ISSUE#15 WWII IN THE PACIFIC AND ASIA

When you look at modern day Asia and the Pacific its hard to imagine how different it was 65 years ago. Japan was most warlike nation in Asia. They were a nation that worshiped their Emperor as a God. They pillaged and plundered China, southeast Asia, Korea, and the Pacific islands. China was not communist nor was the north half of Korea. Thailand was known as Siam. and many other countries were yet free of western rule. Even more amazing was how different it was just 20 years before. Japan was friendly to the west, and China was far more stable.

So what happened?

China over-through the emperor and had a severe famine and an ugly civil war. Prior to WWII the pro democracy faction was winning the Chinese civil war. They had driven the Communist into the western farmlands and out of the cities. Then Japan attacked and invaded the territory held by the pro democracy Chinese. As a result the communists took control of the country after the war.

Japan had underwent two big social changes. One the Emperor had grown in power and was even worshiped as a God. Two an anti western Japan for Japan movement. A good example of this is: In movie theaters they would show a foolish Japanese man that embraced western ideas. He would do western things and be rebuked by a smart athletic Japanese man.

Japan would no longer sit back and allow western powers to control Asia. Many European powers were weakened by the first world war. The U.S. and many nations were suffering from the great depression. Asia was ready for the taking. Japan sought to create a great Asian empire. They took Korea, part of Russia, most of China, and south east Asia. They also went deep into the pacific. They took the Philippines and other islands. In these places they committed horrible acts they raped women and killed children in brutal manner to impose fear in the population.

The war in the Pacific started years before America entered the war. But after America became involved things changed. The war with America began good for Japan. The attack on pearl harbor had crippled the U.S. Pacific fleet. They won most of the early battles. Then two things changed the war greatly. The first was the battle of midway it was the the first decisive Naval victory for the U.S. and a turning point. The Second was the Doolittle air raid on Tokyo. It is believed that more people died from the fires caused by the raid than at either of the atomic bomb drops. It was the time that Japan had been hit hard in Japan. As the war in Europe ended the U.S. put of more its might against Japan.

But Japan would not go down without a fight. on islands like Iwo jima the Japanese fought like dragons often to the last man. And Russia was now about to enter the war. The U.S. did not want Russia to take part of Japan like it did Germany. These are the two main reasons that the U.S. decided to drop the bomb.

The Japanese were getting arming women and children for a fight to the death against America. As military planners prepared for the invasion of Japan it became clear that the casualties would be far greater than those of D day and the European invasion. During the War the U.S. had changed presidents due to the death of F.D.R. Truman did not even know of the bomb before he was president. It was projected casualties and the Soviets entering Japan that he made the decision to drop the bomb.

Some say they had to. Others say it could have been avoided. But one thing is for sure the world would never be the same Hiroshima was destroyed with a Uranium bomb. But Japan still would not surrender so the U.S. dropped a second Larger Plutonium bomb on the city of Nagasaki. Japan realized that it was not just facing invasion. It was facing complete destruction. The world was shocked at the destructive power of this new weapon. It was so horrible that no nation since has used it in battle. It would change Japan forever

Within days for the first time ever the Emperor spoke to the Japanese people (that were ready to fight to the death) he informed them that Japan had surrendered to the Americans. For the Japanese people this was end of the world. They had believed the Emperor to be a God.  Now the first time they here his voice as he declares the surrender of their great nation.

Sources

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Iwo Jima
  3. Manhattan Project
  4. BBC
  5. Eye Witness
  6. National Geographic

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ISSUE#14 THE QUR’AN

When many in the west think of the Qur’an they think of terrorists, and extremists. They think of Bin Laden or the president of Iran. But the Qur’an is much more than the holy book of Muslim extremists. It has inspired some of mankind’s greatest accomplishments.

It all began in the Arabian desert. A poor orphan boy grew to be one of the great religious leaders in human history. A tale of a nobody that though the grace of God became one of histories most important figures.

In the year 610 AD Mohammad received his first revelation. In a cave outside the city of Mecca it is said that the angel Gabriell spoke to him. He was called to be a prophet soon after he began preaching and had a small group of followers. But the ruling tribe of Mecca did not like his message of one true God. They were making a lot of money from the Idol worship in the city. As a result his followers were driven from the city to what would become Medina the 2nd Islamic holy city. He He continued receiving revelation there. Then Mohammad and his followers raised an army and took the city of Mecca. They spared the lives of the Innocent and those they captured.

The Qur’an however is not a story nor is it in chronological order. Rather it is instruction from God for mankind as reviled by Muhammad. The book was not written by Muhammad. Why? He was illiterate so his followers wrote down his revelations from their memories. As a result many have criticized the book as altered or incomplete. But even if it is altered it language is beautiful and poetic. one of the greatest literary accomplishments in any age. It tells many of the same stories as the Christian and Jewish scriptures. Mohammad said it was a continuation of Gods previous messages. It was compiled years after the death of Mohammad and soon spread.

