TheMarcksPlan wrote: ↑
17 Oct 2020 05:32
War without Mercy
by Dower has our subject as its main topic. Lest you scoff that it's full of "white liberal guilt" or something, know that the book goes hard against Japan's own delusions of racial superiority - a subject for a different thread. Some excerpts:
I scoff, because it is Confirmation Bias...the author comes in with a bias(racism), finds evidence he believes to support his bias, and proclaims A-Ha!. The problem is he does not research the evidence to find out if it is truly racism. That is not to say that racism was not involved, it was to a small degree, but the author, and by extension, Mr. Marcks, grossly overstate the problem.
At l :20 P.M. on December
9, Pacific time, the day before battle was joined, the flag-deck officer on
the Repulse laughed when asked about the report that a Japanese capital
ship, three heavy cruisers, and a number of destroyers were nearby. "Oh,
but they are Japanese," he declared reassuringly. "There's nothing to
The Japanese capital ship(actually two) was a Kongo class battlecruiser, modernized but still a WW1 era design. As opposed to the Prince of Wales, Britain's most modern battleship, and the Repulse, a WW1 era battlecruiser. So, of course, the officer is going to be confident - the odds are in British favor and modern vs. WW1 era. As such, this has nothing to do with racism.
Two weeks later, Life quoted a British soldier who told Cecil Brown in
Singapore that "a British soldier is equal to ten Japanese, but unfortunately there are eleven Japanese."24
Yes...Based on Japanese fighting ability in China & the Soviet border battles this is probably true. The Soviets defeated the Japanese in their major border battles, and the Japanese were struggling in China. Here again, this is not racism.
A comparable and even more extensive catalog of comforting "intelligence" observations permitted British military observers to belittle the
Japanese threat to southern Asia. The Japanese Army was reported to be
ill equipped, especially in automatic weapons. Its drivers and mechanics
were said to be poor. Its troops were supposed to be weak in unit training
-and, despite their own propaganda to the contrary, low in morale. The
officer corps was analyzed as being weak at the junior level, while strategy
and tactics were stereotyped and inflexible. The Japanese were said to be
untrained in guerrilla warfare and jungle combat-and, indeed, culturally
and temperamentally unsuited for this.
Right of the bat, the author shows his bias by the use of quotes around intelligence. The author does not delve into this intelligence, where it came from, or how it was analysed. Instead, he immediately discounts it and proclaims "racism."
Were one to look at the intelligence, it was based on what British observers had noted in the China War and the Soviet border clashes. Most of the intelligence was true - the majority of the Japanese soldiers in China were ill-trained and ill-equipped(being mainly conscripts). Japanese troops in the Soviet clashes were also ill-equipped. The Japanese did lack in tanks and motor vehicles, as well as artillery. And, Japanese strategy and tactics did show a degree of inflexibility. The Japanese low morale was a best guess based on perceived Japanese Army faults.
Nor, were the Japanese trained in guerrilla and jungle warfare - IIRC, only one Japanese unit that invaded Malaya was trained in jungle warfare, the rest were not. The only racist statement is at the end - where the Japanese are said to be culturally and tempermentaly unsuited for jungle warfare.
Cecil Brown, for example, was told
by one middle-echelon British officer that the Japanese were afraid of the
jungle because they believed it was full of ghosts and demons. A British
general told the CBS reporter that even if the Japanese were so foolhardy
as to invade the Malay Peninsula, they would not get far because the hills
near the Siamese border were full of iron ore and would throw the
compasses of the unwary invaders out of whack.13
This is also not racist, but a misunderstanding of Japanese beliefs - specifically Kami, which literally is gods, but they are more akin to spirits - They are every where, not just in the jungle, and are both good and bad.
They next is based on British experience, as it gave them occasional problems too.
Again, nothing racist here.
The British also maintained that the Japanese avoided night operations on land because they were simply incapable of carrying them out
well, while they avoided nighttime aerial attacks, as well as dive-bombing,
for the same reasons Pratt had presented: their pilots were poor and their
Most Japanese night attacks did go poorly in China and on the Soviet border, as few specialized units were trained in them. Dive bombing was avoided simply because the IJAAF had not taken to dive bombers - Just as the RAF & USAAC/USAAF had not taken to dive bombers either...The IJNAF is another matter.
