Skip to comments.Paul Tibbets and “The Family of Man”
Posted on 11/01/2007 11:58:06 AM PDT by pabianice
When I was a child, my mother had one of the early coffee table books on display in the living room. The Family of Man (http://www.amazon.com/Family-Man-Greatest-Photographic-Exhibition/dp/B000J1AMR6/ref=sr_1_1/103-5108515-2439061?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1193940207&sr=1-1) was, to a kid in grade school in the mid-50s, a fascinating book. There was little TV in those days, few magazines for kids, and of course, no video games, computers, or cell phones. This books 500 or so black and white pictures, taken from many magazines, showed a vast array of people from many nations engaged in a wide variety of activities. I spent hours and hours staring at the pictures, fascinated.
I thought of this book again today at the news that COL Paul Tibbets, pilot of the B-29 Enola Gay that helped end World War II by dropping the fission bomb on Hiroshima, had died at the age of 92. Tibbets died at his Columbus home after suffering from diseases of old age for several months. The article noted that Tibbets had requested no funeral and no headstone because of the unavoidable demonstrations and defacing by todays Left who, in their continuing love of their fellow man, miss no opportunity to act like savages when addressing their political enemies. I thought of The Family of Man because of a picture it had published, allegedly of Tibbets, showing a stubble-covered, bleary-eyed, shaking wreck of a man who was clearly insane, staring into the camera. My mother instructed that this was the picture of Paul Tibbets, who had plunged into alcoholic madness from the guilt and shame over his infamous mission. I loved my mom, but politically, she was the ideological mother of Nancy Pelosi.
According to a more reliable report, Tibbets had said, "I'm not proud that I killed 80,000 people, but I'm proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did You've got to take stock and assess the situation at that time. We were at war. ... You use anything at your disposal I sleep clearly every night.''
Rest in peace, Colonel. May the country always benefit from men like you and your fellows, despite the misunderstanding and forthright mendacities from those who live the carefree life of Eloi despite the Morlocks who would, were it not for the worlds Paul Tibbetses, eat them while they sleep.
Tibbets (center) and his crew before their famous mission
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Amen! My father and many guys like him were in line to go to Japan at the end of the war and Paul Tibbets saved a lot of American lives.
....and a lot of Japanese lives as well.
that last picture is such a subtle statement of the glaring hypocrisy of the left.
i’m being good and wearing my headscarf.. yet showing an impressive amount of cleavage.
It was a hard thing to do, but America made a decision and followed through. All the men on that mission deserve our love and gratitude, NOT endless picketing of funerals. May he RIP.
Ha! You noticed that too, huh? “I’ve got my head covered, praise Allah...but check out my rack!”
I utterly reject the notion that your last picture accurately represents America today.
Just think if Ron Paul had been in office the bomb would have never been dropped. And we’d all be speaking Japanese/German....instead of English/Spanish! lol
Read Richard Frank’s “Downfall” about the history of the decision to drop the bombs. He devastates all the lib/commie revisionist arguments about using the bombs on Japan.
One point he proves beyond a doubt is that dropping the bombs SAVED JAPANESE LIVES. Millions of them, in fact. At the time of the surrender, the Japanese were on the edge of starvation. We were prepared to continue the conventional bombings of the cities and transportation infrastructure, along with the interdiction of all seaborne transport through aerial and submarine attack, and a very effective mining program. If the war continued another 60 or 90 days, the Japanese people would not have made it through the winter without eating each other.
And no, they were not on the “verge of surrender” before the bombs were dropped. A cursory reading of internal military and diplomatic dispatches in June-July 1945 makes that clear. And we knew it because we were reading them at the time.
The mass of the US public and especially the US media...has virtually no understanding or grasp of what Japanese leadership was in 1945. The war was never going to be over...until you really laid down a harsh situation and future reality.
If I had been standing in Tibbets shoes in 1945...I’d do just the same thing, and never look back.
You got that right, FRiend.
Not all of America. Just most American “leaders”.
‘Ha! You noticed that too, huh? Ive got my head covered, praise Allah...but check out my rack!’
I admit, I did just that.
Spawn of Satan that I obviously am....
I don't know...it is otherwise hard to explain the fact that greater than 60% of our fellow "Americans" oppose the war on terror.
Bears repeating. Either of the two likely alternatives -- firebombing them into submission, or an invasion of Japan -- would have cost millions of Japanese lives, not to mention widespread destruction of their homeland.
The Battle of Okinawa, where 60,000 to 70,000 Japanese military and 150,000 Japanese civilians lost their lives was a hint of what horrors might have been -- multiplied by ten to fifty the number of casualties -- if not for the capitulation of Japan following the A-Bomb attacks.
