Hiroshima: History and Morality

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Operation_Downfall_-_Map

 

 

David Griffey at Daffey Thoughts gives us his view on Hiroshima:

Condemning the Hiroshima Bombing

And the Nagasaki bombing.  From another POV.  Scott Eric Alt publishes a condemnation of not only the decision to use the bombs, but of those Americans and Catholics who disagree.  OK, from the top.  As I’ve said before, some of the arguments Mr. Alt uses are no longer seen as credible, at least to some.  As for the oft referenced MacArthur/Eisenhower quotes, see here.

Of course if you are a Catholic, you are at a disadvantage argument-wise, since the Church’s official position as stated by bishops and popes has been to condemn the decision to use the atomic weapons.  Perhaps not condemning with the same lack of mercy or understanding one sees on the blogosphere, but condemning nonetheless.

I already mentioned where I believe Fulton Sheen’s famed rebuff was wrong, and in fact Kirk’s referenced opposition to the decision also bespeaks of that sort of soft-exceptionalism, a back handed ethnocentrism, that still dominates American dialogue when speaking about the decision to drop the bombs.  August 6 was not some freakish event.  We were not in a time of peace and love.  Japan was not some humbled, peace loving nation wanting to chant John Lennon songs.

Tens of millions had died in the war, and we have no way of knowing how many continued to suffer under the boot of Imperial Japan; how many would continue to suffer, would be tortured, would be killed.  They are not topical dodges or incidental facts in the more important issue of us bombing Japan.  They might not change the verdict from a Catholic view, but they would up the ante.  If all of what we know at this point – not what we knew in 1952, or 1961, or 1985 – but what we know now is compiled, then there is no reason to believe that the war was done and finished.

There certainly was no reason for the high command to think so.  And unless you believe that after years of mass suicide and hundreds of thousands killed rather than surrender, that the entire nation would collapse because the Soviets issued a piece of paper saying they declared war, then you’re stuck with the fact that as of August, 1945, there was little to suggest anything short of an invasion would stop the ongoing slaughter and genocide of Imperial Japan.

And that’s fine.  As Catholics, especially today, it appears we are fine with twisting our answer to Caiaphas.  It’s not better that an innocent man die so a nation not perish, but it is better that endless innocents die rather than a guilty murderer bent on more killing be executed.  A lofty moral goal to be sure; but we’re Christians.  We’re about lofty moral goals.

Any other conclusion is simply trying to twist and turn history through the prism of a crystal ball in order to validate a moral view.  An approach to history not unlike most today, in the manner of Hitler’s Pope.  Just accept that in 1945 there was nothing to suggest the killing and death would stop any other way.  Accept that innocents would continue to die, even eventually equaling the number killed by the bombs.  And if that’s a price you’re willing to pay, then by all means, condemn the world, condemn Japan, condemn the US, but condemn them all.  Or simply state that it was wrong, but understandable given the state of the world at that time, and be forgiving of those who are not to that level of grasping all of what the position against the bombs should entail.

If you just prefer to judge and condemn, however, then by all means judge and condemn.  But make sure you then go out, sell everything you have, give it all to the poor, and live a life completely devoted to God with only the clothes on your back.  For if you are willing to allow for the torture and deaths of endless innocents at the hands of a xenophobic, imperialist nation, and condemn those who haven’t come around to seeing it might have been necessary to avoid bombing cities within that nation, then certainly you should be prepared to give up a few creature comforts in this little life.

Go here to comment.  Note well what Griffey does.  He refuses to take the use of the atomic bomb out of its historical context and he refuses to engage in junk history to condemn the bombings, such as pretending that the Imperial Government was about to surrender, that American casualties in invading the Home Islands would have been 50,000 or waving about statements by military leaders against the bombings without explaining that such statements were not made at the time, and usually had nothing to do with the bombings but reflected other agendas.  The atomic bombings are arguments about history and morality, and moral arguments are only hurt if they are erected on an edifice of lies.

 

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PopeWatch: Trolling

PopeWatch suspects the Pope is just trolling us now:   Vatican City, Feb 14, 2019 / 05:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis

54 Comments

  1. I love his comment about Hitler’s Pope. Those holding that conclusion employ the same logical flaw as those who condemn the bombings from their current position of safety. Liberals always do that, though. Does anyone think if there was a rape crisis in Vatican City because of the number of Muslim migrants that our current pope wouldn’t reconsider his plan to destroy Europe?

  2. Surely ths was written for Mark “I hate the bomb” Shea and every other anti-nuclear pacifist out here: “If you just prefer to judge and condemn, however, then by all means judge and condemn. But make sure you then go out, sell everything you have, give it all to the poor, and live a life completely devoted to God with only the clothes on your back. For if you are willing to allow for the torture and deaths of endless innocents at the hands of a xenophobic, imperialist nation, and condemn those who haven’t come around to seeing it might have been necessary to avoid bombing cities within that nation, then certainly you should be prepared to give up a few creature comforts in this little life.”
    .
    This is a great essay.

