Thursday, August 30, 2007

Left Wing Targets Congressman

Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) actually thinks — and that's a problem. He didn't think we should have gone to war in Iraq, and he supported a timetable for getting our troops out. And the Left loved him.

But then he went to Iraq to see what was really happening there. He didn't just take the word of his party's leadership and its supporters in the media. He apparently found that progress was being made in Iraq that he hadn't thought was possible.

For Baird, it seems, new information calls for new consideration. And sometimes for new conclusions. In this case, seeing the improvement that has come from the change in tactics commonly referred to as "the surge", Congressman Baird decided General Petraeus deserves more time to try to secure as much of Iraq as possible.

That's not OK with Baird's "friends" (who now seem to be former pretend-friends) of the Left who like to prattle about free speech and free thought, but punish anyone who strays from their orthodoxy. As a result, the Congressman is being attacked by — the left wing pressure group funded by George Soros — in slick, dishonest ads and in town meetings. As Rick Moran summarizes,

In effect, Baird is being a realist. And this has made him a target of the far left.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ba'athists Apparently Join Coalition

"The leader of Iraq's banned Baath party, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, has decided to join efforts by the Iraqi authorities to fight al-Qaeda" according to press reports.

These are the Saddamites, the members and supporters of the rogue former regime of Saddam Hussein, that the "experts" have constantly told us are our primary enemies in Iraq. Now the Ba'athists have bowed out of the war against us; they were always the junior partner. Now those "experts" will have to admit we're actually fighting an army of foreigners supplied by those who have declared war on the United States and the West — particularly Iran and al Qaeda — and who have made Iraq the battlefield for their proxy war.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Consider Bill Richardson

I'm going to ask you all to look at (and consider giving your support to) New Mexico governor Bill Richardson for the 2008 presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. Before his election as governor here a little over four years ago, Richardson served as the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and Secretary of Energy after beginning his political career as the Congressman from my district (at that time one of two) in New Mexico. His three most recent positions — U.N. Ambassador, Secretary of Energy, and Governor — make him the ONLY Democrat in the race with real executive and international experience.

Not that I always agree with him. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I REALLY don't. But Richardson is a man one can rely on. You may not always like the answers you get from him, but the answers he gives won't change from one audience to another — as we have seen in the last two presidential candidate debates. He has honor, and standards. And he's one heck of a negotiator. Last fall, for example, he went to Sudan on behalf of the U.S. and secured the release of Chicago Tribune reporter Paul Salopek, whose family lives in New Mexico near Las Cruces. He also still gets calls to speak with foreign government representatives, often at the New Mexico governor's mansion, even though he's now been out of the federal service for six years.

Obviously, you'll have to make your own decision as to whether this politician is worthy of your support. But I will say he is definitely worth looking at. I will also say that he is, in my view, the only current presidential candidate of my party that might be worth voting for.

UPDATE: Most of the text of this posting has been reported on the Bill Richardson for President blog roundup for August 21.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I Don’t Care Why

Grim over at Blackfive says it better than I could:

Things are changing in Iraq. We're seeing the first waves of the gravity well we're building there, a well whose pull extends far beyond the borders of Iraq itself. It's already strong enough to begin to exert its pull on the United Nations, which is suddenly willing to hedge its bets on success; and Sens. Durbin and Levin, who want to hedge theirs. I'll say they are all welcome to do so. If we can ask political reconciliation of the Iraqis, we can ask it of ourselves. Anyone who wants to join us now in trying to help build success in Iraq, and stand against those who fight by murder and war crimes, is welcome aboard. I don't care why they come, what their motives are, so long as they are willing to join the fight.
Read the rest. It's worth it.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


Hiroshima had been destroyed, and in a unique and spectacular manner. A single B-29 had flown over Hiroshima, and had dropped a single bomb. No one had ever thought a single plane could cause so much damage. Destruction on that scale required huge numbers of aircraft, like the many hundreds of B-29s that had dropped their bombs on Tokyo in April.

