The French Are Proof of God’s Sense of Humor

Wednesday, July 25, AD 2012

The French don’t care what they do, actually, as long as they pronounce it properly.

                         Professor Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady

As longtime readers of this blog know, I have a weakness for humorous posts.  However, it is increasingly difficult to come up with imaginative pieces more humorous than reality.

The hooting and catcalls began as soon as the Cabinet minister stood, wearing a blue and white flowered dress. It did not cease for the entire time she spoke before France’s National Assembly. And the heckling came not from an unruly crowd, but from male legislators who later said they were merely showing their appreciation on a warm summer’s day.

Cecile Duflot, the Housing minister, faltered very slightly, and then continued with her prepared remarks about an urban development project in Paris.

“Ladies and gentlemen, but mostly gentlemen, obviously,” she said in a firm voice as hoots rang out. She completed the statement on her ministry and again sat down. None of the men in suits who preceded her got the same treatment from the deputies, and the reaction was extraordinary enough to draw television commentary and headlines for days afterward.

The same French Assembly on Tuesday took up a new law on sexual harassment, more than two months after a court struck down the previous statute, saying it was too vague and failed to protect women. In the meantime, there has been nothing. All cases that were pending when the law was struck down May 4 were thrown out. And, without a law, there can be no new cases.

Continue reading...

20 Responses to The French Are Proof of God’s Sense of Humor

  • As a french catholic I think that you should try not to confuse humor and Francophobia. This is not very catholic to do so.

  • It would take a heart of stone FC not to laugh at this incident. Time for you to loosen your beret and get a sense of humor.

  • Sorry, but your xenophobic stereotypes do not make me laugh at all. I will pray for you.

  • Ah FC, going through life as part of that largest minority, the humor impaired, is totally tragic. I will pray for you that one day you may develop an appreciation for the absurd, especially when you look in the mirror, something I relish each day as I shave.

  • To Donald and FC: I have listened to the entire video and it is not only Mrs Duflot who was heckled but the Prime Minister also. I have to agree with FC that your choice of humour betrays a bit of francophobia. You could have chosen equally humourous and ungentemanly incidents in the British Parliament. Remember Churchill’s “Betty, you’re ugly…”
    Elise – A Catholic FC (French Canadian)

  • Francophobia? A-okay.
    Antisemitism? Bannable offense.

  • I learned in high school that if you wish to be taken seriously in a matter you should prepare yourself to appear serious, which would include dressing appropriately. I am saying that she could have chosen something less casual. If one looks at the first and second row of the gallery there were women who were dressed in a manner which would not attract the kind of response she received. Did she deserve it ? An emphatic “No”. Could she have avoided it. An emphatic “Yes”. If she had dressed in a more business like apparel she “might” not have opened herself for the kind of response she received. If then she did I would agree that the idiots in the gallery cannot be redeemed even with legislation. However it was I admit humourous.

  • “Ladies and gentlemen, but mostly gentlemen, obviously,” she said…

    Madame Duflot was being generous, for it’s obvious that gentlemen are a minority
    in the Assembly. Sadly, that sort of behavior isn’t confined to those over-privileged
    and juvenile legislators. Most Parisian males view it as their prerogative to hiss their
    “appreciation on a warm summer’s day” to any woman.

    Elise Bonnette, I agree that one could find incidents of similar harassment in the
    records of Parliament (or of Congress). But I think that the difference is that these
    days Britons and Americans consider that behavior contemptible (remember
    Senator Packwood?), yet Parisian men still view it as their birthright to act like swine.
    I have mixed feelings about attempting to legislate behavior, but I wish the French
    good luck with these new laws, and I applaud the recognition of their necessity.

  • Correction “humorous”.

  • The last example of Francophobia (by definition, an irrational fear of the French) in England was in the 1860s when volunteer rifle regiments were formed and expensive forts (Palmerston’s follies) constructed to counter a possible invasion by Napoleon III. The Second Empire, however “tried to be Wagner and turned out to be Offenbach”.

    What we Brits admire about the French is their total lack of ‘political correctness’ (their language doesn’t allow it, for a start). Who else would ban Muslim women from wearing the niqab in public and explain disarmingly that it was an anti-discriminationary law? This sexual harrassment nonsense is gesture politics by the new Socialist government. The French only obey the law when it suits them – EU regulations are enforced with bureaucratic zeal this side of the Channel and ignored in France, and quite rightly so. A British government minister said the other day that to pay a tradesman in cash (out of your taxed income, mind) was ‘immoral’. This would have had the French hooting with mirth.

    As for French Canadians, who think that they are more French than the French to the extent of refusing to put ‘stop’ on their road signs, after 250 years they have no excuse for not speaking English. Indeed, if they were really French they would be doing so, since the French set great store by ‘assimilation’. I am happy to speak French in Paris, but I’m b******d if I’m going to do so in Montreal.

  • I see nothing Francophobic about this story. Indeed, there’s something inhuman about a male legislator who didn’t hoot at a pretty woman while the country was temporarily without sexual harrassment laws.

  • John Nolan, I’d agree that this legislation is, as you put it, ‘gesture politics’. So was
    the absurd recent official ban on the use of ‘mademoiselle’. I share your distrust of
    those who would decide for us all what is suddenly no longer acceptable.

    However, I cannot be as nonchalant about this business as Pinky. Imagine for a moment
    that Madame Duflot was your wife, your sister or your daughter. Would you still have a
    soft spot for those swine in the Assembly?

  • Clinton, although Parisians have a reputation in France for rudeness, the French as a race, and this includes those who inhabit the metropolis, are noticeably more polite and courteous than either the Brits or the Americans (unless they are behind the wheel of a car). It is not uncommon to see women dining alone in Paris restaurants and they are always treated with the utmost respect.

  • why so tough on the Quebecois John. what sainted heritage are you?

  • Cecile Duflot has a right to courtesy. As a citizen, Cecile Duflot has a right to courtesy. As an elected offcial, Cecile Duflot’s constituency has a right to courtesy. No, My halo is not on to tight.

  • It is not uncommon to see women dining alone in Paris restaurants and they are always treated with the utmost respect.

    Um… how is this something to brag about? I’ve eaten, alone, at everything from truck stops, bars and Denny’s to mid-level nice restaurants and very nice little coffee cafes. The only time I was treated with less than respect was when the local socialist club (seriously) was having their meeting at a table in the local bar-and-eatery, and at that time I was with two small children.

    About the only thing I do is avoid places where even I notice it’s not safe to walk around. The idea that “I can eat alone without being harassed” is brag-worthy speaks volumes.

  • Women in the political arena are routinely treated on a different level than male counterparts unless they are politically correct of course. I have seen it on all levels of government in the US. I have seen mothers addressing school board members who sat in their chairs above them and actively made faces at them as they spoke, showing clear disdain for these mothers. They would never have done that to a man from the community. They feel they can get away with it with women. The typical feminist who is politically correct often fits right in with the men though, and while they seem to have respect as colleagues I think they are being used and don’t realize it. They enjoy the acceptance in the political arena and often take as a sign that they are performing well but I think it is more that they are part of a view point that does not seek equality of women but rather to make women into the image of their male counterparts. They too will make fun of and downgrade more conservative women.

  • If her male counterparts, who have constituencies, degrade Cecile Duflot, what does this say about their constituencies. Time to get some DECENT people.

  • Quite frankly I don’t give a damn about whether French deputies heckle a Socialist minister regarding her dress sense. The French treat all their elected representatives with a healthy contempt which ‘les Anglo-Saxons’ would do well to emulate. The term ‘sexist’ was coined circa 1968 by the Daily Telegraph (the leading British conservative newspaper) as a joke. American feminists, not noted for their sense of humour – “How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? One! What’s funny about that!” – took it up and now it is simply a term of abuse, akin to ‘racist’ which means whatever the person using it wants it to mean.

    I have long suspected that they put female sex hormones in beer. After ten pints you talk bollocks and can’t drive.

  • @ anzlyne

    Sainted heritage – Catholic, European, English, Irish. In that order.

Cardinal Burke: How to stop mandatum abuse…

Tuesday, July 24, AD 2012

 

The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) has released a new report, “A Mandate for Fidelity,” concerning the mandatum (a bishop’s mandate) that’s required to teach theology in a Catholic institution of higher education.

 

 

The mandatum was specified by the 1990 Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities, Ex corde Ecclesiae, and as implemented in the United States, requires a theology professor to request mandatum from the local bishop where the theologian teaches.  The professor commits, in writing, “to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the Church’s Magisterium.”

 

Canon 812 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law also requires theologians to possess a mandatum:

Those who teach theological disciplines in any institutes of higher studies whatsoever must have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority.

 

In addition, Canon 810 describes the responsibility of academic administrators at Catholic institutions of higher education in this regard:

It is the responsibility of the authority who is competent in accord with the statutes to provide for the appointment of teachers to Catholic universities who, besides their scientific and pedagogical suitability, are also outstanding in their integrity of doctrine and probity of life; when those requisite qualities are lacking they are to be removed from their positions in accord with the procedure set forth in the statutes.

 

The Motley Monk thinks the CNS report is especially worth reading for two reasons.

 

The first reason concerns the number of administrators and professors in the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges who have not taken the mandatum seriously.

 

The CNS report draws attention to a 2011 survey of U.S. Catholic university and college academic administrators indicating that:

  • 42% of respondents said their institutions have neither a department nor a chair of Catholic theology as required by Ex corde Ecclesiae
  •   7%+ responded that Catholic theology isn’t taught in their institutions.

 

Of the remaining 51% of respondents who said their institutions have a department or chair of Catholic theology:

  • 36% said they didn’t know whether their Theology professors have received the mandatum;
  • 10% reported some but not all of their theologians have received the mandatum; and,
  •   6% said no professors have received a mandatum.

 

The “dirty little secret” is that more than two decades after the publication of Ex corde Ecclesiae, nearly 50% of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges don’t have a department or chair of Catholic theology.

 

The second reason for reading the CNS report concerns how, during those 2+ decades, many administrators and professors have “privatized” the mandatum, making it a private matter between the bishop and theologian.  And, apparently, bishops in whose dioceses Catholic universities and colleges are located aren’t very much interested in pushing the issue.

 

This conduct has evidently been brought to and caught the attention of Pope Benedict XVI, who in a May 5, 2012 ad limina address to a group of American bishops, expressed his concern that “much remains to be done” toward the renewal of Catholic identity in U.S. Catholic colleges and universities.  The Pope highlighted, in particular, “such areas as compliance with the mandate laid down in Canon 812 for those who teach theological disciplines.” He then cited “the confusion created by instances of apparent dissidence between some representatives of Catholic institutions and the Church’s pastoral leadership.”

 

So, then, what does Canon 812 require?

 

Responding to a CNS inquiry, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (the Vatican’s Supreme Court), Cardinal Raymond Burke, pointed to Pope Benedict XVI’s description of the mandatum as “a tangible expression of ecclesial communion and solidarity.” Asserting that the mandatum is a public not private matter, Cardinal Burke said:

It’s tangible in the sense that it’s a public declaration, in writing, on the part of the ecclesiastical authority that a theologian is teaching in communion with the Church, and people have a right to know that so that if you, for instance, are at a Catholic university or parents are sending their children to the Catholic university, they know that the professors who are teaching theological disciplines at the university are teaching in communion with the Church.  They are assured in that by the public declaration of the diocesan bishop.

 

Cardinal Burke added: “The fact that I teach in accord with the Magisterium is a public factor.  That’s not some private, secret thing between myself and the Lord” (italics added).

 

Should only theology professors with the mandatum be employed at a Catholic university or college?

 

Cardinal Burke responded “Yes,” adding:

…[T]he Catholic university will want that all its teachers of theology or the theological disciplines have a mandate and will not, of course, retain the professor in teaching Catholic theology or the theological disciplines who does not have a mandate, because to do so would be to call into question the whole raison d’etre of the university.  If a Catholic university doesn’t distinguish itself for its care, that those who are teaching theology and the other theological disciplines are doing so in communion with the Magisterium, what reason does it have to exist?

 

 

 

The Motley Monk concurs with Cardinal Burke’s assessment.

 

Academic administrators at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges should take the mandatum seriously, if only because it provides a tangible—public—recognition of an institution’s fidelity to the Church and its teaching, which constitutes the essential identity of Catholic higher education.

 

If those academic administrators are not willing to require a mandatum as a condition for employment as well as tenure and promotion in rank for those who teach theology and theological disciplines, they should—at a minimum—make public to students and their parents those professors who teach theology or theological disciplines and are in communion with the Church.

 

Unfortunately, Cardinal Burke has no ordinary jurisdiction in the matter as he is not the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.  However, his opinion as the Church’s highest ranking juridical official after the Pope does carry great moral weight and should influence the thinking of the diocesan bishops in whose territory Catholic universities and colleges are located.  They can and should require those who teach theology or theological disciplines to possess a mandatum.

 

 

To read the CNS report, click on the following link:
http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=04qM51k4t9Q%3d&tabid=36

To read Ex corde Ecclesiae, click on the following link:
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_15081990_ex-corde-ecclesiae_en.html

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

Continue reading...

14 Responses to Cardinal Burke: How to stop mandatum abuse…

  • Does this mean that those with the mandatum must support the de facto opposition of the last two Popes to the death penalty…John Paul calling it “cruel” in 1999 and Benedict congradulating the Phillipine president for abolishing it several years ago…despite God giving it over 35 times in the Bible according to Cardinal Dulles ( and the Old Testament). Is every mandatum professor obliged to promote their position on that issue?

  • I am sure the last two Popes are in opposition to the death penalty, but they are in opposition to homicide even more. God Himself said: “Thou shall not kill” For Justice to be done, homicide must be banned, first.

  • Mary
    I think they both err. John Paul II had a bad biblical technique on both the death penalty and on wifely obedience: he used one passage on each topic to overcome multiple passages refuting him. He used Ephesians 5 and it’s mutual submission of spouses to void out 5 passages that called for or implied wifely obedience. On the death penalty, he spent many words on God’s protection of Cain from PRIVATE vengeance to void out the many times God called for or implied the death penalty within a governmental context ( Rom.13:4, Gn.9:6). For theologians to commit to following such papal thinking even if they know it’s deficient tells the world that our intellectual caliber is not that great. It means in 1520, all theologians would have had to follow Leo X’s support of burning heretics which is now considered sin after Vatican II.

