. No US president to date has the balls to call out Japan on reality; I'm not sure what it would accomplish anyway.

MayBee said...

I'll give Obama a pass on this one. Speaking in Hiroshima is a loser proposition

Except, of course, Obama chose himself to be the first sitting US President to speak there.

Real American said...

obama is basically retarded when it comes to history and anyone who thinks his drivel is intelligent is hopelessly naive.

Eustace Chilke said...

...yet no religion has been spared

This is not criticism of Islam. Not even if you water it down by saying radical Islam. Everyone knows who the religious killers are at the present time. Everyone knows that the license to kill is now claimed by only that one.

This is nothing but a repeat of the "high horse" sermon from a while back. This is Zero putting on the hair shirt (or, rather, fitting it on the rest of us because he never takes any blame on his self) once again to say we're no better than the worst in the world.

It's past time that the rest of the world uses plain language to identify the worst. Then, if the worst persist in bloodletting, they can be dealt with (again, as this has been necessary before) in kind and with a clear conscience.

Curious George said...

If Japan had the bomb instead of us, they wouldn't have stopped at two.

mikee said...

Were I to make a denunciation of radical Isalm as a pernicious misuse of religious belief in the modern era, I might say something like, "Radical Islam, emphasizing violent jihad against non-Islamic people, is a pernicious misuse of religious belief in the modern era, as it denies the individual rights of free speech, religious belief, assembly, the press, and life itself to those holding differing beliefs, which is most of the world."

See how that works? It is not a blanket denunciation of all religions as morally bankrupt institutions, which is what Obama gave the world.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Colonialism was the rule in 1930's Asia. It's not crazy to characterize Japan's aggression as more of the same but with a new player. I'd give Bark a pass on this one.

mockturtle said...

@EDHObama can see a clear link between the "domination" imposed under Treaty of Versailles and the rise of Nazism.

Yet Obama can't see any link between his brand of PC tyranny and the rise of the anti-PC Trump, despite the plethora of specious comparisons between Trump and Hitler by his acolytes?


Excellent point!

William said...

I recently read William Manchester's biography of Douglas MacArthur. The New Deal mandarins objected to the way MacArthur liberated the Phillipines and occupied Japan. MacArthur pardoned the Filipino collaborators and the Japanese Emperor. The Japanese were no slouches when it came to war crimes, but MacArthur only hanged six of them. The MacArthur proconsulship was regarded as a great success by the Japanese themslves, but the Washington mandarins felt that his tolerance was lax and wrong.......MacArthur didn't tell the Japanese "We won, motherfuckers, now eat shit and die". He governed Japan with a light hand and treated the Emperor with respect. He used the religious veneration with which the Japanese regarded the Emperor as a tool to reconcile the Japanese to American occupation. He didn't call the Emperor a buck toothed fascist pig and leave his body to hang and rot in front of the imperial Palace. I think it possible that if MacArthur had governed according to New Dealer directives Japan could have gone the way of Iraq.

n.n said...

In fact, universality and violence is intrinsic to Islam. As well as to Obama's own "secular" pro-choice cult, which has exceeded Islam's contributions to human conflict in a highly local frame of reference.

David said...

"yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints."

Both Japan and Germany were heavily influenced by notions of racial and ideological superiority. Each society put great effort in delegitimizing the beliefs of it's adversaries. Early 20th century Japan was pervasively racist, looking down on other asians and westerners as inferior. Germany was captured by a faction of racists who played upon softer but similar tendencies in the rest of the population, and created a violent police state that surpassed dissent. This is not unlike what has happened in Iran and other totalitarian Muslim nations.

There are tendencies right and left in our county to suppress dissent. Right now the left is in full cry on this subject and unashamed of their campaign. Look at what they are doing with Trump--Fascist, Racist, Authoritarian, Mysoginist, etc etc.

Fritz said...

Curious George said...
If Japan had the bomb instead of us, they wouldn't have stopped at two.


To be fair, we were temporarily out of bombs.

David said...

MayBee said...
"For example, I read this as a criticism of the Islamic terrorism of today:
Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill. "

I read this as Obama telling Christians to get off their high horse.


I read it as something an undergraduate could say. Sounds good until you think about it. It's really only partly true, it's unoriginal and he fails to connect it in a persuasive or effective way to contemporary issues.

Marty said...

It is far more useful, I think, to hear this in the context of the pernicious postmodern march through our institutions, designed to slander and eliminate our founding principles and commitment to liberty defended by strictly limited government. Postmodernism hides its nasty premodern faith in its own version of Absolute Truth through mushy weasel words, childish temper tantrums, and appeals to Emotion over Reason. Obama (just like Trump in his own way) is the perfect prophet of postmodernist nihilism.

The real question is, why do we Americans buy this shit?

William said...

