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Sympathy for the Devil

By marx in Op-Ed
Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 10:52:28 AM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

Any normal human being feels great sympathy for the people involved in the attacks. I feel a great sadness just like everyone else when I see relatives talking and crying over their loss. However, the extreme media focus on the victims shows an imbalanced view on the value of human life. Additionally, the visible rage at attacks on civilians by US politicians shows a hypocrisy, and further magnifies this.

I am not in any way going to belittle the fact several thousand people died in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This is a great tragedy, whichever way you look at it, and needs to be recognized as such. However, in a global context, the magnitude of this tragedy is not so big. Demanding that the whole world should come to a stop, and that "things will never be the same again" shows a lack of respect for victims of far worse tragedies.

Initially, I was going to mention the 1995 Kobe earthquake, since I remembered it incurred a lot of casualties (over 5000 people). I feel an intense shame that there has been a much more fatal earthquake this year, and I did not know about it. Just this fact illustrates my point. On January 26 2001, an earthquake hit near the India/Pakistan border, killing over 20000 people. In 1999, an earthquake hit Turkey, killing 14000 people. The worst of them all occured in 1976 in Tangshan, China, killing 255000 people. This is an unimaginable number (say that 200 airplanes were used instead of 4), yet I have never heard this event mentioned in the mainstream media. For more details about the earthquakes, see here. There are of course more such catastrophes in recent history. Famines have hit several countries, causing mass starvation. More than 250000 people died in the 1988 famine in Sudan. There are similar numbers for other recent famines in Africa.

When such an extreme focus is put on the victims and tragedy of this attack, while almost none is directed at the victims of other, much more fatal and widespread catastrophies, it shows that there is an imbalance in the view of human life. Clearly, the life of a rich, educated person working in the World Trade Center is valued much more than the life of a poor person in India, China or Sudan. This is not consistent with the morals projected from the leaders of the developed world.

If we look beyond the basic human suffering and grieving, the other importance of this attack is that it was in fact an attack, and not an accident. This does not make it more or less sad for the people involved, but it brings things such as revenge, punishment and war into the picture.

In my opinion, claiming that there are "rules" for how war should be fought, and when and when not you are allowed to kill people is ridiculous and sad, and shows a lack of empathy. However, my opinion is worth very little. What I can do instead is force people to be consistent. If you claim there are rules, then those rules should apply for everyone, and not just for other people.

The main criticism against this attack is that it was directed toward civilians, or at least that a very high number of civilians died in the attack. The 1950 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War expresses what is and what isn't allowed to be done toward civilians, and expresses the basic idea that civilians should not be hurt or killed. I think this is obvious for everyone. This attack clearly violated this principle and is thus despicable. This has been expressed very clearly by both for example Colin Powell, and also other leaders in the world.

In December 1989, the US executed Operation Just Cause, which was an invasion of Panama. Here is a quote from the Collegian:

One must not lose sight of the human tragedy resulting from the invasion. Whereas the State Department is only willing to acknowledge that 516 Panamanians died, both the National Human Rights Commission of Panama and the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights in Central America claim that at least 2,000 people had perished. The Catholic and Episcopal Churches give estimates of 3,000 dead as "conservative." In the predominantly black El Chorillo district of Panama City alone, hundreds of civilians were killed and upwards of 30,000 made homeless by the "infernal mastery" of F-117A stealth fighters and Apache helicopters. So much for the Pentagon's claims that it was a "surgical operation.

This by itself is horrible, and makes the condemnations against the terrorist attack less believable. However, when we discover that the man who oversaw this operation was none other than Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the condemnations seem nothing else than insincere.

Colin Powell has coined a doctrine, the "Powell Doctrine":

Use all the force necessary and do not apologize for going in big if that's what it takes.

Such a doctrine does not fit well at all with the outrafe against the attack.

Finally, there is of course the obvious fact that the US dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 350000 people (presumably the absolute majority being civilians). This is from the "selection of target" section of the report by The Manhattan Engineer District, 1946:

Since the atomic bomb was expected to produce its greatest amount of damage by primary blast effect, and next greatest by fires, the targets should contain a large percentage of closely-built frame buildings and other construction that would be most susceptible to damage by blast and fire."

I don't think the association is lost on anyone.

