The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 15 | Issue 22 | Number 1 | Nov 15, 2017
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus
Violence, Okinawa, and the ‘Pax Americana’
By John W. Dower
This unannotated essay was written for where it appeared in translation in four installments on September 25, 27, 29 and October 3, 2017. It has been slightly compressed for readers of the APJ. Dower’s observations are addressed at length in his recent annotated book The Violent American Century (Haymarket/Dispatch Books), which will be published in Japanese by Iwanami Shoten in a translation by Yuki Tanaka in November.
In American academic circles, several influential recent books argue that violence declined significantly during the Cold War, and even more precipitously after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. This reinforces what supporters of US strategic policy including Japan’s conservative leaders always have claimed. Since World War II, they contend, the militarized Pax Americana, including nuclear deterrence, has ensured the decline of global violence.
I see the unfolding of the postwar decades through a darker lens.
No one can say with any certainty how many people were killed in World War II. Apart from the United States, catastrophe and chaos prevailed in almost every country caught in the war. Beyond this, even today criteria for identifying and quantifying war-related deaths vary greatly. Thus, World War II mortality estimates range from an implausible low of 50 million military and civilian fatalities worldwide to as many as 80 million. The Soviet Union, followed by China, suffered by far the greatest number of these deaths.
Only when this slaughter is taken as a baseline does it make sense to argue that the decades since World War II have been relatively nonviolent. ....
2017: Violence, Okinawa and the Pax Americana