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In 1943 the US State Department exhibited a disdain for national sovereignty while looking at proposals for an international Bill of Rights: ‘a barrier to state supremacy and racial superiority which are inimical to individual rights’. But pragmatically they had to acknowledge that there was no international government to enforce individual rights.102 The first reason for the re-establishment of nation-states in Europe was the limited character of US power. Eisenhower felt he was ‘invading Italy on a shoestring’, being heavily outnumbered by German and Italian troops. This, according to Stephen Ambrose, was the reason that the US recognised Marshall Badoglio and King Victor Emmanuel’s postMussolini government.103 Though the US had the firepower to overthrow the collaborationist regimes, it lacked the resources to exercise continuing authority: ‘Roosevelt privately confessed to Churchill that he doubted he could keep American troops in Europe for more than a year or so after the end of hostilities’.104 According to economist and historian John Willoughby, American recognition of native German authorities was driven forwards by the collapse of military discipline in the post-war occupation.105 All the same, the victorious Allies assumed the right to intervene in the internal affairs of the countries in their respective ‘zones’, or spheres of influence, as we shall see.
Though national elites were disgraced by their collaboration, the national idea was saved by the partisans: ‘the legitimacy of post-war regimes and governments essentially rested on their resistance record’, according to Eric Hobsbawm.106 General de Gaulle’s claim that ‘eternal France’ had never been defeated is essentially untrue. France had been defeated. More than that, its ruling elite had been craven in defeat, preferring Hitler to Blum.107 But the efforts of the French resistance, and principally of the militant working class minority, saved France’s honour. While the ruling class was indifferent to national sovereignty, Stalinism remained wedded to one country, even to the point of putting off socialism to a later date. The moral deficit of the European national ruling elites was a persistent problem, and one that predisposed them to transnational institutions after the war.
After the British Crown and lowland Presbyterians defeated and dispersed the Scottish highlanders, the new Scotland was built, strangely on an ersatz image of highland culture, with tartans and kilts. The Allied occupation of Europe was in the end the defeat of the popular resistance. But losing their real influence on the state, the Resistance became, like the Highlanders, an important mythical foundation for those newly ‘liberated’ European states. Their legitimacy was in question because of the way that the elites had collaborated with the German occupation of their countries. The Resistance lent a powerful and muchneeded authority to the state, even as ‘across Europe, former resistance leaders were being marginalized’ 108 and the partisans were being disarmed and bullied into submission.
Chapter Twenty Six A War of Extermination in the Pacific After the Pacific battles of the Midway and Guadalcanal, Japan had lost the naval advantage it won at Pearl Harbour. The US Navy inflicted such losses on the Japanese fleet that its troops spread across the Pacific Islands could no longer be protected, and the war swung decisively against them. US forces could bring overwhelming power to bear on the Japanese, who were effectively tied down, and increasingly unsupported.
Once the tide of war had turned, the Japanese suffered catastrophic losses of men in a succession of battles on key Pacific islands that would gradually bring the war to the Japanese mainland. The extent of the Japanese losses was so great because very few were taken prisoner. The low numbers of Japanese prisoners taken – just 38,666 prisoners compared to one and a half million dead. The official explanation for the low numbers captured has always been that the fanatical Bushido code forbade troops from surrendering.
It was true that the Japanese military leaders instilled in their men the message that they should not surrender – but that is not the reason for the low number of Japanese prisoners taken. The reason so few Japanese prisoners were taken was that the Allies, primarily the US, but also the British and Australian troops took no prisoners.1 There were no logistical arrangements made for the holding of Japanese prisoner because there was no expectation that prisoners would be taken. In every engagement after the Allies started to win the number of prisoners taken was insignificant.
The Marine battle cry on Tarawa was, “Kill the Jap bastards! Take no prisoners.” The 41st Division under MacArthur … bragged that “The 41st didn’t take prisoners.”2 According to historian Barak Kushner ‘One reason behind the small numbers of Japanese soldiers captured by US forces may have been the fact that US soldiers slaughtered wounded or surrendering Japanese soldiers’.3 As much as the Bushido code stopped Japanese from surrendering, their experience where they were at the mercy of the Allied Forces was such that few would have wanted to surrender anyway. Allied troops regularly beat, tortured and killed captured Japanese. One academic who had been with the army in Okinawa and Peleliu remembered GIs taking Japanese body parts and gold teeth, and urinating on the dead, as well as shooting defenceless old women.4 Edgar Jones, who was War Correspondent of the Atlantic Monthly, wrote in February 1946 We shot prisoners in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed lifeboats, killed or mistreated enemy civilians, finished off the enemy wounded, tossed the dying into a hole with the dead, and in the Pacific, boiled the flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved their bones into letter openers.5 In December of 1944, Lance Corporal Viliame Lomasalato of the Fiji Military Forces Third Battalion was awarded the Military Cross after having eaten a Japanese soldier in the fighting at Bougainville in the spring.6 At Bougainville an Australian Colonel protested ‘But sir, they are wounded and want to surrender’, to his commanding officer of Japanese troops.
‘You heard me Colonel’ replied the Major General ‘I want no prisoners – shoot them all’.
