Skip to comments.Commemorating a Major U.S. War Crime
Posted on 08/10/2010 5:42:30 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
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It would have been a war crime not to use those bombs to end the war.
For instance, it would have helped if we had made it clear from the outset that we both share the belief that an evil thing (e.g. the slaying of an innocent person) must not be willed or chosen, neither as an end in itself, nor as a means to an end... but that you consider that this principle simply may not apply here. Then you would have been in a good position to explain why it may not.
Knowing you are a Catholic, I assumed that you subscribe to that belief. I guess I should not have expected you to make that same assumption, and on that basis see that I was arguing that the principle did not apply. I thought that the proposition was implicit in what I advanced, but I guess I was unclear. I have had problems in the past caused by my unfortunate habit of jumping from point A to point M to point Z, and expecting others to see that points B through L and N through Z must be presumed as necessary to the argument.
It is shocking to me that you thought I was trying to invalidate Holy Scripture (!) or that I thought the obedience of the Jews to Gods commands is a depraved act I can only shake my head in perplexity.
I made the comment regarding invalidation because your response to my quoting of those Scriptures was to write off their meaning as my personal interpretation, and then to move on. Later, of course, you argued that they did not mean what I thought they did because many in the Old Testament committed depraved acts. The people in the Scriptures I quoted were obeying Gods commands, yet you referred to those things as depraved acts. What is one supposed to think?
It is against Gods nature to command things which are morally depraved; in fact my whole point is that He does not do so.
I dont see how that can be your point. God commanded that cities be destroyed and all their inhabitants slain, which you condemn as immoral under all circumstances. Thats what the Scriptures say, at least. That adds another dimension to the moral question. It seems to me that:
God does not command things that are morally depraved.
He commanded that cities be destroyed and the inhabitants slain.
Therefore, destroying cities and slaying the inhabitants is not *always* morally depraved.
The conclusion to be drawn is that this is one of those points upon which our understanding of morality is imperfect. Gods understanding is inerrant, of course, so where ours differs from Gods, we must be wrong.
It is my belief that God does not view temporal suffering and death the same way we do. Consider, for instance, redemptive suffering. Surely this is a positive good in Gods eyes. When a child dies, it is the greatest tragedy a parent can suffer. It is so agonizing that many of us cannot bear to contemplate it. The death even of a strangers child affects us deeply. And yet, that child is now with God for eternity.
Could one think that, from Gods perspective, the suffering of the parents will be used for good, and one day soon all concerned will understand and their suffering be relieved? That the death of the child, or a beloved parent, is not for Him the tragedy it is for us?
We seem to be misconstruing each other at every turn.
I am glad to discover that our difficulties had their source in honest error.
We never settle on a definition of innocent or noncombatant
Well, thats one of the things I was trying to do. It seemed as though you didnt want to go there.
We allude to ius ad bellum or ius in bello or Augustine or Aquinas without having previously set forth what we regard as the criteria for justice in war, and the argument for or derivation of those criteria.
We certainly didnt explicitly define those things prior to our exchange. However, dont you think that we are justified in making a few assumptions based on commonality of worldview?
There have been a number of things I have come to understand much later than most people, and Im sure there are many of which I remain unaware. Im beginning to see that it is futileperhaps wrong-headedfor me to expect others to make the same assumption of good faith about me that I make about them. It has been a sore spot for decades, and perhaps I should have come to grips with it long ago.
You charge, You go on to equate the murder of Abel by Cain with every act of military resistance to evil throughout the existence of humanity--- and this charge is utterly unfounded
Okay, well let me explain how I got there.
We are discussing the morality of the bombings of Hiroshima (広島) and Nagasaki (長崎). Ive spent a lot of time reading about, thinking about, and discussing this subject, in part because I lived in Japan for 20 years.
I asserted that the Churchs teachings on war have changed recently, to which you replied that support for your position on the immorality of H and N could be found all the way back to Genesis. It seemed to me most reasonable to think that you meant the slaying of Abel by Cain, as this is so universally viewed as murder in the worst possible sense of the word.
A belligerent is morally obligated to minimize harm to civilians, even when they supported an evil regime. (Of course, they can be tried later.) But in defining the civilian casualties inflicted at H and N as murder you are going a step further. From that standpoint, even civilian casualties that occur as a result of unforeseen circumstances can be condemned as murder.
It is impossible for an infantryman, for instance, to know that his bullet will not pass through an enemy soldier and go on to kill a civilian. It is impossible for an aviator to know that no civilians will be killed when he bombs an armaments factory or a dam. It is impossible to know that an enemy soldier will not fall into a well, poisoning a number of civilians, or that a defeated enemy will not take disease with him when he retreats through the countryside.
