Skip to comments.Commemorating a Major U.S. War Crime
Posted on 08/10/2010 5:42:30 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
Friday was the anniversary of the U.S. Bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. Monday is the anniversary of its bombing of Nagasaki.
The explosion of the Fat Man atomic device over Nagasaki is pictured. It rose eleven miles into the sky over Ground Zero.
The important thing, though, is that ittogether with the Little Boy device that was deployed over Hiroshimakilled approximately 200,000 human beings. And it ended the war with Japan.
It is understandable that many Americans at the time were relieved that the long burden of the bloodiest war in human history could finally be laid down. Many then, as now, saw the use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a necessary step to preventing even more casualties.
However, some of the blogging being done to commemorate the attack is most unfortunate.
Consider Michael Graham, who wishes his readers a Happy Peace Through Victory Day.
Today marks the anniversary of the single greatest act in the cause of peace ever taken by the United States:
Dropping the A-bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. That one decision, that one device, saved more lives, did more to end war, and created more justice in the world in a single stroke than any other. It was done by America, for Americans. It saved the lives of hundreds of thousandsif not millionsof American soldiers and sailors.
So, obviously, President Obamas not too happy about it. . . .
Euroweenie peaceniks and an annoying number of American liberals see the bombing of Hiroshima as a shameful act. What is it America should be ashamed fordefeating an enemy that declared war on us? Bringing about the end of a fascist empire that killed millions of people, mostly Asians? Preventing the slaughter of the good guysAmericansby killing the bad guysthe Japanese?
I am not a Euroweenie or a peacenik or a political liberal or even someone opposed to the use of nuclear weapons in principle. I can imagine scenarios in which their use would be justified. I can even deal with the cheeky Happy Peace Through Victory Day headline.
But Mr. Grahams analysis of the situation on a moral level is faulty.
It is true that, by instilling terror in the Japanese government, the use of atomic weapons prevented further and, in all probability, greater casualties on both sides.
Preventing further and greater casualties is a good thing, but as the Catechism reminds us:
The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties [CCC 2312].
It isnt just a question of the goal of an action. The goal may be a good one, but the means used to achieve it may be evil. The Catechism states:
Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation. A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons - especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons - to commit such crimes [CCC 2314].
The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were definitely acts of war directed to the destruction of whole cities orat leastvast areas with their inhabitants. The only quibbling could be about whether this was indiscriminate destruction. Someone might argue (stretching the word indiscriminate rather severely and taking it in a sense probably not meant by the Catechism) that they were not indiscriminate attacks in that they were aimed at vital Japanese war resources (munitions factories, troops, etc.) and the only practical way to take out these resources was to use atomic weapons.
Mounting such a case would face a number of problems. One would have to show that Hiroshima and Nagasaki contained such resources (not that difficult to show) and that these resources themselves were proportionate in value to the massive collateral damage that would be inflicted (a much more difficult task) and that there was no other practical waylike a more targeted bombingto take them out (again a difficult task).
But for purposes of argument, lets grant all this. Lets suppose that there were such resources, and that they were proportionate in value to the massive loss of civilian lives and that there was no other way to get rid of them.
Does that absolve the U.S. of guilt in these two bombings?
You can see why in the logic that Mr. Graham used. It stresses the fact that the use of these weapons saved net lives. This was undoubtedly uppermost in the U.S. military planners thinking as they faced the possibility of an extremely bloody invasion of Japan in which huge numbers on both sides would die.
But notice what is not being saideither by Mr. Graham or anybody else: Hiroshima and Nagasaki contained such important war widgets that without those widgets Japan would be unable to prosecute the war. Thus by taking out those military resources we could deprive Japan of its ability to make war.
Neither is anybody saying something like this: We needed to scare Japan into surrender by showing them that we could destroy all of their military resources. We needed to make them terrified of losing all their military resources so that, out of a desperate desire to preserve their military resources, they would surrender.
These are the dogs that didnt bark, and they are why this line of argument is a dog that wont hunt.
The reason nobody says these things is that they were not the thinking behind the U.S.s actions. The idea was not to end the war through the direct destruction of military resources in these two cities, nor was it to end the war by scaring Japan into thinking we might destroy all of its military resources. It was scaring Japan into surrendering by threatening (explicitly) to do this over and over again and inflict massive damage on the Japanese population. In other words, to make them scared that we would engage in the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants.
