Define murder. Not just in the context of war, but in any context, military, medical, private, public, whatever: what is murder?
Thank you in advance. It'll help me see the basis of your moral reasoning.
Now, to the rest of it. I think a good case can be made for "combination of factors," including that the Soviets saw their chance (because of the obliterated cities) to jump in and take as much as they could before the war was ended. A "fire sale."
But yes, it was a war crime. The A-bomb was designed to be indiscriminate. The idea was city=target. This is criminal because intentionally indiscriminate killing obliterates moral distinction.
The same judgment may (arguably) NOT apply to the bombing of Tokyo and dozens of other Japanese cities, even though those bombings actually caused many times more deaths, cumulatively, than the two A-bombings,. This could be argued if the case could be made that these firebombing, while hugely destructive, were not intentionally designed to be indiscriminate.
Or of course you can argue for reduced individual moral culpability because of the extreme extenuating circumstances and the insane pressures of war. Actual individual moral culpability is for God to decide, and I'm not one to put one or another man into hellfire.
Or you can try to argue that "OK, it was a war crime, but war crimes are necessary": "have at it", full-blown consequentialism.
But to say "it was not a crime" defies reason, and deprives us of any basis on which to distinguish between justifiable acts of war, and murder.
Is it moral to kill a conscripted 18 year old guy because he's wearing a uniform, but murder to kill the politicians who gave him his orders? How about the people who accepted those politicians as their acknowledged leaders? How about the people who made the munitions that the 18 year old conscripts used?
One positive thing that cannot be denied: the devastation inflicted on Germany and Japan seems to have terminated their societies' interest in war.
You are quite correct. They were not designed to be indiscriminate. They were designed to burn down Japanese housing which was made of wood and paper rather then factories which were made of stone.
That is also why most of the raids were done at night. More people were at home you see.
That's the logic of your conclusion. It's very leftist and European. It means that any “civilian” killed in a war who is not directly related to the prosecution of the war is a murder and a war crime, and that the troops, the commanding officer, and the commander in chief who ordered the operation wherein the death occurred should all stand trial as criminals. Preferably, I suppose, under the auspices of some “international” tribunal.
WW2 was fought as a “total war,” meaning that the enemy population centers were targets. It was the axis powers who inaugurated this strategy.
I believe that US civilian and military leaders were justified in using any means in order to destroy Nazi Germany and fascist Japan. The hideousness and utter cruelty of these regimes and their political philosophy made their eradication a necessity if human liberty and Constitutional government were to survive.
That's my position.
Several points to be made.
1) The use of atomic weapons in WWII was moral and ethical and probably saved more lives/suffering than it consumed by an order of magnitude.
2) In order to understand the distinctions between murder and killing, one needs to understand legitimate authority and the justification in the use of deadly force.
3) WWII and the Pacific War especially are probably the best documented of all wars, in part because it was total war.
In total warfare, all elements of society are engaged in warfare with the opponent nation. Historically, there hasn’t been a war where there were more military casualties than civilian casualties. That’s why people form armies, navies, the military, and rally behind leaders. They are safer in well organized numbers than as disorganized mobs of individuals. Those who refused and preferred to fight an army on their own, as individuals, are generally never heard of again, except by those who bury their remains.
In total warfare, the war also tends to be a war of attrition. Operationally, destroying resources of an opponent implies the enemy has less resources to attack friendlies. This means we are using deadly force to influence the will and ability of an enemy from opposing our volition. We act within legitimate authority to impose our volition legitimately upon the enemy.
When Japan attacked the US at Pearl Harbor, she had not issued an ultimatum nor other negotiation by which any sane or rational person or government could comply with her volition. She engaged in a surprise attack with full knowledge and intent of destroying other nations in blatant disregard for human life or legitimate authority over those people.
At Hiroshima and at Nagasaki, both instances were in states of Total War between combatants and both cities had operational and strategic import for their placement on target lists in a campaign to ultimately cause the defeat and unconditional surrender of Japan to the US and Allied powers.
The atomic bombs developed were not specifically designed to be indiscriminate weapons. Nobody gave criterion to mad scientists to build something that would not discriminate in who might be injured by them. They were designed to cause as much blast and destruction as possible for a given payload. Their scarcity also implied their extreme value in operational deployment, but as revolutions in military warfare, they also contained valuable psychological import.
Even in Vietnam, until computer based bombadier sights were developed circa the mid 1980s, delivery of airborne ordnance to pinpoint targets was not very accurate. If somebody needed a bridge taken down, like those in Vietnam, numerous sorties were flown with unsuccessful results.
The atomic weapons being developed and deployed in Japan made it clear and obvious to senior decision makers that resolute willpower would still be inadequate to resist American invasion of the Japanese homeland.