No case for internment

By Vox Day

Michelle Malkin’s “In Defense of Internment” runs to 416 pages. Seldom have so many words been written to such pointless effect. While Ms. Malkin appears to have done copious research with regard to the bureaucratic justifications for the internment, she also reveals her utter ignorance of military history and strategic logistics.

This is a rather serious flaw, as her entire case rests upon the flimsy and ultimately unsupportable notion of the military necessity for the federal government to violate the life, liberty and property rights of 120,000 individuals of Japanese descent, many of them American citizens. She states in the book:

The disparate treatment of ethnic Japanese vs. ethnic Germans and ethnic Italians is often assumed to be based on anti-Japanese racism rather than military necessity. Japan, however, was the only Axis country with a proven capability of launching a major attack on the United States.

Malkin attempts to prove this military necessity by quoting intelligence memos, having neither the background nor the dedication to examine the question of military necessity for herself. Nor, clearly, did she bother to ask anyone who does. Consider the following facts.

  1. The Overlord invasion required 4,600 ships to travel 100 miles under the air cover of 12,000 planes to land 156,000 troops on a French coastline 3,437 miles long. Over the next three weeks, the Allies brought in another 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles, and 570,000 tons of supplies.

  2. The unopposed landing at Anzio required 369 ships to land 100,000 men. Over the next four months, the Allies brought in another 14,000 men and 450,00 tons of supplies. Despite this, and the fact that the British Eighth Army and U.S. Fifth Corps were only 50 miles away on the other side of the Gustav line, the Sixth Corps remained helplessly trapped in its small beachhead.

  3. In January 1942, prior to both Executive Order 9066 and the battle of Midway, the Imperial Japanese Navy possessed 717 carrier-borne planes and 176 ships, of which 15 were troop transports. The IJN’s troop-bearing capacity was about 42,000 men. Reinforcement and resupply required a roundtrip transit of 11,000 miles to a coastline only 1,359 miles long.

None of this is hindsight, as the facts and logistics of the Pacific situation were very well known to American military strategists at the time. So much for the fears of invasion.

Malkin also writes:

The West Coast, where the vast majority of ethnic Japanese were concentrated, was uniquely vulnerable to attack, invasion, spot raids, sabotage and surveillance that could potentially cripple the war effort.

Such blissful ignorance of the realities of World War II military production is sublime. From January 1942 to August 1945, the United States launched 37 fleet carriers, 83 escort carriers and 349 destroyers. The Japanese built three fleet carriers, six small-carrier conversions, and 63 destroyers. Even if those sneaky, treacherous Japs could have destroyed 50 percent of the West Coast production facilities, the war effort would not have been slowed, much less crippled.

There was never a genuine military threat to the West Coast or to the war effort from individuals of Japanese descent on either side of the Pacific Ocean. To argue military necessity in support of the internment requires a complete disregard for the relevant facts. Reference links and additional points can be found on Vox Popoli.

In the unlikely event that you still believe Michelle Malkin has a shred of credibility left to her with regard to this matter, consider the opinion of a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a man not entirely unfamiliar with amphibious invasions.

Q: Is it credible to assert that fears of a Japanese invasion of the West Coast were well-founded?

A: No. No.

Q: No, as in it was improbable, or no, absolutely not?

A: Absolutely no. At that time, after Pearl Harbor, the average American was afraid of just about anything. The fear factor was so bad, they had the Japanese storming the Presidio. The reality was that the Japanese did not have any amphibious shipping to speak of, they had no ability to resupply over great distance, they had no ability to manage the umbrella of air. It was not feasible.

Q: Was that known to the military strategists of the time.

A: Yeah, yeah, it was.

It is fortunate that “In Defense of Internment” has some heft to it. Worthless as a contribution to the historical debate, the reader may find it to have some utility as a doorstop.