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.
LOL! It's baseball season so I've been skipping my normal 7pm talk radio.
I gave Savage a good three months of air time. Finally couldn't take his outbursts anymore and switched to a Laura Ingraham rebroadcast.
I liked Savage's positions, but didn't need to listen to screaming maniac after a long day's work.
Our talk radio, WRKO, has been running ads with Savage blasting Rush about ratings numbers.
"Christianity and war don't mix".
It worked pretty well during the Crusades.
Don't even need to read this, Pat is a Nazi and the soviet union won the war against tojo and hitler. He just can't accept reality being a nazi and all.
I wonder if the japanese were worried about the 80+ soviet divisions knocking at their door.
Happy Late Nagasaki Day to All!
Buchanan really is nuts..
If nukes were just about numbers...then they wouldn't really add up much. You can talk about the destruction of downtown Hiroshima or Nagasaki...but people survived that were within 3 miles of the blast zone. And there are lots of city residents still alive today even though they did get a fair dose of radiation. There is a serious disconnect here by the media and some historians. Nukes do have terrible destruction power...but dropping 300 bombs over the area of New York City would just about destroy the entire downtown area...and probably kill over 150,000 people. It is the ultimate plan or desired goal of the destruction that matters.
One of the great destruction efforts of all time...is Kaiserslautern, Germany. In the 1300s, there were around 2,000 residents in the valley considered Kaiserslautern today. You can draw a circle of approximately 5 miles, and these 2,000 locals existed as mostly farmers. Hungarian raiders came into the area, and over a one-year period...between their destruction and killing...barely 400 people remained. It would take over one hundred years for the area to recover and reach its 2,000 population. If the raiders had never come...the population today (around 100,000), would likely be around 200,000. The destruction power of these raiders reset history for this community and can be gauged as the same force or power you might use in a nuke or a 100-bomber effort over a city. Its the death factor that matters, and not the method that was used.
At the time, we possessed all of two bombs and one "device". We were months away from completing a third bomb.
Once the "device" was successfully tested at Trinity site, we knew that the plutonium-based implosion-type bomb would work. There was no doubt that the uranium-based gun-type bomb would work -- it didn't need to be tested.
You can't make the Trinity test do double-duty as a "demonstration", because you weren't 100% confident that it would work. No point in inviting observers, only to have them witness a fizzle.
So, now, after the successful test, if you use one of the two bombs as a "demonstration", you've only got one left. If they don't surrender after the "demonstration", you can deliver one bomb...and that's it.
Wouldn't that be cutting things a little close? Especially, since we now know that it took two bombs to get their attention...
Lemay was Goldwater's running mate - he was made to be a neanderthal and surprising to see his thoughts on Truman.
Cong. Bill Miller of New York was Goldwater's running mate.
"So, now, after the successful test, if you use one of the two bombs as a "demonstration", you've only got one left. If they don't surrender after the "demonstration", you can deliver one bomb...and that's it.
Wouldn't that be cutting things a little close?"
It would not be cutting it close for the hundreds of thousands that died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Don't get me wrong - its hard to argue with success and the bombs did succeed in a early end to the war.
But what if the bomb was dropped in a forested area that would readily demonstrate the power - and if it did not work, none would be the wiser.
Just thinking out loud. Also, were we not to wipe out so many civilians, it might not have rattled the Russian cage - which only got us into a very expensive arms race.
And that is the answer, isn't it? What was done achieved the desired result. It WORKED!
Even though it may have come at the cost of the lives of several hundred thousands at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the apparent alternative was several hundred thousands of allied lives (mostly American) and several millions of Japanese.
Any solution that tried to get cute with those odds ran the risk of being "too clever by half".
Did anyone else see the History Channel Special last night on the documented WWII Japanese Nuclear Bomb Programs and the fact that they exploded a test atomic weapon off the shore of North Korea days before we beat them to the punch at Hiroshima? Does anyone seriously doubt that had they developed the a-bomb before we did, those b@st@rds would not have used it on us? (Most probably on the west coast.)
And that they had cruise missile projects just like Germans did?
I have always fully supported the atomic raid on Japan
Hmmm, Pat leaves out, as do others, that the Germans began the policy of bombing cities for the same effects. No one mentions the incendiary bombs dropped by the Germans on the city of Coventry, England, to light this city on fire on the 25th. of August, 1940. No one ever does.
Pat Buchanan is playing bomb thrower, again.
Their cruise missile program (essentially a cheap wooden bare bones plane) pretty much required a kamikaze pilot to correctly target them but they did exist and Kamikazes were not in short supply though the supply diminished inversely with the program's success.
Of course you are, for you know little about that which you speak.
"Lemay was Goldwater's running mate.."
Bill Miller was Goldwater's running mate. Moron.
"Bill Miller was Goldwater's running mate. Moron."
I'm sorry, but have we been introduced?
The problem with bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki is the same as the fire-bombing of Dresden. The ends don't justify the means. The killing of civilians should be avoided whenever reasonably possible.
Obviously not, but since you don't check on the accuracy of the facts - either strategic or political history - that use in your posts, I didn't think it mattered.
"Obviously not, but since you don't check on the accuracy of the facts - either strategic or political history - that use in your posts, I didn't think it mattered"
The point of my post was that Curtis Lemay did not fit the sterotype of the rabid leftist press that hounded him while he was running for VP.
A thousand apologies for confusing his running mate with one southern conservative for another.
To tell you the truth, my memory for that particular election is a bit skewed as I was involved in the campaign of my father's first cousin who ran for Pres that year.
No offense intended to you and your great posts.
Keep up the good work!
My apologies, I inverted the meaning of your post. I stand humbly corrected.
Once again, Pat gives evidence of his second rate mind.
He never got promoted above "white house speechwriter." Never got elevated to policy-making rank.
No doubt the Presidents observed a mind not worthy of serious analysis and decision making responsibility.
So he writes and talks, ever since. He runs for President twice, reaching 0.5 percent in a goofy party with a goofy running mate.
He now talks for the last-place cable news network.
What a slimy POS he's become.