On War. The Fearful Logic.

Foreword: This post will reveal comments some may consider callous, triumphalist or even suggesting War is a viable solution. None of these were the intention. However once a writer makes a statement that statement is open to many interpretations and so are the writer’s motives. This has always be the case. Thus with eyes open I accept that risk. 

Firstly you will have to accept that  the first thing which springs to my mind when someone mentions  ‘6th August’ is ‘Clare’ s birthday’ (our second child and younger daughter). It is when I read posts on Facebook or Word Press that I am reminded in 1945 the A-Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, on the 9th it was the turn of Nagasaki, on the 15th August Japan surrendered and the documents were signed on the 2nd September.

There will be many evocative, genuine posts condemning the event on the 6th August 1945. I respect their views.

But I do not agree. For I have read, some might say too much, military history and have therefore become subsumed in The Fearful Logic of War. I have looked in very deeply and seen the places where civil and civilian perceptions are left behind and a vast and complex set of other values take over. Some might already be getting angry that this post might be the justification of war or worse the some sort of condemnation at those who take an opposite view. Let me clarify.

This is a warning as to when The Fearful Logic is released on a national scale. When indeed the Dogs of War are let slip.

These opening words are also found on a post by the excellent and consistently hard-working Jill Dennison: (I would strongly recommend you follow this blog, so much going on there)

75 Years Ago- 6 August 1945

My response:

“Don’t stand too close and be advised not to read too much on the subject because it changes the perspective. Just read the words of this writer, the third maybe fourth hand observer. A reader and studier of Military and of War. And bear in mind these words come in all damn analytical sincerity.

The use of the A-Bombs was the result of a military logic in which the Japanese Military High Command had played its part, in its fanatical intransigence to twisted version of the Bushido code and determination not to lose face.

For three years the forces of the USA had slowly, inexorably pushed those of Imperial Japan back towards the homelands, paying a fearful price in ‘blood and treasure’. In response the Japanese Imperial forces did not display by western standards understandable conventional responses by surrendering or retreating when nothing was to be gained in defending land but threw away the lives of its own men and women in indoctrinated slaughter masking as honourable suicide, at a cost to both sides.

War requires a foe to surrender,  be conquered, annihilated or the attacker just plain give up, that is what happens when The Beast is released. Japan was not willing to continuance the first option. An invasion of the home islands of a nation in such a mindset would present a death toll far in excess of anything so far experienced by the USA and by the Japanese Civil population who would have been coerced/convinced into the defence. War requires a swift conclusion where possible. The USA had the weapon. The USA used it. This is the logic of War. The hard, certain, decision making process which exists in such an atmosphere. (You’ll recall Jill I mentioned a reply a while back and have said several times how when Democracies are brought into war they can be as deadly as their totalitarian foes.)

The use of the A-Bomb was a foregone conclusion, from the moment the Japanese Military adopted the defence at the cost of suicide policy. There was no war crime here, there was the steady, deadly, fearful march of the logic and cause and effect of War. Never forget that War works under a different set of values, your people are dying, haunted by the cost in lives in WWI military planners in the West looked to minimise their losses.

The feature of the A-Bombs were they caused a great deal of deaths in a swift spectacular manner. The firebombing of cities of Germany and Japan by conventional weaponry were causing similar death tolls, but in slower manner. They caused us fright though, once we knew ‘The Other Side’ had them and could level our cities also in minutes and there would be no legendary ‘London Blitz’ scenario (over glamorised), there would be death, wastelands and nuclear aftermath (as opposed to unexploded munitions left buried in the earth aftermath).

War demands this behaviour of the parties. The battlefields are nationwide, and the populations are part of the machinery of war. This was ever so. You could claim (as some in the South would) that Sherman was a war criminal for he carried out his march in deliberately destructive fashion. This is War and when nations lock horns and we summon up War, we do so at our own peril, because we then leave our civilian outlooks behind in pursuit of Victory.

I will leave you with one thought which I have never read or heard voiced in The West. Would those in China, Philippines, Malaya, Burma, Singapore or in the military Prisoner of War camps who suffered the capricious and cruel occupations of the Imperial Japanese Forces have objected to the use of those bombs upon the nation which occupied them?