That means that, even if Hiroshima and Nagasaki had contained military resources that of themselves would have justified the use of atomic weapons (which is very hard to argue), our intention still was not pure. We were still using Japanese civilians as hostages to the war effort, still threatening to kill civilians if Japan did not surrender. That was the message we wanted the Japanese leadership to getnot, We will take out your military resources if you keep this up, but, We will take out big chunks of your population if you keep this up.
That meant that the U.S. leadership was formally participating in evil. It does not matter if the attacks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki could (through some stretch of the imagination) be justified in themselves. The fact is that they were used to send a message telling the Japanese government that we would kill massive numbers of the military and civilian population, without discrimination. That message is evil, and to knowingly and deliberately send that message is to formally participate in evil.
That made these attacks war crimes.
Now, make no mistake. Im an American. Im a fan of the U.S. But love of the United States should not preclude one from being able to look honestly at the mistakes it has committed in the past. Indeed, it is only by looking at and frankly acknowledging the mistakes of the past that we can learn from them. Love of ones country should impel one to help it not commit such evils.
Racial discrimination? Bad thing. Allowing abortions? Bad thing. Dropping nukes to deliberately kill civilians? Bad thing. Lets try not to have things like these mar Americas future.
My thoughts are that he is wrong. If using the atomic bomb was wrong, so was the whole prosecution of WW2, in all theaters. War is bad ... but either it’s *all* bad, or it’s not. Weapons are just a tool.
If the bombs were bad, then our actions before this point were worse. We had fire bombed entire Japanese cities and towns off the map. From the view of the bombing campaign alone, the two bombs saved tremendously more Japanese lives than it cost.
Our only mistake was not using atomic weapons in Korea.
A second use would have shown our resolve and there
would have been now doubt about our ability to use
Nonetheless, I don't see the use of those two bombs as having been necessary either. I'd have saved them for Mecca and Medina. WW-II was basically over, Japan's 75 largest cities were in ashes, and they were looking for a way out. There were 20,000,000 people walking around in forests because the cities in which they used to live no longer existed.
Harry S Truman. The “the Buck Stops Here” Democrat. Never once blamed FDR for getting us into a crazy war in Europe, which hadn’t attacked us.
My thought is that Jimmy Akin is a flaming idiot. The atomic bombs saved millions of both Japanese and American lives. Jimmy Akin knows nothing of history or of war making.
Japan had a national code to never, ever surrender. They where willing to fight to the last man standing.
Had not Truman authorized the use of the Atomic bomb, the war with Japan would have dragged on for years.
The fact that is took two Atomic bombs to make Japan realize that it had absolutely no chance attests to the need to use the Atomic bombs.
It was a courageous act of mercy on the part United States part. This re-writting of history is evil.
The deterrent value since then has saved untold lives more.
I am writing this post to apologize for taking the NCR to task unfairly. The headline led me to believe this publication was going to chastise the U.S. heavily for it’s use of atomic weapons.
I leveled a withering criticism for that. I was wrong to do so.
The article and publication actually defend the U.S. and it’s use of these WMDs.
I am sorry to have posted an unfair criticism, and I asked that it be removed.
The "U.S". is not guilty of anything. Only individual human beings can commit sins and are thereby either guilty or not guilty.
Fortunately for us, the Vatican was not bombed on Dec 7, 1941. Well, maybe fortunately......
When it comes to war you should only use the information available at the time. To do otherwise is akin to suing a racetrack for failing to cash a false ticket printed weeks after the race was ran.
I will always remember that my father was scheduled to be a landing craft crewman running between the attack transport anchorage and the shore. He wasn't expected to survive a week. That was two years before I was born.
The trouble is these people that cry war crimes are safe from possibility that the may have been in the first wave to assault the beaches of Japan. Otherwise they may have a different opinion.
Armchair General Akin: "Let's see now, if I was in charge 60+ years ago, I'd have simply said no to dropping those bombs."
"Would we have lost a huge number of Americans invading the Japanese Islands (many of whom had already been voluntarily fighting for years, to free people they had never met), and maybe have had to kill just as many Japanese civilians as the bombs did anyway, because they would have fanatically defended their homeland?"