MacArthur, so far as I know, is the only war leader both among the allies and the axis who expressed any reservations about the bombing of civilian targets. Bomber Harris in the European theater thought that bombing civilian targets would weaken the morale of the German population and eventually lead to an uprising against their Nazi leaders. This never happened. Perhaps the Allies could have chosen better targets. After the war, Speer said that if the allies had concentrated on bombing the factories that produced ball bearings the war would have been finished in weeks.......I think Curtis Lemay shared the philosophy of Bomber Harris. At any rate, there was quite a lot of bombing of civilian targets in Japan. I think there was one bombing run over Tokyo that killed one hundred thousand Japanese. This catastrophe made no impact on the Japanese general staff, nor on the Japanse population's adherence to their rule.........The only bombing of Japanese civilians that had an impact on the war was the use A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki..

gspencer said...

Jesus was pretty clear when He said that His kingdom was not of this world, instructing His followers to take up the Cross and follow Him.

Mohammad was also pretty clear, informing his followers that it was their duty to strike the necks of unbelievers until the whole world holds that Allah is god over the earth.

So when the One states, that "no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill," who does he have in mind?

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Althouse says: "This is a very processed speech. You have to look for the ways in which he is criticizing other cultures. For example, I read this as a criticism of the Islamic terrorism of today..."

So Obama dances around on the subject without saying anything clearly and forthrightly. Each in the audience is left to his or her own interpretation.

damikesc said...

You know, I shouldn't HAVE to spend hours trying to decipher what the President says. A sign of intelligence is that what you're saying is understandable to those less educated than you. Relying on precise parsing of everything is a sign of an inherently deceitful mindset.

It's called diplomacy. And rest assured that the statements of US presidents are read very carefully for their meaning.

It seems odd that the ONLY country expected to moderate its tone is the US. Nobody else feels any problem just blasting us. Did you see Americans deriding Londoners as being fucking idiots for the mayor they elected --- yet Brits had no qualms lambasting us as morons for preferring Bush over the inept Kerry.

The rest of the world has very different frame of reference to ourselves.

We really do not have to CARE, though. We are the big dog. They can hate us. We can simply remove all of our troops and let them suffer their consequences.

And the White House insisted that symbols of Christianity be covered when he spoke at Georgetown.

Why would anybody question his Christian bona fides?

To be fair, we were temporarily out of bombs.

Could've sworn we had one more ready...then we'd have been out.

After the war, Speer said that if the allies had concentrated on bombing the
factories that produced ball bearings the war would have been finished in weeks


It'd have been over in days if Europe decided to say no to most of Hitler's demands.

And Germany could've taken out the England if they focused their attacks on the RAF air fields and oil supplies instead of London.

Jupiter said...

buwaya puti said...

"As for the why of the Pacific war (and the China wars from 1937), my theory is demonic possession. It's just as good from a practical sense of why you need an explanation, it fits at least as many facts also."

I think Obama is right about this; "the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes...". Human history is a catalog of wars. It seems entirely reasonable to suppose that war is human nature. What Obama apparently fails to grasp is that preventing war is the prerogative of the stronger. The strong may choose peace. The weak are not consulted.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Explain to me again about how the US invaded Manchuria and China in the 1930's.

Jason said...

Ian Toll.... the only dovish writer, WRT the atomic bomb, who isn't totally stupid.

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ian-w-toll-atomic-bomb-not-article-1.2644408

Of course, nobody mentions that at the time, the people of occupied Vietnam were starving to death by hundreds of thousands. Probably 1-2 million Vietnamese starved to death in 1944 and into 1945, so they were dying at the rate of somewhere around 100,00 per month.

Every week the war went on, and the longer the Japanese occupation starved the locals to death with no hope of relief, the more innocent Vietnamese women and children would die. I've never yet seen a libtard mention them once. Historically ignorant shitbirds, every last one of them.

buwaya puti said...

The difference with respect to Japanese colonialism was its sudden - very sudden - change to utter, insane savagery during the bloody battle of Shanghai. Until then one could consider Japanese colonial expansion in Korea, China, etc. as normal imperialism by historical standards, mostly done by co-opting local elites, etc. The Korean complaints against the Japanese are more than a bit disingenuous, as they didn't really fight them, it was a matter of their social elite being co-opted, and on the whole the Japanese treated them well. Koreans hate Japanese, I think, mainly out of shame, an inferiority complex and amour-propre.
Pre-1937 the Japanese were not known for barbaric behavior in modern war. They treated both prisoners of war and enemy civilians correctly and honorably, with only the occasional atrocity, as is normal. The Russian and German POWs in earlier wars had no complaints. The Japanese had a good reputation.
At Shanghai, 1937 - the Japanese military suddenly turned into a very different thing. Random slaughter of civilians became the norm, and most disturbing, this was not only permitted but encouraged from higher headquarters. It was not merely a loss of discipline. And more so, mass murder was organized in the field, at the Army level. By the time the Japanese army advanced on Nanking, it was a killing machine, exterminating everything in its path. Officers held beheading competitions, of civilians and prisoners, keeping score.
What happened at Nanking was predictable at that point.
The same behavior, mitigated only on occasion, was characteristic of its later record until 1945. The Japanese military was just incredibly savage at a very personal level. There wasn't just one Nanking, there was a constant state of it, exploding into mass murder at intervals.
I have yet to find an explanation for this.

