Michael's Modern Blog
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A breezy review of current events, updated twice weekly

Tuesday, September 4, 1945

THE END. With today’s posts, I bid farewell to this blog.

When I began keeping this blog in March of 1939, some 3,287 postings ago, I intended to record a few highlights and comments on what I airily hoped would be a European crisis of perhaps a few more months’ duration. The alternative of all-out war seemed too dire to contemplate. I remember an article in Radio Times from May of that year, postulating how an all-out Nazi air raid of London would be reported on the airwaves, with sensationalistic bulletins of "thousands" killed. That seems so quaint now. We have traveled a terrible distance since then, and for all the horrors we’ve seen, heard of, and read, we’ve avoided the one unspeakable horror, that of defeat. And we now live in an America that is, both for better and for worse, profoundly different than the one we have ever known in our history. There will be no "return to normalcy" this time. We are now a full partner with the other great nations of the world, and must remain so.

Our world has come to a place where we have never known such potential terror, or such hope. The two walk hand-in-hand. The atom bomb is for now in America’s custody, but a future dictator will surely have such weapons, or worse ones, easily enough to wreck civilization completely. Yet, with the coming birth of the United Nations as a peace-time organization, we will have the all the great powers joined together for the first time in history, and given an opportunity to put an end to war on a large scale.

Such an effort has never succeeded before. But it has never had such incentive.

posted by Michael 8:26:00 AM
. . .
THE WORLD OF TOMORROW. A fitting way to close would be to quote General MacArthur’s concluding remarks at the surrender ceremony --

"A new era is upon us. Even the lesson of victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization. The destructiveness of the war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery, has in fact now reached a point which revises the traditional concept of war. Men since the beginning of time have sought peace. Various methods through the ages have been attempted to devise an international process to prevent or settle disputes between nations. From the very start, workable methods were found in so far as individual citizens were concerned, but the mechanics of an instrumentality of larger international scope have never been successful. Military alliance, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blots out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we do not devise some greater and more equitable system Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advance in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the last 2,000 years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh."

Let us all work and pray to "save the flesh," in the challenging years ahead.

posted by Michael 8:20:00 AM
. . .
Sunday, September 2, 1945

THE DAY OF SURRENDER. The official signing onboard the U.S.S. Missouri was certainly the grandest ceremony held anywhere in the world since this war began six years ago yesterday. But how pathetic -- and how appropriately so -- were the last duties of a statesman on behalf of the once-haughty Axis. Japanese Foreign Minister Shigemitsu signed on behalf of Hirohito, and Homer Bigart writes eloquently in today’s New York Herald Tribune of what this small, gnarled man was called upon to do --

"If the memories of the bestialities of the Japanese prison camps were not so fresh in mind one might have felt sorry for Shigemitsu as he hobbled on his wooden leg toward the green baize covered table where the papers lay waiting. He leaned heavily on his cane and had difficulty seating himself. The cane, which he rested against the table, dropped to the deck of the battleship as he signed."

The whole thing proceeded in a calm and orderly manner -- the signatures by represenatives of the nine allies at hand, the signatures from our former enemy, the opening and concluding addresses by General MacArthur in his capacity as Supreme Commander. It was actually pretty anti-climactic. Though President Truman took pains to proclaim that this was the "real" V-J Day, it sure didn’t feel like the "real" anything. The New York Times noted this morning that the Times Square crowds during the ceremony were "no larger than an average Saturday night," and nobody seemed to seize upon this as a chance to do another round of wild celebrating. I think for most people V-J Day came in the unbelievable burst of pent-up joy on that day when the news was first flashed to the world. Strangely enough, it’s kind of old hat by now.

The Times also says today that automobile traffic for the Labor Day weekend is close to the 1941 level, and that gas is "plentiful." Now there’s some real news.

posted by Michael 11:01:00 AM
. . .
"IT WAS THE SPIRIT OF LIBERTY..." It was interesting how President Truman’s radio speech last night seemed to frame World War II as an ideological war between democracy and dictatorship. It’s something we heard plenty from the Roosevelt administration when the war was still a European conflict, but much less so after Soviet Russia became an ally. It sounds refreshing hearing it again. The best of the President’s words --

"This was a victory of more than arms alone. This is a victory of liberty over tyranny. . . . It was the spirit of liberty which gave us our armed strength and which made our men invincible in battle. We now know that that spirit of liberty, the freedom of the individual, and the personal dignity of man, are the strongest and toughest and most enduring forces in all the world. And so on V-J Day we take renewed faith and pride in our own way of life. We have had our day of rejoicing over this victory. We have had our day of prayer and devotion. Now let us set aside V-J Day as one of renewed consecration to the principles which have made us the strongest nation on earth and which, in this war, we have striven so mightily to preserve. . . . Liberty does not make all men perfect nor all society secure. But it has provided more solid progress and happiness and decency for more people than any other philosophy of government in history. And this day has shown again that it provides the greatest strength and the greatest power which man has ever reached. We know that under it we can meet the hard problems of peace which have come upon us. A free people with free allies, who can develop an atomic bomb, can use the same skill and determination to overcome all the difficulties ahead. . . . God’s help has brought us to this day of victory. With His help we will attain that peace and prosperity for ourselves and all the world in the years ahead."

posted by Michael 10:56:00 AM
. . .
A QUICK-DRAW DUCK. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Houston, duck-hungry Stanley J. Bonner was shot in the knee, by a duck which collided with his pistol hand."

posted by Michael 10:52:00 AM
. . .
Tuesday, August 28, 1945

THE YANKS ARE IN JAPAN. Only 132 of them right at the moment, but plenty more are coming. The radio flashes came about eight o’clock last night that the first vanguard of American troops had occupied Atsugi airfield, about 18 miles from the center of Tokyo, and began preparing the airfield for numerous U.S. landings to come. (The first U.S. flag to be raised in occupied Japan went up about midnight, Eastern War Time.) Meanwhile, more than 10,000 Marines are getting reading to land of Yokosuka, in infinitely more peaceful circumstances than we could have hoped a few weeks ago. Norman Paige of A.B.C. radio says the Marine landings will begin Wednesday night about 9 p.m., E.W.T. The latest bulletins say that Admiral Halsey is now poised to sail into Tokyo Bay, and General MacArthur will not be far behind.

They will find a grim environment. An A.P. reporter who flew over Tokyo in a Helldiver the other day wrote that the city was "a wilderness of ruined factories and homes . . . no section has escaped the ravages of the bombs." The Japanese say they have over nine million homeless as a result of the air war -- almost one-sixth of the population. And what’s left of the Japanese government can’t even manage to start cleaning up the debris -- another A.P. story says MacArthur will need to bring his own wrecking crew. It’ll be our mess from now on, and the General will face a tougher challenge in getting Japan back into liveable shape than anything he’s had to deal with on the battlefield.

posted by Michael 8:09:00 AM
. . .
"GOD BLESSED AMERICA." That’s the lead sentence by Washington Post reporter James E. Chinn in his story yesterday on what the Germans were up to when we brought the Hitler regime crashing down. And Mr. Chinn isn’t saying that lightly. He writes --

"The Germans, according to OWI, had reached the experimental stage with the devastating atomic bomb, devices to destroy the sight of the all seeing eyes of radar, and new war gases they hoped would prove more deadly than any chemical agent yet developed. And that’s not all. The now conquered 'master race' had: (1) Specifications and construction details for naval vessels of advanced design, including submarines with high underwater speeds and apparatus for sustained underwater operations. (2) Found new uses for many staples such as coal from which the Nazis were making synthetic butter, soap, gasoline, aviation lubricants and alcohol of both beverage and industrial types. (3) Designed a highly advanced jet engine, rocket-assisted take-offs and vastly-improved aerodynamics. (4) Perfected designs for various secret types of guns and gun sights, novel gear and transmission construction and air cooled diesel engines. (5) Plans for V-type weapons much more advanced than those which were hurled last year against the British Isles."

What could the Nazis have thrown at us if they’d had another year? Let’s be glad we’ll never know the answer to that question. What could a revived Nazi regime throw at us if the Big Three don’t work together to insure a successful occupation? We must not find out.

posted by Michael 8:04:00 AM
. . .
COALITION GOVERNMENT IN CHINA? It looks like a partnership between Chiang Kai-shek’s Chungking government and the Chinese Reds led by Mao Tse-tung could conceivably be shaping up, with U.S. help. America’s ambassador to China, Major Hurley, has brought Mao and other Communist leaders to Chungking for talks with Chiang to avert a Chinese civil war, which the Communists were threatening to launch just the other week. All one can say is thank heaven for the Russians in this instance, whose 30-year treaty of friendship with Chiang seems to have completely taking the air out of Chinese Communist blustering. The details of the treaty were announced this week, and it’s a good agreement -- China and Russia share responsibilities in northern China, and the Chinese get Soviet-controlled Manchuria returned to them within 90 days, ending so many years of Japanese occupation. Moscow has already made it clear it will not support demands by the Chinese Reds to rule the areas their armies occupy, and, according to the A.P., the Russians have endorsed the principle of a "liberal, democratic China."

This is not to say getting to such a happy place is going to be easy. As Sidney Shalett writes in the New York Times, the smart money says China is going to be problematic for a long time --

"Despite some signs of the easing of tension between the Chinese Communists and the Central Government this week, observers in Washington were far from being glowingly optimistic over the prospects for any easy settlement of the difference. Some of these observers, who have followed Chinese affairs for many years, also suggested that a similar state of uneasiness existed on the part of their opposite numbers in London and Moscow. It was feared by some that, despite any possible firm suggestions from the Big Three, the Chinese question eventually might require a typically Chinese solution -- i.e., the passing of a long period of time during which there will be slow progress and possibly considerable strife."

Mr. Shalett also notes that some observers maintain the Chinese Communists are "not Communists in the strict Soviet sense but actually are agrarian reformists," which could account for why Stalin doesn’t seem to feel much ideological affinity for them, and has instead buddied up to their arch-rival, Chiang.

posted by Michael 8:01:00 AM
. . .
JUST ANOTHER CHANGE IN CAREERS. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Baltimore, 49 charges of burglary, attempted burglary and in addition, carrying a deadly weapon were filed against Paul H. Maenhoudt, only four months off the police force."

posted by Michael 7:57:00 AM
. . .
Sunday, August 26, 1945

PEACETIME ODDS AND ENDS. Surrender envoys in Rangoon have signed a formal surrender agreement for all Japanese troops in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, an Allied fleet of 170 U.S. warships has moved into the outer range of Tokyo Bay, including the U.S.S. Missouri, on which Japan’s full surrender is to be signed one week from today. Meanwhile, President Truman and French President de Gaulle have reached a "fundamental agreement" on postwar cooperation between America and France. And no one knows yet whether the British or the Chinese will occupy Hongkong.