I don't think it's productive to keep score of how many people each side has killed, or whatever, and use this as an excuse for new attacks. However, when Rudolph Giuliani labels the attack as "the most heinous act in world history", there is cause for some examination of history. When George Bush says "this is a war between good and evil, and good will prevail" (transcribed from memory), then there is cause to examine what really constitutes good and evil.


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Related Links
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o Also by marx

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Sympathy for the Devil | 61 comments (34 topical, 27 editorial, 0 hidden)
I don't understand. (2.53 / 13) (#1)
by Greyshade on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 06:23:56 AM EST

I really don't see the connection people keep trying to make between deaths due to natural disaster, and deliberate acts of violence.

Tragedy (4.12 / 8) (#2)
by marx on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 06:29:50 AM EST

Why is the attack a tragedy? Is it because people died or is it because the US was attacked? I think people are primarily sad because they've lost someone they loved, not because terrorists or the Pentagon or whatever was involved.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

No, you're wrong. (3.57 / 7) (#16)
by farmgeek on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 08:25:40 AM EST

I'm sad at the loss of innocence. You see, before this attack we could at least try to let the rest of the world mind its own business and us mind our's. But that is no longer possible.

I mourn the loss and suffering of those whose loved ones were taken, but I mourn also the loss and suffering of those whose loved ones we will be forced to kill.

Most of all, I mourn the fact that the US will now basically be forced to dominate a good majority of the world merely to insure that we are left alone.

Yes, I realize that we have done our share of meddling, but I also know that it was to a large extent against our will. We don't want to play policeman to the world. We never have. We merely want to be left alone to raise our families, enjoy our way of life, and possibly share that heritage with the rest of the world.

Disclaimer: I realize I do not speak for all of America, but the feelings I express are the general consensus of my family and our friends, at least as far as I am able to articulate them. Deal with it.

[ Parent ]
sigh (2.00 / 2) (#3)
by Danse on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 06:34:10 AM EST

Read the rest of the damn article!

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
A nation in mourning? (4.20 / 5) (#12)
by codemonkey_uk on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 07:16:54 AM EST

Mourning the death of their people, or morning the death of people?

At 11am this morning I observed a 3 minute silence. Now I'm wondering why I was not doing that same for the countless others that have died in other disasters.
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Simple. (4.66 / 9) (#15)
by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 08:09:56 AM EST

When was the minute of silence for the 1 million of dead people in Ruanda? Where were all those people lying candles and Ruandan flags in the RUandan embassy? I hope I am making my point without any idiot saying I am condoning violence.

Althoug the poster does not fully manage to convey the point, obviously how much we are shocked about something does not depend on the inherent value we give to human life, but on how many CNN cameras are available to show the tragedy live.

The sad truth is that there are lives that are more equal than others for whatever reasons we can find, and that saddens me as well as the tragedy we are witnessing.

"They only think of me as a Mexican,
an Indian or a Mafia don"
Mexican born actor Anthony Quinn on
[ Parent ]
Sorry, that's not what I ment. (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by Greyshade on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 07:04:18 AM EST

I am not trying to imply that deaths due to natural disaster are 'ok' or that the people are any less dead, or should not be mourned for. I just think it's belittling the atrocity of the crime by comparing the deliberate slaughter of thousands of people to the death of thousands due to a natural disaster.

[ Parent ]
oops. (none / 0) (#37)
by Greyshade on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 07:11:25 AM EST

Posted my reply on the wrong thread.

Oh well. Flame me for my stupidity.

[ Parent ]

Simple, really. (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by DarkZero on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 05:06:01 PM EST

It's just to make a simple, but important statement: When something bad happens to another country, no matter how big, America doesn't give a crap. Look at what's going on around the world. Minutes of silence in other countries, people piling up candles and flowers outside embassies... the rest of the world gives a crap when very bad things happen to people other than them. Americans, on the other hand, were making passing and incredibly callous comments over their four-course dinners that we should nuke the poor, starving nations that make up most of the Middle East long before any of this happened. My fellow Americans, from what I've personally witnessed, don't just "not care"... they make nasty comments about how "the little bastards deserved it". But that's a rant unto itself. The point is that the American media and the American people just don't give a crap when something bad happens to anyone else.