Yancey Ward said...

Shorter Althouse:

"This speech can mean anything you need it to mean."

Jason said...

Massacres of innocents by savage and sadistic Japanese troops continued to occur all the way through the Japanese surrender. There are horrific massacres of internees and occupied women and children that occurred just days before Hiroshima.

They were also releasing millions of fleas into Manchuria, infected with bubonic plague, typhus and anything else they could think of. The plan was to drop or arty these fleas at allied forces when they concentrated to invade Japan. Instead the Japanese let them loose on the Chinese in the closing days of the war, killing 30,000 more civilians over the next few years from plague, etc.

exhelodrvr1 said...

The Japanese were not going to surrender - that's pretty clear. So read about Okinawa, and the mass suicides among the civilians there. Extrapolate that to the population of the rest of the islands. And consider the 6-7 M in the Japanese military, who had an average mortality 99+% in the previous battles. So even those that don't care about the Allied casualties (and a LOT of those who criticize the use of the atom bombs fall into that category) should realize that likely 10s of millions of Japanese lives were saved by that use of the atom bombs. But they are too indoctrinated by the media and academia to be able to see the truth.

The Godfather said...

Obama might have said: “Seventy years ago, the people of this city, as well as those in Nagasaki, suffered terrible death and destruction. To avoid a repetition of these events, we must understand why the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened, and commit ourselves, Americans and Japanese together, to preventing a repetition of what caused those tragedies.

“The events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki happened because, 80 years ago, the leaders of this country launched aggressive war against neighboring countries. Japanese forces brought death and destruction, not only to armies but also to civilians, in China, Malaya, the Philippines, Shanghai, Burma, and the islands of the Pacific. They destroyed cities and villages, they murdered and raped civilians, they beat, and starved, and killed prisoners of war. They launched an unprovoked attack against the United States, with which Japan was supposedly not at war. This rampage continued for a decade. And the Japanese people, your parents, and grandparents, and great grandparents, supported the loathsome acts perpetrated by their leaders, or at least tolerated them. And even though the armies and navies of Japan were defeated in battle after battle for over three years, the Japanese government vowed to fight on, at the cost of hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions -- of additional lives, most of them Japanese. The tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were part of the cost that Japan paid for its aggression, its brutality, and its inhumanity – but high though that price was, ending the war in August 1945 undoubtedly saved many more lives than were taken by the two nuclear bombs.

“After the war was over, Americans, Japanese, and others joined together to prevent other wars of aggression, and the death, destruction, and suffering they would bring. Today as we recognize the loss of life and destruction that were suffered here and at Nagasaki seventy years ago, let us recommit ourselves, your nation and mine, to preventing a repetition of military aggression like that which had its end here, seventy years ago.”

wholelottasplainin' said...

To be fair, we were temporarily out of bombs.

Could've sworn we had one more ready...then we'd have been out.

***********

Not quite. We originally made four. Two were uranium bombs, the other two plutonium. One we exploded in New Mexico to test the concept and design, two others dropped over Japan, and a fourth that was never used.

But others were in the pipeline:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Project

"[Leslie] Groves expected to have another atomic bomb ready for use on 19 August, with three more in September and a further three in October.[288] Two more Fat Man assemblies were readied, and scheduled to leave Kirtland Field for Tinian on 11 and 14 August.[287] At Los Alamos, technicians worked 24 hours straight to cast another plutonium core.[289] Although cast, it still needed to be pressed and coated, which would take until 16 August.[290] It could therefore have been ready for use on 19 August. On 10 August, Truman secretly requested that additional atomic bombs not be dropped on Japan without his express authority.[291] Groves suspended the third core's shipment on his own authority on 13 August.[291]"

buwaya puti said...

The Japanese military pre-1930s had the same degree of emperor-worship, had grown up in the same medieval villages, had had the same harsh regime of discipline, had the same underlying social structures and the same religious, philosophical and cultural norms. And, though having had many previous opportunities, had not behaved as they did in 1937.

It wasn't even a matter of necessity. Their behavior made it impossible to obtain any significant Chinese allies for a proper colonial conquest. A disciplined, correct approach could have cracked the Kuomintang, in the same way Japan had obtained warlord allies in North China in the previous decades. Japan could really have conquered China, with Chinese doing most of the work, just as the British conquered India with Indian money, allies and troops.
But the Japanese went mad.

