Friday, November 27, 2009

NSC-68 A Report to the National Security Council

The NSC-68 was a report issued by the United States National Security Council on April 14, 1950, during the presidency of Harry S. Truman. This document was written during the formative stages of the cold war. This document would shape U.S foreign Policy in the Cold War for the next 20 years. Truman officially signed NSC-68 on September 30, 1950.  President Truman wanted to make people conscious about the terrible wars that the world had endured, and asked his colleagues to think of other strategies to put in place in order to avoid such terrible and bloody wars.

 Within the past thirty-five years the world has experienced two global wars of tremendous violence. The government does not want this same situation to repeat again. Many people suffered the consequences of the massive war destruction caused by gun machines, torpedoes, fire bombs and ultimately the atomic bomb, which were used by powerful countries to destroy each other. In addition, because of war, the world has seen the collapse of five empires: the Ottoman, the Austro-Hungarian, German, Italian and Japanese. Furthermore, war was the major cause of the drastic decline of two major imperial systems, the British and the French. 

 The NSC-68 report was written to try to fix the errors committed by powerful countries during time of war. People desire to end the threat of war, because since the dropping of the atomic bomb there has been fear of it being used again, this time to destroy entire civilizations. The NSC-68 report called for significant peacetime military spending in which the U.S. possessed "superior overall power, in a dependable combination with other like minded nations." This means that a military power capable to defend the country and the entire Western Hemisphere is essential for the allied forces to keep peace. The capability of providing security to the nation is extremely important for the United States.

 In conclusion, this report called for the development of an adequate political and economic framework for the achievement of our long range military objectives. It was essential for the government to strengthen its political, economic, and military services for the freedom of the world. 


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Virginia Durr- The Good War

Virginia Durr was among some of the first white southern women from Alabama to advocate for civil rights. It was not until she learned about the Holocaust that her views about men and the world being fundamentally good changed. Her life experiences after the war also really helped her to open her eyes in seeing the reality that Jews, Blacks, and Japanese faced during this period.
During 1939 and ’40 she fought against the poll tax, along with Mrs. Roosevelt who was a supporter and friend all throughout the war. They were able to keep the fight going even though President Roosevelt could not really do anything further on the issue because he needed the support of many southern senators for the war effort.
Durr took an English family as refugees in her home who had connections to the British fascist party. On top of that she had a Japanese butler, who was constantly monitored by the FBI as a possible Japanese spy and lastly she employed several black women as servants. She later went under suspicion and vigilance of the FBI and when the period of McCarthyism and the cold war started she felt the effect almost immediately. She bacame associated with the Communist Party.
After that she continued to work against the poll tax where they had many offices in the Railway Building for free but Senator Wheeler told them they had to leave because they had “too many blacks coming into the office.” She then started to work with all sort of organizations such as: women’s, church, CIO, AF of L, ACLU, NAACP and was never scared. When the whole Roosevelt coalition fell thru, and the red-hunt and the hysteria started to emerge her husband decided to resign from the RFC and the FCC, move to Alabama and start his own practice. When he opened his law office, they were able to get in the middle of the whole civil rights fight along with Martin Luther King, E.D. Nixon, helped to get Mrs. Rosa Park of jail where they lived an exciting and thrilling experience.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Good War~ Peter Ota

Peter Ota is a Japanese-American who was a young teenager during World War Two. He lived in Santa Anita, California when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japense on December 7th, 1941. Immediately him and his family were "relocated" to a camp, the first of many to come. Ota was 15 at the time of entering the camp, along with his twelve year old sister, and ailing mother. His mother became very ill and was transfered to a hospital where she later died. Peter claims that his mother died from the shame of what was happening to her family. Peter's father, a well respected business man "lost everything that he worked for in one night" and humiliated and stripped from all his belongings. The family was separated and put in two different camps for a year and then were later reunited. Three years later Peter turned eighteen and enlisted in the army before he was drafted. He served along with the very men that took his family from their home and enprisoned them. Peter felt very awkward and angry and dealt with harrassment and depression in the army. He was called names like "dirty Jap" and had to be watched at all times by other officers. He was not even allowed to use the bathroom himself, there was always a guard there overseeing him.
After the war was over Peter married and moved back to Santa Anita and started a family. He felt that he could not show his Japanese heritage and did everything the "American Way." He lived in an all-white neighborhood, taught his children all about America, and even celebrated all the American Holidays. His daughter later asked him about the relocation camps, and all Peter could do was tear and choke up. The terrible conditions he suffered during World War Two left him with many scarrs. He lost his mother, was separated from his father and sister, had to serve with the very men who were taking them away, and dealt with harrassment ontop of that. Although the camps were not as severe as the concentration camps in Germany, many Japanese-American families were emotionally and mentally broken.