  3. In my fairy tale world the nuclear bomb would have never been invented. Then the US could have cut off Japan and allowed millions of women and children to suffer with inadequate food/medicine/oil. Finally we could watch with great satisfaction as elderly men, armed with kitchen utensils, were mowed down by our landing troops. What a happy vision.

  4. It’s also worth noting that Vietnam, Cambodia, parts of China and many other areas outside the “home islands” were still occupied by Japan when we dropped the bombs. A lot of critics of the bomb forget about those civilian populations still under the control of a murderous military. It’s easier to say, “you’re wrong!” than to come up with a solution oneself.

  5. What the leaders at the time said, they said. Did some have different views at different points? Sure. Does it discount their weight as authorities who actually had the knowledge and expertise to make judgments that most of us do not? Not at all. The only reason to cite these authorities is because bomb proponents rely so heavily on pure consequentialist reasoning, which always boils down to some version of “killing 175,000 Japanese women, children, and old men saved the lives of x number of US servicemen and x numbers of presumed Japanese casualties. Therefore the bombings were good.” These premises are factually shaky, and in no way verifiable to any degree of moral certainty, which is the reason the witness of the expert military and civil leaders about the necessity of the bombing are important.

    But even if every military and political leader supported the bombing (which is decisively not the case), it changes not one whit the morality of the bombing.

    It is morally impermissible directly and intentionally to take innocent life in order to avoid some perceived evil. The purpose of the bombing was clearly to kill civilians in order to terrorize the Japanese into surrender. Under the principle of double effect, the evil effect cannot be directly willed AND the good cannot come about as a result of the evil. The evil has to be a side effect. Clearly, the bombing fails on these counts. The killing was directly willed (no other reason to bomb than to inflict maximum casualties), and the perceived good (Japanese surrender and avoiding battle) was the direct intended consequence.

    It’s not brain surgery. This is why the Catechism unequivocally condemns this type of indiscriminate killing.

  6. Tom (McKenna?), will you please just give it up?

    You wrote “bomb proponents rely so heavily on pure consequentialist reasoning”. Well, by implication you are doing the same, when you justify the alternatives. That is “consequentialist reasoning” also.

    You wrote “These premises are factually shaky, and in no way verifiable to any degree of moral certainty, which is the reason the witness of the expert military and civil leaders about the necessity of the bombing are important.”
    First, those leaders you quote DID make such judgments. They did this ALL THE TIME during their military careers. People in the military are trained to do this, in fact proper military planning cannot be done without it. All such judgments have premises, all can be factually challenged as ‘shaky’ post facto, and they never have moral certainty.
    Second, suppose the bomb was not used, Truman was politically crucified for not doing so, and a number of Americans feel to this day that the decision to not bomb was immoral (perhaps not from a Catholic perspective, but so what? Let’s suppose they are not Catholic) because their relatives continued to die in the service of their country – the exact number is immaterial. Don’t you see that they could, in defense of their views, use your argument word for word? Yes they could! This is why I have to conclude that your arguments don’t hold water. There are arguments that hold up better, but you are not making them.

  7. “It is morally impermissible directly and intentionally to take innocent life in order to avoid some perceived evil.”

    True, but the argument made by some here is that the Japanese had essentially conscripted large numbers of non-combatants into militia by ordering men of high school age to 60 and women to 50 to be eligible for militias. In fact 2 million Japanese civilians had been conscripted by the end of June 1945. Who knows how many more had been conscripted by August.
    It is on the other thread but Fr. Siemes, a priest present at Hiroshima, notes how the Japanese were committed to total war and how clerics present at the bombing debated its morality:

    “We have discussed among ourselves the ethics of the use of the bomb. Some consider it in the same category as poison gas and were against its use on a civil population. Others were of the view that in total war, as carried on in Japan, there was no difference between civilians and soldiers, and that the bomb itself was an effective force tending to end the bloodshed, warning Japan to surrender and thus to avoid total destruction. It seems logical to me that he who supports total war in principle cannot complain of war against civilians. The crux of the matter is whether total war in its present form is justifiable, even when it serves a just purpose. Does it not have material and spiritual evil as its consequences which far exceed whatever good that might result? When will our moralists give us a clear answer to this question?”

    So your moral principles are correct. What is in question are the premises.

  8. Philip, I have to point out that there is a flip side to this debate:
    Is it moral to kill non-innocents?

    Is it moral to kill a young army recruit, his heart lusty with Bushido, under an atomic bomb? How about with a bayonet? Air Marshall Arthur “Bomber” Harris famously asked this second question. I have to agree, it is not moral. Justifiable, but not moral.