Best of all for those of us on the home front, the War Production Board has granted auto manufacturers the green light to produce civilian automobiles as fast as they can, meaning that a half a million shiny new cars will roll off assembly lines by Christmas. The WPB has also removed all restrictions on use of paper by civilian industry, meaning more magazines, books, greeting cards, toilet paper, drinking straws, you name it. And the OPA has authorized tire dealers to build up their stocks of new tires, which will help get any number of crippled autos back on the road.

It might be nearly September, but it sure feels like spring.

posted by Michael 8:33:00 AM
. . .
WESTERN LOBBYING ON EASTERN EUROPE GETS RESULTS. London and Washington have been speaking with one voice this past month, lobbying the Russians to open up the countries they occupy -- Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Yugoslavia -- to Western influence and democratic values. In other words, we want Stalin to do what he agreed at Yalta to do. According to C.L. Sulzberger in today’s New York Times, this tougher Anglo-American approach is starting to pay dividends --

"For a long time now the western Allies have feared that exuberant movements dominated by Communists in Eastern Europe have been trying to insure their power by autocratic methods which directly violate the agreed formula for a free and unfettered popular choice. . . . Apparently Potsdam was the first scene of discussions of this Allied discontent in what may be guessed was a coordinated form. Since then both Britain and America have clearly voiced their policies and desires for Eastern Europe, and it is evident that they are working in truly close harmony. The first gun was President Truman’s speech on Aug. 9. The second was Foreign Secretary Bevin’s speech on Aug. 20. The third was the press conference of Secretary Byrnes a few days ago. They are beginning to get results. The Bulgarian election, to which they objected, has been postponed. King Michael of Rumania -- one might suspect with prior knowledge of Anglo-American representatives -- has openly appealed for aid from the big powers in ousting the Groza Government, installed by Russian Vice Commissar Vyshinsky, and so getting a broader democratic base. . . . Finally, the Western Allies made plans to get on with Greece’s long awaited plebiscite despite Left wing opposition, almost certainly inspired by fear of defeat and Soviet refusal to participate."

As Mr. Sulzberger points out, the Anglo-American demands regarding Eastern Europe are anything but extravagant --

"Basically, the Western Powers want free expression in Eastern Europe and free access by their correspondents and diplomats to see what is going on and report it to the world. First steps to remove barriers against the press are reported this week from Poland and Bulgaria. One might further add that the Western Powers want come recompense for their huge investments in the area -- French and British mines in Yugoslavia, British, French, American and Dutch oil in Rumania -- from which they have been largely ousted. Finally, they want the old principle of freedom of the seas re-established which also includes the Dardanelles and the Danube. The Russians are not enthusiastic about any of this, but it is well to get your cards openly on the table."

All too true. It was the incoherence of U.S. and British policy in this regard a year ago that created a power vacuum -- that Stalin cheerfully stepped into and exploited all the way. If what Mr. Sulzberger writes is borne out, a tougher and consistent Anglo-American policy will pay off with grudging cooperation from Moscow in carrying out the promises the Reds made at Yalta. Grudging cooperation with the Russians looks to be about the best we can get in Eastern Europe, and it’s certainly better than no cooperation at all.

posted by Michael 8:27:00 AM
. . .
NO HARM DONE. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Providence, State Labor Director William L. Connally reached for an aspirin, swallowed a pill for his wife’s petunia plant instead, grew panicky, was calmed by an agricultural expert who informed him that he had merely taken the equivalent of 18 bushels of horse manure and had nothing to worry about."

posted by Michael 8:24:00 AM
. . .
Tuesday, August 21, 1945

MACARTHUR WILL BE IN JAPAN WITHIN 10 DAYS. The Manila conference is over, and the "Japanese emissaries of capitulation" have flown back to Tokyo. The upshot of the talks -- General MacArthur will "quickly" go to Japan, at the head of a powerful contingent of U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Forces, to dictate the formal articles of surrender to the Japanese government. The Japanese are telling us that they’re keeping troops under arms on the home islands "for the maintenance of order," but apparently the emissaries were cooperative enough. And according to the United Press, MacArthur has given Tokyo just a smidgeon of additional incentive to help with a smooth transition to military occupation -- "some" American planes accompanying MacArthur will be carrying atomic bombs, according to the U.P.

The Tokyo radio is still trying to cause trouble, warning yesterday that "hot-headed" military men might fight the U.S. occupation, and producing its own, unsolicited interpretation of the Potsdam declaration -- American troops are entitled to occupy only "militarily or politically important points." On the other hand, the Japanese in Manchuria are finally getting the message that the war is over, but only after the Reds got good and tired of Japanese stalling and delivered a surrender ultimatum, effective noon yesterday. The Russians now have effective control throughout Manchuria and on Sakhalin Island, and are proceeding to liberate Korea.

It’s not going as fast as some of us would like, but it’s going. The war is ending piece by piece. It’s the opposite of what happened in Germany. There, battlefield surrenders took place well ahead of the government’s surrender, meaning that V-E Day pretty much ended the war. In the Pacific, the battlefield surrenders are coming one by one in the wake of the government’s surrender, making it a messier, drawn-out process.

posted by Michael 8:19:00 AM
. . .
THE WAR IS OVER -- EXCEPT WHERE IT ISN’T (II). From an A.P. dispatch dated yesterday --

"The Japanese are continuing to fight like cornered animals along the 300-mile Burma front on the apparent pretext that they do not know the war is over."

But as the A.P. notes, "In some sectors they could not have missed seeing some of the millions of leaflets sent them by various means."

Find another excuse, guys. Or better yet, just shut up and give up.

posted by Michael 8:16:00 AM
. . .
RUSSO-CHINESE PACT WILL PREVENT A CHINESE CIVIL WAR. From the moment Japan’s surrender was announced, the Chinese Communist armies, from their headquarters in Yenan, have been making threatening noises about a civil war with the national government of Chiang-Kai-shek in Chungking, unless Chiang grants them something close to co-sovereignty. But it appears that Chiang, and his premier, T.V. Soong, have effectively checkmated the Communists by negotiating a treaty of alliance and friendship with Moscow. And, as Barnet Nover writes in today’s column, the Communist Chinese have well overplayed their hand --

"[The Communists] had hoped that because of Chungking’s weakness, the imperative need of internal unity during the long war with Japan and pressures from China’s allies, Chungking would cave in to their demands. But every time Chiang Kai-shek offered them an inch they insisted on a yard. When he agreed to give them a yard they insisted on a mile. . . . [but] Dr. Soong’s mission to Moscow has destroyed the hopes entertained in Yenan that the Soviet government would come to the aid of these Chinese Communists in their struggle with Chungking. The Soong-Molotoff treaty of alliance . . . suggests clearly that Moscow will do nothing of the sort. Being realists, the Russians understand that clearly that intervention by them on behalf of the Yenan regime would not only mean civil war in China but would tend to shatter that fabric of five-power unity upon which the hope of continued peace rests. It is to Russia’s interest at this time, at least, to strengthen rather than weaken the Chungking government. . . . The Russo-Chinese treaty was a body blow to Yenan. It is also a harbinger of peace in the Far East."

posted by Michael 8:13:00 AM
. . .
CRIME PAYS, BUT NOT WELL. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Boston, Michale Kostecki lost his piano to ambitious burglars who lowered it three flights, moved it to a secondhand store, sold it for $10."

posted by Michael 8:11:00 AM
. . .
Sunday, August 19, 1945

"THERE IS NOT A DAY TO BE LOST." Winston Churchill, now the leader of the Conservative opposition in Britain, spoke to the House of Commons on V-J Day and laid it on the line about the atomic bomb -- "The bomb brought peace." Its sole possession by the United States, he rightly notes, gives America unprecedented power over world affairs for some time to come, and offers our nation a unique and solemn opportunity --

"The United States at this minute stand at the summit of the world. I rejoice that this is so. Let them set up to the jewel of their power and responsibility, not for themselves but for all men in all lands, and then a brighter day may dawn on human history. So far as we know, there are perhaps three to four years before the great progress of the United States can be overtaken. In these three years, we must remold the relationships of all men of all nations in such a way that these men do not wish, or dare, to fall upon each other for the sake of vulgar, outdated ambition or for passionate differences in ideologies and that international bodies by supreme authority may give peace on earth and justice among men. Our pilgrimage has brought us to a sublime moment in this history of the world. From the least to the greatest, all must strive to be worthy of these supreme opportunities. There is not an hour to be wasted; there is not a day to be lost."

Yes, the bomb is a terrible weapon, but it is not "evil," as scores of clergymen claimed from their pulpits a week ago . . . unless it is used by evil men for evil purposes.

posted by Michael 8:08:00 AM
. . .
THE WAR IS OVER -- EXCEPT WHERE IT ISN’T. More than a day after Japan’s surrender, Japanese kamikaze planes attacked U.S. troops in the Ryukyus, wounding two of our men. Admiral Halsey’s Third Fleet has been fired on by a number of Japanese planes since the Admiral gave his "cease fire" order, and so far 16 have been brought down. To top it off, Soviet troops are still battling with Japanese troops in Manchuria, "meeting as before with Japanese resistance," according to a Red communique. Not that this has slowed the Russians down any -- their latest drive has brought them within 125 miles of the ancient Chinese capital of Peiping. Moscow estimates that 45,000 Japanese troops have surrendered this week-end in Manchuria, but thousands more fight on. Remember that the Japanese had an estimated million men facing the Soviets two weeks ago.

It’s almost infuriating how lackadaisical the Japanese have been in sending out cease-fire orders to their troops -- when they haven’t been actively encouraging them to fight on. General MacArthur has agreed to postpone the Manila surrender conference, in what the A.P. calls a "surprisingly lenient" move, and it doesn’t look like the formal signing ceremonies are going to take place this week, as originally thought. The Japanese, says the A.P., estimate it could take 12 days or so to put the cease-fire in effect throughout the far-flung Pacific battlefronts.