THe Boy in The Striped Pajamas.

Based on the novel by John Boyne, Young Bruno who lives a wealthy lifestyle in Pre-war Germany along with his mother, elder sister, and army Commandant father. The family re-locate to the countryside where his father is assigned to commandeer a prison camp.
A few days later, Bruno befriends another youth, strangely dressed in striped pyjamas, named Shmuel who lives behind an electrified fence. Bruno will soon find out that he is not permitted to befriend his new friend as he is a Jew, and that the neighboring yard is actually a prison camp for Jews awaiting extermination.
Bruno is lonely and confused by his new surroundings, and he doesn't understand why he can't wander the grounds or play at a nearby farm. The "farm," of course, is a concentration camp, though Bruno doesn't know this.
Shmuel is eight, the same age as Bruno, and the two form a timid, careful friendship, playing checkers and catch through the barbed wire fence. Bruno knows that his friendship with Shmuel is dangerous, but after witnessing brutal violence perpetrated against some very kind people, he has begun to question the Nazi doctrine of hate. He is no longer sure what to make of his soldier father, whom he once believed to be a hero. When he learns that Shmuel is in trouble, he vows to help him, and together the boys form an outrageous plan.
In this movie clip it will show you how the ending of the movie took place and how Bruno experienced the "life of a Jew", just within 5 minutes, and he was gone like the wind.
I posted this up bc it reminded me of the movie we saw in class "the night and fog"; a documentary film.

"The Good War": Alvin (Tommy) Bridges

As I was reading Studs Terkel's "The Good War", I enjoyed reading the chapter about crime and punishment. What really caught my eye was Alvin (Tommy) Bridges.

Bridges was a Bay City policemen for thirty-one years, and he was also a police chief. Bridges was an MP during World War II. He feels that the war was an useless war, he also feels that every war is. He also feels that this world won't last long if we have nuclear weapons around.

He goes into saying how he became an MP. He said that it wasn't because of his skills or knowledge he was just told he was going to be an MP. That kind of struck me as odd, wouldn't you place people in fields that they are strong, I felt by doing this they didn't care and it wasn't making the army strong.
Bridges talks about how dumb the officers were, and he couldn't believe thy actually made in through their assignment, and as he was talking about this he kept on laughing which was funny. Bridges describes his title as policemen "A lot of the GI's had respect for the MP and a lot of 'em hated our guts. Just like policemen. Worse, because we were the only ones who bothered 'em. The policemen in Paris didn't bother the GI's at all. If they were tearin' the place apart, they'd call us. We'd arrest 'em for anything from murder of another GI or civilian to sellin' one of those trucks."

Bridges also talks about when they got colored soldiers to their outfit, he said this was a first for the MP to have blacks and whites together.

Bridges talks about how they would shoot people violating the code of conduct. Bridges says "They shoot you in wartime for nothing...the Articles of War book looks like a bible..." Bridges never liked to stay and watch the shootings as some other MP's did. "I never liked to see anybody executed or anybody shot."

In closing Bridges talks about his feelings towards this war and war in general. He says this war was foolish, he also said that there is no war worth fighting for. Bridges feels the reason for war is money. I will end with a another quote from Bridges "But the airplane has come in its own, nuclear weapons...We don't be in this world for long."

Studs Terkel "The Good War": Grigori Baklavnov

These are some pictures of Mr. Terkel just in case we did't know what he looked liked.

