Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-century History 市民空爆――20世紀の歴史

Japanese Below

Edited by Yuki Tanaka and Marilyn B. Young (The New Press, 2009)

This book is the result of a project conducted under the auspices of the HPI involving workshops that took place March 3-4 and December 8-9, 2006, in San Francisco, U.S.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a non-government organization based in Gaza City, 1,417 Palestinians were killed and another 5,300 Palestinians were injured during the recent Israeli attack on Gaza, which lasted 22 days between December 2008 and January 2009. The majority of these casualties were civilian victims of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing who did not support Hamas. Anwar Balousha and his wife, for example, were among the poorest and most vulnerable refugee families living in the Gaza Strip when their house was destroyed by an Israeli bomb on December 30. They lost their five daughters, aged between 4 and 17, who were asleep toghether on mattresses in one betroom. In an interview whith a Guardian jounalist, Anwar said, “We are civilians. I don’t belong to any faction, I don’t support Fatah or Hamas, I am just a Palestinian. They are punishing us all, civilians and militants.

What is the guilt of civilian?” Many other Palestinians, who escaped serious physical injuries, in particular small children, have been psychologically traumatized due to the prolonged bombardment that came from the skies above them.

Near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. forces are now increasingly deploying UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to bomb the Taliban. U.S. military authorities claim that their UAVs, like the Predator, are capable of carrying out precision attacks on individuals who are identified as enemies. However, here again the majority of victims of these “precision bombings” have been civilians and, as a result, anti-American sentiment in this region is growing rapidly.

In this way, even more than 60 years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which instantly killed tens of thousands of civilians and caused various fatal illnesses to many more people due to radiation, it is still ordinary civilians, and in particular women, children and old people, who are made the victims of aerial bombing, despite the persistent claims of militarists about “precision bombing.”

The aims of our recently published volume, Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History, are therefore to question why military planning in the early twentieth century shifted its focus from bombing military targets to bombing civilians, how this theory of “strategic bombing” justifying mass killing orginated and why it was employed as a compelling military strategy for decades, both before and since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As Robert Lifton succinctly states in the blurb of our book, “the bombing of civilians is one of the greatest scandals of the twentieth century, culminating in the use of the cruelest weapons yet devised.” Unfortunately, it is almost certain that this scandal will remain one of the worst during the first decade of the twenty-first century as well.

The book, which comprises ten chapters, is a product of a two-year research project in 2005-2007 funded by the Hiroshima Peace Institute and the result of cooperative work by 11 researchers from Japan, the U.S., and Australia. It covers the history of aerial bombing from the British bombing of Iraq in the early 1920s to the most recent conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, through World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It also examines moral issues and international law concerning the mass killing of civilians by indiscriminate aerial attack.

The first chapter, written by myself, demonstrates that during the interwar years the British considered air strikes in Iraq a chapter, more “humane” way of maintaining imperial control than conventional ground operations, and interprets this as a prelude to full scale indiscrimate bombings conducted by both the Allies and Axis during World War II.

In Chapter 2, Ronald Schaffer explains how strategic bombing in World War II began with the Nazi Luftwaffe, how revenge bombing escalated into indiscriminate bombing by both sides, and how this consequently ended with the complete destruction of German cities.

In Chapter 3, Robert Moeller then analyzes how the bombing war entered German history, memory, and commemorative practice through critical examininations of recent and controversial German publicaions on this topic, such as those by W.G. Sebald and Jörg Friedrich.

In Chapter 4, Mark Selden analyzes the devastating consequences of the U.S. fire bombing of Japenese cities and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and places them in the broad context of indiscriminate bombings conducted in Europe as well as Asia-Pasific by both sides of the antagonized powers during World War II. Selden concludes that “mass murder of civilians has been central of all subsequent U.S. wars.”

