Trust Issues

A while ago I was wondering about who you could trust to work in a modern equivalent of the Manhattan project. Thinking about it again, one problem is that people, if for example you consider the typical recent Ivy League graduate to be a human being, are bound and determined to be stupid about this question.

Imagine how we would have dealt with Japanese-Americans in 1942 if we had been informed by modern sensibilities.

Our stated and enforced policy would have been based on the notion that both Issei and Nisei were perfectly trustworthy, no more likely to aid the Empire of Japan than the Dutch in Grand Rapids

So we would have drafted them into the armed forces just like anyone else, and employed them where their skills seemed useful. We would have had them translating Japanese navy intercepts: we were short on Japanese-language translators, so why not? There would have been a bunch of them working with Hypo, down in the basement. Some would have worked in the Manhattan Project. They would have had jobs in the OSS, in the FBI. What could possibly have gone wrong?

Well, some of them were in fact disloyal: not most, but a far higher percentage than in most other ethnic groups in the US. There is nothing magical about this: it often happens. Were the Anglos that moved into Texas loyal to Mexico? Were the Sudeten Germans loyal to Czechoslovakia – was Conrad Henlein just misunderstood? Consider the Niihau incident.

If many Japanese Americans had been privy to the breaking of the Japanese fleet code – plausible, because of the large Japanese population in Hawaii and the need for people with Japanese language skills – the American Magic would have gone away. No Midway, not as we knew it. I figure that we would have lost tens of thousands more KIA in the Pacific than we did in this timeline. Also, probably hundreds of thousands of extra casualties in occupied Asia. Japan would have still have lost, though.

Detailed knowledge of the results from the Manhattan Project wouldn’t have done the Japanese any good, because they didn’t have the industrial muscle and sophistication to make anything of it.

I’m sure there wouldn’t have been any problems with Japanese Secret Service members, any more than Indira Gandhi ever had trouble with her Sikh bodyguards. Besides, in a democracy, no one is indispensable – I’m sure that Henry Wallace would have been a good President, for a gullible, superstitious pinko. While Sam Rayburn was a fine man!

The funniest part would been the many examples of people making excuses for terrorism and treason. When some young Japanese pilot talked about how he should perhaps crash his plane into the White House, his colleagues would have sedulously ignored those ravings, just as our contemporaries did with Major Nidal Hasan. At least they wouldn’t have had to constantly make excuses for his incompetence, as they did with Hasan – Japanese aren’t stupid. After the crash, the new President would have said that no one really knows what motivated the pilot, although back in those days, there really was a way of knowing what evil lay in the hearts of men.

After enough crap, one presumes that the press would have been instructed not to publish the faces of the miscreants, lest the general public get the wrong idea.

Our actual response was suboptimal: people who knew the score (J. Edgar Hoover) thought that putting the Japanese into camps was a mistake. Watching and infiltrating known pro-Nippon groups, punishing those that actually committed crimes was perfectly feasible; combined with reasonable discretion in assigning Japanese to useful but nonclassified jobs, you would have a policy that was more effective than the one we actually pursued.

Locking them up (except in Hawaii !), wasn’t the best course, but it was a million times more sensible than what we would do today. Because in 1942, Americans weren’t crazy:  today, they are.

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123 Responses to Trust Issues

  1. SamGamgee says:

    Your penultimate paragraph contains an important point: the suspension of the rights of Japanese-Americans wasn’t even necessary and was probably counter-productive. Too many people on the right are deriving the wrong lesson from WWII.

    • gcochran9 says:

      In terms of getting on with the war, it didn’t make much difference. There simply weren’t that many of them.

      When assimilated, as they are today, they are, on average, net contributors to society. Today, the general feeling among the Fools at the Top seems to be the less human capital, the better.

  2. maciano says:

    So no muslims working in airports.

  3. dearieme says:

    I thought that part of the objection to locking them up in concentration camps were that their homes and possessions were stolen. Is that true or not?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Some had farms, and were forced to sell at fire-sale prices. . Personal property was also lost. Largely true, I think.

      • syonredux says:

        “Some had farms, and were forced to sell at fire-sale prices. . Personal property was also lost. Largely true, I think.”

        Another example of HBD in action: Note how swiftly Japanese-Americans recovered from that financial hit.

  4. Kim Philby and the Cambridge Five. Yes, who do you trust?

    I had previously heard of Hoover’s preference for harm-reduction and possible flipping of dangerous assets rather than striving for any absolute security. It certainly seems judicious now.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Hoover was somehow uncomfortable with the idea of nabbing US citizens who had not been accused or convicted of any crime. Unlike Earl Warren, or Emanuel Cellar, or the New York Times.

      On the other hand, all the crap about ” how dare you question their patriotism” is today invoked about Pakis in Great Britain who contribute more recruits to ISIS than the British Army.

      On a positive note, hiring two more Japs into the OSS would have meant one fewer Communist.

    • dearieme says:

      Max Hastings’ recent comment on the Cambridge Five was to ask why so few mention the Berkeley and Washington Five Hundred. I suppose the answer must lie in customary American reticence.

      But I still don’t see much merit in an argument on the lines of “some of your own will betray you therefore give lots of others the chance to betray you too”.

      • It’s a fair cop. The joke once was that when McCarthy claimed there were 200 communists in the Dept of State that others in DC said “Is that all?”

      • syonredux says:

        “Max Hastings’ recent comment on the Cambridge Five was to ask why so few mention the Berkeley and Washington Five Hundred.”