  9. As rational beings, intention is one of the three criteria for determining the morality of the act. The other two being the moral object and circumstances.
    If the intention is to kill, then it would be immoral. If the intention is to end an unjust aggression, then it would be.

  10. Even the normal bombings by Americans were preceded by warnings for civilians to get away; from that, we can conclude that the forces bombing were so eager to not kill civilians that they were willing to forego killing military forces, and even miss destroying any military material that could be moved ahead of an attack.

  11. TomD, I don’t understand your reasoning. If you followed the postings on this issue elsewhere on this blog, I cited many military authorities who made the judgment that the bombing was not necessary. Among these were MacArthur, Eisenhower, LeMay, Chennault, and Nimitz. Now it’s possible that these men are all wrong, but I trust their considered judgment about the facts on the ground more than I trust modern Catholic bloggers about those issue. Even if some of these expert military men said something else earlier, or had some assumed but not proven bias driving their opinions, they still strike me as eminently more qualtified to opine on the state of affairs in Japan than anyone I’ve seen commenting here or elsewhere.

    If you think the bombings do not violate the prinicple of double effect, show how. Otherwise your assertion that my argument is weak is a simple ad hominem evasion.

  12. Tom, you did this last time as well– you made claims, they got debunked, you acted like it didn’t happen and then falsely characterized what others were saying.

  13. The US Government’s own Strategic Bombing Survey, issued in 1946, and again, by authorities with much more intimate knowledge of and proximity to the facts and circumstances, concluded:

    “Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

    People can nitpick all they like about why this or that general reallycame out against the bombing, but the number and weight of these authorities seems to me convincing beyond all doubt, when weighed against post facto justifications from the commentariat.

    No, even under a morally inadmissible consequentialist view, these bombing were unnecessary and immoral. But to a Catholic, they were deeply violative of the primary value of the sanctity of innocent life. Hence, the Catechism of Saint John Paul II:

    Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation. A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons – to commit such crimes.

    (CCC #2314).
    No exception in that passage for “but it saved some guessed-at number of combatant lives.”

  14. “Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

    Highly unlikely considering that the Japanese government was unwilling to surrender after Hiroshima, and that even after Nagasaki there was a coup attempt to forestall surrender. Of course this also ignores the likely, at least, million Japanese who would have died of famine and continued bombing, the 7,000 Allied casualties that were being incurred each week and the 300,000 a month of people dying of war related causes in the areas of Asia occupied by Japan. All these deaths and other casualties would certainly have occurred if the surrender had occurred in November or October of 1945.

  15. If you want to quote that report, use some context.
    On 6 August the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and on 9 August Russia entered the war. In the succeeding meetings of the Supreme War Direction Council, the differences of opinion previously existing as to the Potsdam terms persisted exactly as before. By using the urgency brought about through fear of further atomic bombing attacks, the Prime Minister found it possible to bring the Emperor directly into the discussions of the Potsdam terms. Hirohito, acting as arbiter, resolved the conflict in favor of unconditional surrender.
    The public admission of defeat by the responsible Japanese leaders, which constituted the political objective of the United States offensive begun in 1943, was thus secured prior to invasion and while Japan was still possessed of some 2,000,000 troops and over 9,000 planes in the home islands. Military defeats in the air, at sea and on the land, destruction of shipping by submarines and by air, and direct air attack with conventional as well as atomic bombs, all contributed to this accomplishment.

    There is little point in attempting precisely to impute Japan’s unconditional surrender to any one of the numerous causes which jointly and cumulatively were responsible for Japan’s disaster. The time lapse between military impotence and political acceptance of the inevitable might have been shorter had the political structure of Japan permitted a more rapid and decisive determination of national policies. Nevertheless, it seems clear that, even without the atomic bombing attacks, air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion.

    Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

    http://anesi.com/bomb.htm

    The report figured that even if they weren’t nuked, they’d eventually surrender if fire-bombed enough.

    Oh, wait, does the CCC have a line about “it’s totally OK to destroy an entire country if you don’t use nukes”?

    ********
    You also falsely attempted to claim the aim of the bombing was to kill the inhabitants several times before, and had to resort to assuming the conclusion when met with the various warning letters.

  16. We have indeed been down this road before and it amazes me that any serious Catholic blogger can still think the atomic bomb is moral (maybe they can understand why it was used, but not that it was moral.)

    Here is a little thought experiment — if you could end the reign of terror committed by ISIS right now by killing one innocent little baby (maybe a cute, little Chaldean Christian baby from Iraq) — just one, would you do it? All you have to do is bash the baby’s head against a brick wall — quick and easy. Let’s assume 100% guarantee that ISIS ends its reign of terror but you have to kill an innocent life — why not kill the baby? Would you?

