Wednesday, April 09, 2008

PRELUDE TO WAR: THE COURT-MARITAL OF SHORT AND KIMBLE


ROSAMOND, CA - (IFS) - As kids growing up in Rosamond, California at Avenue "A" and 60th Street, I attended the the Del Sur Elementary School in Lancaster, about 1957-58. As we would walk to the bus stop, I remember passing by a pink four bedroom home where an American Japanese family lived. The two kids were the same ages as we were. The oldest boy was named Kenneth Samiguci and his pretty sister was named Susan.

We only talked and visited with them only at the bus stop during the week. We never saw them ever after school. We never played together. We never socialized at all. After a couple of years of this. Then one day, as I passed by their house, all the curtains were down, and the house was empty. They were gone. I personally always felt that I did something to them. Something that really offended them, but I never could remember anything. I was always polite and on my best behavior. I remember once, seeing their mother looking out of the front window - from a distance. And as soon as I would see her, I would wave my hand, but she would disappear behind the window curtain. That family has always been a mystery to me. I only remember Kenneth telling me about his parents were placed in a "war camp" and they had lost everything, their farm and home.

While talking with my friend, Tom, we came upon the question as to the court-martial of Short and Kimble, the airbase and naval commanders, whom that horrible burden fell upon their shoulders.

". . . In the 1930s, U.S. industry was free to sell the Germans and the Japanese whatever they'd buy, including weapons. Not to lose out, the British and French sold tanks and bombers to Hitler. Calls by Joseph Tenenbaum of the American Jewish Congress to boycott Germany were ignored. There was no attempt to contain, isolate, hinder or overthrow Hitler -- not because of naiveté but because of commerce. It was the Depression. There were Germans trying to overthrow Hitler, but the U.S. and Britain and their industries were obstructing that effort.

Baker shows that the Japanese, as early as 1934, were complaining that Roosevelt was deliberately provoking them. In January 1941, Japan protested the U.S. military buildup in Hawaii. Joseph Grew, our ambassador to Japan, reported rumors that the Japanese response would be a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Yet according to World War II mythology, America was blissfully sleeping, unprepared for war, when caught by surprise by the dastardly "sneak attack." (Isn't it curious that Asians carry out "sneak attacks," whereas Westerners launch "preemptive strikes"?) A year earlier, Baker shows, Roosevelt began planning the bombing of Japan -- which had invaded China, but with which we were not at war -- from Chinese air bases with American planes and, when necessary, American pilots. Pearl Harbor was a purely military target, but Roosevelt wanted to bomb Japanese cities with incendiary bombs; he'd been assured that their cities would burn fast, being made largely of wood and paper.

Roosevelt evinced no desire to negotiate. In fact, Baker writes, in October he "began leaking the news of his new war plan," with $100 billion earmarked for airplanes alone. Grew again warned Roosevelt that he was pushing Japan toward armed conflict with the United States, but the president continued his war preparations. Finally, the night before the Japanese attack, Roosevelt sent a message to Emperor Hirohito calling for talks. He read it to the Chinese ambassador, remarking that he thought the message would "be fine for the record."

People are going to get really angry at Baker for criticizing their favorite war. But he hasn't fashioned his tale from gossip. It is documented, with copious notes and attributions. The grace of these well-ordered snapshots is that there is no diatribe; you are left to put things together yourself. Read "Human Smoke." It may be one of the most important books you will ever read. It could help the world to understand that there is no Just War, there is just war -- and that wars are not caused by isolationists and peaceniks but by the promoters of warfare.

- Mark Kurlansky Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times [See the Fair Use Notice, below.] (via Lew Rockwell)

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