Sebastian said...

"Their thinkers had advanced ideas of justice and harmony and truth." No. Japanese thinkers didn't advance idea of harmony with non-Japanese. Muslim thinkers only advanced ideas of Islamic truth, kaffirs be damned.

"And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes" Yes and no. Conquest by a nation-state is a different story. The "processed" formulation also outrageously ascribes a "base" tribal instinct to the allied side helping the war "grow."

"an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints."Direct slander of his predecessors and Americans generally.

"I'm extracting that line for those who think Obama failed to blame the aggressors in that war." He "blamed" them only in his highly processed moral-equivalent anti-American way.

"You have to look for the ways in which he is criticizing other cultures." Ah, yes, by only criticizing the Other in a way that makes Us look worse.

"I read this as a criticism of the Islamic terrorism of today: Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill" Actually, no: Islam does not preach love and peace, but submission to the One God, His Prophet, and His Law. "No religion has been spared" is just the abstract version of what-about-the-Crusades-and-the-Inquisition-so-shut-up BS.

buwaya puti said...

Japanese thinkers did advance the idea of harmony with non-Japanese. You give the Japanese little credit. Japanese intellectuals were eager to be part of the 19th-early 20th century global culture. They went abroad in large numbers, studied everywhere, took part in all sorts of shared projects, established schools and universities on foreign models, invited foreign professors, and copied foreign curricula.
Even Japanese nationalist ideology was structured on foreign systems. Japanese imperialism was copied from international norms if the day.
A huge lot of what Japan was in 1937 was a foreign import.

Sebastian said...

"You give the Japanese little credit. Japanese intellectuals were eager to be part of the 19th-early 20th century global culture" Correct. Earlier, not so much. And some non-Japanese deserved more harmony than others, as Korean friends occasionally remind me.

Michael K said...

As for the why of the Pacific war (and the China wars from 1937), my theory is demonic possession.

I'm reading The Rising Sun, by Toland, which is a history of WWII from the Japanese POV.

Pre-1937 the Japanese were not known for barbaric behavior in modern war. They treated both prisoners of war and enemy civilians correctly and honorably, with only the occasional atrocity, as is normal. The Russian and German POWs in earlier wars had no complaints. The Japanese had a good reputation.

I agree with this. There was a lot of ambivalence in Japan before the war and about the China "incident" as they called it. They were negotiating in pretty good faith in 1941. They just wanted to keep Manchuko for defense against the Soviets and for raw materials. Roosevelt was OK with that but his opinion was never conveyed to the Japanese.

Tojo, while in prison before he was hung was told of the memorandum that never got sent to them. He said that he would never have approved the Pearl Harbor attack if he had known of it.

The junior officers were very radical and aggressive. A number of Japanese politicians were assassinated in the 20s and 30s. Konoye, the PM, assumed he would be assassinated.

Nanking was really the beginning of the madness of the army.

The Japanese military was just incredibly savage at a very personal level. There wasn't just one Nanking, there was a constant state of it, exploding into mass murder at intervals.
I have yet to find an explanation for this.


I agree. It may have come from the junior officers and the ferocious discipline of the army.

Plus, of course, the suicidal streak in Japanese culture. The book is pretty interesting.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

. And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints.

It's funny that you think that quote exonerates the President from the criticism you identify, Professor. As others have pointed out the Left (Zinn et al.) view America as some version of an evil racist empire...so it's entirely plausible that Obama's line was written in way that allows his friends on the Left to conclude he's equally blaming America.

steve uhr said...

Obama can be trusted to be steady and presidential in a delicate situation. Unlike with Hillary and Trump, it is not always about ME.

If it were President Trump speaking in Japan, I would be on pins and needles fearful that he would say something not helpful in furthering the best interests of the USA.

Michael K said...

I would be on pins and needles fearful that he would say something not helpful in furthering the best interests of the USA.

Whereas with Obama you can be certain it will not be.

damikesc said...

Obama can be trusted to be steady and presidential in a delicate situation. Unlike with Hillary and Trump, it is not always about ME.

Umm...wut?

Yeah, he chose to be the first President to speak at Hiroshima for anything besides self-aggrandizement. Of course.

If it were President Trump speaking in Japan, I would be on pins and needles fearful that he would say something not helpful in furthering the best interests of the USA.

He might get behind overthrowing a dictator who had been cowed to the point of not bothering us and leaving chaos in his wake.

He might champion the removal of a dictator and allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to take over a country.

He might decline to champion the removal of a dictator but, instead, rewarding the dictators with nuclear weaponry and technology.

Dodged a bullet there.

steve uhr said...

And what exactly did Obama say in Japan contrary to our interests? Saying the Japanese were evil barbarians hardly seems like a winning strategy. Everyone knows they were so why say it? Better not to go to Japan at all.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Obama can be trusted to be steady and presidential in a delicate situation. Unlike with Hillary and Trump, it is not always about ME.

