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THANK GOD FOR THE ATOMIC BOMB
The New Republic ^ | August, 1981 | Paul Fussell

Posted on 08/06/2014 4:18:16 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets

Many years ago in New York I saw on the side of a bus a whiskey ad I’ve Remembered all this time. It’s been for me a model of the short poem, and indeed I’ve come upon few short poems subsequently that exhibited more poetic talent. The ad consisted of two eleven-syllable lines of “verse,” thus:

In life, experience is the great teacher.
In Scotch, Teacher’s is the great experience.

For present purposes we must jettison the second line (licking our lips, to be sure, as it disappears), leaving the first to register a principle whose banality suggests that it enshrines a most useful truth. I bring up the matter because, writing on the forty-second anniversary of the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I want to consider something suggested by the long debate about the ethics, if any, of that ghastly affair. Namely, the importance of experience, sheer, vulgar experience, in influencing, if not determining, one’s views about that use of the atom bomb.

(Excerpt) Read more at uio.no ...


TOPICS: History; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: abomb; hiroshima
Still rings true, today.
1 posted on 08/06/2014 4:18:16 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

saved over a millions lives. Operation Downfall would have cost millions.


2 posted on 08/06/2014 4:20:37 AM PDT by Perdogg (I'm on a no Carb diet- NO Christie Ayotte Romney or Bush)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

Bump.


3 posted on 08/06/2014 4:26:45 AM PDT by Sans-Culotte (Psalm 14:1 ~ The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”)
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To: Perdogg

The Japanese were looking to surrender for months. All that they wanted was to be able to keep their emperor as figurehead. Something that they ended up getting any way.


4 posted on 08/06/2014 4:45:00 AM PDT by all the best
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

Right decision.


5 posted on 08/06/2014 4:50:38 AM PDT by BuffaloJack (Unarmed people cannot defend themselves. America is no longer a Free Country.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
Excellent monograph by a combat veteran. My wife, who is young and beautiful, sees the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as hideous and unnecessary. She is the product of our liberal school system and its version of history.

I am, however, a combat veteran and I have suffered all my life from the physical and spiritual effects of killing and seeing friends killed. I know what war's really about and I know just what this authors means about all of those young men who knew that they would not leave this war alive if we continued our invasion plans for Japan.

The bombs did what all of the other horrors didn't: it caused the Japanese to quit and as a result, millions of worthwhile young Americans, Brits, Russians, and Japanese got to survive and to build a new world.

I'm giving this article to my sweet missus.

6 posted on 08/06/2014 5:02:18 AM PDT by Chainmail (A simple rule of life: if you can be blamed, you're responsible.)
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To: all the best

“The Japanese were looking to surrender for months.”

I’ve never heard that before.


7 posted on 08/06/2014 5:05:35 AM PDT by caver (Obama: Home of the Whopper)
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To: Chainmail
My wife, who is young and beautiful, sees the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as hideous and unnecessary. She is the product of our liberal school system and its version of history.

My wife is young and beautiful too, but her country was occupied by Japan. She is not into PC and has no time for them.

8 posted on 08/06/2014 5:22:02 AM PDT by Mark17 (Obama & Nero? Both Emperors. The difference is Nero played a fiddle, while Obama plays a "flute")
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To: all the best

They had their chances. After Potsdam they could have given a reasonable reply that they were willing to quit on those terms. They didn’t reply, so they got hit.


9 posted on 08/06/2014 5:23:21 AM PDT by chimera
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To: all the best
The Japanese were looking to surrender for months.

Some isolated factions were exploring what terms they might negotiate in a surrender. But the country's leadership -- both government and military -- remained committed to fight to the last man.

Whether the "peace movement" would've grown over time is unknown.

10 posted on 08/06/2014 5:25:32 AM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: Ignorance on parade.)
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To: okie01
69 years ago an all-Christian bomber crew dropped “Fat Man”, a plutonium bomb, on Nagasaki, Japan, instantly annihilating tens of thousands of innocent civilians, a disproportionate number of them Japanese Christians, and permanently or mortally wounding uncountable numbers of others.

