Been watching Oliver Stone’s “History of the United States” on Netflix. I’ve read a lot of history, but this is really eye-opening stuff. Particularly, my opinion of Harry Truman has been completely altered. He knew the Japanese were going to surrender, but chose to drop the world’s first atomic bombs anyway, against the advice of the scientists who developed it and indeed 6 out of 7 of his own generals, simply to show the Soviets that America would not hesitate to invoke vast civilian casualties. In that context, it has to be one of the most reprehensible decisions in the history of the world.
Of course he was also an enthusiastic racist to his core, and did not see the Japanese as human beings.
I would recommend this series to anyone who wants to get beyond the propaganda and find a more accurate picture of the true heroes and villains of our recent history.
To which i replied:
I’ve gone down this topic very deeply over the last few months with 3-20+ hour-long audiobooks, several documentaries and so on.
Beginning with a static-y 1996 AM radio interview during a power outage on the island of Guam Micronesia, then checking in from a goat farm in Japan decades later, then again from tiny isle in Indonesia, Uncle Weed weaves hempen stories and personal anecdotes about life on this remote USA “territory” including: selling hemp bags at Jeff’s Pirate Cove, advocating for legalization of cannabis in all forms, weird jobs (and quitting same), and current situation as Grassroots activists seek to fulfil will of voters for medical and recreational uses.
In Palau (an archipelago of islands in Micronesia), the artisans make remarkable relief-carved wooden boards – appropriately called “storyboards”.
This idea of creating a loose/non-linear narrative to visually accompany an oral story was the spark that ignites did my whole public speaking/story making style.
When I wander far, I rarely take a camera beyond a disposable unit but instead, chronicle my journey through assembling ephemeral artifacts which then become scrapbooks and/or storyboards of a kind. In this example from Palau, you’ll see a mix of disposable camera snapshots printed on distressed hemp paper along with various tickets, shells, lighters, maps, newsclippings, stickers, stamps etc. plus… I wrote a brief narrative structure on Japanese rice paper envelopes, and then assembled the whole collection on green hemp canvas attached to a wooden cradle — then added paint, straw, bits of dead coral and so on.
I went there with little knowledge, no plans, and few expectations but managed to hop between islands on various intermittent ferries hauling drums of diesel, small plane, random boats and goodwill of others. Caught in a tent in a rainstorm on Anguar, made a driftwood fire for fish, tromped to the top of bloody nose Ridge on Pelilu, saw tanks resting in the jungle and sealed up a escape tunnels, drinks at Jeff’s pirate cove in Koror… Met a friend and helped deliver mail to a live aboard dive boat then surfed a dangerous coral break, scuba dove solo at blue corner (saw sharks turtles and the very middle of the earth), free dove for a giant clams and cooked the giant clam meat on a little fire on a perfect tiny island.
Saw the Southern Cross, bought a handmade wooden spear gun, plus a hand fishing reel with thick line for trolling off a boat or casting from shore and traded dive masks for kayak rides and packets of zigzags for local herbs (which were exceptional) and used comically large shells as ashtrays. The old folks on the islands spoke Japanese so I was able to hear stories of the occupation, traditions and life during wartime without filter of go-betweens. I imagined the tens of thousands of lives lost in meeting last battles as I rumble down potholed airstrips made pre-World War II while the plane literally drops off the edge of a cliff before catching itself while waves crash below.
This was just before the bridge collapsed between the island with the small airport which connects to the capital “city.” I went deep down their historical rabbit hole and learned of their tussles with foreign fishing fleets, nuclear submarines, handoffs between colonial powers > United Nations > and finally (re)independence, plus their pushback against encroaching tourist hotels and the deep respect for their natural environment. The hundreds of islands look like heads of broccoli and the people have a remarkable combination of a sense of the outside world while maintaining their traditions and culture without giving into the shiny temptations of material trappings. This is all. I planned to return for too many years now and, hesitated to tell anyone about this because I want to vanish here perhaps.
By James Burbeck
Of all the battles of the Pacific War that raged across half the world between 1941 and 1945, one of the least publicized in relation to its violence and impact was arguably the amphibious invasion of the island of Peleliu in the Palau island group. This 1944 invasion took place barely ten months after the carnage of Tarawa, and ended up costing nearly double the casualties for the attacker and defender. In the process, the Japanese 14th Infantry Division was totally destroyed and the U.S. 1st Marine Division was dreadfully crippled, losing over half its strength due to severe casualties. The U.S. 81st Army Division which assumed responsibility for the later half of the battle, suffered an additional round of losses before completing the destruction begun as such cost by the USMC.
They had a call out for Civil Engineer Lieutenants to be liaisons at each of the locations. I volunteered and got selected to spend 16 May – 19 Jul in Manila, Philippines. I will work out of the US Embassy and make trips out to the two project locations in southern islands of the Philippines, closer to Malaysia than Manila. The locations are Tawi Tawi and Cotabato. I already found an aerial picture of Tawi Tawi and it looks like a fabulous tropical island.