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In his Sept. 25 book review titled “Praise, where it’s due, for Japanese fascism,” I think that writer Michael Hoffman misuses the term “total war” by equating it with “a period of persistent conflict.” Rather than merely implying continual war, scholars have typically used the phrase “total war” to denote a war in which the whole of a society and all of its resources are mobilized.

Furthermore, in total war, there is no distinction made between combatants and civilians, since everyone is considered part of the war effort. The “war on terror” may be continual, but the use of professional forces distances the U.S. public from the fighting, for better or worse. It seems to me that the “war on terror” is rather nebulous, though no doubt deadly, while “total war” is overt.

While the U.S. and its allies spend an absurd amount of money on the military, I don’t believe they have devoted all their resources to the “war on terror” as they did to World War II. Total war is difficult to sustain; the so-called war on terror could go on and on.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

brett gross

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