Friday, December 22, 2006

Can intractable conflicts be solved?

The answer to this question highlight why it is the participation of the US is vital to resolving intractable conflicts. Why is it that we see ethnic tensions turning violent or criminal elements becoming more powerful in places like Bosnia, Iraq, and Palestinian Territories? The answer is that there is no longer a strong, overarching power keeping those tensions in control. In the absence of astrong central authority, smaller despots will coalesce their power, in whatever base they can, be it tribal group, co-religionists, like minded criminals, and struggle for power. This is a pattern seen everywhere in the world. The Chinese call it the Dynastic Cycle; as the power of the central authority wanes, local chiefs contest for power during a period of anarchy that lasts until one of them gains sufficient advantage, or a foreigner comes in to smash the squabbling forces and takes over the divided kingdom.

Colonial powers conquered and ruled their colonial holdings much as did the Mongol invaders who invaded China. A strong, unified power came into an area without a unified government, and was able to establish control and rule. This pattern has been in evidence all over the world. Britain ruled India, eastern China, Australia, and southern Africa among other places. The US government destroyed dis-unified Indian tribes and extended control over the entire continent, Hawaii and smashed the Boxer Rebellion in Beijing. Japan and the Chinese Nationalist ruled Taiwan by oppressing the indigenous people with such ruthlessness, there was no chance of uprising. After smashing Japan, the US forced the Japanese people to renounce their traditional warrior culture, and adopt a peaceful constitution before they were allowed self rule. In all these situations, a stronger power came in and forced a weak group of squabbling people to change their behavior to live in peace.

Such is the situation the US faces around the world at the end of 2006. Theorists have essentially thrown away centuries of collected wisdom of how a major power pacifies a troublesome area, and has attempted to do things in a new, unproven way. The US has attempted to be culturally sensitive in the situations where it has intervened lately, and to be charitable, the jury is still out on whether this approach will be successful. Bosnia appears to be a success story, but still requires the heavy commitment of US forces and money to keep the warring parties apart. It is hard to imagine that peace would reign if the US redeployed. Iraq is really up in the air and has all the earmarks of a situation that is not “ripe” for settlement, since none of the sides seems yet to fear being destroyed by any of the others. Since the largest power, the US, is unwilling to impose its vision of a settlement on the country and destroy those who would combat that vision, the minor despots continue their insurrection. Since Israel has been unwilling to destroy the forces of the Palestinians, hat situation does not appear to be ripe for settlement either.

There is now an institutional bias against ethnic cleansing, against partition, against maintaining secure borders and against intervening to destroy one warlike culture to replace it with one more attuned to political settlement of differences. The idea currently in vogue is for the dominant power to avoid a large cultural “footprint” and allow the local people to live as they wish. While we might now shrink from imposing a settlement of differences on an unwilling population and forcing that people to accept it, the historical truth is: this approach works, and it works regardless of the political landscape. Currently, with the US spending more on defense than the next 44 powers combined, with 300 million people and the largest economy in history, there is no doubt about the power of the US in unrivalled. Whether the US can muster the will to use this power in a way that will accomplish its goals, is another question.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

10% correct

This post reads like one of those arguments that a high school Lincoln Douglas debater makes when forced to argue a side of a proposition that he disagrees with. “Resolved: The Texas 10% plan is inherently worse than a system giving preference to racial minorities.” The debater makes points that look like they affirm the proposition or argue against the inverse, but don’t really. Further, the entire argument rests on the idea that there is a substantive difference between colleges.

Regarding the first point: “it often leads universities to admit students that are probably inferior to those they would have chosen otherwise.” Maybe, but, then, so does the proliferation of colleges. If UT-Austin was the only state college in Texas, and could only admit the Valedictorian from each HS class, you would have an erudite group of scholars pursuing knowledge for knowledge’s sake, or some such. But the reality of the situation is that lack of a college degree is a barrier to entry into many fields, state colleges serve the constituents of the state legislatures, and colleges exist to employ academics. So an academic or a frustrated university booster who can’t get his kid into his alma mater may complain that the hallowed classrooms are sullied by the presence of “inferior” students, no one else actually sees this as a problem. People do their four years to get a degree, legislators get their constituents kids into college, and administrators justify the employment of so many academic. Everyone wins.

Regarding gaming the system: Give me a break. Show me one student or family with the wherewithal to plan and execute such a move in order to get into the top 10% of one school when they couldn’t qualify in another, and I will show you someone who could have used that effort and research time to get into some other school that would meet their requirements. Or, here is another challenge: show me one student or family that has actually done this. I can just imagine the thought process: “My kid will finish in the 11th percentile at Plano East, so I am going to drive him everyday to Carter so he can qualify to go to UT-Dallas.” Nonsense.

Can a “harmful effect” of a policy really be “undetected?” And how does arguing that support your proposition? “Your honor, my client will argue that harmful effects of the actions of the defendant have gone undetected and we can’t really say what they are, but take our word for it.” Um, no.

The last argument against the 10% policy is the most interesting, because of all the biases built into it. The primary objection seems to be that poor Mr Price is somehow disadvantaged if he is forced to study finance at University of Houston instead of UT-Austin. Is there any rational basis to make such an objection? Is the education at one state school quantifiably better than at another? Can we say that geologists who graduate from UT-Permian Basin are 8% less likely than those from UT-Austin to detect oil in a particular area? Do lawyers who graduate from George Mason write briefs that are 14% less compelling than those from UCLA? No, of course not. This argument is all about perception of the relative worth of the school, a perception that is completely divorced from any objective criteria. To argue that one school is “better” than another without telling us the criteria upon which this argument is based, is just not compelling.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Lost Room

Every couple of years, I see a show, and become a little obsessed by it. I don’t watch a lot of TV in the evenings, (other than baseball), but there are times when I get into a show, and think about it, pretty much all the time. A few years ago, it was “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” then “The Matrix,” and now, it is “The Lost Room.” “The Lost Room” is a miniseries on the SciFi Channel, about a man looking for his daughter. Only, the man is a detective on the run for killing his partner, and his daughter ran through a door to another dimension. And he has a key that allows him to open doors and move from any room any where in the world to any room any where else in the world. And competing organizations of people are searching for the key, and other ordinary objects, a pen, a coat, a bus ticket, among others, that are infused with powers that alter time or space.

This show is a hoot. There are coolly malevolent bad guys. There are opportunist anarchists. There are petty thieves. There are murderous cults. There are feeble public interest groups. There are clueless cops, evil CSIs, hidden treasure, comedy, romance and creepy terror. The performances are all first class, and the end of the series left a ton of cliff hangers. I can’t wait until the next installments.

There are some loose ends. The “objects” all belong to a man who was checked into a room at a hotel in New Mexico on Rte 66 in 1961. Something, and we have not found out what, happened to infuse everything in the room, including the man himself, with the powers. Throughout the mini-series, people open a door with the key, and end up in the hotel room. Inside the room are a bed, a bedside table, and a TV mounted to the wall opposite the bed. The room has electricity and water. Everyone who enters the room goes over to the TV and fiddles with it, but never turns it on. The TV is not just a prop because there are times when characters just wander over, and the TV obstructs the character from the point of view of other characters and also the audience watching the show. Putting the TV directly in the view of the audience is a clear signal that there is something going on with the TV, but for some reason, no one ever turns it on. I suspect future episodes will reveal more about the TV.

The most malevolent of the bad guys simply disappears at the end of the last episode. He is experimenting with the powers of the glass eye in conjunction with the powers of some of the other objects, when suddenly, he disappears. Where did he go? Hopefully, we will find out.

I can’t wait for more of this show!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Questions, questions, questions

A classmate asks: "I understand the dilemma of sovereignty and our reason for not signing on with the ICC, but even if we arent bound by the jurisdiction (technically we are if the UN refered Rumsfield to the ICC) shouldnt we still act in the manner outlined by the ICC? We are the champions of democracy and the rule of law, in order for us to maintain our credibility we must act credibly."

My reponse: I make a couple of points. 1) International law is not synonmous with the ICC. and 2) The ICC's jurisdiction is whatever the UN and the ICC says it is.

Reagarding point 1), Gen Pinochet can confirm this. Some of the families of people who disappeared during Pinochet's rule in Chile prevailed upon a Spanish judge for justice. This judge investigated the charges and issued an arrest warrant that Scotland Yard enforced when Pinochet showed up in England in 1998 for back surgery. The judge based his warrant on the theory of "universal jurisdiction" the idea that some crimes are such an affront that all humanity has an obligation to pursue the offender, and bring him to justice. (The Ripple Effect of the Pinochet Case By Stacie Jonas Human Rights Brief, Volume 11, Issue 3, pgs. 36-38 May 24, 2004) We therefore see a Spanish judge issuing a warrant that was enforced in England against a Chilean citizen for acts committed in Chile that were considered to be violations of Spanish law. Part of the deal that got Pinochet to give up power was the grant of immunity that was negotiated with other Chilean politicians. What tyrant, seeing the idea of "universal jurisdiction" enforced everywhere in the world, would ever give up the reins of power lest some mischief maker somewhere else in the world decide he was going to bring that tyrant to justice? Such a possibility would make a mediator's job very difficult if the goal were to have the tyrant reliquish power. This is also the theory in the complaint against Rumsfeld. According to press accounts: "The groups' lawyers say their case model was former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who had been arrested five times since 1998 due to human rights cases against him."

Regarding point 2) the Security Council can refer anything or anyone it wants to the ICC for trial. If the powers of the world decide that atrocities occuring in southern Thailand or the Marshall Islands or southeast Chad are so heinous that the perpetrators are committing crimes against humanity, if those individuals are somehow caught, they can be hauled up in front of the ICC.

Another classmate asks: "How legitimate is its power?"

My response: I am not sure who you are referring to when you ask "how legitimate is its power?" For either the US or the ICC, the question pivots on the definition of "legitimate." America's power in the world is undeniable; it is the third most populous country in the world, the largest economy in the world, has the most capable military and outspends the next 44 countries in defense expenditure.

