Daily Archives: 19 February 2008

Japanese Internment in Canada and the U.S.

A recent article by Stephanie Bangarth in Japan Focus examines Nikkei Loyalty and Resistance in Canada and the United States, 1942-1947. Here is an excerpt.

A basic accounting of the similarities and differences in the situation of American and Canadian Nikkei sets forth something like this: In North [and South] America in general, the Japanese were subjected to discriminatory treatment upon arrival, including the denial of citizenship rights in the US and franchise rights in Canada; they negotiated this impediment by clustering in “ethnic enclaves” primarily on the west coast and increasingly became objects of suspicion, fear, and envy over the course of the early twentieth century. Following the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, both countries “evacuated” Japanese aliens, Japanese nationals, and their North American–born children from their west coasts and “relocated” them to inland camps on the basis of “military necessity,” a politically expedient term legitimating an historic racist animus. This movement involved about 112,000 people in the US and nearly 22,000 in Canada.

In the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor, both the US and Canada also developed policies that were used to defraud the Nikkei of their property and to encourage a more even “dispersal” of the population throughout the country. The policies diverged in the mid-1940s when the Canadian government expatriated Canadian citizens of Japanese ancestry and deported some Japanese aliens (those who signed repatriation forms requesting to be sent to Japan). The Americans also deported some, but only those who renounced American citizenship. Japanese Canadians were disfranchised by provincial and federal legislation; by virtue of the Bill of Rights, those Japanese Americans who had been born in the US were not. In addition, they were permitted to enlist and many did so proudly in the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. It is also worth noting that many Nisei who joined the armed forces did so while their families remained in the camps; still others resisted pressures to join, particularly after 20 January 1944 when the draft was reinstated for Japanese Americans.

Throughout much of the war, by contrast, their Canadian counterparts were prohibited from serving in the armed forces and thereby demonstrating their loyalty. Canadian government officials feared that in return for serving their country, Japanese Canadians might agitate for the franchise. It was only toward the end of the war that about 150 Nisei were permitted to work as translators for the Canadian military. Another important difference is that the US government allowed persons of Japanese ancestry to return to the Pacific coast in 1945 as a result of the Endo decision, whereas Japanese Canadians had to wait until 1949 when wartime government legislation finally lapsed.

via K. M. Lawson’s Asian History Carnival #19 at Frog in a Well

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Bosnia, 1998: A Colony Once Again

From History of the Present: Essays, Sketches, and Dispatches from Europe in the 1990s, by Timothy Garton Ash (Vintage, 1999), pp. 337-339:

My Sarajevan friends are delighted with the ten thousand foreigners living there, and the nine billion dollars being spent on the country every year. They tell me that Sarajevo has actually never in its history been so genuinely cosmopolitan. The new cafés are pulsating. Increasingly, the Office of the High Representative, headed by the Spanish diplomat Carlos Westendorp, rules like a colonial administration. It’s tempting to say that Bosnia-Herzegovina has again become an Austro-Hungarian protectorate, as it was after the Congress of Berlin, with the Americans as the Austrian Habsburgs and we Western Europeans as the Hungarian junior partner (although picking up most of the bill). But it’s not a real protectorate. Rather, it’s a bizarre novelty in international relations. We have had protectorates before. We have had partitions before. This is half protectorate, half partition.

The official ideology of all Western agencies in Bosnia is that the unitary state is being pulled together again. It’s just taking rather a long time. Alas, I don’t think this is true. I fear all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will not put Humpty-Dumpty together again. But final partition would be an even less acceptable option. For the Bosniaks to have a serious, viable state, you would need to give them at least part of the western half of the “Serb Republic.” That would almost certainly mean more bloodshed and tens of thousands more people driven from their homes. If, on the other hand, you allowed the Serb- and Croat-run parts to secede as they are, you would be left with a landlocked rump Bosniak state. Bosniaks warn that this could turn their people into muslim-fundamentalist nationalists. The result would be a “Gaza strip in the middle of Europe.”

