The Evil of The Human Nature, Essay Example
Looking at the history of human civilization, it is tempting to say that they human society and humanity, in general, have evolved and that supremacy of human rights managed to eliminate conflicts and war from the everyday life. On the other hand, the reality and history show that most of the human interactions involve conflicts. Most of human history is about warfare. No matter what the reason for the war might be, the final outcome is a bloodbath and slaughter of one human being by another. On the other hand, sometimes war honor might be present when prisoners of war and civilians are speared, and Geneva Convention is followed, but it was not always the case. James Bradley tells the story of monstrosity of one human being can do to another on the example of the WWII, particularly clash of two imperial powers American and Japanese. The aim of this essay is to look into the focal points of the book and how crucial issues of the American history were described in it.
The beginning of the book gives a context of further events and tells the history of American interactions with the Japan or as it was then called opening of Japan. Looking on the issue in retrospect gives an opportunity to see how American regional interest of being present in the region and in Japan resulted in certain status quo existing in the country. In this context, competition between Western countries for the influence on Asian countries and dominance in their markets resulted in aggressive interference into entirely different to Western culture and social order. From the point of development of the Japanese imperialism, West contributed in two ways. First of all, it was the reason for the imperialism to develop as means to overcome Western presence and dominance and become equals to the Western empires, but in terms of Asia. Secondly, Western Empires considering Asia as less developed/civilized countries introduced racism based on skin color and cultural dominance. In this context, West triggered a necessity of the new ideology of power which was embodied in the Japanese imperialism and subsequent military dictatorship.
From the point of expansionism, the author argues that USA was guilty of hypocrisy concerning Japanese expansion in Asia-Pacific region. In this context, the author argues that American-Mexican War and American treatment of the native Indian population were the same as Japanese actions in China, Russia and Philippines. In fact, he is right in one single aspect any kind of territorial expansion is about gaining territory and displacing people from their homes. The difference was that, at the time of the WWII, American society had already evolved past the period of expansion, while Japan was still at that stage.
The transitional condition of Japanese society and state was particularly evident on the role Spirit Warrior played in Japanese way of fighting and psychology. While American way of thinking and life style was mainly based on freedom and national interests, Japanese ideology was passed on return to the origins before the Western invasion. The old ways were in return of the Bushido – “Way of the Warrior” into everyday practice and ideology-based perceptions of soldiers and society in general. The problem was that it military elite deformed the ideal of the honored warrior-samurai and created the military machine of inhuman cruelty and slaughter of the innocent. The Spirit Warriors were the main structure of that machine. They were the embodiment of the Hakko Ichiu ideology – they were to show the spirit of Japanese and encourage Japanese soldiers to fight for the “right aim” – return of the old valor of their country. In fact, the old ideals of personal patriotism were used in order to justify expansive aims of the war. In other words, Japanese soldiers believed they were fighting for and as the old ways said, in fact, they were means to complete annihilation of any honor from the battlefield and its aftermath.
The book also shows one of the cases, when air power proved its decisive role and resulted in final victory, in the war. In this context, it is not bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that made the final argument in the WWII, but rather constant B-29 Fire Bombing of Japan, which resulted in further capitulation of the regime. In this context, the air power proved to be the most relevant due to the geography of the islands complexity of deployment of large troops in the unknown and usually hilly areas. Thus, air power was had a lager opportunity to reach appointed targets. Secondly, even Japanese knew that their paper-houses cities were the most vulnerable to the napalm fire-bombing. From the strategic perspective, air power was the most efficient choice concerning reaching the military and industrial targets. On the other hand, precision was the problem. Thus, civilian casualties were quite high. In this context, the Fire Bombing had also psychological effect, showing that the price Japanese soldiers had to pay for invading other countries were lives of their civilians. Was it unethical? Yes, it was, but so is the war itself, especially when it becomes too personal. The same is with the atomic bombs; they were used as means of pre-caution and further deterrence policy. It is difficult to justify the act from the human perspective, but possible from military and strategic considerations.