[ Parent ]
But who else helps? (4.00 / 2) (#51)
by cooldev on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 07:47:13 PM EST

When something bad happens to another country, no matter how big, America doesn't give a crap.

This is patently false. The US is usually the first to rush in with aid, especially in the case of natural disasters.

There are a lot of problems in the world. A lot of people are starving, a lot of wars, civil wars, oppressive governments, and so forth. We can't fix them all. We can't make it all suddenly better. In some cases we try to help (sometimes for selfish reasons) and it just makes everybody hate the US for interfering.

But the point is: The United States is not the only country in the world capable of helping people. I read time and time and time again how we didn't step in to help when XYZ country had such-and-such of problem. But where was Britian? Where was Austrailia? Where was the (former) Soviet Union? Where was France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, and all of the rest of the world? That's right, They weren't there helping either. Were you?

I'll end with a quote from Dale Carnegie's exellent book, "How to Win Friends and Influence Poeple" describing human nature -- not just Americans:

"Remember that the man you are talking to is a hundred times more interested in himself and his wants and his problems than he is in you and your problems. His toothache means more to him than a famine in China that kills a million people. A boil on his neck interests him more than 40 earthquakes in Africa."

[ Parent ]
In regard to ... (3.00 / 1) (#56)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 11:31:16 PM EST

But where was Britian? Where was Austrailia?...
One should also ask where was the UN?

[ Parent ]

Re: But who else helps? (none / 0) (#60)
by DarkZero on Sun Sep 23, 2001 at 01:41:54 PM EST

This is patently false. The US is usually the first to rush in with aid, especially in the case of natural disasters.

I was speaking of "America" as in "the American people", not "the American government", and it's completely my fault for not clarifying. The point was that Americans, as a people, generally do not give a crap about other countries. Our media doesn't give a crap, our people don't give a crap, and until now, 99% of Americans remained willfully ignorant of what was going on in the Middle East. Even worse, from my personal experiences since September 11th, that percentage of willfully ignorant Americans only dropped to around 65%, with the other 34% (out of the 99 that were ignorant to begin with) not only remaining willfully ignorant, but becoming intentionally stupider by buying into moronic propaganda and some of the stupidest ideas I've heard in my life ("We should round all them Arabs up and jail'em! Y'know... uhhh... for their own protection! Not 'cause I'm a racist asshole or anything!").

[ Parent ]
One other comment (5.00 / 2) (#52)
by cooldev on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 08:16:20 PM EST

Americans, on the other hand, were making passing and incredibly callous comments over their four-course dinners that we should nuke the poor, starving nations that make up most of the Middle East long before any of this happened.

Yes, there has been a lot of that lately, but most people are just temporarily very angry and they don't know how else to lash out. I've certainly had this cross my mind over the last week. But it's not nice, it's not constructive, and it doesn't reflect the long term attitude of the American people.

Except for an very small racist minority, most Americans can correctly distinguish the actions of a small group of people from the country/region that those people happen to come from. If you watch TV or listen to the radio you'll see quite a bit of concern about how careful we need to be in our retaliation so that more innocent people do not die. I think this concern will increase, not decrease, in the weeks and months ahead.

Another thing I've noticed about Americans is that we don't tend to hold long term grudges. After WWII we started helping our former enemies rebuild, and now they are some of our closes allies and trading partners. We strongly condemn the actions of nazi Germany without hating all Germans. We were in a cold war with the Soviet Union for decades, but few Americans (nobody I know) currently harbor negative feelings toward their people. The political situation regarding the US and China is often tense, but few Americans hate the Chinese. There are occasional jokes about the US and Candada, but at least on our end they're just jokes -- to us Canada is practically the 51st state. I hope that Canadians think the same way.

[ Parent ]
natural disasters (3.38 / 13) (#19)
by Refrag on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 08:48:12 AM EST

Natural disasters do not compare to this, because they are simply a consequence of chaos. The attack on the United States of America was a deliberate act of homicide. As such, it is of much more import because there is something that we all must do, as humans, to try to prevent this from occuring in the future.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches

You missed the other half... (4.75 / 4) (#21)
by Shovas on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 11:04:26 AM EST


Just wanted to point out the other half of the story you seem to have missed.

