American Elephants


Wars Are To Be Won, They are Not Playing Fields For Theorists by The Elephant's Child

Japanese Surrender

It was seventy three years ago today. There are few left who remember at first hand, and even new recruits who were 20 then would be 93 today. Victor Davis Hanson remarked a while ago, that history is about wars. Do we gradually become inured to war as it grows more distant? Are those most bellicose in the present the ones who are historically the most ignorant? How much of our present attitudes are related to how much, and how accurate is our knowledge of history?

This original post was written in 2009, with references to President Obama’s current words and actions about the Middle East and Afghanistan. I left that part our and reprinted the history. The first link below is to pictures of the Missouri. This one is to the history of the Last Battleship

The Emperor Hirohito, of course, did not come down to the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay for the surrender ceremonies.  To misunderstand that demonstrates a lack of understanding of the Pacific War and the relationship of the Emperor to the Japanese people. In their 2000 year history, the Japanese had never surrendered to anyone.  Japan was determined to fight on, even after Okinawa was lost.  The Japanese navy had effectively ceased to exist, but an all-out defense of the homeland beachhead was planned.  Rebellious army officers planned a palace coup which was put down.  On August 14, 1945, the Emperor recorded a speech which was broadcast to the nation at noon on the following day, August 15.

The Japanese people were stunned.  They had never before heard the Emperor’s voice.  The formal surrender ceremony took place aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. The Japanese representatives on board the Missouri were Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu (wearing top hat) and General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff.  Behind them are three representatives each of the Foreign Ministry, the Army and the Navy.

Japanese Surrender2

Worth noting is an article from The New York Times that quoted  Toshikazu Kase, a 100-year-old veteran of the Imperial Japanese government. (Second from right in middle row in the top hat).  He would write in his memoirs about the surrender to MacArthur on the deck of the Missouri:

Here is the victor announcing the verdict to the prostrate enemy.  He can impose a humiliating penalty if he so desires.  And yet he pleads for freedom, tolerance and justice.  For me, who expected the worst humiliation, this was a complete surprise.  I was thrilled beyond words, spellbound, thunderstruck.

Understanding the history of our relations with Japan is crucial to understanding our relationship and friendship with Japan today. Understanding the history of Israel and Palestine helps to keep from making mistakes about who our friends are and why.  Understanding the history of Latin America keeps a president from siding with some of the region’s worst dictators, and confusing our Constitution and laws with the constitution and laws of Honduras.

These things matter, and if a President does not have the background, it should be included in briefings. If his speechwriters don’t have the background, they should look it up.  And if the State Department doesn’t have the background, God help us .

(the headline comes from a quotation from Ralph Peters)

I ran onto this piece today, a pictorial of the Japanese memorial service in honor of those who died in World War II, with a picture of Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.That reminded me of a book I’ve had for years, an autobiography by Elizabeth Gray Vining, which I recommend highly. She became a member of the Society of Friends after her young husband was killed in an auto accident in which she survived. When the Japanese Emperor Hirohito decided to employ an American Quaker woman as a tutor for his son and the future Emperor, they turned to Elizabeth Vining. Her first book is
Windows for the Crown Prince followed by the autobiography Quiet Pilgrimage in which she tells about the appointment.She wrote:

“In the fall of 1946 a quiet Philadelphia woman was suddenly picked up, transported halfway around the globe and dropped down again in the middle of the oldest, the most formal, the most mysterious court in the world, the court of Japan. I was that woman.”

In her autobiography she includes much of what didn’t appear in the earlier book. I found the whole thing absolutely fascinating.

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Globalization: The Dream and the Nightmare by The Elephant's Child

climate-change

Here I was, posting Jonathan Haidt’s commentary on Globalization, and I turned to American Greatness, and conveniently, there was Victor Davis Hanson, writing even more extensively about globalization.

After World War II, only the United States possessed the capital, the military, freedom, and the international good will to arrest the spread of global Stalinism. To save the fragile postwar West, America was soon willing to rebuild and rearm war-torn former democracies. Over seven decades, it intervened in proxy wars against Soviet and Chinese clients, and radical rogue regimes. It accepted asymmetrical and unfavorable trade as the price of leading and saving the West. America became the sole patron for dozens of needy clients—with no time limit on such asymmetry.

Yet what would become the globalized project was predicated on lots of flawed, but unquestioned assumptions:

The great wealth and power of the United States was limitless. It alone could afford to subsidize other nations. Any commercial or military wound was always considered superficial and well worth the cost of protecting the civilized order.

Only by piling up huge surpluses with the United States and avoiding costly defense expenditure through American military subsidies, could the shattered nations of Asia and Europe supposedly regain their security, prosperity and freedom. There was no shelf life on such dependencies.

Do read the whole thing. This is a major contention point with the Democrats in their current mental and moral breakdown. If we are going to fight back, we have to know what we are talking about.



Victor Davis Hanson: Germany and the Unwinnable WWII by The Elephant's Child

I have no idea how many books have been written on World War II. Many of them important, but Victor Davis Hanson has explained it. I gave my oldest son, who is really interested in the war, and has toured the battlefields in Europe,The Second World Wars for Christmas. He usually mutters about the somewhat conservative books I give him, but he made a special point of thanking me for it. He said it has made it all make sense, and he loved the book. So there are glimmerings of hope.

If you have not yet ordered the book, you’ll be glad that you did. The preface explains the title, and why Victor Davis Hanson was the correct one to tell that story. Memorial Day would be a good time to indulge.



