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Jace, Basilissa

The Conflict in Vietnam

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2 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

We've had a thread about the morality of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings in the past, and we'll probably have one again.  I do not personally find the immorality arguments very convincing, because while the Japanese were ready to surrender in early Aug 1945, their idea of surrender was barely a surrender at all and far from anything America would accept.  And I think that both Japan and America (not to mention the tens of millions of people living and starving in Japanese occupied territory) were better off with the peace they actually got than any of the likely non-A-bomb alternatives. 

But this is a thread about Vietnam.  If you want to discuss the A-Bomb, we should do it elsewhere. 

I thought the racism at war aspect was pertinent, especially as it was cited re: Fog of War, and I must say that killing hundreds of thousands of civilians for humanitarian reasons always raises my eyebrows, but I’ll take your point about it being too much of a detour.

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2 hours ago, lokisnow said:

pure colonialist / racist world view. Robert McNamara sort of obliquely gets into this in "The Fog of War" where he talks extensively about how they staved off disaster in the carribbean because they were able to understand all of the russian's motivations and desires, what they needed etc etc, each side could communicate with their counterparts and so forth

Then later in the film he gets to talking about the Clinton era reunion conference in Vietnam and meeting his counterpart from Vietnam for the first time, and that guy says something to the effect of how, "we were fighting for our independence, we still don't understand why you hated us for that" and McNamara's like, "what, no you weren't, you were fighting for communism" but the point is that all the immense effort and ties and communication and attempts at understanding the other side and reversing policy out of what was possible based on the mutual antagonism that went into working with russia--none of that whatsoever was done in Vietnam, McNamara had never even spoken to his counterpart, never once understood what their motivations, desires etc etc were and so on and so forth. 

which, based on how the movie starts with McNamara's gleefully recounting of how he engineered the massive war crime firebombing campaign of civilians in Japan, more or less suggests that a big part of why we were at war with Vietnam was simply pure racism of the principal agents (and the United States culture at large): we didn't consider them human the way that we considered the Russians human. And that'd be true for just about every "third world" (read non white) country the United States dealt with. 

Possibly the most crazy thing about the Vietnam War is how willfully ignorant the Americans managed to be, despite all their resources. Anyone with relevant knowledge was blacklisted from working with the government as a potential commie. But even considering that, it's shocking that McNamara still couldn't understand the very basics of the Vietnamese mentality. They had just fought off European colonialism, and the communists had a massive advantage from the start, in that they had legitimacy because they had fought the French, just like how the Chinese communists took the lead in defeating the Japanese. 

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1 hour ago, James Arryn said:

The official reasons for Hiroshima/Nagasaki have gone down as ‘less costly/bloody than an invasion’ because of all the actual reasons it sounds the best, but in reality that was a relatively minor consideration for the people making the decisions. If you haven’t eaten recently, go and look up the communiques between the various officials/departments at the time. The REAL reasons were more like:

1) Show the world what we can do, especially but not exclusively Russia.

2) Kill lots of @&*#%#@ing Japs, Pearl Harbour Pearl Harbour.

3) Return on investment.

4) Take control before the USSR gets too involved in this sphere.

5) Unconditional surrender, accept no substitutes.

big gap

Other stuff.

Because, while it was undeniably true that an actual invasion could prove disastrously costly, very few people thought it was even necessary. Time was very much working against a Japan cut off from any supply, and the Brits could (and did) speak very eloquently about how decisive that was for an island nation. The trouble with that method is highlighted in the list above...it was much less effective at scaring the rest of the world, no dramatic payoff, might take a bit to get to unconditional, not nearly as satisfyingly vengeful for PH and above all it probably ceded some regional control to the Soviets if it took long enough. 

But, beyond that, the terms used casually in the communiques about the Japanese is shockingly vitriolic and vengeful and...juvenile. Even if you accept the racism as par for the times, the sheer volume and quantity of descriptive epithets and glee at their expected suffering is just unbelievable for any kind of high level governmental/military discussion. Honestly, it’s just bizarre. 

