history, opinion, War, War Crimes

A Word on the Atomic Bombing of Japan in 1945

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The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.” —-Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff To President Truman

“The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military point of view, in the defeat of Japan.” —-Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet

“[T]he widespread image of the Japanese as sub-human constituted an emotional context which provided another justification for decisions which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands.”—Historian James J. Weingartner, The Pacific Historical Review

“I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.”

—–President Dwight David Eisenhower in his memoirs, “The White House Years

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I do believe that what the US did Atomic Bombing Japan in 1945 amounts to a crime against humanity on par with the Holocaust or the Rwandan Genocide. No one “needs” to atomic bomb another nation, lives “saved” by using a bomb instead of an invasion is a non sequitur argument and is based on the racist, propagandistic and self serving assumption that the Japanese people (a sophisticated, advanced, and as philosophical and moral a people as any one Earth) would fight to the death to a person. We murdered 300,000 people, maimed hundreds of thousands more, and terrorized millions. Added to the 1 Million+ killed in the Napalm Firebombings of 67 large and medium sized Japanese cities this amounts to a genocide, even within the context of war, as over 90% of those killed in the bombings were civilians and non-combatants.

We condemn, rightly, the Wehrmacht and the Imperial Japanese Army for their atrocities against civilian populations and non-combatants, but we do not hold ourselves to the same standard because from our perspective, we were the “good guys”. In the case of the war with Imperial Japan, there were no good guys: Both nations, U.S. and Japan, were brutal, hegemonic, imperial and colonial powers in the Pacific, and both were fighting for influence in South East Asia and the South Pacific for its strategic location and natural resources. The Japanese were brutal and committed genocidal acts during and before the war. So did the United States. One does not excuse the other. However, we must acknowledge the part we play in the course of human events, and we must, if we are to hold on to any claim of being a moral nation and people, acknowledge the evil that we have committed and which was committed in our name. There were no winners in the Pacific War, none save for those at the very top of the military, political, and business worlds.

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Philosophy

We Are the Evil Empire

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This Essay is Dedicated to the victims of Imperial Violence everywhere, and throughout time

I realized the other day that the Invading US Military, controlled by Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and nominally George Bush II among others, appoint a AMERICAN MILITARY/COLONIAL DICTATOR to rule Iraq, a nation of over 20 million independent, living, breathing, worthwhile people. His name was L. Paul Bremer and he was aided by Gen. Ricardo Sanchez and they were no different than General Iwane Matsui in Nanjiang in 1937, or Lucius Flavius SIlva at Masada, or Nathan Bedford Forest at Fort Pillow or Field Marshal Walter Model in Warsaw in 1944…they were functionaries, brutal ones, of the imperial/fascistic order of their national/ethnic system of power. We are no different than any other violent, expanding, brutal, greedy, ambitious empires in history. The scale of the violence inflicted upon Iraq, for no reason other than petty revenge by the ruling Bush family, profit and for Dick Cheney, the then dictator of the US, and out of shear myopic xenophobic rage against anything that challenged or even irritated US imperial authority and economic control, is on par with the violence inflicted by the Mongols on Baghdad in 1258, or the IDF in Palestine since 1948, or the Germans on Spain in 1936.

The only objective differences between our empire and any other in history is time, distance, technology, and professed ideology. We are convinced of our moral superiority to, our difference from, the “others”, these “truly evil” empires. We killed at least a million people in war in Iraq, surely if we count the death toll from starvation and illness caused by our invasion and occupation and the sanctions, that total is closer to 2 million. We would count these deaths as part of the war victims if we were analyzing the Soviets, or ISIS, or Imperial Japan in their imperial debacles. The founding imperial myth of “American Exceptionalism” notwithstanding, a US Sniper killing a child in Baghdad because he “may have been a potential terrorist” is not different morally from a Soviet Private running a Berlin shopkeeper through with a bayonet, or British Regulars gunning down women and children at Amritsar. Iraqi lives are no less valuable than American lives, or Jewish lives, or Tibetan lives. Iraqis are no more or less prone to “evil” or “savagery” then any other arbitrary grouping of peoples in the world. How is a US soldier killing an Iraqi civilian in Anbar Provence any different than a Chinese Communist beating a Nationalist Sympathizer to death in Xian? THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. We are no more or less evil than any other empire in history. Our belief in the righteousness of our moral/political/philosophical/economic/religious systems are not unique, every empire has its self-sustaining myths and belief in its own self evident superiority. I mention Iraq because it is the most egregious recent example of our imperial brutality, but I could also mention the fire bombing of Tokyo in 1945, the nuclear obliteration and slow radiation poisoning of 500,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the ideological motivated and justified genocide committed against the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, the wholesale slaughter of Indians over 200 years of Manifest Destiny warfare. China occupies Tibet, and Russia occupies Chechnya, but we occupy the Najavo Nation, the Cherokee Nation, the Iroquois Confederacy. There is no moral difference. Only the cast of characters, the slogans, and the justifications are different. We are what we condemn. We are the evil empire. We are the most dangerous and violent empire now existing on Earth.

