I don’t know how I managed to miss it, but yesterday happened to be the sixty-seventh anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. I read about the commemoration ceremony they had in Fox News, this morning. This year was special, it seems, because Harry Truman‘s grandson attended.

¬†Japan marked the 67th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bomb attack with a ceremony Monday that was attended by a grandson of Harry Truman, the U.S. president who ordered the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

About 50,000 people gathered in Hiroshima’s peace park near the epicenter of the 1945 blast that destroyed most of the city and killed as many as 140,000 people. A second atomic bombing Aug. 9 that year in Nagasaki killed tens of thousands more and prompted Japan to surrender to the World War II Allies.

The ceremony, attended by representatives of about 70 countries, began with the ringing of a temple bell and a moment of silence. Flowers were placed before Hiroshima’s eternal flame, which is the park’s centerpiece.

Truman’s grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, and the grandson of a radar operator who was on both of the planes that dropped the atomic bombs, joined in the memorial. Ari Beser’s grandfather, Jacob Beser, was the only person who directly took part in both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

In a news conference after the memorial, Daniel declined to comment on whether his grandfather’s decision was the right one.

“I’m two generations down the line. It’s now my responsibility to do all I can to make sure we never use nuclear weapons again,” he said, according to Japan’s Kyodo news service.

Daniel, 55, said earlier that he decided to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki because he needed to know the consequences of his grandfather’s decision as part of his own efforts to help achieve a nuclear-free world.

I dislike how the Japanese how somehow managed to convert themselves into the victims here. I dislike even more this idea that our use of the atomic bomb was an atrocity that we should be ashamed of. I think we should consider a few factors that put the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki into the proper historical context.

First, the simple fact is that dropping the atomic bomb quite probably saved many thousands of lives. The Japanese islands had never been successfully invaded. The Mongols tried when their empire was at the height of its power, and they were defeated. This was one of the few defeats the Mongols suffered.

It is true that the Japanese Empire was in a difficult situation by the summer of 1945. Their navy was destroyed. American forces had captured Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and an invasion of the home islands was imminent. Allied bombing had destroying most Japanese industry. But, the situation was not hopeless. The military leaders of Japan believed, with good reason, that if allied forces became bogged down in Japan, taking massive casualties, they might choose to negotiate an armistice. They were arming and preparing the civilian population to this end. At any rate, the military leaders who ordered pilots to crash their planes into American ships had no problem sacrificing a good portion of the population of Japan rather than facing the shame of surrendering.

I have read that it is possible that an invasion of Japan might have resulted in more than a million US deaths. I am not sure about that. I think that we would have kept bombing Japan night and day, and used incendiary and chemical weapons until there was nothing standing in Japan. I think that once we were finished invading Japan, there wouldn’t be much¬† left. I believe, therefore that using the atomic bomb was far preferable, especially in lives saved, than any alternative.

I would also like to mention here that the nuclear bomb is the one thing that kept the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union cold. Without the nuclear weapons possessed by both sides, there is a good chance that there would have been an actual war, with millions of casualties. Strange as it might seem, there might well be hundreds of millions of people alive today thanks to the atom bomb. I am not so sure that a nuclear-free world is something desirable, even if it were possible. Since it is not possible to uninvent the technology, I doubt it is possible have a nuclear free world.

The other point to consider is that the Japanese military government before and during World War II was a truly evil regime. They were the aggressors in China, in Korea, and at Pearl Harbor. The Japanese who ruled Japan at the time were every bit as nasty as the Nazis, and perhaps even worse, at least in terms of atrocities inflected on the people they conquered. If you have any doubts about that look up Asian Holocaust or the Rape of Nanking. And, unlike the Germans, the Japanese have never seriously examined the history of the horrors the Japanese army committed, nor have they ever given the impression that they are particularly sorry for anything that happened.

I don’t want to give the impression that I hate the Japanese or hold contemporary Japanese responsible for the deeds of the earlier generations. I actually rather admire the Japanese. They were not the victims at Hiroshima or Nagasaki, however.



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