One of the stories I read from "The Good War" was from a Mr. Girgori Baklanov who was a Russian war hero and author who wrote novels dealing with the subject of war. In the piece from Terkel's book Baklanov tells of how his children and grandchildren would ask him to tell them stories about the war. He says he does not like to talk or reminisce about the war. He goes on to tell how just by chance his family happens to exsist, because "only centimeters decided whether they should be here on this earth or not. Whether the bullet went that way or this way." He says they didn't understand that they are here by accident. I think this is a great point when we have to look at the effects of a war and how we can be blind to certain things like the fact one bullet can change the exsistence of somebody. I think Mr. Baklanov says it best, "The bullet that killed us today goes into the death of centuries and generations, killing life which din't come to exsist yet." If we think about now and relate it to the wars of today the same thing is happening, men and women are being killed and their families will never come to be, they will never have the chance to have their name carried on through time and history. Think about it..... one bullet, one bomb, one missle can change everything.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Good War- John Kenneth Galbraith

John Kenneth Galbraith is an economist, memoirist and former ambassador to India. American war strategy was simply this: "We have airplanes, therefore they must be effective." Much of the reading is about the bombings that took place during WWII and the difference between the effects in Germany and Japan. There were 2 strategies taken towards bombing during the war. The British bombed at night and went for central cities. This was mainly because that was all they could find. this would most likely damage the working class because the poor usually resided in the center of there country, whereon the other hand the rich lived on the outskirts. American strategy involved daylight raids. Plants were aimed for but there was consistent problem with targeting.
A plant, which produced synthetic fuels, was successfully hit by the U.S. multiple times in central Germany. Truth is, The bombing on Germany by the U.S. and British had far less of an effect than they thought at the time. According to Galbraith there were three reasons for this; machine tools were relatively invulnerable and easily recovered, it was easy to decentralize production and move machinery to schools and churches as well as used substitutes to redesign equipment, and they were able to reorganize managements.
But what about the bombings in Japan? Japan did not have the same recovery as Germany. If Japanese plants were hit they would most likely stay out of production. This was mainly because during this time Japan was a small country with a small industrial base.
Galbraith states that the bomb did not end the Japanese war. There was already a decision for a peace treaty to get out of the war. The Japanese government at that time was very bureaucratic and the decision for negotiation took time to go into action. This decision was not known to Washington.
Galbraith goes on to discuss his personal view on what he has seen and how it has affected him. Galbraith grew up in Canada where his father was a major influence in the community(who eventually took a position on the draft board to be able to exempt anyone who didn't want to go) Many in this community had doubts about the justification of WWI. Because of this background Galbraith's approach to war was less enthusiastic. He knew that war was necessary for WWII for many reasons despite his background. Galbraith concluded by saying that "the visual impact of the air attacks and the horror of it is something I've lived with to this day."

Monday, November 9, 2009

"The Good War"- Dennis Keegan

Dennis Keegan had been listening to the radio when he got the news Peal Harbor was attacked. He recalls that at first the bombing didn't mean much to him. He thought it was impossible for America to get attacked.

He states that as it got later in the day he saw the mass hysteria form. He tells a story of getting stopped by a guard going over the Golden Gate Bridge. He later found out that night that a woman was killed for not stopping.

Well he was driving down town he explains how the city was in chaos. People were all over the city were smasing all the lights. The streets were packed and cars and the tolies couln't move. Rumors were flying like the Golden State Bridge was bombed and the city was being invaded.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I've only finished reading the first two chapters of the book, yet, the main idea that I feel that Fussell is trying to hammer home is the United States naive attitude and view about the war. Most felt here in the States that it would be a fairly easy war to win and that using old and outdated war tactics would still garner victory. WWII changed the thinking of most of our top military brass to think outside the box. And when all else fails, you must do whatever it takes, by all means necessary, to win the battle. New military tactics, strategies, and equipment like area bombing, fire bombing, island hoping, and development of newer, stronger tanks needed to be adopted. I'm sure that one could make a case that the United States and her Allies view on how war victory is achieved led the the deaths of many more soldiers than may have been necessary. Arrogance is okay to have, but cockiness will only lead to one's demise. And I feel that it was a cockiness sort of attitude that we and the other allies had at the beginning of the war. Both the Germans and the Japanese quickly taught us that conventional military tactics would not be the way to victory. And it wasn't until the U.S. embraced these new ways to wage war that the tide began to change more in our favor.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Blood on Our Hands?" Nicholas D. Kristof

The debate over the decision to use the Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has always been a constant debate throughout the years ever since World War II ended. Was it necessary to end the war and save lives? Or was it an atrocity that should have been and always should be consider an inhumane act? Was its use just limited to the war or was it used to show power on a much larger scale out on the field (towards the Russians)? Were the Japanese ready to surrender or were they prepared to fight to the last man on the main island? These are few of the huge amounts of questions that are shown regarding the debate.