    If no, then why do you think it is O.K. for the U.S. to kill innocent Japanese babies?

  17. “If no, then why do you think it is O.K. for the U.S. to kill innocent Japanese babies?”

    Yours is an argument for pacifism Jeff and nonresistance to evil. In war, tragically, babies are going to die. Imagine how many innocent Japanese babies would have died in an invasion of the Home Islands, or through a continuation of the blockade or a continuation of conventional bombardment. All of these deaths were just as foreseeable as the deaths caused by the bombs that leveled Hiroshima and a portion of Nagasaki and ended World War II. Now, to turn your argument back on you, in order to prevent any innocent Japanese babies from dying in World War II, would you have been content to see Japan win the War? What then would be your moral responsibility for the non-Japanese innocent babies that died? That is where your argument inevitably leads.

    Of course your comment is not a serious one. It is mere moral posturing by someone who had no skin in the game in 1945 and who cannot imagine his life, or the lives of those he loves, depending upon someone taking a terrible action in order to avoid even more terrible consequences of not taking that action. God spare us from the advocates of not dropping the bombs so long as someone else, a long time ago, would have paid the blood price by not doing so. Your reference to ISIS I think is significant. If ISIS were taking up shop in your city and had just murdered your female relatives or taken them as sex slaves, and were searching for you, I suspect you would support any action to stop them. Since it is some people overseas, who cares?

  18. We have indeed been down this road before and it amazes me that any serious Catholic blogger can still think the atomic bomb is moral (maybe they can understand why it was used, but not that it was moral.)

    Maybe you could try reading the explanation and the rather exhaustive and detailed logic involved?
    ***
    You can’t see it because you insist on assuming the conclusion– that the bombs were just a variation of executing an innocent baby, as you use in your example.
    .
    You are apparently utterly unable to accept the possibility that someone does not accept your starting point, no matter how many times it is explained.
    That you think there is no difference between showing up without warning and bombing a nursery, vs giving days worth of warnings before bombing one of the few remaining intact military centers, does not make it a fact.

    You know what I can’t understand?
    How someone can feel they are qualified to pontificate on who is behaving in a manner acceptable for a “serious Catholic blogger” while at the same time making assumptions of malice that are not just unneeded, but actually conflict with the known facts.

  19. Go read that report that Tom was so hot on– notice the change in tactics that they assumed, rather than the bomb; after a paragraph explaining the tactic of aiming for military objectives, it points out to the follow-on tactic of destroying their merchant fleet, the railways, and the cities. (As opposed to the atomic bombs, which were aimed based on the old priorities– trying to hit military production.)

    After a few paragraphs of explaining exactly what was involved in all the tactics, the report goes on to explain how the conventional bombing would cause a surrender:
    The economic effects of the transportation attack would have had a direct impact on the Japanese people and on their determination to continue the war. In order to bring maximum pressure on the civilian population and to complicate further the Japanese economic problems, night and bad weather attacks on urban areas could have been carried out simultaneously with the transportation attack. One of the important factors inducing Japan’s leaders to accept unconditional surrender was a realization that the Japanese armed forces had lost their ability to protect the people and that under the impact of direct air attack and lowered livelihood their confidence in victory and determination to continue the war were rapidly declining.
    The entire point of those attacks would be targeting civilians.

    http://anesi.com/ussbs01.htm#taaatjhi

  20. Donald- only if I could come to care about things like a turning on a light switch.
    I just really hate misunderstandings, especially when they’re based on lies or wrapped in a refusal to look.
    Don’t have to agree, don’t have to like it– but there’s no excuse for failing to understand where the other side is coming from when it’s been explained a hundred times.
    Now, if they were actually arguing against the arguments made? It’d be a bit different. Like some things with C Matt where we don’t agree, but can recognize where the difference is.

    Tom and Jeffery here seem to have a deep seated need to not just be right, but for any other view to be evil— even when that requires them doing something evil, like spreading false claims or assuming an attempt to kill civilians when there was a pattern of attempting to get civilians away.

  21. Tom (McKenna?), if you don’t understand my reasoning against your last argument, how can you understand it well enough to write that it is ‘a simple ad hominem evasion’? Also, my reasoning has NOTHING to do with the double effect argument. I concede that your position has some validity thanks to the double effect argument (some, because it is not black and white). The validity of the double effect argument, to the extent it is valid, does NOTHING to shore up the other weaknesses Don, Foxlier, Phillip and I have cited.

  22. Foxfier,

    You say,

    “That you think there is no difference between showing up without warning and bombing a nursery, vs giving days worth of warnings before bombing one of the few remaining intact military centers, does not make it a fact.”

    Just so I’m clear — you think the U.S. gave enough “warning” to the Japanese (keep in mind the weapon about to be used had never been used before in combat and was unknown to the Axis except for what their intelligence told them about it) that all remaining innocent civilians in the bombs’ blast radius was the fault of the Japanese, not the U.S.?

