Monday, May 16, 2016

What the President cannot ignore when going to Hiroshima

Memories of Changi
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

TS Eliot, from The Hollow Men

Remembering More Than Hiroshima
We must not forget the lives lost and trauma incurred by Allied forces during the Pacific War.

Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2016 12:15 p.m. ET

A black man was the first American soldier to die in World War II. An unexploded bomb from a Mitsubishi “Betty” split U.S. Army Pvt. Robert Brooks in two on December 8, 1941, as he ran to the machine gun on his half-track at Clark Field in the Philippines. Like me, he was a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion preparing to fight the invading Imperial Japanese forces. It is fitting that our first black president will soon stand at Hiroshima, where the Pacific War began its end.

Pvt. Brooks’s sacrifice and those of thousands of American and Allied forces who fought and died for freedom in the Pacific must never be forgotten. What Hiroshima represents is more than the effects of a nuclear weapon. It is the culmination of a war started by Imperial Japan and conducted with gross inhumanity, a war in which more civilians died than combatants.

It would be wrong for the president to pivot away from this history and use his visit solely to discuss aspirations for a world without nuclear weapons. Hiroshima highlights mankind’s tragic ability to wreak terrible destruction, and this destruction was not caused exclusively by atomic bombs. Sand-filled bamboo sticks, bayonets, plague-inflected fleas, starvation and rape—methods of warfare used by Japan—are also destructive.

When President Harry Truman announced the bombing of Nagasaki, which ended the war, he recognized “the tragic significance of the atomic bomb.” However, he went on to explain “we have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved, beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.”

As a former American POW of Japan, I am particularly sensitive to these words. Truman was looking out for me and more than 27,000 other American POWs in Asia. Until then, we felt forgotten and ignored. The “Europe first” policy of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill abandoned us to fight without resupply or reinforcement on the Philippines at the start of World War II. We became POWs for more than three bitter years.

We endured four unforgiving months of tank warfare in the tropical heat on Bataan against an enemy with superior training, equipment and provisions. Surrendered by our commanders, nearly 80,000 of us American and Filipino troops were forced on the Bataan Death March. The surviving 68,000 arrived at Camp O’Donnell, a prison camp that saw up to 300 die daily.
The camp commandant ranted at us that we were lower than dogs and better off dead, as we would always be enemies of Japan. I must say that many times I had to agree.

After a period in the camp, many of us went by “hell ship” to Japan to become slave laborers. In my case, it was in a dilapidated Mitsui coal mine. My friend from Janesville, Wis., Capt. Fred Bruni, had a different experience. He and 150 men from the camp were sent to Palawan Island to build an airfield. Upon completion, all the men were set afire and machine-gunned by the Kempeitai.

We POWs have tried to preserve this history despite U.S. and Japanese government efforts to suppress it. Upon liberation, most of us were forced to sign gag orders not to discuss the horrors of our imprisonment. The U.S. government’s policy was to pacify Japan in part by curbing memories of its war atrocities. Central to the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty is an article foreclosing any further compensation of victims, thus again preventing the recall of Imperial Japan’s past crimes and abuses.

At home, an underfunded Veterans Administration refused to give us full disability and ignored or misunderstood the aftereffects of vitamin deficiency, tropical diseases and trauma. It took two acts of Congress before we received any compensation for our imprisonment and only at a rate of $1.50 per day for lost meals.

The U.S. government abandoned the Pacific War’s history. This has made efforts to hold Japanese companies accountable for their brutal use of POW slaves nearly impossible. It is taboo to associate high-speed rails, luxury automobiles or Washington’s metro cars with companies that once abused Americans. Among the nearly 60 well-known companies such as Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, Kawasaki and Nippon Sharyo, only the Mitsubishi Materials Company, which used POWs in four of its mines, has apologized.

In recent years the Japanese government has finally begun to make amends to American POWs. They offered an official apology in 2009. At the Obama administration’s urging, they established in 2010 a reconciliation program for former POWs to visit Japan. Unfortunately the program will end this year without any follow-up for descendants or the public.