Granted, I thought the exact same thing in the first few paragraphs: Those are natural disasters and this is a terrorist attack. I got thinking, however, about the aftermath of these catastrophes. The outpouring of grief and sympathy all around the world is incredible. Does this same thing happen when 10 times the amount of people are killed in some developing nation? No way. Does it even happen when we hear of mass killings by corrupt leaders and armies against other, defenceless nations(and their innocent civilians)? Again, we don't see this kind of reaction.

It is this "if it's not an American or 1st World Nation death, it's not worth my effort to mourn" that is very disturbing, and what this author of this story is trying to present.

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
Disagree? Post. Don't mod.
[ Parent ]
Poignant and well-done (3.85 / 7) (#22)
by Laurel on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 01:35:08 PM EST

As painful as the situation is, I think the only solution for genuine healing is to look beyond the events of the 11th. We have to appreciate that as terrible as this act of terrorism is, there have been recent disasters in other nations that consumed more lives and truly did devastate national economies. We have to accept the responsibility for acts of terrorism and war preformed by the United States on smaller countries and sympathesize for our own victims and bring the entire cycle of international terror and violence to an end.

Stop begging the question - please (2.50 / 10) (#25)
by CoolArrow on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 02:18:58 PM EST

If your against the actions of the U.S. Government and, defacto it's citizens, then just say so and be done with it.

I'm really tired of hearing yet another diatribe/rant thinly, or not so thinly perhaps, veiled as other than what it is.

"If you have nothing to do-PLEASE, don't do it here."

There's a difference... (3.25 / 4) (#29)
by greenrd on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 06:03:16 PM EST

I'm against many of the foreign policies of my own government, but that doesn't make me in some way "against" the entire British population (many of whom agree with me, incidentally).

Let's have a serious debate here without descending into hyperbole. You sound like you're trying to imply this "rant" is not worth listening to because it's "anti-American". Handy way to deal with criticism - but not very rational.

"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

That was stale. (1.00 / 3) (#38)
by CoolArrow on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 08:04:25 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Re: Stop (none / 0) (#47)
by DarkZero on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 05:00:22 PM EST

If your against the actions of the U.S. Government and, defacto it's citizens, then just say so and be done with it.

I'm really tired of hearing yet another diatribe/rant thinly, or not so thinly perhaps, veiled as other than what it is.

If you're going to publicly state an opinion, you back it up with why you have that opinion, and evidence that supports its validity. That's what these people are doing, and I have the feeling that if the matter weren't whether or not to support America, you'd feel the same way.

[ Parent ]
Intent Matters (4.50 / 12) (#28)
by tudlio on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 05:35:03 PM EST

I think your analysis misses a crucial point: that intent is important in how we evaluate an event.

Loss of life as a result of an earthquake (or a hurricane, or a flood...) is a terrible thing, but as many people have already pointed out, there's no guiding intelligence behind a natural disaster. There's no one who intended to kill thousands of people as a result.

When innocents are killed as a result of military action in modern times, it's usually unintentional. Yes, I know dead is dead, but it's appropriate for our emotional reaction to the deaths to be mitigated by the realization that there was a purpose (whether you agree with the purpose or not) that was other than killing civilians.

Even Nagasaki and Hiroshima had a point, whether you agree with the reasoning or not behind that point. As was ably pointed out elsewhere, Truman intended to end the war with the least loss of American life.

The people who attacked the World Trade Center towers intended to kill civilians. They provided no warning, they offered no way of avoiding the attack, and they planned their attack to cause the most deaths they could. Their intention was to terrorize a populace, to degrade civililty and civilization.

It's that intention, irrespective of body count, that makes this attack so heinous, and that justifies the emotions Americans and people all over the world feel.

insert self-deprecatory humor here
Please (2.50 / 6) (#33)
by marx on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 07:13:06 PM EST

No, please, don't start advocating murder if the intent is admirable. We can argue about the right to life and what the intent of the terrorists was or whatever, but all I'm going to do is quote Truman from a speech given shortly after the bombing of Nagasaki:
The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.