Mr. Tibbets probably did sleep well at night, and why not. We WERE at war.
I pray he's resting in the arms of Jesus now.
That's certainly a factual statement ... but is it true? It certainly doesn't mirror my personal experience.
I trust middle America is different. But I don't think the majority of Americans live there.
Amen indeed. My father, who went through the entire pacific theater, was in line to go into Japan in the 2nd wave.
Thank you Paul Tibbetts. My father 1st Sargeant 1st Cav was preparing for the invasion. That day was his birthday.
I probably wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for those courageous men. Thank you Gen. Tibbetts.
Perhaps now my Dad can thank him personally. RIP.
I’d wager most of the idiots who condemn Tibbets and the atomic bombing of Japan would show blank faces if you asked them about the victims of the Bataan Death March and who perpetrated it.
I remember “The Family of Man” and the picture of Tibbetts. This book of photographs was published about 20 years after the war. I did not trust the motives of the photographer or the editor. The photograph did not justly serve the memory of Tibbetts or his comrads in arms who gave all they could to deafeat Imperial Japan. Whether or not Tibbetts descended into alcoholism, plenty who made it back did. As I was growing up, I can’t remember a single one that was pointed out as a victim.
All you need to know is that on March 8-9, 1945, 334 B-29s killed over 100,000 Japanese, mostly civilians, in the first firebomb raid on Tokyo. Sixteen square miles of the city was leveled, and a million people were made homeless. And that was just the first of dozens of low-altitude firebomb raids that Curtis Lemay’s Twentieth Air Force did over the next five months. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were among a very few major cities that hadn’t already been partially or totally leveled by the B-29s dropping M69 napalm bombs.
The only difference between Tokyo in March and Hiroshima in August is that Tokyo took 334 planes, and Hiroshima took three. That’s about it.
Rest in peace, Colonel Tibbets.
I trust middle America is different. But I don't think the majority of Americans live there.
Wow! What a difference. Here in my hometown, just last week, we lined Main St. with American flags as half the town filled the sidewalks to say goodbye to a local soldier killed in Iraq as the hearse carried his coffin to the cemetary. Flags throughout the county are flying at half mast out of respect for his honor and duty as I write.
Most folks here have "support our troops" bumpers stickers and the ladies and girls at our local schools and churches make yellow ribbons and put them along our main street while there are handmade signs of support for our troops posted on fences, telephone poles and shopkeepers windows. Of course this is middle America out West here.
>> The only difference between Tokyo in March and Hiroshima in August is that Tokyo took 334 planes, and Hiroshima took three. Thats about it.
Yep... it’s a wonder that that didn’t bring them to their knees, but it didn’t. And there’s no way to know for sure, but I’m not sure any amount of “conventional” firebombing would have.
BTW, I like your tag line!
Rest in peace Paul Tibbets. You were a great man.
Colonel Paul Tibbets deserves the eternal respect and gratitude of this Nation.
He commanded the B-29 squadron that conducted the mission which saved the lives of several hundred thousand GIs and an untold number of Japanese.
Semper Fi, Colonel.
Shedding innocent blood is one of the few things that God says He hates. One of the very few. And it doesn't matter whether you do it with abortion, a bomb, or a baseball bat.
Joshua at Jericho?
The bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved more Japanese lives than they took. Not to mentioned the many American lives saved and the prisoners and slaves freed from at least another year of oppression.
So if God wanted to, He could have shed innocent blood by consuming Hiroshima with earthquake, tsunami, meteor strike. He is sovereign.
But it is clear and explicit from Scripture, verbatim, what God Himself finds abominable.
Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed.
You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you.
These things the Lord hates: ...haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood.
For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned incense in it to gods that neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent.
This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hands of their oppressors those who have been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
But Egypt will be desolate, Edom a desert waste, because of violence done to the people of Judah, in whose land they shed innocent blood.
Shall I leave the shedding of innocent blood unpunished? No, I will not."
And many other words of the Lord terrible and unmistakable.
Understand that I do not consider myself to be morally superior to Paul Tibbets or to anyone else. People do terrible things goaded by terrible circumstances. I just think the voice of God must be heard, though we hate like hell to hear it.
I bow my head as one who has no reason to boast.
Did you ever consider that God used America as His agent of divine retribution on an empire that shed an ocean of innocent blood from 1937-1945?
Farewell and Godspeed, General Tibbets.
That's possible. It still doesn't justify the decision to firebomb cities (Did God appear to Truman and give Him a personal heads-up? No.) It makes me wonder what retribution God will have against us, who have shed the blood of 50,000,000 unborn babies since 1973.