Was it possible for MacArthur to know that an American victory in the Pacific would precipitate an event for which the description morally depraved is an understatement? Is the blood of the 50,000 civilians horribly tortured, raped, and killed by the Japanese just before they left Manila on MacArthurs hands? http://www.battlingbastardsbataan.com/som.htm
If the civilian casualties of H and N are characterized as murder, it becomes impossible to take any military action in resistance to evil without assuming a very high risk that some accident or unforeseen circumstance will see one hung as a war criminal. And what supports this? Among other things, Genesis, and the principle illustrated by the story of Cain and Abel.
I am not a pacifist; I support military resistance to aggression; I specifically back lethal force against our murderous jihadi enemies (and I blessed my Marine son who was on active duty at Al-Asad base in Iraq until earlier this year); in fact I have never once made a pacifist argument in the 12 years I have been posting at FR.
Great, and I thank your son for his service. Its good to know that there are those in the younger generation willing and able to pick up the torch.
If your son were going house to house to clear out the forces of evil, and suddenly in a dark corner there was movement and a flash of light on metal, I would fault him in no way if he instinctively shot that person more quickly than the speed of thought. Not even if it was a little girl just like mine. I would grieve for the tragedy, and for his probable difficulty in forgiving himself, but I would attribute no guilt to him whatsoever.
At the end of WWII we had these two new kinds of bomb, and we didnt really know what was going to happen when either was detonated in an air burst. 'Fat Man' was not a gun-type bomb but used the implosion method; it had a circle of 64 detonators that would drive pieces of plutonium together into a supercritical mass. 'Little Boy' had used Uranium 235. 'Fat Man' weighed about 10,000 lbs and was 10 feet 8 inches long. It had the explosive capacity of about 20,000 tons of high explosives.
For both missions there was a primary target and a secondary target, both military in nature. Back then we had to be able to see a target to have any chance of hitting it, so if the target were obscured by overcast, missions were canceled. Heres just a hint of the thought that went into target selection:
Nagasaki was not America's primary target. This was Kokura. The three potential targets for a second bomb were Kokura, Kyoto and Niigata. Nagasaki was only added to a list of potential targets when Kyoto was withdrawn (it had been the secondary target for a second bomb) because of its religious associations. The third potential target was Niigata - but this was withdrawn from the list as the distance to it was considered to be too great. Therefore, the Americans were left with just two targets - Kokura and Nagasaki.
My mother-in-law lived through the firebombing of Yokohama by the kindness, she says, of a granny who taught her to forage for edible plants. This business of holding up H and N as an entirely new phenomenon is nonsense. Burn to death from phosphorus, burn to death from radiation, both terrible, still dead.
Lets leave off, but in peace I should like to converse you again somewhere down the line: in good faith, and with a more satisfactory result.
I as well. Sorry to have gone on at such length. Dont feel obliged to reply.
God bless you, too.
Thanks for taking the time and the care. Til later, peace!
While my view always has & will be that President Harry S. Truman should’ve dropped the atom bomb(s) elsewhere in Japan with fewer civilians killed & wounded(such as 1,500-3,000 rather than 150,000) he did what ended the war. My view also is that the allied bombing raids over both Germany & Japan should’ve been done with fewer civilian deaths as I don’t like the idea of killing kids who don’t want part of a war though their deaths did end the war.
But if both Germany & Japan had had the atom bomb(s), they would’ve used them against us & we may still be dealing with them today. Hiroshima & Nagasaki continued the policy of bombing cities to get the enemy to surrender and Tokyo, Yokohama, Kobe & other Japanese cities were firebombed with so many civilian killed & wounded. Sadly as long as wars have been with us, people who don’t want part in the war end up being the 1s killed. Wars are out of the ordinary understanding. Most Germans & Japanese are Okay & we must not have animosity towards those born in August 1942 & killed in the atom bombings but I’ve heard people say that they don’t sympathize with those killed in both cities-not even the kids though the kids did no wrong.
It’s useless many years after the war to debate where the atom bomb(s) should’ve been dropped because what’s done is done & can’t be undone. Most Hiroshima & Nagasaki survivors have said that while they believe the atom bomb(s) if they were to be used should’ve been dropped elsewhere in Japan, they also don’t personally blame the U.S. for dropping the atom bombs because they understand that President Harry S. Truman’s intent was to end the war & that it wasn’t against them personally.
Yes, because they were both government by a ruling class that did not adhere to Moral Law, but were a law unto themselves; they believed that the intentional killing of innocent persons was justified in the larger scope of history and purpose; thus they did damnable things. What was our excuse, again?
Oh yeah, "justified in the larger scope..."
Yes, it's still relevant to debate whether indiscriminate killing of the innocent (in the war context, blameless noncombatants) is or is not to be tolerated. As a nation, 70 some years ago we answered that question "Yes." We have continued to say "Yes" by killing 50 million of our own children by abortion.