That might be understandable on its own. But it doesn’t explain Tokyo radio putting out a statement like this one for Japanese troops in the Orient, quoting the resigning cabinet --

"We, the cabinet, here repress our tears of grief and dare to request our comrades to seek this revenge."

Another broadcaster on Tokyo radio told the Japanese people last week --

"In spiritual power we have not lost yet. We do not think the way we have thought has been wrong."

Yes, it is wrong, you dope. Get it through your heads, guys. You’ve lost the war. You’ve L*O*S*T. It’ll be easier on all of us as soon as you start to get that through your heads.

posted by Michael 8:04:00 AM
. . .
THE UNIQUE CHALLENGE OF REFORMING JAPAN. Sidney Shallet points out in today’s New York Times that we will be continuing a war of sorts when we occupy Japan -- a psychological war. And we must score a victory in that respect as well if we are to keep the Japanese from making trouble in the future --

"There are great differences between the jobs in Germany and Japan. In the shattered ruins of the Reich, we took over from a thoroughly beaten Army; in the land of the Rising Sun, we will take over from an Army that we never met in force. Although the Japanese Army laid down its arms because its leaders knew their cause was thoroughly hopeless, there is a great psychological difference. Experts here are firmly convinced we shall have to impress upon the Japanese that they were beaten, else there will be the makings for a renaissance of military spirit such as activated Germany in the years between her two defeats. [But] authorities on Japan are not too discouraged on the prospects of ultimate cooperation with the Japanese people. Though they feel there is ground for treachery in the beginning unless we stamp out militaristic and subversive influences, they also feel that the proper sort of educational and administrative program, carried out over a reasonably lengthy period, will produce results. Japan will never become an American-style democracy, but her trouble-making proclivities at least can be curbed."

posted by Michael 8:01:00 AM
. . .
PUPS (OR SOMETHING) FOR SALE. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In the Seattle Times appeared a candid ad: 'Our pet terrier slipped her chain and so we’re peddling pups again. Cockers? Bulldogs? German shepherds? For all we know they may be leopards.'"

posted by Michael 7:56:00 AM
. . .
Wednesday, August 15, 1945

SOME ODDS AND ENDS. (1) General MacArthur has been announced by President Truman as Supreme Allied Commander. The General will be in charge of the occupation of Japan, and "Emperor" Hirohito will henceforth take orders from him. (2) Peacetime Japan will lose about 80 per cent of her territory. (3) About 1,000 Superforts took place in the last firebombing of Japan, the day before Tokyo’s surrender was received. (4) Today and tomorrow have been designated as federal public holidays, and in most states and cities as well. Most of the big-city stores and banks will be closed, so I’m hearing. (5) Post office service today and tomorrow will be about like holiday service. (6) I’m taking a day off.

posted by Michael 8:02:00 AM
. . .
A WHALE OF A PARTY. Alexander Feinberg recounts last night’s scene in Manhattan in this morning’s New York Times --

"Five days of waiting, or rumor, intimation, fact, distortion -- five agonizing days following the first indication of a Japanese surrender, days of alternately raising hopes and fears -- came to an end for New York, as for the nation and the world, a moment or two after seven o’clock last night. And the metropolis exploded its emotions, harnessed for the most part during the day, with atomic force. . . . Restraint was thrown to the winds. Those in the crowds in the streets tossed hats, boxes and flags into the air. From those leaning perilously out of the windows of office buildings and hotels came a shower of paper, confetti, streamers. Men and women embraced -- there were no strangers in New York yesterday. Some were hilarious, others cried softly."

According to the Herald Tribune, the Times Square crowd swelled from half a million to over two million in the two hours following the announcement -- an all time record.

posted by Michael 7:57:00 AM
. . .
THAT FRIENDLY SPIRIT. According to today’s New York Herald Tribune, the war’s end prompted this message from Admiral Halsey, commander of Third Fleet, to his men -- "Cease firing, but if you see enemy planes in the air, shoot them down in friendly fashion."

posted by Michael 7:54:00 AM
. . .
Tuesday, August 14, 1945

YES, VICTORY!! IT’S ALL OVER! AND IT’S OFFICIAL! President Truman made the announcement at 7 p.m., as follows --

"I have received this afternoon a message from the Japanese government in reply to the message forwarded to that government on Aug. 11. I deem this reply a full acceptance of the Potsdam declaration, which specifies the unconditional surrender of Japan. In the reply there is no qualification."

The war has ended. We've won. Thank God.

posted by Michael 7:27:00 PM
. . .
BEFORE THE CELEBRATIONS...ONE SOMBER THOUGHT. The war is over. But at such a terrific cost, one that would have been scarcely fathomable in 1939 -- a cost that has touched with grief so many, many homes in America and among our allies, and which surely tempers in those homes the celebrations just now getting started. Let us celebrate -- heck, let us go hog-wild with joy that the killing and dying is over. But also, let’s take a moment to remember and clasp hands with those whose loved ones will never return to march in the victory parades. Let’s vow to never forget the millions -- God help us, tens of millions -- of innocents whose lives were taken, and let’s resolve to restore the blessings of a stable and prosperous life to their survivors. And let’s reflect on the desperate need in the years ahead to make sure that history’s worst war is also history’s last war.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
. . . .
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

-- Walt Whitman

posted by Michael 7:25:00 PM
. . .
VICTORY! (BUT NOT OFFICIALLY...YET). After a long and fruitless day of waiting Monday, the news everybody hoped to hear finally broke after most folks had given up and gone to bed -- at 1:49 a.m. this morning, Eastern War Time. According to the New York Herald Tribune’s morning extra, the Japanese themselves have announced acceptance of the Potsdam terms through a brief English language statement language wireless from their news agency, Domei. The statement from Domei, as broadcast on Tokyo radio, was as follows --

"Flash -- Tokyo -- 14/8 learned Imperial message accepting Potsdam proclamation forthcoming soon."

And that’s it. The message was repeated a few minutes later.

So it’s not exactly an announcement that Japan has surrendered, it’s an announcement that Japan is about to surrender. But it sounds like the real deal. As the New York Times morning extra says,

"Although the dispatch did not flatly say that Japan had surrendered and that the action was final, the fact that Domei put out such a statement indicated that that was in fact the case. Domei is controlled by the Japanese government."

So, we’re still waiting for the official announcement from President Truman. But the waiting is joyous now.

The Washington Post says that the President could make a surrender announcement to the press anytime after 9 a.m. Stay close to that radio.

posted by Michael 8:16:00 AM
. . .
Monday, August 13, 1945

A LITTLE TOO QUIET. As of 7:30 p.m. Eastern War Time, it’s been close to 60 hours since the Allies laid down the terms of surrender to Japan. It’s been 40 hours since the Japanese confirmed to Swiss authorities their receipt of the Allied note. And still no word of the enemy's reply.

If Tokyo’s stalling continues into tomorrow, it seems reasonable that we would see an ultimatum from the Allies, with a firm time limit. And failing a satisfactory Japanese response to that, a return to all-out war.

And more atomic bombings.

The International News Service reported today that, incredibly, a Japanese propaganda broadcast to North America has belittled the effects of the atom bombs, saying the damage to Hiroshima and Nagasaki was "much lighter" than the devastation caused by the B-29 raids on Tokyo last March. Meanwhile, the Japanese commander in Singapore has vowed his troops will "fight a sacred war to the bitter end." Let’s hope these are just stray comments by fanatics, and not an indication that the Tokyo government has decided to try and continue the war, Russian invasion and atomic bombings be damned.

[UPDATE at 11:52 p.m.] Maybe there won’t even be an ultimatum. The late radio news broadcast says that over 400 Superforts have resumed their firebomb assault, hitting southern Honshu in three major attacks. The B-29s had been sitting still since Friday -- waiting, like everybody else. But they are waiting no longer.

posted by Michael 7:41:00 PM
. . .
STILL NO RESPONSE FROM TOKYO. It’s been about thirty-seven hours since the Allies told Japan that she could surrender and still keep her Emperor -- as long as he followed Allied orders.

Still no word. The Japanese press and radio haven’t given any hint of surrender. In Washington, thousands of Americans are holding a vigil across the street from the White House, waiting for news. No doubt other cities are full of civilians and military men who keep waiting, hoping to hear the great good news.

All we know for sure right now is this --

1) The White House says a cease fire has not been issued. We’re still at war.

2) If the Japanese accept the surrender terms, President Truman will give the news to reporters in his office. He will not announce the surrender personally over the radio.

3) According to the A.P., "the President [will] not proclaim V-J Day until the Japanese actually sign the surrender document, which might be 3 or 4 days after the first announcement. It is expected that this ceremony will take place aboard a United States battleship in Tokyo harbor."

If that last point really is true, I think we can count on lots of "premature" V-J Day celebrations among the thousands gathered in front of the White House, and in every great city and small town, people who have worked and prayed for the great day to come and are right now doing nothing much, except...waiting.

posted by Michael 8:52:00 AM
. . .
Sunday, August 12, 1945

THE U.P. BULLETIN IS A FAKE. The United Press "Japan surrenders" news flash which was broadcast on the radio about a half-hour ago is a fake. If you’re hearing church bells and cheering crowds where you live, they’re reacting to the U.P. bulletin. And it’s wrong. All the networks now say there is no word yet of Japan’s reply to the Big Four surrender terms.

Weirdly, the U.P. says their Washington bureau did not send the flash, and they have no idea who did.

posted by Michael 9:59:00 PM
. . .
"THIS MAY BE VICTORY DAY." So says one newspaper headline. It isn’t yet, though the prospects look much, much brighter than they did Saturday morning. To wit -- Russia and China have agreed to accept Japan’s surrender with Hirohito remaining as Emperor, as long as he agrees to take orders from the Allied supreme commander (which will probably be General MacArthur). Thus the Big Four have given a united answer to Tokyo’s offer, and now the ball is back in the Emperor’s court. As Edward T. Folliard writes in this morning’s Washington Post --

"The word from Japan that will silence the guns and start fighting men on their way home was expected today or tomorrow. . . . Nobody in authority here expected anything but acceptance from Japan, barring some kind of upheaval in the government at Tokyo. There seemed to be no alternative to acceptance, however much it may gall the Japanese to have their God-Emperor taking orders from an enemy mortal."