        Alternatively, why Cambridge and not Oxford?

        • dearieme says:

          No idea; the statistics of small numbers, perhaps. The chance business of one recruiter having an early success there?

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Was Cambridge more intellectual and Oxford more social?

            • syonredux says:

              ‘Was Cambridge more intellectual and Oxford more social?’

              That was the answer I once heard a Cambridge grad give, that Oxford men just weren’t intelligent enough to commit treason in the name of Marxian communism.

      • syonredux says:

        “Max Hastings’ recent comment on the Cambridge Five was to ask why so few mention the Berkeley and Washington Five Hundred. I suppose the answer must lie in customary American reticence.”

        Too many of the Yanks were Jewish. That makes certain sectors of society squeamish.

  5. MawBTS says:

    To what extent were these Japanese “Americanized”? I’m aware the Immigration Act of 1924 mostly stopped Japanese from entering the country, so were they mostly 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants?

    After Japan attacked Australia in 1941, we interned Japanese too. Took it a step further and interned lots of Germans and Italians, too – 20% of Australia’s Italian population was interned throughout the war.

    Gotta do what you gotta do to stop that terrifying Italian war machine and their global network of spies, I guess.

    • gcochran9 says:

      The Japanese varied in how Americanized they were. out of ~120,000 interned about 40,000 were first generation, about 80,000 were second generation.

      The Italians were not always bad at spying. I was reading Vladimir Peniakoff’s memoir, Popski’s Private Army: he mentions a complex raid (in North Africa) planned for September 13th, 1942: a complete bust, with many men killed and captured, while the Navy lost two destroyers and several MTBs. Later, in 1943, Peniakoff talked to an Italian general who had had an intelligence job on the General Staff in Cyrenaica. He quoted from memory the British order of battle for the five raids of September 13th, and said he had got all the information complete and sorted out ten days before.

      Cairo and Alexandria were full of non-Yorkshiremen – information sieves.

    • Yudi says:

      Several thousand Italians and Germans were also detained in the US, though not entire families (they also probably weren’t deprived of their property). Seems to go down the memory hole, though, since they’re white.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        The top athlete in the United States in 1942 was Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees, who had two other brothers in the major leagues. Their dad was a San Francisco shrimp fisherman. DiMaggio the Elder was banned from fishing for much of the war to keep him from meeting up with Mussolini’s invasion fleet off the Golden Gate, or something.

        Dom DiMaggio used to point out in the 1990s that nobody remembered anything bad that happened to Italian-Americans during WWII.

        A lot of early WWII decision-making was reminiscent of the Spielberg-Zemeckis-Milius comedy “1941.” Fog of war and all that.

  6. Bob says:

    Detailed knowledge of the results from the Manhattan Project wouldn’t have done the Japanese any good, because they didn’t have the industrial muscle and sophistication to make anything of it.

    They could have passed it along to Germany, no? That might have potentially altered the outcome of the war.

    • syonredux says:

      “They could have passed it along to Germany, no? That might have potentially altered the outcome of the war.”

      Would they have, though? The Japanese-German relationship during WW2 wasn’t as close as what existed among the Anglo powers

      • ursiform says:

        Hitler declared the Japanese people “honorary Aryans”, which made it easier to be allied with them. The Japanese looked down on Europeans. Allies of convenience, not cause.

        • It’s a fact. German businessmen in Japanese-occupied territories (Singapore, the Indies) were stymied at every turn, treated with indifference if not openly obstructed, and rarely given any opportunities to make money.

          Part of that attitude of course has to do with the Japanese military appraisal of ‘shi / no / ko / sho’ (bushido-farming-craftsmen-merchants, top to bottom) which held the role of businessman in contempt.

          This all turned turtle after the War, la la la, and while they ostensibly pay homage to the samurai spirit, the Japanese these days pretty much think it is quaint, ridiculous. Having been roundly whipped, the Imperial military were widely condemned as fools and reckless adventurers. As Mishima found out to his great chagrin.

        • gcochran9 says:

          They looked up to B-San.

      • Tarl says:

        The Germans gave the Japanese plans for a number of “wonder weapons” (latest U-boats, radars, Me-262 jet fighter) though the Japanese were never able to build them in quantity before the war ended. At the end of the war, a German submarine was taking Germany’s limited stock of uranium oxide to Japan, but when Germany surrendered the crew decided to surface and surrender to the Allies.

  7. King George III says:

    With every passing day I wonder a little more if Nongqawuse could happen here.

    • Jim says:

      When I was young long agp America seemed to be an exceptionally stable country. Not any more.

      Venezuela seems like a contemporary case of Nongqawuse.

  8. Having studied, worked and reported from Japan on and off since 1962 I can see the logic behind infiltration and screening. For many issei (first-generation immigrants) the ties to the homeland are powerful – Japan being most likely the most xenophobic nation in the world (even today) (with the possible exception of Korea).
    Nisei, sansei and subsequent generations assimilate pretty much totally into the host nation. I worked with Japanese immigrants in central Colombia and was even impressed at how different their faces were – Latinoamerica is not a ‘smiling culture’ – and a stony-looking expression will mold the muscles of your face into a very different cast from the typical smiling Japanese expression.
    There is also the element of ‘ganko’ – ‘irrational stubbornness’ – which has always led me to think that the atomic bombings were in fact necessary to shock the Imp from getting off his privileged ass and forcing hostilities to come to an end. The Japanese military, and an obedient (famished) people were ready to fight to the death, all the way through the islands. Cosmopolitan diplomats were exchanging courteous feelers about surrender but it would not have come to pass without the massive shock. That’s my sad conclusion, and would also relate to the trustworthiness of first-generation immigrants.

