Recently there were several comments by white house insiders or spokesmen comparing the waterboarding controversy to war crimes committed by the Japs during the war. This had obviously been promoted by someone in the white house as a “talking point” on the Sunday talk shows and for the other political news programs. This has arisen due to the prospect of investigating and possibly prosecuting anyone connected with the waterboarding program conducted by the CIA on the Islamist terrorists in their custody. I really hate it when someone tries to alter history or give a false impression of history and counts on the ignorance or lack of knowledge of the general public to portray a historical event in a light different than what the true facts were. On at least two occasions the comment was made that we prosecuted Japs for waterboarding as a war crime after the war. That is so wrong.
Someone at the white house or nearby at the EOB did a Google search or some such and got a blurb about waterboarding that mentioned war crimes and WWII. While it may be true that evidence of waterboarding may have been introduced at one of the war crimes against some particular Jap that would not have been the reason for his conviction for a war crime. That would only have been a sliver of the evidence. Whoever did this research was not a military historian of WWII. He would have known better. The Japenese were convicted of war crimes for real war crimes. Starting with the Bataan Death march all the way to the end days of the war the Japenese were guilty of the most atrocious of cruelties. On the Death March our boys and some of the Phillipinos were run over by tanks for sport, some were beheaded others beaten with rifle butts or stabbed with bayonets. There was no effort made to provide any food or shelter for them and medical attention was whatever they could get on the fly. The Japanese made no effort to attend to the wounded. Remember our troops were not terrorists, they were in uniform and part of an organized army and representives of an estatblished government. Also it is worth mentioning that the Japs didn’t have to do anything to gain intelligence from our guys. They had no intelligence to give. They were soldiers and pilots. They were not privy to any planned attacks. They were guys following orders. The Japs knew this and the cruelties imposed on our men had no justification as an aid to the Japanese army for formulating strategy or learning of our future plans. It was cruelty for the sake of cruelty. Pain inflicted on the helpless for pure sadistic pleasure.
As the war progressed things only got worse. Maybe you saw the recent movie about the rescue at Palawan prison where our Rangers freed hundreds of our troops from the Japs. It is a fairly accurate portrayal of the cruelty of the Japs. Shortly before the rescue the Japs took dozens of our men out and made them dig a trench and then get in it. The trench was filled with aviation gas and ignited. Don’t take my word for it. Search out and speak with a survivor of the Japanese prison camps. There are some still around. Let them tell you what it was like. There are numerous books and articles on the subject. Our men were beheaded on a regular basis. They were beaten severely on a routine basis. Their food was limited to the point of near starvation. If you haven’t seen any of the pictures of the men immediately after their release then you should go look at them. They were skeletons. On an island near Iwo Jima the local commander even ate the livers of some of our downed pilots after he personally beheaded them. This was the island where George Bush was shot down. Fortunately he was off shore far enough that he was not captured and one of our subs was in the area to pluck him from the sea.
The records show that about 40% of all our prisoners died in Japanese captivity. That compares with about a 4% death rate under the Germans for our prisoners and most of those were in the final couple of months of the war when all logistical support systems were destroyed by our bombing and the Germans were in a panicked retreat. In the established camps deaths of prisoners were unusual. They sure didn’t have the lap of luxury but they were not systematically killed.
It is an insult to our men who were captured by the Japanese and had to endure their cruelty to compare waterboarding to their treatment. The Japs convicted for war crimes were found guilty for causing the death of prisoners. One of those survivors would tell you I am sure that he only wished that waterboarding was the worst that happened to him. There is no mention of that treatment in the histories but they are replete with beheadings.
All wars are atrocities by their very nature but civilized people try to adhere to some rudimentary standards even there to honor the kernel of decency in western society. I hate it that we have to bomb anyone; that we must consider enhanced interrogations of any kind. I would prefer a world at peace–one that honors the truth rather than distort it as has been attempted with those talking heads. What really bothers me is that there will be so many people who will have heard those comments and know nothing of the history of the WWII and they will accept those comments as truth. The idea of waterboarding is very repugnant to me personally. What angers me is that we are dealing with an enemy who is not in uniform, who hates our very civilization and culture and clearly has no bounds or limits to the pain and death they are prepared to inflict on anyone including the innocent. When next you cringe at the thought of someone being waterboarded as I do, then I urge you to also remember those images and videos of those poor souls jumping from the burning Twin Towers to their death to avoid the flames. I don’t like it but I would waterboard in a heart beat to save my fellow citizens from that fate, even those who disagree with me. We Americans do care and respect human life.
Olcranky is off to the hospital to say hello to my two new grandsons.
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