Category Archive 'Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)'

08 Feb 2007

Letters From Iwo Jima

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I haven’t seen the new Eastwood film yet, but Jack Cashill has, and he think the liberal critics have got it wrong.

I had postponed seeing Clinton Eastwood’s new movie, Letters From Iwo Jima, for the simple reason that the critics liked it. By and large, they are an even more daft bunch than the people who make the movies. They gave the film the National Board of Review’s “best picture” award and helped goose it on for an Oscar nod.

Letters attracted a critical buzz primarily because it did not ask the audience to do anything as vaguely patriotic as root for America during a time of war, even if another war. The film looks instead at the battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective.

I had presumed that to be so well received the movie had to be anti-war, anti-military, anti-American, or, most likely, all of the above. I overlooked a fourth possibility, the actual one: the critics simply did not understand it.

In the way of background, the island of Iwo Jima had critical strategic significance for the United States and Japan in what proved to be the last year of the Pacific War, and both sides knew it. Only a film critic could describe the battle as “pointless.”

Iwo Jima’s airfields, if captured, would halve the distance that B-29 bombers needed to fly to reach the Japanese mainland. These airfields would also provide a base for P-51 Mustang fighters, which could then escort the bombers on their essential and lethal raids.

Given the way the Japanese had previously defended beaches, U.S. planners worked under the presumption that the island would fall in five days. As in such warlike games as chess or football, however, real war allows each side to make intelligent decisions to advance its own interests.

Liberal critics of the Iraq War have overlooked this truism. They seem to have convinced themselves that all American failures result from “blunders” or “gross mismanagement” for which someone should “apologize.” They give little credit to the opposing forces for resisting creatively and none at all to themselves for encouraging that resistance.

The struggle for Iwo Jima involved just such strategic thinking from a savvy adversary, which is why it proved so costly. Beginning on February 19, 1945 the five hellish weeks of Iwo Jima cost more than twice as many American lives as the four years of Iraq.

Read the whole thing.

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