  • Perhaps, we should reflect on the words of Bl John Henry Newman, in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, ““It is indeed sometimes said that the stream is clearest near the spring. Whatever use may fairly be made of this image, it does not apply to the history of a philosophy or belief, which on the contrary is more equable, and purer, and stronger, when its bed has become deep, and broad, and full. It necessarily rises out of an existing state of things, and for a time savours of the soil. Its vital element needs disengaging from what is foreign and temporary, and is employed in efforts after freedom which become wore vigorous and hopeful as its years increase. Its beginnings are no measure of its capabilities, nor of its scope… From time to time it makes essays which fail, and are in consequence abandoned… In a higher world it is otherwise, but here below to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

    One would hope that bishops, in granting their mandate, would recognise the vital rôle of theologians in this process; theologians “thinking with the Church,” and ,thus, able to distinguish authentic development from corruptions.

  • Michael PS,
    Yes and no. The Church has regressions: Pope Nicholas I opposing torture to extract confessions in Ad Consulta Vestra, in 866 A.D. which was later overturned by a series of Popes in the 13th century and beyond. Later is not always “developement”. Dei Verbum, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, has something for each biblical partisan and thus for me it has this:

    the living teaching office of the Church, (9) whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God,but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as
    divinely revealed.”

    Simply not being done on wifely obedience ( absent in the catechism) or on the death penalty
    affirmed in Romans while the actual Roman empire had life sentences in the mines as an alternative which alternative John Paul saw as a recent modern developement.

  • I tend to take the St. Pius V position on the death penalty. See Horrendum Illud Scelus, August 30, 1568.

  • James,
    That explains Pope Sixtus V shortly thereafter executing in exactly that situation. The big problem though is this: the Old Testament death penalties for personal sin are void. They perdure as Aquinas said as statements to mankind as to which sins kill sanctifying grace. Arguably God wants only murderers executed now because only they are given in the death penalty God gives to both Jews and Gentiles in Genesis 9:6….and He gives it with a perduring reason: because murder is a form of sacrilege. If it is indeed part of the Noachide covenant, ccc 58 and 71 state that that covenant lasts til the end if time…one more reason the last two Popes seem to be working against the truth in this area.

  • Commentors are straying away from the issue, opining on matters that have little to do with the mandatum.

    The issue is not the Church’s position in regard to the death penalty, just as 100+ years ago the issue wasn’t the Church changing its position on slavery. The simple fact is that neither Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have taught a “black and white” theory concerning capital punishment. Thus, the Magisterium has left the door open to the possibility that there may be cases where the death penalty is applicable, for example, “in cases of absolute necessity when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society….such cases are extremely rare, if not practically nonexistent” (Evangelium Vitae, #56). This is not the case, for example, concerning Church teaching about abortion.

    The issue is that the mandate requires that theologians not misrepresent what the Church teaches or protest it, but to represent what the Church officially teaches. A theologian’s private opinions are one’s own, and the classroom is not the place for a theologian to teach one’s personal opinions and, in this case, to represent them as if they are the teaching of the Church.

    As St. Augustine once wrote: “What parent would be so absurdly curious as to pay tuition for his child to learn what his teacher thinks?”

  • Motley Monk
    But do theologians under the mandatum have to believe or teach that execution is rarely necessary if they think that is a prudential judgement of simply the last two Popes which has been placed inside a catechism? Yes or no….regardless of what you think about execution. Do theologians have bind themselves to ccc 2267?

  • bill bannon: The mandatum must include every dogma and doctrine in the Nicene Creed as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. People have a right to the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. If it is not the Truth, then it is a lie, perjury in a court of law, SSM, pornography, transgenderism, transhumanism, abuse of every sort, every violation of the Ten Commandments. This explains the infallibility of the Pope. Infallibility of the Pope is the Pope’s duty. The Pope is a priest who remains a citizen of the world as is Jesus Christ. This citizenship in the world and in the Catholic Church is often denied by those who tyrannize people. Individuals who reject the Truth of the Catholic Church are living in ignorance and ought not be imparting heresy.
    The woman does not have the persona of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary. A woman may love Jesus Christ as He chose to be the Son of Man, and because Jesus Christ chose to be the Son of Man, as do the stigmatists who choose to follow Jesus Christ’s choice, the woman remains the woman. If the woman does not share the sorrow of Mary, the Mother of God, she has lost her vocation to follow Jesus. The stigmatist too, must ask for ordination into the church of Jesus Christ, Son of Man.
    The Pope cannot forgive a murderer if the murderer is not repentant. As a priest, the pope can offer forgiveness of all sins, but unless the murderer repents, as Cain did before the Lord, the murderer cannot accept the Pope’s forgiveness. An unrepentant murderer puts all human beings in double jeopardy of life, wardens, guards, doctors, contractors, visitors and other inmates, therefore, the prison system is inadequate. The murderer is a scandal to others and continues his scandal by not being put to death by the state. The death penalty is the temporal punishment for capital one homicide. If the murderer lives to murder again, those who have sanctioned his life have enabled the homicide, have made themselves accomplices in the subsequent murder, unless the victim deserved to be put to death, which is the duty of the state, an office not held by the murderer.
    The office of husband and wife is a vocation for a man and a woman to love God in obedience to God, Who is LOVE, through love for the husband and wife. St. Paul tells husbands to love their wives and wives to be subject to their husband’s love, as Christ loves His Church. Subservience to a monster in human form is not called for in the Sacrament of Matrimony. In fact, it is doubtful that a monster in human form can contract a valid marriage. Same sex couples do not ascend to the office of husband and wife and therefore, remain outside of vocation and office.
    Signing the mandatum will give church officials the power to dismiss heretical teachers, dissenters and experimental theologians as teachers of the Faith, as they will have violated their own promse.

  • My question remains unanswered…twice now. Do theologians have to support ccc 2267… that execution is rarely necessary… under the Mandatum… even if they think it to be the prudential sociology of two Popes?

  • It’s a shame that for the last thirty years since Canon #812 was promulgated our
    bishops have chosen to sideline it whilst Catholic higher education devolves.
    I’ve never been impressed with their excuse that a mandatum is a private
    matter between theologians and their Ordinary– for it’s always seemed to me that if
    a man claims that his public teaching of Catholic theology is in accord with the Church,
    then his bishop’s assent to that claim should also be public.

    The past thirty years have given us the spectacle of many so-called Catholic theologians
    publicly claiming all sorts of nonsense to be validly Catholic– yet we must assume
    that these people still have their mandate from their bishop. We have no means to
    know if a mandatum was revoked or if it was ever granted in the first place.
    In a sense, the bishops under whom these theologians operate are aiding the spread
    of scandal. They have abdicated their responsibility as chief teacher and shepherd
    of their respective dioceses with this “it’s a private thing” dodge. Their decision to
    render Canon #812 a dead letter invites contempt for all church law.

    The mandatum is not a cure-all, it merely provides the Church with the means
    of separating those who speak for Her from those who, in fact, do not. With the
    current disregard for even that minimal distinction, anyone may claim to be
    a Catholic theologian. Think about it– colleges’ hiring and tenure committees and the
    editors at America and The National Catholic Reporter have more
    say over who is considered a Catholic theologian than any bishop.

  • I conclude that theologians, very much like a salesman for Merck or GM, must teach under the mandatum what in some cases they internally don’t and can’t believe because modern penology ( life sentences) only protects society from captured murderers which in Guatemala is 3% of the total number of murderers…Rio captures 14% of murderers…the US captures 62% of murderers. Obviously modern penology is protecting families hardly at all in some Catholic countries…but ccc # 2267 says modern penology suffices. Detterence and capture rate never appear as factors perhaps because they require research while saying a lifer can’t murder does not at first glance require research…until you realize that they kill in prison in the US at about 71 cases per yer….above the execution rate.

  • bill bannon. Your analysis is excellent. I thought that with the signing of the mandate, it is appropriate for the Catholic theologian to admit that he does not perfectly know the mind of God on the issue of capital punishment and to ask his students to pray for enlightenment. This would fulfill his mandatum.

Father Wilson Miscamble Defends the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Tuesday, July 24, AD 2012

Getting the annual Saint Blogs August Bomb Follies off to an early start.  Father Wilson Miscamble, Professor of History at Notre Dame, and long a champion of the pro-life cause, defends the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the video above. The video is a summary of the conclusions reached by Father Miscamble in his recent book, The Most Controversial Decision.  Go here to read a review of the book by British military historian Andrew Roberts.  Go here to read a review of the book by Father Michael P. Orsi.  Go here to read a review by Michael Novak.

Continue reading...

269 Responses to Father Wilson Miscamble Defends the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

  • The trouble is that taking into account consequences makes you a ‘consequentialist’, which is a very bad thing.

  • Obama is quietly, unilaterally disarming so that the US may never do that again.

    My uncle (RIP) believed he survived the war because of the bombings. He would take strong exception with anybody that said it was inappropriate.

    Unilateral disarmament is like gun control: only the bad guys are armed. No, wait! For Obama, Americans are the bad guys. Neville Chamberlain incarnate.

  • “Arguing that it was the least-harmful option open to him will hardly be persuasive to those who see everything in a sharp black-and-white focus.”

    I see everything in sharp black-and-white focus, and it’s clear: dropping the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the moral thing to do, saving millions of innocent lives on both side that would have been otherwsise lost in a protracted struggle of conventional warfare to defeat an intractable, godless enemy.

    Ironically, however, the very people who oppose nuclear weapons are the SAME people who today oppose anti-ballistic missile shield technology. Go figure! Peace at any price, including that of slavery.

    One last thing: when discussing weapons of war, nuclear or otherwise, maybe reading “The Strategy of Technology” by Stefan T. Possony, Ph.D.; Jerry E. Pournelle, Ph.D. and Col. Francis X. Kane, Ph.D. (USAF Ret.) would be enlightneing.

    http://baen.com/sot/

  • And, T. Shaw, the USCCB supports that position of nuclear disarmament.

    http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/nuclear-weapons/

    Peace at any price, including that of slavery!

  • Paul,

    Thanks for the link.

  • “Peace at any price, including that of slavery!”

    Nope. Peace of Christ at any price, including that of martyrdom before slavery.

  • I agree that Truman’s decision is best when evaluated by reference to consequences. But before consequences can be consulted it must first be determined that the act was not intrinsically evil. This is a problem insomuch as the bombs clearly targeted civilians. One cannot fairly or reasonably describe the civilian casualties as collateral damage — they were the target. Accordingly, I do not see how it is possible to square the bombings with Catholic moral teaching.

    That said, Truman was hardly a monster. Indeed, I have no basis for believing I would have handled the situation differently. In extreme cases we all do bad things for good reasons, and those good reasons certainly mitigate our moral culpability. For instance, while murder is always wrong, I hardly think God judges harshly the soldier who kills his comrade who is wounded and dying in agony. One cannot do evil for good reasons. But if the reasons are good enough the actions certainly are forgivable. Life can be tragic and complicated. I am reminded of Scobie in Greene’s “The Heart of the Matter,” who secretly took his own life in order to reduce the pain of his loved ones. It was almost Christ-like, even if the word “almost” does a lot of heavy lifting.

    Finally, I agree that the amateur historians who claim that Truman knew that the Japanese would have surrendered without an invasion are shameless turds.

  • “Peace of Christ at any price, including that of martyrdom before slavery.”

    Agreed. But does that mean you get to decide that hundreds of thousands of American and Japanese soldiers as well as millions of Japanese get to be martyred in a protracted conventional war that was obviated by the dropping of two nuclear weapons?

    Does that mean you get to decide that millions of innocent people should be martyred if and when Iran obtains nuclear weapons capability and Obama has disarmed the United States?

    We live in a real world where idealism kills.

    PS, I literally slept beside thermonuclear weapons on a make-shift bunk in the torpedo room within a submarine a long time ago. We were all trained to launch weapons in case the submarine was fatally hit and we were the last ones alive aboard. Given the order, I would have launched without hesitation. And were I in the postion again (now not possible), I still would do so. If I am being martyred for my country, my family, my freedom, then I will take as many of the enemy with me as possible.

  • But does that mean you get to decide that hundreds of thousands of American and Japanese soldiers as well as millions of Japanese get to be martyred in a protracted conventional war that was obviated by the dropping of two nuclear weapons?

    Dropping the bombs was the exact same decision – only you choose different martyrs, and a different number of them. On this question, Art Deco and I agree (at least as to objectively immoral nature of the act; Truman’s subjective moral guilt is a different question).

    Hiroshoma and Nagasaki are the right’s version of abortion.

  • Well, we strongly disagree, C Matt. Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved uncounted millions of lives which today the liberal left would prefer to see aborted. Therefore, to characterize this as the right’s abortion is simply wrong. Besides, it was a Democrat – Truman – who ordered the bombing.

  • “Hiroshoma and Nagasaki are the right’s version of abortion.”

    Assuming that the unborn were engaging in a war to conquer Asia that had killed tens of millions of people cmatt, that is perfectly logical.

  • before I say, I have not read the full text: Here my opinion:
    America was at war with Japan. The articles of war are to be engaged to understand “THE BOMB.” What is happening to us now is that Obama is trying to impose martial law upon American civil law, sadly for his own agenda. If it comes to war in America, it will come without the safety of the articles of war and martial law will be used against us.
    I am with the bishops in being against war, but a war of self-defense is always inevitable. The USCCB must deny Pearl Harbor to be against just war. The USCCB must deny St. Thomas Aquinas’ just war theory to be against all war without regard to the facts. Has man so realigned himself with the Prince of Peace that it is in America’s best interest to disarm?

  • Donald R. McClarey says:
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 A.D. at 8:42am
    “Hiroshoma and Nagasaki are the right’s version of abortion.”

    Assuming that the unborn were engaging in a war to conquer Asia that had killed tens of millions of people cmatt, that is perfectly logical.

    Thank you Donald McClarey. I wish I had your turn of phrase.

  • I’m glad I wasn’t Harry Truman in the summer of 1945.

  • Truman said at the time that when he took over as President after FDR’s death he felt like the moon, the stars and the planets had just fallen on him.

  • Hiroshoma and Nagasaki are the right’s version of abortion.

    Closer to killing someone that’s trying to kill my family, even though he’s only trying to do it because someone will kill his kids if he doesn’t. Or any of a thousand other Hollywood plotlines.

    This is pretty dang relevant these days, what with the habit of terrorists to set up their most sensitive centers with human shields. Or to strap bombs on kids, especially those with Down’s syndrome and the like, then send them to checkpoints.