The ICC, on the other hand, has seen its ratification treaty legitimately signed by 139+ countries, but the same question Stalin asked about the Vatican during WWII must be asked about the ICC: "How many divisions has it got?" Without some way to compel unwilling actors to comply with the rulings of the ICC, it is an inert body. The only way to compel anyone is with sufficient force, force that only the US and its allies can provide.

Folly of International Law

The idea that international law tribunals have legitimacy is based on the concept of consensus. There is a paradox in this, because in order for a tribunal to be created, the countries of the world must all agree with the following: 1) that a group of people committed atrocities, 2) that these atrocities were so bad that they demand international attention, 3) that the atrocities were committed with the sanction of the state, 4) that those in power in the state who gave the orders or committed the acts are identifiable, and that 5) the sentences of those convicted will justify the considerable expense and time of the trials. In other words, for all countries of the world to agree on the applicability of international law, there must be agreement that the target of the international law is guilty and worth the expense of prosecuting. For a shorthand description of this process, we can turn to the Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland” who exclaimed during the Knave of Heart’s trial for stealing the tarts: “Sentence first—verdict afterwards.”

The entire edifice of international law is based on consensus of those who agree to be bound by it or to enforce it. This consensus is based on the acceptance of certain traits that are common to all people around the world. McDougal and Lasswell developed a classification of human desires that they published in “The Identification and Appraisal of Diverse Systems of Public Order” in 1981. Their classification of human requirements included security, enlightenment, wealth, well-being, skill, affection, respect, and rectitude. Chander, in “Globalization and Distrust” argues that “Underlying even these values is a commitment to a world public order of human dignity.” (Pg 1230) While there may be a philosophical underpinning for international law, the calculus of power requires that the powerful governments of the world agree on whom to try, and where.

The classic examples of international tribunal conducted with maximum consensus were the Nuremberg Trials of the Nazis and the Tokyo War Crimes trials after World War II. The powers of the world, after extended conflict, had just vanquished regimes that practiced atrocities. There was little doubt that those regimes and the leaders of them would face justice. However, even though such a trial would seem to be a slam dunk in terms of consensus among the government of the world, some see it differently.

Donald Bloxham, in his book Genocide on Trial: the war crimes trials and the formation of Holocaust history and memory, page 4, calls the International Military Tribunal ‘the most significant manifestation of what came to be known critically as “victor’s justice’”.

So even though the world had to recognize that the Nazi and the Japanese leadership had conducted numerous acts that were an affront to human dignity and world public order, there were still those who questioned the legitimacy of those trials.
Additionally, international conventions have layered intricate rules of procedure and evidence onto the process that extends the length of trials. For example, Milosovic’s trial had lasted 5 years before he died, making the whole thing moot. But even absent the consensus that would seems to be a pre-requisite for prosecuting war criminals, given the structures of international law already in place, there is ample opportunity for the unscrupulous to use those structures. The latest news regarding international law is the idea that Germany is going to charge US Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld with crimes against humanity. While it is impossible to conceive that the Supreme Court would allow the extradition of Rumsfeld, this kind of mischief will make it difficult for Rumsfeld to ever again travel lest some eager magistrate seize him to satisfy the German warrant. Given such daunting standards, is it possible that international law will ever be considered anything other than rump victor’s justice or a vehicle for mischief making?

Probably not.

Further, the prospect of “international law” being brought to bear also tends to make a mediator’s job more problematic. What incentive would a despot have to relinquish power if he knew that regardless of the assurances he has in his own country regarding immunity, an international body or another country might indict him and drag him before some tribunal for years of endless hearings and a possible death penalty?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pacifism Doesn't Always Work Out So Well

I can respect the desire to be a pacifist, but pacifism combined with freedom is a luxury afforded only to those protected by sufficient military might to prevent the weak from being preyed upon by the strong. Generally, pacifism is most often associated with subjugation because the natural tendency of men and nations is to contest for power and resources. Steven LeBlanc writes in his book Constant Battles about how man has fought since our species has been on the planet. There has never been an era in history not marked by near constant warfare. The only thing that keeps men and nations from warring is sufficient bounty for all. The best mechanism for insuring bounty for all is a democratic government that allows entrepreneurial rights and protects people’s property and individual rights.

Democracies fight more wars because their economic power gives them a presence in places far from their own region and allows them to project military power. So, when a local despot oppresses threatens a democracy’s interests, or the democracy’s people, the democracy has to respond because frankly, the people of the democracy, the voters, want it. Think back to President Bush standing on the rubble of the World Trade Center when he said: "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon," The crowd roared its approval, and the President enjoyed his highest approval ratings. Why? Because the people of America wanted to strike back and Bush, the politician, was going to do exactly what the voters wanted. This aggressive pursuit of despots across the world has been a trait of modern democracies. America destroyed the Barbary pirates off the coast of Libya in the early 1800’s, allied European democracies crushed the Chinese “Boxer Rebellion,” America destroyed the Spanish in Cuba at the turn of the 20th century and Australia ended the slaughter of innocents in East Timor at the turn of the 21st century. In each case I just sited, a democracy responded with overwhelming force to relatively minor provocations. Why? Because, such actions were popular.

Now, would pacifism have been a better policy? I think the answer to that question depends on what you value. If you value the preservation of life above all, and the absence of suffering brought on by injuries caused by weapons, then yes, pacifism is the best policy. But if you care about liberty and freedom in addition to safety, it is hard to see how pacifism delivers those things. A tyrant will take all that a pacifist state has and enslave the people. Peace will reign, but at a cost that is unacceptable to free people. The people in democracies will see injustice somewhere in the world, and demand their governments stop it.

Is trying to create a democracy the best policy after deposing a despot? Perhaps not, but Winston Churchill addressed this question directly in a speech to the House of Commons in 1947: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

For those who love peace, as we all do, an imperfect democracy is preferable to a stable dictatorship. Perhaps the most compelling justification for this statement is one that is more germane to this class. Democracies establish mechanisms to safeguard rights and which reward the peaceful resolution of differences. When two democracies have a conflict, both sides can send negotiators to the table to resolve differences, even if the negotiations take years. The US and Canada periodically meet to resolve differences over fishing areas along their maritime boundaries. Never a shot is fired. On the other hand, the North and South Korean navies are in a constant state of readiness during the blue crab harvest, often firing on each other because there is no mechanism for a peaceful resolution of this problem. South Korea and Japan, a couple of democracies, also have joint fishing areas that are mutually patrolled with no rancor. Democracies can resolve problems because both sides are predisposed to utilized civilized resolution mechanisms. Democracies do not have a similar luxury when there is a dispute with a despot.

Speaking of Japan and South Korea; they stand as testimony to the successes that are possible when one country imposes democracy on another.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why Negotiation Doesn't Work

In “Preventive Statecraft: A Realist Strategy”, Bruce Jentleson wrote that: "In all the cases in the Carnegie Commission Study I led there were specific and identifiable opportunities to limit, if not prevent, conflicts." “Preventative Statecraft,” a chapter written by Dr Jentleson in the book Turbulent Peace, was published in 2001. The study Dr Jentleson referenced was published 4 years earlier in the book: Opportunities Missed, Opportunities Seized: Preventative Diplomacy in the Post Cold War World. Although Jentleson seems definitive in
his later assessment of the judgments from Opportunities Missed, the text of the study itself reveals some nuances.

The Carnegie Study looked at 10 different conflicts around the world, some conflicts inside borders, some across borders. Jentleson and his group looked at conflicts in the former Soviet Union, the Baltics, the former Yugoslavia, Africa and in Korea. Although Jentleson is correct to assert that every study showed points early in the conflict where aggressive diplomacy could conceivably have had some effect, in every case, with the exception of the remarkable success in the Baltics, 1) the timing of those points was not as clear to those in the conflicts as it was to researchers after the fact. There are two other issues to note about Jentleson’s points: 2) In other hot spots, the only time to intervene in the conflict, is before the conflict has actually occurred. 3) Often, successful intervention in a conflict sometimes only postpones a conflict until later, essentially “kicking the can down the road.”

Regarding point 1, the Carnegie researchers of the 90’s Congo conflict noted that “As is perhaps common in regard to this topic, there was plenty of early warning of this crisis, and yet it took everyone by surprise.” (Pg 268) This observation also relates to last week’s discussion about foretelling conflicts. Indicators that are crystal clear in retrospect seem somewhat more ambiguous when a policy maker has to use those indistinct indications of potential conflict to determine his policy. Another difficulty facing policy makers who are trying to determine a future course of action to deter a conflict is that those policy makers must shift from appearing tough to finding some way to reach common ground for negotiating. Such a change has a way of undermining a leader’s authority because negotiating requires giving something up. The negotiating paradox is that in order to get what you want, you have to give some of what you have. Many times, followers are loathe to give anything to a traditional rival, so leaders proceed along such a course at considerable risk. Nonetheless, negotiators strive for the time when circumstances will allow bold participants, with the help of mediators, to reach an agreement to prevent conflict. Jentleson calls this time during a crisis when intervention would do the most good, the “ripe” time. The problem is seeing ripeness as it is occurring, vice after the fact when it is too late.

Related to this is a second component of Jentleson’s analysis that dovetails with Chester Crocker’s observation in the discussion question. Crocker argues that the best time to negotiate a settlement is before the bullets start to fly. Jentleson explicitly endorses this point of view on page 331 of Opportunities Missed. “Jacob Bercovitch and Jeffrey Langley, in their study of 97 disputes of various types involving 364 separate mediation attempts, found a declining success rate for mediation as fatalities increased. Roy Licklider goes further, arguing that once civil wars get going a military victory tends to be a more stable “solution” than a negotiated settlement.” Jentleson calls the idea that once a conflict reaches certain level of violence, that “the Rubicon has been crossed” referring to the river north of Rome that no Roman General was allowed to cross with his army, lest rebellion be declared and one or the other side was successful. When the level of violence “crosses the Rubicon,” there is little hope that negotiation will work until one side is defeated, or both are exhausted.