Wow. Just, Wow!

Achilles said...

steve uhr said...
"Obama can be trusted to be steady and presidential in a delicate situation. Unlike with Hillary and Trump, it is not always about ME.

If it were President Trump speaking in Japan, I would be on pins and needles fearful that he would say something not helpful in furthering the best interests of the USA."

So the best interests of the USA lies in rewriting history to fit a progressive anti-american paradigm?

The Japanese were brutal savages during WWII. They started WWII by attacking Pearl Harbor. They were planning some truly horrific things to fight the ground invasion that are mentioned above. Some even worse not mentioned.

What is clear from history is that if the Japanese had the Bomb they would have tried to take over the world while purposely killing as many civilians as possible. That is not even hyperbole, it is straight line deductive reasoning.

buwaya puti said...

Toland is essential, but he doesn't explain the social phenomenon we are discussing. If the Japanese military hadn't gone nuts, they could have invaded as they wished and there wouldn't have been a Hiroshima.
And for that matter the principal US complaint was about the war of 1937 and the occupation of Indochina. There was nothing on the US side to prevent the Japanese from proposing a compromise or even unilaterally make a gesture. They just didn't.
As for Japanese sources, one must take all with a shipload of salt. There is a level of blank faced denial among Japanese senior officials that one learns to recognize after some exposure. I have read a great deal indeed on the war crimes trials and Japanese testimony. My great-uncle has his testimony on the record of Yamashita's trial, and was intimately involved.
They lie, casually and with no conscience.

BudBrown said...

"And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints."

I think that's a pretty conservative line. Sorta Old Testament. Though I'm still
puzzled by the "without new constraints" bit. He mean the operations research guys
hadn't taken over yet? Positing a base instinct for domination and conquest could
maybe get him in serious trouble if he voiced it on a college campus these days.
I mean you could start the Constitution off with - Because stupid humans have a base instinct for domination and conquest, we the people...

And who's he talking to? He's in Japan but I think he's talking to China. I can
take that to mean he's suggesting they forget the Marxist noble savage corrupted
by capitalist pigs doing the Foucault double twist into perfect communist man and
get real. As Churchill noted "To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war."

Balfegor said...

Re: buwaya puti:

Pre-1937 the Japanese were not known for barbaric behavior in modern war. They treated both prisoners of war and enemy civilians correctly and honorably, with only the occasional atrocity, as is normal. The Russian and German POWs in earlier wars had no complaints. The Japanese had a good reputation.

Let's caveat that. The German and Russian POWs in earlier wars were treated well. The Chinese POWs in the 1894-1895 Sino-Japanese war were generally not. There's a bit of tit-for-tat there since Japanese POWs were also treated poorly during the Sino-Japanese war, but the Japanese won easily so they had a lot more opportunity to be beastly.

What is remarkable about Japanese atrocities in WW2 is actually not the atrocities themselves, but that the victims were in many cases Whites. In our (the US's) war to suppress the independence movement in the Philippines, we didn't shy away from committing atrocities like wiping out villages, torturing prisoners with the "water cure" (the precursor to waterboarding -- the one where they actually drowned), etc. And we were, comparatively speaking, among the gentlest of colonial masters. The French were worse, and the Dutch (in Indonesia) among the very worst. Even the British killed prisoners without trial (famously, the sons of the Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah) after the Mutiny, at least when they weren't strapping them to the mouths of cannons to be blown apart. Meanwhile, even as late as the Great War, European officers taken prisoner were allowed to leave prison camps as long as they promised to come back afterwards. In earlier periods, captives were allowed to go home on parole as long as they promised not to take up arms (see, e.g. Lord Cornwallis after Yorktown).

My pet theory is that during the period from the Meiji Restoration up to the Russo-Japanese war, the Japanese were generally pro-Western, in that they wanted to be accepted as the equal of the Western Great Powers. The treaty we brokered to end the Russo-Japanese War -- the Treaty of Portsmouth -- dashed those hopes. The Japanese had expected a large war indemnity from Russia of the sort the Germans extracted from the French at the end of the the Franco-Prussian War, but they saw the Western powers closing ranks to defend their own (actually, because Russia would have been bankrupted and everyone was afraid of what would happen if the government collapsed. But I don't think that message was clear to the Japanese public.) The next generation, who grew up knowing Japan's humiliation after smashing naval and battlefield victories, were hostile to the West. And so they treated Western POWs in the same brutal fashion that the worst of the Western colonial powers had treated their colonial subjects. Look at the men who orchestrated the Mukden Incident: Itagaki would have been 20 in 1905; Ishiwara, 16.

Gahrie said...

Obama can be trusted to be steady and presidential in a delicate situation. Unlike with Hillary and Trump, it is not always about ME.

