Tag Archives: war

Rabbit Holes of History: Japan, War & Post-war (incl. O. Stone + D. MacArthur) & Micronesia

plane on Palau island of Pelilu – site battle of Bloody Nose Ridge between Imperial Japan and Allied forces

My pal Tom wrote the following (March 27, 2017): 

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.

If you will permit me a few notes:

Continue reading Rabbit Holes of History: Japan, War & Post-war (incl. O. Stone + D. MacArthur) & Micronesia

Contemplating Peace, Hubris, Conceit and Costs – Remembrance Day 2019, Okayama

Coffee, castles and contemplation about all the victims of war… No Remembrance Day cenotaph here in Okayama (where its 11/11/1) so headed out to find a calm place (and coffee) for remembering with my handcrafted poppy (imo white or red is appropriate). 

Of course i remember the fallen – of “the Great War” and all other, and of course the wounded – these delicate humans, and those who followed after them, deserve all the assistance society can render.

I also remember their mothers, their children, the folks who diligently toiled to provide, the resistance fighters thwarting plans & gathering intell at great risk, indeed the service horses and ponies… i think about the burned villages, destroyed cities, unfulfilled dreams, the opportunity cost of loss, the growing up too fast, the growing up not at all, mental afflictions, physical violence, undeserved.

I also acknowledge with contempt the hubris of “Royals” who pushed unknown youth into the brink, the conceited generals, the wealth grabbers, the power-hungry, the opportunists, the carpet baggers, those meaning to subjugate by redrawing borders, the liars to allies, the ulterior motives purveyors, the devious schemers… All this is on you.

The best respect we can give the fallen is peace, always and forever, peace.

11/11/1 11:11 from Okayama with respect

Rest Me Naught

Rest me Naught

The partisans attacked
Shortly after sun dawned
Trapped behind the lines
Two days after the treaty signed

Under grey sky I consider
Am I the last one to perish?
Perhaps the final number
In a redundant skirmish

Papers signed inky in a rail car
I’ll never chance to see
Peace comes for some
But no solace arrives for me

The religious get their rites
Murderers given last meals
I’m ordered a shovel
And to get down on my knees

Night-flashes of lost loves
Forever gone forlorn
First flash of eye glance
Waking early on a first mourn

Distant desperate acts
Seeking a fleeting peace
Unadvised by the muddy
The needy and the weak

Boots and coats removed
To strip last identity
The cold doesn’t sting
As much as anonymity

Trenches are flooded
Mortar shells rest unused
Canteen still has drops
Munitions stockpiled to abuse

Grandmother will never know
When my corpus lays
Flowers will grow eventually
While a Legion prays

I am unknown to no-one
Forgotten by unborn kin
What counts as victory?
Who credits this a win?

No photo in a locket
Soggy letters long left to rot
Telegrams remain unanswered
No lover to forget me not

(All my years for naught)

Citadel Hill (Halifax): Military Uniforms / various eras and purposes

Citadel: Recruit fitted for uniform (black on black)
Citadel: Recruit fitted for uniform (black on black)
Citadel: Papers signed, life surrendered to whims of a government
Citadel: Papers signed, life surrendered to whims of a government

Continue reading Citadel Hill (Halifax): Military Uniforms / various eras and purposes

Slice of Guam / Micronesia / German history from WW1

Super interesting video by the (excellent) series The Great War about the Germans in Micronesia in WW1.

In brief: The Germans “colonized” Palau (and Pohnpei i believe) during the pre-war period, but when the Japanese took over their holdings, their ships were stuck without ability to re-provision,. As such, ended up in Guam (held by the then-neutral US who’d “acquired” the island during the then-recent Spanish-American war (along with Philippines and Puerto Rico)).

For a period, the US, Germans and Chamorros lived together without much incident, but when the US entered the war, the warship Cormoran was told to surrender but instead, was scuttled. The hulk now lays in Apra harbour, with the Tokai Maru (Japanese naval vessel sunk by US sub in WW2) alongside, together making a popular dive site.

{I lived on Guam and travelled to Palau, Yap etc. in early 1990s and was well familiar with WW2 history and this wreck but didn’t know the details of the back story.}

Also (from comment elsewhere):

Keep in mind, i have big heart for the Micronesian people pulled into wars with NOTHING to do with them and their interests. (Spent extended time in Guam, Saipan, Palau (my fave place on earth) and Yap.

IMO The only way to (possibly) prevent future catastrophes is to learn the fck-ups of hubris and vagaries of colonialism to then intelligently articulate the rights of peaceful people.