    It’s always wrong to try to kill someone; but sometimes you have to kill them to stop them.

  • On this question, Art Deco and I agree (at least as to objectively immoral nature of the act; Truman’s subjective moral guilt is a different question).

    I was being ironic, and making a jab at Daniel Nichols and Mark Shea. I am not an adept of any kind of philosophical discourse, so have nothing to say about involved questions. I merely note that the decision was a wretched one to have to make.

  • If I recall correctly (and I really need to get my hands on Frank’s “Downfall”), the non-invasion, non-bomb option was a blockade of the Home Islands, preventing Japan from importing anything. The American submarine force had all but swept the Japanese merchant fleet from the seas by August 1945 (doing what Donitz only dreamed of), but the clamps would have been applied very tightly with a blockade. You would have had famine and then disease sweeping the population in a matter of weeks.

    I can’t imagine the unspeakable horror of that, either.

    Mike Petrik’s analysis more or less speaks for me. Few options, all bad.

  • Even with the surrender Dale, MacArthur just narrowly averted famine in Japan which would have killed millions in the Spring of 46. It was prevented due to massive shipments of food from the US. To say the least shipping food from the US to feed Japan was unpopular in many quarters in the US. MacArthur overcame all resistance by saying that the Japanese were the responsibility of the US now, and that rather than see them starve on his watch he would resign. It was Mac’s finest hour in my opinion.

  • Essentially, the case for Hiroshima and Nagasaki boils down to one part consequentialism plus one part proportionalism.

    It is the same thinking employed by many proponents of abortion.

    We all have our blind spots.

  • Yes we do cmatt. One of them I would suggest is comparing abortion to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • If the bombing was immoral, it was immoral. There’s no way to argue that it was immoral but justified. The consequences of not bombing were outside of the moral choice of Truman. Truman wasn’t responsible for the moral choices of others including those of the enemy. He was responsible only for his moral choices.

    If there were military targets within the cities, as there were, it could be argued that those were the targets and any additional damage was due to double effect. This argument gets iffy. Would Hiroshima’s and Nagasaki’s targets be of sufficient interest to merit their bombing? They weren’t targeted by conventional Allied attacks. Nevertheless, one can say that the military targets in the cities were bombed, and the power of the new technology was demonstrated, and any deaths among the civilian population were an unintended consequence. I think that’s sufficient to justify the decision (or to not stand in judgement over Truman on the matter).

    I’d say that Hiroshima and Nagasaki then are the right’s death penalty: a good person can defend it in limited cases, but no one should celebrate the event.

  • “I’d say that Hiroshima and Nagasaki then are the right’s death penalty: a good person can defend it in limited cases, but no one should celebrate the event.”

    Bingo. As Father Miscamble stated, it was the least horrible choice available to Truman.

  • @Paul – sorry, but that was taken exactly the wrong way around. I took “Peace at any prioce, including that of slavery” to mean that you prferred to live as a slave as long as it was in peace. These are contradictory, so I was confused; a slave knows no peace.

    What I meant that I will either live and worship freely, or if need be, die. I will never allow myself to be enslaved and made to turn on my faith. This has nothing to do with defending against an attacker. The assumption is that I am already defeated and those are my choices. I will defend if I am able, of that there is no doubt.

    I can’t help but agree that if the choice is between millions of dead over years and hundreds of thousands of dead in a blinding instant – and no other option – the choice is clear. What was done may not have been “right” but it was what was necessary.

    Also, think for a minute what would have happened in Germany if the Allies had suddenly backed down against Japan. It had been only a few months since V-E, the Werewolf problem was still rampant and Odessa was shipping truckloads of SS and Gestapo officers to points hither and yon about the globe – who could have been brought back just as easily. Any sudden sign of weakness and the European theater might have smouldered for years.

    Then, there was the Stalin question. The USSR had finally declared war on Japan when it was evident that it wouldn’t invite Siberian invasion, and it was another way for Uncle Joe to stage a land grab. Truman had to show Stalin where the line in the sand was. A prolonged Allied invasion would most certainly have involved Russian cooperation, so there could easily have been a “North Japan” and “South Japan.” A warm-water port for a Soviet Pacific fleet was simply unacceptable, so that option was out.

    So, apologies, Paul if I was unclear. I have no doubt that what was done then was correct. As well, any current enemy who insistst on staging a plausible threat must also be undone, in the way that most quickly ceases any potential for further conflict.

    And thank you, Mr. McClarey, for your pithy analysis of the unborn’s evil plot to create the Greater Pre-Natal Co-Prosperity Sphere.

  • “And thank you, Mr. McClarey, for your pithy analysis of the unborn’s evil plot to create the Greater Pre-Natal Co-Prosperity Sphere.”

    Comment of the day!

  • Failing to act is action. Both choices had consequences according to Father Miscamble.
    Though consequences do not determine the morality of an act– consequences do matter. .. by the fruits (consequences) you shall know them. That requires hindsight or prophetic vision.
    For the Commander in Chief it was hard to see clearly and he decided he must “pull the trigger” and leave the consequences to the Lord.

  • “For what I have done, and for what I have failed to do.”

  • I don’t see how analysis of the decision by supporters can evade the charge of consequentialism. Clearly, that’s what Truman weighed and gave the most credence to–the higher death toll from other options.

    However, I also don’t see how the critics’ analysis can evade the historical record–namely, that the regime was digging in for a fight to the death, and the “conventional” means of the time would have led to a staggeringly higher death toll, military and civilian.

    I can’t tie it up into a neat satisfactory answer, much as I’d like to.

  • I am a bit shocked to read, on a Catholic website, that it was a good, just, and courageous thing to drop a nuclear weapon on the Catholic city of Nagasaki, killing and wrecking the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ, including priests and religious (according to Father George Zabelka, chaplain to the 509th Composite Group on Tinian Island, three convents full of sisters were destroyed by the bombing), not to mention Catholic schoolchildren (see the documentary “White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima/Nagasaki”), etc.

    This is incomprehensible to me.

  • It is the same thinking employed by many proponents of abortion.

    Fallacy: argument from bad analogy, possibly also association fallacy.

    Also, something can’t be partly consequentialism– consequentialism requires that ONLY the results be examined.

    Proportionalism, on the other hand, is put on so many different things that it’s kinda crazy to try to defend against such a charge.
    Clearly, looking at the harm done from not doing something isn’t immoral, or it would be illicit toremove the fallopian tube a child has implanted in, using vaccines that were grown in fetal tissue would never be allowable, and deadly force for self-defense would never be acceptable.
    Also clearly, the classic “torture a kid to death to save thousands” is also not acceptable.

  • I think that Hiroshima thingy is one of them moral gymnastics routines that catholic liberals twist themselves into every so often so as to distract (from their acts and rantings which hugely support abortion, artifical contraception, class envy, gluttony, sloth, wrath, etc.) you and accuse you of being bad people.

  • Well, it’s not the right’s capital punishment, which does not involve the direct commission of an immoral act, namely the killing of innocent civilians.

    Father’s presentation effectively shows that Truman had a list of bad choices, but it does not attempt to answer the question of how the atomic bombs square with the Catholic teaching that one can never permissibly do a directly immoral act (here, deliberate targeting of civilians) in order to achieve a presumed greater good (the end of the war).

    Choosing blockade would have been a moral option, because it would not have involved American responsibility for ensuing deaths, which would have been squarely on the shoulders of the Japanese leadership for failing to surrender when there was no hope of victory. But at least in that scenario, we would not have directly and intentionally taken innocent lives, as we did at Hiroshima/Nagasaki.

    I don’t believe Fulton Sheen was a bleeding heart liberal dem when he observed: “When, I wonder, did we in America ever get into this idea that freedom means having no boundaries and no limits? I think it began on the 6th of August 1945 at 8:15 am when we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. … Somehow or other, from that day on in our American life, we say we want no limits and no boundaries.”

    WWII was notorious for being the first time that the Christian West had, as a matter of policy, adopted the practice of deliberate targeting of civilian centers as a war-aim (except perhaps for Grant, Sherman, and Hunter in the Shenandoah valley, but that’s another argument for another day).

  • I confess that I find Father Miscamble’s argument confusing. It sounds like he is saying that the bombings were wrong, but that they also were the right thing to do. That’s just incoherent.

  • “Choosing blockade would have been a moral option, because it would not have involved American responsibility for ensuing deaths, which would have been squarely on the shoulders of the Japanese leadership for failing to surrender when there was no hope of victory. But at least in that scenario, we would not have directly and intentionally taken innocent lives, as we did at Hiroshima/Nagasaki.”

    Yep, our hands would have been completely clean as we watched millions starve to death due to our blockade and the fact that they were ruled by lunatics who would prefer to see 100 million die proudly, as was a Japanese propaganda slogan in 45, rather than face the consequences of their having led Japan into an unwinnable war. I prefer Truman’s solution.

  • “WWII was notorious for being the first time that the Christian West had, as a matter of policy, adopted the practice of deliberate targeting of civilian centers as a war-aim (except perhaps for Grant, Sherman, and Hunter in the Shenandoah valley, but that’s another argument for another day).”

    I will assume Tom that you haven’t read much on the Thirty Year’s War? Or the expulsion by the Brits of Acadians during the Seven Year’s War? Or the anti-guerrilla campaigns waged by the French in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars? The list could go on for a very long time.

  • @ WK Aiken. No problem. We agree. Having been on a nuclear propelled, nuclear armed submarine, I would have been terrified to see a launch. But at the time we were in the Cold War and I would have obeyed orders not blindly, but willingly and knowingly and with fear and trembling.

    Again, the people most opposed to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the past are the SAME people who in the present oppose an anti-ballistic missile shield.

  • WWII was notorious for being the first time that the Christian West had, as a matter of policy, adopted the practice of deliberate targeting of civilian centers as a war-aim (except perhaps for Grant, Sherman, and Hunter in the Shenandoah valley, but that’s another argument for another day).

    The Iroquois would like to have an animated discussion with you about the Sullivan Expedition of 1779, which was dispatched by the Father of Our Country.

  • “This is incomprehensible to me”

    That people should want to avert even greater war casualties and spare those involved great pain and suffering should not be that incomprehensible.

    The implied moral calculus ,on the other hand, weighing some innocent lives over others is the greater moral dilemma.

  • The analogy to abortion, while imperfect (as are all analogies), is nonetheless instructive. Recall the case of Sister Margaret McBride, whose excommunication was revealed less than two short years ago. Her offense? Permitting a hospital abortion in order to save the life of the mother. The undisputed facts are that without an abortion the mother would die long before the baby’s viability. So the choice was abort the baby and allow the mother to live, or watch both die. Sister McBride chose, wrongly, to permit the abortion. It is hard to do the right thing when terrible consequences are avoidable only by doing the wrong thing. Sister McBride is no more a monster than Truman. Both made decisions, however wrong, that many of us who visit this forum might well make under the circumstances. We are weak, and our faith imperfect. It is good that God is loving and merciful. I’m counting on that — it is my salvation strategy.

  • I believe the analogy falls down on the facts Mike. First off, there was a line of treatment for the mother that could possibly have saved both mother and child. Such treatment was apparently never considered. Second, unlike the abortion case, only innocents did not die in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In both cities there were legitimate military and industrial targets. In war time, sadly, it is not unusual for the innocent to die with the guilty, which we would have seen a hundredfold if a land invasion of the Home Islands had been attempted. Third, Truman did not order the bombings to save his own life, but rather to save a multitude of other lives which would have ended if the bombings had not occurred. Fourth, unlike war there is no such a thing as a just abortion. In waging a just war cases like Hiroshima are not unusual in kind if not in degree. We are besieging a city, what about the starving non-combatants? The enemy has placed a tank factory next to an orphanage. Do we bomb it? The enemy is advancing on our position driving human shields in front of them. Do we fire on them? We are attempting to drive the enemy from an urban center. Do we limit our airstrikes and artillery to spare civilians, thereby causing more of our own men to die in assaults without such fire support? If one ever lacks tough moral questions to ponder, wartime will supply enough to last several lifetimes.

  • I wonder if, in his book, Fr. Wilson disucsses the mass consciption of Japanese civilians, practically the entire adult population and the training small children to strp explosives to themselves and roll under American tanks, hence the term “Sherman’s Carpets”.

    What Japan did was turn its entire country into a large military base and hence a legitimate military target. So no, it was not the intentional direct killing of innocents that people Jimmy Akin assert (even he knows that to not be the case).

    The shoddy treatment of this subject and severall others is why I think the Catholic blogosphere is, large part, embarrassment to the Church.

  • Don, you are wrong, and very surprisingly so on Hiroshima.
    First, regarding Sister McBride, the lines of treatment you mention were speculations by Monday-morning quarterbacks based on facts not in evidence. But even if true, the fact remains that Sister McBride made her decision — a decision to save a life other than her own — based on the medical facts presented to her; just as Truman made his based on the military and political facts presented to him (as opposed to the after the fact speculations regarding Japan’s putative plans to surrender).
    Second, you know very well (or certainly should know) that the targeting of civilians was precisely within the object of Truman’s intentions. They were not merely collateral damage in an effort to bomb a military facility. He did so for the same reason that Churchill carpet-bombed Dresden — to terrorize civilians and their political leadership into losing the political will to fight. I wish it were not the case, but the history is simply too clear. In any event, Truman’s calculus was correct. And no doubt it saved lives — probably many millions.

  • This is very good, thanks Donald. The fact that these cities were legitimate military and industrial targets is never even mentioned by the anti-Truman propagandists.

  • McBride was already covered here, and the fatal-to-mother condition turns out to be not quite as clean cut as claimed. Not sure if the woman ever came forward and released her medical records, either, so we have no information other than that she had Pulmonary Hypertension.

    The fact that these cities were legitimate military and industrial targets is never even mentioned by the anti-Truman propagandists.

    *dryly* Oh, those were just collateral damage when they hit the Catholic nuns, orphanages and old folks homes.

  • Mike – I was the one making the argument that Truman’s decision could be defended as a kind of double effect. It’s flimsy, I know. It’s has a Chief Justice Roberts element to it – accepting an action for a reason that the actors themselves didn’t invoke. It’s enough of a defense for me to feel uncomfortable judging the action itself, though.

