Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

August 9 Part II is it good that the Atomic bomb was used?

Part II of my two part August 9th posting is devoted to starting a conversation about whether the world is better or worse off for the Atomic bombs having been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

In my opinion the answer is YES for two reasons.

First, by using atomic bombs when the technology was new and relatively less deadly humanity was given enough of a preview of what horrors they inflict to warn us off using the hydrogen bomb or the neutron bomb. I am convinced that if we had not dropped relatively small atomic bombs on two cities in Japan in 1945, we would have dropped much larger bombs on many cities in China in 1950 when China entered the Korean War in force. That would probably have provoked a Soviet Response as the Communist Chinese and Soviets had yet to fully break with each other at that time. Indeed, it was President Truman who made the decisions both to use the bomb against Japan and to not use the bomb against China in 1950! What if Truman had been more willing to listen to Douglas MacArthur who was pressing to use the H-bomb against China!? Did Truman's soul searching after Nagasaki inform his decision in 1950? I suspect that it did. In short, I think MAD worked throughout the cold war because of the horrible deaths and injuries inflicted at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Second, Japan has never fully come to terms with what it did in the 1930s and 1940s. While Germans were forced to confront their crimes when allied occupation forces marched them en masse past the mounds of dead in concentration camps (which were located near major German population centers), Japanese civilians resided far away from the scenes of their crimes and to this day Japanese denial of their responsibility for millions of deaths (especially in China) is far more accepted and wide spread in Japan than in Germany. I suggest that the only thing that has limited Japanese nationalism is traumatic experience of having been nuked - twice. Take that horrible experience away and Japan today would have had a much different view of World War II and its consequences. This is leaving aside the issue of reduced Japanese casualties by avoiding the full scale invasion of Japan.



Anonymous said...

I'm glad somebody said it.

All I'm getting in Paris right now is how awful we were for doing such a terrible thing-- and it's about time we honor the victims of our war crimes! 

// posted by serena

Anonymous said...

We have to be patient with European criticism of America. It's often valid and nearly always at least thought provoking after all. But also, we need to remember that Europeans are little better informed about world history and politics than are Americans. For all their claim to be better informed, Europeans often make basic mistakes about facts...just different mistakes than Americans make.

In this case I suspect French thinking about US nuclear attacks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki has as much to do with their own internal debate about nuclear weapons testing as it does with US World War II policy itself.

Also, I suspect that the understandable (if invalid) tendency is to view Hiroshima and Nagasaki in strict isolation. So rather than compare the choice to use the bombs to the alternatives at the time, they compare the choice to use the bomb to an imagined negotiated peace using their views of the CURRENT Japanese government as a backdrop for their assumptions for that peace. Americans often make similar errors of reasoning (just check out what the Republicans say to justify the invasion of Iraq).

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Dr. Strangelove said...

RxR says: "In short, I think MAD worked throughout the cold war because of the horrible deaths and injuries inflicted at Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

Would a demonstration explosion on uninhabited land have been sufficient for this purpose? Was it really necessary to see the radiation burns on human flesh, when we already had Dresden and Tokyo to show what a firestorm could do? We didn't need further demonstrations for the much more advanced thermonuclear weaponry. And even if you think we needed to see a live explosion, wouldn't Hiroshima alone (not just the first but the deadlierr of the two) have sufficed for that purpose?

Let me put it another way. Would the US response to Al Qaeda have been significantly lesser if they had struck only one tower?

Anonymous said...

I don't think a demonstration on an unihabited area would have shocked and dismayed people as much as the horrors inflicted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki's citizens did.

More to the point, I don't think such a demonstration would have convinced the Japanese government to surrender and so would have left us with the even more costly prospect of an all out invasion of Japan and the possible neccessity of defeating Japanese armies in China. My suspicion that a demonstration would not have worked is supported by the observation that Japan's government ignored the first atomic bomb and subsequent repeatition of demands to surrender.

Obviously, I would have far prefered had World War II never happened. But I don't think it is realistic to expect that the war would have ended through negotiation among reasonable people. Even with nuclear powered visual aids. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans