Fehrenbach did indeed write a scathing indictment of the readiness of the U.S. military after WWII, so much so that the fiftieth anniversary edition, released in 2000 -- the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the war, not the publishing of the book -- included in the new forward written by the 32nd Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, Gordon Sullivan: "That may have been true in 1962, but it isn't necessarily true today."
The U.S. military could hardly have been less prepared in 1950. Fehrenbach wrote of the attitude at the time regarding discipline: "Basically, there were two ways to reduce abuses of power in the service. One was to overhaul the officer procurement system, make damned certain that no merely average man could ever be commissioned, and have fewer officers, but better ones. The other way was to reduce the power to abuse any body." We chose the latter.
The Doolittle Board's The Report of the Secretary of War's Board on Officer-Enlisted Man Relationships, a/k/a the 1946 Doolittle Report, advised to sissify the Army, resulting in officers being unable to control their troops who would back-talk their commanders and engage mainly in activities that interested them, usually involving sex and/or money. The Marines avoided this nonsense and stuck to their traditions.
Your author wonders whether Fehrenbach ever viewed the classic comedy movie Ninotchka, with Greta Garbo uttering the memorable line, referring to the Soviet purges of the 1930s: "The last mass trials were a great success. There are going to be fewer, but better Russians."
In any case, we are reminded of the Obama Administration's efforts to remake the military in a feminine, homosexual, and transgender image, 1950 revisited. The partisan and politically correct New York Times opined that "there were already thousands of transgender people in the military," but that laughable estimate originated with the Palm Center, an organization of LGBTs the sole purpose of which was to coerce the military into accepting LGBTs, hardly an unbiased source.
We were unprepared for Pearl Harbor and the invasion of South Korea by the DPRK. The Obama administration is determined to make us learn the lesson of preparedness again.
Fehrenbach compared the poorly prepared Americans and ROK troops with the hardened troops of North Korea, who attacked all across the border at 4:00 am on June 25, 1950. The surprise attack caused the American and ROK forces to retreat to a small amount of territory on the far south-east corner of the peninsula, the Pusan perimeter, before the Inchon landings turned the tide.
Then when "dugout Doug" MacArthur ordered his troops to move to the Yalu River and China invaded in the millions, both the Marines in the east and the Army in the west were forced to retreat. But the behavior of the Marines and Army could not have been more different. The Marines lashed their wounded to the tops of jeeps and trucks, truly their finest hour, while the Army, in a mad dash for safety, often left their wounded to be bayoneted later by the fanatical North Koreans. This is just one example why the Marines are so adamant about retaining the policies which have worked in many battles. Politicizing military culture will end in disaster.
Fehrenbach started his book with an introduction to Korea, to which he usually referred by the name the natives use for it, Chosun. He noted that Chosun was a springboard for China, Russia, and Japan, the last of which annexed the peninsula in 1910. He explained: "The cause of collision was not the poor land of Chosun with its teeming millions, but vast and wealthy Manchuria, looming high beyond the Yalu. Manchuria is the richest area in East Asia, with iron ores, coal, water, power, food, and timber, and whoever owns Manchuria, to be secure, must also own Chosun."
Ito Marquis arrived at Seoul as the official representative of the Japanese Government. Through threats and trickery, as well as a pistol pointed to the head of the prime minister, he was able to force the king and Cabinet to agree to Korea becoming a province of Japan, suggesting to the military commander in Korea, General Hasegawa Yoshimichi, that he "march his men about for exercise and that the horse artillery indulge in target practice" to convert the government of Korea into servile supplicants.
In 1924, the Reverend Edward W. Twing of Boston, Oriental Secretary of the International Reform Bureau, visited Korea. His reports are some of the only ones we have of the time, given that Japan treated Korea as its private domain. Fehrenbach regaled us with the actions of Twing:
"One day Mr. Twing saw a group of Korean girls of school age shout "Manzai" -- which means merely 'Hoorah' -- at passing Japanese soldiers. The Japanese immediately opened fire on them. Another group of school girls walking down the road, not even shouting, were set upon by the angry troops. The Japanese beat them with rifle butts, knocked them down, tore away their clothing. Then, as Mr. Twing related back in Boston, 'the soldiers treated them in a most shameful manner.'