Just from the gut - I don’t think the terms “alcoholic” and “92-year-old” are a match made in heaven...
I understand your viewpoint. Curtis Lemay made his decision to use firebombs on Japanese cities almost out of desperation. His B-29s were trying to use European-style “precision” bombing (which killed quite enough civilians as it was, ask the residents of Dresden) but they were running into the jet stream over Japan, and the 200+ mph winds at altitude were shoving them miles off target.
The Army knew that Japanese cities were mostly wood and paper. Lemay took a gamble—that if he switched to incendiary bombs, flew the planes in at night, between 5,000 and 10,000 feet, and without any defensive gunners to allow for extra bombload, that he could do decisive damage to the Japanese industrial infrastructure and maybe, just maybe, cow them into surrender. He did the first, but not the second.
The fact is, if the Japanese had not been bloodied to the point that Emperor Hirohito finally had to say, “Enough,” to his advisors (and even then, most of them wanted to continue fighting!), there would have been a land invasion of Japan. Millions of American troops, facing off against millions of Japanese civilians ready to die for their Emperor. It would have been a bloodbath that dwarfed any cruelty seen on the Eastern Front. Japan as a nation, and maybe the Japanese as a people, would have been all but destroyed.
It’s a tough moral call. And it’s definitely worth noting that two of the most controversial figures in the Allied military after the war weren’t the colorful, famous ones like Patton and Montgomery—they were Curtis Lemay and Arthur “Bomber” Harris.
God knocked down the walls of Jericho, but afterwards the Israelites went in and put the city to the sword, apparently with God's blessing:
20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
None was spared except for Rahab and her family.
And in Deuteronomy 20:16:
16 But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:
17 But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:
Judging from the history in the Bible, there are times when God condones the destruction of cities and sometimes commands it. I'm not implying that the United States was acting on specifically on God's orders, but instead was doing everything that it could to end the war quickly and victoriously. Oceans of blood have been spilled in humanity's wars throughout history. The enduring lesson of war is that only decisive victory brings lasting peace. The United States is arguably the most humane nation that has ever existed on the planet by virtue of its enormous power of destruction and its sparing use of that power. That is perhaps what irks its detractors, that something so powerful must be at its heart, evil, and yet it is not.
I believe that a great many collateral casualties would have been justified in order to utterly destroy the Japanese war machine. They had butchered God-knows how many multitutes of people (I hesitate to put a numerical figure on it, but it was astronomical) and it was solidly probable that they would continue to do more of the same.
Even so-called "precision bombing" was in no way precise in WWII. It is jaw-droppingly horrifying to contemplate the number of civilian casualties even from bonbing runs that were legitimately intended for military targets. And yet the civilian casualties were (1) not directly intentional, inasmuch as sincere efforts were made to minimize noncombatant deaths, (2)unavoidable in the course of knocking out port facilites, arms factories, massed troops, and (3)grimly but truly proportionate, inasmuch as the Japanese military was overtly genocidal.
Are such things justified? I say yes. Those kinds of civilian casualties are not directly intended, they are unavoidable, and they are proportionate. Those are the key moral categories in a grim business such as this. I am not a pacifist, and I can see this.
However what is morally corrupt about Hiroshima and Nagasaki (and Dresden and Hamburg etc.) is that apparently by this time, all such moral fixed points had been swept away.
There is every indication --- as far as I can see -- that the civilian casualties were fully elective and strategically intended. If by some fantasyland fluke, Field Marshal Shunroku Hata's 2nd General Army Headquarters and the military transshipment facilities had been obliterated, but the civilian population left untouched, the atomic bomb --- let's face it ---- would have been considered a vast disappointment.
The purpose was to make a dramatic and psychologically traumatizing flambeau of civilian flesh. Hiroshima as such was a military target only if you can also say that New York City as such is a military target.
That is not justified by any warrior's ethic. George Washington would not have done it. Lee would not have done it. It is a violation of US law, international law, and the UCMJ. It is against God's law. Only God can judge the individual heart, and may He do so mercifully. But as a policy, it is damnable.
The mouth of the Lord can order such things, just as He could order the slaying of Isaac. Woe to the mere man who thinks he can do so, for such is delusion. I give you post #40, above.
I have several autographed photos of Tibbets, including that famous one of him waving out the window of the Enola Gay on the morning before the flight. This guy’s face belongs stamped on a U.S. coin, at the very least.
OK, you’re President Truman.
1) End the war by causing 150,000 civilian casualties and destroy two cities. The four year war has already caused 400,000 American deaths, and over 1,000,000 wounded.The Okinawa campaign has just ended with a frightful number of Americans killed, presaging the difficult bloody fight that will be needed to take Japan. The Navy daily suffers kamikaze attacks, in some cases, wiping out hundreds of Americans in a split second.
