Saturday, May 28, 2005

Looking Back at the War with Japan.

PBS' "American Experience" recently discussed the history of the last year of war in the Pacific Theatre ("Victory in the Pacific"). It was, surprisingly, balanced. It refuted revisionist claims that the last year of the Pacific war was unnecessary, that American blood-lust, desire for revenge, or anti-Soviet maneuvering prevented a chance for a satisfactory peace between Japan and the Allies. It described in detail the fanatical strategy of Ketsu-Go, the defense of the Japanese homeland by mass suicide attacks. It also dispelled the myth that there was any serious challenge within the Japanese war leadership to Ketsu-Go (there was opposition, but it had no real chance of reversing this tragic policy). It is this point that most revisionist histories of the Pacific War either omit or dismiss. The documentary came to the same conclusion as Truman: that the atomic bombing of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki was necessary to conclude the war as quickly as possible, that Bushido and Japan's war culture were as pernious to global peace as Nazism and to destroy them would require a complete unconditional surrender by Japan.

Unfortunately, such an honest analysis of the Pacific War is about 25 years too late.

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