We’re told it will "officially" be V-J Day when President Truman announces that the Japanese have accepted the Big Four terms. Since that could come at any time, today would be a good day to stay close to your radio.

posted by Michael 8:02:00 AM
. . .
Saturday, August 11, 1945

ALLIES SPLIT OVER SURRENDER? Last night’s news broadcasts and this morning’s papers make it sound like surrender might not come so quickly -- at least not in the way that Tokyo has proposed. We’re told that China has denounced Japan’s offer as "the kind of conditional surrender which we cannot accept." Moscow has rejected the surrender offer too, albeit unofficially. This is a far cry from the "nine in ten chance" the Allies would accept this surrender offer, as estimated by H.V. Kaltenborn on N.B.C. yesterday. The sticking point is whether Hirohito can continue to sit on his throne as a political leader, as well as a religious one. Apparently Tokyo insists that the Emperor be allowed to not only continue to hold his title, but also retain "his perogatives . . . as a sovereign ruler."

I think Moscow and Chungking are right to object to this. Japan must submit to Allied military rule if surrender is going to have any meaning. If the Emperor is willing to submit to an Allied military government, then he can stay. But if the Japanese are serious about Hirohito remaining "sovereign," our response should be "Here -- have some more atomic bombs." Yes, he is an important symbol in the Japanese religion, and there might be advantages if the Allies were to let him continue functioning in the role of the nation’s spiritual leader, while taking Allied orders on matters of governance. But that is a whale of an "if."

Then again, one worries that the Japanese surrender offer, which created so much hope yesterday, is merely a ploy to split Allied opinion. That seems to be what it’s done, anyway.

posted by Michael 7:57:00 AM
. . .
SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO? The Washington Post inteviewed some Senators for this morning’s paper about whether the Emperor of Japan could be allowed to remain under an "unconditional" surrender. The reactions seem to show how much division this has stirred up, in both parties --

Senator Elbert D. Thomas (D.-Utah) -- "I don’t see why anybody should want to fight a war over an emperor."

Senator Tom Stewart (D.-Tenn.) -- "I wouldn’t give them an inch. Damn the Emperor -- he’s a war criminal and I’d like to see him strung up by his toes."

Senator Warren Magnuson (D.-Wash.) -- "Unconditional surrender means just that. Unless there is good military justification for . . . keeping the Emperor, I hope, for the sake of liberty and democracy, that the Japs are made to surrender unconditionally."

Senator Joseph C. O’Mahoney (D.-Wyo.) -- "If they desire to keep their Emperor, I think we should concur. It would be a small price to pay for peace."

Senator Brien McMahon (D.-Conn.) -- "If the Japs are allowed to keep their fantastic God-Emperor we may get an armistice and not an end to the war."

Senator William Langer (R.-N.D.) -- "I’m for unconditional surrender -- no terms of any kind. That means the Emperor ought to be treated like Hitler."

Senator Robert A. Taft (R.-Ohio) -- "Retention of the Emperor would speed stabilization and the formation of a moderate government. There are lots of moderates in Japan with whom we could do business."

posted by Michael 7:54:00 AM
. . .
Friday, August 10, 1945

SURRENDER RUMORS -- THIS TIME THEY COULD BE REAL. It was announced on N.B.C. a little over three hours ago that the Japanese have offered to surrender, and that the Allies are studying the offer. They say the offer is informal, but has been made publicly -- over Japanese radio, no less. H.V. Kaltenborn said just now that the surrender offer is "definite" and that there is a "nine in ten chance" it will be accepted -- but it could take a little time. Apparently the only condition in the offer is that the Japanese would be allowed to keep their emperor. As Mr. Kaltenborn notes, the status of the emperor was not addressed in the Potsdam Declaration. The sticking point over Japan’s previous offer (made through Russia prior to her entry into the war) was Tokyo’s insistence that Allies not occupy the Japanese home islands. This was, of course, unacceptable, and the Potsdam Declaration plainly said so.

Mr. Kaltenborn points out that Emperor Hirohito could actually be useful to the Allies, by persuading his countrymen to not resist an Allied occupation of the home islands and, even more importantly, by ordering Japanese soldiers scattered throughout Japan’s ill-gotten possessions in the Pacific to lay down their arms. The alternative might be a year or more of grueling guerilla warfare in Japan and throughout East Asia, the kind of bitter dead-end campaigning that it was feared would be the aftermath of V-E Day. The irony, of course, is that Hitler’s death helped bring the war in Europe to an abrupt end, while Hirohito’s continuance in power could help do the same in the Pacific.

N.B.C.’s current news broadcast is emphasizing that this is not V-J Day. But it seems tantalizingly near.

posted by Michael 11:26:00 AM
. . .
Thursday, August 9, 1945

ATOM BOMB STRIKE ON NAGASAKI. This year has been full of sudden and breathtaking news events -- the death of President Roosevelt, the abrupt collapse of the Nazis, the defeat of Churchill, the atomic bomb, Russia’s declaration of war on Japan. Thus, it felt eerily anti-climactic when the news was flashed last night that we dropped a second atomic bomb on Japan.

The target this time was Nagasaki, which the A.P. describes as a first class naval base and (until now) a quarter-million people in size. About the only thing that’s been definitely reported thus far is that the entire city is covered in smoke and dust and that a smoke column rose to 20,000 feet high over three hours after the bomb hit.

Radio Tokyo apparently hasn’t reported the destruction of Nagasaki yet, but their reports on Hiroshima are starting to sound like Allied propaganda -- "The dead are too numerous to be counted. . . . The destructive power of these bombs is indescribable."

Edward Fouillard writes in today’s Washington Post that this week’s devastating blows actually give the Japanese government an out to give up the fight -- "No nation at war ever faced such a dilemma as Japan. The armed might of the whole Allied world was against her, reinforced by history’s most terrible weapon of destruction, and this very fact was expected to give the Japanese war lords the ‘face’ to cry enough."

Let’s hope they take it this way.

posted by Michael 7:20:00 AM
. . .
RUSSIAN KNIFE INVADES BUTTER. That’s what it sounds like on the radio. The Russians have driven 33 miles inside Manchukuo in one day and say they’re meeting little resistance. Harrison Salisbury of the United Press says that the Reds are throwing a million veteran troops into the battle, and they’re invading in two separate drives, both of which have smashed the border defense zone.

If the "hundreds of thousands" or "million strong" Japanese defenders really are there facing the Soviets, we’ll know soon enough. Maybe those numbers were just a shuck all along, or maybe the Japanese know that the jig is up.

posted by Michael 7:17:00 AM
. . .
THE SUPERBOMB ISN’T THAT SCARY. Not according to the War Department, anyway, which has been busy swatting down a claim by atomic scientist Dr. Harold Jacobson that radiation from the atomic bomb will make Hiroshima uninhabitable for 70 years. From the A.P. --

"The War Department yesterday denied published reports that areas devastated by the atomic bomb continue for years to react with death-dealing radioactivity. In a statement, the department quoted Dr. J.R. Oppenheimer, head of this phase of the atomic research, as saying 'there is every reason to believe that there was no appreciable radioactivity on the ground at Hiroshima and what little there was decayed very quickly.'"

Another scientist, at Northwestern University, who worked on the atom bomb project said in the papers yesterday that the bomb’s rays are dangerous from "a few hours to a few days."

If this is true, Dr. Jacobson should retract his statement and apologize for it. The atomic bomb is devastating enough, and its invention enough of a challenge for the post-war world, without people running off half-cocked and spreading scare stories about it.

posted by Michael 7:14:00 AM
. . .
Wednesday, August 8, 1945

RUSSIA DECLARES WAR ON JAPAN. Another day, another stunning development. President Truman made the announcement at a flash press conference at three o’clock today. There’s not much more than that yet, except that the Soviets say Britain and the U.S. asked Russia to enter the war and help bring a "speedy restoration of peace." The Red Army has launched an all-out assault on Japanese positions in Manchukuo/Manchuria, but there have been no communiques yet about the fighting.

Suddenly everybody’s talking about a "quick end to the war." It’s funny how fanciful that seemed just a month ago, or even a week ago.

posted by Michael 4:17:00 PM
. . .
Tuesday, August 7, 1945

HOW MANY MORE HIROSHIMAS? The city of Hiroshima has been 60 percent destroyed, and the rest of it is heavily damaged, according to this morning’s papers and the radio bulletins. The atomic bomb completely obliterated over four square miles of the city. One of the crew members of the plane that made the historic mission said, "The only way we could tell a city had been there was because we had seen it a moment before."

You would think this might be enough to make the Japanese quit, at just about any price. But while, as the White House has said, atomic bomb attacks are expected to shorten the war, don’t expect what happened to Hiroshima alone to finish the job. A statement read on the N.B.C. program "Navy Hour" last night noted that Tokyo might be having some trouble believing what had just happened --

"It is too early yet to tell what effect the atomic bomb will have on Japanese morale. We may have to destroy four or five cities before they actually believe we have such a bomb. But we will bring them the proof. With the destruction from this new type of bomb and with the continued damage from Admiral William F. Halsey’s carrier planes and ships, the Japanese fighting strength -- and perhaps even their will to fight -- will rapidly weaken. They must now take their choice: mass suicide or surrender."

The White House isn’t saying, but it’s taken as a given in the press that we’ve got more than one bomb. As for Radio Tokyo, they’ve announced that the Japanese cabinet is now meeting in special session. By God, they better be.

posted by Michael 8:01:00 AM
. . .
HIROSHIMA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR 70 YEARS. Just how scary is the superbomb? This scary, according to a Columbia University scientist, Dr. Harold Jacobson, writing for the International News Service --

"Any Japanese who try to ascertain the extent of damage caused by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima are committing suicide. The terrific force of the explosion irradiates every piece of matter in the area. Investigators will become infected with secondary radiation which breaks up the red corpuscles in the blood. This prevents the body from assimilating oxygen which means that those so exposed will die in the same way victims of leukemia die. Actually, tests have shown that the radiation in an area exposed to the force of an atomic bomb will not be dissipated for approximately 70 years. Hence, Hiroshima will be a devastated area not unlike our conception of the moon for nearly three-quarters of a century. Furthermore, rain falling on the area will pick up the lethal rays and will carry them down to the rivers and the sea. And animal life in these waters will die. I cite these facts to illustrate the awesome force contained in the atomic bomb. It defies the imagination. Flash Gordon looks like a piker compared to it."

