Tuesday, April 24, 2012

to "THE COMMENSALIST", civilization's JOB ONE is a warm meal for all ....

Michael Marshall
After civilization does that - if it ever does that - then it can put a Man on Mars and a Woman on Venus.

That's our job as civilized humanity, as I see it: to give everyone, from grandma to granddaughter, a nice warm meal and a nice warm, dry, safe bed to sleep on.

When you fail to provide that bare minimum , as both the 1940s Germans and Japanese failed to do for their shiny new utopian empires, you lose - you lose the potential support of your new subjects - you lose the war - you lose everything.

And finally, and most soberingly, modern science lost.

The 'smartest people in the Universe', the people who claimed they could make synthetic food out of coal tar, air and water, (and who claimed they were able to put a bomb in a pickle barrel from 25,000 feet) totally failed to put a good old fashioned meal on the tables of people who really needed it.

But we'd rather talk about what science did do during WWII , rather than what it totally failed to do, don't we dear fellow historians ?

So ---- lots of books on the Axis and Allied bombing campaigns of the war, right up to the final dropping of the A-bombs.

But what 99.99% of humanity has never heard of, from all the wordage published over WWII,  is of the 2 million people who died in Vietnam's TET FAMINE of  1945 .

And because a severe famine is the gift that goes on giving, many of the 'lucky' survivors died or had shortened, saddened, lives after the famine was over.

In fact, so do many of their children and their children's children, rebuking Darwinian dogma in the process.

That is what famine does to humanity. Ten seconds after the bomb blast , 90% of the people that are going to die, are dead.

It makes for great photos though.

By contrast, famine is often nearly invisible, but horribly worse because it kills over such long extended time periods.

There was no absolute shortage of rice to lead up to those two million dead people, even with the Japanese extracting a huge amount of rice for their war needs.

Like most severe famines on a national or regional scale, it takes governments - not Nature - to " frack-up "  this bad.

So lots of rice was stockpiled here but not transported there to where it was really needed, not because there was no transport available, but because the humans in charge failed to care enough about their human charges to 'bust a gut' to do things right.

They acted as if they were not their siblings' keeper.

Who (or what)was to blame ?

Not Nature, at least not this time.

 The French who ran the local government, under an overall firm Japanese thumb, did a good job keeping this normal predator at bay.

Credit them with something.

The Japanese?

 Yes they deserve at least 80% of the blame.

They started the war, after all, and then took most of the rice crop and made locals divert food lands to produce for their war's machines.

Literally - jute for bags and rope (what despot ever has enough rope ?) . Rice made into alcohol to run machines in lieu of petroleum.

Ten percent blame to the French, Vichy as it happens, for not pushing back harder against Japanese demands, on behalf of the local Vietnamese.

Ten percent as well to the American bomber commanders who sunk rice boats and busted dikes and bridges knowing full well, at the time, that it would create massive food shortages and death for the totally innocent occupied nation below their wings.

Why only ten percent for each of France and America ?

Because they didn't start the war , the war that led to both of them doing, admittedly, very callous things.

Now I mention this little known famine this month because it was at its worst exactly 67 years ago.

And because the deaths here, in this one brief but intense six month famine in one little part of a big world war, outnumbered all of the deaths caused by all of the aerial bombs (A-Bombs included) dropped by Axis and Allies alike in 6 years of war.

People - historians - this is a famine to 'which attention, attention,  must be paid' .....

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