But we must remember that bringing Japanese heads home as souvenirs was a thing in America. Hell, there’s a Time cover of a smiling soldier posing with the souvenir (ie head) he sent his...wife? Sister? Girlfriend? Can’t remember, but anyways, the cover is NOT by ways of an expose, either. Just mementos. 

There’s nothing like this about Germans. And before you say Pearl Harbour, I say Operation Drumbeat/Rolling Thunder. When you say ‘what?’ I say ‘exactly.’

 

the racism against Asians was profound for the "Greatest" generation. To cite another documentary, the 1943 film "December 7th" is about an hour long, the last twenty minutes are a recreation of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The first forty minutes are literally, no joke, a "Dialogue" between Uncle Sam and his "Conscious" (though this is no Jiminy Cricket!

Basically Uncle Sam takes the position that Japanese Americans are Americans, and the dialogue is designed to stop him from thinking that. For example, Japanese Americans are not Americans because their children go to Japan language schools on Saturdays to learn to read and write Japanese. Clearly anti american! Sometimes their children even return to Japan after finishing high school? Why unless it is to conspire against America?

One of the points of evidence the conscious raises against is that Americans think Japanese are stupid and backwards as a people and the reason a stupid and backwards people could pull off a feat of the scale and surprise of Pearl Harbor is that Japanese women have engaged in a widespread and DECADES long conspiracy of convincing American women that Japanese men are stupid by gossiping to this effect with white women at luncheons and hair salons (as equals, not as servants).

Ya see, if Americans have a racist view of Japan and got knocked on their ass as a result of that arrogant racism, why that racist attitude that Americans have, that is actually the fault of the Japanese for conspiring to plant racist thoughts in Americans heads.

This film won an oscar for best documentary.

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5 hours ago, Maithanet said:

The problem with that argument is that the US lost and withdrew from Vietnam.  The American public demonstrated that the US would not be willing to accept high casualties over a long period just to "fight communism".  And our refusal to reengage in Vietnam when the North invaded made that clear. 

But then once that happened, the other dominoes did not fall, because the domino theory was always bullshit. 

This seems like a disingenuous argument. Yes the U.S. eventually withdrew from Vietnam, but surely you're not suggesting that every year the war stretched on and the body counts on both sides rose, was anything but a year in which the Brezhnev Doctrine looked less appealing to prosperity of the P.R.C...

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On 10/9/2018 at 10:50 AM, Jace, Basilissa said:

Charlie Sheen in one of my favorite films.

A likely story. Just admit it. You only enjoy watching Willem Dafoe die while he proclaims that the field goal was good.

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16 hours ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

This seems like a disingenuous argument. Yes the U.S. eventually withdrew from Vietnam, but surely you're not suggesting that every year the war stretched on and the body counts on both sides rose, was anything but a year in which the Brezhnev Doctrine looked less appealing to prosperity of the P.R.C...

By PRC i imagine you mean People's Republic of China? Since when did watching the US commit violent acts of stupidity bother the PRC leadership in the least? 

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19 hours ago, James Arryn said:

I thought the racism at war aspect was pertinent, especially as it was cited re: Fog of War, and I must say that killing hundreds of thousands of civilians for humanitarian reasons always raises my eyebrows.

I've spoken to a number of Chinese people about this, particularly on whether they believe that dropping the second bomb was gratuitous given the invasion of the Russian army into Mongolia. The overwhelming consensus has always been that whatever ended the war faster was the right course of action.

Nobody is ever going to hear me say that the civilians, and elderly people, and babies that cooked to death in those two cities were complicit in the crimes of their country. But when I read about the slaughter that the Japanese army unleashed in Asia during the first half of the twentieth century, at the death toll every bit as horrifying as what the Nazis brought to Europe, about the years of civil war and mass starvation that followed, I don't shed tears over the deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki any more than I do the violence of Sherman's March through the old Confederacy.

21 minutes ago, maarsen said:

By PRC i imagine you mean People's Republic of China? Since when did watching the US commit violent acts of stupidity bother the PRC leadership in the least? 

