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EdGy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 08:43 AM
Original message
"US soldiers routinely used ... skulls as ornaments on military vehicles"
Edited on Thu May-06-04 08:46 AM by EdGy
What we're seeing from Iraq is not an aberration, it's part of a long tradition in the US military of treating the enemy as if they were less than human.

This is from a review of the book War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War by historian John Dower,...


War Crimes: Dower, War Without Mercy
From Dower, John W. War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. New York: Pantheon, 1986.

``In 1944, the New York Times reported that a US serviceman had sent President Roosevelt a letter opener made from the bone of a dead Japanese soldier. Life magazine published a photograph of a woman standing next to a Japanese skull which her fiance had sent from the pacific, with the caption: Arizona war worker writes her Navy boy-friend a thank-you note for the Jap skull he sent her in the May 22, 1943 issue.''

``US soldiers routinely used Japanese skulls as ornaments on military vehicles and as war trophies, after the flesh was boiled in lye or left to be eaten by ants. On February l,l943, Life magazine published a famous photograph by Ralph Morse which showed the charred, open-mouthed, decapitated skull of a Japanese soldier killed by US Marines at Guadalcanal, which was placed on the tank. The caption read as follows: A Japanese soldiers skull is propped up on a burned-out Jap tank by U.S. troops.''

``The mutilation of Japanese dead for souvenirs or trophies was a popular activity among U.S. combatants during World War II. Skulls, noses, ears, teeth, and other portions of the Japanese anatomy were prized as symbols of victorious confrontations with an inhuman foe (no similar practices emerged in combat with the European Axis). If, as an American general observed, "killing a Japanese was like killing a rattlesnake," then it was not inappropriate to preserve as a token of the fatal encounter something analogous to the reptile's rattle or skin.''

<snip>
http://ideas.paunix.org/mt/mte/archives/000006.htm

War is fucked up. And it gives "permission" to soldiers to act out the sickest aspects of their own societies. Especially in a case like Iraq, where the top leadership is signalling that this kind of thing is exactly what needs to be done to "defeat the insurgency"...
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NNN0LHI Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 08:47 AM
Response to Original message
1. Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
:think:
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tandot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 08:50 AM
Response to Original message
2. Knowing that those things happened in previous wars should
have resulted in more stringent policies and safety measures by the Army to make sure it wouldn't happen again. Lots of soldiers were probably aware of that BS happening. Why didn't more come forward right away?

The Army apparently hasn't learned anything from past mistakes.
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seabeyond Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 08:52 AM
Response to Original message
3. tanks with bloodthirst written on it
Edited on Thu May-06-04 09:01 AM by seabeyond
my husband said they always do that and write messsages on bombs. k, fighting the enemy and you play that game whatever male battle bs, but after they had invaded it was a working with the people, unite and create atmosphere and that had no place what so ever. yet it was allowed. as iraqi's are saying they are being abused, that americans are not treating them in respect and then read on tank bloodthirst,...........not good

a real duh

if, from the beginning supervisors had said, no, not allowed. we are here with the people, not against them, knock that shit off. the tone would have shifted to cooperation. the message would have gone out. instead each progression of acting like barbarians were allowed, til we got to here

this isnt hard stuff
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mopaul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 08:57 AM
Response to Original message
4. my uncle made an ashtray out of a korean soldier's skull
i never saw the horrific souvenir, but my mother told me about it.
i understand the korean soldier was a real bastard, and they were known torturers and viscious fighters, but to make a trophy of a human skull, only humans can do that. we invented evil, that's what seperates us from the beasts.
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 08:59 AM
Response to Original message
5. we were in a total all out war against a nation
who decided to attack us with the idea of destroying the united states. it`s not the same as what we are supposed to be doing in iraq.
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EdGy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 10:27 AM
Response to Reply #5
11. so you're saying it's okay or more "understandable" in WWII?
I don't think that there's that much of a difference at the level of individual soldiers.

In both cases, the higher ups signalled that this kind of thing was okay (though I don't think Roosevelt himself did, while I do believe that Bush has sent such signals).

In both cases, it resonated with racist beliefs on the part of Americans, that allowed a dehumanization of the enemy quite easily.

In both cases, right wingers justify this kind of treatment because "they are the enemy", though you can be sure if US soldiers were treated this way they'd be foaming at the mouth.

I mean really, riding an old woman like a donkey. Think about that. In many ways it's even WORSE than cutting the ears off of a corpse.
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sybylla Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 09:09 AM
Response to Original message
6. If you dehumanize the enemy, it's easier for fresh-faced 18-year-olds
to kill them. Much easier on the brain. It's been a part of war propaganda for centuries.
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bobthedrummer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 09:09 AM
Response to Original message
7. USMC had the most trophies, like ear necklaces and scalps in Viet Nam
this is nothing new, and I probably would have competed to get the most if I had been there. My USMC cousin shared the contents of his footlocker with me long ago. War does that to people. I'm not naive.

But some make a career out of it, and then there's the mercenaries :grr:
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KensPen Donating Member (676 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 09:15 AM
Response to Original message
8. Often it is necessary to dehumanize the enemy
Edited on Thu May-06-04 09:19 AM by KensPen
in order to enable otherwise peaceful people to KILL.

Look at the civil war, we killed each other in unprecedented numbers,
and it took stories like "The Yankees eat babies" to work up a blood lust.

In WWII and large scale wars, that go on for years, and you watch dozens of your friends die, it's easy to see how soldiers begin to see the enemy as a blight, that must be removed at all costs.

With the cake walk this "war" was, it's hard to see how this level of savagery grew.


OOOOOOPS guess I should read all the posts,
as I now see Sybylla already brought up the "dehumanization"
sorry,
bows,
leaves thread.
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callous taoboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 09:26 AM
Response to Original message
9. A doctor I know
has the skull of a German SS officer with a perfectly rectangular hole in the cranium where shrapnel had entered.
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KensPen Donating Member (676 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 09:38 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. civilization is such a veneer....
that gets stripped away to reveal the primitive nature of man,
in times of stress.
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