It will be a terrible thing for us to use more superbombs -- but we are justified in using them to end Japanese militarism and save the lives of our fighting men. It is up to Tokyo to prevent more atomic bombings. Japan must surrender unconditionally, now.

posted by Michael 7:58:00 AM
. . .
THE HOPE OF THE ATOMIC AGE. On the other hand, an A.P. article today brings us glad tidings of what the "atomic age" could mean once we finish this war --

"Qualified scientists see the atom-blasting of Japan as the potential start toward telephone booth-sized heating plants for great factories and 1000-hour auto trips on one gram of fuel -- but not certainly and certainly not now. . . . Those who have worked closely with modern power but who know little of the atomic bomb as developed, say peacetime uses are presently incalculable. One expert, who withheld use of his name, ventured the estimate that with a few grams of uranium, the source of energy in the atomic bomb, it might be possible to power the Queen Mary on a round trip from Europe to the United States and back. Another estimated that one gram might drive a 30-horsepower automobile for 1000 hours. Grand Coulee Dam’s output might be equaled by a relative midget, a factory heating plant might be contained in a compartment as big as a telephone booth, the substitute for fuel oil tanks might be thimble-sized, and so on. However, the experts -- and they were backed up by the statements of Secretary of War Stimson -- agreed that it will not be a development that will pop up as soon as the war is over. Uranium is rare and expensive; two billion dollars was spent just to get the bombs going against Japan and thousands of persons worked on separate phases. There is work for more thousands before the new power is turned to peace."

posted by Michael 7:54:00 AM
. . .
MAKES SENSE. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Des Moines, a patron charged with disturbing the peace at the Covered Wagon nightclub was freed by a judge on the ground there was no peace in the club to disturb."

posted by Michael 7:52:00 AM
. . .
Monday, August 6, 1945

"SUPERBOMB" DROPPED ON HIROSHIMA. President Truman has announced this morning that an American warplane -- one single plane -- dropped an atomic bomb yesterday evening on the Japanese army center of Hiroshima. (The War Department also calls it a "cosmic bomb.") So far we’ve heard that this 400-pound bomb -- one single bomb -- carried in it a destructive power equal to that of all the conventional firebombs in 2,000 B-29s. That’s about 20,000 tons of TNT, and about 2,000 times the blast power of what was previously our most powerful weapon, the British "grand slam" bomb.

Just from what we’ve been hearing on the radio since then, the significance of this event can’t be underestimated. The White House statement calls the new bomb "the harnessing of the power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East."

Ominously, we don’t have any word from the Japanese yet as to what happened at Hiroshima, except for one report that all trains to the city have been cancelled. If this bomb is as destructive as it’s touted to be, there may not be much of Hiroshima left.

And obviously, this throws every expectation of what’s next in the Japanese war into a cocked hat. Surely we have more than one of these superbombs, and surely they will be directed against more Japanese cities. If Tokyo doesn’t surrender now, they’re even madder than Hitler was.

posted by Michael 12:19:00 PM
. . .
Sunday, August 5, 1945

"GIANT BLOWS" COMING AGAINST JAPAN. As if the record-setting firebomb raids by ever-larger numbers of Superforts weren’t big enough. The A.P. said yesterday that "powerful new blows" were planned against Japan at Potsdam by the Anglo-American high commands, and this morning’s papers bring news of 12 more Japanese cities added to the growing "death list" of General LeMay and General Spaatz. The total of Japanese cities that have been warned of "imminent destruction" by the U.S. Twentieth Air Force is now 31. Some 720,000 leaflets have been dropped by our airmen on the 12 new cities in the last week or so, warning civilians to get out now.

The new honorees are, by name, Hachinobe, Urawa, Tottori, Iwakuni, Takayama, Fukushima, Akita, Saga, Yawata, Miyahonojo, and Otaru. The standout here is Yawata, a great steel center on Kyushu Island and known as the "Pittsburgh of Japan." The cities that don’t get firebombed immediately face a slower, but equally dire, peril -- Superforts have parachuted mines into every Japanese harbor, clamping a blockade on the home islands and shutting down inter-island commerce more or less completely. The Japanese can also expect no further relief, in terms of food or military supplies, from the remains of their Asiatic empire.

The incredible destruction being rained on Japan from the air has taken the spotlight off the plans for invasion, but the Japanese haven’t forgotten by any means. Radio Tokyo now says D-Day could well come within 60 days, and that the U.S. recently concentrated a flotilla of 500 warships off Okinawa. Meanwhile, General MacArthur has taken military command of the Ryukyus Islands this week-end. The Ryukyus island chain goes from near Formosa to the Japanese home islands. The official U.S. announcement is scarcely treating it like a secret, saying that the Ryukyus, with the Philippines, form a great semicircular base from which a mighty invasion force is being forged . . . for the final conquest of Japan."

The Japanese have been clinging to the hope that Soviet Russia, still formally neutral in the Pacific war, would accept Tokyo’s offer to mediate a palatable peace (i.e., without U.S. occupation of the home islands). But the Moscow press, in particular the army newspaper Red Star, has lately been ballyhooing the Soviets’ gigantic military buildup on what the Russians ominously call the "Far Eastern Front" opposite of Manchukuo, where a million Japanese troops have been tied down to deter a Red offensive.

Barring a sudden outbreak of sensibility in the Japanese government, we could conceivably see Japan squeezed this fall between U.S. Marines hitting their home island beaches from the east, while the Russians imperil Tokyo’s empire from the west. And in between, there might not be much left but rubble.

posted by Michael 8:17:00 AM
. . .
THE BEST THING FROM POTSDAM. The Potsdam agreement’s main function seems to be to settle the outstanding questions of how the Big Three plan to jointly govern Germany. And as Barnet Nover noted in yesterday’s column, that’s no small feat --

"Before Potsdam there were those who feared that Russia would seek to transform Germany into a Soviet satellite. There were others who, alarmed by certain British trends and tendencies, feared that Great Britain was grooming a de-Nazified Reich as a buffer against the Soviet Union. And there were still others who, noticing that the Allies were moving at cross purposes in Germany, feared that Allied disharmony would once again enable Germany to escape the consequences of defeat and begin plotting a Third World War. The Potsdam agreement is primarily significant in that it proves all these fears groundless, at least for the present. Germany is not to become either a Russian satellite or a British buffer. Nor is she to be allowed by default to regain her war-making capacity. . . . Whether the Allied plan will work in the manner intended remains to be seen. If it doesn’t it can be changed. The important thing about Potsdam is that the Allies have agreed on a plan and that plan does tend to eliminate dangerous frictions that had begun to develop among them."

posted by Michael 8:14:00 AM
. . .
HE WHO LAUGHS FIRST... From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Spokane, Police Captain Lee Markwood and Sergeant Dan Mangam laughed as they watched a driver wriggle out of a parking space in front of the police station, stiffened their upper lips as the car’s owner appeared just too late to stop the thief from driving away."

posted by Michael 8:12:00 AM
. . .
Tuesday, July 31, 1945

TOKYO HAS 90 DAYS. And no more, according to commentator Alexander F. Jones, who writes that the Japanese government has to be pondering gravely the predicament that faces them --

"World-shaking discussions are taking place behind the locked doors of the Japanese Cabinet. The question before the cabinet is this: Shall Japan surrender now while there is still time for some semblance of face-saving negotiations, or shall Nippon wait 90 days, when the economy of the home islands will have been completely destroyed bv the United States Army Air Forces and the United States Navy and the High Command can make an exit a la Adolf Hitler? In either case there is no future for Japan or for the Japanese Cabinet. Nippon is now experiencing the prelude to the most terrible campaign of destruction ever devised by man. Another 90 days and every city of consequence in the home islands will be a horrible shambles, its railroads will be wrecked, its oil and steel destroyed, its food supply decimated and 80 per cent of its ability to wage war (home industry) wrecked. . . . The curtain is just going up on the last act of the Pacific drama."

posted by Michael 8:19:00 AM
. . .
JAPAN SCORES POTSDAM DECLARATION. Publicly, at least, Tokyo is treating theU.S.-Chinese-British surrender demand with utter contempt. Premier Suzuki said in an official statement last night that it was merely a rehash of the Cairo Declaration, and thus no notice of it would be taken "so far as the Imperial government is concerned." Much of the premier’s statement, supposedly made at a press conference and quoted like mad on Radio Tokyo, was propaganda hooey -- "thousands" of new warplanes are being built in bombproof underground factories, the 10 percent reduction in food rations is only temporary, etc. The government’s goal, he says, is to prepare Japan’s people for a "prolonged war." So, for the record, this is the official Japanese stance on surrender --

"There is no change whatsoever in the fundamental policy of our government to continue the prosecution of the war. . . . I leave this with absolute confidence in the hands of our strategists."

There doesn’t seem to be any contradiction between Suzuki’s words and the "peace feeler" broadcast a week ago on Radio Tokyo, which hinted that the Japanese were interested in a lenient peace offer -- "Should America show any sincerity in practicing what she preaches, as, for instance, in the Atlantic Charter, excepting its punitive clause, the Japanese government would automatically . . . follow in the stopping of the conflict and then and then only will sabers cease to rattle both in the East and in the West." The bottom line is that Japan’s stated position is no surrender, period.

Perhaps significant, or perhaps not, is the fact that a scheduled broadcast by Suzuki to the Japanese people on "the coming battle of the streets" was called off the other day without explanation. Maybe it had something to do with a thousand of Admiral Halsey’s carrier planes, which flew on yet another record-setting bombing mission over the Tokyo area yesterday. Surely the ordinary folks of Japan’s vanishing cities know by now that the "battle of the streets" is a battle to merely stay alive, and that it’s not coming -- it’s here.

posted by Michael 8:13:00 AM
. . .
DOES CHURCHILL KNOW SOMETHING WE DON’T? There are still surrender stories floating around -- the latest one (from Newsweek magazine) says Tokyo is trying to offer a surrender through Stalin, but only if the Allies promise not to occupy Japan’s home islands. But you have to wonder what else the Big Three leaders are hearing that we’re not -- or at least not yet.

In Churchill’s farewell statement to the nation, he exulted that victory over Japan might come "much quicker than we have hitherto been entitled to expect." That’s pretty atypical for the man, who so many times during his prime ministership warned his countrymen against over-confidence. Are the Japanese saying things in private, regarding surrender, that they don’t have the nerve to utter in public? Could the smashing success of the bombing campaign have sped up the prospect for an early invasion?

We don’t know if there’s anything to Churchill’s remark, but it’s certainly intriguing. In the meantime, the United Press reports today that the adjournment of the Potsdam conference has been "suddenly postponed due to some development," and censorship, already extreme, has been clamped onto the talks to the "most extreme degree."