In 1945, the US was the most Christian nation in the world (that is, if you can label as Christian a nation whose churches overwhelmingly fail to sincerely teach or adhere to the ethics of Jesus as taught in the Sermon on the Mount).

Prior to the bomb exploding over St. Mary’s Urakami Cathedral on 11:02 AM, Nagasaki was the most Christian city in Japan. The Nagasaki cathedral was the largest Christian cathedral in the Orient.

Those baptized and confirmed Christian airmen, following their wartime orders to the letter, did their job efficiently, and they accomplished the mission with military pride, albeit with any number of near-fatal glitches. Most of us Americans in 1945 would have done exactly the same if they had been in the shoes of the Bock’s Car crew, and there would have been very little mental anguish later if we had also been treated as heroes.

Nevertheless, the use of that monstrous weapon of mass destruction to destroy a mainly civilian city like Nagasaki was an international war crime and a crime against humanity as defined later by the Nuremberg Tribunal.

Of course, there was no way that the crew members could have known that at the time. Some of the crew did admit that they had had some doubts about what they had participated in when the bomb actually detonated. Of course, none of them actually saw the horrific suffering of the victims up close and personal. “Orders are orders” and, in wartime, disobedience can be, and has been, legally punishable by summary execution of the soldier who might have had a conscience strong enough to convince him that killing another human, especially an unarmed one, was morally wrong.

<<>>

It had been only 3 days since the August 6th bomb had decimated Hiroshima. The August 9 bombing occurred amidst massive chaos and confusion in Tokyo, where the fascist military government, who knew – for months already- that they had lost the war, and therefore had been searching for ways to honorably surrender and end the war.

The only obstacle to surrender had been the Allied insistence on unconditional surrender, which meant that the Emperor Hirohito, whom the Japanese regarded as a deity, would be removed from his figurehead position in Japan and possible subjected to war crimes trials. That was a deal-breaker, an intolerable demand for the Japanese that prolonged the war and prevented Japan from giving up months earlier.

The Russian army had declared war against Japan on August 8, hoping to regain territories lost to Japan in the humiliating (for Russia) Russo-Japanese war 40 years earlier, and Stalin’s army was advancing across Manchuria. Russia’s entry into the war represented a powerful incentive for Japan to end the war quickly since they much preferred surrendering to the US rather than to Russia. And, of course, the US did not want to divide any of the spoils of war with Russia, and it wanted to send an early cold war message to Russia that the US was the new planetary superpower.

Aiming at August 1, 1945 as the earliest deployment date for the first bomb, the Target Committee in Washington, D.C. developed a list of relatively un-damaged Japanese cities that were to be excluded from the conventional USAAF fire-bombing campaigns (that, during the first half of 1945, burned to the ground 60+ major, mostly defenseless Japanese cities).

The list of protected cities included Hiroshima, Niigata, Kokura, Kyoto and Nagasaki. Those five relatively undamaged cities were to be off-limits to the terror bombings. They were to be preserved as potential targets for the new “gimmick” weapon that had been researched and developed all across America during the two years of the Manhattan Project. Ironically, prior to August 6 and 9, the residents of those cities considered themselves lucky for not having been bombed as much as other cities. Little did they know why they were being spared from the carnage.

<<>>

The first and only field test of an atomic bomb had been blasphemously code-named “Trinity” (a distinctly Christian term). It had occurred 3 weeks earlier at Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945. The results were impressive, but the blast had just killed off a few hapless coyotes, rabbits, snakes and some other desert varmints. That bomb had totally destroyed lots of cactuses and sagebrush and had obliterated a family of manikins that had been planted in hastily built homes for the photographic portion of the experiment.

