This diary began as a comment on Turkana's Nazis story today, but my response to Stevensnell's comment seemed to need its own diary.
I will preface this all with a note that I am researching on the Nazi era for a historical novel, in particular an episode at the end of World War II that caught my attention. I don't want to mention the exact topic, but will say that to get the story right, I had to go all the way back to before the beginning of World War I, in order to find the seeds of my story. 30+ history books later, I am still a long way from having the book completed, but wow have I learned a lot about history.
It begins after the fold...
I think the motivations for the Hiroshima bombing
...are still a bit mysterious. Hiroshima was a major military center, but the bomb was aimed at the civilian population - at the center of the city. The official explanation has always been that our use of the bomb was intended to force a quick surrender, but there's quite a bit of evidence that a Japanese surrender wasn't far off anyway and that the bomb probably wasn't the only was to bring it about -- there's also some evidence to suggest that the generals at the time knew that. Here are two alternate explanations:
1. The military was thinking of the post-war period, in which the United States was already imagining some type of standoff with the Soviet Union, and felt that a demonstration of massive US firepower at Hiroshima would act as a major bargaining chip against the USSR.
2. Some in the military, fascinated by the power of the new weapon, desperately wanted to try it out.
I responded with the following (not actually posted when I decided it had gotten too long and chose to go this route instead)...
The Japanese DID want to surrender
...if they could keep the Emperor.
No big deal, right? Stop the war, let them keep the guy on his throne, save a few hundred thousand lives. It sounded like a no-brainer, yes?
Nope. The US said no. No Emperor. Dump him or be invaded.* * * * * * *
There was precedence...
In the closing weeks of World War I, the German General Quartiermaster (not misspelled) Erich Ludendorff, after his Operation Michael offensive in the west had failed, realized he'd weakened the German position to the point that Germany itself was in imminent danger of being invaded, and there wasn't a damned thing the German Army would be able to do to stop it.
Ludendorff contacted the Allies, attempting to sue for peace. The terms came back an included a demand that the Kaiser step down and the Hohenzollern Empire come to an end, to be replaced by a democratic form of government.
Ludendorff's pleas to keep the Kaiser were the not accepted. That term was an absolute must: Wilhelm must abdicate or the Allies overrun Germany.
(As an aside: the Allied terms presented to Ludendorff were so harsh, he could not bring himself to be a party to it, so he did the only thing he could do: He passed the buck. He handed over governmental authority to the civilians in the Reichstag, on November 9th. Recall that the Armisitce was signed on the 11th, only two days later. Ludendorff dumped it on them at the last possible moment. The German signers had not only a difficult time getting TO the signing, but when there, they had no government yet set up in Berlin to advise them, when they all realized they couldn't sign the damned thing. They were given 24 hours to sign, or else an invasion would commence. They signed.
For the next 27 years Germany would react to that signing and be brought to its knees, anyway. Some guy named Hitler (originally in cahoots with some coward named Ludendorff), fed off the lie that the civilians had stabbed the soldiers in the back, that the war was not lost on the battlefield, that it was treachery on the home front that sold out the German nation. Ludendorff knew it wasn't true; Hitler did not. He believed it right up until the end.
In 1918, the Germans accepted the ousting of the Kaiser as part of the Armistice. They succeeded in forestalling an invasion. It did them little good, though, as the Treaty of Versailles was so punitive anyway which VERY much was a part of why Hitler was able to come to power. The Stab-in-the-Back Legend and Versailles, taken together, were a potent mix. They were the reason Germany was susceptible to a demagogue.
In 1945, the US was just as adamant with the Japanese: Hirohito MUST abdicate. But Japan - unlike Germany - could not bring itself to dump the Emperor. So the only options for the Allies were invasion or the A-Bomb.
Absolutely, peace could have been achieved if Truman would have allowed the Emperor to remain on the throne. It was really the only term the Japanese insisted on. Like I said, what difference would it have made? Just a couple of hundred thousand dead from the blast and the radiation...
...There was an anti-monarchy mentality in the 20th century that defied logic. Looking back from the brink of the second decade of the 21st century (YES, it is upon us), it is difficult for people to realize that ONLY ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO - when my own grandparents were voting already - MOST OF THE WORLD'S GOVERNMENTS WERE MONARCHIES.
We take it for granted that democracy is the only sane way to run countries. Yet up until 100 years ago, democracies were the rare exception. Somehow the world had gotten by for thousands of years with monarchies, if not without the odd country that thought people could make their own way in the world without some intercession from God's anointed monarchs.
