Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Strange Discourse of the Left and Right on China

Clearing a traffic jam on a Changhua street.

I emailed a writer of a piece on a lefty website today, asking him how he thought China could be a force for peace. Got this doozy of a fantasy world back:
I have not noticed that China has engaged in any aggressive wars, leaving occupying troops behind.
The two sides are mirror images of each other. Point out that China is an imperialist, expansionist state, and righties will clap their hands and lefties will... remain silent. Or deny it. The vast silence on the Left on China means that the Left is deeply complicit in China's expansion and all the deaths that are certain to follow. Not to worry! When China makes its move, it will of course be Washington's fault.

Meanwhile, point out that the US is an imperialist, militaristic state, and lefties will clap their hands while the Establishment and righties... remain silent. Or deny it. The vast silence... well, you know the drill. Nothing lowers IQ like ideology. Even LSD can't match its hallucinations...

It is hard to find pieces that acknowledge the real dynamic out here in Asia, one hegemonic power struggling to retain its grip, another on the rise, claiming the territories of its neighbors and arming for war, driving a third power, Japan, to re-arm, and playing into the hands of Japan's right. *sigh*

But sometimes analyses are done right. John Feffer of FPIF turned in a very strong piece on Japan's resurgent militarism, but pointing out that China is a belligerent, aggressive state, and the US is an imperial one. Not often you see what China is acknowledged by lefties.
Asked whether, given his analogy, he would consider deescalating tensions with China at the moment, Abe evidently said no, not as long as that country continues to build up its military. (Japan’s chief cabinet secretary quickly insisted that the prime minister was not predicting a new war.) Given a rising anti-Japanese nationalism in China, a growing regional arms race, and increasingly aggressive Chinese claims to islands near energy-rich deposits in regional seas, this might seem to be a moment to calm the waters, so to speak.

But not for the Obama administration, which recently welcomed Abe’s decision to put more money into new weaponry for the Japanese military. To this world of rising tensions Washington has, in recent years, added a much ballyhooed new focus on Asia, a “pivot” or “rebalancing” to the region. Its emphasis has clearly been on heightening tensions by organizing a string of countries against a rising China, triggering old Cold War-era Chinese fears of encirclement (or “containment,” as it was called in those days). Admittedly, as TomDispatch regular John Feffer, co-director of the website Foreign Policy in Focus, so cannily explains, Obama’s pivot is proving remarkably heavy on the rhetoric and light on new military might. Fans of World War I will, however, remember that enough heated rhetoric, combined with unexpected small “incidents,” can be quite effective in ratcheting up tensions to the breaking point. “Retreat” can sound like “charge” in the right mouths.
Thanks, John. It's a long, interesting piece.
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yankdownunder said...

"Both the Chinese and the Koreans, brutally mistreated by Japan in those years, were horrified and angered, though Abe, having purposely stuck the needle in, denied that his visit had anything to do with honoring war criminals."

Racist comments like this make it impossible for me to finish reading this trash.

yankdownunder said...

I'm so sick of the left love affair with their "good war" and their holier-than-thou attitude.

WE Americans have the dangerous tendency in our international thinking to take a holier-than-thou attitude toward other nations. We consider ourselves to be more noble and decent than other peoples, and consequently in a better position to decide what is right and wrong in the world. What kind of war do civilians suppose we fought, anyway? 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. We topped off our saturation bombing and burning of enemy civilians by dropping atomic bombs on two nearly defenseless cities, thereby setting an alltime record for instantaneous mass slaughter.

As victors we are privileged to try our defeated opponents for their crimes against humanity; but we should be realistic enough to appreciate that if we were on trial for breaking international laws, we should be found guilty on a dozen counts. We fought a dishonorable war, because morality had a low priority in battle. The tougher the fighting, the less room for decency; and in Pacific contests we saw mankind reach the blackest depths of bestiality.

Not every American soldier, or even one per cent of our troops, deliberately committed unwarranted atrocities, and the same might be said for the Germans and Japanese. The exigencies of war necessitated many so-called crimes, and the bulk of the rest could be blamed on the mental distortion which war produced. But we publicized every inhuman act of our opponents and censored any recognition of our own moral frailty in moments of desperation.

I have asked fighting men, for instance, why they -- or actually, why we -- regulated flame-throwers in such a way that enemy soldiers were set afire, to die slowly and painfully, rather than killed outright with a full blast of burning oil. Was it because they hated the enemy so thoroughly? The answer was invariably, "No, we don't hate those poor bastards particularly; we just hate the whole goddam mess and have to take it out on somebody." Possibly for the same reason, we mutilated the bodies of enemy dead, cutting off their ears and kicking out their gold teeth for souvenirs, and buried them with their testicles in their mouths, but such flagrant violations of all moral codes reach into still-unexplored realms of battle psychology.