Sometimes it's hard to tell whether that's the crime or the punishment.
You gotta admit it's consistent.
Thanks Mrs. Don-o. Both the Axis & the Allies believed that by bombing cities & killing civilians, the other side would surrender. The Axis did this to Nanking, Shanghai, London, Sarajevo, Warsaw etc. while the Allies did it to Dresden, Pforzeim, Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama, etc. Hiroshima & Nagasaki are the 1s which continue to be discussed so many years after the war because nuclear/atom bombs were used, but they would’ve been inevitable as again it continued our policy of bombing cities with the hope of the enemy surrendering.
I understand that those born in August 1942 & killed in August 1945 are innocent war victims who did nothing wrong even if their fathers or other relatives took part in atrocities-Rape of Nanking, Unit-731 in Manchuria, etc. But @ the same time, I also understand why President Harry S. Truman dropped the atom bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki though again, I think he should’ve dropped the atom bomb(s) elsewhere in Japan with fewer civilian deaths.
The problem I have is that there are too many people who express hate towards Hiroshima & Nagasaki’s victims. If they say ‘unfortunately, dropping the atom bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki was what was needed to end the war though the small kids are innocent war victims’, then that’s fine. But way too many have told me that they’re glad ‘we fried them’ incl. kids. There’s no reason to express happiness over the children killed & maimed even if you think their deaths was needed to end a war.
There’s no justification to hate Hiroshima & Nagasaki’s victims-definitely not the kids who were killed though 1 may agree with the decision to drop the atom bombs. Also the hostility & personal attacks given by some against Jimmy Akin is bad. Anyhow, wars are just out of the ordinary understanding. As long as we’ve had them, more who are innocent & don’t want part of a war end up being the 1s killed & wounded.
Finally you may have known that after WW2 in Europe, there were cases where Czechs & Poles killed their German neighbors in both nations. The Czechs & Poles sometimes killed German children & they said that because the Nazis pillaged their nations, that they had the right to kill Germans incl. children. I once had a Polish man tell me that he doesn’t care about the German children killed. His view is that when your nation has been raped & pillaged, after 6 years of war, you’re probably not going to have good humor. He said that the German children may have been innocent but because their parents were Nazis, this excuses what their neighbors did. Anyhow, it’s sad that those who didn’t take part nor want part of a war end up being the victims & how hostility is there towards the victims-that’s what Jimmy Akin should’ve said.
God bless you, abir.
As a vet of WWII and just a few days from the invasion of Japan, no previous combat, I generally believe that combat, air, ground and sea, is the place to wage wars. However. reviewing scenes of Nazi and Japanese youth celebrating victories and growing into the regular combat age where they would actually be killing persons like myself (my brother as a young man died in the battle for Okinawa) I pause and think the situation is one of ‘sooner better than later’. Harsh if not uncivilized thinking but war kills no matter where or how. All sides and populations get involved.
Thanks to all 3 of you for your thoughts. Yes, it’s complicated & complexc. The Japanese would have used women & children armed with pitchforks, etc. in combat had it gone to a ground war. Both the Germans & Japanese with Hitler Youth, Kamikaze teen pilots used boys, mainly teenagers in combat. Incidentally a Filipino once told me that with Bataan, etc. quite a few of the soldiers the Japanese used were Koreans drafted into the Japanese military (Korea was then a Japanese colony) while the captains were Japanese.
There are as you’ve said Japanese women & children who would have fought us had it gone to a ground war with Japan as the Germans had used the Hitler Youth. Personally, I don’t hold animosity against enemy soldiers though they’re fighting for the wrong cause as long as they don’t commit atrocities, because often they’re drafted by their nations to fight. Not all the German & Japanese children are going to support the war against us & don’t think a 3 year old is going to be used in combat.
With all that said, my view again was to drop the atom bombs elsewhere in Japan with fewer civilians killed & wounded. But it makes no difference now & it’s useless to debate because what’s done is done & can’t be undone. Most Japanese aren’t asking us to apologize for dropping the atom bombs. They understand it was a war & the Japanese military used biological warfare against China (Shiro Ishi’s fleabombs) which killed so many. They followed Bushido (Samurai’s way)which was ruthless & involved fighting to the death as surrender was regarded as shameful. So many Japanese civilians were killed & wounded during WW2 before Japan surrendered. I understand that much of the German & Japanese civilian deaths were inevitable. Anyhow, unsure what else to say but I speak mainly from the standpoint that I like to see wars ended with as few civilian deaths as possible but I won’t critique President Harry S. Truman because his motive of ending the war is good & he must be credited for that. Patrick J. Buchanan in 2005 mentioned that while President Harry S. Truman justified his decision to drop the atom bombs as it saved both American & Japanese lives, he was disturbed by the deaths of so many children in the 2 cities. Thanks again for sharing.