Have you been asleep for the last eight years?

Unknown said...

I'd have more respect of this asshole if he apologized for what his administration has done during his reign, instead of apologizing for actions he knows nothing about.

Balfegor said...

Re: Michael K:

Nanking was really the beginning of the madness of the army.

I think the first sign of the madness of the army was probably the March Incident in 1931, in which junior officers in the Imperial Army tried to overthrow the government. Followed by the October Incident (same year), in which they tried to do so a second time. In between, midlevel officers learned that the Imperial government was sending a new commanding officer to suppress the Kantou Army, so they set up the Mukden incident and launched the invasion of Manchuria (he actually arrived in time to stop them; they just got him dead drunk and launched the invasion while he was asleep. I am not joking).

Then in March 1932, there was the "League of Blood" incident, in which Army officers tried to assassinate the prime minister and a host of other prominent officials (they got some but missed the PM), followed by in May 1932, the May 15 Incident, in which Naval officers showed the Army how it's done and assassinated the Prime Minister.

Needless to say, this is not the record of a well-ordered military. The Japanese military was nuts well back into the 30's. Nanking was not the start of the madness -- it was the culmination of it. Followed by cannibalism in the late stages of the war.

Michael K said...

"The Japanese military was nuts well back into the 30's. "

Yes, the early incidents involved the Japanese themselves, though.

One issue was that the newspapers, which were controlled by the government, had whipped the people up into a frenzy where the politicians who were worried about war, feared assassination, and not just from the military.

Michael K said...

"The treaty we brokered to end the Russo-Japanese War -- the Treaty of Portsmouth -- dashed those hopes. "

Yes, that is discussed in the book. I agree. Also the 1924 exclusion laws were hated and turned them against us as well.

Still many Japanese, especially the navy, worried they could not win a war against us.

Jason said...

In contrast, I am pleased to be able to report that cannibalism has been all but eliminated within the Armed Forces of the United States.

Michael K said...

There was nothing on the US side to prevent the Japanese from proposing a compromise or even unilaterally make a gesture. They just didn't.

Toland makes a point that Hull had an advisor who grew up in China and hated the Japanese and kept Hull from compromise. Its hard to sort out the facts from bias but it is interesting.

buwaya puti said...

I am skeptical about the numbers and nature of much of the record of atrocities ascribed to European colonial powers.
Many cases such as those of the Indian mutineers and rebels were reprisals in the field which were permitted under the customs of war, justified in those cases by the truly extreme atrocities committed during the mutiny. And for that matter casual murder, especially of non-combatants, was not a matter of course in the Fil-American war, and the killing there was all-inclusive community violence, among them nationalist pogroms against the Chinese. A good, very realistic film that sort of summarizes it is "Amigo", Sayles
In the case of Japan, they took German prisoners in 1914 that they also treated well, and were basically given Korea, Manchuria and most of North China (and Tsingtao) as a very rich reward for 1905 and 1914.
The turn away from Western influence on the military (such as breaking professional relations with the RN) came after the Washington Naval Treaty.
Strategically the worst bit of friction probably was the long term consequence of the US choosing to retain the Philippines, which was in every way a bad idea. McKinleys overnight decision created a sphere of influence problem that didn't have to be.

Dave Hasbach said...

He went to Japan because his days of taxpayer-paid vacations are coming to an end soon.

Balfegor said...

Re: Jason:

In contrast, I am pleased to be able to report that cannibalism has been all but eliminated within the Armed Forces of the United States.

Oh, let's not sell the Armed Forces of the United States short! I don't think a cabal among the officers has ever tried to overthrow the elected government, something that can't be said of, say, France.

buwaya puti said...

When you listen to Piaf, "je ne regrette rien" , just a footnote, this was sung by the Legion Para when they were released from jail after the failure of the coup.
That's why it's in the Foreign Legion songbook to this day.
Makes you think.

CWJ said...

Michael K,

"Its hard to sort out the facts from bias but it is interesting."

That's SOP for Toland. Be careful.

The Drill SGT said...

Obama purposely spouted mush designed to blur the distinctions between the Allies and the Axis, because he doesn't relate at all to the Allies and the good guys. He sees them as the Colonialists.

rcocean said...

Morally, there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between Tojo and Hitler. In fact, just based on a body count, the Japanese were far worse.

Yet, we get "ambiguous" speech by Obama in Hiroshima. About how some "tribes" were out for conquest.

I await his trip to Dresden.

poker1one said...

Fernandinande wrote:

"Load of drivel."

To which I will tweak to,

Obama, Lord of Drivel.

That is a keeper.

Michael K said...

"McKinleys overnight decision created a sphere of influence problem that didn't have to be."

I don't know. That was the era of expansion and "Manifest Destiny." Taft was widely loved when he was governor general.