Is this a serious question? Everything that America does affects the rest of the world. You don't see how an ideological war over communism being fought in Asia could be of concern to the Chinese government? Particularly at a time when the Chinese idea of Sino-exceptionalism was coming into conflict with an increasingly aggressive U.S.S.R. and its vision of mutual defense among "anti-imperialist" socialist states?

Edited by Let's Get Kraken

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6 hours ago, Let's Get Kraken said:

I've spoken to a number of Chinese people about this, particularly on whether they believe that dropping the second bomb was gratuitous given the invasion of the Russian army into Mongolia. The overwhelming consensus has always been that whatever ended the war faster was the right course of action.

Nobody is ever going to hear me say that the civilians, and elderly people, and babies that cooked to death in those two cities were complicit in the crimes of their country. But when I read about the slaughter that the Japanese army unleashed in Asia during the first half of the twentieth century, at the death toll every bit as horrifying as what the Nazis brought to Europe, about the years of civil war and mass starvation that followed, I don't shed tears over the deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki any more than I do the violence of Sherman's March through the old Confederacy.

Is this a serious question? Everything that America does affects the rest of the world. You don't see how an ideological war over communism being fought in Asia could be of concern to the Chinese government? Particularly at a time when the Chinese idea of Sino-exceptionalism was coming into conflict with an increasingly aggressive U.S.S.R. and its vision of mutual defense among "anti-imperialist" socialist states?

The Chinese had no qualms about using human wave attacks when the US came close to their border during the Korean War. Why would they hesitate if the same situation came about during The Vietnam War?

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1 hour ago, maarsen said:

The Chinese had no qualms about using human wave attacks when the US came close to their border during the Korean War. Why would they hesitate if the same situation came about during The Vietnam War?

I think we may have gotten our wires crossed. What does this have to do with what we were discussing?

Edited by Let's Get Kraken

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I don't think the US leadership cared that much about Japanese casualties, but they absolutely did care about the very high levels of expected US casualties from a US amphibious landing and invasion of the Japanese home islands. And that's with the best case scenario, where there's still a Japanese government after that to surrender unconditionally. 

In any case, that's a tangent.

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4 hours ago, All Souls Bass said:

I don't think the US leadership cared that much about Japanese casualties, but they absolutely did care about the very high levels of expected US casualties from a US amphibious landing and invasion of the Japanese home islands. And that's with the best case scenario, where there's still a Japanese government after that to surrender unconditionally. 

There's an argument to be made that a Japanese surrender was inevitable following the first bomb and the massive Soviet invasion of Mongolia, and that the second bomb was a move to intimidate and to keep Stalin at a disadvantage more than to avoid a land invasion of Japan.

Edited by Let's Get Kraken

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Reasonable people can disagree on whether the Hiroshima bombing was "necessary" or "lesser of two evils". However, the bombing of Nagasaki cannot be justified. To quote Kurt Vonnegut: 

Quote

The most racist, nastiest act by the USA, after human slavery, was the bombing of Nagasaki. Not of Hiroshima, which might have had some military significance. But Nagasaki was purely blowing away men, women, and children.

 

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18 hours ago, All Souls Bass said:

I don't think the US leadership cared that much about Japanese casualties, but they absolutely did care about the very high levels of expected US casualties from a US amphibious landing and invasion of the Japanese home islands. And that's with the best case scenario, where there's still a Japanese government after that to surrender unconditionally. 

In any case, that's a tangent.

One fact I love to bust out in these discussions is that the USA made so many Purple Heart medals for expected wounded in the planned invasion of Japan, that those medals are still being issued.  

10 hours ago, Gorn said:

Reasonable people can disagree on whether the Hiroshima bombing was "necessary" or "lesser of two evils". However, the bombing of Nagasaki cannot be justified. To quote Kurt Vonnegut: 

I'm leaning this way as well, though I wouldn't be quite so firm in my statement. 

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19 hours ago, All Souls Bass said:

I don't think the US leadership cared that much about Japanese casualties, but they absolutely did care about the very high levels of expected US casualties from a US amphibious landing and invasion of the Japanese home islands. And that's with the best case scenario, where there's still a Japanese government after that to surrender unconditionally. 

