Priority of life : U.S. response to atrocities in East Asia during World War II

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    Item Description
    Linked Agent
    Creator (cre): Beck, Cade Marcus
    Advisor (adv): Schmitz, David
    Date
    May 13, 2015
    Graduation Year
    2015
    Abstract

    The Second World War is infamous for unprecedented crimes against humanity. Most infamous was the German systematic execution of 12,000,000 Jews, Roma, homosexuals, blacks, and other minorities during the Holocaust; these German actions received most of the attention both in the aftermath of World War II and by current scholars. Atrocities also took place in the East Asian and Pacific theatres, but were afforded less attention and scholarship. The human rights violations that did receive contemporary and scholarly attention were those committed by the Japanese. Atrocities committed by the Allies, specifically China and the United States, were all but ignored by scholars and entirely neglected during the war years. This thesis examines the attention--or lack thereof--that the Roosevelt administration paid to the war crimes in East Asia during World War II. In doing so, it seeks to understand the assumptions under which the Roosevelt administration operated, the priorities of the Roosevelt administration, the administration's wartime response to atrocities, how it planned to address the atrocities in East Asia during the postwar period, and what conclusions can be made regarding the nature of the Roosevelt administration's policies given its response to these atrocities. This thesis argues that in order to maintain the priorities of a Europe-first approach to the war and protection of American lives, operating under the assumptions expressed in American exceptionalism and the Just War theory and imbued with a sense of racial and cultural superiority, the Roosevelt administration turned a blind eye toward atrocities in East Asia and justified violence committed by the Allies.

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    Extent
    126 pages
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