I agree it was a thorn in Japan;s side and I also agree the Naval Treaty was another irritation but it allowed Japan near equality and allowed them to build ships as fast as they could. Two of the big aircraft carriers were battle cruiser hulls.

"Shattered Sword" is a good book about Midway from the Japanese POV.

Fabi said...

Amadeus 48 captures his essence. Has there ever been a leader with a more pedestrian IQ who's been hailed as a genius? A complete intellectual fraud.

buwaya puti said...

The Americans were widely loved in general, with some exceptions (like one side of our family, in spite of their rule making the family fortune). However, this does not in itself justify holding the place. It was a useless policy that was reversed within ten years, among other things stopping the building of military infrastructure, which is one big reason so much was obsolete in 1941. The next 25 years were spent trying to figure out the best way to leave, while spending as little as possible, unfortunately coming under the influence of Filipino politicians who knew how to keep the game going for their own benefit. Manuel Quezon is the man most responsible for the fact that the US was still there in 1941.

In the meantime the US had an Asiatic Fleet, a naval base, and the Pacific fleet had a war plan to protect it. The Japanese saw a base from which all their trade could be interdicted.
This was a dangerous situation, created without thought and sustained by irresponsibility. There was no US interest that was served by making an enemy of Japan.

buwaya puti said...

This is all water under the bridge of course, but its interesting how much hinged on a single seemingly minor decision about an obscure Spanish colony. Dewey sailing into Manila bay or moreso McKinley praying one night in 1898 effectively decreed half a world war forty-three years later, and the fates of hundreds of millions and the modern condition of billions. Scary thought.

narciso said...

the phillipines were low hanging fruit, in a few years, the kaiser would likely have made a play for them, ironically mahan saw sea power as an alternative to standing armies in asia,

Michael K said...

"mahan saw sea power as an alternative to standing armies in asia,"

Yes, I've got his book and have read it.

C R Krieger said...

"And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints."

I think he missed the problem of bad science which led to eugenics (is that Buck v Bell or something the other way around) and the belief on the part of at least the Germans that there were more deserving races. We should not hide that. It is important.

And up stream is mentioned Tojo and Hitler. What about Stalin? He lucked out and died in his bed because we was lucky enough to be attacked by Hitler. There is too much of Godwin's Law being demonstrated. The New York Times should be careful given its role, under the Pulitzer Prize Winning Reporter Walter Duranty.

The bomb? I would do it today in a like situation.

Regards  —  Cliff

narciso said...

casualties were reasonable for a counterinsurgency campaign,

http://www.philippineamericanwar.webs.com/

a modern version of the 1931 incidents is imagine if uteibi had defeated the national guard or ubl had seized power in 1990, the cherryblossom society as a proxy for the ikwan,

narciso said...

No Stalin was a more ruthless czar, like Ivan the Terrible, who unleashed the oprichniki, the first secret police, of course lenin had promised the nationalities self determination, surprise, he was lucky with his choice of rival, kanaris played on his paranoia, tricking him into purging his top army staff, but they returned the favor, by having the german army liquidate likely allies,

narciso said...

not a light read, but it is illuminating, just like would the revolution have come to pass if
Alexander 111 hadn't passed away, nearly a quarter century earlier,


http://www.amazon.com/Romanovs-1613-1918-Simon-Sebag-Montefiore/dp/0307266524/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

rcocean said...

"Yes, that is discussed in the book. I agree. Also the 1924 exclusion laws were hated and turned them against us as well"

Yeah, Pearl Harbor was all our fault. If only we'd let in more immigrants we wouldn't have forced the Japanese warlords to Kill 2,000 Americans in a sneak attack.

mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa

narciso said...

well they didn't help, but the depression empowered the cherry blossom, think al queda on steroids, and hence they took over the government, the naval treaty enabled their rapid advance, think of it, like the iran deal of the 20s,

Joe said...

"After the war, Speer said that if the allies had concentrated on bombing the factories that produced ball bearings the war would have been finished in weeks......."

The US did bomb ball bearing factories and it had limited impact. Post war analysis shows that the entire bombing campaign in Europe was largely a waste of lives and material. One major criticism was the failure to bomb power stations.

(Close air support, however, proved to be incredibly effective.)

Interestingly, the post war analysis of the bombing of Japan came to the opposite conclusion; that it had a huge impact, though without a defacto naval blockade, it wouldn't have been sufficient.

dunce said...

I heard what he said as he has said before that all religions have killed innocent people in the name of their religion but he had to go back 1000 years to find his Christian example and even then neglected the muslim provocations at that time period.

ganderson said...

Jason: "Historically ignorant shirt birds, every one of them"

Precisely. You think the anointed one has read "Helmet for My Pillow", With the Old Breed", or "Goodbye Darkness"? I find it unlikely. He's an ignoramous. I've also never grasped the moral distinction between being killed in a firestorm caused by 1000 B-29s and being killed by a nuclear fireball.

