I just finished watching Pearl Harbor. Yes, it’s a dumb story [you’d think they could’ve spent as much on the writers as they did on special effects]. BUT, while it is a rah-rah America- can-whoop-anyone’s-butt kind of movie, it struck me as incedibly anti-war, too. Though perhaps not as vividly as many well-written war movies, this flick shows the futility of nations that (ab)use innocent young lives to promote their own political agendas. Just as the young Japanese pilot who bombs Pearl prays for help in his mission as he gazes on a picture of his wife, so do Doolittle’s men as they head for Tokyo. There’s no sense that the day-to-day battles have anything to do with the larger disagreements of the nations. Rather, they are a ceaseless round of individual suffering and misery.
IMO, there’s no reason for the young and innocent to sacrifice themselves for the abstraction, or ‘imagined community,’ of the nation-state. The loss of life on either side hurts us all. It’s a no-win game for everyone.
One website that tells more info about Doolittle’s raid also explains that the Chinese people who harbored and helped the American pilots may have, themselves, been biggest losers: “In May 1942, the Japanese army launched operation Sei-Go, with the dual aims of securing Chinese airfields from which raids could be launched against the Home Islands, and punishing villages which might have sheltered Doolittle’s airmen after the Raid. Exact figures are impossible to come by, but tens of thousands – perhaps as many as 250,000 – Chinese civilians were murdered in the Chekiang and Kiangsu provinces.”