They were shot.7 The Bushido code was useful for papering over the Allies’ no surrender policy. At times the code itself was made into an excuse for killing defeated troops. Bill Crooks of the Australian Imperial Force recalled that ‘We knew their bushido banzai code was to take no prisoners in battle and never surrender. So we killed them’.8 If the Japanese soldiers fought ‘fanatically’ that was at least in part because they knew they would be shown little mercy if they allowed themselves to be captured. As historians Mark Roehrs and William Renzi write ‘for the man actually on the front line, the war was one of racial extinction’.9
US troops took the head of a Japanese soldier as a mascot
In the US invasion of Saipan, an island in the Marianas group 100 miles North of Guam on 15 June 1944 where 30,000 Japanese troops were garrisoned cost the Americans 3,100 men. The Japanese dead were 27,000 troops killed and 22,000 Japanese civilians. On the Island of Peleliu, off the Philippines, all but 200 of the 11,000 Japanese defenders of the Island were killed. In the October 1944 ‘Battle of Bull Run’ for the Gulf of Leyte – the greatest naval battle ever - the US lost 2800 men, the Japanese over 10,000. Overall, the battle for Luzon in the Philippines cost the Japanese 192,000 men for 8000 American deaths. At Mindano a further 50,000 Japanese were killed for the loss of 2500 Americans. On 19 February 30,000 US Marines landed on Iwo Jima and killed all but 212 of the 22,000 Japanese at a cost of 6,800 Americans. On 1 April 1945 an Allied invasion force of 100,000 landed on the Japanese island of Okinawa, which was defended by the Japanese 32nd Army under Lt. General Ushijima Mitsuru. The battle cost the Americans 7400 men, and the Japanese lost 127,000 troops (out of 130,000), and also 75,000 Japanese civilians were killed. A marine unit hearing voices from a cave on Okinawa demanded that those inside come out. When they did not the marines cleared the cave with a flamethrower. Inside they found 85 school girls who had been mobilised as nurses. Japanese battle deaths in the Second World War were 1.5 million – compared to American casualties (dead and injured) in the Pacific of 296,148, and Commonwealth (British, Australian and Indian) of 185,000.
Responsibility for all these deaths lay first and foremost with the commanding officers – those Japanese who would not negotiate a surrender and those Allied Commanders who encouraged their men to take no prisoners.10 The official view of the war in the far east The reason that American troops were so willing to slaughter and abuse the Japanese was the sustained public relations campaign organised by the Office of War Information, with the support of Henry Luce’s press empire, to dehumanise the Japanese as monkeys and termites, described above in chapter nine. According to polls taken in July 1945, 52 per cent of the American public believed that the Japanese people were incurably ‘warlike and want to make themselves as powerful as possible’. Asked who was the ‘most cruel at heart’ 51 per cent picked Japanese, 13 per cent the Germans.11 The war of extermination was brought to mainland Japan with the capture of the Marianas Islands, a launch-point close enough for B52 bombers to fly from. General Curtis LeMay took over Bomber Command XXI in January 1945. LeMay worked out that by stripping out all the guns (on the assumption that Japanese anti-aircraft guns were not powerful enough to hit highflying B52s) the planes could make the distance to bomb Tokyo and other cities. A team of Harvard Scientists under Louis Fieser worked with DuPont and Standard Oil to develop a new incendiary by mixing Napthaline and Palmitate with gasoline – Napalm. The War Department got a team of artists and RKO pictures to build a mock-up of Tokyo and another of Berlin at the Dunway Proving grounds in Utah.12 The experiment was a huge success, so LeMay went from test trial to trial run. On 9 March 1945 three hundred and thirty four B52 bombers specially stripped down so that they could carry the most Napalm set out for Tokyo. The raid went on for three hours. In the resulting firestorm some 150,000 citizens were killed and the authorities recorded 267,161 building were burned down – a quarter of all the buildings in the Tokyo City area. These fire raids were considered a great success and were repeated throughout the summer. Modern day estimates of the total killed in the fire raids are around two million. After the war LeMay was George Wallace’s running mate as Vice Presidential candidate for the American Independent Party, and demanded that President Kennedy should bomb atomic missile sites on Cuba.13 On 6 August 1945 and the second on 9 August 1945 US bombers dropped atomic bombs, ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’ on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan – the only ever use of nuclear weapons in war. The atomic bomb had been created by a team of scientists working on the Manhattan Project under Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and project leader Robert Oppenheimer. The bombings killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima, either directly or soon after from injuries or radiation sickness, and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki. The targets had been chosen for suitability for testing, and left off the list of cities in the fire raids, so that the effects of the atomic bombardment could be isolated.
Shortly after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombardment Emperor Hirohito surrendered, and it has often been claimed as a justification for the use of atomic power that it prevented the high personnel costs of an invasion of mainland Japan.
However, America’s own Strategic Bombing Survey reported that Japan had been on
the point of surrender anyway:
Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.14 Historian Gar Alperovitz looked at hundreds of pages of US National Security Agency intercepts of secret enemy wartime communications that showed that US intelligence knew top Japanese army officers were willing to surrender more than three months before the Hiroshima bomb was dropped. Eisenhower, the wartime Supreme Allied Commander in Europe who went on to become US president, later admitted that ‘the Japanese were ready to surrender and we didn’t have to hit them with that awful thing’. 15 The fire raids of 1945 and the atomic bombardment of that August brought Japan’s civilian deaths up to three million – deaths that the Allies were prepared to countenance because they no longer thought of the Japanese as humans, but as lice or vermin to be exterminated.
Chapter Twenty Seven The Second Invasion of East Asia The Allied war against Japan in the Far East was at the same time a re-invasion by British (though mostly Indian) and America forces that would reverse the humiliation of the White Race. Japan was driven out of East Asia, but British and American troops took over.
‘For most people in the Asia-Pacific, the Second World War was not a titanic struggle between democracy and fascism’, writes Walden Bello, ‘but a conflict between imperial powers seeking domination over them.’ 1 In the conflict, though, many of the Asian nationalist movements that had been encouraged or provoked by Japan would struggle to shape their own future, while the Allies struggled to keep them down and divided.