Both Jentleson and Crocker are right on in their assessments. It is best to negotiate when both sides are cool, rather than during the heat of battle. But this time we face a conundrum similar in kind if not degree to the problem of picking the ripest moment of a crisis to attempt negotiations: if there is not yet really a problem nor a shooting war, what incentive is there for anyone to spend the time and effort to meaningfully negotiate? Some negotiators call the process of negotiating prior to “ripeness” as “negotiating for negotiation sake.” Jentleson points up another danger of this strategy, on page 337, a danger which is of failing to give full attention or concern to the process. The danger of failing to fully engage in negotiation is that it displays a lack of commitment and a lack of political that looks a lot like weakness that another side will attempt to exploit and perhaps precipitate a crisis.

Regarding point 3), often times, the successes in negotiating peace only postpone a conflict until later. The classic example occurred in the Congo where a peace treaty in 1994 prevented a wider conflict, but also allowed some of the actors to strengthen their positions and others to lose cohesiveness and become independent and uncontrollable. In 1997, tensions escalated again and were unable to be negotiated away. All sides decided to use their strengthened positions to fight it out. As Jentleson himself says on page 330, “prevention is more difficult when the interests of major domestic actors are served more by perpetuation and intensification of the conflict than its resolution.”

The views of Jentleson and Crocker are certainly not in opposition, and Jentleson and Crocker quote one another and anthologize one another in each other’s books. In fact, Crocker credits Jentleson on page 4 of Taming Intractable Conflicts with some of the “...excellent recent work on conflict causes [that] has prompted the scholar-practitioner community to devote more attention to what third parties should do to prevent the eruption of violence, in new places...” There is not much daylight in the views of the two men. I think both would agree that negotiation can prevent or limit conflicts, but the negotiation has to occur “early, early, early” (Opportunities Missed pg 337). The problem, as we are beginning to see as a trend, is with intelligence being able to tell us definitively that we are at the beginning of a conflict, and when the ripe time is to intervene.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Thoughts on Training

Let me say that for the most part, Maj Egland is right on in his prescriptions but I want to address a couple of the points he made. I am an intelligence officer, and in my current job, I draft the standards which are used to create the learning objectives for training, so I know a little bit about Maj Egland’s points #2 and #5. For #2, Maj Egland has diagnosed the wrong problem with training and proposed an inadequate solution to the problem that actually does exist. Maj Egland decries “Cold War era” checklists, and repetitive training to standards but then proposes rebuilding training requirements. What he leaves unsaid is that the rebuilt training requirements will come down to the units in the form of checklists that are written by those who have recently returned from combat. Checklists are not the problem, I think that it is what is contained in the checklists that Maj Egland objects to.

As a standards writer, I hear all the time from the operating forces that training does not meet the conditions under which Marines are expected to operate and that what is being taught is not the best response to stimulus in combat. I listen respectfully, because they have the latest and greatest gouge about what is going on in the War. But what those recently returning from the War must remember is that their experiences are essentially anecdotal and must be weighed against those of other Marines’ (and other soldiers’) experiences to develop a coherent picture of what is happening, and how training should respond. For example, when we were trying to create training for how a convoy should best respond to an improvised explosive device (IED) attack, we had “lessons learned” documents and subject matter experts (SME's) who were all emphatic that the proper response in that situation was to stop in place and deploy; drive the vehicles into a herringbone formation and deploy; drive through the kill zone without speeding all the while returning fire; floor it though the kill zone without returning fire; and other variations of these. The pressure on the standard writers, curriculum developers and trainers was immense because everyone was demanding counter IED training immediately. The then-current training was inadequate and was getting Marines killed. The frustrating fact is that all the various ideas for improving training must be considered, especially when they come from experienced, well intentioned Marines with a sincere interest in doing the best possible thing for Marines and the Marine Corps. The truth about training is that just because some officer thinks that training should be one way does not mean the entire Marine Corps (or Army) concurs. That process of gaining consensus or at least majority approval takes time but can be expedited when there is the will and resources to do so.

But once the SMEs agree on the training standards, and the operating forces have a chance to approve them, the standards are published so that the units can begin training to them, and so, yes, checklists can be created to determine whether the units are performing the tasks required.

Now, reading between the lines, Maj Egland may actually be advocating more free play type exercises that can be subjectively evaluated so that junior enlisted and officers can respond to unexpected situations. Admittedly, that would be the best way to train, but the reality is that such exercises take time to set up and are extremely “resource and manpower intensive.” With the current pace of deployments and the number of Marines and soldiers who must be trained in the burgeoning number of tasks in which they must be proficient, there just is not the luxury to provide as much free-play training as we would like. Hence, the dreaded checklists. If we had more Marines available to construct and conduct training events, we could conduct better training. But given the zero sum game when it comes to personnel available to the schoolhouses and the operating forces, the Army and the Marine Corps has to make the hard choices when it comes to delivering training.

As to point #5, Maj Egland is correct that more intelligence sharing and analysis is better than less. The limiting factor in reporting actionable intelligence up the chain is the fact that so much of the effort involved in questioning bad guys and potential sources of intelligence is the ridiculous amount of paperwork that must accompany each detainee or report that is sent to the rear. The problem actually starts at the top of the chain of command. The current buzz word for intelligence collection is “tactical questioning.” The Department of Defense has mandated that all the services train to and execute tactical questioning so that Marines and soldiers at the front line ask the right questions to elicit actionable intelligence in order to immediately press the fight. It sounds great, but if you look at the actual directive that came down from DOD, Number 3115.09 DoD Intelligence Interrogations, Detainee Debriefings, and Tactical Questioning, ¾ of it is concerned with respecting the rights of detainees and ensuring questioning follows applicable laws for those questioned! How much consideration is due to terrorists or foreign nationals in a war zone? It is a ridiculous document, but all the requirements contained in it complicate and lengthen questioning training. Additionally, Theater commanders have directed that questioning and detaining of suspects must conform to Iraqi law, and be under the review of Iraqi magistrates. So, a lot of man-hours that would otherwise be used to hunt and kill terrorists or doing link analysis on small bit of intelligence, is instead wasted with completing chain of custody documents and compiling multiple witness statements in order to ensure that detained bad guys are not sprung on technicalities. Ironically, even with all the time and effort given over to satisfy Iraqi requirements at the expense of intelligence analysis, the vast majority of detained Iraqis are released without prejudice. This colossal waste of time detracts from the intelligence mission to the detriment of the overall mission.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

To Lileks

After having read your stuff for a couple of years and I enjoy that you bring so much nostalgia to light. In the past, I have also appreciated your take on current events as well, you seem like a pretty clear headed observer of what is going on around you. That being said, I have to say that I have been terribly disappointed by your performance during the run up to the election. 3 points. For weeks, Hugh Hewitt and Powerline have been banging on the STRIB for ignoring the disgusting past of Keith Ellison, the ridiculous attacks on Fine, and the generally dishonest and biased reporting during the election season. Even Mark Steyn weighed in. These are your guys! Yet in the midst of all the angst about what is going on at your employer, angst I know you were aware of, you said nothing. That brings me to point 2.

The day before the election, you finally write something about the candidate who is soon to be your congressman. Yes, coming out like you did on the even of the election was welcome, but at the same time, I wonder why you did not publish such a thing a few weeks before? Why did you not publish a Screed? The most important issue of our time, confronting virulent versions of Islam, a representative of which is being elected to Congress as YOUR congressman, and the most you can do is one feeble Bleat the day before the election? I have to say, I was very disappointed.

For the third point, I was going to write a paragraph here wondering at your motives, but on second thought, I don’t think I will. I will ask you though, are you doing all you can to counter the threat of our age? Or have you chosen to surround yourself in things, ignoring what is happening around you and hoping that whatever bad that is going to happen will happen to your daughter, sometime after you are dead?

Get back in the fight James, we need you. Semper fi

Where next?

“[V]ery few of the new manifestations in war can be ascribed to new inventions or new departures in ideas. They result mainly from the transformation of society and new social conditions”. Dr Gray, in the reading contained in the packet "How Has War Changed Since the End of the Cold War?", quotes this passage from Clauswitz to make the point that that war, the effort to impart one’s will on another by force, would not change. Those fighting, the reasons they fight, the constraints under which they fight, will change, but the conflict would remain recognizable to observers from one era to the next. That being said, the types of conflicts that the world community will be facing in this era, while not new under the sun, will certainly be unlike anything that the current generation of world leaders will have experienced.

Dr Gray makes another point that is germane to the analysis of characteristics of post Cold War conflict. He says: “Trend spotting is not a good guide to the future.” Another way to put this is that the future is never a straight line from the now. Or to borrow a theory that race car drivers live by: “Aim for the wreck because by the time you get there, it will be gone.” Predicting the future based only on what we see now is probably a fool’s errand, therefore it is necessary to make some guesses based on historical precedent, as well as what we can observe now. Given these caveats about predicting the future, we can say that fanatical Islamists remain on the offensive around the world, seeking to gain the means to carry out “catastrophic terrorism,” in the words of Dr Gray. Militant Islam is expansionist, aggressive, convinced by their ideology that they deserve to rule the world and as yet, undefeated. So long as such an ideology remains viable, its adherents will continue to press the conflict. Iran is attempting to gain a nuclear weapon, and making overt threats toward Israel and has a nihilistic force in Hezbollah that seems willing to endure any sacrifice to inflict casualties. Once they get a nuclear weapon, Islamists will either use it or blackmail the West into submission. Chester Crocker makes the point in Taming Intractable Conflicts, pg 83, that negotiating with individuals driven by religious ideology seems pointless. “The jury is still out on whether conflicts involving religion are inherently more intractable than other conflict, whether religious-ideological issues make it harder for warring elites to compromise without being seen as betraying their principles, and whether religious disputes have a zero-sum quality that other disputes lack.” In other words, there has been no evidence that conflicts born of religious ideology end other than in total victory for one side or the other.

