Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History

Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History

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by Yuki Tanaka
     
 

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Bombing Civilians examines a crucial question: why did military planning in the early twentieth century shift its focus from bombing military targets to bombing civilians? From the British bombing of Iraq in the early 1920s to the most recent policies in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon, Bombing Civilians analyzes in detail the history of

Overview


Bombing Civilians examines a crucial question: why did military planning in the early twentieth century shift its focus from bombing military targets to bombing civilians? From the British bombing of Iraq in the early 1920s to the most recent policies in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon, Bombing Civilians analyzes in detail the history of indiscriminate bombing, examining the fundamental questions of how this theory justifying mass killing originated and why it was employed as a compelling military strategy for decades, both before and since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Young, a professor of history at NYU, and Tanaka, of the Hiroshima Peace Institute, bring together eight essays by American, Japanese and European scholars on a disturbing subject: why has aerial warfare, beginning in WWI, emphasized civilian targets? Aerial bombing affects civilian morale, a vulnerable element in a country mobilized for total war. Tanaka demonstrates that during the interwar years the British considered air strikes in Iraq a cheaper, more "humane" way of maintaining imperial control than conventional ground operations. Ronald Schaeffer, Robert Moeller and Mark Selden each show that area bombardment was regarded, in particular by Britain and the U.S., as a shortcut to victory long after evidence ceased to support the belief. Selden goes so far as to assert that "[m]ass murder of civilians has been central to all subsequent U.S. wars." Discussing the morality of bombing, C.A.J. Coady is the only contributor who engages the moral principle of double effect: keeping collateral damage under the restraints of morality, reason and law. Still, this is better read as advocacy than scholarship. (Feb.)

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From the Publisher

"Makes a cogent case for reassessing the effectiveness of air campaigns and how power influences accountability." —Japan Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595585479
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
07/27/2010
Pages:
298
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author


Marilyn B. Young is a professor of history at New York University. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow; is the author of numerous books, including The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990; and co-edited Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam (The New Press). Yuki Tanaka is Research Professor at Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City University. Since the mid-1980s he has been concentrating his research on war crimes and is the author of several books, including Japan’s Comfort Women and Hidden Horrors.

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Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
willyvan More than 1 year ago
This excellent collection studies British 'humane bombing' in Iraq and other parts of the empire, the Japanese, German, Us and British bombing campaigns in World War Two, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the USAF and RAF's lead role in bombing civilians from the 20th to the 21st centuries, and the bombings of Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan (and now Libya). It finishes with two studies, ethical and legal, of bombing civilians. The RAF commander in Iraq in the 1920s said that bombing was 'undoubtedly humane in the long run' and that it was, 'beyond all argument, the most merciful course to take'. In those years, the RAF was also bombing Afghanistan, India, Yemen, Egypt and Somaliland. In an important essay, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa argues that the Soviet entry into World War Two was 'far more important' than the atomic bombing in Japan's decision to surrender. The commanding general of the US Army Air Force said that the strategic bomber was 'the most humane of all weapons'. US General Curtis LeMay boasted, "we burnt down every town in North Korea and South Korea, too." US and British forces killed possibly 3 million Korean people, mostly civilians. During the US attack on Vietnam, the USAAF dropped 8 million tons of bombs on Indochina (compared to 2 million it dropped in all theatres in World War Two); their explosive power equaled 640 Hiroshima-size bombs. They killed between 2 and 4 million Indochinese people, again mostly civilians.