The Islamic conquest brought the Qur’an to Africa Persia, and India. It the Mongol invasion helped it spread east to china. Arab traders brought it to Indonesia and Malaysia. In modern times it Muslim immigrants have brought it with them to Europe America and Australia.

In the twentieth century the followers of the Qur’an have faced a crises. Mainly cruel dictators and fanatics have sought to twist the Qur’an to fit their political goals. Many are offended by what they see as the west imposing corrupt values though the media. As a result many have turned to the Qur’an for answers some have found peace and harmony. Others have found anger and hate. Like the Bible the Qur’an is often seen though the eyes of those who read it. But one thing is for sure its impact on history has like a ripple in a pond will grown and expanded outward.

Sources

  1. Wikipedia
  2. PBS
  3. History Channel
  4. BBC
  5. Quran.org

ISSUE#13 THE VIKINGS

When we think of Vikings we think of a bearded warrior with an ax and a horned helmet. Some of this is true. Vikings were known for there skill with the ax and often because of the cold climate did have beards. But the horned helmets are a product of fiction. No one has ever found a Viking helmet with horns.

They were a pagan people that some of there God names like Thor made it to our calender. Thor’s day became Thursday. The Europeans to the south were mostly Christian. The Vikings were notorious for raiding monasteries for gold and silver. They were fierce and did not care about holy relics. The weapon that set them apart was their ships. The Viking long boats had a shallow bottom that aloud them to travel rivers deep into southern Europe.

But they were more than fierce raiders they had families and unique culture. They were farmers and merchants. These people were not ruled by one king they were a confederation of tribes. Many of them practiced democracy while Europe was ruled buy kings and futile lords. In there graves have been found artifacts from China and the middle east, showing how far their trading network reached. They had settlements in Russia and even North America. The crossed the Atlantic centuries before Columbus. Often times they would settle in the areas they raided the British islands are a good example of this many English Irish and Scottish people are descendants of Vikings.

So what happened to them. It became colder and so colonies like Greenland Vine-land (North America) became less attended to. Also as the settled and invaded parts of Europe they mixed with local populations. But more than anything they were converted and became Christian. As Christians their life style changed in many ways.

The Vikings are personal subject to me. Many of my ancestors were Vikings. Like many people in central Utah a lot of my ancestors were Mormon converts from Scandinavia. So this is subject that interest’s me greatly. My sister once commented that my wild uncles look and act like Vikings
I grew up in central Utah many people have Scandinavian names like Sorensen,and Jensen. As I have studied Vikings I have become amazed at how many things from their culture have survived in part in my home of Sevier county. The potato our potato pits are a hole often dug into a hill supported buy thick timbers with straw stuffed between them. Old farmers used them to store potatoes and equipment during the cold winters. most of them have now caved it but a few remain. I always thought that the pioneers got the idea from Indian pit houses. But then I saw in books and on TV old Viking long houses. They were almost identical. It did not take long for me to connect the dots. The Pioneers came from Scandinavia and settled Central Utah. These potato pits were a direct link to our Viking past.

Today we name football teams after them. We see them in video games and movies. The truth is many of us are them. If I want to know what a Viking looked like all I need to do is look in the mirror.

Sources

  1. Wikipedia
  2. PBS
  3. North Atlantic
  4. BBC
  5. History Channel

ISSUE#12 COLUMBUS

As I have stated before, he may not have have been the first to discover America. However he was the first of what would would be lasting European colonization in the America’s.

It really began with the Mongol conquest they opened trade between the east and the west. Europeans wanted another way to get eastern goods. Columbus was an expert sailor and believed that by sailing west he could find a more direct wrought to Asia. He convinced the King and Queen of Spain to fund an expedition. They gave him what would become three famous ships the Nina Pin-ta and Santa Maria. In his journal he remarks about how he felt it was his calling. He believed the Holy Spirit was guiding him. He was view by many as a dreamer.

He set sail for Asia across the Atlantic ocean. After weeks at sea the arrived at what they thought was the East Indies (Indonesia). But it was soon apparent he was somewhere else. He had landed in the Caribbean on a small island. He would return to Spain and the world would never be the same. Soon American crops like corn, potatoes, chocolate, and tobacco would be in Europe.

The European powers began to colonize the America’s. In doing so they killed millions of people and destroyed great civilizations. The Modern world really began when Columbus landed in 1492. Many explorers came after him. But it was his vision that began the modern world. Some have said he was a monster. I guess that depends on your point of view. But his impact on history place him as one of the influential people to ever live. Now in his honor we celebrate holidays name cities streets and schools after him. We build statues of him and make movies about him. A lot of misinformation about him has been taught as fact. His is a legacy of drive and determination.