Another characteristic of conflict will likely be some kind of conventional war in Asia. There are a number of historical animosities in Asia that have been tamped down because of variety of reasons but perhaps most notably because of American engagement in North Eastern Asia. Since America must contend with emergent threats in Southwest Asia, regional players in Asia have had more latitude to assert their particular interests, and there are numerous points of friction, any of which could start a conflict. North Korea is aggressively threatening its neighbors is such a way that is forcing South Korea and Japan to respond. Japan’s unfortunate history in Korea causes both North and South to feel threatened by the idea of a resurgent Japan. China’s navy is aggressively patrolling in Taiwanese and Japanese waters and menacing American warships in international waters. China is opening threatening Taiwan with missiles and encroaching on Vietnamese economic exclusion zone in the pursuit of oil and natural gas reserves. With America looking away, similar conditions that prevailed in 1950, any or all of these hot spots looks likely to result in a conventional cross border conflict.

But if we are trying to imagine what the next conflict will be, I imagine that the conflict will spring from what Donald Rumsfeld calls the “unknown unknowns.” Some type conflict will happen, that as of right now, we cannot predict. When it happens, however, the necessity to engage in conflict will seem imperative and inevitable. I can remember in the summer of 2001 being tasked with providing input to a large “10 year way ahead” predictive analysis paper being prepared for CINCPAC. 50+ analysts worked for weeks thinking about this task then providing input to that document. Within 6 weeks, the entire document was shredded as being completely irrelevant to the new facts on the ground.

In the post Cold War era, the characteristics of conflict that we world will face include a war of annihilation against an implacable ideological foe, similar to the conflict of World War II, a conventional cross region war in Asia similar to the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the China-Vietnam War, the Rape of Nanking, or the Chinese Civil War, and an unexpected and as of now, unexpected conflict somewhere else in the world that will nonetheless demand international participation.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Webb vs Lieberman

It has puzzled me why the Left was so eager to get rid of Lieberman but so ready to embrace Webb. Don't get me wrong, I understand realpolitik, and the need to accept the good with the bad in some of your politicians in order to get the results you want, but the Democrats seemed ridiculous in their exhuberant defense of Webb. Had they not read his books? Did they not know his record? Sure, he is against the War, but he is against it because he does not think it is being fought ruthlessly enough. I think we can say he is in the "Rubble don't cause trouble" school of thought. Seems hard to reconcile him with the Cindy Sheehan wing of the Democrat party, but I guess since he didn't vote to authorize the War, and since he was running against Allen, well, in that case, Webb is ok. I suspect the the Dems will rue the day they voted in another member of the Lieberman caucus.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Can the US win wars of insurgency?

The short answer these days is probably no, at least, not like we choose to fight them now. We are fighting the insurgents on the ground, using a myriad of techniques: We attempt to kill the ones we can find with direct fire weapons manned by infantrymen. We try to build infrastructure to win civilians over to our side, and to quit supporting the insurgents. We train police to take over their own cities. We train soldiers to independently go out and kill the bad guys. We show great deference to the civilian courts system to establish the rule of law instead of the rule of the strongest man. We defer to local customs. We negotiate where we can. We buy off others when negotiation breaks down. We are trying many different thing, and many of them are working individually, and all together, the plan to defeat the insurgency is working, but (and this is the BIG BUT) the plan is working slowwwwwwwly.

The old saying was that “Speed kills,” but nowadays, when an American force is fighting an insurgency, the real killer is slowness. Lack of speed doesn’t kill the US soldiers doing the work, in fact, our death rate in Iraq over three years would have made the mothers of Europe and America during World War I weep with joy that so few had to be sacrificed. No, the slowness of the effort kills the will of America to continue to see and hear about American deaths on the TV news. It is not the expense of rebuilding Iraq, or the cost in ordnance to fight the war, it is the steady drip, drip, drip of lost US lives in the glare of television news that has doomed the current US counter insurgency doctrine. The US can go anywhere and do anything so long as what our forces are doing does not involve the loss of American lives or the gratuitous or wanton killing or humiliation.

Don’t believe me? Ask yourself, what are US forces doing in Bosnia 10 years on from the initial deployment? What are we doing in the Horn of Africa? What is the Navy doing about piracy and banditry in the Indian Ocean? We are aggressively rooting out terrorists and evildoers, but no one knows because there is not a newspaper that cares. Men die in these missions, “civilians” are killed, but there is nary of peep from the Human Rights Watch. But roust a family who is harboring terrorist weapons in Ramadi and accidentally unveil a woman, and the entire human rights establishment gets the vapors. Why do we hear about human rights “abuses” in Iraq but not a word about bandits in the Straits of Malacca? The answer? The Iraq theatre features safe press access to well-meaning Public Affairs Officers working hard to get out the “true” story, the press’ ability to quiz Iraqi men on the streets about their attitudes toward the US and the easy access to the morgue that allows the lazy reporter to count bodies that showed up over night and write an article about civilian casualties.

So what news viewers in America are faced with is a poisonous mixture of dead American soldiers who are killed while moving between places, seemingly for no reason, since no context is ever given, while civilian bodies pile up in the streets and Iraqis complain. Is it any wonder that the American people have lost patience with the War? If all I knew about the War was what I learned on some news show, I would be fed up too.

Instead, I hear about the legions of schools that are being built, all the children being educated, all the insurgents being hunted down and killed at a ratio of 10 –1 or better, about Iraqi army and police units becoming better trained and proud of their prowess. How every report ends with the hopeful assessment that while things can be up and down, it will work out with more TIME.

But TIME Magazine is working to make sure that time runs out on the Iraq project. Now why would they do that? Well, the body count stories are the easiest to write because it is pretty easy to walk down to the morgue and start counting. Some reporters are gutless, and don’t want to go outside the wire to report anything. Some are stupid and don’t realize how badly they are demoralizing their audience. Some are shrewd and know exactly how badly they are demoralizing their audience. These are just guesses, however as to the causes, but the effect could not be more clear: people fighting the war believe in it, people watching it on TV, don’t, and they just want it to end. So, these people elected the Democrats to help make that happen.
But I will amend that. People don’t care whether it ends or not, they just don’t want to look at it anymore. If people were subjected to stories about all the Marines killed in training accidents and car accidents, I think 70% of Americans would be against training and driving of Marines. But since the press is looking at Iraq, and presenting only one side of the story, the bad side, the dying side, people don’t want to look at it. Figure a way to get it off the TV, and people would no more care about the Iraq situation than they care about Bosnia or Mauritania. But getting Iraq off the TV seems as likely as getting the Israel conflict off the TV.

This brings me back to my original point that given the constraints we have now, we can’t win an insurgency like we are fighting it. Too much TV, distorting too much of the story, making it seem like it can all stop if we just leave them alone in their own country. That point of view may be foolish and shortsighted, but then again, what is most television programming if not foolish and shortsighted?
So what is the answer, if fighting the insurgency can’t be won this way because we don’t have the time. Check back for the next installment, and I will tell you.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Subcontracting out to Japan

I wish Rice and Rumsfeld would go to Tokyo, stand with the government there, and say that the Korean problem is best solved by the regional power, Japan, with America in direct support. Subcontracting the resolution of Korea to Japan should have the effect of focusing the minds of all concerned. America has had 50 years to resolve things there, without much effect. Japan, on the other hand, has shown that they know how to deal with the Korean peninsula. It is time that they get another crack at it.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

CSI: Ramadi

My current job in the Marine Corps is to write standards for actions that Marines perform in the course of their duties. I then help the schools where we train Marines take those standards and create learning objectives for training. The standards that I have been working on most recently are for something called tactical questioning and evidence collection. This would be a pretty mundane exercise for military police or judge advocates who are involved in capturing and questioning the criminal element. However, the standards I am writing are not for MPs or JAGs but instead are for regular straight leg infantry. Because of the way this war has devolved, commanders now must train their grunts to question terrorists they capture and collect evidence in such a way that the evidence and answers hold up in court lest these murderers be sprung by Iraqi magistrates to kill again.

We are training Marines to establish and maintain chain of custody for explosives and weapons found on the scene of a raid. Marines must meticulously file forms with every block complete about the terrorist they capture or the arrests get kicked out of court. Marines who capture prisoners must recreate their interrogations after the raid, and be prepared to testify in court about the circumstances of capture. I do this because I have been ordered to, but my disgust with what we expect of Marines on the frontline is manifest.

My problem is not that Marines are being tasked to do something they can’t do. Marines are completing these tasks admirably. My outrage is in regards to the fact that this is the way commanders in the theater expect our Marines to comport themselves. Collecting and documenting evidence is done with the presumption that terrorism is a law enforcement problem and that the people encountered in the course of raids are presumed innocent. I am in favor of that presumption if law enforcement is pursuing terrorists inside the US. But we are training Marines in Iraq who are chasing al Qeada, not deputy sheriffs in mid-America. When Marines encounter men in a building full of explosives and weapons, these men are either terrorists or collaborators. Either way, these men’s proximity to weaponry is prima facie evidence that those men are unlawful combatants. Why we turn these terrorists over to the Iraq civilian court system with its ridiculous rules of evidence baffles me. The best we should offer these terrorists is a tent city inside concertina wire someplace in Kurdistan until hostilities cease. Instead, we inculcate passivity into Marines who should be aggressive hunters and killers of terrorists, and we waste money and resources training Marines to be adjuncts to a foreign courts system. It is an outrage, and our Generals and civilian leadership should be forced to answer why.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

God is in His Heaven, and All is Right in the World

Yankees lose in 4 games, ARod embarrasses himself, and there will be no Yankees in the World Series this year.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Civilized World

We would like to thank Islam for the yearly riots and tramplings in Mecca. Nothing does more to confirm our inherent superiority than watching millions of knuckleheads throwing pebbles then crushing each other getting away from a fire set when some goatherder from Wheretheflockistan kicks over a sterno can while trying to bbq some camel sphincters.

Monday, September 18, 2006

JAG Corps Ambitions

Let me tell you about my recent experience with the Marine JAG Corps. The “Marine Corps Lessons Learned” Program noticed that in the counter-IED and counter-insurgency fight, on-scene commanders in some cases have been losing the tactical advantage. According to some of the commanders, if squad leaders and fire-team leaders had the requisite questioning skills to exploit what is known as “capture shock” to elicit good actionable intelligence from the terrorists right at the point of capture, Marines could press the fight at the tactical level more effectively. When the CG Marine Corps Combat Development Command heard of these findings, he directed that we institute a “tactical questioning” course, and push it to the lowest levels.