And yet, preparations continued for the expected invasion of the home islands by the United States. Military units were being moved to Japan’s southern Kyushu Island, and civilians there were being given weapons and training. (Japanese military planners could read military realities as well as their American counterparts, and had correctly identified where the Americans would invade.) Hiroshima had been destroyed, but nothing had changed. And so a second atomic bomb mission occurred, and Nagasaki was destroyed by a plutonium bomb (like the one tested in the Trinity Test in New Mexico) when there was too much haze and smoke over Kokura for the bombardier to identify his aimpoint.

General Leslie Groves, head of the U.S. Army’s Manhattan Project which produced the atomic bombs, had predicted it would take two bombs to get the Japanese to surrender — one to stun them and a second to demonstrate the first wasn’t a fluke or a one-of-a-kind. But, as is often the case, there’s more to the story than that.

The atomic cloud over Nagasaki
August 9, 1945

Japanese physicists were involved in nuclear studies in the 1930s, just as European and American physicists were. By 1940, the Japanese had determined that they had access to more than enough uranium in Korea and Burma to make an atomic bomb. An atomic bomb project was started in April 1941, but it determined by late 1944 that it could not produce a bomb in time to affect the war.

The knowledge they built up during their atomic project was put to use in August of 1945. The story is told that physicists sampled the debris after the Hiroshima bombing, and reported that the city had been destroyed by an atomic bomb built of uranium. To the Japanese authorities, that meant it was probably one-of-a-kind because they knew uranium was so difficult to enrich sufficiently that “they can’t possibly have another.” They sampled debris again after the Nagasaki bombing, and reported that a plutonium bomb had been used. This was a shock to the authorities, because it meant to them that the U.S. could have a nearly unlimited number of such bombs, depending on a production rate they had no way to know. (The next plutonium bomb was already on its way to the B-29 base on Tinian Island; the planners had reportedly targeted Tokyo for this bomb.) Suddenly the choice the Japanese authorities faced was very stark, indeed — surrender or incineration.

The traditional view has been that these two bombings shortened the war, thereby saving the lives of large numbers of American soldiers and Japanese soldiers and civilians. Several historians have been trying to change this view in recent years, but it seems there’s a bit of schizophrenia in their views. On the one hand, they (some) assert that Japan was seeking to surrender, and the American government knew this and dropped the atomic bombs anyway. On the other hand, they (some) say the bombings made no difference, noting that the Japanese military was insisting on a “defense to the death” even after both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Both positions have facts behind them. There were elements in the Japanese government that wanted to negotiate a peace, and the army did want to keep fighting to the bitter end. What the bombings did, however, was make it possible for the emperor to step in and direct a decision without provoking a coup. (Even so, an abortive rebellion and attempted coup did occur.) That is why both Japanese and American authorities agree with the conclusion of Truman’s Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson: “This deliberate, premeditated destruction was our least abhorrent choice.”

The bombs had other effects, too, of course. Those effects could not have been known to the U.S. military authorities in any detail as there had been no outsiders into either Hiroshima or Nagasaki and those effects had not been evident in the Trinity Test. But this was a new type of weapon, and General Douglas MacArthur and his staff apparently didn’t want information on any possible new effects made public, at least until they knew what they were dealing with. And so they made broad areas of Japan, including these cities, off-limits for some time after the Japanese surrender. (There may have been other motives than those suggested here — either instead of or in addition to these motives. The motives identified here, I think, put the best face possible on MacArthur’s actions.)

In spite of the ban, war reporter George Weller got to Nagasaki a few days after the formal surrender, four weeks after the city was bombed. He got there by impersonating a colonel and forcing his way onto Japanese trains with pure brashness. He and the sergeant who accompanied him were the first Westerners to reach the city. Weller wrote late into each night and filed his dispatches through the normal channels. Those channels went through MacArthur’s office and its censors, which made sure the dispatches never reached their destination — until now. Weller’s son found his father’s original carbon copies, long thought to have been lost, after his father’s death. Anthony Weller, the son, turned them into a book released at the end of 2006: First Into Nagasaki.

