A Violent Peace

Race, U.S. Militarism, and Cultures of Democratization in Cold War Asia and the Pacific
Post*45; Stanford University Press
  • 1. Auflage
  • |
  • erschienen am 11. August 2020
  • |
  • 320 Seiten
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978-1-5036-1292-1 (ISBN)

A Violent Peace offers a radical account of the United States' transformation into a total-war state. As the Cold War turned hot in the Pacific, antifascist critique disclosed a continuity between U.S. police actions in Asia and a rising police state at home. Writers including James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, and W.E.B. Du Bois discerned in domestic strategies to quell racial protests the same counterintelligence logic structuring America's devastating wars in Asia.

Examining U.S. militarism's centrality to the Cold War cultural imagination, Christine Hong assembles a transpacific archive-placing war writings, visual renderings of the American concentration camp, Japanese accounts of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, black radical human rights petitions, Korean War-era G.I. photographs, Filipino novels on guerrilla resistance, and Marshallese critiques of U.S. human radiation experiments alongside government documents. By making visible the way the U.S. war machine waged informal wars abroad and at home, this archive reveals how the so-called Pax Americana laid the grounds for solidarity-imagining collective futures beyond the stranglehold of U.S. militarism.

1. Auflage
  • Englisch
  • Redwood City
  • |
  • USA
Stanford University Press
  • 12,48 MB
978-1-5036-1292-1 (9781503612921)
Christine Hong is Associate Professor of Literature and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her political commentary has appeared in The Nation and on Democracy Now! and Al Jazeera.
Contents and AbstractsIntroduction chapter abstract

Offering a theoretical and historical overview of the Pax Americana in Asia and the Pacific as the militarized basis of U.S. interventionist war in the region, the introduction counters historical framings of the Cold War as a long peace. Pointing to racism's centrality to U.S. war and police power, it examines the double-fronted fascistic nature of U.S. counterinsurgency throughout the Cold War. The prosecution of unofficial U.S. war well into the post-1945 period-and the transposability of its military tactics and strategies against "unruly" populations at home and the "enemy" abroad-fostered interdependency among conscripted, colonized, and occupied peoples within a covert counterinsurgent framework, giving rise to a transpacific Pax Americana body of Asian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and African American writing, political performance, and visual art. This introduction considers how alignment and complicity with the U.S. military both blurred the color line and created the inadvertent grounds for the imagination of solidarity along antimilitarist lines.

1"Democracy within the Teeth of Fascism": The Black POW and the Invisible War at Home in Ralph Ellison's War Writings chapter abstract

Excavating World War II black antifascist critique, this chapter examines Ralph Ellison's "Airman Novel," an unpublished work that clarifies, through a Double-V lens, the Jim Crow home front to be the site of an invisible racial war, a counterrevolution originating in reaction to radical Reconstruction. Set in a Nazi POW camp, "Airman Novel" features a downed black flyer who must realize "democracy within the teeth of fascism." Its portrait of Nazism notwithstanding, it is a tale of the war at home. Recalling the militarized wartime mapping of the continental United States as the Zone of the Interior, this chapter examines how the total-war state's securitized targeting of the disaffected internal "enemy" during Jim Crow anticipated Cold War domestic counterinsurgency against black radicals. It retrieves from Ellison's critique of U.S. fascism's capacity to foster war unity on a noneconomic basis the origins of Cold War military multiculturalism.

2Revolution from Above: Oe Kenzaburo, the Black Airman, and Occupied Japan chapter abstract

Opening with an account of the plane as a figuration of U.S. military-imperial power, this chapter theorizes its centrality to the "black Pacific," a geospatial imaginary unthinkable outside U.S. armed intervention in the Asia-Pacific region. Offering a black Pacific reading of Shiiku, a 1958 novella that launched Oe Kenzaburo to literary prominence, this chapter analyzes its reworking of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a post-Reconstruction novel that dramatizes the predicament of black reenslavement. Featuring a downed black airman captured by the people of a remote Japanese village, Shiiku recasts radical Reconstruction's betrayal in a wartime setting that anticipates the U.S. occupation of Japan. Black and Asian unfreedoms thus converge in this Pax Americana tale, shadowing Oe's attempts to imagine democracy emerging from below. Closing with Oe's antimilitarism activism in Okinawa, this chapter argues that the racism of U.S. military empire entails reckoning with the violence of its war machine.