    This argument is not crazy — Hamas likes to use civilian shields and I think it is right and moral for Israel to still try and take out their rockets despite the danger to civilians (the Israelis are aiming for the rockets, not the people.) The problem is that the U.S. knew, despite the warnings and despite what you tell yourself, that many innocent (i.e. Japanese babies) would die. They knew with a certainty that is similar to the certainty of innocent death from carpet bombing a place like Dresden — another war crime we should be ashamed of.

    You see, unlike Donald or you, I actually think you can fight a bloody war against a tough and nasty enemy in a moral way. You just have to avoid deliberately targeting civilians, or taking actions that you know will incinerate lots of innocent civilians — you know, actions like dropping atomic bombs on population centers.

  23. OK Jeffery S, let’s get back to the not-so-merry-go-round: is it OK to take actions that you know will starve to death lots of innocent civilians? Even one?

    BTW, to be clear, I have a lot less problem with pure anti-nuclear pacifism on this subject. I would much rather that a Tom (McKenna?) take the maximum U.S. losses in an invasion of Japan and say “that is the price we pay for morally fighting a war” than to play the number games he plays on this subject. Yes, there are counter arguments to that stance too, but at least they are not factual, they are logical and matters of principle. Facts are another thing entirely.

  24. As before, I cite authorities at the time, military leaders and the government’s very own report and yet somehow I’m the one ignoring the facts?

    MacArthur, Ike, Nimitz, LeMay, Leahy, Halsey, Ralph Bard (undersecretary of the Navy), R. Adm. Lewis Strauss, Hap Arnold, Gen. Tooey Spatz (commander of US Army Strategic Air Force), Chennault, Brigadier Gen. Carter W. Clarke, (“we brought them [the Japanese] down to an abject surrender through the accelerated sinking of their merchant marine and hunger alone, and when we didn’t need to do it, and we knew we didn’t need to do it, and they knew that we knew we didn’t need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs”),

    Sorry, I think the men on that list are far better equipped than amateur blog historians to tell us whether the bombs were militarily necessary or not. They say no. I agree with them, not the bloggers.

    And if being wrong even on their own consequentialist reasoning isn’t bad enough, II still hear crickets chirping in response to St. JPII’s Catechism unequivocally condemning mass indiscriminate killing.

    And no, throwing some leaflets on a town you’re about to incinerate does not absolve your responsibility for the innocent deaths that occur. Is it moral for me to point a gun at your head, hand you a warning that you better move, and then blow your brains out when you don’t?

    But as the links provided above show, this is a carousel that no one wants to get off of.

  25. “You see, unlike Donald or you, I actually think you can fight a bloody war against a tough and nasty enemy in a moral way. You just have to avoid deliberately targeting civilians, or taking actions that you know will incinerate lots of innocent civilians — you know, actions like dropping atomic bombs on population centers.”

    In the taking of Manila some 100,000 civilians died despite the efforts of MacArthur to avoid the civilian casualties. In taking Okinawa, in addition to the 78,000 US casualties, there were 142,000 civilian casualties according to the US Army. Estimated civilian deaths range from 30,000 (US estimate) to 100,000 (Okinawan estimate). This was with the US taking extreme care to avoid civilian casualties, including evacuating civilians to behind the lines areas.

    Welcome to Harry Truman’s world. You truly have no idea what you are talking about.

  26. “MacArthur, Ike, Nimitz, LeMay, Leahy, Halsey, Ralph Bard (undersecretary of the Navy), R. Adm. Lewis Strauss, Hap Arnold, Gen. Tooey Spatz (commander of US Army Strategic Air Force), Chennault, Brigadier Gen. Carter W. Clarke, (“we brought them [the Japanese] down to an abject surrender through the accelerated sinking of their merchant marine and hunger alone, and when we didn’t need to do it, and we knew we didn’t need to do it, and they knew that we knew we didn’t need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs”),”

    Except Tom that I have debunked several times over every name on your list except for Ralph Bard. You ignore the debunking because the facts do not support your anti-bomb stance. Additionally you think it is somehow moral if many more Japanese died as a result of famine caused by the blockade or by conventional bombing. I think your moral calculus is completely insane.

    Your argument that the Japanese were about to surrender anyway has no basis in fact, in that the Japanese did not surrender even after Hiroshima when they suspected the US had just that one bomb. That also makes rubbish of Ralph Bard’s contention that two or three days warning of the use of the bomb would have caused Japan to surrender.

    http://www.doug-long.com/bard.htm

    Tom, you are simply peddling junk history. Stop it. Read the link below and start reading some of the books cited before you waste my time again.

    http://theamericanpresident.us/images/truman_bomb.pdf

  27. Jeffrey S brings up the Hamas use of human shields and says it’s ok for Israel to go after the rockets even though civilians will be killed. Somehow he misses the Second Army headquarters at Hiroshima responsible for defense of that part of the island. Many of the arguments against the bomb act like it was a civilian population center with no military presence. The distinction/separation between cities and military bases was not what it is in the US. For example, an enemy could hit Ft Bragg, NC without touching Charlotte, but that sort of distinction was not as clear in Japan. The term wasn’t invented yet, but the arrangement looked pretty similar to “human shields.”

