Gary J. Bass

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75 Years Later, Asia’s Wartime Memories Linger

Seventy-five years ago, around the cold and bleak midnight of Dec. 22-23, 1948, seven convicted Japanese war criminals were marched toward the gallows. Among these former top leaders were Gen. Hideki Tojo, a wartime prime minister found guilty for aggression at Pearl Harbor and for atrocities such as the Burma-Thailand death railway, and Gen. Iwane Matsui, the army commander at Nanjing, who was convicted of failing to prevent the slaughter and mass rape of Chinese there.

Tojo, Matsui and other condemned war criminals, dressed in U.S. Army work clothes as they received Buddhist last rites, defiantly yelled an imperial cry: “Banzai!…  Seguir leyendo »

Bangladesh is in fresh turmoil. On Sept. 17, its Supreme Court decided that Abdul Quader Mollah, a leading Islamist politician, should be hanged for war crimes committed during the country’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. When he was given a life sentence by a Bangladeshi war-crimes tribunal back in February, tens of thousands of Bangladeshis took to the streets demanding his execution. Since then, more than a hundred people have died in protests and counterprotests.

This may sound remote or irrelevant to Americans, but the unrest has much to do with the United States. Some of Bangladesh’s current problems stem from its traumatic birth in 1971 — when President Richard M.…  Seguir leyendo »

All wars are terrifying gambles, but the wars justified with moral claims of humanitarianism carry a distinctively harrowing set of risks and problems — above all, the challenge of preventing massive human catastrophes with limited means. In Libya, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama are already beginning to confront many of the classic dilemmas that bedeviled their predecessors facing massacres and genocide in Somalia, Bosnia and Rwanda.

The big democracies usually stand idly by during the worst atrocities, including the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda. Simply to defend core national security interests, the Western allies might have been better off this time concentrating on threats in North Korea, Pakistan or Yemen.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the face of rising tensions between the United States and Israel over housing construction in East Jerusalem, the Obama administration has rushed to reassert what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently called the “unshakable bond” between the two countries.

No doubt, that relationship rests on enduring foundations, including broad American public sympathy for a besieged democracy, a mutual strategic interest in resisting Arab extremism and a sense of moral duty to preserve the Jewish people after the Holocaust.

But if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tries to push his luck on settlements or the peace process, he would do well to remember an unnerving precedent: Israel’s loss, in 1967, of what had been a robust alliance with France.…  Seguir leyendo »