3A Blueprint for Occupied Japan: Miné Okubo and the American Concentration Camp chapter abstract

This chapter examines Nisei artist Miné Okubo's lesser-known drawings of the Japanese under U.S. occupation, images commissioned by Fortune magazine to illustrate the recuperability of postwar Japan. Enlisted to visualize postwar Japan for two late-war issues of Fortune, Okubo, best known for Citizen 13660 (1946), an illustrated memoir of life in an American concentration camp, faced the twofold challenge of visually rehabilitating the "enemy alien" on the home front and the enemy in the Pacific as democratically inclined subjects capable of thriving in settings conditioned by the strictures of U.S. militarism. The "democratic" rehabilitation of the "enemy" was perceived as hinging on the successful Americanization of the alienized Japanese American. By examining her wartime illustrations, this chapter inquires into the role of Nisei cultural producers in imagining a militarized postwar American peace.

4Possessive Investment in Ruin: The Target, the Proving Ground, and the U.S. War Machine in the Nuclear Pacific chapter abstract

With a comparative focus on the wartime U.S. atomic bombings of Japan and its peacetime nuclear tests on the Marshall Islands, this chapter critically examines the Pax Americana framing of the bomb as a prelude to peace and the basis for capitalist futurity. The U.S. all-out defensive posture against nuclear doom here justified the anticipatory staging of apocalypse over there. Inquiring into the concept of "territory" specific to U.S. nuclear empire, I examine how zones of nuclear experimentation were valued not for their life-sustaining capacity or social meaning but for their disposability. Destroyed for the sake of destruction rather than to be remade as settler home, sites designated externally as targets ("enemies") and internally as proving grounds ("friends") substituted distant or marginalized lands, atmospheres, and peoples for those "at home." They were valued insofar as they could be devalued, laid to waste and thereafter subjected to scientific scrutiny.

5People's War, People's Democracy, People's Epic: Carlos Bulosan, U.S. Counterintelligence, and Cold War Unreliable Narration chapter abstract

This chapter unveils the legacies of collaboration that inform Carlos Bulosan's posthumously published fiction, All the Conspirators and The Cry and the Dedication. His accounts of the "false peace" feature former collaborators with the Japanese whose self-reinvention in the postwar era obscures questions of guilt, an opacity typical of the shifting politics of enmity within U.S. military empire in Asia. Historicized against the suspension of justice at the Tokyo and Manila Trials that adjudicated Japan's war responsibility and read against declassified U.S. military counterintelligence files in which "native informants" in U.S.-"liberated" Philippines were tasked with producing intelligence, Bulosan's fictions blur the line between friend and foe. I close by juxtaposing Bulosan's own FBI case file and writings as examples of competing conceptions of democracy. His fiction gestures to a vision of revolutionary democracy from below, a people's democracy, that contrasts with militarized forms of democratization from above.

6The Enemy at Home: Urban Warfare and the Russell Tribunal on Vietnam chapter abstract

This chapter examines James Baldwin's troubled participation in Bertrand Russell's Vietnam War people's tribunal, highlighting Baldwin's claim that for the proceedings to be meaningful, they should be held in Harlem, not Europe. Inquiring into anti-imperialist people's tribunals as well as UN human rights petitions authored by a spectrum of Cold War black radicals and organizations, I consider how such undertakings reckoned with domestic counterrevolutionary violence. By examining the U.S. militarized response to urban racial uprisings during the Vietnam War era, this chapter focuses on the U.S. reliance on racial counterintelligence, a defining feature of U.S. wars in Asia during the Cold War, to wage war on black revolutionaries. Considering how black ghettoes in the 1960s served as a battlefront of an ongoing domestic war, I examine how black radical recourse to international humanitarian legal and human rights precedents, including genocide, bespoke an emergent insurgent human rights politics consistent with advocacy of revolutionary violence.

7Militarized Queerness: Racial Masking and the Korean War Mascot chapter abstract

This chapter offers a reflection on the battle of former Lt. Dan Choi, a Korean War orphan's son, against the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Situating his campaign for recognition against the incorporative legacies of postwar militarized multiculturalism, I examine the fraught history of conditional inclusion for nonnormative life within the U.S. war machine. I examine GI photos of Korean War mascots-"orphaned" children clad in miniature GI uniforms and animals informally attached to U.S. military units. Neither friend nor foe, kin nor servant, child nor sexual object, animal nor human, but the flexible signifier of war's production of slippages between such categories, the mascot was also a hostage figure, an enemy war remnant recuperated into the victors' ranks. Insofar as the mascot was indistinguishable from the enemy save for the uniform, I examine the latter as a form of queer masking, both an assimilative garment and a form of quarantine.

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