Skip to comments.Commemorating a Major U.S. War Crime
Posted on 08/10/2010 5:42:30 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
click here to read article
Thank God that Jimmy Akin didn’t make the decision Truman was facing. Truman’s constitutional obligation was to save as many American lives as possible as soon as possible. He did his duty to the American people.
In my view that decision made him one of the greatest of American presidents.
Can you for even one second imagine what Obama would do in similar circumstances?
Both theaters of the Second World War were stopped by mass civilian casualties. Incendiary bombing in Europe and Atomic bombing in Japan. It was a VERY good move by the U.S. in the Pacific and the Allies in Europe.
The message: Stop trying to take over the world, or you will have no master race to rule it, or to even nurse back to health.
"You are assuming that our Commanders did not know the Japanese mindset which had an ultranationalist government and a state religion which worshiped the emperor."
Actually, I'm not assuming that. And the author, Jimmy Akin, is not assuming that, either. So I think we can set that aside.
"Our Commanders knew how radical those people were and how willingly they would killeven themselves in battle. They were brutal, inhumane and ruthless to all their enemies which made a joke of the Geneva Convention and made water boarding look like paradise. ANY regard for individual rights, life, women, and their people, was non-existent."
"Our Commander knew that they would probably give up only under a dire situation and he was willing to drop that bomb and create that situation to get the insane Japanese to surrender. They didnt care about their own people, but, our Commanders DID care about their people. They had to force the Japanese to give up and, thus, not only saving many of our men from a brutal insane tortured death, but also theirs. Them or us was Trumans ONLY decision. He said Them!, thank God."
I can agree on he "them" part, and (re-reading Akin's article) it's clear he does too, as long as "them" refers to the savage Japanese military machine, which ought to have been exterminated.
As FReeper Siobhan pointed out awhile back in a similar FR war thread (Link), the relevant military target would have been the gigantic number of Japanese troops massing in the southern Kyushu: an atomic bomb there would have wiped them out and sent the same kind of shock through the Japanese military establishment: it wouild have been morally and militarily justified. Deliberately and indiscriminately killing noncombatants is something else entirely.
All of our fathers (or grandfathers) would have supported targetting troop concentrations. Just as the U.S. Army Air Corps targetted military targets with devastating effectiveness in Europe. It would have been justified even if it had killed, not just 100,000 or 200,000, but a million Japanese soldiers.
It's what they should have done.
Targetting civilians is, as I said, "something else entirely." But I'll agree it is not "morally ambiguous." It is murder.
I don't know. Kill the innocent? He's cetainly shown a willingness to do that in the past.
Hindsight is just that.....If....If....if....You can not possibly know intent, exact circumstances, and know that YOUR DROPPING of the bomb on YOUR target would have worked, etc.
The U.S. warned the civilians to vacate, so civilians were NOT targeted. Their infrastructure was, not the civilians.
The Japanese FAILED to surrender. It was THEIR decision to have the bomb dropped and the civilians stay. The ball was in their court, and if they would have surrendered, the bombs would not have been dropped.
Responsibility fell upon the Japanese military. We did not start the war, so we could not decide when to end it. We did what needed to be done to END the war, which was "moral" in the context of wars, because it saved so many more lives as previous posters have documented.
Kind of like God killing men, women and children and saving Noah, huh? Suppose God was "immoral" also to drown so many people, so many civilians, because they were caught up in a society that worshiped a pagan god.
I thought Jimmy Akin made it clear enough that he's not even against nuclear weapons per se, let alone atomic energy. To quote the author,
"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."
So Akin is not against nuclear weapons. Consider that there were a number of possible targets on Kyushu: Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as gigantic troop concentrations on the southern third of the island. Akins would have had no problem, I daresay, with nuking the troops, not the cities. That's certainly my position.
The Akin article, above, centera rather exactly on the Catholic moralperspective, and is worth reading. My own comments can be easily found, if you look for them, here and there.
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140,000 people died in Hiroshima & 80,000 in Nagasaki. The radiation later caused the deaths of thousands more. Its estimated that over 300,000 Japanese died from the bombings until today.
60,000 may have died in the firebombing of Dresden the figures are not really known.