So far so good. As a crash fix, we cobbled together some training based on questioning techniques used by counter-intelligence and human intelligence Marines, and made it happen, Stateside and in-theater. But, here is where the JAGs come in. As we convened a conference to devise “standards” for tactical questioning that would allow us to institutionalize and standardize tactical questioning training across the Marine Corps, the JAGs insisted on sending representatives to this effort. They were soon working to transform “tactical questioning” for intelligence purposes to “tactical evidence gathering.” They want to (this process is ongoing) include training to Lance Corporals and Corporals for evidence chain of custody, rights-sensitive questioning, and crime scene photography.

In the course of planning this conference, I asked one JAG, “what process is actually due a terrorist who is literally still on the battlefield?” He started to talk about how reciprocal treatment is the cornerstone of the Geneva conventions and how we need to safeguard Marines from claims in US and foreign courts based on ill treatments of detainees. So I asked him, if we are willing to allow terrorists the right-to-remain-silent that will effectively negate the moment of “capture shock” as having any tactical value, why should we not just train Marines to kill terrorists when we find them? There is no obligation under the GC to accept surrender, especially from unlawful combatants and since there is no chance to gain any intelligence from them, they are better off to us dead.

He fell back on the reciprocal treatment argument that is just ludicrous on its face. When in this conflict has any captured personnel be treated according to the GC? We are meticulously trying to adhere to a treaty to which the other party is not actually a signatory and who is clearly outside the protection the treaty is supposed to afford. It looks to me that the JAGs have made some kind of fetish out of “due process” that turns it into a universal human right inherent even in nihilistic, murderous terrorists who, ironically, consider us less than human. And, that this universal human right is something that only the JAG Corps is qualified to safeguard.

I am going to lose this battle. Tactical questioning training that should be a two day course focused on rolling up the bad guys and killing the ones we find, is going to bloat up into a massive 10 day evolution covering evidence collection, testifying in civil and JAG procedures, photography, sketching capture scenes and God knows what all else. I had not thought of the JAGs attempt to turn everything we do on the battlefield into an issue of law as some kind of growth strategy as Gertz’ and Scarborough’s source claims, but that is as good an explanation as any for their behavior.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Peters Slurs Patriots

Just heard Ralph Peters on the Laura Ingraham show. He is selling his newest book and he has written an article warning against right wing extremists who claim that Islam itself is un-reformable and must be defeated. Peter’s entire article is one long “but...” He catalogs a long list of his tough-guy bona fides, repeatedly asserting that he wants to kill bad guys, terrorists, extremists those who have hijacked a great faith. These bad guys are a “minority within a minority” who must be defeated while leaving the larger Islamic faith and those who practice it, intact. Peters says that the US military needs to buy time for the long overdue reformation of Islam. In Peters’ world, there are plenty of bad guys who need killing BUT Islam isn’t the problem. For Peters, the real problem is that some Christians look at the problems that adherents to Islam pose to the world and think the solution is to kill more than Peters thinks is prudent.

I have a pretty low opinion of Peters. I look at his as the columnist equivalent of James Webb. Peters thinks that he is smarter than his readers and worse, that anyone who is not as smart as him is morally deficient. His (and Webb’s) is the hubris of Custer; someone who knows better than others around him and who looks upon those who agree with him in kind but not degree as dangerous lunatics. Peters reminds me of the very worst kind of intelligence officer (which he once was), someone convinced he is right, and everyone else is too stupid or corrupt to see it as he does.

I have two problems with Peter’s thesis in the article. One problem is that Peters think that it is the fault of Christians who look at the atrocities committed by Moslem evildoers screaming “god is great” for thinking Islam is not compatible with civilized behavior. Rational people expect that when atrocities are committed by someone claiming to represent a larger group, actual representatives of that larger group will come out to publicly and repeatedly disclaim all connection with terrorism committed in their name. Where are the Islamic leaders? Where are the Imams, then business executives, the politicians, the sports figures, the entertainers? No where. Their silence condemns their entire faith.

Secondly, Peters makes the point that you can’t kill a billion Muslims so we had better find a way to accommodate them. Can you imagine Truman saying “you can’t kill all the Japanese, so we had better accommodate them?” No, certainly not. Truman, in contrast to Peters, had the benefits of clear thinking and courage. Truman realized that you could kill a large enough number of those who believed in the superiority and inevitability of the Japanese ideology, the remainder would realize the error of their beliefs, and change those beliefs. No, you can’t kill a billion Muslims, but you can kill enough of them, or make their lives miserable enough, that they realize that what they had believed is not working out so well, and it is time to change. Peters should stick to writing novels and computer games, and leave the slurring of Christians and other American patriots to the enemies of America like Islamic terrorists and Democrats.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sinologist disses Rice

I came across this wrong headed article about the misuse of Chinese when making a point. I drafted a letter to send the good professor since he doesn't look at his email. His article is about Secretary of State Rice's assertion that the Chinese word for "crisis" contains the elements for danger and opportunity. The prof disagrees. Here is my take:


I recently read your article “How a misunderstanding about Chinese characters has led many astray” which criticizes those who think wei1 ji1 contains the characters for “danger” and “opportunity” as “Pollyanaish,” “fatal misapprehension” and “fundamentally fallacious.” From what I can gather from your writing, you assert that people (Westerners or Chinese) should not look at the individual characters of the Chinese constructions because those individual characters do not retain their implied meaning in a combined construction when they are split apart from other combined constructions.

“Ji1” retains its meanings in the word for “airplane” “fei1 ji1” when the “ji1” is borrowed to make the word for “airport” “ji1 chang3.” Neither “fei1” or “ji1” necessarily means airplane, only “fei1 ji1” means airplane, but “ji1” means airplane when you combine it with “chang3” to make airport. So, I am not sure why I should accept your assertion that “ji1” cannot mean opportunity when it is combined with “wei1” when that same character retains the meaning of “airplane” when combined with “chang3.”

Words mean what people using the language think they mean. Just because a learned professor of East Asian languages thinks a combination of Chinese characters should mean one thing, and not another, does not necessarily make it so. You and I may think “三Q” is gibberish, but every Taiwanese kid knows it means “thank you.” If people think “wei1 ji1” means “danger + opportunity,” well then, it does. Further, it seems strange that someone who would coin and use an English word like “pollyanaish” would object to Chinese being used in the same way.

Finally, while your observation that: “Adopting a feel-good attitude toward adversity may not be the most rational, realistic approach to its solution” might be true of pessimists, Europeans and Penn academics, but most Americans, of whom the Secretary of State is most assuredly a fine example, prefer an optimistic view of world events. If optimists want to use Chinese characters to make that point, I would think that a “Sinologist” like yourself would applaud rather than throw brickbats.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Japanese Colonial Activity as Genocide: A Deliberate Case of Mistaken Identity

At the end of the 19th century, the Japanese has a desire to establish a colonial empire. This desire had three motivations. The first motivation was that the Japanese sought new markets for goods and new sources for raw materials. The prevailing economic theory was that the most efficient way for industrial powers to grow markets and secure a reliable supply of resources was to have access to all components of the trade cycle. A colonial power could extract resources from the colony, convert those resources into manufactured goods at home for export, some of which the colony would be required to purchase. Another motivator for Japanese colonialism was the desire to thwart Western colonial designs on Asia. Western powers had carved up Africa, Australia, and the subcontinent of Asia and were blocked from South American, so all that was left for Europe and the United States to pursue was Asia. The Meiji leaders were well aware that industrialization and expansion went hand in hand. They knew that European leaders invoked economic benefits to justify the acquisition of colonial territory (even if there was little evidence to support such claims) and that the European powers used trade, loans and investments as the entering wedge of political penetration. 1

The Western penetration into parts of Asia was extremely worrisome for the Japanese government and became the second impetus toward Japanese colonialism. In order to block or prevent Western powers from entering parts of Asia near Japan, the new Japanese empire would have to get to those parts of Asia first. Japan’s Foreign Minister Komura Jutaro, at the turn of the century, recognized the problem that faced Japan: “Competition through commercial and industrial activity and through overseas activities is a phenomenon of grave importance in recent international relations. Its emergence has been most prominent in the Far East. For a number of years, Western countries... have been zealous in expanding their rights in mining, railroads, in inland waterways and in various other directions on the Asian continent, especially in China.” 2 China and Korea were strategically, militarily and economically important for Japan. A colonial empire that included those two countries would keep the Western powers from encroaching on Japan proper.

A third reason that colonialism proved attractive to Japan was the fact that colonies meant prestige. Powerful countries had colonies, and weak countries were or were soon to be colonies. Having colonies also marked the colonial power as one of the wealthy countries of the world, something that caused pride in that country’s people. “In a way, Japanese colonialism was a matter of prestige. At the end of the nineteenth century and going on the first third of the twentieth, nationalists regarded colonies as a status symbol. Colonization was - among other things - a form of conspicuous consumption on a national scale. Great powers were expected to show their prowess by foreign conquests, past or present.” 3 Meiji Japan was eager to show its power, and eager to show itself the equal to any Western power. As Takekoshi Yokaburo, Diet Member, exclaimed after a visit to Formosa: “I cannot but rejoice that we, the Japanese, have passed our first examination as a colonizing power so creditably. The thought also of the future fills my heart with joy, because, as the Southern Cross seems to invite the wonders of the Southern Seas, so our successes in Formosa beckon us on to fulfill the great destiny that lies before us, and make our country Queen of the Pacific.” 4

Japan had a racist society. Any foreigner who has lived in Japan can tell stories about the stares and whispers encountered when one enters a train, or about the children who gawk and point when they are encountered on the street. A United Nations “Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” Doudou Diene, in early 2006 concluded that racism in Japan was endemic. “Finally, the most profound manifestations are of a cultural and historical nature. This type of discrimination affects principally the national minorities, but also descendents of former Japanese colonies. The fundamental sources of these discriminations are the identity construction of Japan, the writing and teaching of Japanese history, the image of the communities and people concerned and their perception by the society.” 5 What Diene found was the current manifestation of a historical trend in Japan, an inherent belief in the overall superiority of the Japanese people, and that others were inferior in intellect.