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2nd Amendment

American Violence: God, Guns, and Gore

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I saw this story today on one of my favorite news sites http://www.rawstory.com/2015/04/fake-georgia-cop-yells-fcking-nrs-pulls-shotgun-on-skateboarders-for-being-in-the-street/ 

I could not help but thing…How, HOW is it legal to buy a Kalashnikov in this country? So because some criminal could “theoretically” have “any” weapon, we should be allowed to buy any weapon to “protect” ourselves? Theoretically, a criminal (who could be ANYONE…gun nuts act as though criminals have a certain physical trait that shows who they are…oh, wait…) could get their hands on any sort of weapon. Should we be allowed to by a tank or a anti-tank weapon? Where does the insanity end? The article really captures the key themes of US worship of guns and violence: racialized attitudes about “protecting property” and self-defense, gun fetishization, a macho attitude and delusions of authority. These themes come up again and again and again but STILL gun “rights” advocates try to divorce the social ills that plague US society from the US obsession with firearms and with crime. It has gotten to the point where I cannot even have a discussion about guns IN SCHOOLS without being called a “gun grabbing fascist” or a gay/sexist slur (it seems to be assumed by ammo-sexuals that one who does not believe in the power of the gun is by default a gay man or a woman). There also seems to be a real religious, especially Christian, obsession with arming oneself against the threat that is the “other” in the world. The Conservative Christian mind in this nation is a mind that is always fearful. It is an issue I am working on in my writing lately…it is a real cause that I am fascinated in and devoted to.

We to make the case, as a civil society, that guns are not the answer to all of our problems and that unlimited gun ownership is NOT a right, it never has been. It is a PRIVILAGE and can be taken away or restricted if you show yourself to be a danger to your family or your community. Even in TEXAS of all places Dallas County is finally going to start confiscating the guns of people convicted of domestic violence. This is also a Federal statute, but many states do not have enforceable laws on the books that protect people from domestic gun violence. We are always told that a gun is “just a tool”, as though this is some sort of argument AGAINST restrictions or of understanding gun violence as a social disease. According to the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics guns were responsible for the deaths of more than half of all women killed by their partners between 2001 and 2012. So guns are used as the weapon of choice for those who terrorize their partners. That should give unlimited gun rights activists pause.

More education and dialogue is needed on the issue of human violence and obsession with “security” and “purity”. If you want to understand human violence, obsession with “rights” and “liberties”, and mythic tendencies, I suggest reading the books Sapiens and Blood and Soil. Two of the best books I have ever read. Both talk about what makes human beings tick as an animal, what causes them to seek out violent solutions to complex problems and, in the latter especially, how societies and groups go about the ugly business of doing and justifying violence. I worry that a genocidal sort of fury may be coming from the Right in this country…so much misguided fear and hate directed towards immigrants (this obsession with “legality” is just a new of articulating the “purity” aspects of xenophobic nationalism that existed in the past regarding immigrants), towards LGBT people, towards atheists, towards Muslims. When the majority group, Christians, feels as thought IT is the one being persecuted, they start getting paranoid, and violent, and start arming themselves and convincing themselves that the “others”, “Those People” and “their culture” are to blame and that something needs to be done about it for the good of the nation. That is how genocide happens, that is how you get armed racist bands in the streets, and how you get Muslims being herded into pens…I am trying to be more aware of the hate and fear in this country. The gun/2nd Amendent cult obsession and the persecution complex of conservative christians worry me the most

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Middle East, Politics

The End of the Conflict Must Start Now

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I consider myself a cultural Jew. Someone who feels a close and growing affinity for this religious cum cultural tradition. I must be clear from the start. I do not believe in god, God, or gods or great spirits or unmoved mover or prophets or massiahs or gurus. The Old Testament is 95% vile and misogynistic bullshit, 2% passable to genius poetry, and 3% philosophical exploration of psychology through mythological tropes. It is that 5% together that makes the Jewish theological foundation, like the majority of Sikhism (my personal favorite religious theology) and elements of early Buddhist philosophy, essential to human art, law, culture, and modes of thought. I wish I were a Jew sometimes, in the sense that I wish I had that deep cultural tradition, a shared sense of philosophy and community. It is compelling, and at its best, beautiful. There really are too many Jewish geniuses to be listed in one sort political tract, but I must acknowledge the genius of whomever wrote the Song of Solomon, the creators of Klezmer music, Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, the Mendelssohn siblings, the Marx Bros., Kirk Douglas…and on I could could for paragraphs. The world, which, has taken so much from the Jewish people and humanity, owes the Jewish people an incalculable debt. I love Jewish culture and the Jewish people.