To give just one illustration, I asked an infantry colonel whether he gave his battalion a pre-battle lecture. The colonel replied approximately as follows: --

"You can damn well bet I put 'em straight ahead of time, and they were the best damn outfit in the Philippines. I taught 'em ethics, fighting ethics. I taught 'em there were two kinds of ethics, one for us and one for the yellowbellies across the line. I taught 'em that the best way to kill a man was when he was lying down with his back up; the next best way was when he was sitting with his back towards ya, and the third best was when he was standing with his back towards ya . . .
Always shoot 'em in the back if possible that's what I taught 'em, and there wasn't another battalion could touch 'em!"

Carlos said...

"I'm so sick of the left love affair with their "good war" and their holier-than-thou attitude."

As a lefty myself, I'd say it's the right that has a "good war" and holier-than-thou attitude.

Readin said...

"We shot prisoners in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed lifeboats, killed or mistreated enemy civilians, finished off the enemy wounded, "

Most of what you describe surely did happen at least as committed by individual soldiers. But do you have documentation showing that when American forces entered towns they "wiped out hospitals" the way the Japanese did?

What is the American equivalent of the Nanjing Massecres and Manila? the American equivalent of the Death Camps?

When news of the atrocities committed by Americans in the Philippines reached America, the public outcry caused the War Department to investigate and it was quite a scandal. Soon after America began preparing to give the Philippines its independence.

How can you draw moral equivalence here?

Readin said...

"the US is an imperialist, militaristic state"

America isn't an imperialistic, militaristic state. It is a militaristic hegemonic state.

America doesn't want to own other countries, it wants wants other countries to behave within certain reasonable constraints - constraints generally aimed at preventing war and other interruptions of the world economy. China wants to take land and people. There is a difference between America and China.

yankdownunder said...


"During his forty months of war duty, EDGAR L. JONES served for over a year with the British Eighth Army in North Africa; he served also as a merchant seaman, an Army historian, and for seven months as the Atlantic correspondent in the Far Pacific, where he was present at the assaults on Iwo Jima and Okinawa."

His words, not mine.

"Soon after America began preparing"

40 years later and still "preparing"

Unlike US, Japan actual built schools and hospitals and infrastructure in Taiwan and Korea.
And gave plenty of aid after.
What did US/Europe do for their colonies? Oh yes the Netherlands demanded billions from Indonesia for their freedom.

yankdownunder said...


"What is the American equivalent of the Nanjing Massecres and Manila ...."

In the single deadliest air raid of World War II, 330 American B-29s rain incendiary bombs on Tokyo, touching off a firestorm that kills upwards of 100,000 people, burns a quarter of the city to the ground, and leaves a million homeless.

By the end of 1945, the Japanese Ministry of Home Affairs had organized the Recreation Amusement Association (R.A.A.), a chain of houses of prostitution with 20,000 women who serviced occupation forces throughout Japan.8 (Many more women known as panpan turned to prostitution in the struggle to survive in the midst of the postwar devastation.) Burritt Sabin of the Japan Times reported in 2002 that just days before the R.A.A. was to open, hundreds of American soldiers broke into two of their facilities and raped all the women.9 The situation prompted MacArthur and Eichelberger, the two top military men of the U.S. occupation forces, to make “rape by Marines” their very first topic of discussion.10 Yuki Tanaka notes that 1300 rapes were reported in Kanagawa prefecture alone between August 30 and September 10, 1945, indicative of the pervasiveness of the phenomenon in the early occupation.

Historian Takemae Eiji reports that

. . . US troops comported themselves like conquerors, especially in the early weeks and months of occupation. Misbehavior ranged from black-marketeering, petty theft, reckless driving and disorderly conduct to vandalism, assault arson, murder and rape. . . . In Yokohama, Chiba and elsewhere, soldiers and sailors broke the law with impunity, and incidents of robbery, rape and occasionally murder were widely reported in the press.

Yoshimi Kaneko's claim that while the U.S./Japanese-sponsored brothels were open “the number of rapes and assaults on Japanese women were around 40 a day,” but after they were closed, the number rose to 330 a day.19 Yuki Tanaka records two major incidents of mass rape around the same time.20 On April 4, fifty GIs broke into a hospital in Omori and raped 77 women, one a woman who had just given birth, killing the two-day-old baby by tossing it onto the floor. On April 11, forty U.S. soldiers cut off the phone lines of one of Nagoya’s city blocks and entered a number of houses simultaneously, “raping many girls and woman between the ages of 10 and 55 years.”

Two weeks into the occupation, the Japanese press began to report on rapes and looting. MacArthur responded by promptly censoring all media.

MacArthur responded by promptly censoring all media.

So by your logic, America media, gov't etc. hides it means it never happened.

I don't "draw moral equivalence here".

Just a FYI

New Research on the Nanjing Incident

Michael Turton said...

Yoshimi Kaneko's claim that while the U.S./Japanese-sponsored brothels were open “the number of rapes and assaults on Japanese women were around 40 a day,” but after they were closed, the number rose to 330 a day.

Essentially the same thing happened in Germany. The US had to borrow executioners from the Brits to handle all the capital crimes. The history of the occupations has been almost completely sanitized in American war histories, themselves almost totally sanitized. That is why the public was so unprepared for what happened in Iraq, and treats it like a bad dream that happened to some other country, when it was par for the course in US occupations.