The before and after overhead pictures of Hiroshima.

The author of the article I looked at came from the New York Times bearing the title, “Blood on Our Hands?” by Nicholas D. Kristof. In his article he talks about the American perspective becoming negative over the years with the feeling that Japan would have surrendered eventually. The Japanese by the end of the war knew that victory was completely impossible by any means, and therefore it would seem that at some point they would have to give up. Kristof tries to counter this point by bringing up quotes from Japanese officials who participated in the move towards negotiation and surrender before the bombings. Some saying that the bomb was a “gift from heaven”, and that it helped move the Japanese government towards surrender. While on the other side of the table others thought that it would be best if the Japanese held out as long as possible, until either they were provided with a conditional surrender or in the worst case, completely wiped out. The bomb to the people on the idea of surrendering was a direct example of what the alternative of an immediate surrender would be, and that there would not be a heroic battle for the island because they would be blown right off of it. At the end Kristof concludes that although there might have been ways to maybe have prevented to bombing of Nagasaki or shown off the weapon on an uninhabited island, the death of those in both cities would pale in comparison to how many lives would have been lost to an invasion of Japan.

A draw up of Operation Downfall, the plans to invade Japan.

Now with all of these points that have supported both sides of both arguments I feel that the only real conclusion that can be brought to is that there cannot be any real answer for the things we do in times of war. Each decision made can go both ways, but the one chosen should not always be seen as the worst or best choice made. After World War II and to present day, atomic and nuclear weapons are only used as threats and not active weapons in war. Maybe it is possible to not look at the event as a whole but more of who and when. It is known that the development of atomic weapons was taking place in countries through the world, and naturally one of those countries would try and test it in a real conflict. The atomic bomb appeared on the battlefield on the end of a long and tired war, if the bomb was not dropped then when would it have been dropped? Even during the Korean War there were ideas thrown around about the use of these weapons, and thankfully they were not used. At the time of its use the Atomic bomb belonged to the United States and nobody else. If it were to be used later on, when other countries had the capabilities, it would be possible to assume that these weapons could have been used in unimaginable amounts during any of the conflicts that had occurred during the Cold War era. How would a country like China, with a very large population have reacted to a use of an atomic weapon on Northern Korea? (China borders North Korea.) What if the Soviet Union used one of its atomic weapons on one of its satellite states to make an example to those who did not accept Communism at the time? With these thoughts in mind it might be best to put away the argument of “Was it necessary” and think more about “When would have it become necessary?”

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Good War - Timuel Black

Timuel Black is depicted a great man who served his country and was loyal to his community and family in his interview with Terkel. His tone for his depiction of wartime is as always gripping in its detail but he is also satirical in his delivery. Mainly due to the fact that the war for him like many African Americans serving in World War Two wasn't just a war being fought on the fields of France, but it was also being fought along the lines of white and black. War was a struggle for Timuel Black just like every single Negro soldier who served during World War Two.

The fight for equality for Black was seen not only seen in the segregated regiments of the Army but also but the biased tests that the army gave to incoming draftees. As northern educated men such as himself was still put below in rank to his uneducated comrade solely in an effort to suppress what might be a substantial voice. Or how him and his other fellow man were put to being servants and supply carriers when many felt the need to fight and die for their flag.

Black describes the liberation of the Buchenwald prison camp and the storming of the beach at Utah. Describing it with a wit and charm, where most veterans would cringe and shutter at the memory of D-Day. He even describes himself as solemn as he watched his fellow man die and cry for mercy in the face of the big German gun. He described these horrific happenings during wartime, but was still so deeply disturbed by the horrors of American racism, segregation, and bigotry he describes more than once the desire to stay in Europe. He describes the open compassion Europeans showed the African American soldier as not a black man trying to overcome but as a liberator, a hero, and a friend.