But history is critical to how we understand ourselves. No one knew Pvt. Brooks’s race until the Army wanted to honor him. When news of his death reached Fort Knox, the chief of the armored force, Gen. Jacob Devers, decided that a parade ground should be named in his memory, because the first American tanker to die in World War II should not be forgotten.

When it was discovered that Pvt. Brooks’s parents were black tenant farmers from Sadieville, Ky., the general was asked if he wanted to reconsider. “No,” he answered, “it did not matter whether or not Robert was black, what mattered was that he had given his life for his country.” As Gen. Devers said at the Brooks Field dedication ceremony, “In death there is no grade or rank. And in this greatest democracy the world has ever known, neither riches nor poverty, neither creed nor race, draws a line of demarcation in this hour of national crisis.”

Mr. Obama wants to use his visit to Hiroshima to highlight the perils of nuclear war. But this is not the only lesson. Our service as veterans of the Pacific War needs to be remembered and not abandoned to some tumid oratory. The president’s visit to Hiroshima will be hollow, a gesture without motion, if the Pacific War’s full history is not maintained. Hiroshima does not and cannot exist outside the context of the Asia-Pacific War and all its dead.

Mr. Tenney, 95, was a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion, Company B that defended the Philippines in World War II. He lives in San Diego.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Monday in Washington, May 16, 2016

EXAMINING THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA REGION’S ECONOMIC AND TRADE POLICIES. 5/16, 10:45am-2:00pm. Sponsor: Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE). Speakers: Karim El Mokri, Senior Economist, OCP Policy Center; Abelaaziz Ait Ali, Economist, OCP Policy Center; Theodore Moran, Nonresident Senior Fellow, PIIE.

THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CYBER STRATEGY: AN ASSESSMENT. 5/16, 11:00am-1:00pm. Sponsor: George Washington University (GWU). Speakers: Congressman James R. Langevin (D-RI), Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, House Armed Services Committee; Michael Papay, Vice President and Chief Innovation Security Officer, Northrop Grumman Corporation; Charles Snyder, Senior Advisor for Cyber Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense; Maj. Gen. Christopher P. Weggeman, Director, Plans and Policy (J5), U.S. Cyber Command; Mark Young, IronNet Cybersecurity and CCHS Senior Fellow.

THE LURE AND PITFALLS OF MIRVS: FROM THE FIRST TO THE SECOND NUCLEAR AGE. 5/16, 11:00am-2:30pm. Sponsor: Stimson Center. Speakers: Alexey Arbatov, Chair at Carnegie Moscow Center’s Nonproliferation Program; Brendan Rittenhouse Green, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Cincinnati; Lynn Davis, Senior Fellow, RAND Corporation; Jeffrey G. Lewis, Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program, Middlebury Institute; Michael Chase, Senior political Scientist, RAND Corporation; Jaganath Sankaran, Research Scholar, CSIS; Mansoor Ahmed, Stanton Nuclear Security junior Faculty Fellow; editor Michael Krepon, Co-Founder, Stimson Center.

ON THE NEW ARAB WARS: UPRISINGS AND ANARCHY IN THE MIDDLE EAST. 5/16, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: Carnegie Endowment. Speakers: Marc Lynch, Nonresident Senior Associate, Middle East Program, Carnegie; William J. Burns, President, Carnegie; Michele Dunne, Director and Senior Associate, Middle East Program, Carnegie.