  9. Bob says:

    Because in 1942, Americans weren’t crazy: today, they are.

    How much of this is post-Cold War decadence? If the Soviet Union were still around, do you think we’d be less crazy?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Hard to say. Some of our current political craziness reminds me of modern art, or sushi. Back in the day, the rich could easily demonstrate their superiority: they might have a Vermeer on the wall, but you didn’t. They had a chamber orchestra – you didn’t. But with cheap replication, anyone can afford a Vermeer print, anyone can buy the music they want for a song. An old Chevy can break the speed limit just as well as a Ferrari- sure, the Ferrari is faster, but where do you get to let it loose? The rich used to have food when others starved – but today, billionaire life span is only three years longer than average, probably because it’s hard to be a hard-charger if you’re chronically ill, rather than genuinely, significantly superior medical care. And, as Steve Jobs showed, the rich have no defense against their own damn-foolishness.

      In such a situation, you pick a marker that nobody really likes: onethat marks you as different and special. You would pick something genuinely better, if you could, but the opportunity really isn’t there. So you do things that aren’t even fun – like eating sushi instead of pizza – because they mark you out as being above the hoi polloi. Not unlike Maya Kings and queens running a rope of thorns through their tongue, or driving a cactus spine through their penis in public. Just so, modern art instead of Rembrandts.

      You adopt political ideas that are are obviously stupid – because only a truly refined person can understand their subtle justifications. There really are examples of deeply non-intuitive facts, but most of them are mathematically intense, so unavailable to our ruling classes. Much simpler to embrace those statements that are anti-intuitive because they’re just false. Any lout might think that race exists and partly explains what people are like – only a sophisticate could steadfastly deny his lying eyes.

      • Jim says:

        I think modern art is a slight improvement over running a cactus through one’s penis.

      • guest says:

        I might be misunderstanding you, but I don’t agree. My explanation is that most people are not very rational to begin with, and are more likely to believe that which feels good rather than what is uncomfortable and true. My assumption here is that there are hardwired views on what makes a man who he is(nature vs nurture), and that those who are on the nurture side feel emotional pain when that viewpoint gets challenged.

        English is not my first language so I hope this made sense.

      • Pincher Martin says:

        Sushi, when it’s well-made, is excellent. I imagine it sucks in New Mexico, though.

        • gcochran9 says:

          I hear it tastes like fish.

          • M. M. says:

            it’s a justification to gorge on wasabi (undiluted of course), nerds like to show off like that, i know i do. also, it tickles up your nose, like snorting coke without unwanted consequences. likewise, i occasionally buy wieners just so i get to eat mustard. overall i agree with your suspicion, most customers neuter wasabi with soy sauce or skip it altogether, the rest is just bland rice, fish, and vegetables–could be worse but nothing special, really. it’s fun to finger finger food, though, sushi = cheeseburgers for swipples. my pet peeve is the pickled ginger–has it an aftertaste like shampoo or is it just me? i eat it anyway, see above :- ))

            • Josh says:

              Raw fish has a great fatty mine rally taste, and you generally don’t feel bloated and gross after eating it like pizza. It’s also not that expensive.

        • Ziel says:

          I’m pretty sure I’d take NYC Pizza over Albuquerque sushi but definitely not the other way around #eastcoastpizzasnob

      • Mobi says:

        So true (I think).

        “You adopt political ideas that are are obviously stupid – because only a truly refined person can understand their subtle justifications”.

        Or demonstrate their superior status by being able to survive the consequences of such obvious stupidity, better than the hoi polloi? Like a giant game of ‘Status Chicken’

        Is it some variation on Amotz Zahavi’s ‘Handicap Principle’? Conspicuously ridiculous, hazardous, stupid behaviours, or characteristics, adopted precisely because they are ridiculous, hazardous, stupid – because only the bearers are strong enough to afford them (by, say, retreating to lilly-white living and working environments, while aggressively promoting the opposite for their lessers)? Like a peacock’s tail (and other examples)?

        The social equivalent of ‘I’ll kick your ass with one hand tied behind my back’

        We do form groups to compete for status because it improves our chances vs going it alone, obviously. But the boundaries of ‘us’ vs ‘them’ have been pretty fluid, historically. The common denominator seems to be – smaller than whatever is ‘the whole’. Because if our group is ‘the whole’, victory is over-assured, and thus our share of the spoils are diluted more than they need to be. (too small, of course, and we may lose)

        When our perception of what is the whole (the range of credible rivals) changes, the size of what we perceive to be our group adjusts accordingly – up, or down. History is full of such adjusting.

        So, America (and the West) emerged victorious from the Cold War (co-inciding with the end of serious talk of ‘Japan as Number 1’), and faced no serious rivals as far as the eye could see – economically, militarily, culturally.

        It seems as though a turning inward, with intensification of partisan division and rancor – a re-drawing downward of what people in the West considered the boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’ – was all but inevitable.

        Of course, if so, the process has historically gone in both directions, so it will stop, and begin to reverse, only when the elites in the West are forced to recognize a broader range of threats to their success, status, even survival, than their bad-white neighbours.