Mark Caplan said...

Fortunately the Japanese are too polite to tell us what they really thought of Obama's sanctimonious "I'm so much wiser and more evolved than you dullards" proclamation.

Balfegor said...

Re: Mark Caplan:

Fortunately the Japanese are too polite to tell us what they really thought of Obama's sanctimonious "I'm so much wiser and more evolved than you dullards" proclamation.

Reaction from the Japanese was positive. Some of the hibakusha (the victims of the atom bomb) wanted more, obviously, and US veterans were not thrilled, but that is only to be expected. The Japanese have laughed at Obama plenty for some of the goofy stuff he does, but I haven't seen much mockery this time.

Also, however goofy Obama may be, I think Japanese would vastly prefer him to Trump, given that Trump's platform vis-a-vis Japan is basically (1) make them pay for US military protection and (2) trade war. Both of these are, in many ways, evolutionary from the Obama era, rather than revolutionary. Under Obama, the US has encouraged Japan to strengthen its military in recent years, and the US government has not been especially welcoming towards Japanese enterprises, whatever words they may mouth. But articulating these things explicitly as policy is new and shocking.

Robert Cook said...

"'The rest of the world has very different frame of reference to ourselves.'"

"We really do not have to CARE, though. We are the big dog. They can hate us. We can simply remove all of our troops and let them suffer their consequences."


We won't always be the big dog...in fact, within the lifetimes of many reading this blog today, we will be yesterday's big dog.

Taking the attitude of not caring what the rest of the world thinks--which we do and long have--others will and do hate us, especially when our "not caring" takes the form of our assertion of force--political, economic, and military--against every country we see as an impediment to our goal of world domination, or from whom we wish to extract resources. No one hates us "for our freedoms," as one liar said and many nitwits believed; they hate us for being the bully of the world, and a sanctimonious one, at that.

If we removed all our troops from everywhere in the world, most of the countries would breath more easily. We're not there to protect anyone or anything but our own interests, and to assert our authority. The ongoing catastrophe in the middle east is largely our own doing.

There are dangers in the world, and bad actors, but the projection of force should always be the last choice, when all else has failed, yet it is our default strategy, our latter day substitution for diplomacy.

Many might applaud and support our brutality as legitimate, the prerogative of the "big dog" to impose and maintain fear and obedience among those who might challenge our intent to maintain our world domination, but don't wrap it up in stale (and patently false) notions of "protecting freedom and justice throughout the world."

Tibore said...

"And yet the war grew out of the same base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes, an old pattern amplified by new capabilities and without new constraints."

Wait... no. The conquest rose from that. The war - at least for the West; I exclude the then Soviet Union from this - rose from a very well justified and honorable desire to not only respond to megalomaniacal totalitarian conquerors but also wipe such destructiveness off the face of the earth.

Sure, the West was only 2 for 3; the strange bedfellowism that arose from the necessity of allying with the USSR negatively colors the war. Some pragmatism was necessary, distasteful as it was (and yes, it did result in pain and terrible decades for many countries... although picking a fight with the USSR would have been ruinous for the West, so containment was indeed the correct lesser-of-two-evils choice). But the other two cases have been wild successes: Free, open, prosperous, peaceful... none of that is a stretch to apply to either Germany or Japan.

My point is that I'm tired of the worn out, old tropes that are applied to history. Nobody ever said that war was ever desirable, but for cryin' out loud, the differences between the West and the Axis powers are so profound they're fundamental, and simply cannot make the lumping in of their actions with Germany's/Japans meet any standard of logic. Do people condemn the surgery because cancer is bad? Or do they view it as necessary, even with all its negative consequences, because the intervention is necessary and done for good reasons?

The conflict started from those desires. But it grew from people saying "No" to the conquerors.

Tibore said...

"I'm extracting that line for those who think Obama failed to blame the aggressors in that war."

I don't know, Professor... I still don't see any acknowledgement of the difference between aggressor and responder in that speech. On the contrary, I see a blurring of it. The "processing" seems to have processed out that point.

Tibore said...

"MayBee said...
"I read this as Obama telling Christians to get off their high horse."

David said...
I read it as something an undergraduate could say.


I read it as inane tautology masquerading as profound thought. Saying that religions and societies tend to be poor at preventing idiocy by their radical elements is legit criticism. But failing to make distinctions between those societies and religions which have progressed out of medieval values and those which tolerate too much regression is drawing a false equivalency.

SukieTawdry said...

You have to look for the ways in which he is criticizing other cultures. It's hidden in the high-flown abstraction.

Or, perhaps Obama strains here to be that blank screen on which people project their own views. His speech reflected his worldview: naive, childish, uninformed and lacking historical context. I found his remarks repugnant.