This passage really gripped me and showed the split that there is an was in the United States armed forces when it comes to discrimination. Black's commentary on the war is shocking, in some respect. He describes the liberated French man as embracing and embracing his love of jazz music. Something so important in African American culture, can be enjoyed by a man who in France for over 3 years was in the death grip of Nazi control. When your white comrade who fights, bleeds, and dies for the same flag wont even use the same bathroom as you, shows just how un-united the United States really was.

"The Good War"- Don McFadden

Don McFadden was 16 when the war broke out. He was too young to sign up for the war, but the year after, he worked in a foundry, filing castings for airplanes. He felt that he was making a contribution to the war effort. One day, while at work, he was told to collect magnesium dust for chemical analysis. They tried to catch the dust in a paper bag which was tied to a grinding stone. A spark hit the magnesium and McFadden caught on fire. He was burned from the waist up and had third degree burns all over his body.

He spent the year of 1942 in the hospital and he felt that he was a civilian casuality of the war. He took the foundry to court to try to prove negligence but they threw it out of court.

McFadden spoke about the zoot-suit riots. Zoot suit was a style of dress mostly worn by Mexican Americans. He explains a zoot suit riot began with some sailors confrontation with zoot suits. The word was that a sailor had been stabbed and many servicemen gathered and began grabbing anyone with a zoot suit on. McFadden and his brother heard the news on the radio and decided to get involved in the zoot suit riot.

McFadden and his brother wound up in jail because he hit a detective (without knowing it was a detective). The jails were full of Mexicans and they were the only non-Mexicans there. They were in jail, not because they did anything wrong, but because they were victims and the cops were trying to keep them from getting hurt.

A lot of people got hurt. McFadden saw a young man get beat up riding a street car just because he was Mexican. Servicemen would even go into movie theaters, make the projectionist turn off the film, and drag any zoot suiters they saw out of their seats and beat them.

McFadden felt the war pulled the United States out of isolation and pulled us out of the Depression. He said that it was an interesting time to be alive and that the war made him grow up a lot faster.

Precision Bombing Will Win the War

“A panacea was the natural thing for the audience at home to believe in” since they had been led to believe that the war could be won by technology. An example of this would be bombing from costly planes. A pamphlet entitled The Weapon of Ultimate Victory alluded to the fact that the B-17 would win the war because of its precision and safety. This advertisement would not allow one to foreshadow that before the end of the war that “the burnt and twisted bits of almost 22,000 of these Allied bombers would strew the fields” along with almost 110,000 airmen.

Wind, clouds, and turbulence all played factors in throwing the plane off. Also, bombing a target was hard to do even within anti-aircraft range and nothing else to put it off track. Due to the fact that bombing was so inaccurate, the term “precision bombing” became an oxymoron for the flight crews with a sense of black humor.

One unforgettable occurrence of this was on May 10, 1940 when the Luftwaffe accidentally bombed its own civilians. When the French and British heard of this act of violence, the German propagandists made people believe that the bombers hit what they aimed at.

There are many more accidental attacks aided by the B-17’s from the Allied Powers as well. Operation COBRA, an intense bombing mission to aid ground soldiers in France, went horribly wrong due to miscommunication. More American soldiers were killed and wounded than Germans in this two day mishap. These occurrences were so common that “enraged American units…opened fire on their own aircraft, a not uncommon practice among all the armies.” It was after this atrocity that Eisenhower vowed to never again “risk heavy bombing to assist ground attacks.”

It is noted that Hitler once proclaimed, “the loser of the war will be the side that makes the greatest blunders.” And if the outcome of the war was solely based on “precision bombing,” who’s to say that we wouldn’t have made the greater mistakes.

Growing Up: Here and There - John Baker

John Baker was a young boy of seven when the war broke out. He grew up in Ipswich, England, about 40 miles outside London. He recalls what it was like to grow up during war times. Baker remembers charts, entitled “Know Your Enemy,” that showed what German planes looked like. These had to be memorized in case of an attack. During this time there was also a flurry of shelters being built. Anderson shelters were built outside the house in the garden. Baker used his family shelter as a play den. There were also Morrison shelters built within the house incase there was not enough time to get out. Although his parents were scared he said “it was like living in a boy’s adventure story.” Two types of sirens were also developed; one to warn to take cover and another to let them know it was all clear. As a child, Baker remembers his friends and him being upset when the siren went off and nothing happened because they craved for their “adventure,” to have some adventure.