The Trinity test also unexpectedly produced huge amounts of a new mineral that was later called “Trinitite”. Trinitite was a molten lava rock that had been created from the intense heat (twice the temperature of the sun) of the above ground bomb blast.

At 3 am on the morning of August 9, 1945, a B-29 Superfortress (that had been “christened” Bock’s Car) took off from Tinian Island in the South Pacific, with the prayers and blessings of its Lutheran and Catholic chaplains. Barely making it off the runway before the plane went into the drink (because of the 10,000 bomb in its hold), it headed north for Kokura, the primary target. Bock’s Car’s plutonium bomb was code-named “Fat Man,” after Winston Churchill. Little Boy, first called Thin Man (after President Roosevelt) was the bomb that had incinerated Hiroshima three days earlier.

<<>>

The reality of what had happened at Hiroshima was not understood by Japan’s Supreme War Council in Tokyo. So there was no way for Japan’s Supreme War Council to make rational decisions about the issue of surrendering.

But it was already too late, because by the time the War Council was meeting, Bock’s Car – flying under radio silence – was already approaching the southern islands of Japan, hoping to beat the typhoons and clouds that would have caused the mission to be delayed for another week.

The Bock’s Car crew had instructions to drop the bomb only with visual sighting. But Kokura was clouded over. So after making three failed bomb runs over the clouded-over city all the while running dangerously low on fuel, the plane headed for its secondary target, Nagasaki.

<<>>

Nagasaki is famous in the history of Japanese Christianity. Nagasaki had the largest concentration of Christians in all of Japan. The Urakami Cathedral was the megachurch of its time, with 12,000 baptized members.

Nagasaki was the community where the legendary Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier established a mission church in 1549. The Catholic community at Nagasaki grew and eventually prospered over the next several generations. However it eventually became clear to the Japanese rulers that the Portuguese and Spanish commercial interests were exploiting Japan; and soon all Europeans – and their foreign religion – were expelled from the country.

From 1600 until 1850, being a Christian was a capital crime in Japan. In the early 1600s, those Japanese Christians who refused to recant of their new faith were subject to unspeakable tortures – including crucifixion. After the reign of terror was over, it appeared to all observers that Japanese Christianity was extinct.

However, 250 years later, after the gunboat diplomacy of Commodore Matthew Perry forced open an offshore island for American trade purposes, it was discovered that there were thousands of baptized Christians in Nagasaki, living their faith in a catacomb existence, completely unknown to the government.

With this humiliating revelation, the Japanese government started another purge; but because of international pressure, the persecutions were eventually stopped, and Nagasaki Christianity came up from the underground. And by 1917, with no help from the government, the re-vitalized Christian community had built the massive St. Mary’s Cathedral in the Urakami River district of Nagasaki.

So it was the height of irony that the massive Cathedral – one of only two Nagasaki landmarks that could be positively identified from 31,000 feet up (the other one was the Mitsubishi armaments factory complex) became Ground Zero for the infamous bomb. The Bock’s Car bombardier identified the landmarks through a break in the clouds and ordered the drop.

At 11:02 am, during Thursday morning mass, hundreds of Nagasaki Christians were boiled, evaporated, carbonized or otherwise disappeared in a scorching, radioactive fireball that exploded 500 meters above the cathedral. The black rain that soon came down from the mushroom cloud surely contained the mingled remains of many Nagasaki Shintoists, Buddhists and Christians. The theological implications of Nagasaki’s Black Rain surely should boggle the minds of theologians of all denominations.

<<>>

Most Nagasaki Christians did not survive the blast. 6,000 of them died instantly, including all who were at confession. Of the 12,000 church members, 8,500 of them eventually died as a result of the bomb. Many of the others were seriously sickened.

Three orders of nuns and a Christian girl’s school disappeared into black smoke or became chunks of charcoal. Tens of thousands of other innocent non-combatants also died instantly, and many more were mortally or incurably wounded. Some of the victim’s progeny are still suffering from the trans-generational malignancies and immune deficiencies caused by the deadly plutonium and other radioactive isotopes produced by the bomb.