        Is there a credible contender (or contenders)? Eventually, there must be, though of course, eventually we’re all dead.

        (the part I’m least confident of is the relevance of Zahavi’s concept to the issue)

        • gcochran9 says:

          You might consider of adopting stupid ideas as an in-group marker to be something like initiation. Initiation often consists of something that any reasonable person would pay good money to avoid: in the Sun Dance, young men dance around a pole to which they are fastened by “rawhide thongs pegged through the skin of their chests.” That’s gotta hurt. Might leave a scar!

          Presumably, only those really dedicated will go through this. If initiation were something more pleasant, like sharing an ice cream cone with a pretty girl on a hot summer day, anybody might go through with it. It wouldn’t be a real test of sincerity or conformity.

          Probably the current tests are not tough enough: regurgitating nonsense is hard for me but not for most people. Time to bring on the rawhide thongs and cactus spines.

      • not my name says:

        That’s a great exposition of what could be shortened to “status signaling”

        • …except that the term ‘modern art’ was already obsolete by the late 1950s (although Wiki kicks it forward a decade or so). You’re showing your age.

          If you want a wiggle-word I suggest ‘contemporary art’, which is empty enough to engulf whatever you might intend to implicate.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        It’s one of the things that drives the media nuts about Trump: he’s not very articulate so he doesn’t bother reading up on complicated explanations of why he should spend $75 million on Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull sculpture like an ordinary, decent plutocrat would. Instead, he’ll spend the money on an ocean-cliff golf course because it looks nice.

  10. Wency says:

    In a war that is viewed as existential, as WW2 from the U.S. side sort of was, I think the culture can and will adapt, as pragmatic people lose their tolerance for those who would prioritize feelings and bathroom privileges over military effectiveness. Mistakes will happen, but they will tend to be honest mistakes. The longer the war goes on, the more pragmatic and ruthless people will become. The British initially opposed strategic bombing for moral/legal reasons. A few years later, and the West saw few problems with firebombing and nuking enemy cities.

    The U.S. mismanaged the Japanese issue, but the Allies could afford to make more mistakes than the Axis because of the balance of power. In the early modern period, a country could face national destruction, or at least major loss of territory if its policies or governance structure were bad enough (see Poland). Since that time, this hasn’t really happened. There is still a France and a Germany, despite their gross errors (of different kinds) in WW2. Lessons might be learned, but policies aren’t under the same selection pressure that they once were, so more ideological mistakes can be made.

  11. dearieme says:

    “There is still … a Germany”: but not in quite the same place. Ditto Poland.

    But if you change your perspective to post-1914, the picture is radically different. Which I suppose was your point.

    • Wency says:

      Sure. Germany’s territorial losses (1/4 of its territory, post-unification) and population losses (much less, due to relocations) are still a historically mild result for a catastrophic and total defeat in a war that it started and launched against all of its neighbors and most powers on Earth.

      • dearieme says:

        Well, Allah is having his revenge now.

      • King George III says:

        You might want to review just how the territorial dispute over the Polish-occupied German city of Danzig escalated into a full-blown world war.

        • Peter Lund says:

          Yep. Germany was treated really badly after WWI, a war that it didn’t start but ended up losing. Thank you, USA, for using Germany and Austria to gain entrance to the world scene 😦

          Germany wanted to get back the territory Poland had stolen and it wanted to complete the (re)unification of Germany with Austria and the Sudetenland. That was the initial goal and it was quite reasonable.

          • gcochran9 says:

            “a war that it didn’t start”

            What do the Belgians say about this?

          • syonredux says:

            “Yep. Germany was treated really badly after WWI,”

            No worse than what the Germans had planned. Cf the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Ludendorff’s plans for a German dominated empire in the East, etc.

            ” That was the initial goal and it was quite reasonable.”

            Sadly, Hitler also had a bunch of unreasonable goals as well: the destruction of the USSR, the ethnic cleansing of vast areas of Eastern Europe (The Hunger Plan, Generalplan Ost), etc

        • syonredux says:

          “You might want to review just how the territorial dispute over the Polish-occupied German city of Danzig escalated into a full-blown world war.”

          You might want to look into Hitler’s plans for the destruction of the USSR, the creation of a German Empire in the East, etc

      • Steffen says:

        No, the circumstances were.more complex, as historian Stefan Scheil showed in his work.

  12. IC says:

    We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow…

    Age-old wisdom

    Blind trust on anyone including your own people is for idiots obviously. Blind mistrust on anyone without analysis of circumstances is for idiots or crazy people ( Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot).

  13. Actually, we primarily locked up West Coast Japanese who were, as a rule, less assimilated. Most of the Japanese in the Midwest were left alone, and many Japanese who got out of internment went to the Midwest. In contrast, Canada locked up all of its Japanese.

    Nothing to do with your main point, just quibbling.

    • Tarl says:

      What amazes me is that few Japanese-Americans in Hawaii were interned. These “dangerous” folk were in what was perhaps THE critical strategic location, but the authorities noted “oops there are too many of them to deport to the mainland and they are too important to the local economy.” All this doesn’t speak well for the rationale of interning the Japanese-Americans on the West Coast; if we didn’t need to do it on Hawaii there was even less need for it in California.

  14. Dale says:

    OK, so far, so good. But what are you proposing to do?

    You seem to like “Watching and infiltrating known pro-Nippon groups, punishing those that actually committed crimes was perfectly feasible; combined with reasonable discretion in assigning Japanese to useful but nonclassified jobs”, but the modern analog of that, we seem to already be doing.

