Sunday, August 07, 2005

Prelude to Ending a War

Sunday's above the fold coverage of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima does the job of telling the horror of that particular event in history. From the aspect of that being the first such event it's understandable. War is awful and this act symbolizes that rather dramatically.

What often goes unreported is the effect it had on Japan's decision to end the war--none. Dropping the second one on Nagasaki accomplished that. Furthermore, so intent were key members of the Japanese military to continue fighting that they sought to find and destroy the recorded message sent by the Emperor announcing Japan's surrender. After being undeterred over the deaths of 125,000 in the firebombing of Tokyo, and remaining resolute in the face of over 600,000 Japanese war dead, it should suprise no one that at the time support for dropping these bombs enjoyed overwhelming US support precisely because it saved vastly more lives than were lost by the bombs. It was science used appropriately.

Instead of celebrating the good that came from a terrible predicament we see this logic inverted. In the coming weeks check to see if you see anywhere near the coverage over the end of the war as this one horrific event.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Smoking Jay said...

Twenty years ago, Don Mozley from KCBS in San Francisco offered the following commentary on the anniversary of Hiroshima on August 6, 1985. The local radio station was inundated with thousands of requests for reprints of his comments. I have saved this one-page reprint for over twenty years and offer this to the local debate:

“In the midst of all the soul-searching about the A-bomb, it might be well to mention that had there not been a Pearl Harbor, there would have been no Hiroshima.

The Japanese have been very clever about making the United States feel guilty about the manner in which we ended the war, but they have not suggested any viable alternative.

Only the most wooly thinkers would believe that the Japanese high command, and in particular General Tojo, would have surrendered without an invasion. Only the most wooly thinkers would believe that the Emperor could have declared the war over – if an A-bomb had ‘just been demonstrated’ off the coast – or in some remote area where casualties and damage would have been negligible.

He needed iron-clad proof – and disaster to play the comparatively weak card he had against the Imperial high command.

The role of the Japanese in World War II is much more shocking than the results of Hiroshima. The Japanese wanted it all – Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaya – the best part of China – and dominance of the rest of Asia and India. Their occupation was brutal.

Hiroshima was a world argument for peace is legitimate – but when one visits Hiroshima – and when one hears the Japanese speak about it – the underlying implication is that the United States was the monster of the war.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Thanks Jay, that is an increasingly rare sentiment to hear from mainstream journalism. Dropping the bomb was horrible, but it needs to be weighed against the alternative.

In light of your comment, I found this column in the New York Times to be quite interesting.

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

During this weekend of hand wringing over Hiroshima i felt compelled to look up the death toll in Nanking during the Japanese take over of that city. The estimates of deaths of POW's and civilians in that one town in China reach 370,000. This was not an effort to stop a war, this was not a move to defeat an enemy that had attacked first, this was pure murder. We have no memorial anniversaries for the nearly 15,000,000 Chinese who were slaughtered by the Japanese. The Japanese people are not informed at all about the actions of their government and military during the War. Its a criminal lack of education and perspective.

6:58 PM  

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