Note that Guam was dragged into another few erstwhile global conflict chapters of late – ergo: repopulation of bases (many of which were repatriated to locals control in mid-1990s) after US Military bad-actors repeated fcked up in Okinawa predicating mass migration of troops due to local pressure/protest, plus the sabre rattling by DPRK with threats of bombs at Andersen AFB (which i passed through almost daily for 18 months to a landlocked beach – no longer possible to do). Also worth noting: each day thousands of ROK holidaymakers come to the island so the threat wasn’t just to US interests, but also to intimidate other Koreans.

In all of the this, the locals (especially indigenous Chamorros – who vote for a US congress-rep but who is not able to vote in US congress) are further marginalized. The “spin” is it creates jobs and increases “aid” to the island.

Remembrance Day, 2016 in For Kochi (Cochin), Kerala, India – Pod blurb

This recent #remembranceday, I released another in my irregular but extended series called “white poppies for remembrance” in the “Postcards from Gravelly Beach” #podcast series.

First episode in quite some time… And it’s a one-breath all-the-words-at-once long conversation with myself (a la Neal Cassady a wee bit) about peace war colonialism monarchies reparations diplomacy explorers sacrifices resistance prevention opportunity costs and more… while at a cenotaph by a church where Vasco da Gama’s bones were buried – coincidentally next to Mahatma Gandhi beach and Chinese fishing nets.
 
Sounds like something you’re interested in? and/or if you’re into Poetry and Literature, you can find this and 62 other episodes via iTunes and Google play or at my Web library
 (you are here).
 
 

Remembrance Day with Vasco’s Bones – Postcard #63

Remembrance Day with Vasco's Bones

From an olden church and (otherwise vacant) cenotaph at Fort Cochin, Kerala, India, Dave O – acknowledging an extended medical and death related hiatus – discusses the local history of colonization by Portuguese explorers, Dutch traders, then British Raj in the context of the colonization leading to exploitation, conscription and war with no meaning to local populace.

Plus the meaning of reparations and the conflict of peaceful resistance – evidenced my Mahatma Gandhi beach a stone’s throw away – contrasted with continued wars throughout the world, shadowed by disposable tourism, economic and racial caste systems.

Recorded Nov. 11, 2016, Released 11:11 Nov. 11, 2017

Gather Round for Remembrance Day with Vasco’s Bones – Postcard #63  (37:11, .mp3, 192k, 58MB, stereo)

Also of note:

Vasco da Gama’s bones, black knee-high socks, French generational losses, siege of Leningrad, Churchill’s mishaps, lost human potential of engineers, poets and lovers, MacArthur’s folly, Australia’s vulnerability, the emergence of regions over nation-states, Brexit for British Columbia + Cascadia, Catalonia and Scottish successions, work of raising a child, trappings of hubris, death by disease and guns, aggressive use of intelligence, forethought and diplomacy, and unfiltered view of sacrifice and life.

Cover art photo: By Dave Olson at Fort Cochin, taken by Lomo Sardine can camera with expired B&W film.

Remembrance Day 2016 Peace Ramble in Cochin, Kerala, India


11:11, 11/11, in Cochin, India, Dave – wearing a handmade poppy on Mahatma Gandhi beach by Chinese fishing nets – riffs about sacrifices of soldiers, sailors, flyers, resistance fighters, parents. Plus discusses the importance of avoiding jingoism which leads to war and death and name-checks Henry David Thoreau, condemns greed, and encourages peace and diplomacy and compassion.

Roll your own Remembering 11/11/11:11 2016, Kochi

Roll your own Remembering 11/11/11:11

For the fallen, the resisters, the hurt and even the vanquished.
#RemembranceDay
#Poppy
#NoMoreWar

Rabbit Holes of History: Norsemen, Dark Ages, Great War, War in Pacific etc.

*** Study Notes from Rabbit Holes including Norsemen, Dark Ages, Great War, and War in Pacific etc ***

Over the past while, whilst dealing with this illness, I’ve gone down deep into “rabbit holes” about various segments of history.

Went deep into Norse history from early viking expeditions to Orkneys and Hebredies in search of (literally) greener pastures, to invasions of Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia, Francia and expeditions to Russia including trading with Middle East – Also their steel forging skills – All through to the Norman invasion with William the Conquero. Then Viking voyages to North Atlantic away from Europe and to North America. Also learned about new satellite archaeology techniques used for finding settlement sites in eastern Canada. There will be remarkable discoveries in the next decade which will rewrite books.

Then went deep into “dark” ages to the founding of what is now modern western Europe – roughly from post-Roman to Charlemange. I was specifically interested in how a culture grows up around the ruins of a much greater culture. Like you’re a dirt farmer in what is now England and you look around at lovely aqueduct and empty baths while you try to figure out how to get clean water. Makes me wonder if we’re living in a “dark ages” or we’re the Romans.