  • Mike, I am not a doctor, I do not even play one on tv, but it only took me a few minutes searching on the internet to find this when the McBride controversy first arose:

    http://www.wisn.com/Doctor-Gives-Hope-To-Pregnant-Women-With-Heart-Condition/-/9374034/8079188/-/rrox6m/-/index.html

    One would think that a Catholic hospital would at least have brought this doctor in for a consulation before killing the unborn child.

    In regard to the guilty and the innocent I stand by my observation. It would be great in war if combatants and non-combatants were all segregated from each other so that no possible harm can come to the non-combatants but that rarely occurs. In announcing the bombing of Hiroshima, Truman referred to it as the military base of Hiroshima. He was actually more correct than his critics on that score:

    “The defensive plan called for the use of the Civilian Volunteer Corps, a mobilization not of volunteers but of all boys and men 15 to 60 and all girls and women 17 to 40, except for those exempted as unfit. They were trained with hand grenades, swords, sickles, knives, fire hooks, and bamboo spears. These civilians, led by regular forces, were to make extensive use of night infiltration patrols armed with light weapons and demolitions.(43) Also, the Japanese had not prepared, and did not intend to prepare, any plan for the evacuation of civilians or for the declaration of open cities.(44) The southern third of Kyushu had a population of 2,400,000 within the 3,500 square miles included in the Prefectures of Kagoshima and Miyazaki.(45) The defensive plan was to actively defend the few selected beach areas at the beach, and then to mass reserves for an all-out counterattack if the invasion forces succeeded in winning a beachhead.(46)”

    http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/arens/chap4.htm

    From the Japanese point of view, the only non-combatants in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki were those either too young or too old to fight. As Greg notes above, the Japanese government had turned its entire population into a military force. The prospect of those civilian warriors coming up against our assault troops would have led to one of the great slaughters in military history, and one which I am quite glad we avoided.

  • Pauli – As far as I know, neither city had been targeted previously. Why would that be the case if they were such valuable military targets?

  • Pauli,
    While you may be correct regarding anti-Truman propogandists, the fact that these cities were industrial cities important to Japan’s war effort is widely known and fully appreciated by the many Catholic moral experts who have concluded that the bombings were not morally justified. No one is saying that the munitions factories and other military sites could not be targeted, fully accounting for the reality of inevitable collateral deaths of innocents. What is asserted is that the targeting of an entire city, including its civilian population, cannot be morally justified. This is not to say that I stand in judgment of Truman. To the contrary, for Truman to have made any other decision would have required non only rare moral insight, but even rarer moral courage. I don’t pretend to be in such rare company, so I don’t remotely judge Truman. As c matt speculates above, while the objectively evil nature of the act may be clear to us(or should be, especially in retrospect), Truman’s subjective moral culpability is very doubtful.

  • Hiroshima I don’t think had been bombed before it was the target of the atomic bomb. Nagasaki had been a target for conventional bombing during the war. Both were placed on the a bomb target list because they were both relatively unscathed. Both had major miltiary significance:

    “Hiroshima was a city of considerable military importance. It contained the 2nd Army Headquarters, which commanded the defense of all of southern Japan. The city was a communications center, a storage point, and an assembly area for troops. To quote a Japanese report, “Probably more than a thousand times since the beginning of the war did the Hiroshima citizens see off with cries of ‘Banzai’ the troops leaving from the harbor.”” There were about 43,000 Japanese troops in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing.

    “The city of Nagasaki had been one of the largest sea ports in southern Japan and was of great war-time importance because of its many and varied industries, including the production of ordnance, ships, military equipment, and other war materials. The narrow long strip attacked was of particular importance because of its industries.” Probably the most important military target in Nagasaki was the Mitsubishi shipyard.

  • “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. ” – The United States Strategic Bombing Survey, July 1, 1946

    Furthermore:

    “In an article that finally appeared August 19, 1945, on the front pages of the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Times-Herald, Trohan revealed that on January 20, 1945, two days prior to his departure for the Yalta meeting with Stalin and Churchill, President Roosevelt received a 40-page memorandum from General Douglas MacArthur outlining five separate surrender overtures from high-level Japanese officials. This memo showed that the Japanese were offering surrender terms virtually identical to the ones ultimately accepted by the Americans at the formal surrender ceremony on September 2 — that is, complete surrender of everything but the person of the Emperor. Specifically, the terms of these peace overtures included:

    * Complete surrender of all Japanese forces and arms, at home, on island possessions, and in occupied countries.
    * Occupation of Japan and its possessions by Allied troops under American direction.
    * Japanese relinquishment of all territory seized during the war, as well as Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan.
    * Regulation of Japanese industry to halt production of any weapons and other tools of war.
    * Release of all prisoners of war and internees.
    * Surrender of designated war criminals.”

  • Pinky says:
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 A.D. at 2:48pm (Edit)
    Pauli – As far as I know, neither city had been targeted previously. Why would that be the case if they were such valuable military targets?

    I hate to say it, but check Wikipedia. Most of the sources are books, or I’d link them.
    they actually have a decent write-up.

    Here’s once they got around the issue of how hard it is to bomb Japan:
    In the following two weeks, there were almost 1,600 further sorties against the four cities, destroying 31 square miles (80 km²) in total at a cost of 22 aircraft. By June, over forty percent of the urban area of Japan’s largest six cities (Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe, Osaka, Yokohama, and Kawasaki) was devastated. LeMay’s fleet of nearly 600 bombers destroyed tens of smaller cities and manufacturing centers in the following weeks and months.
    One of those cities was Nagasaki. Hiroshima was picked BECAUSE it hadn’t been bombed yet, was big enough to figure out what damage it did, and had a ton of strategic stuff.

    The allies were also dropping leaflets warning people. Not only at the cities they’d bomb, of course, but they were giving warning. And yes, they got warning to the last two, as well.

  • Hirohito?

    Tacky. Not surprising, but tacky.

  • “There are a good many more points that now extend our understanding beyond the debates of 1995. But it is clear that all three of the critics’ central premises are wrong. The Japanese did not see their situation as catastrophically hopeless. They were not seeking to surrender, but pursuing a negotiated end to the war that preserved the old order in Japan, not just a figurehead emperor. Finally, thanks to radio intelligence, American leaders, far from knowing that peace was at hand, understood–as one analytical piece in the “Magic” Far East Summary stated in July 1945, after a review of both the military and diplomatic intercepts–that “until the Japanese leaders realize that an invasion can not be repelled, there is little likelihood that they will accept any peace terms satisfactory to the Allies.” This cannot be improved upon as a succinct and accurate summary of the military and diplomatic realities of the summer of 1945.”

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/894mnyyl.asp?page=3

  • For an excellent historical view of this issue I would recommend Rcihard P. Frank’s book Downfall and Manchester’s biograpghy of MacArthur, American Ceasar (the part of MacArthur’s life that deals with the WWII years.

    In his manual Moral Theology, esteemed moral theologian Fr. Heribert Jone OF.M. Cap. JCD articulates the moral principles guiding the use of atmoic weapons thus:

    Atomic Warfare:

    The fourth condition required for positing an action that has an evil effect that there be a sufficient reason, i.e., a proportionate resulting good, to permit the evil effect. The morality of using either the atomic or hydrogen bomb as a weapon of war is therefore, not a question of principle, which remains unchangeable, but a question of fact, and the fact questioned is whether there can be a military objective so vital to an enemy, the destruction of which would be a sufficient reason to permit the death of a vast number of civilians who at most contribute only remotely and indirectly to the war effort. We think this proportion can exist 1) because today’s concept of “total war” has greatly restricted the meaning of the term “non-combatant”; 2) because in modern warfare the conscription of industry, as well as manpower, greatly extends the effort on the home front; and 3) because it is difficult to set limits to the defense action of a people whose physical and even spiritual existence is threatened by a godless tyranny. Therefore, while use of atomic weapons must be greatly restricted to the destruction of military objectives, nevertheless, it may be justified without doing violence to the principle of a twofold effect. (Moral Theology #219 pp. 143-44 1961 Edition)

    An honest look at the circumstances within which Truman made his decision to drop the bombs show that he was clearly acting with the principles stated above.

    President Truman was a lot of things, but a war criminal and terrorist was not among them. Truman was faced with a situation so horrific that the only merciful option he had was to drop two atomic bombs. Let us pray that no president or any other head of state is ever faced with such a situation again.

  • “To the Editor:

    Three days after the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima, Japanese statesmen and military leaders met with Emperor Hirohito in an underground bunker at the Imperial Palace. During the meeting, word came of the explosion of a second devastating bomb over Nagasaki. Adm. Soemu Toyoda immediately announced that the Americans must have a production line for atomic bombs. Despite this knowledge, the military leaders continued to advocate an all-out defense of the home islands against the coming invasion.

    In my interviews with senior Japanese Army and Navy officials, Adm. Rikihei Takuma, chief of staff of the kamikaze corps, told me that his group had hoarded fuel, armaments and more than 2,000 aircraft to employ against the invaders. With far fewer planes the kamikazes had inflicted enormous losses on the United States Navy off Okinawa.

    Japanese Army officials said they had identified the landing beaches we would use in an invasion of the home island of Kyushu. At Ariake and Kagoshima they were already fortifying the terrain for a fight to the death. More than two million men were under arms in the home islands, ready for a prolonged and costly defense.

    It was only the Emperor’s direct intercession at a meeting five days after Nagasaki that made a surrender possible. Even then, a rebellion broke out among younger officers, who murdered a General Mori for refusing to support them in their defiance of the Emperor’s wishes.

    Although it is a relief that Smithsonian Institution curators have backed down in the face of overwhelming criticism of the planned exhibition on the atomic bombing of Japan, one wonders how they reached their conclusions.

    Is it not humiliating that veterans groups had to negotiate with the curators? It is appalling that the planned text gave moral equivalency to Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor with our own contingency planning for an attack on Japan.

    The proposed script also included an estimate of 31,000 casualties for the first phase of an invasion. The absurdity of such a figure should be obvious even to revisionist historians: nearly 20,000 Americans died taking the small, outlying islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa; the wounded numbered more than 50,000. The cost of an assault on the home islands would have been proportionally much more horrendous.

    Another implication in the proposed exhibition has no basis in fact: that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings were the work of American military racists bent on vengeance. The Manhattan Project was designed to beat Germany to the making of the bomb, and it would have been used in Europe if ready.

    The further charge that President Truman ordered its use more to impress Stalin than to save American lives is preposterous. Truman’s only desire was to end the slaughter and save millions of lives, American and Japanese. Emperor Hirohito seized this opportunity to lead his people away from further calamity and, as a result, all through the vast Pacific theater, men laid down their weapons in peace. WILLIAM CRAIG Westport, Conn., Oct. 6, 1994 The writer is the author of “The Fall of Japan.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/1994/10/11/opinion/l-smithsonian-a-bomb-display-distorts-history-496855.html

  • Might want to read this about the Japanese. It’s not directly related, but it might help people to have an idea of who we were fighting.

  • Human intellect and will are not perfect. God is the judge. His ways are above our ways, We do what good we can with what we have to work with.
    There is no practical wisdom in non-action. Prudence is an intellectual virtue (knowing good) tied to doing the good.

  • It doesn’t matter how evil the Japanese commanders were. A Catholic can only admit of the morality of mass killing of innocents such as Hiroshima/Nagasaki if this action does not violate the principle of double effect, i.e., an action producing both good and evil effects is licit only if ALL of the following are present:
    1)that the action in itself from its very object be good or at least indifferent;
    2)that the good effect and not the evil effect be intended;
    3)that the good effect be not produced by means of the evil effect;
    4)that there be a proportionately grave reason for permitting the evil effect.

    The bombings failed #1 in that the action per se had as its object the destruction of vast civilian populations in addition to military targets.
    As to #2, it’s not entirely clear that Truman intended only to destroy infrastructure, indeed, it is highly likely he intended to send a message specifically by killing large numbers of non-combatants.
    As to #3, the good effect of ending the war was ONLY produced by the horrifyingly large loss of life.
    As to #4, the destruction of whatever military capability still existed in the two towns at the time of the bombings could in no sense be said to be proportionate to the indiscriminate loss of innocent human life.

    No, by Catholic principles, the bombings cannot be justified, and any appeal to “it ended the war quickly” or “saved American lives” is raw consequentialism, the real and erroneous kind, not the bogus, Mark Shea variety.

    And yes, a blockade would be morally permissible, because again, the JAPANESE would be responsible for any deaths at that point, not the Americans, just in the same way that a land invasion would be permissible, because the ensuing loss of civilian life would not be a direct effect or object of the invasion (unlike the bombings, which directly intended the killing of civilians).

    These distinctions matter, and attempts to jeer those propounding them into the outer darkness only show how far we’ve come from putting Christ truly first, as Bp. Sheen remarked.

  • You don’t get to make up your own facts, Tom.

    If the point was to kill civilians, they would not have dropped leaflets telling them exactly what they were trying to do, and asking them to leave.

  • “And yes, a blockade would be morally permissible, because again, the JAPANESE would be responsible for any deaths at that point, not the Americans, just in the same way that a land invasion would be permissible, because the ensuing loss of civilian life would not be a direct effect or object of the invasion (unlike the bombings, which directly intended the killing of civilians).

    These distinctions matter, and attempts to jeer those propounding them into the outer darkness only show how far we’ve come from putting Christ truly first, as Bp. Sheen remarked.”

    Rubbish Tom. The idea that our hands would be morally cleaner if millions of Japanese died of starvation due to a blockade, or millions died as a result of a land invasion, when those deaths would be completely foreseeable to anyone other than a complete idiot, makes this type of double effect doubletalk completely repugnant to me. Such actions would clearly have led to far more civilian casualties than the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If the goal is to protect innocent human life in wartime, it seems to me that taking actions that are bound to lead to more massive civilian casualties is an extremely odd way to go about it. This type of hairsplitting may gain the day in Catholic comboxes, but I have my doubts as to its morality in either the real world or in eternity.

  • Abortion and infanticide are just fine, as long as they are done by a nuke rather than a curette.

  • Thank you Zippy. I feared that we would miss your invaluable non-sequiturs in this debate.

  • “If the point was to kill civilians, they would not have dropped leaflets telling them exactly what they were trying to do, and asking them to leave”
    http://www.damninteresting.com/ww2-america-warned-hiroshima-and-nagasaki-citizens/

    I doubt if that will matter to Truman’s critics Foxfier. The war is long over and won. The last veterans of the conflict are dying off each day at a rapid rate. Those who enjoy their peace and freedom due to the exertions of men like Truman can now damn him at their leisure.