And here is one of the most important ironic points of this article: What the Japanese Imperial government could not do in 250 years of persecution (destroy Japanese Christianity) American Christians did in 9 seconds.

Even after a slow revival of Christianity over the decades since WWII, membership in Japanese churches still represent a small fraction of 1% of the general population, and the average attendance at Christian worship services has been reported to be only 30. Surely the decimation of Nagasaki at the end of the war crippled what at one time was a vibrant church.

11 posted on 08/06/2014 5:44:23 AM PDT by all the best
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To: all the best
69 years ago an all-Christian bomber crew dropped “Fat Man”, a plutonium bomb, on Nagasaki, Japan, instantly annihilating tens of thousands of innocent civilians, a disproportionate number of them Japanese Christians...

Even after a slow revival of Christianity over the decades since WWII, membership in Japanese churches still represent a small fraction of 1% of the general population, and the average attendance at Christian worship services has been reported to be only 30. Surely the decimation of Nagasaki at the end of the war crippled what at one time was a vibrant church.

In the total scheme of things, that's a small price to have paid.

I suspect our Maker would agree...

12 posted on 08/06/2014 6:00:41 AM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: Ignorance on parade.)
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To: Perdogg
"saved over a millions lives. Operation Downfall would have cost millions."

Yes. My father, who participated in the Battle of the Bulge, would have gone on to Japan. I'm thankful that was not necessary.

13 posted on 08/06/2014 6:16:11 AM PDT by CatherineofAragon ((Support Christian white males---the architects of the jewel known as Western Civilization).)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

“Still rings true, today.”

True, as the author stated: “To call it (war) a crime against mankind is to miss at least half its significance; it is also the punishment of a crime.”

Consider now the Israeli operations in Gaza. Saying these are crimes against mankind is to miss the significance of the operation as a punishment of a crime.


14 posted on 08/06/2014 6:20:24 AM PDT by DugwayDuke
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To: all the best

Japan war crimes included eating American prisoners “For example, an Indian POW, Havildar Changdi Ram, testified that: “[on November 12, 1944] the Kempeitai beheaded [an Allied] pilot. I saw this from behind a tree and watched some of the Japanese cut flesh from his arms, legs, hips, buttocks and carry it off to their quarters ... They cut it [into] small pieces and fried it.”[106]

In some cases, flesh was cut from living people: another Indian POW, stated.


15 posted on 08/06/2014 6:28:23 AM PDT by Dayatdabeach1791 (My apology)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
I saved the link to post on the 70th anniversary, when the inevitable anti-Hiroshima protests arise.

What is the essay's connection to New Republic? It is not something I would expect to read in that publication.

16 posted on 08/06/2014 6:33:41 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: Chainmail

my wife, who used to be young and beautiful, now is older and still quite attractive...

keep working the logic and that young wife...my wife who I only married 4 years ago, at age 58, actually voted for Obama, in 2008. I married her in 2009, and began directing her to new logical ways of thinking about American politics, and geo-political issues.

she has come around. she is a conservative. there is hope.


17 posted on 08/06/2014 6:35:05 AM PDT by Chuzzlewit
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

I lost 8 of my Uncles in WWII in the Pacific Theater - all from a small Tennessee community from one family. They never knew adulthood or raised families of their own and their deaths were brutal - either incinerated on board a burning ship or fighting hand to hand. When the war started all of them were peaceful civilians, too.


18 posted on 08/06/2014 7:32:30 AM PDT by februus
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To: Perdogg

It also saved Japan from being divided like Korea, which would have resulted in another “Police Action”.


19 posted on 08/06/2014 7:34:19 AM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

I knew some WW-II veterans who had fought in Europe. They feared that they after fighting in Europe for most of 1944 and 1945 they would soon be shipped to the Pacific to be part of the invasion of Japan


20 posted on 08/06/2014 7:41:06 AM PDT by The Great RJ
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
In life, experience is the great teacher. In Scotch, Teacher’s is the great experience.