This belief originated in the late 19th century as a result of a series of events that shocked the Japanese consciousness. Admiral Perry, with his advanced military technology represented by his White Ships, forced Meiji Japan to open to the West and at the same time, highlighted Japanese inferiority vis a vis the West. Admiral Perry’s appearance also awakened the Japanese to the idea that they themselves, even though technologically deficient in relation to the West, were nonetheless superior to other Asian nations. “At the same time, aware of China’s backwardness, the Meiji elites began to hold China and other Asian countries in contempt. As a result, Japan chose to become an imperial power at the expense of Asia under the datsua nyuo slogan.” 6 “Datsua nyou” means “breaking away from Asia and joining Europe,” a slogan that gained purchase as the Japanese people became aware of the contrast between Western advances, and Asian backwardness. “This new view of Asia forged a sentiment of contempt toward Asians and even the depersonalization of Asians. Japanese have had a preconceived notion of Asia as being backward and inferior to this day.” 7

Additionally, Japanese colonialists consciously adopted the burden of colonialism because they felt the need to improve the lot of Asia by introducing Japanese influence. Takekoshi again gave voice to the imperial Japanese point of view. He recognized their racist attitudes inherent in the Japanese psyche, but thought these attitudes irrelevant to the good work that they were doing in Asia. “Western nations have long believed that on their shoulders alone rested the responsibility of colonizing the yet-unopened portions of the globe and extending to the inhabitants the benefits of civilization; but now we Japanese, rising from the ocean in the extreme Orient, wish as a nation to take part in this great and glorious work.” 8 This “pan-Asianism” of the Japanese was analogous to the “white man’s burden” in Africa and Asia, under which Western colonialists labored during this period. While no colonized people in Asia were excited or happy to be a Western colony, at the same time, the American and European examples were compelling, and less easy to resist that the Japanese method of rule. 9

Japan’s feeling of superiority toward other Asians, and the desire to compete with Western powers lead the Japanese to cultivate a colonial empire of their own. Arguably, Japan’s first colony was the Ainu lands of Hokkaido, where Matsumae fiefdom samurai assassinated Ainu leaders and asserted control of Hokkaido in 1669. Hokkaido became occupied territory and was eventually declared to be a colony of Japan by the Meiji Restoration in 1889. 10 Okinawa, or the Ryukyu Islands, was another early Japanese colony, exploited for its raw materials. The Meiji Restoration also formalized the colonial status of these islands as had been done with Hokkaido. 11 From 1895, Japan began to acquire colonies outside of the Japan archipelago. The first of these modern colonies was Taiwan or as it was alternately known, Formosa, acquired from China as reparations after Japan defeated China in the Sino-Japanese War in the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Although the Ming Dynasty ceded Taiwan to Japan, the Ming had but tenuous control of the major cities of Taiwan, and experienced difficulty in extracting taxes from the island. Japan, upon assuming nominal control of the Taiwan, was immediately faced with an insurgency they were forced to quell. In fact, in the interim between the time when China ceded control of Taiwan and Japan was able to arrive on the island to asset its authority, local revolutionaries declared a “Republic of Taiwan” with a flag and a set of principles. Japan dealt with this insurgency, and with other local flare ups of resistance, but no more ruthlessly than any other colonial power pacified any other average colony. Once the desultory resistance was put down in Taiwan, the Meiji Government of Japan attempted to enact policies to bring prosperity to the island. The Taiwanese, except for the Aboriginal people who lived in the mountain chain that runs down the middle of the island, and who traditionally resisted any outside authority, sensed the essential benevolence of the Japanese economic intentions. For the most part, the Taiwanese people went along with the Japanese colonial policies and the Japanese Army‘s rule. 12

The Treaty of Shimonoseki also ceded Korea and parts of Manchuria to Japanese control. Unlike Taiwan’s inhabitants, the peoples of Korea and Manchuria fiercely resisted Japan’s control. The Japanese initially attempted to control Korea by having the Army co-opt civilian organizations, but even this relatively unobtrusive intervention into Korean civil governance was resisted forcibly by Nationalists. The Japanese colonial administration proved skillful in establishing effective constabularies that doubled as intelligence services to keep control of the restive Korean population. Only rarely was it necessary to call for the regular army to put down uprisings. Although the Koreans had no more affection for the Japanese than did the Chinese, the proximity of Korea to the Japanese mainland, and the relative small size of the population in Korea made military reinforcements easier to recall and therefore made rebellion less likely to succeed.

Manchuria and the remainder of Mainland China proved much more difficult for the Japanese army to secure. Much of China proved to be part of Japan’s “informal empire.” An “informal empire” as opposed to one with some formal demarcation such as exited with the Japanese in Taiwan involved a “metropolitan society exercising some degree of political dominance over the peripheral one. What distinguishes informal imperialism from nonimperialisic trading methods, therefore, is the use of coercive methods.” 13 Coercive methods of control and colonization were some of the confluence of events that resulted in a restive population not at all amenable to rule by a foreign power, especially Japan. Other of these influences included the mutual racial animus between the Chinese and the Japanese, the fact that the population was primed to revolt against the prevailing power given the loss of control by the Ming Dynasty, and the huge population with which the Japanese Army had to deal. The results of this volatile mixture were brutalities and atrocities committed by both sides until Japan gained the upper hand against Nationalist forces and marched onto Nanking. On the way to Nanking, the Japanese enacted the “Three No” policies and vowed to kill every Chinese who resisted, about which there will be more later.

There is nothing unique to Japan and Japanese society in the intertwining of colonialism and racism. Given the friction that naturally exists between neighboring states or different peoples, and given the often-confrontational character of colonialism, racism would seem to be a natural by-product. “It is significant that racism is a part of colonialism throughout the world; and it is no coincidence. Racism sums up and symbolized the fundamental relation which unites colonialist and colonized.... [The colonialist’s] racism is as usual to his daily survival as is any other prerequisite for existence....” 14 The people of a colonial power saw themselves as distinct and better than their colonial subjects, even when that colonial relationship was, at best, informal. The nature of colonialism engendered racist attitudes and feelings of superiority and dehumanization regarding the colonized people.

George Orwell, during his time in Marrakesh, also noted the dehumanizing effects that colonialism has on the colonialist, making the colonialist question the humanity of those over whom he rules. “When you walk through a town like this—two hundred thousand inhabitants, of whom at least twenty thousand own literally nothing except the rags they stand up in—when you see how the people live, and still more how easily they die, it is always difficult to believe that you are walking among human beings. All colonial empires are in reality founded upon that fact. The people have brown faces—besides, there are so many of them! Are they really the same flesh as yourself? Do they even have names? Or are they merely a kind of undifferentiated brown stuff, about as individual as bees or coral insects? They rise out of the earth, they sweat and starve for a few years, and then they sink back into the nameless mounds of the graveyard and nobody notices that they are gone. And even the graves themselves soon fade back into the soil.” 15 Contempt towards the people who are colonized, and loathing by the colonized towards their masters are intrinsic to colonialism. The mutual lack of respect and understanding can have the effect of magnifying slights committed by either side to a point that results in violence on a massive scale, but such an outcome need not necessarily occur. Japan’s record as a colonial power illustrated this observation. In areas where the colonized people remained docile and compliant, colonies thrived. In areas that resisted Japanese rule, the outraged Japanese occupiers would react with massive brutality. These were unfortunate occurrences, but they were certainly not unique to the Japanese among all the colonial powers in the world.

In fact, Japan appropriated many of the terms and attitudes towards other races from the Western colonial discourse. This appropriation occurred in three phases. The first phase occurred in the late nineteenth century. Japanese thinkers began to discern that the Confucian belief that all individuals have a place in the world and in Heaven’s hierarchy fit nicely into Western “scientific” analyses of race. Many Japanese academics seized upon craniometry, Social Darwinism, and the notion of racial types and Western ethnolinguistic and phenotypical definitions of race to construct rustication for oppressive colonial policies. The second phase, beginning around 1895 to the mid 1930’s involved extended debates and discussions regarding the wisdom and necessity of assimilating colonial subjects, in essence, Japanizing them, or forcing those subjects to remain ethnically and linguistically distinct. During the period, Japan attempted to remain distinct from their colonial subjects. The third phase occurred after the mid 1930’s when Japan swung the other way from their earlier attempts to remain distinct from their colonial subjects and instead attempted to enforce Japanization on their largely unwilling subjects. The Japanese required their colonials to adopt Japanese names, used Japanese in everyday life, and the Shinto religion. 16

In mainland China, Japan’s decision to “Japanize” the population proved unpopular. “Rural people increasingly hated the Japanese. They told tales of how the enemy forced people to bow and crawl in a degrading manner, how a Chinese was pushed to his death from the top of a fortification or shot for sport. Indignities and injustices were the subjects of daily gossip and outrage... People came to believe that people in occupied towns and surrounding hamlets who cooperated with the Japanese were traitors, or as it was translated in peasant political culture, people devoid of any sense of moral duty. It was said of these morally tainted villagers on the outskirts of Raoyang town, ‘In Shao, XI, Cai, Bai, no one will bury you even if you die.’” 17 In the absence of reliable information, the peasants passed rumors from person to person, embellishing the atrocities with each telling. Each story, each misstep or reprisal by the Japanese were reported in the most negative light, which tended to increase the anger toward the colonial occupiers.