    Also, the rate of casualties the US is suffering from terrorists is several orders of magnitude less than what we suffered from in WW II, so the infringement of our other goals that we should be willing to tolerate is consideraly smaller.

    There’s also the matter of managing the public’s behavior. Yes, you oppose “Lock them all up!”, as does every other reasonable person. But of course, it’s very easy for the public to get wind up to the point of demanding to lock them all up, or at least, ensure that no American Muslim is allowed to touch a firearm or fly a plane. Just look at the current presidential election…

    As for history, don’t forget why Japanese-Americans in Hawaii weren’t interned: They were such a large part of the labor force that the Navy couldn’t have operated Pearl Harbor without them.

  15. Greying Wanderer says:

    At least the US didn’t ban additional Japanese and German immigration during the war – that would have been the worst.

  16. Pangur says:

    As if scheduled to happen to coincide with this post:

    Headline: “FBI technician pleads guilty to giving agency records to Chinese government”


    “The Chinese-born Kun Shan Chun, a naturalized citizen of the United States, was charged with acting in the United States as an agent of China between 2011 and 2016.

    The 19-year-long FBI employee pleaded guilty to acting as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the attorney general.”

  17. Late bloomer says:

    The US government had good reasons to be concerned about the Japanese. From 1921 book “Old World Traits Transplanted” by Robert E. Park:

    “The Japanese in America have been treated by their home country as colonists here.
    The Japanese Empire has the bureaucratic type of efficiency, and the Japanese Association in America, with its various branches, is practically a department of the Japanese government.”

    The rest of the chapter on the Japanese is equally illuminating. You can find the book at

    The Canadian government similarly interned the Galicians during WWI, having had a much weaker case IMO. I asked my son if they taught this in his ‘Social Sciences’ class (Canadian school). No, it was all about the First Peoples’ forms of democracy, their matriarchy and other uplifting things.

  18. Anon says:

    Doesn’t Pakistan only have nukes because of some Dutch-Pakistani that worked in the industry?

    There’s also been a few cases of Chinese Americans leaking stuff to China.

    I can’t blame them. Can definitely blame the government though.

    • maciano says:

      Khan was not Dutch, but he worked at Urenco. There he befriended a corrupt Dutch co-worker, Henk Slebos. Slebos later on helped Khan to smuggle essential equipment and materials. For cold hard cash.

      According to Ruud Lubbers, former Dutch PM, Khan was always suspected of bad intentions, but they led him go ahead to see who he was in contact with. They wanted to get the whole network. This, of course, went horribly wrong because was no Russian agent, but a Pakistani agent.

    • maciano says:

      This Dutch documentary shd be translated into english.

  19. Late bloomer says:

    I am not convinced that this trend is driven by the elites’ status-whoring. I think the main factor is their desire to keep the population constantly increasing, which is intended to keep the economy growing, which is required by the nature of the credit money system, which the elites are beholden to.

    The equalist demands are necessary to incorporate these newly added masses since the age-old method (conversion to Christianity) isn’t workable anymore.

  20. Dennis says:

    If Germany was able to prevail in Europe, Japan was somehow capable of landing troops in California, and both countries were blockading America, what would have happened to all those Japanese in the internment camps? The American government identified and quarantined racial-political hostiles as the Germans and other nations did during the war.

    Sure, they were treated fine when the war was thousands of miles away and America was exporting food, but if push came to shove, if Americans were starving and blockaded, if domestic bases had to be abandoned in the face of an enemy offensive, the Japanese-Americans would probably have been slowly starved out and/or exterminated lest they serve as assets to their captors, similar to what happened in occupied Europe in the later years of the war.

    • dearieme says:

      In 1940, say, when Britain was short of food, and apparently in imminent danger of invasion, she did not try to starve the “enemy aliens” – mainly German, Austrian, and Italian males – interned, many of them on the Isle of Man. She seemed to be more interested to establish which of them could be entrusted with jobs “on our side”, or at least released back into civilian life. It wasn’t all jolly fun, but it wasn’t barbaric either.

      • Dennis says:

        Germany also treated American and British POWs decently. It had no territorial quarrel with America or England and was hoping until the end to facilitate a separate peace and concentrate on the USSR. It wished to annex the European portion of the Soviet empire so that it could compete on equal terms with America and the British Empire.

        Britain had food rationing, but it wasn’t starving. Some staples like bread weren’t even rationed until a couple years after the war..

      • gcochran9 says:

        It’s like the Texas rancher who was accused in court of wanting to grab all the land in Texas. He said “That’s a God-damn lie, Judge. All I want is the part that jines onto my place.”

    • gcochran9 says:

      As when the Jews ‘slowly starved” at Babi Yar, in 1941. You’re full of crap.

    • syonredux says:

      “The American government identified and quarantined racial-political hostiles as the Germans and other nations did during the war.”

      Dunno. The Germans did a damn sight more than just “quarantine” certain ethnies. Cf the operations of the Einsatzgruppen in Eastern Europe from the Summer of ’41 on.

      ” have been slowly starved out and/or exterminated lest they serve as assets to their captors, similar to what happened in occupied Europe in the later years of the war.”

      Was 1941-42 the “later years of the war?” The Germans systematically starved to death approx 2 million Soviet POWs in the Winter of ’41-’42. And then there’s the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were shot by the Einsatzgruppen before the end of 1941…..

