Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The more you know.

The more you have to fear.

Last weekend I watched an intriguing documentary series, The Last Days of WWII. I learned many interesting things, but the one that stuck with me was about the scores of new technologies developed in Germany and Japan that would revolutionize the art of warfare.

Having carefully researched WWI techniques Japanese leaders decided that the atom bomb was too far off and that given the success of Germany’s use of poison gas, germ warfare was clearly the wave of the future. Japan went straight to work using civilian slave labor to build a secret facility in Japanese occupied Manchuria. There they experimented with different diseases and methods of deploying them, using human guinea pigs.

Their first real act was to poison the waters and food stores of the Chinese front with natural diseases. 70,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers died of cholera and dysentery when the Japanese forces feigned a retreat.

They next developed a plane, fast as a fighter plane, that could fly from Japan to the west coast of America and back. Finally, in the most terrifying act in the war, Japan developed an ingenious approach to long-distance warfare. After testing several diseases and missile designs (on Chinese civilians and POWs), Japan picked the bubonic plague as their next long range super-weapon. They made a two part missile that would explode at an optimal altitude over the major cities of America’s west (to coincide with attacks on the East by the Nazi navy) scattering millions bubonic plague infested fleas across the city.

The planes went into production and plans to first bomb San Diego were created. They began amassing fleas and infecting them with the plague, testing them on Chinese POWs and soldiers to perfect the method. By V-J Day Japan had enough bubonic plague to wipe out the entire human race.

I’ve always felt bad about America breaking the seal on the nuclear menace. All the destruction and civilian death seemed like a waste; that because Germany had surrendered, the war was really over. But I think I was wrong. The war wasn’t over, Japan was still desperately trying to hold onto their annexed land and prevent a western invasion. The bomb protected us from countless civilian deaths and possibly the eradication of the entire human race.

Studying WWII is like watching horror movies alone. After doing all this research (I say research you say unhealthy obsessing), I realize how close Hitler was to winning. If he had listened to his military advisors, even the entrance of America would not have prevented him. Battles like Stalingrad, where Hitler ignored his advisors, were the ultimate downfall of the Third Reich, not the fresh American military.

Without nuclear weapons, I can’t imagine the world we would live in now. Maybe the world that nobody would live on anymore.

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