To read Weller’s book is to be transported back into the immediate post-war period in Japan. Through Weller’s eyes, we see the damage done to Nagasaki and the frustration of the doctors trying to deal with “Disease X”. As one review puts it, however,

The aftereffects of the atomic bomb aren’t the only story that Weller finds in Nagasaki. After a few days in the city, he heads to the nearby prisoner-of-war camps, where he has what can only be called the incredible experience of informing his fellow Americans, who did not know the war had ended, of the two atomic bombs, the Japanese surrender and the impending arrival of American occupation troops.
And this is a full month after the Nagasaki bombing. He describes, too, how prisoners in some of the camps he visited near Omuta, outside Nagasaki, actually saw the mushroom clouds of both atomic bombs. Among the men at these camps were veterans of the Bataan Death March and veterans of the Burma railway construction (the “River Kwai”) prisoner camps.

Weller wrote dispatches about the conditions in the Prisoner of War camps during the war, many primarily composed of quotations from one POW after another — each identified by name, rank (usually), unit, and home town. These dispatches are historically important. Far too little has been written of the Japanese camps and what happened in them. In fact, it is not clear that we have a complete list of those interned in the camps, even yet, or even a complete list of the camps themselves. Anthony Weller calls the lack of attention to the Japanese POW camps "one of the great omissions in World War II memory."

One thing I found shocking in Weller’s account is that no one from the West had been to many of the Prisoner of War camps a full month after the atomic bombings, more than three weeks after the Japanese surrender (V-J Day, August 14th), and well over a week after the formal signing of the surrender documents on the battleship Missouri on September 2nd. This is tempered somewhat by recognizing that everything happened more slowly sixty years ago than today. And, too, the Japanese were less than cooperative in providing complete information on the prisoner camps they operated and the men held in them — in part because those records were not priorities in the Japanese system. Recall that, even at this late date, we may not have a complete list of the Japanese prisoner camps, much less of those held in them. Indeed the camp in Tokyo, that my uncle is identified (on one list, along with more than two thousand others) as having been liberated from, does not appear on most lists of POW camps.

Still, camps like those near Nagasaki were apparently well-known. So why had no one from the U.S. Army gone to them for so long? And when did they reach others of Japan’s 200 or so POW camps? The answers to these questions are not known to me, though they may be known to others.

Today is the anniversary of the Bock’s Car flight to Kokura and Nagasaki, the anniversary of the day World War II — in the Pacific Theater — really began to end.

Monday, August 6, 2007


With the Trinity test, the Manhattan Project was effectively complete — and was a success. The atomic reactor under the Stagg Field stands at the University of Chicago had proved the nuclear chain reaction would work. The uranium enrichment effort at Oak Ridge had been successful; the cyclotron-based effort in Berkeley was successful, though less efficient. The plutonium production efforts at Hanford were sucessful. And the Trinity test proved the design group was successful in designing a potentially weaponizable plutonium device; the uranium device was never tested since there was never any question that it would work as intended. (My wife and I visited Trinity Site in July of 2005 as part of the National Atomic Museum’s 60th anniversary commemoration of the Trinity Test.) The question now became how and whether to use atomic weapons against the enemy.

By the time of the Trinity test, however, it had already been decided (subject to President Truman’s final decision) to assure “the successful combat use of an atomic bomb at the earliest possible date after a field test of an atomic explosion and after the availability of the necessary material.” Targets had already been selected using criteria that required military significance in a large, largely intact, target city. Hiroshima was included as an industrial center that was an army embarkation port and the southern headquarters of the Japanese army; it became the target for the first atomic bomb used in war — the uranium bomb which had never been tested. The heavy industrial city of Nagasaki was a secondary target behind the military arsenal and steel center of Kokura.

The atomic cloud over Hiroshima
August 6, 1945

Two years ago, I heard a spokesman for the Los Alamos Study Group (LASG) express his opinion (as if it were fact) that the “viewpoint” that the use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki speeded the end of World War II was “no longer respectable.” I also heard spokesmen for that group state that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were civilian, not military, targets. And I saw their demonstrators’ signs quoting General Curtis LeMay saying that Japan would have collapsed within two weeks with or without the use of the atomic bombs. (That sign — which may or may not have been accurate — made me think of LeMay’s equally accurate Congressional testimony that a ballistic missile was a physical impossibility.)