Can we dare hope that the Japanese militarists have had an attack of common sense and are ready to quit this war before their entire nation comes crashing down? The head says "no," but the heart wants, oh, so much to believe.

posted by Michael 8:09:00 AM
. . .
CRUEL & UNUSUAL. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Oklahoma City, police arrested a naked woman who refused to put on her clothes for the trip to the police station. She was locked in a cell, still buff-bare, finally changed her mind after sitting for a while on an iron fixture."

posted by Michael 8:06:00 AM
. . .
Sunday, July 29, 1945

CHURCHILL OUT, CLEMENT ATTLEE IN. Prior to the release of the British election results, it was widely reported that Prime Minister Churchill would either continue in power with a "slim majority," or be forced to jockey with opposition parties to stay in power at the head of a minority government. Well, so much for the smart money. The results are now in, and the British Labor Party has clobbered Churchill’s Conservatives by a 2-to-1 margin. This almost surely won’t make any difference in Britain’s foreign policy, at least for the duration of the Japanese war. Almost the first thing uttered by Prime Minister Attlee was a declaration that "we have first of all to finish the war against Japan."

What the British have voted for in the long run is socialism, which the Labor Party has unabashedly proclaimed as their platform. The British people certainly have the right to build a socialist democracy if that is their wish, but I’m left wondering about the stupid timing of the vote count, which pulls Churchill down from power in the middle of the critical Big Three conference at Potsdam. Is this any way to run a democracy?

The announcement of the election results forced Churchill to return to Britain this past Wednesday, halting the discussions with President Truman and Premier Stalin completely. The President, having nothing really to do without Britain’s prime minister on hand, went off to Frankfurt-on-Main to review some troops. Prime Minister Attlee has since flown to Potsdam and as of last night the Potsdam talks had resumed. But how much time and substance has been lost? Leaders of government aren’t interchangeable things, like batteries. Why couldn’t Churchill have remained as Prime Minister until the conference was over, perhaps with Attlee at his side? Or, why couldn’t the British manage to hold an election and announce the results before such an important set of Big Three discussions ever began?

Anyway, for better or for worse, the future peace of the world now depends on Premier Stalin and two democratic leaders who weren’t in office four months ago. Time will tell how much the experienced hands of Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt are being missed from Potsdam.

posted by Michael 8:15:00 AM
. . .
ABOUT ATTLEE. If this description of Clement Attlee in a United Press dispatch is correct, Britain’s new prime minister couldn’t be a greater contrast to Winston Churchill --

"He is no fiery orator. He is quiet and almost demure, the sort of man whose desk is always tidy, whose fountain pen is always full, who is careful to knock the ashes of his pipe into an ash tray. He speaks slowly and quietly, his sentences fading away toward the end. He never speaks without deliberating momentarily and choosing his words carefully. The Labor Party deeply respects him."

And Edward T. Foulliard writes in the Washington Post --

"A lean man with a cropped moustache, and bald head rimmed by black hair, he looked neither like John Bull nor the popular conception of a labor leader. He did look something like a school teacher, which he actually was in the London School of Economics, after a career as a lawyer and an oficer in the first World War."

This man is charged with leading a democratic socialist revolution that will transform the British Empire.

posted by Michael 8:12:00 AM
. . .
JAPAN GETS MORE WARNINGS -- AND BOMBS. If the Japanese end up surrounded by nothing but ruined cities full of smoking rubble, they can’t say they weren’t warned.

President Truman, retiring Prime Minister Churchill and China’s Chiang Kai-shek issued a declaration Thursday promising "prompt and utter destruction" of the Japanese home islands unless Tokyo agrees to unconditionally surrender. The declaration states flatly that Allied troops must occupy the Japanese homeland, that Japan’s leaders must be held accountable for war crimes, that there will be no deviation from the surrender demand, and that "we shall not accept delay."

Tough stuff. But ordinary Japanese are probably more alarmed by the 60,000 leaflets dropped from U.S. Twelfth Air Force planes vowing "total destruction" of 11 Japanese cities if Tokyo doesn’t surrender, and warning the citizens of these doomed cities to run for their lives. The cities are Ichinomiya (already 50 percent destroyed), Tsu, Ukiyamda, Negoka, Nishinomiya, Aomori, Ogaki, Koriyama, Uwajima (16 percent leveled), Kurame, and Hakodate (already battered by carrier planes from Admiral Halsey’s Third Fleet). Already the Superforts have gone to work fulfilling that pledge -- six of the cities on the death list were hit with a total of 3,500 tons of bombs last night.

It’s Japan’s choice now. The message from the Allies to Tokyo is strident, unambiguous, and terrifying. And it’s exactly the right message to send.

posted by Michael 8:07:00 AM
. . .
SENATE APPROVES U.N. CHARTER, 89-2. No surprise there. But as Barnet Nover warns in his latest column, the isolationists have only begun to fight. He notes a speech during the congressional debate by Senator Wheeler, the old isolationist lion, who "reluctantly" endorsed the Charter but made it clear his support was very conditional. What happens next will be more important than the simple act of ratification itself --

"The real fight, Senator Wheeler made it clear, will not be over ratification of the Charter itself. That fight was lost before it could be begun. The real fight will be over legislation to carry out the obligations that have been accepted by the United Nations when the Charter has been ratified. In that fight the unpenitent and unreconstructed isolationists hope to win back all they seemingly lost by voting for the Charter. They hope to limit American participation in the United Nations in such a way as to make our participation worthless."

The isolationists want to do this, Mr. Nover writes, by insisting that the enabling legislation be drawn up in the form of a treaty, which would require a two-thirds Senate approval. Then, in the hope that "the present mood of the American people will have been dissipated," the old America Firsters will try to bar the United States,.via amendments and reservations, from actually doing any of the things that we’ve pledged to do for the U.N. -- such as committing a portion of our armed forces for enforcing sanctions levied by the Security Council.

I think Mr. Nover, rather than being unduly pessimistic, is doing a service here by pointing out that the triumphant "89-2" headlines are no reason for complacency. The American people overwhelmingly want the U.S. to be part of a world league after this war, but that won’t stop the hard-core isolationists -- who were so wrong on nearly everything in this war -- from trying to steer the country in the wrong direction in the post-war era as well.

posted by Michael 8:04:00 AM
. . .
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR... From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Portland, Ore., John Bribbon reported to police that a burglar had made off with 50 cents, five theater tickets, and two bananas."

posted by Michael 8:01:00 AM
. . .
Tuesday, July 24, 1945

A REALLY DUMB PEACE PROPOSAL. Here’s a troubling A.P. story that seems to have gotten lost on the inside pages. Senator Wherry of Nebraska, a Republican, has circulated a letter to President Truman from an American "high military source" which compiles a list of recent Japanese peace feelers. Our "high military man" indicates agreement with them. The somewhat jumbled communication, directed to the President, reads in part as follows --

"Won’t you stop slaughter of American boys and Japanese civilians immediately by message from Potsdam promising Japan that immediately after her unconditional surrender the Emperor will be reinstated in accordance with Secretary Byrnes’ promise that Japan shall retain her social and religious freedom and that the Emperor shall be empowered to set up a new cabinet, acceptable to our Allies and one that will protect our vital interests; further, that we do not regard military occupation of Japan proper as necessary, but a control commission be authorized to see to it that while Japan’s social and economic problems are left in her own hands, her capacity for military aggression shall be completely destroyed."

Who is this screwball and what is he doing in a U.S. military uniform? I could imagine the Japanese would welcome a peace that leaves them free of Allied military occupation -- but such a peace would be something other than an "unconditional surrender." We would also be trusting the government responsible for the Pearl Harbor attack to fulfill in good faith our enemy’s guarantees that Tokyo’s "capacity for military aggression" would be forever broken. Good grief, face reality -- there’s no way to permanently break the power of Japanese militarism without occupying Japan. Period. No control commission could enforce anything without soldiers at hand to back up its word. Yes, this kind of watered-down peace would save untold thousands of American lives by removing the necessity for an invasion. But we would just be putting their sons’ lives in jeopardy if and when a revived corp of militarists rise under a future Emperor. To accept Japan’s vow it will voluntarily give up its militaristic ways would be a bitter insult to the Allied fighting men who’ve given their lives in the Pacific thus far. And no U.S. congressman in his right mind should be publicizing trash like this.

For his part, Senator Wherry says that if President Truman doesn’t agree with this proposal, he should say what the U.S. can accept. Did he perhaps consider what this here Potsdam conference is all about? Senator, just shut up.

posted by Michael 8:03:00 AM
. . .
THE MOST LOPSIDED MARGIN EVER? Usually when Dr. Gallup’s organization takes a poll, the result will show the country split in some manner over a controversial issue. But not this week, when the latest Gallup survey shows the people of the United States supporting ratification of the United Nations Charter by an overwhelming margin. How overwhelming? Try 66% yes, and 3% no. The sentiment is almost identical in every sector of the country -- in the Far West, the "no" number rises to a mighty 4%. The only sign of dislike for the Charter is in the large "no opinion" vote, which runs at 31% nationally. This number can be considered as people who don’t know anything about the Charter, are too chicken to declare their opposition to such a popular measure, or both.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Gallup says there isn’t any difference in size of the public’s support for ratification and its expected margin in the Senate --

"If, as some political observers in Washington report, there will only be about six votes in the Senate against ratification, then the division of the vote in the Senate will closely parallel the division in votes through the country on the Charter question."

The Senate debate, which began yesterday, should be a breeze. No pun intended.

posted by Michael 8:00:00 AM
. . .
OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- In Pasadena, Calif., Motorist John Moore, fresh from a hair-raising ride on the cowcatcher of the speedy Santa Fe Chief, clambered down shaky but unhurt to get a ticket for ignoring the grade-crossing stop signal."

posted by Michael 7:54:00 AM
. . .
Sunday, July 22, 1945

THE BOMBING GOES ON (AND ON). As far as I can tell from Associated Press reports, we’ve now hammered Japan’s homeland with firebombs for 48 consecutive days. And we keep setting records, according to the A.P. -- last Thursday more than 600 B-29 Superforts hit four cities on Honshu with about 4000 tons of bombs. ("A record," said the A.P.) Yesterday, another attack by more than 600 Superforts ("The greatest force ever sent aloft" -- A.P.) hit Nagoya and Osaka with another 4000 tons of firebombs. The B-29s seem to be roaring at will over Japanese cities without fighter escort, at medium and high altitude. Seem to that, is. The A.P. simply says that "it was not known whether the reluctant Japanese air force had risen to defend its homeland."

