Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Allied war crimes of attrition vs Axis war crimes of aggression

Let us first always remember that it was the Germans, together with the Italians and the Japanese, who started WWII and created its spiral of ever increasing tit for tat violence.

Without the aggressive invasions of this Axis trio, the western Allies would never have done to Europe .... what they routinely did to the dark people of smaller, hotter nations and colonies.

That is to say, imposing total blockades of food, fuel and life-saving medicine upon the civilians of occupied Europe---- and then bombing and shelling them as well, killing many and "de-housing" many others.

The Allies committed these war crimes of attrition reluctantly and carefully, but they did it from 1939 to 1945: causing the premature deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians from occupied lands in the process.

And it was all legal, strictly legal, at least under the international law in place during WWII.

But perhaps partly as result of the brave wartime disobedience of William Douglas Home (brother of the later British (Tory) Prime Minister) at the siege of Le Havre, postwar conferences made the starving of civilians in siege situations illegal.

One classic example of Allied war crimes of attrition were the mass starvation of newly-occupied Greece in 1940-1941 --- a starvation deliberately not relieved by Churchill , against the wishes of most of his Allies and of American elite public opinion.

Another was the extensive aerial and naval bombing of factories and transport facilities in occupied cities from 1940 to 1945 , despite the widely known knowledge that it was always wildly inaccurate - killing outright hundreds of thousands of occupied civilians.

I have already mentioned the siege of German-occupied Le Havre in 1944, where the British refused the German request to evacuate the civilians : the British hoped the slow starvation of the French civilians beside them might convince the hardened SS troops to surrender quicker !

But denying the knowledge of new life-saving medications and disease-reducing insecticides to the civilians of occupied lands is a entirely unknown example of Allied war crimes of attrition, but that doesn't make it any less true.

It is why I consistently refer to the high level Allied efforts to keep penicillin and DDT secret and restricted to frontline Allied troop use as their weaponizing , despite my listening audience's doubting stares.

Out of their homes thanks to Allied bombing, denied food and fuel by the Allied blockade, stressed by Nazi atrocities and oppression ,many Europeans were increasingly vulnerable to classic war diseases like typhus, which alone killed more than combat did, through all the big wars up to WWII.

The traditional insecticides used to try and stop typhus were much less effective a method than the new DDT and while the Sulfa family have worked well to prevent most killer infections between 1937-1942, there were to be no new Sulfa drugs coming along, and this at a time when bacteria was becoming rapidly resistant to Sulfa.

Thus a potential medical catastrophe was looming , bigger even than the double whammy of the Western Spanish Flu and Eastern Typhus that killed more at the end of WWI than did war combat itself.

Denying knowledge of the possible cure to occupied Europe would only make the catastrophe worse.

The wartime weaponizing of atomic fission to make bombs rather than electricity was opposed by a large number of very prominent scientists , yet failed totally.

The wartime weaponizing of penicillin was opposed by one - dying - middle rank medical scientist and yet was successful beyond his wildest dreams.

How successful ?

Take the example of 1949's THE THIRD MAN, recently voted the best British movie of all time.

In it, 'cheap, safe, abundant penicillin for all' is regarded  as the mark of every civilized society and "the man who dared water the workers' penicillin" becomes the epitome of ultimate evil.

And thus we get an explanation as to why war hero Winston Churchill (the Harry Lime of wartime penicillin) so badly lost the 1945 British General Election.

For Churchill, the architect of the Allied war of attrition, simply could never understand the public's objection to his weaponizing of penicillin.

Why did the dying, modest Dr Henry Dawson succeed in confounding the weaponizing of penicillin when the very energetic Leo Szilard and others failed to do the same with atomic fission ?

I suggest the reason was not in their differing moral values, though this is part of the answer.

Instead, I argue that it was Dawson's greater scientific conviction of the rightness of his actions, based upon his theory of "the eternal commensality of the big and the small", that made his opposition much earlier, much more consistent and and much more unyielding.....

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