  • Donald: right, because no unborn children or infants were murdered by those nukes, deliberately targeted at the civilian population. Only soldiers and military infrastructure were targeted.

    I suppose that when we all face final judgement I’ll have to have been purged of the premonitional schadenfreude I feel now, just as you’ll have been purged of your despicable support for this monstrous act.

  • Dropping leaflets has no bearing on the morality of an intrinsically immoral act. Warning the population ahead of time that they will be raped if they don’t leave would not excuse raping them. All the talk of consequences, leaflets, and such is question begging: it assumes that nuking a civilian city is not, like rape, intrinsically immoral.

  • Innocents die in war all the time. Far more would have died if Truman hadn’t ordered the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I doubt that it would have been much comfort to the larger number of innocents who died to learn that they had been killed morally.

  • Gee Zippy, then perhaps you could explain how the Popes supported the balance of terror all those years during the Cold War, if the use of nuclear weapons againt cities is always immoral? Perhaps Pope Pius was being immoral when he laid down these rules for the use of nuclear weapons on September 29, 1954:
    1. Such use must be “imposed by an evident and extremely grave injustice;”

    2. Such injustice cannot be avoided without the use of nuclear weapons;

    3. One should pursue diplomatic solutions that avoid or limit the use of such weapons;

    4. Their use must be indispensable to and in accordance with a nation’s defense needs;

    5. That same use would be immoral if the destruction caused by the nuclear weapons were to result in harm so widespread as to be uncontrollable by man.

    6. Unjustified uses should be severely punished as “crimes” under national and international law.

  • It is indeed sad that there are fewer men and women who served in the US military during WWII each day. There are fewer and fewer retired soldiers, sailors and Marines who have thanked Truman for saving their lives.

    I see virtually no difference between the results of the atomic bombs and the results of the massive carpet bombings with incendiary bombs that turned other Japanese cities into wastelands. All of those bombings killed civilians – women, children and the elderly.

    The Military History Channel frequently reruns “The Last Days of World War II”, which was an excellent miniseries when the History Channel ran it in 2005. Check out the carnage in the Philippines. The retreating Japanese Army killed countless Filipino civilians. Who weeps for them?

    Given Imperial Japan’s treatment of Chinese civilians and Filipinos, to mention just two countries, I have a great amount of difficulty generating any sympathy for Japan.

    Fact – Imperial Japan was the enemy of the USA.
    Fact – Imperial Japan had an Army of 2 million men in Manchuria.
    Fact – Imperial Japan was run by warlords to whom death was preferable to surrender.

    Truman did what he had to do and countless American lives were saved. Japan surrendered and the war was over. Case closed.

  • Zippy
    They..rape and bombing military… are not equal. If you intend to bomb military and warn civilians to leave, your act is not equivalent to rape but is bombing military. If civilians stay after a warning, they are in effect acting as human shields in a manipulative capacity that is military itself. All this is true if the warning gave ample time so that even the elderly could flee and the warning completely covered all nooks and crannies of where people lived. If it lacked that patience and completeness, that is a darker matter.

  • Bill-
    five days. PLUS radio messages.

  • Bill Bannon:

    The claim that nuking a civilian city is not intrinsically immoral, and thus is dissimilar to rape, is precisely the question-begging that the comparison is designed to illustrate. None of the arguments in favor of the moral liciety of the Bomb work if nuking a civilian city is intrinsically immoral. That is why all the arguments in favor of the liciety of Hiroshima and Nagasaki beg the question on the point.

    At the very least, supporters of Truman’s decision should be explicit that they are simply assuming that nuking a civilian city is not intrinsically immoral; and that because they are making that assumption there is no possibility for common ground or persuasion.

  • Hindsight is 20 20. The Japanese cities were warned. Leaflets were dropped for two weeks before the “BOMB”. Does anybody want America to apologize for the Batan Death March, or Pearl Harbor?

    “All the talk of consequences, leaflets, and such is question begging: it assumes that nuking a civilian city is not, like rape, intrinsically immoral.”

    It was incumbent for the decent citizens of Japan to stop their country from the evil it was perpetrating on the world. The citizens of Japan carried bloodguilt, visited on them by their country and only God knows their innocence. The BOMB cannot be called “intrinsically immoral” because the penalty for bloodguilt is death. Three men rob a gas station. One man kills the attendant. All three are guilty of the homicide. Bloodguilt. Consent to the crime.

  • Begging the question again, Zippy. A “civilian city” isn’t a major shipbuilding city and a large military port (cut and paste from here, previously linked)

    A “civilian city” doesn’t have a high concentration of troops, military facilities and military factories that had not yet been subject to significant damage. (cut and paste from here, previously linked)

    Of course, a “civilian city” doesn’t exist. There are cities that have nothing but civilians, there are cities that have nothing but military and their facilities. But, just like your false statement that they were trying to kill civilians, you keep claiming it.

  • ” just in the same way that a land invasion would be permissible” A land invasion would have cost hundreds of thousands of American lives, lives who were innocent of bloodlust and /or aggression. Without the BOMB the Japanese would be dancing on American graves.

  • You’re also ignoring that the class of “civilian” for the Japanese is far more limited than you’ve acknowledged.

  • Zippy
    Nuking civilians not city structures is immoral. Nuking a civilan city that civilians should have left is equivalent to nuking empty buildings. Actually military personel could have left after the warning also. The warning should have stated the five days they allowed in fact but didn’t. That would have helped those worrying about elders. The Geneva Accords did not require forces to respect human shields which is what any of us become if we do not follow such a warning in leaflet form in some future hypothetical war. It was awful. No question. But armies and leaders must proceed after they have urged civilians to leave and they do not.

  • The thing it most reminds me of is the cases I know of where terrorists open fire on military members over seas, and when they kill the guy with the gun, it’s reported as a civilian death.

  • I think the whole issue in all this for individuals like Zippy is the word “nuclear,” but I could be wrong. Basically, people like this don’t want overwhelming force to be in the hands of the good guys, and yes, we were the good guys. (I would like to think we still are.)

    And again, today when it is becoming possible to have an effective defense strategy against the nuclear missiles of other nations, the same people who decry the Truman decision are the very ones to now side with Vladimir Putin against a missile shield.

    I am certainly not glad that Truman decided to use nuclear weapons, but I would have been far less glad were history to have recorded mass starvation and massacre of untold millions of civilians had the nuclear weapons not been used.

    And yes, Zippy, if I had been ordered to launch a nuclear weapon from the torpedo room on my old submarine during the Cold War, then with fear and trembling I would have done so. We are the good guys.

  • Paul: the (non-nuclear) firebombings of Tokyo, Dresden, etc were also intrinsically immoral.

    Am I really the only person in this discussion who sees a teensy problem with the putative moral equivalence of nuking empty buildings and nuking women (including pregnant women with their unborn babies) and children?

    Don’t forget to tip your waitresses.

  • Am I really the only person in this discussion who sees a teensy problem with the putative moral equivalence of nuking empty buildings and nuking women (including pregnant women with their unborn babies) and children?

    … YOU are the one that’s making that argument up to now with all the talk of civilian cities, and now you’re saying you’ve got a problem with it?

    Good grief.

  • Zippy, here is a Hypothetical Cold War Scenario that never played out but could have:

    USS Jacksonville SSN-699 is submerged on patrol off the coast of Murmansk, Russia in the Artic Ocean circa 1982. Yuri Andropov initiates a full scale tank attack against Western Europe in fears of Reagan’s installation of Pershing missiles in West Germany. We are ordered to fire our nuclear Subrocs onto the Soviet Naval Port of Murmansk. We will kill hundreds of thousands if not more civilians as well as destroy an important Soviet Naval Base. We will also be detected after the first launch and subsequently destroyed. I slide the Subroc into the torpedo tube, flood the tube, equalize pressure and when given the order, press the launch button. Murmansk dies minutes later. Our submarine is hit by a counter-attack from a Soviet submarine and implodes. All hands aboard are lost. Do I go to hell for my “immoral” action?

  • One other question, Zippy. When God ordered the children of Israel to slay every single pagan in the cities of Canaan which they conquered – men, women (pregnant or otherwise) and children – was God immoral?

    War is hell. Period. And I am thankful to God that we were all spared the scenario in my previous comment.

  • Nuking a civilan city that civilians should have left is equivalent to nuking empty buildings.

    Anyone else gonna challenge this? Beuller?

  • So you’re admitting that you lied about what someone else said?

    You claimed that someone was arguing empty buildings were the same as “nuking women and children”. That, as your own out-of-context quote shows, is not what he said.

    In context:
    Nuking civilians not city structures is immoral. Nuking a civilan city that civilians should have left is equivalent to nuking empty buildings. … The Geneva Accords did not require forces to respect human shields which is what any of us become if we do not follow such a warning in leaflet form in some future hypothetical war.

    If you throw yourself in front of a military target, you are not a bystander.

    You still haven’t dealt with the issue that “women and children” were among their military sources, but that’s asking a bit much.

  • I’ll take that as a “no”.

    Now I’m outta here.

  • You didn’t answer anyone else’s questions, Zippy, so why should you expect yours answered? But I’ll ask again just in case you hang around:

    Was God immoral for ordering the execution of every single man, woman and children in the pagan cities of Canaan?

    The answer of course is no. So why was Truman immoral for making a decision that SAVED countless millions of men, women and children?

  • The most up-to-date complete, yet concise rendering of our Catholic social doctrine is the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church- which is authoritative- as Archbishop Chaput has confirmed if that helps. I know many here would like to rely on their own wits and ability to reason things out- which is why God intended us to have a Church led by Apostolic Authority, and not military historians or patriots of one particular nation, or any tom, dick or harry parish priest making personal judgement calls that are simply out of his league. I have no truck with those brothers/sisters in Christ who would turn weapons of mass destruction on “entire cities”- here’s why:

    509. Arms of mass destruction — whether biological, chemical or nuclear — represent a particularly serious threat. Those who possess them have an enormous responsibility before God and all of humanity.[1071] The principle of the non-proliferation of nuclear arms, together with measures of nuclear disarmament and the prohibition of nuclear tests, are intimately interconnected objectives that must be met as soon as possible by means of effective controls at the international level.[1072] The ban on the development, production, stockpiling and use of chemical and biological weapons as well as the provisions that require their destruction, complete the international regulatory norms aimed at banning such baleful weapons,[1073] the use of which is explicitly condemned by the Magisterium: “Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation”.[1074]

  • Some say that it was the (immoral, unsporstman-like) demand for unconditional surrender that made the Japanese war-criminals obdurate in pursuing a war that they had already lost. Both FDR and Churchill who had agreed on this, had the prior experience of the monumental blunder the Allies had committed in allowing the Kaiser’s Army to return home to Germany claiming that they had been undefeated in the field. That it was the weak politicians and Jews who had stabbed them in the back – the Dolchloss legend that Hitler made a big play of in his rise to power. Whereas in reality by this time, the commanders Foch, Haig and Pershing were itching to scourge the Hun on his home grounds. It is a given that had the Japanese military been spared the humiliation of total surrender, madmen inspired by Anami and Tojo would have hung the likes of Prince Konoe in the marketplaces or wherever it is that the Japanese made examples of so-called traitors and cowards. Utter humiliation of the Japanese warriors was a necessity in order that future generations were spared further bloodshed.

  • Hang in there Zippy! No, you’re not the only one. I’m glad your opponents are not speaking for the Magisterium of the Church–we’d be in trouble if they were. The pro-aborts would have a field day with their logic.

  • Furthermore Zippy, I’m not sure how productive it is to continue an argument with someone who refers to a person who’s canonization process is underway a “complete idiot”. Humility is probably not a virtue he possesses in abundance.

  • I think there is an overreliance on the “We warned them with leaflets and radio messages” card here. Propaganda is all about confusing the enemy- who got these messages? How would the people have filtered these messages? What was known about nuclear bombs- if that was even part of the warning? Does the dropping of leaflets then certify that whatever weapon of mass destruction being dropped on an entire city is not really an entire city anymore- just a bunch of empty buildings and abandoned homes?

  • Ivan, when it comes to human moral choices, nothing is a “given”–unless, of course, you claim omniscience (after reading this thread, I’m left wondering if there are more than three persons in the Holy Trinity).

  • Paul, with all due respect, there may be a wee bit of difference between God and Truman.

  • A few days ago, hubby and I were on an “end of the world” flick kick, and we ended up watching “The Day After” and “Threads” back to back. Those of you who were around in the 1980s may remember the first movie — a blockbuster and highly controversial TV event, in which Lawrence, Kansas, gets blown off the face of the earth by Soviet missiles. Less well known is “Threads,” a British production depicting in even more grim and unrelenting detail the aftermath of an all-out nuclear attack on England over a period of 13 years — complete with nuclear winter, massive crop failure and resultant famine, social chaos, and an eventual reversion to the population level and living conditions of the Middle Ages, more or less.
    While both movies may seem dated today, when they were made, they depicted a type of warfare between the US and USSR that was a possibility, and remained so right up to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
    Moreover, over time the early emphasis on preparing for nuclear war with bomb drills, fallout shelters, etc. gave way to a belief that all such preparations were useless and in fact increased the risk of war by making people believe it was survivable. “The Day After” and “Threads” both portrayed life after full scale nuclear war as so horrific that nothing could possibly justify it and no one would want to survive it.
    I suspect that during the Cold War era especially, there was a great fear that any endorsement whatsoever of Truman’s action in dropping the Bomb on Japan (even though at the time, no other country had the Bomb, and it was among the least bad of a host of ghastly alternatives) implied endorsement of future nuclear weapons use, with all the horrors that would accompany it. And that, more than anything else, is what I suspect drives the “inane American self flagellation” over Hiroshima even to this day.

  • “Was God immoral for ordering the execution of every single man, woman and children in the pagan cities of Canaan?”

    I know you asked Zippy but I’ll tackle that question. Catholic biblical scholarship doesn’t take a fundamentalist or literalist approach to Scripture in all cases, and bears in mind that the books of the Bible, while divinely inspired, are ALSO products of the culture in which they originated and of the people who wrote them.

    It’s possible — and I don’t believe you have to be a heretical far-leftist to come to this conclusion — that the passages in which God “orders the execution” of entire pagan populations down to children and babies, reflect what the people of Israel BELIEVED God wanted them to do, based on their (imperfect) understanding of Him, and on their zeal to purge idolatry and false worship from the Promised Land. They knew He demanded total loyalty and did not want them being tempted to worship false gods. That much was true; whether their subsequent actions were in perfect accordance with God’s will is another story.