Another event that Baker recalls is his streets being machine-gun attacked by German planes. The planes were so close that no one had time to use their plan recognition skills to identify the enemy that was only about 100 feet above them. Then, to add to his adventure the children collected the spent bullets. Baker talks about this as is if it were a regular occurrence which is shocking to me because if machine guns were going off around me I would not be as calm.

Finally, something that truly added “adventure” to the war Baker was not experiencing was the bombing of Coventry, a town about 30 miles away. One night Baker remembers it being “terribly noisy.” This blitzkrieg attack was “one of the great blitzkrieg attacks of the war.” However, this attack was not considered as close as one might think. “You could bomb one part of town and nothing would be felt on the other end…The scale of terror has changed since then.” And that could not be more true.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Wartime deprivation was a major issue during World War II. For Americans emerging from the Depression assisted by the abundant accidental resources of oil, coal, iron, and other metals, the shortages and deprivations that came about from the war were a shock.

American citizens were first denied rubber. The Japanese seizure of Southeast Asia resulted in no more raw rubber imports. The purchase of tires was prohibited or restricted. Mainly to save tires, gasoline was rationed as of December 1, 1942. An ordinary person could only buy four gallons of gas per week, which was later reduced to three. To save gasoline, the "Victory Speed" was set in place, which created a 35 mile-per-hour national speed limit.

Cars themselves became scarce. Anything made of metal was strictly forbidden. This meant that not only no new cars were being created, but also no bicycles, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, stoves or household appliances, typewriters, and even alarm clocks. The consumer was reminded that even "tin" cans were needed for the bayonets and ammunition for the troops.
Shoes were rationed as of February, 1943 and men's clothing manufactures were forbidden to supply cuffs on trousers or vests with suits. Paper was also in short supply. Tissues and toilet paper were hard to find. Newspapers and magazines looked like they were being published on paper towels.

Food rationing began a month after Pearl Harbor.
Foods such as sugar, chewing gum, preserves, and candy
became scarce at first because troops needed the sugar for
energy. Coffee was rationed in November 1942. Soon after,
butter, cheese, canned goods, and meat required coupons.
By the end of the war, almost all foods were rationed except
fruits and vegetables.

All of the commodities that were scare in the United States were even scarcer in the United Kingdom. In Britain, a man was allowed to buy a new suit every two years and a new shirt every 20 months. Food was especially must harder to come by than in America. Almost all of the food had to be brought in by ship, and most of the ships were sunk by submarines. Rationing began in 1940 and didn't end until nine years after the war, in 1954.
Being deprived of common conveniences was bad enough, but some things were even worse: not having your son or husband, your sister or wife, father or mother or friend close to you and often not hearing any news of them. Americans did not mind giving up these items for the soldiers at war because they felt they were doing their duty for the people risking their lives at war.


To justify killing during wartime, soldiers resorted to the process of dehumanizing and demeaning of the enemy. American soldiers arranged the Axis powers on a scale from the most courageous down to most cowardly and also from the most animalistic to the most humane.

The Japanese were depicted to as brave yet were the most feral creatures. They were stereotyped as small insect like rodents that were able to survive on a handful of rice, roots and grubs. They thought that these feral creatures could see in the dark like animals in the jungle. Many condescending names were given to the Japanese such as Japs, jackals, Chinks, bestial apes, Nips, monkey-men, sub-human, and the yellow Huns of the east.

The Italians were depicted as timid humans that lacked courage. The stereotype was that they were music loving, ice-cream eating well dressed incompetent Wop's. It was said that they took one step forward and two steps back ( London dance step of the time- Tuscana).

The Germans were considered cold, sinister, methodical human beings. The Krauts were depicted as enemies of human decency. Some referred to them as "diseased Germans" because they were not right in their minds.

Magazine's such as Life, The Saturday Evening Post, and Collier's Magazine ran articles filled with pictorial propaganda of our enemies in order to keep every American family enraged with our enemies.

