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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hiroshima and the American "Democratic Jihad"

The seventieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima is today.  Hard to overstate the importance of the event, but it won't be commemorated here in the US.   We moved the "Enola Gay" out of the Air and Space Museum on the Washington, DC Mall years ago.

In Japan, they are holding some "die-ins."  I read these are organized by those who support Japan's pacifist constitution.  Perhaps for them this ceremony is not merely to express their victimhood, but to remember the actions that got them there.

Hiroshima was destroyed by the Bomb.  But that's just a small part of the whole price the war cost Japan.  Try finding a pre-1945 building in Tokyo. 

Which brings us to the concept of American "democratic jihad,"  a phrase used extensively by T.R. Fehrenbach.   In America, we wage two types of war:  "democratic jihad" and "national policy."   On the one hand, democratic jihad is a war the whole country is behind--morally--and we are in it to win it.   World War II and the American Civil War from the North's perspective are the best examples. 

On the other hand,  wars of "national policy" are those in which we are trying to shape an outcome.  Sure, we'd like to win, but it's not the be all and end all.  Korea, as Fehrenbach wrote in "This Kind of War" was the transition between democratic jihad and war of national policy. 

Pretty much all are wars since 1945 have been for national policy, and our track record has been so-so, to say the least.  

Back to Hiroshima.  It is okay if you think it was wrong to drop the Bomb.  In his WWII memoir about fighting in Burma, "Quartered Safe Out Here,"  George Macdonald Fraser (the "Flashman" author) discusses in later life being on panels with professors who decried the use of the Bomb.   Fraser says he probably would agree with them, but  notes that, while on patrol, late in the summer of 1945, a naked Japanese soldier charged his squad with nothing but a sharpened stick.  "He was not ready to surrender that day," Fraser says.  

On August 6th 1945, the Japanese were not ready to surrender.
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