Much to the joy of a few fringe groups like State Department Watch, a small group of conservative senators held up ratification for four years despite the overwhelming support of the Reagan Administration. Finally, in 1983, the disputed-islands treaties, including the U.S.-Kiribati Treaty, passed the Senate by a vote of 94-4. The treaty came into force on September 23, 1983.
William Bodde Jr.
United States Ambassador (ret.)
Chevy Chase, Md.
Richard Rubin replies:
I thank the ambassador for his letter, and although my piece was intended merely to present, not to settle, the controversy over who can rightfully claim these territories, I will gladly pass on this information to the concerned parties at the State Department—if I can figure out who they are.
Honoring War Dead
That Japan has the testicular fortitude to honor its World War II soldiers in spite of today's political correctness is to be applauded ("The Kamikazes Rise Again," by Murray Sayle, March Atlantic). But for Sayle to compare a government-financed sculpture of a jaunty young kamikaze pilot to a weathered statue of a humbled Confederate soldier is an uninformed attempt to link a states'-rights initiative with expansionist, imperialist totalitarianism. To further impugn Confederate submariners on the CSS Hunley, by linking their unselfish bravery to suicidal pilots, is an even greater insult to the memory of those Confederate sailors.
Sayle presupposed the revisionists' Big Lie: that his "brave men and women" of the Confederacy fought the war for a single reason—slavery. Although he does not plainly say that, he clearly means it. Although some of the men of the South certainly had the issue of slavery in mind as they marched to defend their country (as well as to repel an invading army, defend the pre-Fourteenth Amendment Constitution, win freedom from punishing taxes, and so on), one objective they definitely did not have in mind was imperialist expansion.
The headline was tantalizing: "The Kamikazes Rise Again. This time, to help Japan confront its past." I plunged into Murray Sayle's thoughtful piece on World War II suicide pilots eagerly. Had the Japanese suddenly atoned for their aggression in Asia, or at least begun to experience remorse? Not a bit. Not a word of Sayle's excellent article supports the headline, if by "confront" the headline writer meant "to face or oppose boldly, defiantly, or antagonistically" (the second of three definitions given in the nearest dictionary). Indeed, if one wishes to place the kamikaze memorials in the larger context of the Japanese viewing their past, it would surely be one of continuity rather than of change. The one permissible way to view World War II in Japan has been through the suffering of the Japanese people, as in a film like The Burmese Harp, which depicts Japanese soldiers starving in Southeast Asia. Kamikaze pilots and beautiful army nurses dying of tropical diseases are of a piece with this tradition.