Skip to comments.Pat Buchanan: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Christian Morality
Posted on 08/10/2005 6:32:47 PM PDT by F14 Pilot
On the 40th, 50th and 60th anniversaries of D-Day, Presidents Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush traveled to Normandy to lead us in tribute to the bravery of the Greatest Generation of Americans, who had liberated Europe. Always a deeply moving occasion.
The 40th, 50th and 60th anniversaries of the dropping of the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, however, were not times of celebration or warm remembrance. Angry arguments for and against the dropping of the bombs roil the airwaves and fill the press.
And the reason is obvious. While World War II was a just war against enemies whose crimes, from Nanking to Auschwitz, will live in infamy, the means we used must trouble any Christian conscience.
That good came out of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is undeniable. In a week, Japan surrendered, World War II ended and, across the Japanese empire, soldiers laid down their arms. Thousands of U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Japanese who would have perished in an invasion of Japan survived, as did Allied POWs who might have been executed on the orders of Japanese commanders when we landed.
But were the means used -- the destruction in seconds of two cities, inflicting instant death on 120,000 men, women and children, and an agonizing death from burns and radiation on scores of thousands more -- moral?
Truman's defenders argue that by using the bomb, he saved more lives than were lost in those cities. Only the atom bombs, they contend, could have shocked Japan's warlords into surrender.
But if terrorism is the massacre of innocents to break the will of rulers, were not Hiroshima and Nagasaki terrorism on a colossal scale?
Churchill did not deny what the Allied air war was about. Before departing for Yalta, he ordered Operation Thunderclap, a campaign to "de-house" civilians to clog roads so German soldiers could not move to stop the offensive of the Red Army. British Air Marshal "Bomber" Harris put Dresden, a jewel of a city and haven for hundreds of thousands of terrified refugees, on the target list.
On the first night, 770 Lancasters arrived around 10:00. In two waves, 650,000 incendiary bombs rained down, along with 1,474 tons of high explosives. The next morning, 500 B-17s arrived in two waves, with 300 fighter escorts to strafe fleeing survivors.
Estimates of the dead in the Dresden firestorm range from 35,000 to 250,000. Wrote The Associated Press, "Allied war chiefs have made the long-awaited decision to adopt deliberate terror bombing of German populated centers as a ruthless expedient to hasten Hitler's doom."
In a memo to his air chiefs, Churchill revealed what Dresden had been about, "It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed."
Gens. MacArthur, Eisenhower, "Hap" Arnold and Curtis LeMay reportedly felt the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unnecessary. But recent documents have surfaced to show the Japanese warlords were far more determined to fight on to a bloody finish in the home islands than previously known.
Yet, whatever the mindset of Japan's warlords in August 1945, the moral question remains. In a just war against an evil enemy, is the deliberate slaughter of his women and children in the thousands justified to break his will to fight? Traditionally, the Christian's answer has been no.
Truman's defenders argue that the number of U.S. dead in any invasion would have been not 46,000, as one military estimate predicted, but 500,000. Others contend the cities were military targets.
But with Japan naked to our B-29s, her surface navy at the bottom of the Pacific, the home islands blockaded, what was the need to invade at all? On his island-hopping campaign back to the Philippines, MacArthur routinely bypassed Japanese strongholds like Rabaul, cut them off and left them to "rot on the vine."
And if Truman considered Hiroshima and Nagasaki military targets, why, in the Cabinet meeting of Aug. 10, as historian Ralph Raico relates, did he explain his reluctance to drop a third bomb thus: "The thought of wiping out another 100,000 people was too horrible," he said. He didn't like the idea of killing "all those kids."
Of Truman's decision, his own chief of staff, Adm. William Leahy, wrote: "This use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make wars in that fashion ..."
Pat is overlooking the toll that refusal to surrender would have produced for the Japanese population itself...by all accounts, each and every Japanese citizen, man, woman, or child, was expected by their military leaders to fight to the death. The death toll may have been half a million to the US, but it would have been far more vast for the Japanese themselves, and far greater than the numbers killed by the bombs. To defeat the monumentally brutal Japanese military machine completely was absolutely crucial, or it could arise again in time and endanger the entire region as it had in the past.
Pat is getting close to finally becoming so far right, he has reached the left.
"Pat is getting close to finally becoming so far right, he has reached the left."
I didn't think that was possible, but I believe you're right.
So, what is Pat suggesting? That we should have let the citizens of Japan "rot on the vine"? Would a slow death been nicer than the quick they got?????
He probably thinks he's coming to the aid of his Presidential candidate Tancredo.
Someone blowing up your house is terrorism. Blowing up someone who wants to blow up your house isn't. His hiding behind his wife and kids does not change anything. If I sound hard hearted, so be it, but I choose us over them every time, today as well as 60 years ago.
And I won't even get into his casualty estimates being off by a couple of orders of magnitude.
Would a slow death been nicer than the quick ONE they got?????
Truman did many things wrong IMHO, but this is not one of them. By his "coddling" of the Japanese war criminals, he set the stage for future mistreatment of American POW's in Asian wars.
Surprised to see that more were killed in Dresden than with the nuke.
There were many that said that a demonstration of the nukes on non populated areas would have had the same effect.
Lemay was Goldwater's running mate - he was made to be a neanderthal and surprising to see his thoughts on Truman.
Morality depends on what you do to people, not the weapons you use. There is nothing mystical about nukes, they are just one more weapon. Firebombing killed more people in Tokyo and in several German cities than the A-Bombs. For that matter, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge in Cambodia battered or stabbed more people to death with sticks and bayonets.
Speaking of raving nutters, I heard Michael Savage call himself the "Last American Prophet" tonight. If you haven't listened to him lately you should try and catch his show. His dementia and martyr complex are consuming the whole program. You can even hear the spittle dripping of the microphone at times.
I'm alive because my dad is alive
If we had waited, the Russians would have taken even more of Japan just like we let em take too much of Germany.
We did Japan a backhanded favor. The Ruskies would have never give Japan the land back. IMO
As we are seeing now, Christianity and war don't mix.