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."

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