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Re-arming Germany and Japan

Another of NATO’s bright ideas for world peace.

At Bloomberg a curious article has been published: The West is getting in too deep in Ukraine. PANKAJ MISHRA asks the obvious question. Who has thought through what it means to rearm Germany and Japan?

There are too many signs that the search for allies in what is effectively now the West’s war against Russia is affecting political and moral judgment. Thus, India is routinely presented in the West as a counterweight to Chinese and Russian autocrats even as its Hindu supremacist government intensifies its assault on democracy and the country ramps up its purchases of Russian oil. A bizarre forgetfulness about two world wars prevails as, to wide cheers in the West, Germany rearms and dispatches military hardware to its old killing fields.

Among the simple historical lessons being neglected is that governments everywhere are prone to grow more reckless as military escalation begins to seem the only route to peace. The leaders of Japan, another militarist terror of the 20th century, are rearming their country on a dramatic scale even at the cost of inflating its already extraordinary fiscal deficit.

Needless to add, the Japanese government has not offered a detailed account of the risks involved in this militarization (from China and Russia, two countries with which it has fought wars), let alone explained how a country with an acute shortage of young people will fill the ranks of a bigger and more sophisticated military.

Such signs of irresponsibility are equally apparent among Western political establishments, who are trying to expand their military footprint abroad even as they struggle against economic crises at home.

It seems most sensible people realise that stoking a world conflict will bring neither health nor happiness to the world. Summoning old demons, Japanese and German militarism from their crypt will inevitably trigger long term consequences. The Afghan War against the Soviets launched Al-Queda, and started decades of conflict with Islam and Muslim.

Here’s what the Japanese did in Nanking in 1938 and how they felt about it.

To the invading army, the Rape of Nanking was sometimes even a game. Japanese magazines bragged about a contest between two soldiers, Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda, who had challenged one another in a race to see who could slaughter 100 people with their swords first.

Worse yet, the people these two men cut open weren’t enemy combatants killed on the battlefield while fighting for their lives. By the men’s own admission, the victims were unarmed, defenseless people. Noda admitted, after the war ended: “We’d line them up and cut them down, from one end of the line to the other.”

What’s more, this admission wasn’t an apology. Just seconds before, Noda had scoffed at his victims for letting him kill them, saying, “The Chinese soldiers were so stupid.” He also added, “Afterward, I was often asked whether it was a big deal, and I said it was no big deal.”

The Japanese military murdered three hundred thousand people within a few weeks. The massacre’s name, the Rape of Nanking was not just metaphoric. Add thousands of rapes per day.

A Japanese soldier beheading a Chinese man in the middle of a crowded street in 1938.
A Japanese soldier beheading a Chinese man in the middle of a crowded street in 1938.
A Japanese soldier beheading a Chinese man in the middle of a crowded street in 1938.

What makes the United States leadership believe it will be able to control a rampant Germany and Japan? What horrors will the re-arming of Germany and Japan inflict upon Europe and upon East Asia? Or is the goal, really, never-ending war everywhere?

Top photo from the Rape of Nanking. Japanese officers entering Nanking on horseback. Other photographs are too horrific to add, please see links above.

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