by Patrick J. Buchanan
IN WORLD WAR II, perhaps the greatest single act of Allied war terror was
the fire-bombing of "the Florence of the Elbe." An undefended city of
630,000, in February of 1945, Dresden was packed with hundreds of thousands
of desperate refugees fleeing the Red Army.
As the Washington Post's Ken Ringle wrote on the fiftieth anniversary of the
raid, "if any one person can be blamed for the tragedy at Dresden, it
appears to have been Churchill."
Before leaving for Yalta, Churchill ordered Operation Thunderclap, the use
of Allied air power to "de-house" German civilians to make them refugees so
they would clog the roads over which German soldiers had to move to stop the
winter offensive of the Red Army. It was British Air Marshal Arthur "Bomber"
Harris who put Dresden on the target list. As Ringle describes the first
night of the raid, 770 Lancaster bombers arrived over Dresden around ten
p.m. In two waves three hours apart, 650,000 incendiary bombs rained down on
Dresden's narrow streets and baroque buildings, together with another 1,474
tons of high explosives.
The morning after the Lancasters struck, five hundred American B-17s arrived
over Dresden in two waves, with three hundred fighter escorts to strafe
The fires burned for seven days. More than 1,600 acres of the city were
devastated (compared to 100 acres burned in the German raid on Coventry) and
melting streets burned the shoes off those attempting to flee. Cars
untouched by fire burst into flames just from the heat. Thousands sought
refuge in cellars where they died, robbed of oxygen by the flames, before
the buildings above them collapsed.
Novelist Kurt Vonnegut, one of twenty-six thousand Allied prison ers of war
in Dresden who helped clean up after the attack, remembers tunneling into
the ruins to find the dead sitting upright in what he would describe in
Slaughterhouse-Five as "corpse mines." Floating in the static water tanks
were the boiled bodies of hundreds more.
Estimates of the dead in the Dresden firestorm run from 35,000 to 250,000.
Even Churchill acknowledged what it had all been about: "It seems to me that
the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for
the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be
BEGUN BY THE British, air terror was perfected by the Americans. A few weeks
after Dresden, General Curtis LeMay's B-29s went into action over Tokyo.
Nicholas von Hoffman describes what happened:
On March 9, 1945, 179 American bombers, armed with incendiary bombs
intended to torch the wood-and-paper Japanese capital appeared over
Tokyo, a city with population density of 135,000 per square mile.
All went according to plan. Tokyo was consumed by fire so ferocious
that the heat boiled the water in the lakes and ponds, cooking those
who fled to safety there like human lobsters. Official American
figures put the death toll for that night's raid at 87,000 people.
Nobody knows what the true number is.
What is the moral difference between burning alive 87,000 people with
incendiary bombs from five miles up-and burning to death 187 Czechs in a
barn at Lidice?
In the documentary Fog of War, former Defense Secrefary Robert McNamara, who
worked with LeMay on the plans to incinerate Japanese cities, says the
general came to the conclusion that "if we'd lost, we'd be prosecuted as war
criminals; and I think he was right. LeMay, and I, were acting like war
Six months after Tokyo, Harry Truman ordered atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, killing an estimated eighty thousand in the first strike on
August 6 and forty thousand in the second on August 9. Truman dropped the
bombs to force Japan to surrender. Had we not, it is said, half a million
U.S. soldiers, sailors, and airmen might have died in the planned invasion
of the Home Islands. Asked if he agonized over the decision to burn alive a
hundred thousand Japanese civilians, Truman replied: "I never gave it a
If war terror is the deliberate slaughter of noncombatants, to break the
will of an enemy, were not Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki war
terror on a monumental scale?
[Excerpted from "Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted
the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency," by Patrick J.
Buchanan -- pages 119 to 121. Mr. Buchanan
writes: Muslims "worship a different God," and that the "soaring
Muslim population is a Fifth Column inside Europe."]
Herbert P. Bix, "From Nanjing
1937 to Fallujah 2004," History News Network, May 17, 2004
Tony Kevin, "Fallujah: All the Makings of a War
Crime," Sydney Morning Herald, November 6, 2004