Then deep into the “Great war” and the unrest and revolutions which happened in the aftermath which broke down monarchies and gave rise to nationstates… But also produced situations which led to what we now call World War II through rise of fascism, totalitarianism, communism and showed the falls of capitalism through the depression. Each of these flavors contributed in away to the events that transpired. (Also Hitler’s home movies and i’ve already absorbed everything about art theft during this era).

Then deep into the relationship between Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchhill and Josef Stalin and how they had to jockey amongst themselves to convince the others of the importance of their different priorities… Also deep into the north African campaigns through the desert – especially the desert expeditionary unit (mostly New Zealanders) who lived for months at a time in uncharted areas in difficult conditions to gather intelligence. They did receive a rum ration though.

And also I am continually unpacking my knowledge of the war in the Pacific… Most recently started with “Fall of Japan” a massive tome which chronicles – in great nuanced detail – the events in Japan from the day after Nagasaki bombing to the signing on Missouri (Aug. 6-30 1945).

As you might expect, lots of efforts to raid the palace, people convinced the emperor was a body double or coerced, dozens of ritual suicide by high-ranking officials, people going into hiding, renegade bands of soldiers holding tough, and back channel diplomacy actions trying to smooth things over for an inevitable fate. Including all the secret communication machinations used to finally get messages back-and-forth between the right people to effectuate the surrender and peace and landing etc.

Then watched film called Emperor – this began as MacArthur and his crew were landing at Atsugi after the signing and follows the story of a General Bonner Fellows who was tasked with determining whether Emperor Hirohito would be held to trial or not. Of course he had to wrangle between Tojo (who just had tried to kill himself but was “saved” in time to be tried and executed, and Kanabe (?), the previous prime minister, and all the militarists and hard core zealots who insisted on vague answers and didn’t understand that really they didn’t *really* want to try Hito but they needed an legitimate excuse not to do so.

Also Tommy Lee Jones as MacArthur wasn’t too bad actually, and they dramatized the famous meeting between the Emperor and The Supreme Commander with only one dedicated translator between them. And they re-created the famous photograph.

Then, I’m onto a book called “Supreme Commander: MacArthur’s Triumph in Japan” which doubles back over the previous bit and starts with the planning of the signature ceremony on the USS Missouri and into his landing at Atsugi and motorcade (with thousands of Japanese soldiers turning their backs in respect) and starting to issue his edicts to manage the situation and deal with a starving population.

Still working on this one.

A few notes include (from a civilian peacenik perspective):

The rivalry between Army and Navy is far more vast than I realized. We civilians think of the Armed Forces as fairly unified and not completely discrete, or/and even rival, units. Of course this is most evident in the rivalry between MacArthur and Nimitz but also amongst the rank and file – especially jr officers seeking to climb the ladder.

The Tokyo firebombings must’ve been even more miserable way to go then the Atomic bombs further south. Both suck. Also glad Eleanor Roosevelt pushed so hard to spare Kyoto from the bombs.

The Russians joining the war against Japan the day after Nagasaki and still expecting a seat at the negotiation table so to speak. Funny Russians.

The Chinese Reds filling the power vacuum left by Chinese army instantly after the bombs – even while the news was still travelling to POW camps around Asia. The commandants of the camps did not know quite what to think when Allied forces started parachuting in to demand release.

The two-men chosen by Japan to sign the surrender document: the diplomat with the wooden leg who had to get from the US Destroyer to a launch via a bosun’s chair, and then try to maintain dignity wall climbing up a ladder on the side of the Missouri while wearing a cutaway coat and a top hat.

MacArthur’s choice of guests to be on board at the signing was very specific and included the Canadian doctor (who signed on Canada’s behalf) who had done the surgery on the affirmation Japanese diplomat’s leg.

He also made sure to invite a bunch of generals who got their ass kicked in the war including the poor bastard who was left on the Philippines (Wainwright whom MacArthur greeted with a “Hey Skinny!”) when MacArther split to Australia, plus the British general who had to surrender Singapore when they were caught unaware.

As per above: Didn’t realize MacArthur had fcked up and ignored orders after Pearl Harbor. Stationed in the Philippines, he didntorder a full alert and, as a result, the Philippines was destroyed quickly by the Japanese who were well ready for the invasion.

MacArthur’s move of exiting the plane with no weapons was a powerful move. Oh also, MacArthur had Admiral Perry’s US flag expedited from the Smithsonian to have on display on the Missouri. Nice nuanced touch which was noted by the Japanese who, after the ceremony, discussed amongst themselves they would have treated their vanquished enemy so kindly and respectfully. They concurred that they would not have and that convinced them to cooperate with the victorious allies.

I’m interested to continue on with this work and to see how MacArthurs “Republican” views were instrumental in outline things like brewing and hemp production in Japan.