I respectfully disagree with the LASG and its supporters on several grounds.

First, these cities were not “non-military”, not “civilian targets.” They were selected as potential targets because of being military-industrial centers and military command centers. Yes, they were selected from among the list of potential targets in part because they had not previously been heavily attacked, but that does not make them invalid as targets. As targets, they were no less valid than Berlin, Tokyo, and Dresden.

Second, the purpose of any military attack, first and foremost, is to reduce or end the enemy’s ability and willingness to wage war — to damage the enemy and to convince him that he cannot win. This was precisely the purpose of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even so, even after the atomic attacks, Japan’s military council still intended to proceed with a fight to the death under their Ketsu Go (Operation Decisive) strategy. It was only in the early hours of the day after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki — the second atomic bombing — that the emperor intervened with the decision for surrender. (Incidentally, had Japan not surrendered when it did, the third atomic bomb was said to have been targeted for Tokyo as soon as it could be transported to Tinian Island from the U.S. — and that third bomb was on its way.)

Third, the number of casualties to be expected in an invasion of the Japanese home islands, which would have been necessary had the Japanese not capitulated after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would have been horrendous. The number of American casualties, both in absolute numbers and as a fraction of the invasion force, increased exponentially island by island as the American forces approached Japan. Entry onto the home islands would certainly have been even more costly. The invasion plans had already been made under the overall title of Operation Downfall, incorporating two separate invasions under the code names Olympic and Coronet. General Douglas MacArthur projected at least a million U.S. casualties (killed and wounded) in the first year of these invasions. We now know the defending force was more than three times what was expected then, making the one million casualty estimate quite possibly a substantial underestimate.

Fourth, the number of Japanese casualties in the invasion and in the pre-invasion bombings would have been even larger than the number of American casualties, and far larger than the number in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Something like 100,000 people died in the firebombing of Tokyo in March of 1945. Similar bombings of multiple Japanese cities would have preceded any U.S. invasion. It would not have mattered to those killed whether they died from conventional or atomic bombing — whether their cities were destroyed by one bomber or a thousand.

Fifth, and more personally, there were the American prisoners of war — including those captured at Bataan and put through the Death March, like my uncle — being held on the Japanese home islands. The POW camp commanders had standing orders to execute all prisoners in the event of an invasion. By avoiding the invasion, making it unnecessary, the atomic attacks directly saved these men’s lives.

The revisionists among us would pretend that Japan’s situation in the middle of 1945 was hopeless, that Japan knew it was hopeless and was seeking to surrender, and that the American government knew this and dropped the atomic bombs anyway. The reality is that, in spite of their losses, the Japanese military was still insisting on fighting on and — if it hadn’t been for the atomic bombs — would have done so. The use of the atomic bombs therefore saved hundreds of thousands of lives — at least — and may have saved millions. (And, given the larger than expected numbers of defenders, there’s no guarantee the U.S would have prevailed in the invasion of Japan.)

The revisionists either ignore or never knew the conditions of 1945 and what they meant to those who lived through them. At the 60th anniversary commemoration of the Trinity Test, I met a pilot from the European Theater of World War II. In the summer of 1945, he already had orders to the Pacific Theater, which were cancelled after V-J Day. His comment: “This bomb saved my life!” The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also almost certainly gave me (among many others) the chance to be born. They allowed my father, a veteran of the Normandy invasion, to return home to marry my mother instead of being sent to be part of the Japanese invasion (which would have been much larger — and bloodier — than the Normandy invasion he had been a part of). His brother is the uncle mentioned above who survived the Death March and was in a POW camp in Japan at that time. There are many similar stories, some by recognized writers, some gathered and published by newspapers and others, and most less generally available. All are worth seeking out. And virtually all include a recognition of the huge number of casualties — Allied, Japanese, and others in the Japanese-occupied countries — avoided because of the war’s end.