  • Miss Anscombe, on of the most eminent philosophers of the last century and a Catholic observed:

    “The policy of obliterating cities was adopted by the Allies in the last war; they need not have taken that step, and it was taken largely out of a villainous hatred, and as corollary to the policy, now universally denigrated, of seeking “unconditional surrender”. (That policy itself was visibly wicked, and could be and was judged so at the time; it is not surprising that it led to disastrous consequences, even if no one was clever and detached enough to foresee this at the time.)”

    In 1939, she had produce a pamphlet, “The Justice of the Present War Examined,” in which she had made precisely this point: the British war aims were so vague (even though the policy of unconditional surrender had not then been made explicit) as not to comply with the Just War requirement of a Just Aim.

  • “Paul, with all due respect, there may be a wee bit of difference between God and Truman.”

    And there may be a wee bit of difference Gerard between Truman and his critics. He actually had to make a decsion in a situation where, no matter what he chose, large numbers of people would die. He had all the responsibility. His critics on the other hand are free from responsibility and can say any damn thing they please about a situation they are often bone ignorant about.

  • “Was God immoral for ordering the execution of every single man, woman and children in the pagan cities of Canaan?”

    One always has to be careful when determining morality based upon events in the Old Testament, where even the best of individuals, David for example, have huge moral failings. Additionally, what is licit for God, the Creator of Everything, is not licit for Man, as the story of the flood would indicate. A better argument in this area is actually from siege warfare in the Middle Ages, where armies, papal and otherwise, would starve cities into submission. Such practices never received papal condemantion so far as I know, although the consequences to civilians within the city were usually dreadful.

  • “Miss Anscombe, on of the most eminent philosophers of the last century and a Catholic observed:”

    Although Miss Anscombe was an interesting philosopher, and a dedicated foe to abortion, as the above quoted passage indicates, as a historian she was an idiot. A compromise peace with Hitler or Hirohito would merely have led to another World War in just a few years. These were not regimes that you compromised with, but rather criminal enterprises that had to be overthrown and a complete new start made in Germany and Japan. Like most true ideologues, Miss Anscombe lived in a world her mind created, and it bore very little resemblance to the one that the rest of us are forced to inhabit.

  • I will be on my way to Springfield today with my family on our annual “pilgrimage” to the Abraham Lincoln Museum and the Lincoln Tomb, where we always say a few prayers for the repose of the souls of Mr. Lincoln and his family. As a result I will not be around to keep watch on this thread, and I will address any comments directed towards me tomorrow.

  • “Propaganda is all about confusing the enemy- who got these messages?”

    Over five million of the leaflets were dropped by air over the 33 cities named Tim. The radio broadcasts after Hiroshima were accessible to viturally any Japanese who had a radio or a crystal set. This of course was on top of the Potsdam Declaration which was the final attempt to cause Japan to surrender prior to the use of bombs. The final sentence is very relevant:

    “1) We-the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, representing the hundreds of millions of our countrymen, have conferred and agree that Japan shall be given an opportunity to end this war.

    (2) The prodigious land, sea and air forces of the United States, the British Empire and of China, many times reinforced by their armies and air fleets from the west, are poised to strike the final blows upon Japan. This military power is sustained and inspired by the determination of all the Allied Nations to prosecute the war against Japan until she ceases to resist.

    (3) The result of the futile and senseless German resistance to the might of the aroused free peoples of the world stands forth in awful clarity as an example to the people of Japan. The might that now converges on Japan is immeasurably greater than that which, when applied to the resisting Nazis, necessarily laid waste to the lands, the industry and the method of life of the whole German people. The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.

    (4) The time has come for Japan to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought the Empire of Japan to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason.

    (5) Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay.

    (6) There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people of Japan into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world.

    (7) Until such a new order is established and until there is convincing proof that Japan’s war-making power is destroyed, points in Japanese territory to be designated by the Allies shall be occupied to secure the achievement of the basic objectives we are here setting forth.

    (8) The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.

    (9) The Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.

    (10) We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners. The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established.

    (11) Japan shall be permitted to maintain such industries as will sustain her economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, but not those which would enable her to re-arm for war. To this end, access to, as distinguished from control of, raw materials shall be permitted. Eventual Japanese participation in world trade relations shall be permitted.

    (12) The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government.

    (13) We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction. ”

    Truman kept every word of the Declaration, fortunately for the Japanese in regard to 9-12. Few nations in the history of the world, after completely conquering a nation following a bloody war, have imposed a milder and more beneficial peace than did the US on the Empire of Japan.

  • “The policy of obliterating cities was adopted by the Allies in the last war; they need not have taken that step, and it was taken largely out of a villainous hatred, and as corollary to the policy, now universally denigrated, of seeking “unconditional surrender”. (That policy itself was visibly wicked, and could be and was judged so at the time; it is not surprising that it led to disastrous consequences, even if no one was clever and detached enough to foresee this at the time.)”

    Which makes one conclude that much of what was done to defeat the Nazi’s and Japanese (and in turn end great evil) was evil itself.

    One wonders what National Socialism would look like today, seventy years after conquering most of Europe.

  • “One wonders what National Socialism would look like today, seventy years after conquering most of Europe.”

    I think Churchill nailed that Phillip:

    “But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. “

  • “A few days ago, hubby and I were on an “end of the world” flick kick,”

    If that mood strikes you and your spouse again Elaine, I would recommend Failsafe (1964). Absolutely chilling, and very realistic.

  • @ Elaine,

    When the Bible talks about events like Creation or the Flood in non-scientific terms (after all, the Bible is not a science text book), then taking a non-scientific interpretation is OK. When the Bible is talking about orders that God gave the Israelites, then those orders are exactly as written.

    Did God say “Let there be light”? You betcha – and the Big Bang occurred.

    Did God sat, “Kill them all”? You betcha – and that’s what He meant.

    I don’t subscribe to this false, liberal notion that what’s said isn’t what it means, and I won’t be accused of being a Fundamentalist simply because I believe that God’s Word is – well, God’s Word.

    BTW, Dr. Hugh Ross makes an excellent point of correlating the six day “mythical” Creation account with scientific observations of a 13.73 billion year old universe at his Reasons to Believe Institute. You’ll have to hunt for it here:

    http://www.reasons.org/

    If the Bible can be demonstrated correct in that regard, then why not with respect to God’s orders to the Israelites? Just because the order is uncomfortable and doesn’t sit well with our modern notions of what morality should be? God destroyed entire cities- men, women and children – before (Sodom and Gomorrah come to mind – perhaps the first nuclear strike ever).

  • Gerard, the phrase “It is a given” is perhaps too strong in the context, I substitute it instead with the phrase “As certain as it is possible to be in human affairs” .

  • Thank you Tim Shipe. I notice no one has refuted either the double effect principles I laid out earlier, and no one has explained how a Catholic can ignore the clearly stated teaching quoted by Tim: “Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation”.[1074]

    All the comments about “the enemy was really evil,” “Truman had a tough choice”, “more people would have died if another tactic had been used” are entirely beside the point and are simply consequentialist errors.

    The point is, we’re not entitled to simply weigh which tactic in the aggregate might cause less death and annoint that one as the correct and moral choice. HOW the deaths occur (indiscriminate vs. limiting collateral damage) and WHO the dead are (comatants vs. non-combatants) matter in making a moral assessment of the means chosen.

  • I notice no one has refuted either the double effect principles I laid out earlier, and no one has explained how a Catholic can ignore the clearly stated teaching quoted by Tim: “Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation”

    Then you’re clearly not paying attention, and I have a hard time seeing how explaining it again would do any good. Still, I’ll do it again.

    It has been shown, multiple times, that they took steps within the abilities at that time to GET THE POPULATION OUT. No matter how many times you insist that they didn’t really mean to try to get people out, you haven’t shown otherwise.

    This, in particular, is a golden example of how this discussion is going:
    “Propaganda is all about confusing the enemy- who got these messages?”

    Finally, it admits that there were warnings– but declares them “propaganda,” asks a question about them that has been answered MULTIPLE times (there are links to the specific warnings dropped on the nuked cities, and in the first link to those I mentioned they had warned the cities they’d been hitting with fire-bombs. A little research would have told you they warned all the cities on the target list– very important, since bombing Japan is not easy. They had to change targets often.

    Instead, those of you so glad to wrap yourselves in righteousness are, at best, willfully ignoring the provided facts and claiming things you have no evidence for, then attacking strawmen that live in your imaginary world with abandon.

    How very holy of you.

  • I agree, Tom. But the objective moral analysis notwithstanding, the understood consequences are relevant when assessing subjective culpability. I stand by my earlier statement: “[F]or Truman to have made any other decision would have required non only rare moral insight, but even rarer moral courage.” Catholic combox contributors occasionally demonstrate keen insights, but few of us have had to demonstrate true moral courage. While I agree that Truman’s decision was morally deficient, I would not dream of judging the man. I probably would have made the same decision. As I wrote earlier: “We are weak, and our faith imperfect. It is good that God is loving and merciful. I’m counting on that — it is my salvation strategy.

  • One of the leaflets read:

    “Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America’s humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives. America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace which America will bring will free the people from the oppression of the military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan. You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders who will end the war. We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked but some or all of them will be, so heed this warning and evacuate these cities immediately”

    As any lawyer should know, this looks more like a CYA or propaganda than “evidence” of our pure intentions (very Stalinesque – “we are here to free the oppressed!”). “I know my product was shabby and dangerous, but dang it, I put a warning on the label!” (and where, exactly, were these people supposed to go?)

    As for the “they were all combatants” arguments, the exact same argument could be made for the US. How many of our “civilians” own guns, and how many have stated they would resist an invasion to the death? How many are involved in our various war efforts (employed by Halliburton or Lockheed or others in the weapons industry, those in the financial sector helping finance the war, etc. etc.). How many cities do not contain militarily strategic assets (ports, refineries, steel mills, chemical plants, laboratories, manufacturing sights, “HQ’s” for military suppliers, etc.)? How easy it is to blur the line?

    And no, just because I see the immorality of the decision does not mean I think Truman a monster or that his personal guilt has no mitigating circumstances (a separate question), nor do I think the anti-ballistic missile shield is necessarily immoral.

  • Paul,
    I agree with you that the dooms were ordered by God ( Pope Benedict does not…cf Verbum Domini sect.42). But the reason they are exceptions in all of history is because God ordered them verbally and intimately to the Jews and He thus made the Jews his arm so to speak. Even present day Jews do not claim that God thus speaks to them now in war matters.
    Wisdom chapter 12 which is only in the Catholic canon of the Bible gives a fuller explanation of the dooms…ie that God first “punished them little by little that they may have space for repentance”. When they did not stop child sacrifice and cannibalism and idolatry after centuries of lighter punishments, only then did God order the dooms by Israel. Also it’s intent was to protect pre grace Jews from imbibing the sins of those people. Israel didn’t really completely carry out such dooms therefore she commensurately did centuries of flirting with Baal worship of the residue of those tribes which is why God eventually exiled both the north and the south kingdoms…the north permanently because they added to Baal worship the sin of Jeroboam which was the worship of two golden calfs…one at Dan and one at Bethel.

    The doom principle only obtains if God intimately and verbally makes a nation his punishing
    arm to punish and to remove a people as a source of overwhelming temptation. The Church is saying that that will not happen after the closing of the Bible partly because Christ voided overwhelming temptations in reducing satan’s power for all men.

  • …some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes.

    This is about as close to an admission as you can get that the targeting was to be indiscriminate – we know there are military targets in the city, so we are going to destroy the whole city. Tough nuts.

  • Finally! Some sort of response to actual points!

    1) Even if you think it looks like a CYA, it was issued. With time to run. Perhaps, given the list of targets on the back, they could have gone to a city that wasn’t listed. (From memory, their gov’t tended to kill anyone who tried, but we didn’t know that for a very long time. The Japanese were awful picky about desertion.)

    For the “freeing the oppressed” sneer you offer… might want to brush up on what Japan was like. Oppressed isn’t even a start. You can be cynical all you like, and malign others, but that doesn’t give it any more weight than your own ill-belief. I linked this earlier to give an idea of the culture involved.

    2) No, the US did not conscript children to throw themselves under tanks with bombs.
    No, the US did not conscript almost the entire adult population, including wanting to put them in uniform but having to settle for an official patch.
    An insurrection is not a military force, although you could make the argument that an actual militia is (obviously) a military target, the ability to eventually form one (guns) isn’t an actual force.

    A lot of towns and cities have nothing military or direct supplier in them, if you get away from the Ginormo Blobs on the coast. Your belief that it is easy to blur the line has no bearing when the actual facts of the case are there where actual military facilities and factories.

  • This is about as close to an admission as you can get that the targeting was to be indiscriminate – we know there are military targets in the city, so we are going to destroy the whole city. Tough nuts.

    That would be true today— not when you’ve got a one in ten chance of hitting what you aimed for, assuming that it’s clear enough to drop at all. Darn those Japanese, not painting huge “THIS IS THE RIGHT FACTORY” signs up top of buildings and letting the pilots go low’n’slow enough to hit only them, without the wind changing where the bomb lands.

    I don’t think I can convey how very different it is to have the self-steering stuff we have today vs explosive bricks. I do know it is not valid to fault someone for not using technology that didn’t exist.

  • “Nuking a civilan city that civilians should have left is equivalent to nuking empty buildings.

    Anyone else gonna challenge this? Beuller?”

    A civilian by definition is a person who is civil. Those enabling unjust aggression are not non-combatants but collateral damage for their bloodlust and bloodguilt of their own choosing. World War II was their war. Are you, Zippy on their side? You must choose.

  • I am really glad that during the Cold War, the various Presidents then in Office (even nit wit Carter) did not subscribe to some of the arm-chair quarterbacking being presented here.

    Sodom and Gommorah – mass destruction – perhaps the first nuclear strike ever.

  • It was hard to decide which I enjoyed more: Zippy’s takedowns of this elaborate apologetic for abortion by nuke or Tom McKenna’s desperate attempts to distance himself from me while ably defending the Church’s teaching on consequentialism.

    I also enjoyed the standard Stupid Dissenter’s Trick of finding some academic to say, “Ignore the Magisterium and listen to me tell you what your itching ears want to hear.” As persuasive as Catholics for a Free Choice appealing to Dan Maguire.