"Well, yeah, but I, Armchair General Akin, would have felt morally superior about it, you know what I mean?"
“And Im commemorating a massive F U moment for N C R.”
You and me both. What’s up with the Catholic church these days? They turn a blind eye to 0bama and Pelosi with their abortion driven agendas. They embrace illegal immigration and cover up for homosexual, pedophillic priests. I am becoming beyond disgusted with them. (Jim’s w)
Okay, well, the withering criticism of NCR is back. This guy is one major pinhead.
And Im commemorating a massive F U moment for N C R.
We were attacked. We tried to get Japan to surrender. It even refused to after we used the first atomic bomb.
We told Japan there would be more attacks if they didnt surrender. They didnt surrender. We attacked again.
War is hell. I hope there is never an instance of massive weapons like this being used again, but the N C R makes it more likely by printing trash like this.
The U. S. is demonized here. That just builds up anger by non-U. S. Citizens. It justifies anything they want to do to us, because were supposedly a pariah state. N C R has inferred as much.
This is disgusting to the max.
A war crime? No, N C R, has leveled a world class example of hate speech here. Some people should lose their jobs over this. Ill reflect on citizenship until later...
I think not. I think that he is an America hater, some that his cushy American life has permitted him to be.
The Japanese had given ample evidence of their fanaticism and their willingness to sacrifice everything in service to the Emperor. Securing Japan's rapid and unconditional surrender was not worth the unnecessary expenditure of a single American soldier's life. The American people would never have forgiven Truman if they found out that he had the bombs available and chose not to use them, but to allow American soldiers to continue to die in combat. With Germany and Japan defeated, the West knew that they had neither the strength nor will to stand up to the Soviet Union if they decided to advance their interests militarily. Use of the Atomic Bombs against Japan served as a warning to Stalin and was absolutely necessary.
When this subject comes up with my Japanese friends and acquaintances, I always ask them if they have renounced their policy of eating their prisoners. The discussion usually turns to other topics.
My thoughts: F@@@ “Mr.” Akin and the horse he rode in on.
I was educated in hs by a few Catholic missionary priests who were POWs under the Japanese in the Pacific islands.
If they were alive today, they would call bullsh*t on this stuff.
Better we should have just blockaded Japan and starved everyone to death?
Such a tactic would have been harder on the civilian population; the army would have kept the limited available rations for the soldiers, actually focusing the inevitable famine on the civilians.
About all I can say, is that many (probably most) good Catholics are just as dismayed as we are about this commentary, as well as the issues you mentioned.
It sucks to be sure.
During the era of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, Japan was a Nation of Barbarians.
Unit 731, Nanking, the Bataan Death March and “Comfort Women” come to mind.
They were Purified by Fire, and have joined the ranks of civilized nations.
If Imperial Japan had surrendered sooner, the bombs would not have needed to have been dropped. They were the ones who attacked us and insisted on fighting to the bitter end, and they have no one to blame but themselves for the outcome of the war.
Pure. Bull. Sh*t.
We hear this same, tired, old crap every August.
The fire bombing of Tokyo, in the aggregate, killed far more Japanese than either of the nukes. People blanch at the use of the nukes simply because one bomb did it all in each city.
The war against Japan was a desperate struggle, with NO - repeat NO - guarantee that we would win. It was Total War, with the survival of the culture and the nation as the goal. Period.
And make no mistake - the use of the nukes SAVED lives - many of them our own troopers, and many more the Japanese civilians who had been pledged - by their utterly Machiavellian military masters - to die “for the emperor.”
It was a sh*tty, sh*tty war, but the Japanese having begun it, someone had to win and someone had to lose. The Japanese lost, and if you want to know if the nukes were “worth it,” then ask the families of the G.I.s who came home in one piece, rather than maimed or in boxes.
And, for that matter, ask the families of the Japanese who would surely have died in any invasion of the home islands.
If it brings any comfort, think of the dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as martyrs to peace.
But have a thought to all those who died in Tokyo and elsewhere as the result of bombs - now mostly forgotten - that weren’t “atomic.”
Most of all, pray for the souls of all the poor, young American kids who just wanted to stay home and play hoops and date Mary Lou, but whose bones are still bleaching on some forgotten Pacific sh*t hole.
