Author's note

This article first appeared in the April-May 1995 issue of The Last Ditch. I first posted it to the TLD site in 2000, a year or so before we lost our original home on the Web in September 2001. I have decided to repost it here, even though I wrote in the wake of September 11 that those events had reduced the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing to a mere footnote of history. It is my hope that what I had to say about Americans' traditional attitude toward war, the warmaking empire, and its war crimes has not been reduced to a mere footnote of analysis.

Nicholas Strakon
January 21, 2002


  Who bombs children?
The riddle of Oklahoma City
and the lesson of the last good war


After the Oklahoma City bombing, ordinary Americans all over the country were asking in bewildered horror, "Who bombs children?"  I can answer that question without having a scrap of evidence about who really employed Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the accused bombers. I can answer it not because I am so smart but because it is so easy.

My answer is: the U.S. government, among others.

With regard to war and the state, many Americans wander in a fog of mystification — or, to put it not so generously, in a moral stupor. For heaven's sake, the Oklahoma City bombing occurred a mere 19 days before the 50th anniversary of V-E Day. It occurred two months after the 50th anniversary of the incineration of Dresden and less than four months before the 50th anniversary of the incineration of Hiroshima. Let us, for once, connect historical events everyone knows about with the values all civilized people are supposed to cherish. Who is the greatest bomber of children if not the state?

When I write — as I have done in TLD — that World War II went far toward corrupting the moral sense of the American people, making possible the civilizational collapse we are now witnessing, I do not mean to indict the deceived, the propagandized, or the maleducated. Instead, I mean to suggest that the ruling class has robbed us not only materially but morally as well. And I mean to suggest that we can recapture our moral sense by reading history, recalling the values we were taught as children, and restoring certain vital connections between that history and those values. Americans of today cannot overturn the Permanent Regime, but we can keep it from stealing our souls. So let us remember all  of what happened in World War II, and let us call mass murder by its right name.


A juvenile war fan

I shrink at sounding holier-than-thou, so immediately I offer a mea culpa.  I was an adolescent World War II buff. I read everything about the war that I could lay my hands on, but especially books about the European Theater, where the dictators were cinematic, the music was stirring, the massed tanks were exciting, and glamorous cities were destroyed. In those days, all the materials available to me reflected the William Shirer/Time-Life triumphalist-nationalist school, but even those works of propaganda gave strategic bombing at least a glance.

In 1962, the formative work in particular for any bespectacled, bloodthirsty 13-year-old war fan was the paperback edition of Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.  I read my copy until it fell apart, and then I bought another. Now, Shirer, in the three pages — out of a total of 1,483 — that he devotes to the subject of area bombing, describes the destruction only of German "cities" and "homes," as if the inhabitants themselves were magically untouched. And in the entire massive work, he mentions the bombing of Dresden not once.  He does criticize the bombing of cities — but because it was strategically unproductive, not because it was a monstrous atrocity.

Still, it shouldn't have taken much of a leap of imagination for me to conclude that many children must have been turned into ash in those air raids. Indeed, I may have made that connection; I don't recall. I do recall that a few years later when I started to learn about civilian casualties in Germany and Japan from historians more honest than Shirer, I blamed not Roosevelt, Truman, and Churchill but Hitler and Tojo. Those latter villains forced "us" to kill the civilians! And anyway, those civilians (including the children, I suppose) had it coming for supporting Hitler and Tojo.

It is difficult to compartmentalize moral numbness, and mine infected more than just my understanding of World War II. After 1945, Western propaganda ministries abruptly dropped their loving descriptions of Stalin as the kindly, brave, pipe-smoking "Uncle Joe" and transformed the Soviet people from "our glorious, fraternal, democratic allies" into our most fearsome, loathsome enemy. It was an act of massive rectification that no doubt served as the principal inspiration for George Orwell's parables in 1984,  where the dread enemy might change in mid-speech from Eurasia to Eastasia, whereupon the people of Oceania were obliged instantly to adopt the belief that "Oceania is at war with Eastasia.... Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia."

In any event, as a good citizen groping toward intellectual consistency in 1967, I justified a surprise nuclear attack on Soviet cities — the old "throw a thousand missiles over the pole" strategy — by arguing that the Soviet people had a moral imperative to overthrow their wicked regime, and if they didn't, they (the children, too, I suppose) deserved whatever "we" had to do to them in the course of extirpating communism. That is what I had learned from my studies of World War II, and that is the tortured way I went about making it comport with what I had learned about good and evil in Sunday School. It had  to comport somehow, or everything I believed about the sanctity of the United State would be threatened.

Eventually, I found a better way to integrate what I knew of history with what I believed about freedom, justice, slavery, and murder. A late-blooming moral Columbus, I discovered America the beautiful, and had done with the hideous United State and its grisly works. (For a contrary view, see the next boxed quote.)