Then again, the Japanese might not have much of an air force left to fight the Superforts with. Admiral Halsey’s Third Fleet is now into its third week of hitting the main islands with blistering shell fire and bombings from carrier planes. In their first two weeks of operations they sunk 416 enemy ships and brought down 516 planes. And in the last seven days alone they’ve pounded (deep breath now) Muroran, Hakodate, Kamaishi, Masuda, Matsushima, Korayama, Hitachi, Sukegawa, Hiigata, Choshi, Kawasaki, Yokosuka, Hiratsuka, Numazu, Fukui, Okazaki, Kuwana, Yokkaichi, Amagasaki, Shimotsui, Otake, Tokuyama, Kudamatsu, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima.

It makes you wonder if the Japanese really can make good on their determination to fight onward for years, until the bitter end. In a profile in this morning’s Washington Post of Major General Curtis LeMay, architect of the B-29 campaign, there’s a great quote from the normally taciturn LeMay --

"I think maybe the targets are going to be hard to find about Christmas time. They may choose to fight after that but if they do it will be a guerilla warfare. They won’t have any industries to supply their forces."

That could be a pretty grim business in itself. But it would mean that the invasion of Japan would possibly be more of a mopping-up operation than the no-holds-barred battles for Iwo and Okinawa. In any case, there’s reason to hope that the bombing campaign will do more damage to Japan’s ability to fight on than our two-year-plus air war against Hitler did to hobble the Nazis, who managed remarkably well under dire circumstances.

posted by Michael 8:04:00 AM
. . .
RUSSIA SHOULD END HER INFORMATION BLACKOUT. Edwin L. James raises a really good point in the New York Times this morning about Soviet Russia’s information blackout in eastern Europe. It’s not only a troublesome issue President Truman should raise with Stalin, but also one which the President should try to solve -- on the spot -- by insisting on a commitment to allow the Western press the same access in those countries that we grant to Red reporters in the countries we occupy --

"It is possible that at Potsdam President Truman will bring up the issue of the right of the American people to know what is going on in Eastern Europe; they certainly do not know now. . . . What is going on in Eastern Germany, in Poland, in Hungary and in Austria is about completely veiled from the world at large. Russian correspondents are, of course, at large, but if their reporting is objective, little of it has reached the United States. As a matter of hard cold fact, the people of this country have no idea of what is going on in Russian-occupied territory. The Russians can know what is going on in territory occupied by the American and British because correspondents are free to tell about it; but the converse is not true."

The questions are many, Mr. James tells us. They are troubling, and they are mounting --

"Have hundreds of thousands of men from Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary been taken to Russia to work? That is something the Americans and British have a right to know. If for no other reason they have to right to know in weighing the steps for reparation, which is to include labor for Russia. What has become of the assets of the national banks of countries occupied by the Russians? Have those assets been taken away to Russia, or is the allegation a libel on our Allies? In planning for economic and financial reconstruction of Europe all parties concerned have a right to an answer of that question. Did the Russians round up all Swiss officials and nationals in Budapest and ship them to Istanbul simply because they wished to even things up with the Swiss who did not recognize the Moscow regime, or did the Russians have other purposes? Were members of foreign staffs in any of the capitals killed or mistreated, as has been alleged? Would it not be better to have the facts than ugly rumors? Is there a concentration camp in Hungary where 40,000 persons were placed by the Russians? Were those 40,000 all prisoners of war or not? Is there any element of political coercion involved? Perhaps not at all. But if not, it might be to the advantage of the Russians to have the facts revealed. How much Russian censorship goes on in Yugoslavia? Here correspondents have been allowed in restricted numbers, but no one supposes their reports are freely made. Why is a Russian in charge of the UNRRA in Yugoslavia? There may be a good reason, but the question is being asked whether these supplies are being used for political purposes. Was a shipload of flour from America announced as flour from Russia for which the Americans had supplied bags? Such matters should be open to investigation. On a larger viewpoint, if Russia is to get financial aid from the United States as well as other forms of aid, have not the American people the right to know what the Russians are doing in the parts of Europe held by them?"

It’s possible, and even likely, that some of these allegations are nothing but bunk peddled by aging America Firsters, most of whom are even more anti-Red than they ever were anti-Nazi. But which ones have some basis in fact? And how to tell? In any case, here we have still more instances of the Russian penchant for secrecy and contrariness, which as Mr. James points out, is hurting Moscow the most --

"It may well be that full publicity will help the cause of Russia here. Uncontrolled tales grow in the passing of them. Anyhow the truth should be known."

Amen to that.

posted by Michael 8:02:00 AM
. . .
BEAUTY CAN BE A DRAWBACK. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Overland, Mo., the Lions Club gave the community six green trash cans so good-looking that citizens mailed letters in them."

posted by Michael 7:55:00 AM
. . .
Tuesday, July 17, 1945

FORGET THOSE PEACE RUMORS. Call it the battle of the undersecrertaries. First, Undersecretary of State Joseph Grew said the Japanese are putting out "peace feelers", a statement bitterly mocked by Radio Tokyo. Well, it’s also being mocked by none other than Undersecretary of War Robert Patterson. I think Mr. Patterson has the better argument --

"We must prepare ourselves to win our war with Japan the hard way -- by killing Japanese soldiers right through the ruins of Tokyo and throughout the home islands. . . . [The Japanese army] will not surrender to an inference, the inference that it is beaten."

And yes, it’s true that Japan’s food shortage is getting critical, and the blasting or her oil refining centers at Tokyo Bay (not to mention the loss of Japan’s oil fields in faraway Borneo) will create an oil shortage that will be even more critical to the functioning of her military. But Japan’s growing disadvantages are partially offset by the fact that, as Mr. Patterson says, our enemy has learned to fight smarter --

"On Okinawa they did not attempt a defense of the beaches, where they would be under point-blank naval gunfire: they went back to prepared positions. In other words they picked their battlefield. Their artillery fire is far more effective than a year ago."

Remember this when the headlines announce we’ve invaded Kyushu, and the press is full of glowing accounts of how "amazingly light" Japanese resistance is right after our Marines hit the beaches. And in the meantime, let’s not clutch at any more straws about Japanese "peace feelers." It’s bad enough when the press circulates them -- must Truman administration officials spread them as well?

posted by Michael 8:08:00 AM
. . .
WHAT IS "UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER"? Should we demand the right to get rid of the Emperor, dismantle the Japanese dynasty, and eradicate Japan’s long-time political and religious system? Or should we simply boot out the militarists and leave everything else pretty much as is? This is the crux of the debate right now, and I think Walter Lippman’s latest New York Herald Tribune column provides a sharp answer --

"The question . . . is whether it is necessary to demand the liquidation of the Japanese social order, with its peculiar dynastic and religious domination. There is substantial reason for thinking that all Japanese interpret 'unconditional surrender' as meaning just that, and that this is the sticking point when they consider whether they should sue for peace. . . . My own view is that, in determining war aims, that is to say conditions for which we deem it necessary to fight , we should -- if there is a choice -- choose the minimum terms which are certainly necessary rather than maximum terms which may be desirable but are not clearly necessary. The burden of proof, in other words, is on those who wish to go beyond the Cairo terms, and to identify unconditional surrender with a forced internal revolution. In examining the argument, we are bound to ask ourselves whether the Japanese problem is the same as the German. It was certain that Hitler had to be destroyed, and since he had usurped all the powers of the German state, he could not have any legitimate successor. But the Japanese Emperor is not a usurper, and more often than not in Japanese history the Emperor has reigned but has not ruled. It is quite conceivable then that he might continue to reign, but that the country would be ruled by men who had surrendered the conquests and military power of Japan and had given guarantees. If this is the right course, and provided the Allies have reached a strategical and political agreement, it would be no sign of weakness to let it be known in Tokyo."

At the risk of belaboring the point, I don’t think we should get at all hopeful that we can persuade the enemy to "sue for peace" simply by defining surrender by some minimal standard. But a pronouncement of what "unconditional surrender" entails could be a meaningful weapon in the battles to come. If our offer to leave the Emperor in place were to simply reduce the willingness of Japanese civilians to fight to the death, or to erode the influence of fight-to-the-finish militarists, it can save U.S. soldiers’ lives in the weeks and months ahead. That alone makes Mr. Lippmann’s prescribed course desirable.

posted by Michael 8:05:00 AM
. . .
WHERE’S HITLER? The Chicago Tribune says that he and Eva Braun have both made it to South America, via German submarine. From correspondent Vincent de Pascal --

"From information just received from Buenos Aires, I am virtually certain that Adolf Hitler and his 'wife,' Eva Braun, the latter dressed in masculine clothes, landed in Argentina and are on an immense German-owned estate in Patagonia."

The Tribune doesn’t explain how the submarine successfully ferried the Fuehrer and his gal out of battle-blasted Berlin, but I’m sure some creative wordsmith will soon enlighten us. Maybe the Tribune will want to play that up, too.

posted by Michael 8:02:00 AM
. . .
I’LL PASS, THANKS. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Springfield, Ohio, hospital attendants reported Willie Martin’s condition as 'good' after he had been treated for absorption of a homemade punch made of iodine, turpentine, kerosene, rat poison, lighter fluid, shoe polish, and wine."

posted by Michael 7:56:00 AM
. . .
Sunday, July 15, 1945

A CLEW THAT SOMETHING’S UP? Like an early invasion of Japan, maybe? The big news this morning is that President Truman has suddenly decided to cut short his European trip and will "hurry back" to the White House as soon as the Big Three conference at Potsdam is over. From Edward Foulliard in the Washington Post --

"The decision of the Chief Executive, reported by a correspondent who crossed the Atlantic with him on the cruiser Augusta, was believed in some quarters here to be linked with the war against Japan. That war is now mounting to a crescendo. American warships and planes are giving the Japanese homeland the most terrible pounding in history, and there is nothing the Japanese can do to stop it except to surrender. In the opinion of some high-ranking officers, the question of whether Japan is going to surrender or fight it out to a bloody and catastrophic finish will be answered soon, perhaps in the next six weeks. If this view is shared by President Truman, it would be explanation enough for his decision to cut short his trip . . . . Certainly he would want to be here if any great decisions had to be made. It is possible, of course, that the President was informed of some important development while he was out on the Atlantic. At any rate, something seems to have come up between the time he left here and the time the Augusta started through the English Channel. The day that President Truman left the White House and started for Newport News, there was no suggestion that he would be in a hurry to return."