Lee of the Confederacy said the right thing as he viewed the slaughter at one battlefield:

‘It is as well War is so terrible, lest we grow too fond of it,’

In my opinion Jill, not a crime but a fearful warning as to what WAR requires of us when we invoke it. It changes all the rules, all the judgments, all the values. Even to read of it in too much detail will change your outlook.”

There were a number of other points swirling around in my mind, but I did not wish to hijack Jill’s post my reply was quite long enough for a response to a post. Thus at this juncture let me proceed deeper.

No side comes out of War with clean hands, reputations intact or even with their original intentions fulfilled. Once War is lose then to a certain extent ethical control amongst other factors is lost. The nation or community invests lives and effort into the defeat of the foe and lives are not given lightly; the deaths are either sources of concern, sources of glorification or measures of how ‘well’ one side or the other is doing, thus each death carries a certain value, those values you will have noticed are manifold. In its chaos, tangle of emotions, and twists of intentions the results themselves are subjected to constant review and evaluation. To say ‘History is written by the victor’ is a mammoth over-simplification which does not take into account the fact that History is constantly viewed through the prism of The Present. Thus the dread question will always arise ‘Was It Worth It?’

‘Was It Worth It?’

This a very dangerous question to ask, even more so to answer. The answer is always ‘It depends who you ask?’. Someone in the UK or the USA might well voice the opinion we should never have got involved in WWI. If you were a Belgium or French citizen in the German occupied zones and subject to brutal reprisals for acts of sabotage and ‘terrorism’ or shipped of to work in journey as slave labour then you might have a quite different answer. Consider the Korean War which might have been forgotten by now were it not for repeats of M*A*S*H and compare the two states on that peninsula. AS for WWII against two militarily aggressive, brutal and racist states? The problem being in WWII the Democracies- for Whites that is- required the partnership with another militarily aggressive brutal state- the jury is out on the racist issue. Citing these examples you could say the wars were unavoidable.

Were they unavoidable?’

Yes, No or Maybe. The problem with wars is when you start to look for the root cause. Take WWII, German revisionist folk lore insisted the nation was tricked or betrayed into surrender. So WWI was the cause? You have to look back to not just the expansion of the various European empires which had formulated a sort of set of rules but the outbreaks of nationalism across the whole continent in which who sections of the populations demanded their slice and the expense of other sections. So you go in the 19th Century, and have to go back to the revolts of 1848, which themselves had resonances in the upheaval during the Napoleonic era and French aggression, which in turn had roots in the French Revolution, which- Do you want me to go on?

On the other side of the globe two vibrant expansionist powers were moving into collision in the Pacific, Sino, SE Asia region. USA and Japan. Yes Britain and France in the 1930s could have let Nazi Germany have its way as long as it kept its crimes indoors and pointed eastwards. That would not have stopped the USA-Japanese confrontation.

Are Wars avoidable? In the current state of Human Society, no. We’re stuck with them. Unless there is a world wide movement of whole populations who are prepared to risk their lives in non-violent protest and their relatives and friends are prepared to accept the deaths as being ‘just’ and ‘acceptable’. We can march, we can don ironic masks we can post up impassioned or fashionable statements on Social Media, but until we are ready to stand there and take the blows and the deaths without equal retort all that is so much noise and no more. The acts may dissuade one government or two from taking part but it does not stop The War, ask anyone in Syria how much they appreciated the  actions of the UK ‘Stop The War Coalition’, better still ask Assad and Putin how much they appreciated ‘Stop The War Coalition’.

War goes deep into our mindset and our community. The urge to defend and strike back, one from pre-human evolution. We haven’t got passed that stage. We might not. Doing away with War is a full-time day and night task full of contradictions and questions which cannot be answered simply. It is achievable……but at its own cost

I would wish for Compassion, Respect and Tolerance. But I realise there are folk who would never embrace those ideals. Thus if to assert  The Only Justifiable Intolerance is Intolerance of Intolerance, how far does one go to ensure this will be so?

Will for the rest of Humanity’s time on this planet  there be the motto:

Si vis pacem, para bellum 

“If you want peace prepare for war”

10 thoughts on “On War. The Fearful Logic.