  28. Just so I’m clear — you think the U.S. gave enough “warning” to the Japanese (keep in mind the weapon about to be used had never been used before in combat and was unknown to the Axis except for what their intelligence told them about it) that all remaining innocent civilians in the bombs’ blast radius was the fault of the Japanese, not the U.S.?
    To be clear, you are assuming that there is an inherent difference between a city destroyed with atomic bombs and one destroyed with fire bombs?
    And that people with guns forcibly conscripting people are not responsible for doing so?
    And that the conscripted remain innocent civilians?
    ***
    Amazing how you flipped from utterly unable to understand it to “it’s not totally insane” when it’s rhetorically useful.

  29. Tom McKenna on Wednesday, June 1, A.D. 2016 at 10:47pm (Edit)
    As before, I cite authorities at the time, military leaders and the government’s very own report and yet somehow I’m the one ignoring the facts?

    Read the report before you try to cite it– not just the useful paragraph.
    Here it is again:
    http://anesi.com/ussbs01.htm
    The conclusion is explicitly based on “If we directly targeted civilians for the explicit purpose of making their lives hell, it may have ended in three months!”

    Additionally, the report is a strategic bombing survey that concludes strategic bombing could have worked. Not people with a great grasp of Japanese psychology and tradition, or the then-very-strong idea that if you could fight at all, it was preferable to fight even if it cost you everything. These guys were attacking battlegroups with lone ships because waiting for backup was dishonorable. They were executing 14 year old girls who wouldn’t charge machine guns with a stick.

  30. How about some sources for your quotes? Dates, locations, more than a few lines?
    I spent the last several minutes trying to find a source for Clark’s “starve them out” quote, and they all bring up conspiracy sites which also do not give a source. (The Jews and or Rothschildes had us bomb Nagasaki? Seriously?)
    I really want to see the context, especially after the “Japan was going to surrender by November” report turned out to be based on a change in tactics to directly target civilians for bombing.

  31. While my Dad was crossing the English Channel 70 times in 1944, whether the weather was good for sightseeing and selfies or not, my Mom was at home saving newspapers about the progress of the War. I have those from August 1945. They reflect a populace not only OK, but a people rejoicing and ecstatic over the use of the A bombs. Climb up to any modern day moral high ground you choose, what those men did from 1941-1945 is why you are here today and why you can today, with moral superiority, judge them and find them immoral. Many of them gave themselves, as it says on a UK war monument, they gave their today, so you could have a tomorrow. Who my Dad called “the Japs” knew we were warring against them, and anything we did was not a cowardly sneak attack with no public declaration of war, as the one that killed so many on that morning of the Lord’s Day in Hawaii in 1941. If “the Japs” has accepted the terms of the Allies, offered before Fat Man and Little Boy arrived, there would have been on need for them; but “the Japs” valued a sword more than a common citizen, and it was”the Japs” who killed the thousands at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And the Emperor and his Samurai would have been pleased with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of subhuman subjects as the Allies made their way to the home islands. Now, imagine a Cold War in which sociopath Uncle Joe does not have to face a nation which has already used the bomb. No stronger message to follow. Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

  32. Mike S, you are correct. Nearly 50% of the ‘instantaneous’ deaths at Hiroshima were military personnel. I was recently quite surprised to find that even the Wikipedia article on the Hiroshima bombing notes this fact.

  33. TomD asks,

    “OK Jeffery S, let’s get back to the not-so-merry-go-round: is it OK to take actions that you know will starve to death lots of innocent civilians? Even one?”

    This question is confused from an ethical standpoint — the purpose of a blockade (or the modern day equivalent, sanctions) is to get the leadership of a country to change their ways. If they decide to take action X, Y, or Z in response, that is not my problem as a moral actor — my problem is did I take an action in the first place that was good or evil? You all want to play consequentialist ethics, when the clear teaching of the Church is that this is not O.K.

    Donald says,

    “In the taking of Manila some 100,000 civilians died despite the efforts of MacArthur to avoid the civilian casualties….”

    Right — and not once does he suggest that any of those civilians were deliberately targeted for death (as opposed to killed as a tragic side effect of war.)

    Foxfier,

    You say,

    “To be clear, you are assuming that there is an inherent difference between a city destroyed with atomic bombs and one destroyed with fire bombs?”

