Nancy Pelosi Visits Hiroshima Memorial

On September 2, Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking U.S. politician to ever visit the Hiroshima memorial. According to the Associated Press,

The Democrat, who came to this western port city for a two-day annual gathering of Group of Eight legislative heads, joined other speakers in paying their respects at a memorial to the Hiroshima bombing. One by one, each bowed, then laid flowers at a white, arch-shaped monument containing the names of more than 200,000 victims of the nuclear blast.

No serving U.S. president or vice president has ever visited Hiroshima. As speaker of the House of Representatives, Pelosi is second in line to the presidency after U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Post notes that the nuclear weapons used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed 220,000 people within a few months and, of course, led to the quick surrender of Japan.

What goes missing from these figures, of course, is the sheer and unimaginable murder of civilians by the Japanese empire from its invasion of China in 1937 to its unconditional surrender on August 15, 1945.The death toll is staggering. The United States’ indiscriminate bombing of Japan killed an estimated 670,000 civilians; but the Japanese empire murdered several times more civilians than that just from their forced labor programs throughout Asia.

Ruddy Rummel, in his chapter on Japan’s democide from his excellent Power Kills notes that,

From the invasion of China in 1937 to the end of World War II, the Japanese military regime murdered near 3,000,000 to over 10,000,000 people, most probably almost 6,000,000 Chinese, Indonesians, Koreans, Filipinos, and Indochinese, among others, including Western prisoners of war. This democide was due to a morally bankrupt political and military strategy, military expediency and custom, and national culture (such as the view that those enemy soldiers who surrender while still able to resist were criminals).

At the time of the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, World War II was still raging in many parts of Asia and some estimates put civilian casualties in Japanese-controlled territories as high as 8,000 per day in the time period shortly before the end of the war. Despite facing certain defeat, Japan was still engaged in wholesale murder in the parts of Asia it still controlled.

Pelosi’s visit to the Hiroshima memorial might be a bit easier to understand if Japan still was not engaged in wholesale denial of its role in World War II. In the United States, there is an ongoing debate over the morality of dropping nuclear weapons on Japanse cities. In Japan, however, history textbooks that whitewash imperial history are bestsellers.

John Steel Gordon on Democratic Opposition to Free Trade

In the February 2008 issue of Commentary, John Steele Gordon has a nice look at the increasing opposition within the Democratic Party to free trade. As Gordon notes in Look Who’s Afraid of Free Trade, this is a surprising turn of events since historically it has been the Democrats who supported free trade while Republicans tended to favor high tariffs and other protectionist measures.

Gordon lays the blame for the switch on a number of factors, primarily the decline of manufacturing jobs in the United States which led to an attendant decline in the percentage of works in union jobs in the 1970s and the 1980s. Traditionally pro-free trade unions changed their mind about the value of free trade, and the Democrats have started to follow. This despite the fact that there have been far more new jobs created in the United States than have been lost in the structural shift away from manufacturing.

One of the oddest things about opponents of free trade is how frequently such opponents are also genuinely concerned about global poverty. But if anything is clear about free trade, it is that it ameliorates global poverty. As Gordon notes about NAFTA (emphasis added),

No sooner had the agreement come into force in 1994 than Mexico suffered a severe financial crisis and a radical contraction of its economy. Thanks to an international rescue effort crafted by President Clinton, and the growth in exports fostered by NAFTA, the crisis ended in 1996 and the economy began growing again. Indeed, in nominal terms, Mexican GDP has approximately doubled in the last ten years, poverty has fallen significantly, and exports have been surging. Mexico is now one of the world’s leading trading nations and the biggest in Latin America, surpassing even Brazil.

Free trade is simply the best anti-poverty program ever invented, and it is shameful to see political leaders in the richest country in the history of the world demonizing the efforts of poor around the globe to improve their economic outlook.

McKinney Follows Suit

Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia) found herself in a lot hot water for assaulting a Capitol police officer who didn’t recognize her when she blew threw a security checkpoint without her Congressional pin.

For most people that would be enough absurdity, but this is Cynthia McKinney, so you had to know that was just the beginning of the trainwreck.

At first, McKinney tried to portray herself as the victim of racism (at some point you just know her father is going to blame Jews for his daughter’s latest mess). When it was clear that wasn’t work, McKinney decided to apologize, but that didn’t go very well either. According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution,

But even as McKinney appeared to be trying to put the issue to rest, a bodyguard she hired — reportedly a former George state trooper — was raising another furor when he threatened a television report trying to interview McKinney outside the Capitol just minutes before she appeared on the House floor [to issue her apology].

When the reporter from Cox Broadcasting tried to ask McKinney about the grand jury, the bodyguard told him, “I’m going to put your ass in jail. I’m a police officer,” a videotape of the incident shows.

Asked if he worked for Capitol police, the man said, “I work for Miss McKinney.”

This is hardly surprising behavior for the only national political figure on record as supporting Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe. Mugabe, of course, regularly intimidates journalists and occasionally has them tortured. It should hardly be surprising that a supporter of a dictator who doesn’t respect the freedom of the press would surround herself with like-mind people.

What is surprising is that McKinney keeps being returned to the House of Representatives.


McKinney apologizes on House floor. Bob Kemper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 6, 2006.