thoughts on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

War drives men mad like ardent sexual desire can.

 

“The end to which our hate and lust

drives us is the atomic dust.”

 

If we do not stop the madness of war, the whole world may become one gigantic cenotaph.

 

 

The only possible positive to come from atomic or nuclear weapons is their deterrent effect on other nations that possess these weapons.  These hellish, truly hellish weapons must never be used on human beings.  But, these have been used on human beings in Japan in August, 1945.

When you see film documentaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki it is very poignant, very disturbing and distressing to be sure.  The images of human beings of all ages horribly burned and others days later suffering radiation sickness haunt the conscience and can never be totally blocked out nor forgotten.

The wartime propaganda, that serves to dehumanize the enemy (both soldiers and civilians), desensitized the American public to the horror of those humans dying and those humans being maimed or disfigured in burning cities (whether by conventional bombs or by atomic bombs).

Back in the summer of 1995, the world observed the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombings.  At that time, I penned a letter to the editor (which was published) of a revisionist history magazine in support of the use of these weapons to end the war with Japan.  Being then in my mid 30s, I still believed in the arguments in favor of the atomic bombings.  After August, 1945, many people claimed that the bombings, by ending the war, likely saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of US military personnel that were spared the task of invading the Japanese home islands.  Also, hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives were spared that would have been lost in such an invasion.  (Of course, one can point out that Imperial Japan had been making overtures for a peace since early 1945 through various channels and these were ignored by the Americans.  With the Red Army’s defeat of the Japanese forces in Manchuria in August, 1945 (after 9 August), Japan may have soon surrendered without the atomic bombings.  We can never know with certainty what would have happened if the atomic bombings had not taken place.)

Yet, now after many years, I no longer believe that we can so callously sacrifice innocent human lives in our calculations, in some sort of wartime military cost-benefit analysis.  (My thinking, upon further reflections, has “evolved” over the years.)  Who are we to do this?  Can we morally decide to destroy whole cities of non-combatants in the hopes of saving other lives?

We have previously on this blog written that nations cannot prosecute “just wars” by immoral means.  Fighting a just war does not give a nation or a people the license to commit barbarous atrocities against the enemy’s civilian population.  In the war crimes trials after the war at Nuremberg, one of the indictments defined war crimes as including the intentional waging of war against non-combatants including civilian population centers.  Do not the atrocities of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki qualify as war crimes?!  The victorious Allies were never tried in any court for their war crimes.

other related thoughts

We posted an essay some months back (2017) on this blog debunking the myth that democracies are peace-loving nations.  An objective, critical review of the true history of the past 2 centuries tells us that democratically elected governments can act as ruthlessly and avariciously as dictatorial and imperial regimes do.

As well,  the crimes committed by dictatorial regimes ought not be ignored.  The poor, malnourished people in North Korea, cut off from the rest of the world and any independent information, are brainwashed into believing the ruling Kim family is nearly, if not, divine and worthy of homage, and perhaps worship.  Such regimes that restrict or deny the true freedoms of their citizens and constantly violate their human rights are committing terrible crimes, and needlessly increasing human suffering.

copyright 2017 – larrysmusings.com

2 comments

  1. Interesting and cogent points; I do, however, believe that one must look at the decisions made at the time within their own context. In the summer of 1945, Japan still had several million men under arms, along with civilian ‘auxiliaries’ who were trained to resist an Allied invasion with everything from guns to sharp sticks, and were vigorously brainwashed to believe that the Americans, in particular, would wipe out the Japanese race.

    The bloodlettings of Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa presage something far more ghastly if Downfall, the plan to invade the Home Islands, was put into motion. And japan could not be left to ‘wither on the vine’ through blockade; she still controlled Korea and a large part of eastern China, and the resources were there to withstand a very long siege. In spite of the fire raids on Japan’s manufacturing centers, dispersal still left a significant warmaking capability intact

    Use of the atomic bomb was predicated on the fact that any prosecution of the war would be bloody, and the thought at the time was that the nuclear option was, in fact, the most economical in lives, both civilian and military.

    Is this true in hindsight? I think, yes, because the peace overtures floated by Japan were the work of individuals who did not have the approval of either the ruling cabal or the Emperor. Too, there was no way that Japan would be left as a military power, not after so many years of brutality in China and the Pacific.

    In the end it was only the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended the whole horrible mess, and both were in fact legitimate military target, containing significant troop concentrations and a strong manufacturing base. If the bombs didn’t finish them, Curtis LeMay would have.

    Regarding Dresden, it was also a legitimate target, as a transportation nexus that allowed German troops to be shunted through to keep fighting. The ovens of the Holocaust were working at full chat, and the bludgeon simply had to be employed.

    And there is this, that both the atomic bombings and Dresden were a continuation of a previously existing policy; they were not ‘special’ raids.

    War i a ghastly business, but I think we must parse with care latter-day analyses, because we weren’t there…every Pacific War veteran to whom I’ve spoken has thanked God for the atomic bomb, and for Harry Truman’s courage in ordering its use. What they would have faced, coming ashore on yushu and later, Honshu, into terrain that absolutely favoured the defender, would have been a nightmare beyond our imagining.

    1. Yes. of course, these were part of a deliberate strategy and that is what A C Grayling questioned in his book, Among the Dead Cities, some years back.

      We’ll have to agree to disagree here, Andrew. Dresden in February, 1945 was a refugee city with a swollen population. It has long been known that the Allied bombers of World War II found it much easier to hit blocks of houses than to pinpoint munitions and armament plants. The policy was one of intentional terror bombing waged against civilians. Dresden was fire bombed for two days and two nights with the end of the war in sight. As to the 2 Japanese cities, in part, these were bombed to impress and deter Stalin with America’s new super weapon.

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