    Hilarious, for those of us who enjoy black humor. cmatt’s right. Apologetics for the deliberate incineration fo Japanese children in their beds are the right’s form of abortion agitprop. I am embarrassed for you.

  • Because . . . it would have been morally acceptabe to kill an additional 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 American and Japanese GI’s, plus untolled Japanese civilians that would have committed suicide, as they had at Saipan.

    Attack – Siegfried Sassoon:
    At dawn the ridge emerges massed and dun
    In the wild purple of the glowering sun,
    Smouldering through spouts of drifting smoke that shroud
    The menacing scarred slope; and, one by one,
    Tanks creep and topple forward to the wire.
    The barrage roars and lifts. Then, clumsily bowed
    With bombs and guns and shovels and battle-gear,
    Men jostle and climb to, meet the bristling fire.
    Lines of grey, muttering faces, masked with fear,
    They leave their trenches, going over the top,
    While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists,
    And hope, with furtive eyes and grappling fists,
    Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop!

    Because . . . The lives of 250,000 civilians (that refused to evacuate) were worth more than 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 conscripts.

    MS: Don’t waste any dudgeon on me. I am not worthy.

  • I don’t see how a blockade is more moral (please note that I am *not* arguing strikes against civilian targets *are*).

    We know Japan was (and still is not) self-sufficient in foodstuffs. A few weeks supply at most on the Home Islands.

    We know that the military will take priority with respect to food.

    We’re the ones preventing merchantmen from bringing in the necessary food imports to feed civilians.

    Our planes, ships and subs are exterminating the merchant shipping and stopping the imports. This induced starvation is intentional–a feature, not a bug.

    It is directly intended to force a surrender.

    But we are morally inculpable for this act, one which rightly makes Stalin as one of history’s monsters.

    Because it’s those crazy Japanese militarists’ fault for not surrendering. Even though we can’t take their mindset into account in evaluating the use of the bombs. It sounds, bleakly, like one of those older brother bullying games, only writ onto a canvas of human suffering: “Why are you starving yourself? Why are you starving yourself? Stop starving yourself!”

    I am simply not getting it.

  • Donald McClary

    I really do believe that Miss Anscombe’s Modern Moral Philosophy [Philosophy 33, No. 124 (January 1958)] contains one of the most important and original contributions to moral philosophy produced in English in the last century. Amongst other things, it gave us the term “consequentialist.”

    She rightly diagnoses the root of the consequentialist position as being the belief that we are, in all cases, responsible for the foreseen but unintended consequences of our actions. It is this, ultimately, that creates Truman’s supposed moral dilemma.

    Obviously, if a Christian statesman refuses to go on television and recite the shahada, which would be an act of apostasy, he is not responsible for the deaths that result from terrorists carrying out their threat to explode a nuclear device in a populous city, if he refuses.

  • Allow me to align myself with Tom in distancing himself from Mark. I try to distance myself from arrogance generally. There is no sense in going out of one’s way to agree with folks who relish being disagreeable. And when those disagreeable folks display habitual arrogance, they render themselves unsufferable, especially when they are right, which is about as often as most folks. But happy you are enjoying yourself Mark. No doubt Zippy is too.

  • Dale, I agree.
    And I sympathize with the consequentialists, I do. Especially in extreme cases, and this was one. But they are wrong in evaluating the morality of a decision or act by initial reference to its consequences. This is usually (I certainly hope) a forgiveable moral error, but it is an error nonetheless.

  • The debate about the atomic bombings hinges upon two problems: victory and honor. Catholics need more than victory: we need honor, in the sense of acting honorably in the eyes of God. We teach our children that “it isn’t whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game”, and we scold them for cheating. Victory isn’t everything.

    Sometimes you have to lose to win.

    Jesus Christ shows us this lesson most effectively.

  • “Gee Zippy, then perhaps you could explain how the Popes supported the balance of terror all those years during the Cold War, if the use of nuclear weapons against cities is always immoral?”

    Because the bishops’ report on the issue goes on to clarify that the conditions for actual use of a nuclear bomb, even so enumerated, simply do not apply in the real world (specifically the ability to control and direct the damage done by the bomb), and that therefore no ACTUAL use of the bomb is ever justified, even if the keeping of nuclear weapons so as to create what they referred to as “a centimeter of doubt” was necessary to preserve the balance of terror. The Church never, ever came out in favor of using atomic weapons to annihilate civilian populations under any circumstances.

  • Father Miscamble is an historian, and this is demonstrated in his analysis, which not only skillfully explicates Truman’s horrible predicament but also expertly debunks the nonsense about other less costly options. But Father Miscamble is not a moral theologian, and this is revealed in his failure to properly address the morality of indiscriminately destroying an entire city — something our Catholic Catechism addresses in crystal clear language:

    CCC 2314 “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.”

    But for the unfortunate concluding rhetorical question, I could honestly say I agreed with 100% of the featured video.

  • Mike:

    Notice what your above cited CCC quote (which originally appears in Guadium et Spes) DOESN’T say. What it doesn’t say is “even if the line between combatant and non-combatant has been erased” (as it clearly was in Japan at the time). And that’s because the Church couldn’t do so without repudiating her own teaching.

  • Greg,
    I do not see why a qualification addressing the circumstance you describe (substantially all inhabitants are combatants) repudiates Church teaching. In fact, even without such a qualification I think one can fairly argue that in such a case the destruction would not be “indiscriminate” within a fair and proper understanding of the term. That said, I am not remotely convinced that such a line was erased in this case (or is ever really erasable as a practical matter), even if I do appreciate your point. And yes, I am well aware of Japan’s conscription and related practices. That is one reason why I (unlike Shea and others) admit to the possiblity of being wrong. Agreement on principles is one thing. Applying them to facts is something else altogether. Facts can be murky even when rules are clear. The distinction between a combatant and non-combatant admittedly may not always be obvious in a simple binary sense. Truman deserves some charity here, I readily concede.

  • “I do not see why a qualification addressing the circumstance you describe (substantially all inhabitants are combatants) repudiates Church teaching. In fact, even without such a qualification I think one can fairly argue that in such a case the destruction would not be “indiscriminate” within a fair and proper understanding of the term.”

    My point exactly.

    “That is one reason why I (unlike Shea and others) admit to the possiblity of being wrong. Agreement on principles is one thing. Applying them to facts is something else altogether. Facts can be murky even when rules are clear. The distinction between a combatant and non-combatant admittedly may not always be obvious in a simple binary sense. Truman deserves some charity here, I readily concede.”

    Although we may disagree as to whether the situation in Japan qualifies for the complete erasure of the line between combatant and non-combatant, I do appreciate your admitting the possiblity of the divergent view. If more Catholics expressed their disagreements this way. there wouldn’t be so much psuedo-Catholic toxic waste in teh Catholic blogosphere on subjects of this nature.

  • I don’t see how a blockade is more moral (please note that I am *not* arguing strikes against civilian targets *are*).”

    I don’t think it is. I think the Vatican has even weighed in on this. They argue that it is immoral if it impacts civilians as opposed to those leaders the blockade is intended to affect.

  • 20,000 Koreans killed at Hiroshima: combatants (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki#CITEREFGruhl2007)

    Nobody knows how many infants and pregnant women were killed. But rest assured, they were all combatants.

    You guys think you are different from the pro-aborts. But you just disagree with them about what circumstances justify abortion.

  • You guys think you are different from the pro-aborts. But you just disagree with them about what circumstances justify abortion.

    I can see why your Mark Shea’s favorite. You like to throw out pithy, sneering, self-congratulatory little comments, confident in your disdain for anybody who disagrees with you.

    For the record, my personal feelings most closely mirror Mike’s of all the people who have commented here. Note that he, Tom, and others actually attempt to engage in dialogue. I know that such an activity is beneath your lofty intellect – what, with it being easier to just dismiss all other viewpoints as being unworthy of any but sneering condescension.

  • Yeah, I don’t see this as clear cut as abortion, indeed, only recently have I come around on this issue, primarily because of my education in Theology which taught me about double effect, and the passages already cited from Magisterial sources which unambiguously declare wholesale destruction such as that involved in Hiroshima/Nagasaki to be morally impermissible.

    I think the bottom line is that probably a land invasion would have been the best moral option in that it would have resulted in the deaths only of combatants (except for the genuinely collateral casualties that all war produces–but which would not be directly intended). Would this have cost lots of American lives? Undoubtedly. But as much as I cherish our military, it exists to do this job, and I don’t believe it’s moral to avoid troop losses by swapping out killing of large numbers of civilians in order to get the enemy to knuckle under. That strikes me as somewhat the cowardly path. It strikes the Church as morally impermissible.

    And while proportionate consequences sometimes are a valid factor in the moral equation (such as in whether to inflict pain–not an intrinsic evil– on an enemy to extract actionable intelligence), no level of good consequences can make an intrinsically evil act good, such as direct killing of innocent lives in order to extract unconditional surrender.

  • The idea that the unborn children and infants killed at Hiroshima were combatants is an idea which is in fact beneath contempt. I confess that I do treat things as what they are.

  • Hey Zippy, I thought you were outta here.

  • I can’t help but thinking that Shea’s comment ought to have been preceded by a leaflet drop.

  • But they are wrong in evaluating the morality of a decision or act by initial reference to its consequences.

    Again, not an adept of this material at all. Would tend to assume, however, that the agents we are evaluating live in space and time and given to certain regularities both natural and social.

    It was hard to decide which I enjoyed more:

    You have spent about a decade of your life disfiguring the discussions you enter as a matter of routine. Perhaps you might do yourself and everyone else a favor and get a normal job.

  • Back from Springfield and I will have a write up about the trip later this week. I find quite a few of the contributions in this thread to be serious grapplings with the moral questions involved. Congrats, as usual, to Mike Petrik, and to Paul Zummo, Paul Primavera, Foxfier, Nate, Tom Mckenna, Art, Greg Mockeridge, MPS, Dale Price, Phillip, Mary DeVoe, Bill Bannon, Elaine, Tim, Anzlyne, WK and TShaw. I apologize for any worthy contributions I have overlooked. A special thank you to Mark Shea and Zippy for giving us a hilarious sample of their Pharisees-R-Us tag team routine that has made them so beloved throughout Saint Blogs. More comments tomorrow after I have rested up from today’s festivities.

  • I keep getting asked to come back, Greg. I’m not sure why: contemptible ideas are like fish in a barrel in this thread.

  • I was going to vent in GI vernacular, but Mac will cut me off.

    If Zippy and MS had their way in 1945, my uncle, and an additional 6,000,000 Americans and Japanese soldiers and civilians likely would have unnecessarily died.

    The purpose of the missions was to immediately end the war, not to kill babies or civilians, born or unborn.

    Here’s my “pithy, sneering, self-congratulatory little” vulgate ventatotum for your two sanctimonious savants’ opinions: Spucatum tauri.

  • Zippy,
    Under your paradigm though, an evil army like North Korea need only bring their infants in battle as they invade a country like South Korea, and no one could shoot at them because of the babies. Iraq could have brought their babies while invading Kuwait and no good person could shoot at them.
    I live under threat by a ghetto thug with whom I fought almost to the point of his death on the street two years ago. Since he implied that he’d return with a pistol, I sleep with a gun when I work on that particular house in an edgy neighborhood of middle class and poor in close
    proximity. If he enters the house at night ( many motion detectors) with a glock and carrying an infant in your paradigm, I would still shoot him even though he would drop the infant to its hurt.
    Would I shoot through the infant if he draped it to cover his whole torso and head while he fired at me? That is a damn good question…but since he lacks evil creativity, it won’t happen. Would I check with the CDF office in Rome? No. No high clergy in Rome for the past twenty years protected Catholic boys from priests. Why would I want their insights into double effect as it involves protection questions?

  • The ends don’t justify the means. This is such a simple principle, and yet it flies out the window every year on the anniversaries.

    I confess I will never understand why “But it stopped the war and prevented other, possibly worse casualties!” is ever put forth as a defense, because it cannot be a defense until *after* it has been shown that indiscriminate and deliberate killing of civilians is *not* an intrinsic evil. And since almost everyone who condemns the bombings does so using the argument that indiscriminate and deliberate killing of civilians *is* an intrinsic evil, not that it is sometimes okay but wasn’t in this case, to argue on the basis that the bombing had good results is to miss the point entirely.

    If you can’t argue purely on the question of whether the bombing did or did not represent an intrinsic evil, regardless of whether its material effects were on balance good, you have no business taking part in this debate.

  • “Because the bishops’ report on the issue”

    Pope John Paull II disagrees with you and the US bishops 1983 pastoral Sage:

    “In current conditions ‘deterrence’ based on balance, certainly not as an end in itself but as a step on the way toward a progressive disarmament, may still be judged morally acceptable. Nonetheless in order to ensure peace, it is indispensable not to be satisfied with this minimum which is always susceptible to the real danger of explosion.” Pope John Paul II, Message to the UN Special Session (1982)

    Let us think this through. Nuclear deterrence was moral. Nuclear deterrence only worked on the assumption that if the US was nuked it would nuke the USSR. The idea that such deterrence was moral only if it was a simple bluff strikes me as ludicrous. Let us be honest here. Nuclear deterrence was deemed moral by John Paul II and his predecessors because they understood that the West dropping its nukes would have been suicidal. As a matter of fact, when the US bishops were drafting their anti-nuke pastoral in 1983, Cardinal Bernadin behind the scenes, deep sixed a call for unilateral disarmament because Bernardin, committed liberal though he was, understood that if the bishops came out for uniltateral disarmament they would be viewed as nutcases and not be taken seriously by anyone. George Weigel, the biographer of John Paul II has the details here:

    “Archbishop Bernardin’s shaping of the war/peace committee was a classic expression of his ecclesial and political style. As for the bishop-members of the committee, get the pacifist (Thomas Gumbleton) and the former military chaplain (John J. O’Connor) aboard in order to define the “extremes,” then appoint two other bishops who could be counted on to follow the lead of Bernardin and the committee’s chief staffer, Father Hehir, in defining the liberal “consensus.” That was clever, if not terribly original, bureaucratic maneuvering. What was more telling was Bernardin’s instruction to the committee members at the beginning of their work: namely, that the one policy option they would not consider was unilateral nuclear disarmament. For that option, adopted, would brand the bishops as cranks who would no longer be “in play” in the public-policy debate.”

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/01/the-end-of-the-bernardin-era

  • I think use of the atom bombs were justified. However, they should have been used on military targets instead of urban areas, in order to minimize civilian casualties.