It’s tempting, but way too optimistic, to speculate that the "important development" could be a signal from Tokyo that they’re willing to surrender. The Japanese have fought fanatically over scraps of land far from the home islands, and there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t fight twice as fanatically for their own territory. But it is interesting (and maybe not too optimistic) to consider the possibility that the blistering, ongoing assault from U.S. warplanes and naval guns, such as the latest attacks this week-end against the steel city of Muroran, have reduced Japanese defenses to the point that an invasion could be launched much earlier than previously thought. The earlier an invasion can begin, the less time Tokyo will have to coordinate an all-out civilian defense. And the less likely our ground forces will be sucked into fighting a new round of Aachens, Cassinos, and Stalingrads.

posted by Michael 8:03:00 AM
. . .
POTSDAM WON’T SOLVE EVERYTHING. The upcoming Potsdam conference is being hailed in some quarters as critical, historic, determinative of the fate of the world for decades to come, etc. (Remember, they said the same thing about Yalta.) So it’s kind of refreshing to read Herbert L. Matthews in today’s New York Times, who seems to realize that, with all the problems facing the Big Three and the emerging United Nations, there’s only so much a conference can do. There’s the huge issue of how to govern Germany in the years ahead, of course, but there’s so much more. Mr. Matthews identifies some of what the Big Three will be concerned with --

"The problems of Turkey, for instance, directly involve the Balkans and that cockpit of Europe has never been more of a battleground than today. There is Greece frantically worried about her northern frontiers. There is Marshal Tito on something of a rampage, growling about the Greeks and clamoring for Trieste, Venezia, Giulia and Carinthia. And across the Adriatic is Italy threatening to become a major problem through her economic distress and demands for settlement of her status. There are minor questions like Iran, with her oil, her port of Basra and her occupation by armies of Russia and Britain. Just last week the Communist party newspaper Pravda attacked the Iranian government severely. There are the Polish elections. There is German and Polish coal. There are Spain and Generalissimo Francisco Franco. . . . And do not forget that the war is still on. Most people expect the Soviet Union to enter the war against Japan and that is certainly something that the Big Three will discuss. And that brings up the vast problem of China and minor ones like Korea, Manchukuo, Hong Kong and foreign investments in the Far East."

It’s no wonder, as Mr. Matthews writes, that "those three master magicians in Potsdam are not going to wave their magic wands and quell the floods. The waters are too deep and turbulent. All they can hope to do is pour a little oil on them here and there, put up a dike at one point and a breakwater at another than then wait, hope and work for things to calm down. . . . One can plot roughly what they will aim at. In general the British must play for international setups, the Russians for as free a hand as possible, and the Americans for their long-term strategic considerations, their foreign trade and finances and their intense desire for a settlement that will safeguard the peace -- a desire shared by the other two."

posted by Michael 7:57:00 AM
. . .
OTHERWISE, IT’S PERFECT. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Nora Springs, Iowa, town officials forked over $25 for running a truck with no headlights, no tail lights, no sidelights, no stoplights, no clearance lights, no identification lights, no flares, no red flags, no windshield wiper, no rear-view mirror, no license plates."

posted by Michael 7:54:00 AM
. . .
Tuesday, July 3, 1945

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY. Starting tomorrow I’m taking off for a one-week vacation of reading and radio-listening. Alas, it’s likely this won’t be the last wartime Fourth, but we can always hope -- and pray. Regular blogging will resume July 15.

posted by Michael 8:07:00 AM
. . .
TWO YEARS? TEN YEARS? ALWAYS? Here are three more sober (if not grim) predictions of what the future portends, for the war with Japan and beyond --

General Joseph Stilwell, in last week’s Time magazine -- "A lot of people have the idea that this is a pushover. . . . It will take a long time -- easily two years."

Willis Church Lamott, in the June issue of Harper’s -- "Our progress may become a succession of Japanese Aachens and we may face a decade of guerilla warfare."

General Patton, talking to a group of Sunday-school children, as quoted in Time: "In my opinion there will be another war because there have always been wars."

Patton probably has it right, but we can certainly hope for making this the last great war, and we have one good omen in that regard -- contrary to the developments of 1918 and thereafter, this time the United States will not be on the sidelines. The Truman administration and Congress have made it clear that this time around we will do everything we can to create a long-lasting postwar peace. And with America’s political and military power in the world now greater than ever, there is surely much we can do.

posted by Michael 8:03:00 AM
. . .
THE U.N. CHARTER IS A SHOO-IN. The old America Firsters on their isolationist brethren probably can’t stand it, but this time the Congress isn’t going to stand in the way of America’s participation in a world league. Ever since President Truman joined representatives of forty-nine other countries last Tuesday in signing the United Nations Charter, the number of Senators who’ve pledged to vote "yea" on this historic agreement has been astoundingly high. The first estimates had only 53 Senate members definitely for approval, but the signs were there from the start that this wouldn’t be another 1919. Senator Burton K. Wheeler, once a lion of the isolationist faction, meekly listed himself as "unsure" on the Charter and said there would be no organized fight against ratification. Senator Hiram W. Johnson, who helped kill U.S. participation in the League a generation ago, says now of Charter proponents that "they’ve got the votes," and that they might get his as well.

Since then, the A.P. has finished its poll of the Senate on the Charter vote, which shows 65 Senators definitely voting yes, five more saying they would "probably" vote yes, 17 noncommital, and eight Senators unavailable for comment. Not one solon piped up to declare he would vote no.

That’s a testament partly to the power of polls, which have consistently shown over the last year that two-thirds of Americans want the U.S. to play a major role in an international peace-keeping body after the war. But it’s also a testament to the common sense of the Senate, whose members seem to realize that we face a historic opportunity for peace after the end of this war that we simply can’t shirk.

President Truman asked in his address yesterday that the Charter be ratified "swiftly." He should get his wish. The pundits say the Senate should approve it by August 1.

posted by Michael 8:00:00 AM
. . .
MAKE $10 IN YOUR SPARE TIME. From Time magazine’s Miscellany section -- "In Columbus, S.C., Dentist C.B. Draffin stepped out of his office and a stranger stepped in, collected $10 in advance for repairs on a patient’s plates, quickly stepped out again."

posted by Michael 7:56:00 AM
. . .
Sunday, July 1, 1945

DESTROYING JAPAN, CITY BY CITY. Another week, another record air assault over the Japanese home islands. This time it was about 600 B-29 Superforts, raining over 4000 tons of fire bombs on four big industrial cities -- Kure, Shimonoseki, Ube, and Kumamoto. The targets included Japan’s biggest naval base, a number of heavy industrial plants, the empire’s coal mining facilities, and railway hubs. No one’s put an exact total on the number of bombs, but the United Press says it’s "almost certain" that Monday’s bombing beat the old record of 4,119 tons of bombs dropped on Tokyo in the May 24 fire raid.

So why are we bombing lesser-known cities, some in the range of 100,000-200,000 population? Because (1) regardless of their size, they’re still important military and economic centers, and (2) we’ve pretty much blasted most of the larger target cities to pieces. From the U.P. report --

"Gen. Henry H. Arnold last month predicted that the Superfortresses -- soon to be augmented by Gen. James H. Doolittle’s U.S. Eighth Air Force of European fame -- would destroy Japan industrially by fall. Already in the stepped-up campaign which started last March, they have burned and gutted huge sections of 22 Japanese cities, with Tokyo, Nagoya, Yokohama, Kobe, and Kawasaki written off as primary targets."

Another U.P. dispatch brings home just how devastating the air war has been over the last six months. Tokyo, the third largest city in the world with a population of seven million, has ordered all but 200,000 of its citizens to leave. A broadcast from Tokyo radio says that "every resident whose presence is not indispensable" must quit the capital. I’m not sure what they have to worry about -- the U.P. cites American air officers as saying Tokyo will no longer be a top priority target "until the Japanese rebuilt something worthwhile in the way of an objective." The same thing goes for five other major Japanese cities. We’d be wasting our time bombing ‘em until they put up something worth bombing.

One can wish that the devastatingly successful air war would make Hirohito and the Japanese militarists come to their senses and accept the Allies’ surrender terms. But surely that’s not in the cards. We saw how a successful air campaign against Hitler’s empire did little to make the Nazis more conciliatory. We can take the Japanese equally at their word when they proclaim their intention to fight to the last breath.

posted by Michael 8:05:00 AM
. . .
WE’RE JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY. It’s official -- President Truman is now more popular than President Roosevelt ever was. The newest survey by Dr. Gallup and his polling teams shows President Truman with an approval rating of 87 percent, a full three percent above F.D.R.’s post-Pearl Harbor rating. Democrats and Republicans equally love the Missourian, and Dr. Gallup points out one huge advantage the President has over his predecessor --

"While President Roosevelt enjoyed almost universal support for his foreign policy, there were always sharp differences of opinion among voters on the Roosevelt domestic policies. In Mr. Truman’s case, however, no such difference has apparently arisen as yet. It is clear from the survey figures that the new President has thus far not taken any stand which has dissatisfied any large number of voters."

But there’s more to President Truman’s popularity than his avoiding controversy, as Mark Sullivan points out in his latest column. It’s his steadfastness --

"When a public figure has made a certain kind of impression on the public, it is important that the impression remain constant. People like to think that the public figure they admire will remain always the same, for in remaining the same there is a kind of integrity of personality, equivalent to intellectual integrity, and this gives the public a sense of confidence. . . . There is very little likelihood of Mr. Truman changing. The very fact that simplicity is his most conspicuous characteristic makes change unlikely. Probably the only risk Mr. Truman runs, and in his case it is not much of a risk, is that someone may try to persuade him, on one occasion or another, to be different from what he is. . . . Anyone who would suggest to Mr. Truman that he put on a show probably would be moved by recalling President Roosevelt and the immense popularity he had. But to be dramatic was an essential part of Roosevelt’s personality and the public enjoyed the performances he gave, thought of him as a master showman and liked him for what he was."

Assuming President Truman stays the way he is, it probably wouldn’t be too early to call the 1948 presidential election for him -- assuming he wants a full term of his own.

posted by Michael 8:01:00 AM
. . .

. . .