    • Tarl says:

      “if Americans were starving and blockaded”

      America was self-sufficient in food. It could not be starved even if blockaded.

  21. ironrailsironweights says:

    Having a disloyal Jaoanese-America on the Manhattan Project wouldn’t have mattered much unless he had been very high in the project hirearchy. The M.P. maintained its security by extreme compartmentalization more than by background screening. Nearly everyone working on the project knew only his specific tasks and had no idea of what the end result might be. Out of the many thousands of people at Los Alamos, fewer than ten knew that they were working on a massive weapons projecr.


    • gcochran9 says:

      “fewer than ten”. Really. The Soviets knew, just from the sudden publication drought in nuclear physics [Georgii Flerov]. There were individual physicists that figured it out from the particular colleagues that disappeared.

      Both Germany and Japan heard rumors, although neither penetrated the Manhattan Project.

      John Cairncross and Donald Maclean knew.

      Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, David Greenglass, Morris and Lona Cohen, Harry Gold, Theodore Hall, George Koval, Saville Sax, Morton Sobel, and Klaus Fuchs knew.

      Probably even Fermi and Teller and Feynman and Bethe and Von Neumann knew!

      John W Campbell knew !

    • Oliver Cromwell says:

      It doesn’t matter what the Japanese knew about Manhattan.

      The Japanese actually understood the problem of building a bomb quite well, and had probably the best Axis programme, and possibly a better programme than the USSR if you discount all the information the USSR got from spies. They (correctly) reasoned they could not manufacture the fissiles, and that if they could it wouldn’t be worth it, and that if it were they couldn’t build even a second rate delivery vehicle.

      To matter at all a Jap in Manhattan would have to be a saboteur and I just don’t see it, or at least don’t see it mattering.

      Commies in Manhattan were important and there were a ton of known commies in Manhattan. But then there were a ton of known commies in the State Department, War Department, and intelligence services, not all of whom were even American citizens.

      Interning Japs might have been unnecessary, although that’s easily said with hindsight, and it might have been done crudely, which is almost always true of everything in war. But the real outrage is how few commies were interned, how few commies were hanged, and how few commies were just sent back to Germany to their fates.

  22. pyrrhus says:

    Trusting Chinese immigrants continues to prove problematic…

    • Thanks for this. Note that neither China nor India, two sources of highly-intelligent and skilled immigrants, are not customarily known as “trust cultures”. They value success and loyalty (to the family or ethnic group in both cases – to the nation in the case of China) much higher than rectitude.

      I was impressed to discover, upon moving to Indonesia, that the people here have exactly the same (racist) observation about the local Indian contingent as I found while working in Thailand: “If you’re walking in the jungle and you come across an Indian and a cobra, which one do you step on first?”

      The Indians in business in Southeast Asia are thought to be extremely untrustworthy. I have naturally wondered about their reputation in Silicon Valley, where so many have done very well.

      • Rosenmops says:

        “The Indians in business in Southeast Asia are thought to be extremely untrustworthy. I have naturally wondered about their reputation in Silicon Valley, where so many have done very well.”

        The Indians in Silicon Valley are probably not in positions where they can rip people off financially. There are a lot of Sikhs in my part of Canada and I would never do business with them if the business required any sort of trust. For example I wouldn’t take my car to be repaired at a garage run by Sikhs. However if a Sikh was working in as a cashier in a major grocery store I would have no problem going through his/her till because I don’t think the cashier has the means to steal money from me.

        Generally I would be suspicious of any small business run by Indians or Chinese. Recently I wanted to buy some strong bunkbeds for my grandchildren. The manufactured bunkbeds in the stores seemed poorly made. I found a man online in a nearby city who has a small business making bunk beds. He had an English sounding name, and he spoke with an working class English accent. Based on his Facebook page, I gave him half the price of the bunk beds on the understanding that I would pay the rest when they were completed. It worked out well, but I suppose I took a risk. If he had had an Indian or Chinese name or accent I would have been much more cautious.

        But I will buy things from China or India on Ebay, because Ebay has built in protections that prevent help people from getting ripped off.

  23. jamesg1103 says:

    Michelle Malkin made the persuasive (albeit retrospective) case for internment in her 2004 book..

  24. ghazisiz says:

    “..,people who knew the score (J. Edgar Hoover) thought that putting the Japanese into camps was a mistake. Watching and infiltrating known pro-Nippon groups, punishing those that actually committed crimes was perfectly feasible; combined with reasonable discretion in assigning Japanese to useful but nonclassified jobs, you would have a policy that was more effective…”

    Thanks for this post: nice to see sanity where so little is seen. I agree that we should keep out all the takfirists, the salafists, and anyone who thinks sharia is a good idea. Actually, I would go a step further, and keep out anyone who thinks it’s OK to cover women. But it scares the heck out of me when I hear talk that my kids should be required to register as Muslims. Not their fault what their parents chose to call themselves. In fact, one seems destined to be a full-fledged Jesus freak; another is going the path of David Hume. Lots of crazy in this world, and one part of it is this acting like Islam is some kind of contamination by descent.

  25. Oliver Cromwell says:

    America was selectively non-crazy in 1941. A lot of people who shouldn’t have been trusted on Manhattan were. Manhattan leaked like a sieve, not to Tokyo or Berlin but to Moscow.