2) Invade Japan by land causing up to 9 million civilian and military deaths, destroying many cities, and having 250,000 Americans KIA and another 1,000,000 wounded in a fight to the death.
Choose quickly. Americans are dying daily.
You can pontificate about moral choices until the cows come home. But in reality, Truman made the only correct choice open to him.
And in doing so, he saved countless American and Japanese lives.
We can second guess decisions made 62 years ago, but we dare not disregard the context of the times.
We can take responsibility for Hiroshima, but the Japanese themselves are wholly responsible for Nagasaki. They could have surrendered then, but chose not to. Indeed their military officials plotted to the last second to prevent Hirohito from making his radio broadcast to the Japanese people announcing surrender, even after Nagasaki occurred..
Still losing 75,000-90,000 lives in Hiroshima and saving 9- 10 million is a dirty business but it had to be done to end the fanaticism of an empire that would have sacrificed its own people in a death duel that it knew it could never win.
President Truman made the right decision. As a result not only did the people on both sides live, but they went on to have innumerable children and grandchildren, who would have been cutoff had more people died in Japan in 1945-1946.
And before this War on Islamic Terror is over, similar choices will have to be made.
It's true that Washington and Lee would have considered such destruction barbaric according to the thinking of their times. Sherman might have considered it a necessary act. The thinking at the time of WWII was that in an era of industrial war civilian populations of workers were part of the ability of the enemy to continue to fight and thus were strategic targets. That said, it's my understanding that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were targeted because they had been untouched by previous conventional bombing, not because of their military significance. I believe that this was done to show the Japanese the horrifying cost of continued resistance.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the United States sins, the destruction ended the war and given the thinking of the times were not barbaric acts.
a) You can't predict what would have been the result. That kind of moral calculus is impossible, and of course the troubled conscience is strongly motivated to continually inflate the estimates of what wouild have happened if #2 had been chosen.
A highly competent writer friend of mine, Mary Meehan --- much more competent in the investigative area than I am --- analyzed Truman's diaries and public statements on this subject. At first, he said the atomic bombing saved "n" lives. As time went on, and the body count from Hiroshima and Nagasaki went higher and higher, his estimates of how many lives it saved went to "2n," "3n," "25n" and so forth. A decent man doing what an appalled conscience needs to do, short of confession and repentance.
b) Saying that we can do any evil, even great evil in the eyes of humanity and God Himself, that greater good may come of it, is a line of moral reasoning that will be used to justify any sin. It's how Eve justified the first one.
Not to invoke the Argumentum ad Hitlerum, or even the Argumentum ad Saddam Husseinium, let's objectively note that it undercuts any possibility of arguing against any grave evil from infant craniotomy on up, if the doer thereof convinces himself that it was necessary to avoid a greater evil.
This boils down to "Thou shalt not commit murder --- unless thou art really, really tempted."
It makes you an enemy of God. Not a good bargain.
On the "Judeo" part (since you cite the O.T.) le me say that one reason I can respect the present-day Israeli military, is that as far as I can see they have conducted themselves, under unrelenting pressure, in a manner that befits a soldier's honor. Very forceful, decisive and efficient in wiping out military targets; conscientious about sparing noncombatant life and values.
The point I made about God's direct orders stands. Collateral deaths aside --- that's a separate question ---He forbids the direct and deliberate killing of the innocent, by which we mean not "ontologically perfect," but in context, people who are either noncombatants, or combatants who have been disarmed, captured, or damaged to the point where they can no longer aggress.
As I said, I am not a pacifist. I do believe in fighting to defend our people and our Judeo-Christian Civilization--- what's left of it. The ongoing breaking down the objective moral order, whether under the banner of Unconditional War or Women's Right to You Know What, has purchased us the death of our Civilization by our own hand.
I understand your argument, but it is based on error.
You could not pick #2 rationally, because you would have already, as Truman did, had the combat experience of Saipan and Okinawa to base your estimates of military and civilian casualties.
To condemn another 250,000 of your own soldiers to death needlessly to argue a moral principle would have made you complicit in the murder of 250,000 innocent men.
The whole question of millions of Japanese dying also would just be icing on the cake.
In 1945, for a President to do any less would have been a grave moral error.
Sincere request: I'd like to understand you better.
I stated "given the thinking of the times" not to suggest that we are somehow more enlightened now about unconditional war, but that we now have developed better ways of defeating our enemies while minimizing civilian casualties. If and when we face a mortal threat to our civilization as was faced back in WWII, our most terrible weapons will be used in the end as they were used then.