Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Monday, July 25, 2005

"Thank God for the Atom Bomb"

No, the title to this post didn't originate with me. It comes from an essay written by Paul Fussell, the historian, and included in a book entitled "Thank God for the Atom Bomb." In that essay, Fussell pointed out that Truman's decision in August 1945 to drop the bomb was entirely rational. The war was grinding its way through its fifth bloody year, Germany was down, the Soviets were pressing in on Europe, and the Japanese refused to surrender. It's this last point most people forget nowadays. Yes, it was a foregone conclusion that America would win, but the best analysts said that Japan gave every indication that it would fight to the death of its last man, woman and child. This would also have meant the deaths of at least 40,000 more American troops (not even counting all the wounded). Under those circumstances, Truman's responsibility was to think about his American soldiers, whom he was not willing to sacrifice, as opposed to Japanese civilians, which Japan gave every indication of viewing as cannon fodder. As I may have mentioned before, I too thank God for the atom bomb. My Mom had spent the war interned in a Japanese Concentration Camp in Java. She had just reached the point of refusing food -- which is the final phase in death through starvation -- when the bomb dropped. That gave her the will to live, and also gave the Japanese the incentive to feed their prisoners something more than pig swill. I'm here, blogging, because Truman dropped the bomb. There's actually a reason for my going down this road. At The American Thinker, Ed Lasky posts about a current poll showing that at least half of Americans today wouldn't make the same decision Truman made. After reciting the poll numbers, Lasky has this to say:

After all, the Japanese stage a surprise attack against us while engaging in sham negotiations; brutalized the people of the countries they occupied; engaged in Nazi-like experimenting with weapons of mass destruction (germ warfare); raped and pillaged throughout Asia; fought with fanatical devotion and would have done so to protect their home islands and Emperor. The use of the atomic bomb probably saved more Japanese lives and Americans than were lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There was no need to invade Japan, which could easily have killed millions. Yet, moral relativism seems to be gaining traction. Recall the Enola Gay controversy at the Smithsonian, where the exhibit, as originally designed, would have been critical of the use of nuclear weapons against Japan. The forces of appeasement and capitulation live on.
I'm willing to accept that the Americans polled have no idea of the historical realities and the decision making process facing Truman before the bomb dropped. All they know are the horrific pictures of Hiroshima and Nakasaki after the bomb dropped, and all they remember are the cold war years, which treated the bomb with both fear and ridicule. Still, it is shocking to think that Americans might, if push came to shove, decide to save their enemies before saving themselves. I'm not sure I want to be a part of that collective sacrifice.