To address the ad only ...

In school, teachers teach you a lesson and then give you a test
In life, life gives you a test that teaches you a lesson

My opinion of bombing Japan to end the war is that it was clearly the correct decision to take.

Japan had more trained and equipped military in Japan at the end of the war than at the beginning of the war. The Allies destroyed Japan’s Navy and they had no way to move those troops and equipment to the forward battle areas.

The Japanese people had been indoctrinated that they would have to fight to their death if the Americans invaded.

The bombs ended the war with the least amount of casualties on either side with the added bonus of demonstrating to the entire war the enormous power available. I think that demonstration added mightily to the fact that the world has never used the bomb against populations since that time.

The next benefit is that other nations developed their own capability. The world today would be a far different world had but a single nation possessed that power.

21 posted on 08/06/2014 7:41:44 AM PDT by MosesKnows (Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.)
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To: The Great RJ
they would soon be shipped to the Pacific

Correct. There was a motto, the Golden Gate by 48.

The Allies knew they would win but they also believed it would take an invasion of Japan to achieve an unconditional surrender.

22 posted on 08/06/2014 7:56:05 AM PDT by MosesKnows (Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

A very well written paper from an honest perspective. You could substitute the idea of War in place of the atom bomb. They are one and the same. The choice to use the bomb is the same choice for going to war to begin with. The moral choice to kill one man defending yourself or others from a killer intent on taking you or your loved ones life is the same moral decision regardless if you are faced by one man or a nation of men. God created all men and all are equal in His eyes. The killing of one man is just as sinful as killing millions. But defending oneself is also the same as defending millions. It is a sin to take a life unjustly. It is not sin to defend oneself or others or lay down ones own life while protecting the innocent.War was let out of the bottle when Cain killed Able. The atom bomb was let out of the bottle the same day that Adam ate from the tree of knowledge. Sooner or later more nuclear weapons will be used. The answer is to end war and as long as evil exists in the world there will be no end to war. It therefore ends when God puts an end to it. Jesus accomplished that on the cross when He conquered death. So it is an individual choice to either except His love and salvation or not. In the end when He returns and restores the order of things your choice will have been sealed and goats will be separated from the sheep. That is the truth of life.


23 posted on 08/06/2014 9:52:05 AM PDT by Mat_Helm
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To: Mat_Helm

Very well said. Thanks for posting.


24 posted on 08/06/2014 10:25:13 AM PDT by Jay Thomas (If not for my faith in Christ, I would despair.)
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"Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes,
they just don't know where to look."

~Ronald Reagan




please click the pic
donate today!
Help support Free Republic

25 posted on 08/06/2014 10:26:02 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

AMEN to that!!!


26 posted on 08/06/2014 3:45:25 PM PDT by pallmallman (Q)
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To: trisham

God Bless Ronald Wilson Reagan and all the heroes to he refers....Oh Lord do I ever wish that he was our President today!!!


27 posted on 08/06/2014 3:49:11 PM PDT by pallmallman (Q)
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To: pallmallman

Me too!


28 posted on 08/06/2014 3:52:34 PM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: all the best
The Japanese were looking to surrender for months. All that they wanted was to be able to keep their emperor as figurehead

And a excuse to surrender without losing face. Which they got.

29 posted on 08/06/2014 8:01:10 PM PDT by Oztrich Boy (Wikipedia is wrong. who knew?)
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To: Oztrich Boy

In the final days of the war, the Jap emperor was about to talk directly to the people for the first time and tell them to lay down their arms. (The emperor figurehead was actually Ivy league educated) When the generals found out about his plans to surrender they contemplated killing him.


30 posted on 08/07/2014 3:52:10 AM PDT by Dayatdabeach1791 (History is a bitch)
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