A particularly ingenious exercise in scientific explanation attended myopia's twin myth: that the Japanese suffered widespread innerear damage. What caused this? Japanese motherhood, in the opinion of
one Western expert, who apparently rejected Pratt's explanation of congenitally defective "tubes." The practice of strapping babies to their
mother's backs, it was explained, caused their heads to bounce about and
permanently impaired their sense of balance. [Myopia describes a supposed defect in Japanese inner-ears that made them incapable of balance. Seriously]
Yes, that is racist...but, still only two out of many of his examples.
the same moment, the British defenders of Hong Kong were voicing
similar incredulity as they came under pinpoint low-level fire from Japanese planes. They "firmly believed," as the official British history of the
war in Asia put it, "that Germans must be leading the sorties." (In the
Soviet Union, Stalin joined this early chorus that placed Germans in
Yes, and...Given all they were led to believe, that is the only possible conclusion. It was also reported at Pearl Harbor that some of the attacking pilots had blonde hair. Leading to the false assumption that the Germans were involved there too.
The British Admiralty and naval officers at the
Staff College appear to have been strongly influenced by a report prepared
by the naval attache in Tokyo in 193 5, which not only advanced the
theory that the Japanese had "peculiarly slow brains," but went on to
explain in detail why this was so. The reason was essentially cultural rather
than physiological, being "fundamentally due to the strain put on the
child's brain in learning some 6,000 Chinese characters before any real
education can start." As a consequence of such cramming, the Japanese
tended to be "a race of specialists," incapable of switching their minds
quickly from one subject to another. Such stultifying training carried over
to Japan's Naval College, the attache had been informed by an English
instructor there, in the form of physical over-training and additional
mental over-cramming, "the finished product being a thoroughly overtired human being."
As a result of such considerations, the British report
continued, all of the foreign naval attaches in Japan had concluded that
the unwillingness of Japanese authorities to show their ships and weapons
to others "is due rather to the barrenness of the cupboard than to any
secrets it may contain
The author does not provide any examples of this
Strong influence. Also, he does not link the report to the unwillingness to show their ships & weapons, only assuming the two are interrelated.
Now to the Americans...
The Americans were, of course, just as bad:
4, three days before the Pearl Harbor attack, Secretary of the Navy Frank
Knox dined with a group of Washington power brokers. Over after-dinner
cigars, the secretary agreed that war with Japan might start at any minute,
and when it did it would be pretty much a Navy show. "We're all ready
for them, you know," Knox placidly declared. "We've had our plans
worked out for twenty years .... It won't take too long. Say about a six
months' war." Even in the immediate wake of Pearl Harbor, most Americans
remained optimistic that the war would be a short one. Early in 1942,
Admiral Leahy, President Roosevelt's chief of staff, still calculated that
the war could be over within the year.
How is this racist? The same belief, at the opening of the American Civil War, was held by both sides...What race where the Confederates? The Union? Also, was not the same idea espoused at the beginning of WW1 by several nations.
Westerners, however, tended to
find essentially what they started out expecting to find
Not unlike the author and yourself...
-and in the case
of the president of the United States, as Professor Christopher Thorne
has revealed, this turned out to be a brain that was not so much peculiarly
slow as peculiarly small. For this expert information, President Roosevelt
was indebted to the curator of the Division of Physical Anthropology at
the Smithsonian Institution, who, in a lengthy correspondence, explained
that the Japanese were "as bad as they were" because their skulls were
"some 2,000 years less developed than ours." The president's receptivity
to this bogus empiricism reflected the durability of presumedly discredited
nineteenth-century racist theories. And how could the Japanese escape
this unfortunate biological curse? After they had been defeated, Roosevelt
once privately suggested, they should be encouraged by every means
possible to intermarry with other races.
Roosevelt listened to many people, some crackpots, some not. What was the outcome of this meeting?