Missing Context

I don’t have a Twitter account for many reasons, not least of which is I feel that tweeting is something birds or the birdbrained do, not intelligent human beings. The only disadvantage that I can see to not having a Twitter account is that I miss out on many of the idiotic things that leftists tweet. Fortunately, many people on the right provide a valuable service by drawing attention to such tweets for the benefit of sane people.

I caught this particular tweet by Ida B Wells, courtesy of Gunfreezone.net.

I wonder if the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum has an exhibit about the bombing of Pearl Harbor? Is there any mention of the Rape of Nanjing or the activities of Unit 731 in this museum? One might suppose from the shame-ridden Ida B. Wells’s tweet that the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima for no particular reason; perhaps out of anti-Japanese racism. What is missing here is the context in which the decision to use the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was made. Let’s provide that context.

The United States was fighting a war against an enemy that had attacked it without warning or provocation. This enemy, the Empire of Japan, was an evil regime, as bad as, if not worse than Nazi Germany, as the links, I provided above might indicate. The Asian Holocaust perpetrated by the militarist government of Japan was even more horrifying than the more familiar Nazi holocaust against the Jews and other Untermenschen. Japanese atrocities get far less attention than the Nazi horrors, perhaps because most victims were Chinese. I would not go so far as to say that the civilians of the two nuked cities in any way deserved what happened to them, but the government they served had to be defeated.

Worse than the Nazis

The cost of defeating that evil regime would have been enormous had the use of the atomic bomb not ended the war. American military analysts estimated that American casualties suffered from an invasion of the Japanese home islands would number in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps even as many as a million dead or wounded. Japanese casualties, assuming the Japanese government was able to mobilize the civilian population to resist the invaders, would certainly have reached into the tens of millions.

Obviously, American military planners would have sought to reduce American casualties by inflicting as much damage as possible on Japan before any landings on the home islands. There would have been wave after wave of bombers targeting every military and industrial facility they could locate. Incendiary bombs would have been dropped on residential areas to break the will of the Japanese population. Maybe chemical weapons might have been deployed if the invasion bogged down into a stalemate. If Japanese civilians began attacking American servicemen in the occupied areas, the soldiers might have resorted to a policy of shooting anyone who approached them. Japanese deaths might have reached genocidal levels, and people like Ida B. Wells might be tweeting their shame at the American massacre of the peaceful Japanese.

Of course, dropping the atomic bomb might have been an atrocity if Japan were on the verge of surrendering, as some assert. I do not think that is a historically accurate view. The Japanese seemed determined to fight to the death even as they were losing the war. The Japanese did not surrender as the Americans closed in on Japan. They did not surrender when we recaptured the Philippines, or when we captured Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Even the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima did not induce the Japanese to end the war. It took the bombing of Nagasaki and the nearly unprecedented intervention of the Emperor to compel the Japanese military government to sue for peace.

This policy was not as insane or fanatical as one might assume. By August 1945, the Japanese situation was dire but not entirely hopeless. No one had ever successfully invaded the Japanese islands, and the Japanese military leaders had no reason to believe that the Americans would be any more successful than the Mongols. Indeed, the leaders of Japan had every reason to believe that if they managed to inflict sufficient casualties on the first waves of American servicemen to land on the coasts of Japan, a war-weary American population would urge a negotiated end to the war, leaving the Japanese military leaders in power. They might have been correct, although I think it more likely that the United States would have attempted to conquer Japan using the tactics I described above.

The simple fact is that the decision to use the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved millions of lives by ending the war sooner than it would otherwise have ended. The use of the atomic bomb quite probably saved millions of lives after the war. Nuclear weapons have made war between the major powers all but inconceivable by making the costs of such a war far greater than any possible gains. Consider a world in which the atomic bomb has never been developed. It is likely, perhaps inevitable, that the Cold War would become a hot war if the possession of nuclear bombs by both the United States and the Soviet Union did not deter both sides from committing acts of aggression directly against one another. We might have had a World War III or IV, with a cost of hundreds of millions of lives. We might right now be in the middle of World War V.

The Correct Decision

There is no reason for any American to feel shame over the use of the atomic bomb against Japan. That decision saved millions of lives by ending the most devastating war in history. There is little reason for any American to feel any shame about their history at all. The United States of America is not a perfect country, no nation in this fallen world is or can be perfect, but when American history is considered in proper context, America stands forth as a good and noble nation, for the most part. Americans have made mistakes and committed terrible injustices, but America has been a force for good in the world. Only the ignorant or those pushing a political agenda to degrade and delegitimize America would say otherwise.

Questions, comments, praise

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