Racial discrimination? Bad thing. Allowing abortions? Bad thing. Dropping nukes to deliberately kill civilians? Bad thing. Lets try not to have things like these mar Americas future.
Too bad my grandfather, Damage Control Office on the Bunker Hill at Okinawa, isn't around to respond to this overweening moral equivalence idiot. He'd gray the guy's hair prematurely. But, then again, when you've lost hundreds of shipmates in a battle a few months before the a-bombs were dropped, it tends to give you a vastly different viewpoint on this subject.
And Hiroshima and Nagasaki were key points in the defense of Kyushu as well as hubs of communication and transport.
My thoughts are along the lines of: “Screw you Jimmy Akin! Fat Man and Little Boy saved MILLIONS of lives, Japanese AND American.”
The life-saving of Fat Man and Little Boy are obvious when you consider that Japan was unwilling to surrender or accept defeat... and we dropped the bombs so close together [time-wise] to make the Japanese think that it was the next progression of our ongoing fire-bombing campaign, which at that point had basically obliterated the Japanese manufacturing capability, into that of simply utterly destroying Japanese cities at will.
All the Japanese cities were legitimate targets and we should have dropped a hundred of them rather than invade Japan and lose any other American lives.
The number of civilians killed is irrelevant. In modern warfare, a worker in a factory is as legitimate a target as the factory. The fact that the worker's families were close by is too bad for them.
When my son was three, I got to introduce him to General Chuck Sweeney who flew "Bockscar" on the second atomic bomb drop. I thanked General Sweeney for his service and my being there to meet him. My father was scheduled to be a landing craft driver in Operation Downfall in October of 1945.
The Islamists warring against the US do not see the distinction and neither should we. If you seek the destruction of the US whether overtly or covertly, directly or indirectly, you are are a legitimate target. If you object to your families getting killed as collateral damage from killing you, stay away from them.
Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)
LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)
Good thing we had a combat veteran making the decision, not a theologian.
For a detailed history of the US plans for the invasion, see D. M. Giangreco's book "Hell to Pay: Operation DOWNFALL and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947" Includes estimates of US casualties, estimates of how many Japanese the US would have to kill to force surrender, plans to increase the draft.
Also Paul Fussell's piece "Thank God for the atomic bomb"
Dropping the bombs also kept the Soviets, and ultimately the ChiComs out of Japan.
How would you have liked 5-10 years after Tojo’s defeat to have to return to Japan to fight the Reds?
He knows nothing about war and could not care less that untold numbers of our fathers would have been killed during an invasion of Japan. I see absolutely nothing to admire in this fellows willingness to have my Father and others die in Japan 65 years ago so that he can go through life secure in the knowledge that millions of deaths of Americans is somehow morally superior to the deaths suffered in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Good call. I reposted it.
Yep, nothing much tees me off more than someone taking military planners to task, for ending the war. None of us likes the idea of using those nukes. War is hell.
Look at Iwo Jima. The honeycombed passageways in its volcanic mountain’s inner sanctum, held thousands of Japanese troops.
I just read the other day that several Japanese troops didn’t actually surrender until 1950 possibly 1951. Now that’s determination.
I’m sure that if my ship-mates had been blown to bits, before the use of the bombs, I’d be tracking this blithering idiot down to beat him to a pulp.
I hope so, and to be sure the Catholic church certainly isn’t the only church which is becoming way too liberal.
Probably the saddest aspect of the article is that he thinks it's well-reasoned and he's proud of it.
I was in the Navy in WW2. So my view is certainly affected by what was going on at the time.
I understood that even after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese military wanted to continue to the last man, woman and child, both military and civilian. And as I recall, after Nagasaki, Hirohito finally overruled them.
I didn’t know at the time what an “atom bomb” was, but two of them sure put an end to an unbelievably ferocious war. So I cheered what Harry S Truman had done, and basically still feel the same way 65 years later.
The author redefines the legal structure of war by pointing to the indiscriminate killing of military and civilians and then claims in his hand-wringing conclusion: That made these attacks war crimes.
1. The earlier fire bombing exacted a higher toll of civilian deaths but was not regarded as inappropriate.
2. The Japanese War Lords did not believe the first A-bomb meant they had lost the war and ignored our peace demands.
3. Russia was massing forces and by prior agreement was moving to invade Japan in a matter of weeks - which would have caused an otherwise avoidable blood-bath, extinguished the nation of Japan and given the USSR a warm water pacific port.