32,000 died in the Blitz and 87,000 seriously injured.
When we speak of proportionate, the people of England were targeted because they were civilians. The people of Dresden were also targeted civilians. Dresden had no military presence or munitions. Some think this was a means to tell the Russians the West was doing all it could to help their advance into Germany, or it was a warning to Russia and the first salvo of the Cold War.
In any event it was disproportionate. Can we say that the civilian deaths are justified if they back their government? Isn’t that what the Islamists use as their reason for targeting civilians?
The Japanese put their munitions and armament plants in those cities with predictable results. If any are to blame for the deaths of so many, it would be those in the Japanese Imperial Army and the Emperor himself for placing targets within civilian housing.
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,
This a **major** reason why I am no longer Catholic. I just couldn’t stand it anymore. God is rational. Why should I align myself with a church that preaches irrationality in the name of God?
I stand with the poster in the article who said this:
“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. “
Swift and decisive **JUSTICE** is a rare thing and should be celebrated.
Mr.Akin,...Yes! You are! Quick! Your nose is growing.
Thank you, sitetest.
That this article deserves to be Zotted?
Everything I've read indicates that Japanese resistance to an Allied invasion would have been far greater than anticipated and that the loss of life would have been far worse than anyone believed (both civilian and military).
The Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945 promised "prompt and utter destruction" if the Japanese did not surrender immediately. The REPEATED Japanese response was mokusatsu which means that they intended to "kill" Allied demands with "silent contempt." Less than a week later we bombed Hiroshima with the most destructive weapon that has ever been used in wartime. Over the course of the next two days we heard nothing, so the presumption was that the policy of mokusatsu was still in effect and that's when we decided to drop the second bomb on Nagasaki. It's worth noting that even with these bombings American leaders deliberately AVOIDED bombing the more populated and significant cities of Tokyo and Kyoto.
Throughout World War II American commanders had gone out of their way to avoid civilian casualties. Unfortunately, it was impossible to do this with the Atomic Bomb. Certainly it was a tragedy of horrific proportions, but that does not mean it was avoidable.
If you're aiming at Mitsubishi, a military target, and a whole city goes up in flames because that's what cities do when they're made out of kindling, you can plausibly claim proportionality and justification, no matter how many died. One historian put civilian deaths caused by the Japanese military in Asia and the Pacific, at 400,000 a month, which makes almost any number of collateral fatalities proportionate, if one is aiming at military targets and one reasonably intends to end the war.
As it happens, Mitsubishi wasn't even damaged: but the bombing was a great success.
Because as it happens, Mitsubishi wasn't the target. The city was the target. But if city=target, it's what we call murder. The Church's teaching against this follows the same logic via Natural law, and has the same level of authortity--- exactly the same authority --- as the doctrine against abortion and infanticide.
Akin says it better than I do, and deserves more careful reading than anyone here has yet given him.
There’s an amazing Japanese film, not great production values, about the 24 hours before the Japanese surrender. There were still people who wanted to fight till they could fight no more.
I THINK there was an agreement not to harm Kyoto because of it’s fantastic artistic and historical value.
Our entire nuclear deterrence is based upon our Presidents willingness to (supposedly) commit war crimes.
I hate to break it to you, but international “law” has only one precept...
The strong do what they will. The weak suffer what they must.
Well said. I don’t think many of those who are alive today but who did not live through WW2 have an inkling of the cruelty and determination of the Japanese, both military and civilian. Anyone who has studied the subject will likely agree that there would have been monumental loss of American lives, not only if the war continued, but afterward. Americans would have become virtual slaves, and that is if they survived. It is all too easy to sit back from a place of safety and judge the actions and decisions of our predecessors. Imho, allowing the Japanese to win WW2 would be the equivalent of national suicide.
Everything I’ve ever seen indicates that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the LEAST LETHAL method to ending the War.
Kyoto was spared because of it’s major religious significance to the Japanese and Tokyo because MacArthur and others realized that we would need something on which to rebuild Japan.
Last I heard Japan was only months away from dropping a bomb on US.
It was us or them.
Throughout World War II American commanders had gone out of their way to avoid civilian casualties.