In any case, that's a tangent.

This is a relative myth Japanese leadership was ready to surrender, the civilians were starving and being slaughtered by firebombings and public opinion was largely against the war. 

The American belief that we needed to use the bomb because the great unknowable Asian other is comprised of the inhuman and are unstoppable in their devotion to total war at all times by all persons and there was no other avenue available is both racist and wrong.

as hard to believe as it is for Americans, the Japanese were just as human as the Germans and Italians. But we negotiated ordinary surrenders from both (white) axis powers but not from the non white axis power, that country (we still claim enthusiastically to this day) needed special treatment of extreme and unprecedented brutality. Why? Because we are racist.

Edited by lokisnow

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3 hours ago, lokisnow said:

This is a relative myth Japanese leadership was ready to surrender, the civilians were starving and being slaughtered by firebombings and public opinion was largely against the war. 

The American belief that we needed to use the bomb because the great unknowable Asian other is comprised of the inhuman and are unstoppable in their devotion to total war at all times by all persons and there was no other avenue available is both racist and wrong.

as hard to believe as it is for Americans, the Japanese were just as human as the Germans and Italians. But we negotiated ordinary surrenders from both (white) axis powers but not from the non white axis power, that country (we still claim enthusiastically to this day) needed special treatment of extreme and unprecedented brutality. Why? Because we are racist.

If the Japanese were acting like most nations, they would have surrendered well before the atomic bombs were dropped. 

If we're talking about racism, how brutally racially supremacist were the Japanese?

All people are "human", but that doesn't mean there aren't considerable cultural differences. The Japanese had a very strong cultural taboo against surrender, they had never been conquered in their history. 

I don't think taking the approach that all countries are basically the same and you don't have to take any consideration of difference in culture and history in military decisions is a productive one. In fact, America made exactly this mistake in Vietnam, they just approached it as "a small, poor country", taking no account of its' individual culture. 

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22 minutes ago, mankytoes said:

If the Japanese were acting like most nations, they would have surrendered well before the atomic bombs were dropped. 

If we're talking about racism, how brutally racially supremacist were the Japanese?

All people are "human", but that doesn't mean there aren't considerable cultural differences. The Japanese had a very strong cultural taboo against surrender, they had never been conquered in their history. 

I don't think taking the approach that all countries are basically the same and you don't have to take any consideration of difference in culture and history in military decisions is a productive one. In fact, America made exactly this mistake in Vietnam, they just approached it as "a small, poor country", taking no account of its' individual culture. 

Not really, they may not have been conquered by an external country but japan has a long and glorious history of conquering within the country. to say they were some special snowflake that culturally didn’t know what being conquered was is flat out wrong. the politics of war—victors and conquered—throughout their history are pretty much identical to any other country. The biggest difference is an absence of a religious proscription against suicide.

saying the Japanese are creatures who won’t surrender is just a convenient bit of propaganda to help us feel good about slaughtering them.

Though you are right that Japan has a pretty noxious ethos of racial supremacy 

 

Edited by lokisnow

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4 hours ago, lokisnow said:

This is a relative myth Japanese leadership was ready to surrender,

The terms they wanted to surrender on would have let them keep their existing empire and evade any and all accountability for the Japanese leaders who started the war. Those were not acceptable terms, akin to allowing Germany to surrender while keeping much of their conquests in Europe. 

4 hours ago, lokisnow said:

But we negotiated ordinary surrenders from both (white) axis powers but not from the non white axis power, that country (we still claim enthusiastically to this day) needed special treatment of extreme and unprecedented brutality.

"Ordinary surrender" in this case consisted of German leadership surrendering after the country had literally been conquered by the US and Soviets (particularly the Soviets), and after Hitler committed suicide rather than surrendering in the midst of a bloody capture of Berlin. The Japanese equivalent would have been the government surrendering after a massive, costly amphibious invasion - i.e. exactly what I mentioned that the US government was worried about. 