ENHANCING THE U.S.-KOREA SECURITY ALLIANCE AND ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP. 5/16, 2:00-4:30pm. Sponsors: Korean-American Club (Hanmi Club); Korea Economic Institute (KEI). Speakers: Donald Manzullo, President and CEO, KEI; David Pong, Chairman, Hanmi Club; Ahn Ho-young, Ambassador, Republic of Korea; James Goldgeier, Dean, School of International Service, American University; Hyun Oh-seok, Chair Professor, Korea National Diplomatic Academy; Lee Sang-seok, Vice Chairman, Hankook Ilbo and Korea Times; Kang Chan-ho, Editorial Writer, Joong-ang Ilbo; James Miller, President, Adaptive Strategies, LLC; Matthew P. Goodman, Chair in Political Economy, CSIS; Yang Young-eun, Anchor, KBS News; Yoon Kyung-ho, Editorial Writer, Maekyung Daily.

THE SYKES-PICOT AGREEMENT AT 100: RETHINKING THE MAP OF THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST. 5/16, 2:00-4:30pm. Sponsor: American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Speakers: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations; Ryan Crocker, Former Ambassador to Iraq and Syria; Adeed Dawisha, Miami University; Olivier Decottignies, Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Martin Indyk, Brookings; Robert Kagan, Brookings; Danielle Pletka, AEI; Michael Rubin, AEI; Dan Yergin, HIS.

MANAGING COMPLEXITY: ECONOMIC POLICY COOPERATION AFTER THE CRISIS. 5/16, 3:00-4:30pm. Sponsor: Brookings Institution. Speakers: Co-Editor Tamim Bayoumi, Visiting Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics; Kermal Dervis, Vice President and Director, Global Economy and Development; Fred Bergsten, Senior Fellow and Director Emeritus, Peterson Institute; Heidi Crebo-Rediker, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Vito Gaspar, Director, Financial Affairs Department, IMF.

TPP: A STRATEGIC IMPERATIVE – A CONVERSATION WITH ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN. 5/16, 5:00pm. Sponsor: Atlantic Council. Speakers: Adm. Michael Mullen, 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr., Chairman, Atlantic Council.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Monday in Washington, May 9, 2016

STEM EDUCATION AND FUTURE GENERATIONS OF AMERICAN INVENTORS, TECHNOLOGISTS, AND EXPLORERS. 5/9, 10:00-11:30am, Washington, DC. Sponsor: Brookings Institution. Speakers, Charles Bolden, Administrator, NASA; Dean Kamen, Founder, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

SUPPORTING BURMA’S TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY: THE ROLE OF DIPLOMACY AND DEVELOPMENT. 5/9, 11:15am-12:45pm. Sponsor: United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Speakers: Jonathan Stivers, Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Asia, USAID; Chris Milligan, Former Mission Director for Burma, USAID; Amb. Derek Mitchell, Former Ambassador to Burma; Patrick Murphy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia.

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RESTRICTING DATA FLOWS: WHEN IS IT LEGITIMATE POLICY, AND WHEN IS IT UNJUSTIFIED PROTECTIONISM? 5/9, Noon-1:30pm. Sponsor: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). Speakers: Robert Atkinson, President, ITIF; Susan Aaronson, Research Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University.

GLOBAL INEQUALITY: A NEW APPROACH FOR THE AGE OF GLOBALIZATION. 5/9, Noon-2:00pm. Sponsor: Peterson Institute for International Economics. Speakers: author, Branko Milanovic (City University of New York); Caroline Freund and Steve Weisman of the Institute will comment on issues raised by Milanovic, drawing on their own recent books, Rich People Poor Countries and The Great Tradeoff: Confronting Moral Conflicts in the Era of Globalization, respectively.
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THE RISE OF THE MILITARY WELFARE STATE. 5/9, 4:00-5:30pm. Sponsor: Washington History Seminar. Wilson Center. Speaker: author, Jennifer Mittelstadt, Fellow, Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University.

HAS THE FEDERAL RESERVE GONE TOO FAR? A DISCUSSION OF THE FED’S EVOLUTION SINCE 1913. 5/9, 5:30-7:00pm. Sponsor: American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Speakers: Kevin A. Hassett, AEI; Peter Conti-Brown, University of Pennsylvania; Allan Meltzer, School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University; Alex J. Pollock, R Street Institute.