4. Truman would have been charged with a war crime at home if he had needlessly squandered the lives of hundreds of thousands American lives while holding the weapon that would end the war.
It was speculated at the time that there would have been close to 1,000,000 American combat dead, and at least 10,000,000 Japanese combat dead.
Also, let us not forget the Japanese started the damned war and all we did was finish it, so by dropping the bombs, we saved 1,000,000 American lives and at least 9,500,000 Japanese lives.
By forcing an unconditional surrender, we were able to rid the Japanese of their militarists which were responsible for multiple atrocities, such as the Rape of Nanking, the activities of Unit 731 (the Japanese unit which used local civilians and POWs for chemical and biological weapons experiments and the Bataan Death March. We institute a Western style form of government and Japan has prospered since the end of the war.
I am personally sickened by the number of apologists we have regarding how the war was forced to conclusion. Had Truman not ordered the use of the A-bombs, both me and my wife would not be here, because both our fathers would have undoubtedly been killed during the invasion and it's subsequent fighting.
“What are your thoughts?”
I think this guy is a moron,,,
My Dad was WIA on New Guinea in ‘43,,,
His life was shortened by his wounds,,,(died at 61yo)(RIP).
I think Gen. LeMay should have bombed Japan into a hole
in the water!,,,
Then gassed it,,,
Then bombed it some more,,,
As a side note, I thought that nuclear warfare was supposed to render ground zero uninhabitable for hundreds of years?
Civilians of a country that starts a war are not innocent. The Germans of 1930s overwhelmingly supported all of Germany's wars, and it is a mistake to pin that on Hitler. They also voted in Hitler, thus delegating to him to decide on war and peace. So did the Russians of the Soviet Union. So do Islamic mothers, fathers and entire communities that raise children to be terrorist. So do "innocent" civilians who invite Taliban into their villages.
They don't like the casualties of Hiroshima? Well they shouldn't have started the war and taken the lives of Americans who were merely defending their families. The cost of Hiroshima, however large, was the least cost of ending the war (in terms of the avoided Japanese casualties as well, not only American). Thank G-d we followed through with that and saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
The critics here do what all naive people do: focus on only one side of the cost-benefit balance. They look only at the casualties of Hiroshima (cost) but hardly ever discuss the lives saved (benefit). Needless to say, this is illogical: if you only focus on the cost of food, for instance, then you should never eat anything. This is obvious in the case of food but, for some reason, people the same conclusion in the case of Hiroshima.
His assertions are baseless!
“The reason nobody says these things is that they were not the thinking behind the U.S.s actions.”
This is pure, uninformed garbage!
There is plenty of documentation regarding the target selection and prioritization. In fact a preferred target was bypassed due to weather.
He’s attempting to assign guilt by way of ignorant mindreading. He is WRONG!!!
And, I will write him directly, with documentation to prove that point!
We did not kill enough of the Japs to pay for the atrocities which they perpetrated.
If you will check the article, you'll see that it's neither the "atomic" aspect nor the "bomb" aspect that Jimmy Akin is objecting to per se. From the article,
"I am not a Euroweenie or a peacenik or a political liberal or even someone opposed to the use of nuclear weapons in principle. I can imagine scenarios in which their use would be justified."
His precise point is the one made by the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, a major teaching document of the Second Vatican Council: that when the noncombatants constitute the target; when their deaths are part of the intended impact of the act; then their deaths are not justified as collateral damage.
He backs it up with this quote from the Catechism:
"Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation." The Link to the Catechism is well worth looking at for context.
It is not true that, war being bad, it's either "all" bad or it's not. The just use of military force, including lethal force, targetting military aggressors in order to force them to cease aggression, is a positive and honorable thing, however bloody it may be. It is not murder.
The unintended but foreseeable collateral deaths of civilians is likewise morally tolerable, if it is proportionate and not directly intended. (By way of analogy, this would be like the death of an unborn baby because of a doctor doing a hysterectomy on the mother's cancerous uterus.)
The intentional killing of noncombatants is murder. (Analogous to direct abortion.)
The difference between justified killing in war, and murder, is pretty well spelled out in the U.S. Army Field Manual. That's a traditional American military principle I consider essential to defend.