In fact, the Bosniaks hold the conscience of the West in a powerful moral half nelson. In effect, they say, “We are the Jews of the Balkans and the Palestinians of the Balkans!” The Jews, because no people in Europe has suffered something as close to genocide since the Jews in the Holocaust. So how could we abandon them? The Palestinians, for the reasons already given. I very much doubt that a rump Bosnia would actually become a muslim-fundamentalist state. But in a sense this doesn’t matter. Earlier this autumn, the former German defense minister Volker Rühe told me that the deepest issue in Bosnia and Kosovo was “whether the West sees a place for Islam in Europe.” Powerful Islamic countries agree. Faced with these complementary perceptions of the powerful, the local truth is largely irrelevant.

So, in some parts of former Yugoslavia, violent separation has already happened. In Kosovo, there remains a difficult but still Humvee-navigable dirt road to peaceful separation. That road we should take. Elsewhere, in Bosnia, but in a different way also in Macedonia, I see no morally acceptable alternative to a direct Western involvement lasting many years, probably decades. Even if, intellectually, we will the end of separation, we cannot will the means.

But why on earth should Americans be the new Habsburgs ? Why should American diplomats enter the twenty-first century trying to solve problems left over from the dissolution of the Ottoman empire at the end of the nineteenth? Why should sons of Kansas and daughters of Ohio risk their lives in these perilous, snow-covered mountains (“What do you need? Plastic?”) to stop Europeans fighting over obscure patches of territory? After all, the great-grandparents of some of these Americans probably fled these very mountains to escape just these insoluble squabbles.

The vital national interest is indeed hard to see. The new catchall bogey of “regional instability” hardly compares with the old fear of the Soviet Union getting the upper hand in the cold war. But empires—especially informal, liberal empires—are like that. You muddle in; then somehow you can’t quite muddle out. Somalia could never apply the moral half nelson that Bosnia has. For the Balkans, this has been a decade of Western bluster. First, we had the Western bluster of intervention. Now we have the Western bluster of withdrawal. I don’t believe this bluster either. I think the sons of Kansas and the daughters of Ohio will be here for a good long time.

“Take up the White Man’s burden,” Rudyard Kipling wrote a hundred years ago, welcoming the United States’s willingness, in the Philippines, “To wait in heavy harness / On fluttered folk and wild.” There, and elsewhere, he prophesied, Americans would reap only “The blame of those ye better, / The hate of those ye guard.” Today, some of the finest white men are, of course, black. And the local savages are Europeans.

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The Muddled Liberation of France, 1942–46

From The Unfree French: Life Under the Occupation, by Richard Vinen (Yale U. Press, 2006), pp. 364-365:

Between the arrival of American troops in North Africa in November 1942 and the return of the last French prisoners and deportees from Germany via the Soviet Union (in 1946 or later), French people experienced many different kinds of liberation. Some Resistance veterans looked back on the liberation as a time of disappointment, a time when France ought to have undergone a social and political revolution but failed to do so. Many saw ‘their’ liberation as having been usurped by someone else. People who saw themselves as the ‘real’ Resistance were particularly hostile to the Communists and Gaullists who proved so adept at manipulating memories of Resistance and liberation—though the Communists and Gaullists were both soon marginalized in the political system of the Fourth Republic.

The liberation was not a time of unqualified rejoicing. The arrival of Allied troops in mainland France often marked the beginning of the most violent period of the war for French people. Nazi persecution continued (the last train taking Jews from Paris left on 18 August 1944) but this was now mixed with the less systematic violence of massacres carried out by German troops operating in areas they did not know and with the damage inflicted in some areas by Allied bombardment. In all sorts of ways, the liberation could be a period of horrible suffering….

Perhaps the most curious absence at the liberation was Vichy. Pétainism was not displaced by the first liberation (that of North Africa) because the Americans and their French allies had no particular interest in overthrowing it. De Gaulle and his associates subsequently drove most Pétainists out of the French administration in North Africa, but they did so mainly for reasons of realpolitik rather than principle. Events in the town of Vichy were an odd little sideshow in the summer of 1944. Pétain did not want to be seen to abandon his post voluntarily and the Germans did not want to leave him behind in France. A discreet deal was struck. On 20 August German soldiers broke down the doors of the Marshal’s apartment at the Hôtel du Parc. Pétain’s entourage protested but his bodyguards did not open fire. A crowd of around two hundred gathered outside in the Rue des États-Unis and sang the ‘Marseillaise’ as the Vichy government left its capital. Allied troops did not, however, arrive in Vichy, a place of no strategic importance. Once the Germans had gone, the town was liberated by a mixture of maquisards who had come down from the surrounding hills and policemen who were only too happy to find themselves once again on the right side.