Kill a child for FDR and Uncle Joe

The government of the United State is surely the champion bomber of children in world history, with the British Imperial regime secure in second place. Some writers tell us that the Eighth and Fifteenth air forces didn't do much terror bombing, as such, in Europe until late 1944 or early 1945, but in fact American air forces became full partners with Britain's terroristic Bomber Command much earlier. The difference was that the Americans at first tended to bomb cities for tactical reasons — that is, to clear the way for their armies; or for reasons of economic strategy — that is, to shatter industry and infrastructure. The resulting massacre of civilians was merely "collateral damage." Unintended. Just accidental: Ooops! There goes another orphanage! Sorry! Thought it was a power plant. Don't worry, when it's all over, we'll pass out choon gum, chocolate, and Lucky Strikes to the kids, if any survive.  The fliers didn't restrict their activities to Germany, by the way: they wrecked cities in Italy, France, and Belgium as well. It was, one supposes, a case of having to destroy those cities in order to liberate them. [1]

By the last months of the war in Europe, the American bomber force did resort to outright terror bombing. For example, the courageous Eighth Air Force took over from the heroic Brits on the second day of the destruction of Dresden, a city with no AA guns but a million helpless refugees. And David Irving writes of another noble military operation no doubt vital to winning the war: "To exploit the refugee chaos in Berlin, the Americans sent over nine hundred heavy bombers at noon on February 3 [1945].... The city's casualties were immense." [2]

In the Pacific Theater, the United State had no close rival in child-bombing: it ran the Allies' only major air force, and that force rained havoc and death on a scale that made the raids conducted on Chinese civilians by Japan's rickety bomber force look like juvenile vandalism. [3]

(Other nations win prizes in other classes of heroic, valorous endeavor. For instance, that Red Army whose glorious achievements Bill and Hillary Clinton celebrated in Moscow the other day qualifies, at least in the European Theater, as the No. 1 Rapist — of women and  children.)


The butcher's bill

How many children, in both theaters, did the United State and British Imperialist air forces slaughter? I've dabbled in a little demography in an effort to come up with a figure. Douglas Botting, in From the Ruins of the Reich,  estimates that Allied bombing killed 500,000 civilians in Germany, not counting another 100,000 civilians killed in the land warfare, which included another type of bombing — artillery bombardment. [4] The 500,000 figure seems decidedly conservative in light of estimates that 250,000 were killed in the raids on Dresden alone (February 13-14, 1945). [5] But let it stand for our present purpose. In War Without Mercy,  John Dower calculates that American saturation bombing of 66 Japanese cities killed 393,000 civilians. [p. 298] Say, then, that about 893,000 civilians were killed in air attacks on Germany and Japan. (I omit civilians murdered by the "liberation" air forces in Italy, France, and the Low Countries.)

Census figures indicate that in 1970, children 14 or younger made up approximately 28 percent of the U.S. population. [6] It is reasonable to assume that the cohort of German and Japanese children was proportionally larger in the 1940s — a time of larger families and shorter life expectancy — but, again, let the conservative estimate stand.

If 28 percent of the victims were age 14 and younger, we end with an estimated butcher's bill of about 250,000 children murdered by American and British fliers. Extrapolating from the total figures, we can assume, roughly, that 44 percent of the murdered children were Japanese and 56 percent were German. If all the murdered Japanese children were murdered by Americans, for 44 percent of the total, and — at a guess — a third of the murdered German children were murdered by Americans, for another 18.67 percent of the total, we arrive at a figure of 62.67 percent or 156,675 children murdered by Americans, and 37.33 percent or 93,325 murdered by the British.

156,675 children! Call to mind the child the whole world saw in the Oklahoma City fireman's arms — and then imagine having to see a different child suffocated or crushed or incinerated on the front page of your daily paper every day for almost 429 years!

I don't mince words, because this must be clear: it wasn't "bombing" or "air raids" or "airplanes" that accounted for those homicides. It was the government employees crewing the planes. B-17s don't bomb people; people bomb people. Some crewmen were conscripts, "serving" with a gun in their back; but the pilots, navigators, and bombardiers were officers. Doing what they did should ignite 50 years' worth of fiery nightmares, for anyone with a moral imagination.


Hey, hey, LBJ....

I could not compartmentalize my moral numbness, and neither could other Americans. It infected our evaluation of other public calamities. For every youngster in the '60s who chanted, "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" there had to be a hundred Americans who never gave a second thought to those "collateral losses" produced by the strategic bombing of Vietnam. In fact, many probably thought the chanting kids ought to be lynched for insulting "our" president. (In the end, the war did become quite unpopular with most adults, but primarily because they didn't care to have their sons' tails shot off by an unbeatable enemy, not because of any holocaust of underage Oriental Commies.)