Truman bombed Hiroshima, and he did not even know what he was doing. I just can't find words.. this just makes me so terribly sad.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Not A Justification For Action (3.50 / 4) (#34)
by tudlio on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 07:21:46 PM EST

God forbid I came across as advocating murder for any reason. I'm not trying to justify whatever future action the American government may or may not take. I am trying to say that there are justifiable reasons for people to be as horrified about this particular act of murder, even if it didn't kill as many people as Hiroshima, or Kobe, or Iraq, or the other horrifying events that the original poster used as examples.

insert self-deprecatory humor here
[ Parent ]
You can't find words... (3.60 / 5) (#35)
by John Miles on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 10:21:43 PM EST

... because you're an example of everything that's wrong with an American public-school education.

We dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki precisely to avoid the excessive loss of life, both civilian and miltary, that would have accompanied an invasion of the Japan islands.

The 200,000 people killed by the atomic bombings in 1945 were trivial casualties compared to the bloodshed we'd have faced -- and caused -- trying to take Japan the hard way. Heck, the Russians killed over a million Afghans during their own occupation effort, and they still failed at their objective in the end.

Try this link. You can probably find directions to a nearby library.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

Public school education (2.66 / 3) (#39)
by marx on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 11:50:54 AM EST

you're an example of everything that's wrong with an American public-school education.

I have never set my foot inside a school in the US so I don't see how this can be true. Instead of just flailing out, please do some analysis of the facts before posting.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Regurgitating misinformation (none / 0) (#58)
by swezwho on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 05:16:31 AM EST

Well, no. You've confused p-r-o-p-a-g-a-n-d-a with information. For the moment, shall we assume you're the one with the faulty education? Don't feel too bad, though... you were intentionally misinformed. It's not like anyone expects you to actually _assess_ anything you're told in school, right?.

Japan was bombed because we had an impressive weapon to show off, predominantly for the benefit of Russia. The minimizing-the-body-count line was largely a smokescreen. (Whatever works, right?) We'd known for a long time that Japan was willing to discuss surrender, but were (literally) blowing them off so that we could show the world that we now officially had the biggest crank in the locker room. That makes Truman a mass-murderer, by the way, on a scale that makes Osama Bin Laden (if he's at the root of last week's atrocity) a mere school-yard bully by comparison.

Try this link to deal with the misimpressions you currently have on that topic.

Try this link to broaden your horizons even more. Careful though... you'll find more of the poo-poo ca-ca you've already been told, so you'll have to train yourself to digest multiple sources... and think. Unfortunately, it seems that you have some potentially unpleasant discoveries still ahead of you in life...

One other thing? No casualty is a "trivial" casualty. Not one.

[ Parent ]

I started to read the first link you posted... (none / 0) (#61)
by John Miles on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 08:36:01 PM EST

... got as far as the phrase "The war was over except for the fighting," and decided it was time to go make myself a sandwich.

Sorry, I guess my attention span for revisionist rhetoric from people with no apparent professional qualifications isn't what it used to be. But thanks, anyway.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

Hiroshima (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by Bad Harmony on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 01:15:55 PM EST

Besides civilians, Hiroshima contained major military installations and war production facilities. It was a legitimate military target. Post-war revisionists would like us to think that the USA deliberately dropped an atomic bomb on a bunch of peace-loving civilians.

5440' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

"Morale effect" (3.50 / 2) (#50)
by marx on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 07:03:49 PM EST

Post-war revisionists would like us to think that the USA deliberately dropped an atomic bomb on a bunch of peace-loving civilians.

Come on, don't be stupid. It's a city. Civilians live in cities. If you drop an atomic bomb on a city, a lot of civilians are going to die. There is not a chance that they couldn't have figured this out.

Here are the two non-technical (i.e. not having to do with aircraft range etc.) considerations in the "selection of targets" report:

  • Selection of targets to produce the greatest military effect on the Japanese people and thereby most effectively shorten the war.
  • The morale effect upon the enemy.

What do you think they meant with "morale effect" here? Do you think the morale is affected if some barracks or unoccupied factories are bombed?

If the US wanted to destroy some select military targets in Hiroshima, why did they use a bomb which had a fatal radius of several kilometers inside a city? Why not use conventional bombs and specifically hit the targets?