Which is why it is Ironic, then, that I will most likely be denounced by many as an “anti-semite” (a terrible and in many cases completely deserved condemnation) for what I am about to say:

The United States should support an amendment in the United Nations (such as it is now with the current permanent member veto charade) calling on any nation that considers itself “free” or “humane” to send peace keeping officers, health and mental healthcare personnel, and a court of inquiry into charges of crimes against humanity committed by the Government of Israel through its racist and xenophobic colonizing laws and executed by its military arm the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Jerusalem should be made into an internationally protected and neutral city, with equal right of access to those of all religions, philosophies, and creeds. There will be no weapons allowed in Jerusalem. A truth and reconciliation commission will be established to allow for a process of regional and cultural healing. The Palestinian people will be allowed to travel and live freely throughout what is now known as Israel and the same goes for the Jewish people still living there. Jews will be allowed unlimited emigration to the region of Palestine with the understanding that all people must live together and as political and social equals. Israel/Palestine will be an international protectorate policed and defended by a UN force headed by soldiers from the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council amounting to no more than 20,000 soldiers and 5000 Military Policemen at any one time. The military element of the protectorate will be headed on a revolving basis by an independent council of retired officers from the armed forces of each of the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council. The people of Israel/Palestine are free to leave the state or enter it at will, and each permanent resident over the aged 16 or older would be eligible to vote for representatives to a regional assembly to govern regional economic, social, cultural, and healthcare concerns. A local police force composed of members of all of the ethnic and religious groups of the region will be maintained. All political and military prisoners on either side will be unconditionally released.

This is a beginning. Only a beginning. This is not about Jews. This is not about Palestinians or Muslims or Christians. This is about fascism, racism, and injustice. This is about a festering sore on humanity, the conflict of the Monotheisms in the Levant, must come to an end. Now. Let us have a Middle East that can truly embody the blessing

ברכת הבית:
בזה השער לא יבוא צער.
בזאת הדירה לא תבוא צרה.
בזאת הדלת לא תבוא בהלה.
בזאת המחלקה לא תבוא מחלוקת.
בזה המקום תהי ברכה ושלום.
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Israel, Middle East

I am Done Apologizing For Justice: A Response to Rabbi Menachem Creditor

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The Following is a response to the Essay “I’m Done Apologizing For Israel” written by Rabbi Menachem Creditor. That essay can be found here:

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-menachem-creditor/im-done-apologizing-for-i_b_5606650.html

The Palestinian people are done apologizing for daring to not be Jews. Ever since the Western Imperial powers gave into pressure from the Conservative Christian, Zionist Jewish, Cold War Hawk and Corporate lobbies and recognized Israel, the Middle East has been most troubled and violent of regions. After the evil that was the Holocaust the Western Powers made “never again” their mantra and bought into the absurd and racist ideology of imperialist Zionism as a way to assuage their own guilty consciences for not acting to save the Jews of Europe when they had the chance. It did not hurt that the West now had a non-Arab/Muslim foothold in the oil and gas rich Middle East, a foothold in the form of an expansionist, violent nation that owed its very existence to Western support and eventually largesse. Eastern European Jewish survivors of the horror that was the Holocaust joined with wealthy zionists from the diaspora and forged a nation whose only legitimate justification could be found in a covenant with an unknowable deity which led to an ancient campaign of genocide and brutal expansionism against a native pagan population described in a 3,000 year old book of religious fables and theology. Using intimidation, economic exploitation and outright terrorist tactics (like those of the Stern Gang and others) the zionists were able to force a conflict which led to the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Arab Palestine to make way for Zionist settlement and expansion.

The Palestinians were forced to flee, forcibly evicted from their homes and property and in many cases were outright killed. Many ended up in ghettos and many more in refugee camps in poor and despotic nations that did not want them. The colonizers, who named their “nation” after the ancient semitic Kingdoms of Israel & Judea, broke their promise to the international community, and to the Palestinians themselves, by refusing to compensate the dispossessed Palestinians for their land and property and by refusing to allow them the right to return to the land of their birth. Many of these Palestinian Arabs had lived in the area for generations, even centuries. They had lived in peace, or at least in absence of conflict, with Jews, Christians and others for centuries under Ottoman authority. This was their home and the Zionist colonizers stole it from them based on a mythical contract executed by a mostly mythical man with an invisible and implacable god. This new nation went on to defend itself against an Arab world that saw a threat in the powerful, colonizing, advancing and Western backed ethno/religious state. That a crime had been committed against the Palestinians was never denied, indeed some Israeli leaders admitted that the Palestinians had legitimate grievances against their conquerors. David Ben Gurion himself stated

 

A people which fights against the usurpation of its land will not tire so easily… it is easier for them to continue the war and not get tired than it is for us… The Palestinian Arabs are not alone. The Syrians are coming to help. From our point of view, they are strangers; in the point of law they are foreigners; but to the Arabs, they are not foreigners at all … The centre of the war is in Palestine, but its dimensions are much wider. When we say that the Arabs are the aggressors and we defend ourselves — this is only half the truth […] the fighting is only one aspect of the conflict which is in its essence a political one. And politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves […] The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country, while we are still outside.