Worse: although it was no secret, in 1983, that the battleship New Jersey had bombarded unseen Lebanese villages with its 16-inch guns, most Americans were surprised  when, in response, Shiite soldiers gave their lives to blow up the Marine barracks in Beirut. The ugliest thing wasn't that Americans failed to take seriously the murdering of the villagers — including children — by U.S. sailors, but that they didn't even expect the Lebanese  to take those homicides seriously enough to want to strike back. In fact, they thought of the avengers as typical Ayrab fanatics for carrying out their strike! Apparently, only Americans are allowed to be outraged when their civilians and children are murdered. Such an attitude reveals not merely a lapse, but the death, of the moral imagination.


It can't happen here

Writing without regard to nationality, I believe I have made my case that the United State is the greatest bomber of children in history. That is all I wanted to demonstrate in order to shed some light on this odd season of terror and celebration, and it is all I can demonstrate. I have no secret knowledge, only black suspicions, about what happened in Oklahoma City.

However, for the benefit of those who object that the children bombed to death in World War II were, after all, mere foreigners,  and that "It (government child-bombing) can't happen here," I go on to suggest that just as the popular vocabulary, from curse words to the names of ethnic groups, has undergone considerable rectification in recent decades, so the definition of "us" and "them" has changed. I maintained in Dark Suits and Red Guards  that, since the completion of the Suits' Managerial Revolution and the rise of the Guards in the '60s, the two wings of the American ruling apparatus have shared a growing contempt, if not a loathing, for us ordinary, unprogressive, provincial Majority Americans. [7] I went on to sketch a near-future American regime dispatching Rapid Deployment Force planes with paraquat, Agent Orange, napalm, and anthrax to wipe out backwaters that had become difficult to govern. "Extreme?" I wrote. "But why would we expect our cosmopolitan Suits and Guards to display sentiments toward domestic rubes and yahoos any warmer than those which earlier, nationalistic American elites displayed toward the inhabitants of Dresden, Nagasaki, and Hiroshima?" (pp. 59-60)

Why, indeed? To the elites, what happens to us American "yahoos" at century's end matters as little as what happened to the "grinning yellow monkeys" and "bestial Huns" — of whatever tender age — in the 1940s. How much crippling inflation and taxation — how many policies destroying families, small businesses, small towns, and traditional culture — how much nihilistic Red Guard propaganda in the schools and media — how much official antiwhite bigotry — how many campaigns for civil disarmament — how many managed-trade and world government schemes — how much ruinous foreign aid and intervention — how many expropriations in favor of Wall Street banks, Israel, and Third World dictatorships must we suffer before we understand that it is not for us  that the elites are building their New World Order? We ordinary Americans in the 1990s have more in common with the ordinary people of Germany and Japan than we have with our masters in New York and Washington.

Many of the victims in Oklahoma City were not just Americans, of course, but friends and servants of the regime. Even if the deracinated elites wouldn't hesitate to murder American children an instant longer than they would hesitate to murder Lebanese children, wouldn't they flinch at killing their own servants?

I think they would not flinch. Regimes have always been willing to sacrifice some of their hapless minions for reasons of state. [8] Perhaps there would have been some resistance to a plan to butcher low-level nobodies at a facility on the Bicoasts. One tactical objection might have been that Bicoastal terrorism is more common, and thus less shocking, than Heartland terrorism. Better, overall, to target mere Okies — Velveeta eaters, Kmart shoppers, folks with unwashed accents, butts of Bicoastal jokes and ridicule. Undoubtedly, almost all the victims were Christians. In the eyes of New York and Washington, they were absolute nobodies from nowhere (although the media and other, more official spokesmen for the regime must make it seem that they were somebodies, for the benefit of the other nobodies in front of the tube).

I was relating to an acquaintance of mine, a 28-year veteran of the Central Government bureaucracy, the conspiratorial allegation that none of the "senior personnel" assigned to the Murrah building showed up for work the morning of the bombing. "Senior personnel!" he said, chuckling. "What senior personnel?" He said he doubted whether Murrah housed anyone at all in the Senior Executive Service, let alone any important political appointees. "At most, you had a handful of GS-15s. In D.C., a GS-15 doesn't even rate a reserved parking space."


Infantile bromides

I no longer support mass murder, but I'm afraid millions of nice, friendly, peaceful-looking Americans acquiesce in it, without thinking much about it. Undoubtedly, they would prefer to have the murdering limited to war — the slaughter specially sanctified by statesmen. But we all should remember that we live in an era of undeclared wars, secret wars, and "moral equivalents" of war — and pray that the statesmen of our own nation don't decide to make war on us.

Although it won't change anything in the bloody world around us, we should remember something else, too: the simple moral teachings of the West we all learned as children — "Two wrongs don't make a right," "Innocent until proven guilty," "Spare the children," and "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Call them infantile bromides if you will, but they are central tenets of any decent civilization, and of any decent man.

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This version is slightly revised from the print version.

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