On the night of 9th March, 1945, the U.S Air Force firebombed Tokyo. the resulting firestorm killed more than 100,000 people, more than died immediately in Hiroshima.
Our commanders, and specifically Gen. Curtis LeMay, were not trying to avoid civilian casualties.
Cities that had already been severely damaged by conventional bombing were eliminated from the list of those considered for atomic bombing, as this would not have provided an accurate demonstration of the power of the bomb. An exception was Nagasaki, but this was not the original target of that bombing mission. I believe that it is true that we avoided bombing Kyoto for cultural reasons and that President Truman may have been involved in this decision.
“Akin’s argument is that they were not collateral deaths: they were the target. Their deaths were not just foreseen, but intended for strategic psychological impact.”
I disagree with this premise. You don't warn folks to flee if your intention is to nuke ‘em in order to kill them.
It may be that the Japanese ultimately interpreted the Bomb as Akin believes it was intended. It may be that there were some folks involved in the execution of the attack who intended it that way. It may even be that it was an unavoidable secondary effect of the use of the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
But at least to me, it's tough to say that it was the direct, intended effect of the Bomb, considering that the American military dropped large numbers of leaflets warning Japanese to flee.
These actions suggest to me that the formal, direct, primary, intended effect was to demonstrate to the Japanese government that we could easily, readily destroy everything they had that could possibly be used to make war, every economic asset, every bit of infrastructure, every factory, every port, every airfield, every building that could possibly used in any tangential way toward the war effort, without even breaking a sweat, and therefore, further resistance was futile.
For starters, the United States was NEVER even considering accepting anything less than the total surrender of Japan. People can think whatever they want, but we were going to be at war with Japan until they surrendered and this was something that the the American people completely supported.
The name of the planned invasion was “Operation Downfall” and estimates for just AMERICAN deaths ranged from around 100,000 to nearly a million. A stockpile half a million Purple Hearts were cast in anticipation of the invasion of Japan, the American military is still using this stock TODAY.
The reality is that American estimates were way off, the Japanese had more than twice the number of operational planes we thought they had. Plus, Westerners were just beginning to understand the concept of suicide missions, Japan was full of civilians (older men, women and children) who were eager to die for Japan — this is something totally different from what we encountered in Germany.
Based on what we know today, it is very possible that between the Allies and the Japanese that between three and five million people would die and two to three times that number would be seriously injured. The Atomic Bombs SAVED millions of lives.
What seems to escape some people’s attention is that it took TWO bombs with threats of more to get them to capitulate.
The first one wasn’t enough. The second one almost wasn’t enough.
It wasn’t until they realized that we were serious that they voted to surrender.
Don’t forget that this was the same country which bombed Pearl Harbor in a sneak attack while their ambassador was in Washington signing a peace treaty.
And the atrocities committed against non-Japanese by the Japanese soldiers were abominable.
They had to be stopped and if that’s what it took to do it, so be it.
I don’t hear anyone decrying their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, or whining about the morality of THAT.
And Tojo was not nearly ready to surrender, in fact there were plans to assassinate Emperor Hirohito, to keep the war going.
Where’s the condemnation of Japan for its sneak attack on Pearl Harbor?
I guess it depends some one which country is doing the attacking....
But...but...they were only responding to our criminal embargo, don'cha know? (I'm sure eventually that is what our textbooks will end up saying)
I’d love to know where you heard that.
Japan DID NOT have an atomic bomb or anything even close to it in magnitude.
By Spring, 1945 the Japanese Navy had been pretty much destroyed and the Allies controlled the Pacific. They wouldn’t have had any means to fly a bomber to the United States.
I may be wrong, but wasn’t it Germany that was close to having the bomb?
I think Germany was close to having something. It’s questionable if they would have ever been able to perfect it though.
Even if they did develop one they would have never been able to use it against the United States. They would have used it against either England or (and this is far more likely) the Soviet Union.
Thank you. That's something that is not mentioned much.
The movie is “Japan’s Longest Day” made in 1967 in Japan. The Ol’ Mizris and I were riveted.
Hindsight is 20/20.