Oh, and they were absolutely willing to use the nuclear bomb on Germany. It just wasn't ready in time. 

Edited by All Souls Bass

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35 minutes ago, lokisnow said:

Not really, they may not have been conquered by an external country but japan has a long and glorious history of conquering within the country. to say they were some special snowflake that culturally didn’t know what being conquered was is flat out wrong. the politics of war—victors and conquered—throughout their history are pretty much identical to any other country. The biggest difference is an absence of a religious proscription against suicide.

saying the Japanese are creatures who won’t surrender is just a convenient bit of propaganda to help us feel good about slaughtering them.

Though you are right that Japan has a pretty noxious ethos of racial supremacy 

"Conquering within the country" is totally different. The Japanese identity, even today to an extent, but overwhelmingly then, was a racial, not a civil one. So what I'm saying is, the Japanese people had never been conquered by outsiders. 

They are a "special snowflake" (Jesus, that term is getting horribly overused). All nations are. There are not two nations in the world that aren't significantly different from each other, therefore all nations are "snowflakes", in that they are unique and need to be treated as such. Some are more "snowflakey" than others, and of all the countries I've visited, Japan is probably the most culturally distinct. I don't mean from Europe, I mean from Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. 

Their history is not "pretty much identical to any other country". No ones could be, because there isn't some standard history. The suicide thing is only one particular part of their culture. How about almost totally shutting their country off from the world for well over two centuries? That's pretty unusual and important. 

You're the one using the term "creatures", I'd never call people that. They wouldn't surrender, not unconditionally, that was just factual at the time. I mean everyone focuses on the atomic bombs, but other cities had faced similar levels of devastation, like Tokyo, which suffered the biggest bombing raid in history. If the Japanese weren't particularly culturally opposed to surrender, they would have surrendered by this point. The rational thing for them to do was surrender. 

It's worth reading up on the Vietnam War, because it's widely accepted that this view that countries shouldn't be seen as having unique cultural challenges in military invasions was a major reason for the American failure. This attitude was also a key reason for the neoconservative support of the Iraq invasion. 

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16 hours ago, Gorn said:

Reasonable people can disagree on whether the Hiroshima bombing was "necessary" or "lesser of two evils". However, the bombing of Nagasaki cannot be justified. To quote Kurt Vonnegut: 

 

You're exaggerating, and that quote was ridiculous. The Americans killed far more Japanese firebombing their other cities than they did in Hiroshima or Nagasaki. And racist? Really? I'd love to see that little prick Vonnegut have the balls to say that on the other side of the Pacific.

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51 minutes ago, mankytoes said:

"Conquering within the country" is totally different. The Japanese identity, even today to an extent, but overwhelmingly then, was a racial, not a civil one. So what I'm saying is, the Japanese people had never been conquered by outsiders. 

They are a "special snowflake" (Jesus, that term is getting horribly overused). All nations are. There are not two nations in the world that aren't significantly different from each other, therefore all nations are "snowflakes", in that they are unique and need to be treated as such. Some are more "snowflakey" than others, and of all the countries I've visited, Japan is probably the most culturally distinct. I don't mean from Europe, I mean from Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. 

Their history is not "pretty much identical to any other country". No ones could be, because there isn't some standard history. The suicide thing is only one particular part of their culture. How about almost totally shutting their country off from the world for well over two centuries? That's pretty unusual and important. 

You're the one using the term "creatures", I'd never call people that. They wouldn't surrender, not unconditionally, that was just factual at the time. I mean everyone focuses on the atomic bombs, but other cities had faced similar levels of devastation, like Tokyo, which suffered the biggest bombing raid in history. If the Japanese weren't particularly culturally opposed to surrender, they would have surrendered by this point. The rational thing for them to do was surrender. 

It's worth reading up on the Vietnam War, because it's widely accepted that this view that countries shouldn't be seen as having unique cultural challenges in military invasions was a major reason for the American failure. This attitude was also a key reason for the neoconservative support of the Iraq invasion. 

Read what he wrote again, he may as well have put it in quotes himself.  He's using that word quoting a racist sentiment, not expressing it 

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