 

The Zionist vision has always been an imperial vision, a vision of an ethno-religious liberal republic (at least for those who bow down to overall Jewish superiority in the nation) built upon the territory of people who are seen as “occupiers” of a land they and their ancestors worked, improved, and lived on for generations. Zionism in its most militant form is remarkably similar to Nazism: it is based on a conception of race & heritage that is completely artificial, it is based on the idea of a national living space for a growing and virile master race, it is militaristic and based upon the appropriation of land thought promised to the chosen race under a spiritual, moral covenant that is coherent only to those whom it benefits. These two ideologies create aliens out of people who have lived within the land for all their lives, creates terrorists and militants out of people fighting for their lives, their dignity and their land, and makes hypocrites and charlatans out of a proud Jewish people who have historically fought for dignity and for the right to live in peace.

It is said that those who are hurt in turn hurt others…if we look from this perspective the Zionist mission is understandable if not forgivable. That the Jewish people, or at least a large segment of them, wish to do to Palestine what the Americans did to the Native Tribes, what the Spanish did to Native Empires of South America, and what the Chinese did to the kingdoms of central and southern Asia, is understandable if not forgivable. But 3000 years of imperialist wrongdoing does not make what Israel did and continues to do to the Palestinian people right. As desperate, as violent, as seemingly misguided as the resistance against Israel by the Palestinians is, and as foolish, opportunistic and bigoted as their chosen representatives, like Hamas, are, that does not mean the Palestinian fight is any less righteous, any less just. If Israel has the “absolute right” to defend itself, then what of the Palestinians, the ones who are truly dispossessed? A cheap rocket coming from Gaza is a weapon of terror but a million dollar bomb dropped from a billion dollar Israeli F-16 is righteous and justified by the “facts on the ground”? Were the Afrikaaners justified in keeping the native population of South Africa in check? Was the African National Congress and other black African groups “terrorists” for violently resisting their oppression and the theft of their land? If we say that Israel is morally justified in its mission in Palestine then what basis do we have to deny the same stamp of approval to what the Whites did in South Africa? Remember that the ANC was once known as a terrorist group and Nelson Mandela and his fellow Black African freedom fighters were as vilified and hated as the leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are today. It is moral relativism of the most disgusting, the most self-serving sort to give the mandate of a just cause to one while rightfully condemning the other as an international embarrassment.

And now we have Rabbi Creditor with his cloying, solipsistic and morally repugnant apology for his support of the Zionist cause. We are asked by the author to pity him for having to defend the actions of an international pariah who has defied the international community and waged aggressive war against the people whose land they occupy. We are told were are “anti-Semitic” (a tired intellectual strawman if there ever was one) for daring to point out atrocities committed in the name of a nation claiming the mandate of heaven. We are told that because the Israelis treat some of the scores of people, mostly civilians and children, they maim and slaughter with weapons of war they extreme violence should be excused. We are told with a straight face that people in a crowded city that has been blockaded for a decade who shoot rockets into a nation with nuclear weapons and missile defense systems is a sign that the latter nation is “under-siege”.  We are told that a group, as odious as it may be to some, chosen in internationally recognized and administered democratic elections to represent the Palestinians of Gaza is “illegitimate” and must surrender this authority because it dares fight back against an occupier. We are told that lack of enthusiastic support for the nation of Israel is essentially the same thing as morally condemning all Jews, everywhere. To coin a phrase—enough of this mashugana!

To equate the great Jewish people of the world and all that they have given to the shared cultural and scientific heritage of earth with a violent, xenophobic and imperialist nation state is an insult to Jews everywhere and throughout time. The real, and totally disgusting, crimes committed against Jews as a people do not justify the actions of the nation of Israel nor do they add any legitimacy to its theological justification for existence. To admit this fact is not to commit any violence against the Jewish people. Jews must be held to the same standards of moral culpability and agency that every other nation is, or should be, held to. Rabbi Creditor, and anyone who supports imperial violence, xenophobic hate and ethnic cleansing under whatever banner it chooses to wave, should have to apologize, and vociferously at that, for such support. I, and millions of others, are done apologizing for our pursuit of justice for the people of Palestine under siege.

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