My guess is that the thinking in the group which organized the September 11 attack was not very different from the thinking in the group which organized the Hiroshima attack. An attack based on "morale effect" is pretty much what defines a terrorist attack.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Hiroshima vs Nagasaki (3.00 / 1) (#54)
by Kasreyn on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 10:45:14 PM EST

Hiroshima was used to end the war. Japan was training old men and women to fight with bamboo spears on the beaches in the invasion. Mostly, Hiroshima actually saved Japanese civilians from butchery by the hundreds of thousands in combat, and also saved our Marines from as well. I'll leave it to you, gentle reader, to make a value judgement as to whose lives were worth more.

As for Nagasaki: the Japanese might not have actually gotten on board Mighty Mo to sign the papers yet, but the fight was out of them, they were beaten, and WE KNEW IT and we bombed it anyway. Nagasaki was for one pair of eyes only: Stalin's. This was, "you better watch the fuck out, Joey, we have a shiny new rattle and you should play nice." We were making sure he'd Gotten The Picture. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, "Thanks to the Yanks for a job well done!... this was show business."

Therefore I consider Nagasaki an atrocity which I am ashamed of our government for committing, whereas I feel Hiroshima was (barely) justifiable as a military action.


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Japan never had a chance (3.00 / 1) (#55)
by gambuzino on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 11:18:28 AM EST

I've recently borrowed the BBC "World at War" series from a friend - 10 DVD's worth of balanced perspective on the events of WWII.

One thing that really impressed me was discovering how few resources the USA used in the war against Japan. I saw the Japan War episode about 3 weeks ago, so I might be quoting incorrectly, but I think the figure was something like one tenth of the US military power. The absolute priority was the war in Europe, no matter how much the US Navy complained about it.

The point is, the US fought Japan without really giving it a lot of effort. There was no way Japan could have defeated the US - the attack on Pearl Harbour was plain suicide, as is now evident.

Japan was for all purposes a broken and defeated country when the Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and there are several accounts of how they tried to broker some kind of agreement with the US. (I don't have any links, so please help me either support or disprove this notion with more info.)

Dropping the Bomb on Japan was a golden opportunity to see how nuclear weapons worked against human populations. This was a military experiment, which was performed not to win a war, but to witness the effects of a new weapon on real cities, and not just deserts. It was also a way of telling the world: look what we have. Don't mess with us.

This is nothing new. The US profits from every small war they fight to conduct military experiments, be it of new technology or new concepts. I suppose that's even one of the main reasons why they engage so often in small, controlled conflicts (small as opposed to WWII or Vietnam). It's a way of keeping their military trained and confident in its technology. Witness the Iraq war. I wonder how many people have been busy writing theses on the effectiveness or lack thereof of the various new weapons and strategies used in this conflict. There's no way they could learn so much without fighting a real war.

[ Parent ]
The Bomb (none / 0) (#59)
by Bad Harmony on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 09:05:46 AM EST

For another point of view, read:

Paul Fussell, Thank God For the Atom Bomb and Other Essays (1988)

5440' or Fight!
[ Parent ]

Well we only care about ourselves, of course. (4.00 / 1) (#45)
by treat on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 03:59:20 PM EST

This affects us dirrectly, so of course we care about it more than something that happens in a far off land that we have never seen. I saw the buildings fall with my own eyes, I know people that died. If I missed a day's news, I wouldn't know about an earthquake in Asia. Most people at least know someone that knows someone that died. One of our most major landmarks was destroyed. People don't even know how to accept that.

I sorry... (3.00 / 1) (#57)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 11:57:05 PM EST

... but I don't understand the title. Who is the devil that you are talking about? The USA? The dead people in the rubble? It seems rather insensitive to me.

As to the thesis, I think the pattern in sympathy reactions has to do in part with the reasons behind deaths, in larger part with the extent of media coverage, and in part with proximity/self-acknowledged identity conditions. Unless you are a teen just coming to some grips with the size and complexity of the world, I figure all of this is rather trivial stuff. Using these either in some twisted form of tragidy one-upsmanship or to bash the mourning also strikes me as rather insensitive.

You start off saying you aren't going to belittle the loss of life in this case, then you seem to go on and try to do just that. As for the claim, "What I can do instead is force people to be consistent." I can only reply that <sarcasm=mild>your super powers must be truely astounding</sarcasm>.

Sympathy for the Devil | 61 comments (34 topical, 27 editorial, 0 hidden)
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