Democracy is such a new development, really, and it remains to be seen if it is the best of the lot. Churchill famously said in 1947,
Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.
History in the last 100 years show that wars, if anything, are more cruel, more vicious, and more pernicious, since democracy has become the required means of rule.
Am I writing this because I support monarchies? Hell, no! I think of Republicans as monarchists, so, NO, I am not in favor of them. But there is a perspective: WE ARE STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT WORKS.
"Dictator" is just a modern term for monarch. It is monarchy that repels us - the idea that some people are better than others. That is the part of Republicanism that I abhor. But as long as there are Republicans and right wingers, we will be dealing with the idea that some people are more important and more privileged than others. We continue the principle in our businesses, almost all of which defy democratic principles.
And, in many ways, those monarchist GOoPers are still trying to take us back to 1909.
In 1918 the Germans allowed the Kaiser to fall, but many of the Germans of that time were part and parcel of Hitler's rise to power. They still had the whiff of monarchy in their noses, and Hitler fed into that thinking.
In 2009, that thinking is prevalent in everything the Republicans support and continue: - Low taxes on the rich - Opposition to anything having that helps the masses (e.g., unions, Social Security, National Health Care, Medicare, welfare, public schools) - Worship of militarism - The trickle-down theory - The idea of an investment society - The idea that wealth makes right, that if you are rich, you did well - The idea of colonialism, which still exists within the American "Territories," and that the powerful nations have the right to dictate to the weaker ones - The continuance of the Senate is just a form of the House of Lords and the idea that an aristocracy should have a say in the affairs of men (we can't trust that House of Representatives of the people to do what is right) - The hierarchical structure of nearly 100% of corporations and companies (when every company is a fiefdom, how democratic IS western society?)
We still have emperors and kings, barons, dukes, earls and lairds. Nowadays we call them CEOs and Senators.
Believe it or not, democracy is not the final say in governing... at least not the American version of it.
In 2009, listen to what they say, and in every sentence is the argument that people who believe in little people are deluded, while anyone believing the rich should not only get to keep 95% of the wealth produced but that we should all be GLAD they get to - because (as they believe) IT IS THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS.
They will fight to the end - as Japan was prepared to do in 1945 - the right to have emperors and kings (by whatever name), and there is little we can do to talk them out of it. But we will be stuck with dealing with the attitude for a long time to come. Just as Germany had a demagogue come along spieling half-truths and ignorance, we in America have demagogues doing the same thing.
In some ways, we are at a similar junction, with our Rush Limbaughs and dittoheads replacing Hitler and the SA. In SOME timeline going off into the future, a Beck or Limbaugh feeds the ignorant Red Staters who want to follow their Führerprinzip, a powerful leader.
There is danger here, folks... evil, lies just around the corner. We are one crazy away from chaos. The chaos of post-WWI Germany brought forth a madman. A leader who has strength is one thing. A people who want - who NEED - a strong man is another story, altogether.
What DO we do, with people like that? When they will accept the destruction of their nation (like the Japanese were willing to do in 1945), when it is "better dead than Red," when they will act in complete opposition to their OWN well being - how do you deal with people that out of their minds?
Talk of Nazis, by crazies that can't even see their own fascism, applied to those on the opposite end of the spectrum from Nazism - waking people up who are in that mind set, I don't think is possible. And yet, those people are freaking dangerous...
With all due respect to the moderate churches out there, I have to put a lot of the onus on them. Teaching people that thinking is a no-no, it has gotten us where we are right now. Billy Graham and all his like, they are dangerous, dangerous people. Europe has become a cemetery for churches, and in their wake (no pun intended) the no-secularism has brought about a humanism that is decent, tolerant and reasonable, and is good for the average man and woman on the street. When America can leave behind its religious anti-rational-thinking leanings, we will manage to find our way to some better world. We were already well on our way there, until Nixon decided to bring the religious people into the political fray. And once he did, the GOP has sucked up to them and their willfully ignorant ways. Now, the GOP is being devoured by them. When their monarch is a man who's been dead for 2,000 years, and they still suck up to the guy, thinking he is "the cure for everything what ails us," what they might do may be off the charts. I've come to the conclusion that too much religion is an insane choice for anyone. What might they do next?
I don't know. Thinking about it scares me...
(I expect exactly zero thumbs-up on this monologue, but I had to write it...)