    No — the fire bombing was immoral as well.

    “And that people with guns forcibly conscripting people are not responsible for doing so?”

    Tell me more about the civilians in hospitals, the babies, the infirm and elderly that the Japanese “conscripted” for the war in these two cities? Those Japanese babies were known to be deadly fighters…

  34. “This question is confused from an ethical standpoint — the purpose of a nuclear attack is to get the leadership of a country to change their ways. If they decide to take action X, Y, or Z in response, that is not my problem as a moral actor — my problem is did I take an action in the first place that was good or evil? You all want to play consequentialist ethics, when the teaching of our Protestant churches are not clear on the subject.” – an American critic of the Henry Wallace administration’s decision to not drop the atomic bombs on Japan in WW2.

  35. Jeffery S, try out this one:

    In his famous August 1, 1945 address to Allied forces, President Henry Wallace made history in his appeal to a higher morality: “We have now tested the most horrible weapon ever devised by man. Used in quantity it will render Japan lifeless. I have considered and prayed over this, and have concluded that the use of this weapon is fundamentally wrong. Wrong too would be to allow the current aggression by Japan to continue. So I ask you: will you not continue the fight as you already have? Will you invade Japan as men and fight for victory, rather than stand by and see the destruction of its children? Yes, when we invade you will meet some of those children on the battlefield, but through your discernment you will be able to decide which can be saved from the delusions of their leaders and which cannot…Any man who sees himself as unable to follow this appeal will be allowed to apply for exemption for the invasion forces…”

    If this fantasy really happened, what would have happened as a result? Many of us might be very proud today. Others might be bitter.
    All I know is that by 1945 people in and out of the military were frustrated into arguing for the use of poison gas.

  36. Jeffery S, a further comment. The book Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947 documents that the Japanese government was following American newspapers and news magazines. Their take from these news sources was the American support for the war was brittle and that they could persevere if they just held out longer. This belief extended into the invasion of the Home Islands. An invasion would likely have ended only with pacification, not surrender.

  37. Sadly, those people don’t know or care about where the pope and bishops stand on 50 million abortions. We hear far more about two bombs that dropped 71 years ago.
    .
    My Uncle Bob (RIP) was a machinist mate on a WWII USN liberty ship in the Pacific. He only survived the war b/c he had gone on a pass to attend his brother’s wedding; returned to his ship late; and missed its sailing. He was punished with a “Captain’s Mast” (similar to Army Article 15) fined and lost a stripe. He shipped out next vessel. The ship he missed was blown (munitions) to Kingdom Come in Manila Bay with loss of all hands. It was the USS Mount Hood – look it up. There was nothing left.
    .
    To his dying day, he firmly believed that the bombs saved his life.
    .
    Go tell the Spartans, er, Pope and bishops that their sheep don’t take kindly to being slaughtered by savages so that they, and useless bums like Mark Who?, can stick their sanctimonious noses up the air.

  38. “Sadly, those people don’t know or care about where the pope and bishops stand on 50 million abortions. We hear far more about two bombs that dropped 71 years ago.”

    Yep. I would like to see their opinions on the next use of such bombs, not the last. Without the “American policy drove the [insert Indians / Pakistanis / Iranians / Saudi mercenaries] to do it” meme.

  39. Jeffrey S.-
    Tell me more about the civilians in hospitals, the babies, the infirm and elderly that the Japanese “conscripted” for the war in these two cities? Those Japanese babies were known to be deadly fighters…
    That you think the purpose of them being conscripted was because they would be deadly shows that you are so disgustingly pig-ignorant of the situation that you are not worth speaking to on the subject. Either you cannot see, or you will not see.
    You think that the little boys they were teaching to roll under tanks were going to be deadly to the tanks, even if they had actually managed to get them functional bombs?
    You think the little girls with sharp sticks that they did send at the Marines were going to be super-effective?
    They were not conscripted for your reasons– they were dragged into it by the Japanese military for honor. An alien, evil sort of honor, but it was honor, not your nonsense about how effective they would be.
    Their world-view held that ritual suicide was far preferable to losing. Even after the bombs fell, there was an attempted kidnapping of the Emperor to keep fighting– one which was only averted in part because several of those who opposed it killed themselves rather than go along with it. They didn’t try to stop it with direct action, because that was an unacceptable choice– they gutted themselves so they wouldn’t have to either doom their country or make a choice for what they viewed as dishonor. To not have honor was worse than death by slitting your own belly and bleeding out.

  40. If this fantasy really happened, what would have happened as a result? Many of us might be very proud today. Others might be bitter.

    How many of us, bitter or proud, wouldn’t even be here because our grandfathers would have died invading the home islands?