There's a world of difference between indiscriminately murdering someone and ending a war.
God's command is *Do not murder*, and yet in war, the Israelites killed and did not break that command.
Neither is capital punishment, which was instituted by God, murder.
This was not killing just for the sake of killing.
If you want to condemn the US because innocent civilians died, as they do in any war, that is your prerogative, but the Catholic church is not the boss of the United States.
If the Vatican wants to let itself be annihilated, that's their own business, but they have no business dictating to our government how it should conduct its affairs.
Nor is it reasonable or rational to apply standards from the Catholic catechism to situations which occurred BEFORE the catechism was written.
Your condemnation of the US for moral failure is appalling.
I had heard that but couldn't find anything about that on the web.
It was something on the History channel, IIRC.
It was a couple years ago, but they were allegedly working together with the Germans in assembling the bomb. I think that Germany was providing the fuel and it was en route to Japan at the time of the attacks.
I’d have to look up more on it, but it’ll have to be later.
It does sound fascinating.
See if you can find it.
As far as I know the Germans never really cared for the Japanese and it seems odd that they would give it to the Japanese. The Germans could have probably succeeded in bombing England or Russia, the Japanese couldn’t have bombed anything of significance.
Any naval advantage that the Japanese had was pretty much over after the Battle of Midway in June, 1942 and by the end of 1942 it would have been impossible for the Japanese to launch a send a ship across the Pacific.
It looks like subtitles, I hate subtitles.
I hate subtitles too. I don’t have whatever it takes to juggle the action with the script. I feel that I’m always missing something.
Maybe it goes without saying, I don't know. Or maybe it was okay because the Japanese attacked the military bases.
Anyway, I understand the author's argument, but I think he needs to go read Thucydides. I said, originally, that he was wrong, but to be more precise, I would say "clever but ultimately irrelevant."
Professor Fears points out that democracies, such as the Greek city-states and ourselves, as well as other modern industrial states, have the biggest, ugliest, most destructive wars. It is in the nature of the thing.
I found this on Wikipedia:
See also: German nuclear energy project
See also: Tube Alloys
See also: Soviet atomic bomb project
See also: Kahuta Project
A similar effort was undertaken in the USSR in September 1941 headed by Igor Kurchatov (with some of Kurchatov’s World War II knowledge coming secondhand from Manhattan Project countries, thanks to spies, including at least two on the scientific team at Los Alamos, Klaus Fuchs and Theodore Hall, unknown to each other).
After the MAUD Committee’s report, the British and Americans exchanged nuclear information but initially did not pool their efforts. A British project, code-named Tube Alloys, was started but did not have United States resources. Consequently the British bargaining position worsened, and their motives were mistrusted by the Americans. Collaboration therefore lessened markedly until the Quebec Agreement of August 1943, when a large team of British, Canadian and Australian scientists joined the Manhattan Project at McGill University in Montreal and at a new project site located at Chalk River, Ontario, with living facilities for those working in the newly created community of Deep River, Ontario.
The question of Axis efforts on the bomb has been a contentious issue for historians. It is believed that efforts undertaken in Germany, headed by Werner Heisenberg, and in Japan, were also undertaken during the war with little progress. It was initially feared that Hitler was very close to developing his own bomb. Many German scientists in fact expressed surprise to their Allied captors when the bombs were detonated in Japan. They were convinced that talk of atomic weapons was merely propaganda. However, Werner Heisenberg (by then imprisoned in Britain at Farm Hall with several other nuclear project physicists) almost immediately figured out what the Allies had done, explaining it to his fellow scientists (and hidden microphones) within days. The Nazi reactor effort had been severely handicapped by Heisenberg’s belief that heavy water was necessary as a neutron moderator (slowing preparation material) for such a device. The Germans were short of heavy water throughout the war because of Allied efforts such as Operation Gunnerside to prevent Germany from obtaining it, and the Germans never did stumble on the secret of purified graphite for making nuclear reactors from natural uranium.
Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg and Enrico Fermi were all colleagues who were key figures in developing the quantum theory together with Wolfgang Pauli, prior to the war. They had known each other well in Europe and were friends. Niels Bohr and Heisenberg even discussed the possibility of the atomic bomb prior to and during the war, before the United States became involved. Bohr recalled that Heisenberg was unaware that the supercritical mass could be achieved with U-235, and both men gave differing accounts of their conversations at this sensitive time. Bohr at the time did not trust Heisenberg, and never quite forgave him for his decision not to flee Germany before the war when given the chance. Heisenberg, for his part, seems to have thought he was proposing to Bohr a mutual agreement between the two sides not to pursue nuclear technology for destructive purposes. If so, Heisenberg’s message did not get through. Heisenberg, to the end of his life, maintained that the partly-built German heavy-water nuclear reactor found after the war’s end in his lab was for research purposes only, and a full bomb project had not been contemplated (there is no evidence to contradict this, but by this time late in the war, Germany was far from having the resources for a Hanford-style plutonium bomb, even if its scientists had decided to pursue one and had known how to do it).”
Well, I wasn’t imagining that I saw it.
Here’s a link where someone else asks about the same thing.
I know it’s not much better than wikipedia, but it’s the best I could do with a google search for now.
“These actions suggest to me that the formal, direct, primary, intended effect was to demonstrate to the Japanese government that we could easily, readily destroy everything they had that could possibly be used to make war, every economic asset, every bit of infrastructure, every factory, every port, every airfield, every building that could possibly used in any tangential way toward the war effort, without even breaking a sweat, and therefore, further resistance was futile.”
Well said. Nothing else would have worked to demonstrate the futility of continued battle, and an invasion would have been more devastating to both sides.
I do think that the leafletting of the city is a morally relevant point, as it showed an acknowledged duty to discriminate between noncombatants and military. The U.S. would obviously not have been morally obliged to drop leaflets on the gigantic concentration of Japanese troops in southern Kyushu to invite them to escape annihilation, because nobody can dispute that those troops would have been a legitimate target for an atomic bomb. So this leads to the question: why did they drop these bombs on the city, and not on the troops?
Truman wrote, in his papers published after the war, that he intended the Japanese government to get the message that we could and would kill massive numbers of the military and civilian population, indiscriminately, unless they made unconditional surrender. Dozens of FReepers have already weighed in to say that the targetting of noncombatants per se is not, in their view, morally prohibited. This shows, if nothing else, a rather extensive decay of moral conscience, comparable to the acceptance of mass abortion.
In other words: the usual.
It is that intention to use an explicitly indiscriminate weapons against a city construed as, itself, the target, which is morally prohibited, since it uses the killing of noncombatants as a means to an end.
This difficulty comes up over and over in warfare, especially where the enemy themselves do not make distinctions between combatant and non-combatant, and where they use civilian structures for military uses: as the jihadis in Afghanistan, for instance, might use a hospital as an artillery emplacement, a mosque as an arm cache and bunker, a pregnant woman as a suicide bomber.
So the question comes up: can you target that hospital, that mosque, that pregnant woman? And the answer is Yes, if it is solidly probable that they have in fact been weaponized and are not any longer in fact noncombatant.
The question also comes up: can you target a whole city for annihilation, if it has in it military assets? And the answer is No. Why? Because a city --- unless it has been evacuated and its population replaced by military --- is always primarily a habitat for people who are, even under a fanatical, totalitarian system, blamelessly carrying out the acts of living. The sweeper sweeps. The mother mothers. The just man, as Hopkins says, justices.
This is not true for every sector of the city. The port facility, the rail hub, the weapons factories, etc. etc. --- they are all legitimate targets, and if a preschool and an opera company are unfortunately next door and get destroyed with them, thats what we call collateral deaths: very sad but strictly unavoidable, and not murder.
But the city as a whole cannot equal the target. This the Catholic Church teaches as an authoritative truth. The Catechism --- which is not irrelevant --- can be consulted here (Link)
What Thucydides might have said is, of course, interesting. But Thucydides did not die for my sins, and when I die he cannot save me.
My husband and I are going out of town Thurs-Sun and I am getting ready right now, which means I'm not going to be able to return to this discussion until early next week, which is most unfortunate. But I do hope the discussion will go on.
Anyway, thank you for thinking about this.