Sources

  1. wikipedia
  2. Voyages
  3. Journal of Columbus
  4. Eye witness history

ISSUE#11 THE BUDDHA

Millions of people pattern their lives after his teachings. In cities all over Asia giant statues can be found of him. Yet much about him and his life is unknown. It was almost two centuries after his death that his teachings began to be written down. Much of the history we have of him is mixed with legend. He is the Buddha.

Siddhartha Gautama or the Buddha lived from about 563 BCE to 483 BCE. in what is today Nepal. Legend says his father was a King, and he grew up in isolation from all worldly cares. He was protected by his father from all suffering. Then one day he saw an old man he had never seen an old person before. This shocked him he began to question things. He then saw a sick person, a dead body and then saw ascetic holy man who was hungry. He decided to leave the palace his wife and family and find answers as to why suffering occurs.

He became an ascetic wanderer but was unfulfilled. Then one day he sat and began to meditate under a Bod-hi tree. He did this for some time. He confronted his inner demon’s and discovered enlightenment. He then spreed his wisdom around India. His was a message of moderation, the middle path. He taught self discipline and rejected extremism in all its forms.

After his his followers spreed his message into east Asia as far as Japan and Indonesia. It spreed west to Afghanistan. Monasteries and Monks devote their lives to his teachings. His message is growing in popularity in the west as well.

So who was he? A spiritual teacher? A prophet? A God? Or a misguided man. That depends on your point of view. But to millions of people he is the ultimate teacher of knowledge. As a result he has a huge impact on our world. And as our world grows small because of modern technology and the western and eastern worlds become one his impact will grow. Many of his teachings are universal and beneficial. Some of his teachings like reincarnation are hard for many westerners to accept. However we should regardless of our opinion respect his impact on human history. Only Jesus and Mohamed have had the kind of impact on history that he has.

Sources

  1. Berkeley
  2. Exotic India
  3. Religious Tolerance
  4. Shippensburg University

ISSUE#10 THE ISRAEL PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

The Palestinian Israel conflict is an example of people letting pride and anger control them. On both sides. We see on the news suicide bombers and mothers happy about the death of their children.

It began with WWI like many of the last century’s conflicts. After the war the middle east map was redrawn. England controlled the Levant (known today as Palestine). They made law encouraging Jewish immigration. then came WWII and the Holocaust. Millions of Jews were slain by the Nazi’s. The world was shocked. The new U.N. created a new homeland for the Jews the same place as ancient Israel.

But people already lived their. This caused a conflict. The Arab nations around sought to drive the Jews into the sea. But they failed badly. Over the next 50 years this theme would repeat. Arab nations would attack and Israel would win convincingly. The most famous of these conflicts is the 6 days war. Israel took part of Syria Egypt and Jordain. They took Jerusalem and celebrated. The U.N. took the land Israel had captured and gave it to the Palestinians for a homeland. But many Israeli’s would not leave. And many Palestinians want Israel destroyed.

Israel has made peace with some of its neighbors Egypt and Jordain, but is not on good terms with other Arab nations. Both sides have a reasons for the land. but it will take either compromise or all out victory of one side to settle this dispute.

This small land is the center of our current world conflict. It is full of history. Important to many religions like: Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and the Baha’i faith. It could be the source of much more violence if history keeps repeating itself.

Sources

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Brief History
  3. Fordham
  4. Map History

ISSUE#9 THE MONGOLS

The Mongols were the largest land mass empire the world has known. They changed the world they opened trade routs. They like the Huns centuries before them road on horseback and terrorized all they encountered as they headed west. They united peoples and founded an amazing empire. In their path millions were slain and societies were destroyed. They brought the Chinese Koreans Arabs Persians and others to their knees.

It started with one man known as Genghis Khan. He was one of the most talented and successful leaders in history. But he was also one of the bloodiest. He like many great leaders had to overcome great tragedy. He was brilliant on the battlefield. But at the age of age of 60 he died stories say it was a freak riding accident. A ironic ending for a man that commanded an empire of great horseman.

After his death his Empire was divided among his sons. it slowly fell apart but grew in some size. But another rose up in what is now Afghanistan. His name was Timor he was a cruel relentless genies. He invaded India but when the Indian people rebelled he would cut off their heads and place them in piles by the thousands. But he would spare the workers artists and engineers to help build his empire. He was a megalomaniac that had 50 foot doorways and lush garden cities built for his honer. He sought through brute force to create an empire even greater than that of Genghis Khan. He brought the Ottoman Turks to there knees and went like Khan to invade China but like the Khan died on his way to China.

The Mongols however faded into history their empire was to large to control. But their impact on our world is immeasurable. They opened China to the west and inspired the age of discovery in both the east and west. They brought down the Gin in China the Ottomans in Turkey and what was left of Persia. They greatly impeded and then assimilated into Muslim society. We will never see another empire like them.

Sources

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Columbia
  3. Macro History
  4. History World