    1941 America, the people who mattered, was broadly anti-Japanese but pro-Marxist. Today the US Government would not make the excuses for Putinites that it makes for Muslims.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Try building the bomb without using a bunch of people that you couldn’t trust. Not possible in 1941: Groves knew this. Yet it had to be done.

      • Oliver Cromwell says:

        It didn’t.

        • syonredux says:

          “It didn’t.”

          Dunno. Sooner or later, somebody was going to get the big stick. I’m glad that we got it ahead of various other powers…..

          • Oliver Cromwell says:

            No one else in WWII was close to getting a bomb (unless you consider the British a separate player), and more to the point even the US themselves didn’t have an effective delivery system.

            Think about the economics of early bomb raids with early bomb yields and quantities if your opponent has a robust air defence, instead of being Germany or Japan 1945.

            The Manhattan Project was a net negative on the US war effort in WWII, and wasn’t necessary for some years after the war, though given the US has such a massive surplus of resources anyway it was probably still a good deal for its post-war positioning advantages.

            • syonredux says:

              “No one else in WWII was close to getting a bomb ”

              Thinking a bit longer term than just 1939-45…..

              Stalin getting the bomb first is a rather unpleasant thought.

              • Oliver Cromwell says:

                It had to be done sometime, but the USSR didn’t have a credible ability to deliver large numbers of bombs over the USA until the late 60s/early 70s. Stalin with a bomb would have changed nothing.

              • gcochran9 says:

                You’re insane. But then so many people are.

              • Oliver Cromwell says:

                I am not at all.

                Look at the delivery systems, and the quantitative power of the bomb in relation to the conventional bombing capabilities of that time.

                The bomb was a technology that appeared ‘too early’. It appeared very effective when used against countries that had already collapsed under conventional assault and had essentially no defences. Well, so are rifle butts and knives.

              • When I began reading this rejoinder I thought you were going to elaborate on the challenge of delivery systems. The Enola Gay was barely able to lift Little Boy; the initial thermonuclear device (late 1940s) was the size of a warehouse. The only way the West could have ponied one to Moscow – at least before the evolution of the [big & clumsy] B-36, was on a suicide mission. No American or British crews were particularly hot on that notion.

                It is also worth mentioning that when cigar-chomping Curtis Lemay was heading up SAC (early 1950s) there was serious talk about “preventive war” with the USSR, the charming and alluring concept of “war to prevent war” (Hello Mister Orwell, spinning there in your grave). The proposition, which I heard about as a kid (dad was in SAC) was classified as “Operation Trojan”, and was predicated around sending a fleet of B-36s with a surprise package for the Russkies, to eliminate the opposition before they could build their own force of nukes. The ever-practical Harry Truman put the kybosh on any such fond fantasies.

                I find it endlessly fascinating to ponder on the profound ways the advent of this technology has fundamentally altered the concept of war, like nothing else in history. Today some of those frisky forty-five-year-olds in the Pentagon are musing “limited nuclear war”. Good luck with that masterful plan, sunshine.

              • gcochran9 says:

                First thermonuclear devices of any kind were in the 50’s.

                Operation Greenhouse, George, something like a ‘boosted’ bomb in practice, 1951

                Item, first real tritium boosted

                Ivy Mike, true hydrogen bomb but cryogenic and undeliverable, 1952

                Joe-4, “Layer Cake”, 1953 Soviet

                Castle Bravo, true dry hydrogen bomb (LiD), deliverable

              • Thanks for the correction. I should not be so sloppy when quoting dates. I remember well the icy fear among the masses when it was announced that the Soviets had mastered “the big one”. But the theory was all there. It was simply a matter of time.

                I was amused to read that Macarthur used to send a lone B-29 above the invading Chinese forces during the Korean War, as a reminder of what the US could wreak upon them. He allegedly had a plan to lay a string of nukes along the border to dissuade the Chinese but that got nixed by the boss from Kansas City.

                Mousey Dung was not impressed, commenting “It’s just another weapon of war”. So his PLA generals arranged for him to witness an atmospheric detonation. He changed his tune abruptly after that experience.

              • Oliver Cromwell says:

                LeMay’s idea of a “preventative” war in the 50s really did make sense if you regarded nuclear war as inevitable anyway (as many did) or eventual Soviet victory as otherwise inevitable anyway (as most of the rest did).

                The United States would have won. In the late 50s it had enough bombs to eliminate the USSR as a civilised country and would have taken little damage in return. There was no MAD in the 50s, the Soviets weren’t capable of it.

              • There is an interesting story floating around – impossible to verify – that those around Stalin became desperate enough to take a chance on poisoning him, when it became evident that he was set on attacking the USA. This would have been around 1950, when the Cold War was just starting to warm up.

                It was clear that the nuclear superiority of the Americans would have made short work of Ivan, and so (allegedly) Beria slipped Warfarin into his food. That’s right: rat poison. It had only recently been invented, and was considered particularly nifty because it is odorless and tasteless.

                Stalin’s last hours were suitably horrific, as he struggled to survive. When Beria and the others were called into his bedroom, the NKVD Chief commented “Comrade Stalin is resting. Do not disturb him.”

                Later he stood before his own family and chortled “We got the old bastard!” He himself was looking down rifle barrels not long afterward.

              • Oliver Cromwell says:

                1950 would not have been a terrible time. Nuclear technology was substantially less mature than it would be even a decade later. The US had heavily drawn down its forces (the US military would not be smaller until after the end of the Cold War). France still had a Communist president and Labour was in power in the UK.

