Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ruminating on Pearl Harbor, or, The infamy of creating bad stereotypes

I've been thinking this morning, that as I sit writing this, 69 years ago, a Japanese force of four carriers and accompanying strike group equivalents were preparing to launch thier surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. I've been to Pearl several times, in fact I joined my first Navy ship there. Now that I think about it she looked at the time like she might have just survived the battle. But I digest. I remember the strange feeling seeing a ship of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force - for all intents and purposes the Japanese Navy - tied up pierside with full honors. At colors, honors were exchanged with great ceremony and respect. I won't pretend I wasn't a little chapped at this - in fact, when I later learned that several US Sailors walking down the pier had treated Japanese Sailors badly, I - shamefully - quietly agreed with them. Yes, even I was a dumbass Ensign.

There is a concept that both flourishes and eludes us today - the idea of degrading your enemy in your eyes to be something less than human to justify your hatred and killing of them - and the fact that once created the image doesn't just go away. In this case, the killing might have ended long ago but that seed of hatred is planted deep, especially in those who have never had any other experience with the Japanese than reading about and studying Pearl Harbor and WWII. It might not be readily apparent, but how many times today will you hear about "the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor". That's like saying "The War of Northern Aggression" or "War Against the Huns". And not that I mind too much, but just think about it.

The simple fact of the matter is this - we have been at peace with the Japanese since September 2, 1945. In that time, we've seen the rise of Japan as a mutually beneficial trading partner and economic powerhouse, as well as a most trusted and valuable ally.

When our adversaries are dead, wounded, captured, capitulated or otherwise neutralized, they cease to be our enemy. This is a fundamental concept in the Law of Armed Conflict. Fight me no more and we will live on together, in peace.

And so, as part of my recompense for previously ignorant thoughts on the subject, I can say honestly that I am extraordinarily proud of my nation's partnership with the Japanese, without which we would undoubtedly find our mission much more difficult. The peace was hard-won, but I can think of no better outcome from the struggles and tribulations of our proud veterans than the peace they helped forge in the crucible of WWII.

Hats off.


And on a lighter note, have you seen the Jap. Navy, well- JMSDF, lately? They are complete badasses! Try an UNREP with them sometime and you'll see how locked up a ship can be, and how smart execution can look.


Where do you think they got AEGIS from? You didn't think that their ships and ours look so similar by coincidence, did you? Rock on, Japan. Good to have you on our team. I look back in the annals of history with great disappointment that we were ever such horrible enemies.


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