Through their critical analyses of aerial bombings during World War II, Ronald Schaffer, Robert Moeller and Mark Selden each show that area bombardment was regarded, in particular by Britain and the U.S., as a shortcut to victory long after evidence ceased to support this belief.

In Chapter 5, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa claims that it was the Soviet invasion rather than the atomic bombs that compelled the Japanese to surrender in the Pacific War by cross-examining vital archival documents from Russia, the U.S. and Japan.

Hasegawa also questions why American policymakers rushed to use the atomic bombs, when other alternatives were available.

In Chapter 6, Tetsuo Maeda explains why the Japanese Imperial Forces chose the city of Chongqing as the main target for their strategic bombing, how they conducted the bombing, what consequences it had on the people of that city and how this issue still remains one of the controversial problems in the relationship between the Chinese and Japanese.

Marilyn Young in Chapter 7 analyzes the theory of “strategic bombing,” by discussing how the terrorizing and demoralizing of the enamy nation through airpower has consistently been an essential ideological component in justifying the U.S. bombings in the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, Afghan and Iraq wars. She verifies this clearly by examining various claims by American political and military leaders in each of these wars.

In Chapter 8, Michael Sherry examines the link between prophecy and practice of bombing through the history of American bombing. He also discusses the dissolution of that link late in the twentieth century, using popular books and films as the main source of his analysis.

In Chapter 9, Tony Coady discusses some important but difficult moral issues closely associated with aerial bombing, such as the “just war” principle, terrorism, collateral damage, incidental damage and the doctrine of “double effect.”

In the final chapter, Tim McCormack and Helen Durham explain in detail the rules of international humanitarian law and focus upon recent specific bombing incidents to illustrate the specific rules and the challenges involved in their application.

As Howard Zinn states in his blurb for the book, readers will find that “the indiscriminate but also the deliberate killing of civilians by aerial bombing” is “one of the greatest horrors of modern war.” We, the contibutors of this book, sincerely hope that our cooperative work will enhance the public awareness that killing civilians is a crime against humanity, regardless of the asserted military justification, a crime that should be punished on the basis of Nuremberg and Geneva principles.

[Table of Contents]

Introduction (Yuki Tanaka)
1 British “Humane Bombing” in Iraq during the Interwar Era (Yuki Tanaka)
2 The Bombing Campaigns in World War II: The European Theater (Ronald Schaffer)
3 The Bombing War in Germany, 2005-1940: Back to the Future? (Robert G. Moeller)
4 A Forgotten Holocaust: U.S. Bombing Strategy, the Destruction of Japanese Cities, and the American Way of War from the Pacific War to Iraq (Mark Selden)
5 Were the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Justified? (Tsuyoshi Hasegawa)
6 Strategic Bombing of Chongqing by Imperial Japanese Army and Naval Forces (Tetsuo Maeda)
7 Bombing Civilians from the Twentieth to the Twenty-first Centuries (Marilyn B. Young)
8 The United States and Strategic Bombing: From Prophecy to Memory (Michael Sherry)
9 Bombing and the Morality of War (C. A. J. Coady)
10 Arial Bombardment of Civilians: The Current International Legal Framework (Timothy L. H. McCormack and Helen Durham)






近刊、『Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History』の目的は、したがって、なぜゆえに20世紀の初期に空爆の目標が軍事目標から市民へ移ったのか、大量虐殺を正当化する「戦略爆撃」理論はいかにして生み出されたのか、しかもこの理論が、広島・長崎原爆投下を挟んで、その前後、数十年の長期にわたって堅固な軍事戦略として、なぜ実践されてきたのか、などを問うことに置かれている。本著推薦文の中で、ロバート・リフトン教授が簡潔に述べているように、「これまでに発明された最も過酷な兵器(すなわち原爆)使用を頂点とする市民爆撃は、20世紀の歴史における最大の恥辱の一つである」。残念ながら、21世紀の最初の十年間にとってもまた、空爆が最悪の恥辱の一つであるという状況に変わりがないことは確実であろう。