Concerning the training of soldiers in Japan and in America, it can be argued that they were trained in terms of different systems of values. While American soldiers were trained according to military efficiency and in terms of military ethics of combat conduct, Japanese soldiers were practically zombified by distorted ideology of Bushido and necessity to hate their enemy, due to historical and personal reasons. From strictly physical perspectives, American soldiers were treated as soldiers and patriots of their country during the whole course of their training. On the other hand, Japanese soldiers were trained to be obedient to any kind of order coming from their superiors – Spirit Warriors. In this regard, the obedience was also based on fear and inhuman treatment, which were often used to break prisoners of war of Japanese militaries. The Spirit Warriors used to apply the same methods to their own soldiers in order to control the disobedient ones. It was not the honor of Bushido they were approaching but the disgrace of any military person. Thus, the main differences were in treatment of soldiers as human beings rather than subjects as Japanese did. Also, Japanese training was full of ideology, while American was based on democratic values.
Furthermore, the inhuman treatment of the Flyboys in Chichi Jima, was quite rationale for the Japanese soldiers. It was not considered against any moral values or code of honor. This was due to a few reasons. First of all, Japanese soldiers did not consider their prisoners as equal enemies who can be honored by fair fight. They were viewed as bandits, who were on the way of the return of Japan to its glory. Secondly, from the personal perspective, Flyboys were hated the most among Japanese soldiers because they were conducting the Fire Bombing in the Japanese cities, where the families of Japanese soldiers lived. So by killing them, soldiers were gaining certain personal satisfaction. Finally, there is again the code of honor in Bushido, which considers that in order to preserve one’s honor the person (enemy or friend samurai) should be beheaded to the spirit go. This might explain the rationale of killing through beheading of an enemy. On the other hand, traditional Bushido was for respecting one’s enemy, and torturing was below samurai’s dignity and honor. From the personal perspective, the most crucial reasons for the inhuman treatment were personal revenge and ideology allowing everything to be done to Flyboys, mainly because they were not considered to be human beings, on the first place.
With all honesty, it can be argued that, at war, every enemy is viewed as the one who was doing the worst things to the beloved family and relatives. In American case, the main controversy was about the civilian casualties due to the Fire Bombing. Although the extreme measures as this were strategically justified at the time they were applied, the very course of actions and the number of civilian targets reached instead of the military ones cannot be justified nowadays. It should be outlined that human perception of war since WWII has changed significantly. It is not only that people do not want wars to take place, but the international community created laws and limitations of means to be used. Although USA used this strategy in 1945, it should not and cannot use it ever again. Pursuing of this strategy in contemporary and future conflicts would go against contemporary American approach to the conflicts – meaning development of common values and promotion of peacekeeping and stabilization. This tendency is also due to the fact that the world became more global, and people begin to realize that not all members of a certain nation are actually enemies.
One of the important messages of the book refers to inflicting of guilt to individual Japanese soldiers. In this regard, the author showed that even under conditions of the horrors of war and lack of choice in some cases, different individuals take responsibility and duties in different manners. Those who had honor paid for the misdeeds of their leaders with their lives, the others were punished anyway. From my personal perspective, I would argue that the main message the author wanted the audience to get was that, in that war, both sides were victimized by imperial ambitions of two parties. In this regard, at war, there is no white or black in terms of moral perspective. Thus, from the human perspective, war is a tragedy for each side. It definitely was a tragedy and a nightmare for the Japanese civilians under napalm and atomic fire, just as it was a nightmare for the Flyboys and other prisoners of war at Chichi Jima.
From my personal perspective, in the year 2013, this book made me reconsider not just my perception of war, but also contemporary warfare in general. Although I am more than convinced that war is a disaster for both sides and human beings becomes monsters during wartimes, I would say that contemporary warfare has changed. It had changes due to various reasons. One of them is new technologies and precision-guided systems. The other is public attention at home to the military actions abroad, and subsequent responsibility of militaries to the public opinion in their countries. Thus, I think war is a bit different today. On the other hand, it should not used as the first means of achieving certain political objectives, because it might become a matter of everyday life and that should not be allowed.
Time is precious
don’t waste it!