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It has been interesting to read the first round of impressions concerning John Lynn’s _Battle_. There seems to be a strong consensus that it is an important book, worthy of debate, disagreement, and engagement. In my follow-on comment, I want to focus on John’s handling of the issue of racism in his chapter, "The Merciless Fight: Race and Military Culture in the Pacific War." A good chunk of this chapter considers and rejects the argument, most famously made by John W. Dower's _War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War_, that racism fundamentally shaped the conduct of the conflict between the United States and Japan in 1941-1945. John sent me a copy of the chapter at an early stage and I wrote him a critique, though maddeningly I cannot now find a copy in my files. For that reason anything I say now runs the risk of being a criticism that either didn't occur to me when I read the chapter in draft, or worse, a criticism of something John incorporated into the final chapter in direct response to my critique. By and large I agree with John's argument as he frames it. I just don't like the way he frames it. "As an inquiry into military history," he writes, "this chapter questions the centrality of of race and racism to the _conduct of war_ as opposed to the _experience of war_ as lived by soldier, sailor, or Marine." (_Battle_, 254) Taken literally, this implies that only the conduct of war is the proper subject for military history. I doubt if that is what John means--particularly since _Battle_ foregrounds the tension between what he calls the "discourse of war" and the "reality of war." It would be odd to include discourse and conduct as the province of military history while excluding the lived experience of combatants (and one might add noncombatants).But the sentence does alert the reader that John is going to sharply limit the scope of his consideration of racism and war. John argues that racism explains neither the origins nor the conduct of the war between the United States and Japan. The origins owe primarily to the decision of the United States to punish Japan for its expansion into China and southeast Asia. The Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere were prompted by the decision of the Japanese government to at once remove European power from Asia and cripple America's power to interfere with the conquest and consolidation of its "Greater East Asia C-Prosperity Sphere." The United States and its allies nevertheless nevertheless began a three-year war to stop Japan. The underlying rationale for the conflict, then, was not racism but rather good old-fashioned geopolitics. By the same token, once the United States got into the war it fought a series of amphibious campaigns designed to get American naval and air power close enough to Japan to blockade or bombard the country into submission, or, failing that, win the war by a land invasion. The island-hopping operations that characterized the war were ferociously bloody in part because each amphibious landing was in essence a frontal attack in which maneuver was all but impossible both sides had to pin their hopes on killing as many of the other as possible. Because of the emphasis placed by Japanese military culture on fighting to the death, little quarter was asked or given in these battles. American servicemen may have conceived of their Japanese counterparts according to racist stereotypes, and the Japanese had racist stereotypes of their own, but John argues that the Pacific War would have proceeded in much the same way if the belligerents had been between, say, the United States and a nation of fight-to-the-death Australians: Thunderdome writ large. _Two men enter. One man leaves_. It sounds unexceptionable--and the way John has designed this case study, it is. But the thrust of the chapter would have been entirely different had John chosen to focus on the war's conduct on the Asian mainland rather than the islands of the Pacific. Here racism did matter, as John himself suggests in passages that sketch the background to the Pacific War. The Japanese viewed the Chinese as racial inferiors (and for that matter the Koreans whose land they already controlled). The origins of the China War of 1931-1945 owe to the conviction on the part of Japan that it must have unquestioned access to the raw materials of Manchuria and the markets of China itself. Its policy was colonial, and like the colonial policies of Europe, legitimized by racism. The rape of Nanking in 1937 was a racist atrocity. The Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, which might have been hugely popular among East Asians, drew little support because Japanese rule conspicuously bore scant resemblance to Japanese propaganda. It requires only a little imagination to see how Japan might have gained a position of enormous influence in East Asia had it relied upon what American political scientist has recently termed "soft power"--openness, prosperity, and values that attract others--rather than the "hard power" of overt political-military domination. Why did Japan reject this course? Because of its belief that as the Yamato Race, its members were superior to peoples elsewhere in Asia. In short, racism. John nowhere defines racism in his book, but from what I can judge, he seems to think of it in as individual prejudice based on skin color and physical appearance. This is still the "common sense" view in the United States of what racism means, but in current theorizing about race that view is out of date. It is more common to view racism as the legitimizing ideology of the oppressor (although even this definition is becoming dated), and most writing on the subject deals with the role of racism in situations wherein one group dominates another. The racist epithets spawned in such situations often spill over into warfare where nations of different races are concerned, but the underlying purpose of that racism may be entirely absent. One of the chief racist artifacts of the Pacific War was not the merciless fight in the Pacific, but rather the herding of Japanese Americans into relocation camps--an action, be it noted, taken against Japanese Americans on the Pacific coast, where racial hostility toward this group ran high, but not in Hawaii, where one might otherwise think the Japanese Americans formed the most severe threat to security. Thus racism turns out to be highly malleable. As John notes in his chapter, whereas before the war Americans held negative stereotypes toward both Chinese and Japanese, during the war they adopted a very favorable (if still stereotyped) view of the Chinese. All the negative stereotypes concerning East Asians adhered to the Japanese. Soon after the war’s conclusion the negative stereotypes were directed toward the Communist Chinese. If I disagree a bit with John’s handling of racism in Chapter 7, however, I like very much his model regarding the interplay between the discourse and reality of war. This model informs the entirety of _Battle_ and is explicitly laid out in the book’s appendix. John has continued to tweak this model a bit; the latest iteration can be found online in “Problems and Complexities of a Cultural Approach to War,” John’s presentation at the AHA annual meeting in January. Here’s the address: http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/grimsley1/dialogue/aha2004/lynn2.htm Part of the model considers what occurs when different groups have different conceptions of war as it should be. “When they clash in battle,” he writes, “the fact that they are fighting by different rules creates a reality that neither adversary expected.” (p. 335) “When greatly exaggerated, contempt for the enemy can drive combatants to abandon crucial aspects of their Discourse on War. The treatment of Native Americans by settlers and soldiers in North America certainly qualifies as this kind of situation, leading to massacres of Native peoples.” (p. 340) Although this abandonment of part of the Discourse on War applied in the American response to the Japanese military culture during World War II, the fact that the United States and Japan waged war symmetrically—the same broad strategic formulations, operations, weaponry, and tactics—meant that this abandonment did not extend to the overall conduct of the American war effort. In the case of the wars between the United States and Native American groups, however, the asymmetries between the two groups encouraged U.S. forces to adopt modes of war—e.g., the feedfight and attacks on Indian villages—that were considered unacceptable or highly problematic according to the dominant Discourse on War. There is also a portion of John’s model that deals with the Refusal to consider certain activities as making war. This I think provides a useful way to understand the tendency among Confederate forces to massacre African American troops during the American Civil War, as at Fort Pillow, Poison Spring, and the Crater. Although here two both sides fought symmetrically and the difference in military culture was minor, the refusal of many Confederates to regard African Americans as legitimate combatants—their racism--created a situation in which they substantively refused to consider the activity in which they were engaged as being war. Mark Grimsley, Ohio State