These cultural misunderstandings and frictions often led to tragic consequences. A Japanese soldier recounted a situation in which he was moving through a Chinese village and encountered some civilians outside their houses. “Everybody thinks that only men are plainclothes soldiers. But there are women, kids,...all kinds. Once, a young woman of twenty-two or twenty-three came up to me looking very friendly. There in front of her house stood a crippled old grandmother, again smiling in a friendly way; naturally I thought they were ryomin (civilians). But then I had a bad feeling about one of them and I shouted a warning. The old woman ran hobbling off. I strip searched the girl... she couldn’t understand me so I gestured with my hands... Underneath her clothes she was wearing two pairs of panties. Hidden inside, sure enough, there was a pistol. I did not want to kill her, but she tried to hit me with the gun and that is why she died. She said something abusive before she died. Afterwards I felt sorry for her but at the time if I did not handle it right I would have been done for. I was provoked.” {Ellipses in original} 18 These experiences were not so unlike those that British troops encountered in Iraq in the 1870’s, American Marines encountered in Afghanistan in 2002 and Israel encountered in southern Lebanon in 2006.

That the Japanese army often brutalized the civilian population in China is not contested. Whether the reason was from the effort to impose Japanese culture on the local population in China, or as retribution for continued resistance by the Chinese, the Japanese Army could be ruthless in dealing with civilian populations or surrendered soldiers. Numerous writers have detailed the conduct of the Japanese Army in Manchuria and throughout China and some have sought to explain what could have happened to a Japanese Army that behaved in exemplary fashion elsewhere in Asia. For Mikiso Hane, “the answer no doubt is to be found in the complicated intermeshing of individual and group psychological forces that were at work.” 19 These “forces” included “submitting docilely to power and authority from above while domineering over the weak and powerless below,” “a strong feeling of national pride coupled with a sense of superiority over other races,” and “the exceedingly harsh treatment that the young recruits were subjected to in the Japanese armed forces” that “no doubt brutalized their spirit and inclined them to behave in a bestial manner when restraining forces were absent.” 20

One factor in the brutality that Japan visited on Mainland China is that is the fact the colonial agency there was Japan’s Imperial Army. The Japanese army had to fight their way into Korea, Manchuria and down into China, not out of any particular plan to do so, but instead because the opportunity was there. “Japanese imperialism was less deliberate than situational in origin. The aggressive movement of Japanese forces into Korea, China and Micronesia was as much due to the absence of effective power to resist it as it was to specific policies and planning.” 21 Effective power to resist is not the same as lack of resistance. Although the Chinese governments were not able to militarily resist the incursion into their mainland, the fact that government has a desire to resist informed the actions of the Chinese people themselves to offer a home-grown resistance.

This “cue” from the government about the acceptability of resistance was crucial in differentiating the resistance to Japanese occupation in the mainland versus that in Taiwan. As established above, the Japanese forcibly subjugated Korea, Manchuria and Mainland China. The Japanese were given Taiwan by China as settlement in the Treaty of Shimonoseki that ended the Sino-Japan War. The Taiwanese had much less incentive to resist their “occupiers” since the former rulers of Taiwan had formally invited in the “occupiers.”

Other writers have been less inclined to see Japanese brutality as the result of psychological forces, but instead have argued that what actually occurred in China was state sanctioned “genocide.” These analysts have drawn a direct line from the contemptuous and racist attitudes of the Japanese toward other Asians and their desire for “genocide” of the Chinese in Asia. Most notable among these observers was Sir Martin Gilbert who wrote: “with the Japanese attack on China in 1937, a genocidal menace entered China together with the invading army.” 22 Gilbert quoted casualty figures to bolster his case for Japanese genocide. “The ‘Rape of Nanking’ was to take its place among the massacres not only of the century, but of modern times. When the Japanese entered the city, the population was estimated at between 600,000 and 700,000, of whom 150,000 were soldiers. In the ensuing slaughter, more than 200,000 civilians and 90,000 soldiers were killed.” 23

Another prominent critic of the Japanese has been Iris Chang. In her book Rape of Nanking, she offered the most searing and recent indictment of the Japanese Army, detailing the wantonness with which they conducted their operations. She did not use the term “genocide” to describe what happened in China, but she certainly wanted to leave her readers with the impression that the Japanese committed genocide. Chang called what occurred in Nanking in 1937 a “mass extermination” and she compared the “Rape” to the Jewish Holocaust and to Stalin’s purges in order to make the point that what the Japanese perpetrated in China was worse because it occurred over a shorter period of time. 24 Like other advocates of the argument that the Japanese were racists who were attempting genocide on the Chinese, Chang used numerous rhetorical devices to confuse, muddy and obfuscate the issue. For the subtitle of her book, The Rape of Nanking, she deliberately chose the provocative subtitle of “The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II.” For most readers, the term “Holocaust,” when used in the context of World War II, brings to mind the Nazis’ concerted attempt to exterminate the Jews from Europe, and oftentimes, to burn the bodies of the murdered innocents. While the word “holocaust” literally means “burned offering” in Middle English, the word now means much more than that.

The “Holocaust” was the reason Raphael Lemke coined the word “genocide” in order to describe the peculiar horror that existed in Europe, directed against the Jews there. “Holocaust” has entered our lexicon as shorthand for all the events in Europe perpetrated against the Jews, as well as all the other racial groups that the Nazis tried to eliminate. The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC tells the story of that time. The name of the Museum is so evocative, that visitors will not mistake the contents for something other than the events in Europe from 1936-1945.
Chang appropriated the word “holocaust” to strengthen her contention that the actions of the Japanese Army were something more than a strategic response to the Republic’s resistance. While she does not call the actions of the Japanese Army “genocide,” Chang is content for the reader to make the association on his or her own. Chang cites the “Three All” policy not as orders for genocide but instead, as orders to “wipe out everyone in certain regions of China.” This was a distinction without a difference. She claims the depopulation in Northern China was the result of extermination of the Chinese people, alternately citing the figure of 19 million and 6.3 million killed by Japanese bayonets, gunfire, diseased fleas, looting, bombing and medical experiments. “If those deaths are added to the final count, then one can say that the Japanese killed more than 19 million Chinese people in its war against China.” 25

Chang has deliberately blurred the meaning of the words “genocide,” “holocaust,” “mass killing,” and “atrocity,” to argue that regardless of what one calls what happened in Northern China and Nanking, those actions were inexcusable and the Japanese should atone to the Chinese. The reality of the motivations of the Japanese actually fighting the war against China was different from the ones that Chang ascribes to those soldiers.

“Genocide” and “holocaust” are terms that are so charged with meaning that writers will appropriate them for use to describe situations for which the terms are not appropriate. The American Heritage Book of English Usage notes there is a specific link between the words: “But because of its associations with genocide, people may object to extended applications of holocaust.” 26 Both Gilbert and Chang have insisted on broadening both terms genocide and holocaust to mean “atrocity,” “mass killing” or both. However, the term genocide has a clear that has been adjudicated by the United Nations and war tribunals and should not be applied to any atrocious situation in the world. There is no doubt that the Japanese Army perpetrated mass killings in China, but their conduct in China did not constitute “genocide.”

The term “genocide” was created by Raphael Lemkin to describe his observations of the conduct of the Nazis in Europe. Lemkin asserted that the Nazis were attempting to destroy entire ethnic groups and this action was “genocide,” Lemke coined the work by combining the Greek “genos” for “race” or “tribe” with the common Latin ending “cide” to denote “killing.” Following his description of this new word, Lemke wrote: “Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. Genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group.” 27 The key phrases from his observation were that genocide requires a “coordinated plan” and the aim of destroying the “national group as an entity.”

Japanese actions in China did not reach either threshold to be considered genocide.
The United Nations has since taken Lemke’s definition of genocide, and refined it. The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines “genocide” as: Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. 28 The amount of killing that one group inflicts on another is irrelevant to whether the actions amount to genocide, but rather, the crucial determinant for genocide is the motivation of the killers: “The specificity of genocide does not arise from the extent of their killings nor their savagery nor resulting infamy, but solely from their intention: the destruction of a group.” 29

Another non-psychological explanation for the brutality displayed by the Japanese in China is that the Japanese Army was attempting to replicate some of the tactics of the US general William Tecumseh Sherman, in his “March to the Sea” during the Civil War. “Terror was the basic factor in Sherman’s policy as he openly says. Here are two quotations out of a number: ‘Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless to occupy it; but the utter destruction of its roads, houses and people will cripple their military resources... I can make the march, and make Georgia howl.’ ‘We are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor feel the hard hand of war... The truth is the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance.” 30 Sherman’s vision for Georgia and South Carolina was similar to what the Japanese Army visited on the Nationalist in Nanking and the Communists elsewhere. The Japanese conducted kind of a “scorched earth policy in reverse. Indiscriminate devastation was designed to break the will of the populace from supporting the resistance cause, and to deprive the Chinese Communist forces military sources of manpower and food supply. 31 Li echoed Chalmers Johnson idea that Japanese acted in China in pursuit of strategic goals through the “three ‘all’ policy; kill all, burn all, loot all.” “The essence of the ‘three all’ policy was to surround a given area, to kill everyone in it and to destroy everything in it, so that the area would be uninhabitable in the future.” 32

Chang specifically cites the strategic “three all” policy as a “holocaust” in China at the hands of the Japanese. She used the specific term to equate Japanese attempt to crush a guerrilla force that was supported by the local population with the Nazi’s attempt to exterminate Jews and other minorities in Europe. She thus has attempted to indict the Japanese civilian leadership and army as war criminals. As mentioned earlier, no honest commentator would deny the brutality and scale of Chinese deaths before and during World War II. Had Chang offered her work as a historical record of events, her book would be seen as a welcome testament to the brutality of total war, on those terms. However, Chang had a different agenda.