Here’s Why You Should Object To “Presidents’ Day” by The Elephant's Child

Today is officially President’s Day, in lieu of having to celebrate a birthday for each of the presidents, which is just silly. The people were delighted to have another 3-day weekend, and the unions could offer that to the people from whom they demand dues as a gift from them, or something like that. I’m an anti-President’s Day crank, and firmly believe that we should celebrate only Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, unless someone turns out to be spectacular in some way, which is unlikely.

We’ve had a few very good presidents, and a lot of mediocre ones and a few really unfortunate ones. Presidents are merely normal human beings with ordinary human failings, who somewhere along the line got the bug to run for the presidency. Some, once infected, never get over it, like Harold Stassen and Hillary.

Today, as a few have reminded us, is a day that should live in infamy. It’s the seventy-sixth anniversary of the day Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066  in February, 1942, which rounded up about 120,000 American immigrants and American citizens of Japanese ancestry and sent them off to internment camps.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, people were afraid of an attack on the West Coast. Many regarded the Japanese-American population of California as a threat. They were forcibly removed to ten “internment” camps. Most lost their homes and businesses. Immigration from Japan had been banned since 1924, and all Japanese immigrants were ineligible for citizenship.

Some people of German or Italian ancestry were also detained or interred, but most were already American citizens. Some were removed from coastal security areas, but authorities soon decided that Italians were not a problem. President Reagan made a public apology with the signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1998 which spoke to Japanese Americans and members of the Aleut community. President George H.W. Bush pledg   es to “take a clear stand for justice and recognize that injustices were done to Japanese Americans during World War II.

Some people writing about this today have attempted to make a parallel with President Trump’s exclusion of refugees from Islamic states where terrorism is supported with the Japanese American internment, which is silly, but not surprising in the current atmosphere. The Left is currently in favor of open borders because new immigrants are inclined to vote for Democrats, because they favor more government assistance.  The Left’s  only interest is in power, more voters and a larger body-count for the next census in 2020 so they can dispose of the Electoral College.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is usually judged by academic historians to be one of our greatest presidents, presumably because he was president during World War II, and we won. He made a mess of the Depression with constant tinkering and it was far longer and more damaging than it would have been otherwise. And then there was Yalta.



Pearl Harbor and the Legacy of Carl Vinson by The Elephant's Child

U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate Third Class Dusty Howell

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. Seventy-six years ago, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and suddenly we were full participants in the war that had been raging in Europe and China. Those who were old enough to experience the war are dying off, and soon there will be no one who remembers. From the current state of our colleges and universities, they seem to be turning out students who know nothing about history at all.

Seventy-six years ago on December 7, 1941, carrier planes from  the Imperial Japanese fleet attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in a surprise attack on the home of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. It was followed a few days later by an attack on the Philippines.

The surprise attack on the fleet killed 2,402 Americans, sank or submerged 19 ships, including eight battleships damaged or destroyed. Just four days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

Victor Davis Hanson writes today of the contribution of one Democratic Congressman from Georgia, Carl Vinson. Do read the whole thing.

The Japanese fleet had missed the three absent American carriers of the Pacific Fleet. Nonetheless, Japanese admirals were certain that the United States was so crippled after the attack that it would not be able to go on the offensive against the Japanese Pacific empire for years, if at all. Surely the wounded Americans would sue for peace, or at least concentrate on Europe and keep out of the Japanese-held Pacific.

That was a fatal miscalculation.

The Japanese warlords had known little of the tireless efforts of one Democratic congressman from Georgia, Carl Vinson.

For nearly a decade before Pearl Harbor, Vinson had schemed and politicked in brilliant fashion to ensure that America was building a two-ocean navy larger than all the major navies of the world combined.

If you have a history buff on your gift list, get them a copy of Dr. Hanson’s brilliant new book: The Second Word WarsIf you’re feeling generous, add With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge.

The photograph is of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson



The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers by The Elephant's Child

I don’t know how familiar Americans are with the story of their own Navajo Code Talkers who served in the Untied States Marine Corps in the Pacific theater in World War II, but it is a proud and fascinating story. Early in the war in the Pacific, it became clear that the Japanese had broken our military codes. We had used Native American speakers in World War I with some great success, but the Germans were not about to leave themselves vulnerable. They infiltrated reservations across the United States to learn the languages. The Navajo reservation in the Four Corners area of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico is remote, beautiful, but not easily penetrated.  Here is their story.

These are two different treatments of the Code-Talker history. The first is longer, but all in one story. The second comes in three parts. When you have time you might want to watch both.

In July of 2001, President George W. Bush decorated 29 Navajo Code Talkers, They were represented by the four remaining code-talkers. Belated, but welcome recognition. It’s an important story.

We make a lot of mistakes in this country, a lot of trial and error, but eventually we usually manage to get it right. If you have some young people in your family, do share. They need to know a little history too.



In Case you Need Reminding, or Never Knew by The Elephant's Child
October 10, 2017, 6:42 am
Filed under: History, Literature, World War II | Tags: , ,

The Seven Deadly Sins

Pride, Wrath, Envy, Lust, Gluttony, Avarice and Sloth.

The Seven Virtues

Faith, Hope Charity, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance.
(the first three are the Holy Virtues)

The three little planes left on Malta during the German assault on Malta in were named ‘Faith,’ ‘Hope’, and ‘Charity’




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