                1950 was possibly the best time for them to have done it. Not that they would have likely succeeded, but it was their best shot.

                People who thought Korea was a probe for a more general communist offensive weren’t crazy, and may have been correct.

              • gcochran9 says:

                France did not have a Communist Prime Minister in 1950, nor has it ever had one.

              • I suggest that while officialdom, and the military (which is usually ready for a good fight) may have been ready to hit the Soviets in 1950 such an attack had yet to gain traction among the millions for whom WW II was still a vivid memory. Many economies (GB and Western Europe in particular) were still recovering. The Soviet menace was taken seriously but the concept of megadeath had not really been accepted as a commonplace by citizens in general in western democracies (whose opinion probably mattered much more than it does today).

                MacArthur’s proposal to plant a “ring of fire” of nukes along the North Korean / China border was a smart one from a military point of view and would have compensated for the huge imbalance in numbers (Chinese hordes cascading in). Truman nixed that. Had nukes been used in the Korean conflict it would also have crossed that imaginary boundary into unknown Apache territory and I doubt whether any of the gentlemen in charge at that moment were prepared for it. Hiroshima and Nagasaki (whose anniversaries have just passed) were most unnerving reminders to those privy to the photos and reports (excluding the masses). It didn’t take much imagination to extrapolate an atomic attack on one’s own capital. The great fear was settling in.

              • Oliver Cromwell says:

                But Stalin died in 1953. Attacking in 1953 would have been crazy.

              • Oliver Cromwell says:

                “France did not have a Communist Prime Minister in 1950, nor has it ever had one.”

                I don’t know about their prime minister. Their president, Vincent Auriol, was from the party “French Section of the Workers’ International”, a communist party albeit one that did not follow the Moscow party line.

              • Oliver Cromwell says:

                “I suggest that while officialdom, and the military (which is usually ready for a good fight) may have been ready to hit the Soviets in 1950”

                You’ve got it exactly backwards. The elite was full of commie sympathisers (not so much the military, but as pointed out, the military wanted to push on to Moscow and was overruled).

              • Your comment that the “elite was full of commie sympathizers” was to an extent true, as a symptom of the 1930s intellectual hangover which visualized the Soviet system as a Paradise on Earth. Also please do not forget that the USSR was our ally against the Axis in the Second World War, and pivoting from “ally” to “enemy” was not all that easy for serious functionaries.

                You sound like Joe McCarthy, who was quoted as saying ‘”I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”. This speech resulted in a flood of press attention to McCarthy and established the path that made him one of the most recognized politicians in the United States.’ (Wikipedia)

                Who were these 205? He never coughed up the names, and soon thereafter the Senate censured him – a rare and remarkable step. I submit that while the American military was quickly turned toward the “Communist menace”, in part to respond to a sharp “Reduction in Forces” (RIF) (my father went from Captain to Master Sergeant, just to stay in the Air Force) not all in the governing bodies were that anxious to get into a shooting war so soon after the last one.

              • gcochran9 says:

                ” the military wanted to push on to Moscow”

                You are too stupid to post here anymore.

          • Oliver Cromwell says:

            The interesting scenario is this: US stays neutral, and the UK fights a twenty years’ war with Germany. The UK wins this war via a nuclear holocaust of Germany. Same old, same old.

            Except, in this timeline, the US is late to the bomb, and the British nuclear testing and bomber and missile training installations just happen to be positioned in Canada, within a few hours’ flight of New York and Washington…

            • syonredux says:

              “The interesting scenario is this: US stays neutral, and the UK fights a twenty years’ war with Germany. The UK wins this war via a nuclear holocaust of Germany. Same old, same old.’

              USSR beating Nazi Germany and extending its rule all the way to the Rhine seems like a likelier scenario….

  26. Rosenmops says:

    I’m really tired of hearing about how evil it was to put the Japanese in camps during the war. My mother was born in Vancouver in 1927 and lived their her whole life, She remembered when some relative of the Japanese emperor came to Vancouver. She said the Japanese put their face on the ground as he walked/drove past. They thought he was a god and wouldn’t look directly at him. They had a Japanese school that the Japanese kids went to after their regular school. Some of them, at least, were definitely loyal to Japan. They thought the Japanese was a master race.

    The Japanese had their fishing boats confiscated but they were not harmed. They weren’t even locked up…just moved to camps in the interior away from the coast. Families stayed together. The internment camps were like resorts compared to anything similar run by Japan. Japan was extremely cruel to prisoners.

  27. Thiago Ribeiro says:

    “Besides, in a democracy, no one is indispensable – I’m sure that Henry Wallace would have been a good President, for a gullible, superstitious pinko.”
    So that is why Reagan was shot, his vice president was not bad enough to keep the Secret Service on its collective toes.

    “Some of them, at least, were definitely loyal to Japan. They thought the Japanese was a master race.” – Rosenmops
    Well, I am sure the Japanese were every bit as troublesome in Brazil as they were in Canada or the USA, yet we did not jail people for existing while being “yellow”. Many Japnese kept insisting their breathen had won WWII. Yet, they were given a wide berth and were (mostly) well-treated. They Repression only after real crimes were commited by real individuals. Jail sentences can be counted on one’s fingers:

    I am happy to report that, despite an enlighted policy, Brazil has not yet been conquered by the Empire of Japan.

    “Japan was extremely cruel to prisoners.”
    Okay, true enough, but it was not their fault.

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