    A Wallace Presidency? [shudder]

  41. Don, et al, I don’t see any “debunking” of the sources, I see explanations about motives surrounding why some of the men might have said what they said, and that some apparently said something different at a different time, all of which might go to the weight one wishes to afford their opinion, but none of which is a “debunking.” The quotations are not fabricated. “Junk history” seems to mean “anything I don’t like in the historical record.” I understand you disagree with the authorities. I prefer their judgment of the situation, since they were experts and in fuller possession of the facts and awareness of the circumstances than you are. I understand you have to work feverishly to discredit them, to discredit me or anyone else who cites them, since they undermine your entire edifice of the supposed military necessity of the bombings.

    But as I’ve said before, even assuming against the facts that the bulk of military authority was in favor of the bombing as a military necessity, the bombing would still have failed Catholic principles of jus in bello and double effect, neither of which assertions have been refuted. All the response I get is “you must want many more people to have died in an invasion,” or “you think it’s better to have starved more people in a blockade,” which, as sheer speculation, is factually questionable, but moreover is irrelevant to the morality of the bombing. It simply repeats the consequentialist argument, as if that’s a refutation of my citations to Church teaching. In short, your arguments in fact simply prove my point, which is that proponents have nothing to offer about the morality of the bombing other than the assertion (which rest on suppositions) that the direct, intentional killing of non combatants saved some supposedly great number of combatant and non combatant lives. While many accept this as a valid moral position, it is not in conformity with Catholic or even natural law moral principles.

  42. ” In short, your arguments in fact simply prove my point, which is that proponents have nothing to offer about the morality of the bombing other than the assertion (which rest on suppositions) that the direct, intentional killing of non combatants saved some supposedly great number of combatant and non combatant lives. ”

    Except for the argument that the conscription of large numbers of civilians into militias eliminated the distinction between combatants and non-combatants. For example. I read of a high school girl reporting her experiences in Hiroshima on the day of the bombing. Or course she was working with a military unit on radio communication – having bee conscripted into service at age 17.

  43. Ernst Schreiber wrote:
    “How many of us, bitter or proud, wouldn’t even be here because our grandfathers would have died invading the home islands?

    “A Wallace Presidency? [shudder]”

    Ah, you see the bitter side! Very good!

    =================================================================

    Tom (McKenna?), you wrote:
    “But as I’ve said before, even assuming against the facts that the bulk of military authority was in favor of the bombing as a military necessity, the bombing would still have failed Catholic principles of jus in bello and double effect, neither of which assertions have been refuted…as sheer speculation, is factually questionable, but moreover is irrelevant to the morality of the bombing”
    Yes! You are starting to see the light! Your argument will be much improved if you just drop the parts in boldface and concentrate on the part that is not. Get rid of that first paragraph, it’s just a ‘shoot me’ T-shirt despite your continued assentation to the contrary. Dropping it avoids the speculative consequentialist arguments you have to make when you attack the speculative consequentialist arguments we make. Stick to what works best.

    Tough I should point out, neither jus in bello nor double effect is a slam dunk. They are just much better for you.

    “…it is not in conformity with Catholic or even natural law moral principles.”
    Ah, this is ANOTHER problem. How many Catholics were involved in the decision to build and drop the bombs? The answer: not many. So, you may cite your objections using Catholic principles, but you can’t use them on a practical level to attack the 1940-45 decisions. All you can attack is the happiness that came in America from the dropping of the bombs, and contemplation of any future use.

  44. Or that Hiroshima was the headquarters of the Second General Army and had 40,000 troops in it. Nagasaki had 9,000 troops in it and was one of the largest producers of war material for Japan, in addition to the Mitsubishi ship yards. Calling either Hiroshima or Nagasaki a purely civilian target is a stretch.

  45. “The quotations are not fabricated.”

    There is good reason to believe that Eisenhower never said to Stimson what he purported that he said. Stimson did not mention such a conversation in his diary and he never reported it to Truman which he certainly would have if Eisenhower said what he said.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=A2Zv3VD6ptQC&pg=PA18&lpg=PA18&dq=bradley+eisenhower+hiroshima&source=bl&ots=pkwdjA9D17&sig=Z1nINchkXt9p-CW9ah6fM9nDzwI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwihwZbO2IzNAhVUa1IKHVN8BqsQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=bradley%20eisenhower%20hiroshima&f=false

    The comment is pretty risible too considering that Ike as President slashed conventional forces to the bone and enunciated a policy of massive retaliation with the US going nuclear from the start in future conflicts.

  46. “Calling either Hiroshima or Nagasaki a purely civilian target is a stretch.”
    Given the complete erasing of the distinction between combatant and non-combatant by the Empire of Japan at the time, calling any part of Japan a civilian target would be a fallacy.

  47. Given the complete erasing of the distinction between combatant and non-combatant by the Empire of Japan at the time, calling any part of Japan a civilian target would be a fallacy.

    *nod*

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