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In light of the internment of Japanese Americans, the firebombing of Dresden, and the use of atomic bombs, was it hypocritical of the Allies to try Nazis for war crimes?

To an extent, it was. I don't have much sympathy for Nazis, however, I would say that America’s internment camps were a far cry from the concentration and death camps of the Third Reich. However, the bombing of Dresden and events such as Hiroshima are actions that are equivalent to the horrors of Germany’s air raids of their territories. So in a sense, the Nuremberg Trials were a bit hypocritical, at least on America’s part, to charge Nazis with war crimes and put them to death.

In World War II, America didn’t support Japan at all when they were trying to build up the economy again, and furthermore, they stripped Japan‘s defense down to their police forces.

However, we did not go in and persecute the Japanese-Americans. We did not gas them, we did not beat them in the streets, we did not do absurd medical tests on them. Although America’s ways of prejudice were not as brutal as those of the Nazis, America has a bad habit of accusing others for wrongdoing while they, too, turn around and do the same thing.

One of the more amusing things about American culture is how it breeds its own detractors. A vocal minority out there seems to have an affinity for encouraging a national guilt trip for nearly everything this country does, whether deserved or undeserved.

Were things perfect back home in World War II? Absolutely not. The internment of Japanese-Americans, while not isolated (see also Japanese Canadian Internment in World War II), was shameful, particularly in the case of women and children who were shipped off to Idaho or Montana while their husbands and fathers were off fighting for the United States. Race relations were 20 years away from starting to change, even as groups like the Tuskegee Airmen fought heroically in the field. My grandfather tells stories of black U.S. soldiers marrying white Englishwomen that they met outside their bases in England, and bringing them home post-war, only to have them leave after a year or two of ostracism in the 1940's South.

But that is by no means a reason to call the Allies hypocrites.

And after the war? America re-constructed Western Europe with the Marshall Plan. Sure, it wasn't just out of the goodness of American hearts (there was a Cold War about to get underway), but American money rebuilt the half of a devastated continent that it could get to. And, by the way, it also protected that half from the ambitions of the Soviet Union, which was more than willing to set up puppet states anywhere it could, and gobble up all the territory it could (Berlin Blockade, anyone?).

"America didn't support Japan at all when they were trying to build up the economy again"? Please. The 6-year U.S. occupation produced such objectionable results as democratization via a new constitution (implementing a blended British/American system), equal rights for women, land reform, rebuilding of fire-bombed cities to provide housing, and economic brakes on the zaibatsu who had partially driven the country into war in the first place (who fairly quickly reformed into keiretsu). The demilitarization of the country was a necessary step, as much to break down the militaristic culture of the pre-war era as anything else; American soldiers stayed around to more than take care of any ambitions of unfriendly Communist neighbors. The repositioning of the Emperor from absolute, divine rule into symbolic head of state only had its rough points, but Hirohito handled it well.

Of course things weren't perfect -- nothing is. But attempting to equate Allied and Axis on a moral scale is taking things more than a little too far.


Invasion of Japan info sources: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/8141/downfall.html, http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/war.term/olympic.html

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