Sunday, December 09, 2007

Days that Will Live in Infamy

My friend, Raymond and I have each been studying the Thirty Years War, but in different ways. I met Eric Flint at a science fiction convention and spent an evening with him, and decided to read his books. They are a treasure trove of historical information about a subject to which I had never paid much attention—the wars between the Protestants and Catholics that swept Europe after the Reformation and, for that matter, the intrigues among the various sects of Protestantism. Raymond, who is an eclectic scholar and has been listening to a series of lectures about this era, pointed out the similarities between these European Christian wars and the differences between the Sunni’s and Shiites in the Arab world. He made the comment that the Christians haven’t participated quite so viciously in religious wars since thenuntil now. We are doing so, however, by our presence in Iraq and have done so through our support of Israel in many of the battles that have ravaged the Middle East in the past thirty or more years. My—what an interesting number. Thirty Years.

Our conversation continued and we talked about more recent wars and I couldn’t help but wonder whether the American people would have been quite so incensed about the attack on Pearl Harbor if the Japanese ambassador had managed to deliver their declaration of war to the White House before the attack. Apparently, hostility had been growing between our two nations and we had initiated embargos on Japan and were refusing to sell them raw materials and aviation fuel after they invaded China. They offered to leave China within ten years if we would lift the embargo and normalize relations with them. They guessed correctly that we would turn down their offer and while these negotiations were proceeding, they launched a fleet of ships on November 26, 1941, which took a circuitous route across the Pacific, evading detection and arriving at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. From the Japanese point of view, this was a pre-emptive strike. They expected us to attack them so they attacked us first. According to Japanese doctrine, they had every right to attack Pearl Harbor.

This is the same doctrine that the Bush Administration has demonstrated toward Iraq and may possibly demonstrate toward Iran. People have compared Bush to Hitler in the past few years, but perhaps we should also compare him to the Japanese Prime Minister. The difference, however, is that Iraq posed no threat to us when we attacked that country.

The comparison doesn’t end there, however. We have imprisoned people simply because they are Arabs and they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. There were civilian American and British people, including women and children caught in the Philippines who, were imprisoned just for being Caucasian. People were tortured, both for information and out of simple hatred. We haven’t marched any Arabians from one prison to another like the Bataan Death March, but we’ve had similar disgraces in such places as Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay.

There are World War II veterans who still have not forgiven Japan for the atrocities they committed back then. I wonder how much of the world will be able to forgive the U.S. for the atrocities we are committing right now? What a shame that we have sunk to such a low level, that perhaps we should replace Old Glory with the sunburst of Japan with the Nazi swastika imposed on the sun. Or better yet, the Jolly Roger.

No comments:

Post a Comment