The Koreans had to be taught that they were inseparably citizens of the empire, whatever the class rating of their citizenship might be. They were taught so well that, during three months of 1919, more than fifty thousand of them were killed or at least hospitalized by the lesson.
Above all, Mr. Twing reported back,the Japanese were out to teach Korean Christian converts that contact with the philosophies of the West was dangerous. And it was. Christian men and women were dragged into Shinto temples, tied to crosses, and beaten savagely. Young girls of Christian families were stripped, fastened to telegraph poles by their hair, flogged, and left exposed to public view."
Twing had much in common with Armin T. Wegner, a second-lieutenant in the German army stationed in the Ottoman Empire in April 1915, who took photographs of the horror inflicted by Ottoman Muslims upon Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, and other Christians. If not for Wegner's graphic photos, we might be influenced by Turkey's President-for-life Recep Tayyip Erdogan who condemned the Pope for classifying the slaughter of millions of Christians as genocide, preferring to term it merely a civil war, even though civil wars do not usually have the vast majority of deaths on only one side. Erdogan also declared: "Democracy is like a train. We shall get out when we arrive at the station we want."
Another parallel with the Armenian Genocide is the treatment of Christian girls. Twing noted that Korean girls were stripped, tied to crosses, and left to remain on public view. The same thing happened to Armenian girls, with a movie, the "Auction of Souls," depicting the events.
Fehrenbach summarized the section by stating that "survivors of Nanking, Malaya, and the Bataan Death March ... would have understood what Mr. Twing was talking about."
Readers should remember that Fehrenbach's book was published in 1963, only a few years after Kishi Nobusuke, prime minister from 1957-1960 and Japan's most corrupt leader in modern times, was in power, and one year before Sato Eisaku, prime minister from 1964-1972, was in power, with Kishi being the grandfather of the current Japanese prime minister, Abe Shinzo, and Sato being Kishi's brother. Kishi was a Class A war criminal and due to hang until 1948 when the U.S. government decided it needed him to fight communism.
Twing's reports should be taken into consideration the next time a Japanese politician claims that the 200,000 comfort women, women the Japanese military used as sex slaves, were "smiling volunteers."
Japan also tried to destroy Korean culture, with Fehrenbach writing of "the great reforms the Japanese had [supposedly] instituted in Korea, and of which they eternally boasted": "The Japanese had reformed the ancient tongue of Chosun, Mr. Twing said, by abolishing it. Korean archives and treasures of literature were purified by burning, since there was no place in the bright new twentieth century for a separate Korean culture. Not only was Japanese the official language of Korean courts; it was the only one allowed in the schools."
The policy was enforced ruthlessly and violently, with "mandatory flogging for minor offenses" and "the reintroduction of an ancient tool, the rack."
If this was how the occupying Japanese treated Koreans before WWII, just imagine how savage they were during the war to POWs and all others who fell under Japanese control. The commander of Lieutenant Kikuchi Masaichi, commanding an airfield defense unit in Singapore early in 1945, was told regarding his 300 POWs: "When you're finished, you can do what you like with them. If I was you, I'd shove them into a tunnel with a few demolition charges."
Japanese school textbooks only include two footnotes regarding the comfort women and the 1937-38 Nanjing Massacre where anywhere from 150,000 to 300,000 people were slaughtered. The Manila Massacre, with 100,000 deaths, does not even rate a mention. The despicable crimes of Unit 731, where hundreds of thousands of people were used as human guinea pigs in ghastly experiments ranging from being dissected alive without anesthesia to being exposed to all manner of chemical and biological agents were made much worse by the U.S. government granting their freedom in exchange for their knowledge and research materials.
Not surprisingly, a 2006 survey of Japanese people found that 34% believed that the Tokyo Trials were an unjust and unilateral judgment of the defeated nations by the victor nations. One reason the Japanese can hold their ignorant point of view is that we foolishly allowed them to destroy most of the evidence of their crimes while we established the occupation, as compared to the Nazi death camps which were overrun while still in operation.
On the other side, the Chinese Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution, Hall of the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea, and North Korean Sinchon Museum of US War Atrocities neglect to mention the fact that North Korea attacked first. China is militarizing the South China Sea, even though the entire world holds that it is shared between the countries in the region. China is extending its security borders far beyond its actual ones, similar to how it views North Korea as a buffer zone against the West.
Some books never lose their appeal.