As Clausewitz postulated, war is simply a means for a pre-determined purpose. A continuation of policy which implies a rather solid and usually sordid link between politics and war. There have been newer theories, which may actually be clever repackaging of French Revolution era thinking in which man, possessed by a predisposition to kill gene, embedded and ineradicable in his DNA is a natural predator in which humans are no different that say, hunting wild turkeys.
So, war then is a pop culture phenomena, a corrupted romanticism where the last vestiges of the rational and reason are strangled and eaten so the irrational can live. Human nature the upredictable is proposed in its place. Give all the POW’s Andy Warhol t-shirts and copies of Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ. That’ll teach them. War as and in itself beyond human control. Man is not responsible for the reasoning of his little head since behavior is based on nature, sex or culture. The trinity of armed conflict, sex and psychology. Was Pearl Harbor then really about Asian men carrying off our white women?
Chomsky:First of all, let’s be clear about what happened. It’s not quite the official picture. About an hour before Pearl Harbor, Japan attacked Malaya. That was a real invasion. The attack on Pearl Harbor was the colony, the military base on a colony of the United States. An act of aggression, but on the scale of atrocities, attacking the military base on the colony is not the highest rank. The big Japanese atrocities in fact had already taken place. There were plenty more to come, but the major ones, the invasion of China, the rape of Nanking, the atrocities in Manchuria, and so on, had passed. Throughout that whole period the U.S. wasn’t supportive, but it didn’t oppose them very much.
The big issue for the United States was: will they let us in on the exploitation of China or will they do it by themselves? Will they close it off? Will they create a closed co-prosperity sphere or an open region in which we will have free access? If the latter, the United States was not going to oppose the Japanese conquest. …
…New shipyards were commissioned particularly since Germany was sinking more merchant vessels than were being produced.
By September of that year “Liberty Fleet Day” was officially declared to launch the first ships in the renewed American fleet. Ship builders were challenged by President Roosevelt to increase the fleet by fifty percent. On December 7, 1941, 183 Japanese warplanes attacked Hickam Field in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared war….
…There were other things going on in the background. By the 1920s, which was of course the period when Britain was still the dominant world power, Britain had found that they were unable to compete with Japanese manufacturers. Japanese textiles were outproducing Lancashire mills. As soon as that became evident, Britain dropped its fancy rhetoric about the magnificence of free trade. Nobody supports free trade unless they think they’re going to win the competition….The Japanese idea was: they’re just denying us our place in the sun. They’ve already conquered what they wanted, and now when we’re trying to get into the act as latecomers, they’re closing off their imperial systems so we can’t compete with them freely. That being the case, we’ll go to war. …
…They went on until very shortly before Pearl Harbor, and the issue was always basically the same: will Japan open up its imperial system to U.S. penetration? At the very end they actually made some kind of an offer to do that, but they insisted on a quid pro quo, namely, that the United States reciprocate. That led to a very sharp response from the Americans. They’re not going to be told anythinghese little yellow bastards, is what it came to. Shortly after came Pearl Harbor….
…There is a complicated interaction throughout the Pacific War. Had the Japanese not been so murderous and near genocidal in their conquest of Asia, they might have had more Asian support. They did gain a lot of support in the countries that they invaded, like Indonesia. A lot of the Asian nationalists supported them. It was only when they showed themselves to be so utterly brutal that they lost most but not all of that support. They were regarded in essence as liberators, getting rid of the white man who’d been on our neck forever. So it’s a complicated story. Read More:http://chomsky.info/books/dissent03.htm
Noam Chomsky ( 1967): I read in the Times this morning an interview with Jeanette Rankin, who was the one member of Congress to vote against the declaration of war on December 8, 1941, to the accompaniment of a chorus of boos and hisses. Looking back, though, we can see that the Japanese had very real grievances, and that the United States had quite a significant share of responsibility in those grievances back in 1941. In fact, Japan had rather a more valid case than is customary to admit….
…On November 6, 1941, just a month before Pearl Harbor, Japan had offered to eliminate the main major factor that really led to the Pacific war, namely the Closed Door Policy in China. But they did so with one reservation: that they would agree to eliminate the closed door in China, which is what we’d been demanding, only if the same principle were applied throughout the world — that is, if it were also applied in, say, Latin America, the British Dominions, and so forth. Of course, this was considered too absurd to even elicit a response. And Secretary of State Cordell Hull’s answer simply requested once again that they open the closed door in China and he didn’t even deign to mention this ridiculous qualification that they had added. Now that qualification was of the essence and had been fought about for the preceding ten years. And it was one of the factors that led to Pearl Harbor and the war. Of course, it was politically impossible after Pearl Harbor for the United States not to declare war; we know how very difficult it is to restrain from striking back, even when you do know that the guilt is distributed. But we’re talking about what is legitimate and what is moral, not what is a natural reflex. And the advocates of nonviolence are really saying that we should try to raise ourselves to such a cultural and moral level, both as individuals and as a community, that we would be able to control this reflex.
Now what were the consequences of striking back and what was our own role in creating the situation in which the violence took place? On December 8, we struck back quite blindly, quite unthinkingly, and I’m not at all sure in retrospect that the world is any the better for it. It’s quite striking to read the dissenting opinion at the Tokyo tribunal of the one Indian justice who was permitted to take part, and who dissented from the entire proceedings, concluding himself that the only acts in the Pacific War that in any way corresponded to the Nazi atrocities were the dropping of the two atom bombs on Japanese cities. A.J. Muste in 1941-2 predicted that we would adopt the worst features of our adversaries, of the object of our hatred, and that we would replace Japan as a still more ferocious conqueror. And I think it’s very difficult to deny the justice of that prediction. So even after Pearl Harbor, I would accept advocacy of nonviolence, not as an absolute moral principle, but as conceivably justified in those particular historical circumstances. In short, there may well have been alternatives to the Pacific War. Read More:http://chomsky.info/debates/19671215.htm
Cale:Every war is the product of deliberate, calculated decision. No war is ever conducted without political purpose. Men do not fight because they are of a particular culture or sex, but because they are the instruments of reasoned and deliberate policy. If you want to understand war, look at politics.
The Enlightenment belief that war was a rational human activity has been superseded by the twentieth-century prejudice that war is guided by the inhuman and the insane. It is not hard to understand why modern theorists want to deny the deliberate character of modern warfare. Unlike the revolutionary wars of the past, modern warfare has nothing positive about it.
Instead of fighting for the liberation of nations from the ancien regime, warfare in the twentieth century has put millions into the field in the interests of Great Power rivalry and the domination of weaker nations. In the first half of the twentieth century, international competition between the major economic powers laid the basis for a cycle of world wars, colonial domination, and almost continual slaughter.
From the Accrington Pals wiped out on the Western Front to the fleeing Iraqi conscripts caught in what one US airman described as a “turkey-shoot,” twentieth-century warriors can be forgiven for thinking that warfare is indeed inhuman and insane. But the appeal of the modern theory of war as something beyond rationality is that it excuses the policy-makers and generals who make the decisions. Read More:http://www.clausewitz.com/readings/CaleReview.htm