Fueled by her outrage by the events in China, and by what she considered the lack of candor on the part of the Japanese to accept their responsibility for the unjustified “holocaust” in Nanking, and other places, Chang attempted to thwart Japan’s modern engagement in the world by tarring the entire current government and army as unrepentant war criminals. Note her description, not of the events, but of the Japanese people’s attention to the “Rape of Nanking” in the years that have followed the events. “This book describes two related but discrete atrocities. One is the Rape of Nanking itself, the story of how the Japanese wiped out hundreds of thousands. The other is the cover-up, the story of how the Japanese, emboldened by the silence of the Chinese and Americans, tried to erase the entire massacre from public consciousness, thereby depriving its victims of their proper place in history.” 33

Later, she became even more explicit in her goals for writing the book: “When it comes to expressing remorse for its own wartime actions before the bar of world opinion, Japan remains to this day a renegade nation. Even in the period directly after the war, and despite the war crimes trials that found a few of its leaders guilty, the Japanese managed to avoid the moral judgment of the civilized world that the Germans were made to accept for their actions in this nightmare time.” 34 Chang’s anger at the Japanese for skirting the “judgment of the civilized world” has led her to ascribe to the bulk of the Japanese Army, a mindset similar to that of the most recalcitrant Nazi prison guard at Dachau in the hopes of poisoning world opinion about the Japanese. Lest readers miss the point, William Kirby, Harvard Professor of Modern History drives it home in the most explicit terms: “But the events of Nanking - to which Hitler surely took no exception - would later make them (Germany and Japan) moral co-conspirators, as violent aggressors, perpetrators of what would ultimately be called ’crimes against humanity.’ W.H. Auden, who visited the China war, made the connection earlier than most:
And the maps can really point to places
Where life is evil now:
Nanking; Dachau.” 35

Note the pernicious linking of events, the moral equivalence that Kirby and Chang have made between Hitler and the Japanese Army. Deconstruct the statement: “to which Hitler took no exception.” China was an enemy of his ally, and the world was at the time engaged in a total war. Hitler took no exception to the events in Western Russia either, at least the ones that resulted in the death of millions of Russians there. He also took no exception to the death of thousands of Japanese during the firebombing of Tokyo, except inasmuch as the bombing would effect the Japanese in prosecuting the war against America. What Kirby and Chang are explicitly attempting is to link Hitler’s lack of exception to the “rape of Nanking” and Japanese people’s indifference to events there and America’s refusal to consider the Japanese people’s indifference as an “atrocity.” So events that had been acceptable throughout history and around the world in waging war against a hated enemy have in retrospect been transformed into war crimes and atrocities that should continue to hamstring the international relations of the “offending” nation in the present day.

Supporters of the argument cannot point to a single instance where leader at the highest level of the Japanese Army or in the government gave orders regarding their conduct in China that could be construed to meet either the Lemke or the UN definition of “genocide.” The Japanese Army displayed extensive killing and savagery that Destrexhe deplored in his commentary, and certain elements conducted ghoulish experiments on prisoners but the Japanese Army never set out to exterminate all Chinese.

The most compelling counter-argument to Chang’s assertion of holocaust or genocide on the Chinese mainland was the behavior and comportment of Japanese troops on Taiwan. George Kerr, an American diplomat arrived in Taiwan soon after Japan’s surrender, was a close observer of all things in Taiwan. He made many contacts with local Taiwanese who recounted isolated incidents of Japanese brutality that Kerr documented in his book Formosa Betrayed. The Japanese quelled three concerted rebellions but were measured in their response and did not resort to collective punishments. In fact, compared, ironically to the Nationalist Chinese troops who came over to take over Taiwan from the Japanese, the Japanese were remarkably disciplined and restrained. In fact, the Formosans, when they first got a look at the dirty, bedraggled Chinese forces, were not impressed, especially in comparison to the Japanese who had garrisoned the island. “Formosans along the way laughed at the shambling, poorly disciplined, and very dirty Chinese troops. It was evident, they said, that the "victors" ventured into Formosa only because the United States stood between them and the dreaded Japanese. Much evil and many individual tragedies were to spring from these expressions of open scorn, for the mainland Chinese were losing face, dearer than life itself.” 36

Other authors have documented isolated Japanese atrocities committed against prisoners of war housed in Taiwan prisoner of war camps the likes for which Japanese commanders and troops were tried and executed. The Japanese never displayed the eagerness to destroy huge parts of Taiwan as they did in Manchuria and Nanking. If Chang’s assertion that the Japanese were motivated by racial animus to ethnically cleanse China, then it would have been logical to start such a policy in Taiwan. The Taiwanese people, except for the aboriginal people who resided in the mountains, were ethnically Chinese, with few means to resist the powerful Japanese military. Had the Japanese truly have been on a genocidal mission, such a policy could have rapidly depopulated Taiwan, and opened the island to resettlement by Japanese colonials. However, instead of ethnic cleansing or genocide, the Japanese did their best to be benevolent colonial rulers, in an effort to extract maximum economic benefit from the local population. Taiwan was the test case for Japanese colonial policies, and by far the most successful colonial effort by the Japanese. The Japanese attempted to duplicate the success in Korea and Manchuria, but were never able to duplicate the success. In fact, resistance by the locals, especially in China forced the Japanese into repressive security policies that proved counter productive to their economic efforts.

Japanese were racist, and not above committing atrocities in pursuit of their war aims. Their war crimes in their treatment of POWs of all races and their indefensible medical experiments were ghoulish and sadistic outrages. However, the idea that the Japanese attempted genocide in the mold of the Nazis is not supported by the facts and does not provide a useful lens with which to analyze the conduct of the Japanese as a colonial power. The Japanese sought colonies for the reasons that Western powers did; power and economic benefits. Once on the ground in China, they faced an indigenous resistance that was spirited and effective enough to provoke the Japanese to respond aggressively and ruthlessly. This ruthless aggression in Manchuria and around Nanking was further marred by sadistic atrocities. However, at no time did the Japanese attempt to exterminate all the Chinese people, even on the island of Formosa, where such a policy could have been quickly carried to completion. Finally, Japan, as a maturing democracy, has taken responsibility for its crimes in China, and has explicitly apologized for their atrocities. Many of the perpetrators have faced justice. 37

Nonetheless, many commentators insist that the Japanese committed atrocities on the scale of the Nazis in Europe. One of the reasons stated by the lead critic of the Japanese Army, Iris Chang, for asserting the idea that the Japanese were genocidal murderers was to keep pressure on the current Japanese government. As long as the Japanese must defend themselves against charges of genocide, the Japanese are less effective in the international diplomatic arena an outcome which serves an expansionistic China quite well. China’s attempt to demonize Japan has been deliberate and ongoing: “In fact, it was in the 1990s, when Japan was still China-friendly and the main aid provider to Beijing, that the Chinese Communists began a ‘political education’ campaign demonizing Japan for its past atrocities. That campaign laid the groundwork for the upsurge of nationalism and the deterioration of China-Japan relations. In seeking to address domestic political imperatives to replace the increasingly ineffectual Communist ideology with fervent nationalism, China's rulers have helped whip up Japanese nationalism.” 38 It seems that charges of Japanese genocide have less to do with crimes of the past than with politics of the present.


1. Peter Duus, The Abacus and the Sword: The Japanese Penetration of Korea, 1895-1910 (Berkley: University of California Press, 1995), 20.
2. Gaimusho, ed. Nihon gaiko nenpyo oyobi shuyo busho, 2 vols. (Tokyo, 1955); cited Ibid.
3. Lewis H. Gann, “Western and Japanese Colonialism: Some Preliminary Comparisons” in Ramon H. Meyers and Mark R. Peattie, The Japanese Colonial Empire: 1895-1945 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 502.
4. Yosaburo Takekoshi with George Braithwaite, trans., Japanese Rule in Formosa (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1907), 70.
5. Doudou Diene, Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia And All
Forms of Discrimination: Mission To Japan (New York: United Nations, 24 January 2006), 18.
6. Mayumi Itoh, Globalization of Japan: Japanese Sakoku Mentality and U.S. Efforts to Open Japan (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2000), 68.
7. Ibid, 69.
8. Yosaburō Takekoshi, vii.
9. Albert Feurewerker, “Japanese Imperialism of China: A Commentary” in Peter Duus, Ramon H. Myers and Mark Peattie, The Japanese Informal Empire in China, 1895-1937. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 207.
10. Brett Walker. The Conquest of Ainu Lands: Ecology and Culture in Japanese Expansion, 1590–1800 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001) Pg49.
11. Alan S. Christy, "The Making of Imperial Subjects in Okinawa," in Tani E. Barlow, ed., Formations of Colonial Modernity in East Asia (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1997), 141.
12. Ramon H Myers and Mark R Peattie, 19.
13. Peter Duus, Ramon H. Myers and Mark Peattie, xvi.
14. Albert Mimmi. Colonizer and the Colonized (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967), 70.
15. George Orwell. “Marrakech 1939.” Collected Essays of George Orwell,( Internet
16. Louise Young, Japan’s Total Empire (Berkley: University of California Press, 1998), 364
17. Edward Friedman, Kay Johnson, Chinese Village, Socialist State (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 40.
18. Louise Young, 100.
19. Mikiso Hane. Modern Japan: A Historical Survey (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2001) pg 298.
20. Ibid.
21. Ramon H Myers and Mark R Peattie, 13.
22. Sir Martin Gilbert. “Twentieth Century Genocides” in Jay Winter, American and the Armenian Genocide of 1915 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 23.
23. Ibid.
24. Iris Chang. Rape of Nanking (New York: Penguin Books, 1997), 5.
25. Iris Chang, 210-217.
26. American Heritage Book of English Usage (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996), 159.
27. Raphael Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation - Analysis of Government - Proposals for Redress (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944), 79.
28. Mary Jacobson. “Balkan Glossary of Terms.” FACSNET:
( 18 Jan 2000. Internet.
29. Alan Destexhe. Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century (London: Pluto Press, 1995), 4.
30. JFC Fuller, Military History of the Western World (New York: Da Capo Press, 1988), 85.
31. Lincoln Li, The Japanese Army in North China: 1937-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), 209.
32. Chalmers Johnson, Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power: The Emergence of Revolutionary China, 1937-1945 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1962), 60-61.
33. Iris Chang, 14.
34. Ibid, 15.
35. Ibid, XI.
36. George Kerr, Formosa Betrayed (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960), 74.
37. Joshua A. Fogel, The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography (Berkley: University of California Press, 2000), 96.
38. Brahma Chellaney, “Japan-China: Nationalism on the Rise,” International Herald Tribune, 15 August 2006 [newspaper on-line];; Internet; accessed 15 August 2006.