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The Muddled Liberation of French Algeria, 1942

From The Unfree French: Life Under the Occupation, by Richard Vinen (Yale U. Press, 2006), pp. 318-319:

The significance of American landings in North Africa, and particularly in Algeria, was complicated. Parts of the French Empire had rallied to de Gaulle or been conquered by Free French forces ever since 1940. However, these were mostly distant places with small French populations. Algeria was close to the mainland. It contained more than a million French citizens, including a large number of soldiers. Furthermore, Algeria was not a colony, unlike Indochina, nor a League of Nations mandate, unlike Syria where Free French and Vichy forces had fought in 1941, nor a protectorate, unlike Morocco. Algeria was part of France. It returned deputies to the French parliament, and its European population had resented Vichy moves that seemed to blur the distinction between it and the colonies or protectorates.

Operation Torch was, however, a funny kind of liberation. Landings in North Africa did not involve even the token Free French force that went to Normandy with the Allies in 1944. Furthermore, there were no Germans in French North Africa in 1942 and resistance to the American landings came from French forces loyal to the Vichy government. France was being liberated from the French.

Giraud, the Americans’ candidate for the leadership of the French in ‘liberated’ Algeria, missed his rendezvous with an American submarine that was meant to pick him up from southern France, and was still on Gibraltar when the Americans landed in North Africa. If Giraud was unexpectedly absent, another conservative French military leader was unexpectedly present. Admiral Darlan was in Algiers visiting his son, who was seriously ill with polio. Darlan had no advance knowledge of the landings. Even as American warships approached North Africa, he insisted that the Americans would not break their promise not to enter French North Africa uninvited. When American troops landed, Darlan ordered the French to resist—1,368 Frenchmen and 453 Allied soldiers died in the few days before Darlan changed his mind. Eventually, however, a ceasefire was arranged and the Americans suggested that Darlan himself might lead the French in Algeria. This was an attractive suggestion to an ambitious man who had recently been squeezed out of power in Vichy by Laval’s return, and Darlan signed an accord with Clark, the commander of American forces in North Africa. The British were unhappy with Darlan’s rule in Algeria as were American liberals: the journalist Ed Murrow suggested that letting Darlan rule Algeria was like letting Quisling rule a ‘liberated’ Norway.

Pétain was furious at the Clark-Darlan accords and denounced them six times in the week after they were concluded. Darlan did not denounce Pétain. On the contrary, he argued that he was acting in the Marshal’s name and carrying out the policy that the Marshal was unable to announce openly. Darlan’s suggestion that Pétain was not a free agent was made more convincing by the fact that the Germans invaded the free zone of France in response to the American invasion of Algeria.

Darlan’s reign in Algeria ended on Christmas Eve 1942 when he was shot by a young royalist. The assassin was himself executed on Boxing Day, giving conspiracy theorists much food for thought. Now the Americans installed their original candidate, Giraud, in power in Algeria. Unlike Darlan, Giraud had never held office under the Vichy government and, unlike Darlan, he had always been anti-German. However, he had also expressed loyalty to Pétain and shared many of Pétain’s beliefs. Giraud presented himself as a military figure who did not wish to play politics, a classic conservative stance that meant, in practice, that he would not overthrow much of what Vichy had established in Algeria. He had particularly strong views about one piece of Vichy legislation. He had spent his early life serving with North African units of the French army and had developed a deep admiration for Islam. This made him keen not to restore the Cremieux decree, which had given French citizenship to Jews in Algeria and which had been abolished by Vichy. Giraud believed that the Cremieux decree antagonized Muslims in Algeria, and, in fact, Jews in Algeria did not regain French citizenship until May 1943, six months after the Americans arrived.

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