Foreign policy

Hiroshima, absent history

August 6th marked the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.  For the first time since the end of World War II, an American representative attended the official commemoration ceremony of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.  President Obama sent U.S. Ambassador John Roos to “express respect for all the victims of World War II” – a benign sounding olive branch that was designed to convey empathy to the Japanese.  This is consistent with Obama’s desire to “reset” American diplomacy by showing the world that America is not the global bully of the past. Unfortunately, compassion in the absence of context can be meaningful -- in unintended ways.   Sending the U.S. Ambassador to the Hiroshima ceremony as an act of “respect” provides fuel to the revisionist case that the U.S. was wrong to drop the atomic bomb on Japan on August 6, 1945, and plays into the hands of those who now increasingly believe that America was the aggressor in the Pacific War.  Even actor Tom Hanks – the Executive Producer of the HBO mini-series “The Pacific”, referred in a recent interview to the war against Japan as one of “racism and terror” on both sides, and that the U.S. wanted to annihilate the Japanese simply because “they were different”.

Hanks comments essentially reflect what is fast becoming a lost history among newer generations – particularly as taught by left-wing academics and reported by the left-leaning media.   The reality is that the Japanese war machine was ferocious, fanatical and fought to the death in every major naval and land engagement of the Pacific war.  At the battle for Okinawa in 1945 – the last major land battle of the war when the Japanese empire knew that defeat was inevitable – some 12,000 American soldiers and marines were killed in brutal cave-to-cave fighting that left over 100,000 Japanese soldiers dead.  Only 7,000 soldiers surrendered to U.S. forces.   At sea in Iron Bottom Sound, Okinawa saw the deaths of almost 5,000 navy personnel and the sinking of more than 30 American ships – many at the hands of over 1,500 Japanese suicide “Kamikaze” attacks.  Even more disturbing, the Japanese military actively encouraged the Okinawa civilian population to commit mass suicide rather than be captured by U.S. forces.  Over 100,000 Okinawan civilians are believed to have died during the two month battle.

It was this experience that colored the thinking of President Truman and the American military as they approached the events of August 1945.  The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki avoided tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of casualties that were virtually certain in an invasion of the Japanese home islands.

The presence of Ambassador Roos at Hiroshima neglects a very important context which the left tends to routinely ignore: Japan was an expansionist imperial power that brutally invaded China and South Asia and attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor without provocation.  By offering respect for “all victims”, Roos gives rise to a moral equivalency of responsibility which only further removes history from the discussion, and will in time lead to more strident requests for a formal U.S. apology – something this administration may be quite predisposed to do.

This anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing was a missed opportunity for one of Barack Obama’s “teachable moments”; but rather than being something for America to apologize for, it should provide the basis for an honest discussion of Japan’s actions during the Second World War.  Doing so would put the U.S. decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan in its proper light: as a wise and prudent choice that spared innocent lives on both sides.

Appeasement is in Dems' DNA

Poor Bubba. Not only is he exposed as Obama’s messenger boy in the sleazy Sestak affair, but now friends report he is absolutely livid over the devastating portrayal of him in the new HBO drama “The Special Relationship” in which Dennis Quaid’s spot on Clinton tries hiding behind every international institution- U.N., NATO, EU – to avoid a decision on the Kosovo genocide until he is shamed into action by a decisive and principled Tony Blair. This fact-based revelation of Clinton’s proclivity for appeasing dictators- in this case the murderous Serbian Milosovic- eerily parallels Jimmy Carter’s contemplated sell-out of West German and South Korean freedom in response to rampant Soviet aggressiveness until a leaked White House document (Presidential Review Memorandum-10) caused a Congressional uproar that sent Peanut Man ducking for cover.

Clinton and Carter however were minor leaguers compared to their ideological descendent Barack Obama who has taken appeasement to unimagined new heights. Just a glance at current headlines suggests just how much damage this multitasking appeaser can do in a very short time.

Iran – Americans were incredulous when Iranian dictator Ahmadinejad arrogantly announced he would no longer discuss his nuclear program until the United States agreed to discuss giving up its own nuclear weapons. Now just a few months later the United States voted with Iran to hold a United Nations conference on a “Nuclear Free Middle East”. The wording of the resolution however makes clear that the real problem is not Iran getting nuclear weapons but Israel having them.

Korea – When a North Korean submarine sent forty-six South Korean sailors to a watery grave the United States promptly demanded that “something be done” – by someone else. Hillary Clinton spoke ominously of a “possible U.N. resolution” and swiftly high tailed it to Beijing to petition the Chinese for help. China as is their recent habit simply said “No” and declared that things should be resolved by the two Koreas “without outside interference”. Happy to cede this wobbly stage to Hillary, Obama much preferred acting tough with British Petroleum than with North Korea’s lunatic dictator Kim Jong-Il.

Mexico – Just so we won’t think Obama only apologizes for the U.S. when abroad, he stood beside visiting Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the White House and decried Arizona’s “misguided” illegal alien control law. To add insult to injury Calderon the next day had the temerity to stand before a joint session of the U.S. Congress and add his own denunciation of Arizona while omitting to mention Mexico’s far more draconian treatment of illegal aliens. For this shocking breach of diplomatic protocol Calderon received a standing ovation from Democratic lawmakers.

To round out the picture that same week Assistant Secretary of State Richard Posner- former head of an Open Borders advocacy group- told visiting Chinese officials that “abuses” like the Arizona law demonstrated that China wasn’t the only country guilty of human rights violations.

Syria – Touting the virtues of “engagement” with this charter member of the “Axis of Evil” Obama appointed a U.S, Ambassador to Damascus for the first time in five years at the very same time Syrian dictator Bashar Assad was busy shipping advanced rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv to the Lebanese terrorists of Hezbollah.

Israel – As if the above item wasn’t enough to justify Israeli citizens booing Rahm Emanual in Jerusalem just days later when a Hamas affiliate in a purposeful provocation attempted to run Israel’s blockade of Gaza Obama promptly expressed his “regrets” and joined the usual leftist suspects at the U.N. in calling for an investigation.

What’s next- a joint Obama-Chavez family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard? What will it take to make the mainstream media see that for Obama and the Democrats “engagement” is simply a synonym for “appeasement”? Is it not obvious that this serial apologizing and appeasing has gained us absolutely nothing by way of gratitude or cooperation, but has instead earned us what such weakness has always merited: contempt and ever bolder provocations?

Americans, however, should not view this sorry record as random blundering, or simple incompetence. What we are seeing is a consistent, carefully thought out realization of a long held Progressive/Liberal vision of the way the world ought to be: All global problems- legal, political, or military- should be handled in a collectivist manner by the long yearned for World Government. Liberals have long understood that reasons of short term political safety precluded openly advocating this vision, but any objective analysis of the historical and intellectual underpinnings of the Progressive Movement show that such is their goal.

In keeping with this vision, Progressives have always given the highest priority to the “transformation” ( a favorite Obama word) of American society as a necessary precondition for the New World Order. The United States historically as a sovereign independent country pursuing its own national interests is seen as a Bad Thing – spawn of war, racism, imperialism etc- and a major obstacle to the evolution of the Better World to Come.

Thus appeasement abroad is no more an aberration than the entire Obama domestic program of fast-tracking America toward dramatically expanded government, ever shrinking private sector, wealth redistribution, and the conversion of the population from freedom loving entrepreneurial individuals into a collectivist mass of dependents.

Recall those words of long ago: “None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See.

William Moloney is a Centennial Institute Fellow and former Colorado Education Commissioner (1997-2007). His columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Human Events.