  1. Roger, the only things I would demand of those who feel combat or war or invasion is the path forward is have you done everything in your power to avoid conflict. Have you stated a clear objective? Have you decided on what happens if you are successful? We owe it to the men and women in harms’ way to be prepared and exhausted all options.

    Senator Jim Webb, former Navy vet, former Director of Defense, spoke before the Iraq invasion. He said be prepared to stay there for thirty years if you do this. That was 17 years ago and we are still there and our reputation is poor. Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney had no plan, trusted the wrong people, and fired the police force who would have quelled ISIS and the area has been in disarray since.

    World War I was brutal and inhumane. The American Civil War was brutal and inhumane. In fact, no war is not brutal. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • When it comes down to it Keith they are about killing the foe, which is brutal and inhumane.
      The question is, what does a nation do when the other side insists on hostility, or when the populace heated up by populists call for war?
      The recent histories of WWI are looking in more details into the decades before 1914. At the fragile system while had evolved between the various Big Powers for avoiding large wars breaking out. As it was a very fragile balancing act it was prone to disruption which arose out of a toxic mix of nationalistic populism, initial complacency in the decision making processes, miscalculations and in the final tragedy the activation of the various military processes.
      And the bands played and the ordinary folk cheered and congratulated each other on how their war would be short.
      Then WAR took over and The Fearful Logic came into play

      Liked by 1 person

      • Roger, I mentioned to Jill on her Hiroshima post about an interview I saw with a survivor. The Japanese woman is now 81 and was six at the time of the bombing. She has involved herself in denuclearization. At the end of the interview, she chose to speak in halting English – if we make friends in other countries, we may not want to go to war with them.

        The non-studious US president does not comprehend that strong allied relationships keep the US and world safer. A strong EU and NATO keeps the US safer. Keith

        Liked by 2 people

      • As I have said before you do not have a president you have a freak of the voting system.
        And draft dodger who had that disgusting remark about John McCain’s capture does not in my book have the right to speak on any matter’s military and can go and commit carnal acts with himself.
        Contemptible odious creature.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Roger, so true. What I don’t understand is more people in the military should be calling this person on the carpet. He denied Americans were harmed when Iran bombed a facility nearby in retaliation for the US assassinating a general. Some soldiers suffered brain injury, but that was covered up.

        He has done nothing with the alleged Russian bounty on US soldiers paid to the Taliban. And, he of course, sided with Putin when US intelligence said they had evidence of Russian involvement in the election.

        The question is which country did Trump swear his oath to? Keith

        Liked by 2 people

      • The second part of the post is the easier one to answer. Trump is only concerned for Trump’s image and the rewards that brings to Trump, be that financially or in public gaze or adulation.
        The first part in the complex one. Armies in established democracies of a century + are melded into the fabric of the society they originally took an oath to defend. This goes deep and senior officers are very unsettled when the subject of political allegiances are mentioned. Oh yes they will be critical of funding and interference in strategy, ie their side of the fence but the majority stay there and anyone who strays over the other side in the politicians area can soon get shut out. (Remember MacArthur?…. Eisenhower was retired and such was his stock and the pressure upon him some historians have seen him as being drafted into running for president – ).
        Thus many make the accommodation that ‘this lot’ won’t be around forever and things might get better.
        Then of course we have the ambitious careerists, who astutely watch which way the wind is blowing ensuring they keep the boat stable as they navigate the waters.
        The strategists amongst them will know full well the fellow is an idiot but since he has such a short attention span soon looses interest in committing their forces to anything such as Iraq of Vietnam. And sadly are prepared to accept the casualties his lack of judgment or moral fiber causes.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Roger, for both your very kind words and the link to my post! You and I may not agree, but as always, I highly respect your opinion, for you understand history and its implications for the future far better than I.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much Jill.
      The danger is with reading so much military history is that you can put the case for the A-Bombs on Japan with a fearfully calm rationale. Thus you have become subsumed in WAR’s whisperings.
      Sometimes when I write on this theme I try and put this message into subtext, the warning WAR can draw you in and once it does all means justify the end.
      A plain statement based on History.
      I am still struggling with the morality of doing this sort of writing. Am I standing by and allowing it to happen, or am I as I said, warning.
      Durned if I can be sure.

      Liked by 2 people

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