Leon Smith, one of the 509th Composite Bomb Group’s three weaponeers on Tinian Island, was asked by a Japanese documentary film crew (including three individuals from Hiroshima) a number of years later how he felt when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. (By a flip of the coin, the other two weaponeers flew on the missions to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Smith would probably have flown on the atomic bomb mission to Tokyo had that mission been necessary, but flew on the post-war test at Bikini Atoll instead.) He recounted his response as follows:

I pointed out there had been a long war — intensive battles starting in the South Pacific, moving ever northward toward Japan. I talked about the 30,000 Japanese soldiers, 20,000 civilians, lost on Saipan. On Iwo Jima, which was roughly halfway to Japan and a fighter base, 60,000 Marines went ashore, and suffered the highest casualty rate they’d ever suffered in any Marine operation. The Japanese had 21,000 defenders. 20,000 died. The battle for Okinawa had just been completed at the end of June. There over 100,000 Japanese soldiers died. 125-150,000 civilians.

General Marshall believed that defending Japan were 2.3 million soldiers, 4 million navy men, and 28 million armed civilian militia. I said the invasion was scheduled for November of ’45. I thought the casualties would have been simply unreal — beyond comprehension.

I said, “How did I feel when the bomb was dropped? I felt a sense of relief.” I was confident that the war would soon be over. That I could go back and see my wife whom I’d seen very little since our marriage in 1941. The U.S. and its allies could go back to their homes and their families. And the Japanese could go back to their families. Yes, I felt a sense of relief.

Today is the anniversary of the Enola Gay’s flight to Hiroshima, the anniversary of the day Leon Smith’s relief began.

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden has an excellent article on this World-Changing Anniversary over on Pajamas Media. Go read it!

UPDATE II: Nagasaki link added in second paragraph.

Friday, August 3, 2007


I haven't seen the video, but I have heard the audio and the follow-up comments, and I've read about what happened in the House of Representatives last night.

It may have been a screw-up, as I heard the (temporary) speaker say, but it does appear the vote was gaveled shut early. There are consistent reports of the (temporary) speaker gaveling the vote shut on a signal from the leadership. And it's certain more votes were added and/or changed after the vote was "closed". (Sounds like elections in Chicago in the 1960's under Mayor Richard J. Daley!)

The (temporary) speaker admitted he screwed up — "mistakes were made" — but I haven't heard of any action to fix the results of the screw-up. I have also read that the records of this vote were deleted from the House computer system — another (and larger) violation of rules, ethics, and all legitimacy. The rest is dictatorial; that is Big Brother-ish. (Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said no mistakes were made, which makes it sound like last night's several rule violations were deliberate.)

While there could be a legitimate explanation for last night's actions, it very much appears the Democrat leadership acted dishonestly because that was the only way they could prevail. And that wouldn't be so bad if this action weren't taken to give taxpayer money to people who have no right to be in this country in the first place.

To me, this looks like one more piece of evidence that this is the most dishonestly run Congress in my lifetime — which makes it quite the antithesis of the "most ethical Congress in history" we were promised.

UPDATE: The record has been amended to include the "result" of the disuputed vote — reported by the Democrats as a 216-212 loss for the GOP, though C-SPAN clearly shows it to have been a 215-213 win for the Republicans. The evidence is clear: The vote was stolen — and the Democrats have apologized for their "unprecedented over-reach". But the Democrats don't want to reinstate the actual vote outcome. Instead, they have agreed to the formation of a special select committee which is to investigate what happened, deliver an interim report by September 30, and deliver a final report a year later. That sop shouldn't save the Pelosi bacon, however. The Republicans are justifiably demanding the actual gaveled final vote (to send the bill back to committee for amendment) be honored. And, as Captain Ed says,

If they do not get that, the Republicans will likely embark on a series of parliamentary manuevers that will keep House leadership from accomplishing any of their top agenda items. After all, the Republicans have nothing to lose as long as Nancy Pelosi disregards the results of legitimate votes and rules by decree instead.