by John Hawkins | August 10, 2010 1:39 pm
A couple of years back, I was invited to participate in a TV special in New York that was put on by the equivalent of PBS in Japan. Long story short, it featured Americans talking with people from Hiroshima about nuclear weapons. The result, which I’ve never seen, was supposed to be shown on the anniversary of the bombing in Japan.
Not surprisingly, the people from Hiroshima didn’t feel they should have been nuked, nor were they fans of nuclear weapons today. It’s understandable that they might feel that way. It reminds me of a Brit who was repulsed and disgusted by Mel Gibson’s character in The Patriot, because he butchered a number of British soldiers with a tomahawk. Which end of the ax you end up on does have a way of changing your perspective.
But despite the fact that Japan is a friendly ally of our country today, some things need to be said: Japan DESERVED everything it got in WW2 and then some.
Japan raped, looted, and murdered its way across the Pacific. There was the Bataan Death March. The rape of Nanking. Japan engaged in human experimentation, engaged in multiple massacres, & deliberately starved millions of people to death. And all that is aside from the fact that country helped start WW2 and attacked America at Pearl Harbor.
Quite frankly, the United States would have been justified, multiple times over, in wiping Japan off the face of the earth for the evil that nation did during WW2. Yet, we didn’t do that. Instead, Truman carefully considered the facts before he chose to nuke Japan.
1) He didn’t believe Japan would surrender and he thought storming the country with conventional forces would cost hundreds of thousands of American lives and millions of Japanese lives. The way the Japanese fought when we took islands like Okinawa meant these were no idle estimates. Moreover, Japan had to be taken because leaving the nation unconquered would have likely led to another war down the line.
2) Truman feared Russia might invade Japan and spread their influence there. Given the menace that Stalin was turning out to be, that would have been dangerous.
3) Japan had attacked us at Pearl Harbor. Not only did our dead deserve to avenged, we needed to send a very loud message about what would happen to anyone who did that.
So, Japan certainly deserved to be nuked, Truman had good reasons to nuke Japan, and ultimately a lot of lives were saved because of Truman’s decision. Had we fought our way in, hundreds of thousands — and perhaps millions more Japanese civilians would have died. Much more importantly, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers who were fighting in a war that Japan started wouldn’t have been able to go home to their families.
War is an ugly business and it’s best to avoid it entirely. But, if a war starts, there is absolutely nothing you can do to win it that is worse than losing the war. That’s why, at the end of the day, you use as much force as necessary to win it. That applied during WW2 and it should apply today. It’s also why Americans should have no regrets about Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
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