The Americans hatred of the Japanese escalated after the Bataan Death March and the attack on Pearl Harbor. These events validated American thoughts that these "non-white" Japanese had to be animals. The skulls of Japs were cleaned and kept as trophies, even sent to loved ones as a souvenir. Because they did not consider Japanese as human beings, they felt this practice was as acceptable as hanging the head of hunted game. However, the thought of keeping the skull of an Italian or a German was considered practically sacrilegious.

American Soldiers boiling a skull of a Japanese soldier

The decapitated head of a Japanese soldier

During wartime brutal murder is inevitable, however Americans took it to another level because of their prejudges against non-white human beings.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

An Exchange of Views

Paul Fussell was born on March 22, 1924 in California. He is noted as a cultural and literary historian. He has published many books on topics that include English literature, wars, and social classes, as well as, a memoir of his life. An award he had received for his writing was the National Book Award for Arts and Letters for The Great War and Modern Memory. In 1943 he was drafted into the United States military and by 1944 he had landed in France to fight. During his service he saw front line action and fought the Germans in Alsace where he was seriously wounded. After his time of service he spoke out against the military and blamed them for what today we would call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He firmly believed that it dehumanize it’s soldiers and romanticized warfare. Fussell received his Ph. D. from Harvard University and spend his years teaching at many well known universities around the country and abroad.

Michael Walzer was born on March 3, 1935. He is a political philosopher and public intellectual, as well as, an author of numerous books, journals, and essays on topics that include war, nationalism, and ethnicity. Also, he is identified as one of the leading supporters of the “Communitarian” position in political theory. People who follow in the communitarian philosophy believe in the balance of rights and interests between the individual and the community as a whole. Walzer was a professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton for many years as well as at Harvard University.

In An Exchange of Views Walzer states his opinion on Fussell’s Thank God for the Atomic Bomb. He feels that Fussell’s argument is of a soldier as well of a general who believes in a speedy conclusion to war with a means possible. “With Fussell, it seems there are no limits at all; anything goes, so long as it helps to bring the boys home.” Walzer compares the military bombing of Hiroshima to that of terrorists, giving it a political, not military purpose. A third argument of Walzer is that in war there is a moral obligation and that “combat should be a struggle between combatants, and that noncombatants… should be protected.” However, that was not the case when the atomic bombs were dropped. Too many innocent lives were lost when other means could have been sought out, believes Walzer.

Fussell retorts Walzer’s words and defends his standpoint. Fussell feels that they do not agree on an emotional level. Fussell says that his “article on Hiroshima was to complicate, even mess up, the moral picture” and that being portrayed as “terrorists” is oversimplifying it. He states that he was horrified by the bombing, as well as, happy because it saved his life. His objective of writing the article “was to offer a soldier’s view, to indicate the complex moral situation of knowing that one’s life has been saved because others’ have been most cruelly snuffed out.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Howard Zinn is a historian, playwright, and social activist. Zinn was raised in a working-class family in Brooklyn, NY. He was a shipyard worker and Air Force bombardier before he went to college under the GI Bill and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. Flying bombing missions for the United States in World War II was an experience that influenced him to oppose war. In 1956, he became a professor at Spelman College in Atlanta, a school for black women. There he got involved in the Civil rights movement. He participated as an adviser to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and chronicled, in his book SNCC: The New Abolitionists. Zinn later collaborated with historian Staughton Lynd and mentored a young student named Alice Walker. When he was fired in 1963 for insubordination related to his protest work, he moved to Boston University, where he became a leading critic of the Vietnam War. He also wrote the influential book, A People’s History of the United States, which is widely used in college and University class room around the country.

Hiroshima: Breaking the Silence
In this article Howard Zinn argues that the dropping of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki goes beyond a country fighting facism, or the United States fighting a war with Japan. He argues that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were wiped out to make a point. Racism played a huge role in the decision to drop these two bombs. “The persistent notion that the Japanese were less than human probably played some role in the willingness to wipe out two cities populated by people of color.” According to this article there was plenty of evidence that showed that Japan would have surrendered even if the atoic bombs had not been dropped. The argument that casualties were going to be less if the atomic bombs were dropped than having a US invasion in Japan to Zinn is considered pointless. Japanese were on the verge of surrender, evidence showed that a simple declaration on keeping the position of the Emperor would have brought the war toa an end, and no invasion was necessary. Another argument that Zinn makes for the dropping of the two bombs is that were being used to try out new weaponry, since the Nagasaki bomb used plutonium and the Hiroshima bomb contained only uranum atoms. Human life was being sacrificed for techonoligical progress and “that is part of the history of modern civilization.”
The bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 within a few moments killed aprox. 140,000 men, women, and children. Three days later the bomb dropped in Nagasaki killed perhaps 70,000 instanly. In the next five years 130,000 inhabitants of those two cities died of radiation poisoning.

Swing in WWII

The period during WWII in America represented a period of immense patriotic pride and unity in an effort to defend and protect a wounded nation who had been attacked without having provoked it. This sentiment of national unification was displayed in many ways in different spheres of America's society. Music played a vital role in the support of the war effort and became the inspiration for many to take an active role by enlisting in the Armed Forces. A great contributor to the cause of using music as a medium to spread the patriotic sentiment to every corner of America was Glenn Miller.

Glenn Miller was a successful band director and musician who became very successful during the early years of WWII. His unique style and unusually proper way of handling the many times disordered and sometimes decadent music industry, made him a very admired and sought-after entertainer. In addition, Miller created a new, all American form of swing, which contrary to the reigning style of swing -fast, upbeat and characterized by solo instrumentation and an urban feel-, was sweeter, more melodic and homogeneous (no instrumental solos) and dealt with romantic and small town themes:

"Besides merging swing and sweet, city and town, Miller consciously sought to
build and all-American team that fused the ethnic big city and the Protestant

Besides changing the sound of swing, Miller's most amazing act was to leave his prominent music career to enlist in the military, showing his support and becoming an example of true love for the nation.

Although he left a very profitable business behind, Miller had the opportunity to bring his music and his message to American troops everywhere. He formed bands, dancing and singing groups and other types of entertainment, because he realized that although he was a musician, his abilities lied on the managerial aspect of entertainment. This ability of leadership was specially useful for him during his military career.

During WWII, service bands were racially segregated, a trait Miller shared in the process of forming his musical groups. His ensembles were 100% white, opposite contemporary non-military swing bands which were composed of white and black musicians. However, the all-American traditional values and small town reminiscent themes transcended class and ethnic lines. Miller's style of swing became accepted and embraced by all Americans, no matter their class, age or ethnic background. Most of all, Miller's swing was preferred by young Americans who were influenced to internalize the national patriotism derived by these songs.

The popular music of WWII made Americans hate what the enemy cultures stood for and made them love everything America symbolized, promoting the support of American citizens for their troops and thus, promoting morale.

"Swing symbolized a war to defend an American way of life under attack."

Music in the home front became a crucial part of the war with the help of the government and the music industry cooperatively. The goal was to bring a message of unity and patriotism to all Americans and to show the spirit of the American citizens to the rest of the world.

Miller made his final sacrifice when his plane vanished over the English channel on December 15, 1944. His death and ultimate sacrifice made him and icon, and his legacy still continues.

Race, Language, and War in Two Cultures by: John Dower

This piece written by John Dower looks at how the two cultures of the Americans and Japanese saw and depicted each other during ww2. What I got from it is that though both sides were very racist towards one another it seemed to me that the Americans were a more cruel in how they described and pictured the Japanese. Americans took to dehumanizing the Japanese, making them look like small ape like or monkey like creatures, were the Japnese made the Americans look more like evil gods. The U.S.'s drawnigs or artwork made the Japanese look more cartoonish, while Japanese artwork was stylish and made the Allies look like demonic gods. No matter what this was all to make sure that when each side fought there was no way a soldier would have any feelings of remorse when killing the enemy. The propaganda of all these posters no matter what side was to ensure the soldiers fought to the end and did there job. Here on this post I found some Japnese poster and you can see that unlike the American ones, the Japanese posters seem a little more artistic in some ways. Look at the one of the samuri it's very darmatic. Also there are some German and Italian posters, hope you all enjoy what I found.

WW2 Propganda Posters

These are just some of the posters I found online that were being printed back during WW2. It shows how the Japanese and Germans were portrayed, it has some racial tones that today would be unacceptable. But we need to remember that this was the 1940's, so these things were more common back then. I also put a couple here I found intresting, hope you find them all intresting as well. Here's the link

WWII posters - a set on Flickr