    Also, Japan does not have too many natural resources. Once we decimated their Navy and air force, it would only be a matter of time before their oil (and their war-making capability) ran out.

  • Zippy and Shea would have surrended 20 minutes after 9/11

  • Abortion, artificial contraception, euthanasia and voting democrat are intrinsically evil.

    Resorting to capital punishment and war, when necessary, are matters of prudential judgment.

  • “I apologize for any worthy contributions I have overlooked.”

    You are of course referring to me. 🙂

    “Let us think this through. Nuclear deterrence was moral. Nuclear deterrence only worked on the assumption that if the US was nuked it would nuke the USSR. The idea that such deterrence was moral only if it was a simple bluff strikes me as ludicrous.”

    This is of course the problem. Nuclear deterrence is deterrence only if one can actually use the weapons. Germain Grisez said that nuclear deterrence was not possible primarily due to the use of the weapons being illicit in the first place.

    So the dilemma of deterrence (which implies use) and the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons.

    Solutions?

  • “Zippy and Shea would have surrended 20 minutes after 9/11”

    Unclear. But one has to wonder if, given the situation on Dec 8th, 1941 and Just War criteria, if one can argue that the condition of the “reasonable possibility of success” was doubtful. Thus entry into the war was unjust.

  • Tom Shipe: “Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation”.[1074]”
    The BOMB was an act of self-defense. An act of war is Pearl Harbor. Civilians are people who do not give consent to an act of aggression. The women videoed dancing and singing on the wings of a downed American aircraft in Bosnia are not civilians, no more than Tokyo Rose giving aid and comfort to the enemy. In time of war, giving aid and comfort to the enemy is treason. Most people had no idea what nuclear power was at the time the BOMB was detonated. The nuclear scientists themselves thought that the entire atmosphere might be destroyed. Thank God they were wrong, but then who would know?

  • “You are of course referring to me.”

    Oh I remembered you in my list Phillip. 🙂

  • “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

    [T]the negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behaviour as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the “creativity” of any contrary determination whatsoever. Once the moral species of an action prohibited by a universal rule is concretely recognized, the only morally good act is that of obeying the moral law and of refraining from the action which it forbids.Veritatis Splendour

  • Zippy
    Unforetunately John Paul listed all deportation and slavery as intrinsic evils in Veritatis Splendor, sect.80. They are not intrinsic evils. Benedict in May of 2010 allowed himself to be saved by Italy deporting two Muslims who planned to kill him so Benedict…lol… made an exception pronto to John Paul’s intrinsic evil of deportation.
    Slavery, chattel and perpetual, was given by God to the Jews in Leviticus 25:46…so while awful, it’s not an intrinsic evil as John Paul said it was….unless God gives intrinsic evils in your and John Paul’s book. Unless a Pope speaks infallibly, he can err. In fact most of what any Pope says historically can contain errors.
    CCC 2314 never addresses the case of a population warned to move and given several days to do so by pamphlet and radio at all. I read that as talking of pure attack without warning as in 9/11.

  • Another endless and inconclusive debate about an event 67 years ago that abruptly and decisively ended a conflict that had already cost tens of millions of lives. We all have a point of view, but –
    It happened.

    Well past time to accept history and move on, recording and remembering the event, thus ensuring that another stiuation like it never occurs again – ever!.

  • I see several problems with Miscamble et al’s logic (though in fairness, I haven’t read the book).

    First, we need to be much more humble about our “knowledge” of the counterfactual – that is, what would have happened if we didn’t drop the bombs. It is all conjecture – worthy and necessary conjecture to some degree, but an argument can’t live and die by it, as Miscamble seems to imply.

    And even if true that Miscamble has thought more thoroughly about this than his detractors, I don’t find his counterfactual argument convincing. In fact, Miscamble seems to make a glaring contradiction. He says that if it weren’t for the bombs, the Emperor could not have broken the impasse with the militants. But almost in the same breadth he says that militants were unaffected by the bombs and wanted to keep fighting. So what is the causal mechanism here? Is it really the bombs? How can we be so sure? Ironically, Miscamble is providing us with evidence that it WASNT the bombs.

    Apologists often say that the conventional destruction the US was visiting on Japan was just as bad as the bombs anyway, and that the Japanese would never surrender. But this begs the question, why did they surrender after the bombs then? It seems to me that the argument for the bombs depends on the idea that the destruction was unique and therefore frightened the Japanese into surrendering. And yet Miscamble seems to be acknowledging that the different factions for surrender and resistance before the bombs were the same ones after the bombs. What seems to me a more plausible explanation – supported by evidence in another posting above – is that the so-called indefatigable Japanese were actually getting close to their breaking point before the bombs, and that other less evil and drastic methods of inducing surrender could have succeeded. Unfortunately, we’ll never know if this is true. Instead, we view the surrender after the bombs and assume a causal relationship, but as all social scientists will tell you, correlation is not causation. Maybe it was only the bombs that could lead to surrender, but again Miscamble and others describe the situation as if the bombs weren’t even that unique – that the destruction and suffering caused by conventional weapons was almost, if not, comparable and that the main forces against surrender before were still adamantly opposed to it afterwords.

    We also have to deal with this dubious notion that in the counterfactual universe, Japan would have continued its imperious ways. Japan was a defeated and isolated nation by August 1945. The idea that in the post WWII era – were it not for the bombs and unconditional surrender – it would have just picked up where it left off in a few years, terrorizing the rest of Asia from which it had been ejected is not nearly as certain as some would have us believe. For one thing, theorizing about what Japan would do requires us to consider so many other economic and political factors that no one is dealing with seriously in this forum. Just because the Japanese did something before doesn’t mean that in the new post WWII era, they would do the same thing again. Incentive structures change in new environments. Apologists are acting as though utility functions never vary under different circumstances. Again, a little humility would be welcome here in arguing about a universe we can never observe.

    Finally, as others have pointed out, the arguments for the bomb seem uncomfortably Machiavellian to be made by a priest and other Catholics. Don’t we believe that our call to love is greater than a calculus of costs and benefits? If not, I’m not sure what should distinguish our behavior from the agnostics in this life. Were the pacific ways of Gandhi, MLK, and others only justified by their tactical success? I’m not claiming that Truman’s decision should have been easy, but I do think it’s a reminder to us that we can go too far toward becoming the evil we reject when we follow the ways of this world too closely. It’s hard to imagine what evil action would NOT be justified under some circumstances, if we can justify the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • “that is, what would have happened if we didn’t drop the bombs. It is all conjecture –”

    Not really. We know the Japanese did not surrender after Hiroshima. Even after Nagasaki there was a coup attempt to forestall surrender. The idea that the Japanese government was going to surrender absent the bombs, mass starvation or a successful land invasion is simply risible. We also know this from Magic intercepts at the time of internal Japanese communications, and from post-war interviews with Japanese officials. In Hirohito’s speech announcing the surrender he specifically mentions the bombings as the cause of the surrender.

    Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should We continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization. Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects; or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.

    “he says that if it weren’t for the bombs, the Emperor could not have broken the impasse with the militants. But almost in the same breadth he says that militants were unaffected by the bombs and wanted to keep fighting. So what is the causal mechanism here?”

    It took two bombs to convince Hirohito to intervene. Short of hearing directly from the Voice of the Crane, the Army and Navy was simply not going to surrender. Once Hirohito said to surrender they did, execpt for a group of younger officers who attempted an unsuccessful coup to stop the surrender.

    “Is it really the bombs? How can we be so sure?”

    Because we know verbatim what was said at the surrender conferences and because Hirohito mentioned the bombs as the cause of the surrender in his speech. Sheesh! No offense intended to you in particular, but it would really save time if people would learn some of the basic history of this event before attempting to comment on it.

    “Apologists often say that the conventional destruction the US was visiting on Japan was just as bad as the bombs anyway,”

    Some of it was worse. Look up the Tokyo fire storm. However, conventional weapons were one thing, the a-bomb that could destroy most of a city was another. In a way it gave the militarists an excuse to surrender. As one Japanese general said at the time, “Who could fight against science?”

    “And yet Miscamble seems to be acknowledging that the different factions for surrender and resistance before the bombs were the same ones after the bombs.”

    No, he isn’t saying that at all. Get his book and read it. That will clear up your confusion.

    “What seems to me a more plausible explanation – supported by evidence in another posting above – is that the so-called indefatigable Japanese were actually getting close to their breaking point before the bombs, and that other less evil and drastic methods of inducing surrender could have succeeded.”

    Completely untrue as the failure to surrender after Hiroshima amply demonstrates. Once again the historical record is very clear and you really need to familiarize yourself with it. Here is a good place to start:

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/894mnyyl.asp

    “The idea that in the post WWII era – were it not for the bombs and unconditional surrender – it would have just picked up where it left off in a few years, terrorizing the rest of Asia from which it had been ejected is not nearly as certain as some would have us believe.”

    Germany was badly beaten in 1918 too. The Japanese killed some 30,000,000 human beings in their drive to conquer Asia. Would it have been moral to risk having them attempt to do that again?

    “Don’t we believe that our call to love is greater than a calculus of costs and benefits?”

    Yes, which is precisely why I think Truman was right to end that terrible conflict quickly with as little additional bloodshed as possible.

  • I used to see people’s point about how the bombs were justified…but then I became Catholic. Killing innocent people is wrong…targeting civilians is wrong no matter what country does it or for what reason…it was wrong for terrorists to do it to us and it was wrong of us to do it to Japan.

  • Truman demanded unconditional surrender, and the removal of the Emperor to end the war. Of course the Japanese prepared for an invasion. Wouldn’t we have done the same, not knowing the future? Eisenhower and MacArthur both advised against the Bomb. Japan tendered surrender terms before Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuked. She asked only that the Emperor be left on his throne. After the bombings, Japan surrendered unconditionally, with her Emperor intact. What was gained? Truman was jubilant when the bomb was dropped, dancing around excitedly like a little kid. When your own generals advise against aggression, it’s time to listen. Truman was an ass, out to prove something to himself.

  • If I misrepresented Miscamble’s book, I apologize, but in the posted video he states that the bombs were successful in allowing the Emperor to overcome the impasse with the militants while also saying that the militants didn’t change their view because of the bombs. If this isn’t a contradiction, fine – I guess I’ll need to read the book to find out why.

    I think it’s a bit naive to think that because Hirohito cited the bombs in his surrender speech that this proves that without the bombs, surrender – or at least containment – could not have happened. You are reduced to a cheap ad hominem attack against me about my supposed lack of basic historical knowledge, when in fact you have selectively quoted part of Hirohito’s speech. Yes, he refers to the bombs – but BEFORE that he says that “the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.” Then he begins his statement about the bombs with the word “moreover” which means “besides” or “in addition”. It does not mean “of singular importance”.

    But there is a bigger question about causality here. We can observe what happened after the bombs were dropped, but we can’t observe what would have happened had they not been dropped. So yes, we can read statements from officials saying the bombs convinced them to surrender – but this DOES NOT mean that had the bombs not been dropped that some other factors wouldn’t have accomplished the same or similar goal. So to repeat, we DO NOT know, nor can we ever know, whether there was another way out of the war. To pretend that we do – especially with the certainty being expressed in this forum – is a significant overreach.

    Your point about Germany is seductively simple. I am not saying you’re wrong – maybe post WWII Japan would have been like post WWI Germany – but how can we possibly know? So yes, you have an anecdote – and I’m sure we can both think of more. But by your logic, the only way a once bad-behaving country ever becomes a non-imperious, non-dictatorial, responsible member of the international community is through destruction, invasion, or a combination of the two. You point out that the Japanese killed millions of people and ask if it would have been moral to risk this happening again. Yes, it would have been a “moral” risk. In fact, we take a similar risk quite frequently with violent dictatorships. We didn’t a-bomb China after they invaded Tibet and elsewhere. Look, the future is full of risk. But past action does not automatically predict future action, especially when the environment has changed so dramatically. And if it were really immoral to take this risk that once murderous countries will change, then we should be at war all the time.

    I also think you make way too much of the failure to surrender after Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki three days later! Just because a second bomb was dropped before surrender does not mean that the second or even the first was necessary. Were the bombs necessary for surrender to happen as soon as it did? Almost certainly – I’ll concede that. But I don’t think that’s the debate. There were many factors involved, and it is certainly possible that without the bombs – given enough time and other kinds of pressure – the Japanese would have surrendered, or at least been contained. Truman should have tried other options. He didn’t have to attack when he did, and we’ll never know what would have happened had he tried things like a demonstration bomb.

    You say that it is risible that the Japanese would have surrendered absent the bombs, mass starvation, or full scale invasion. I’ve always found it a bit obnoxious to call other people’s ideas laughable, but that said, I also find it somewhat amusing that people think they know the counterfactual with such certainty. Yes, there are facts which support your theory – but there are other facts which suggest that the Japanese were already looking for ways out of the war. You are conveniently ignoring the facts that don’t fit your story and choosing to believe that facts which do support your position are definitive, and the only ones that matter. If this were statistics you’d likely be guilty of omitted variable bias. And to that point, you seem to have not even considered that we may not have all the relevant facts/variables, as is almost a constant pitfall of historical analysis.

    If you think the bombs were a moral response, fine, but it is unconvincing to justify such destruction on the dubious and ultimately unknowable claim that without them the consequences would have definitely been worse.

  • “but then I became Catholic.”

    I’ve been a Catholic all my life and I’ve always found the breastbeating over Hiroshima and Nagasaki inane and disproportionate when all of World War II is viewed, especially World War II in the Pacific, which for most Americans today might as well be the Third Punic War as far as their knowledge base about it goes. I have noticed the breastbeating has increased in volume over time as the veterans who would have been killed off in an invasion of the Home Islands, the ones who called themselves Hiroshima survivors, have died off, and historical illiteracy has become the order of the day among far too many people.

  • “If I misrepresented Miscamble’s book, I apologize,”

    Apology noted. Read the bloody book.

    “think it’s a bit naive to think that because Hirohito cited the bombs in his surrender speech that this proves that without the bombs, surrender – or at least containment – could not have happened. You are reduced to a cheap ad hominem attack against me about my supposed lack of basic historical knowledge”

    Not ad hominem at all, merely descriptive. You obviously lack the historical knowledge to comment in this area. Your attempt to still argue that the bombs were not the decisive factor in bringing about the surrender amply demonstrates that. Read the sources I have linked to. Learn the basic historical facts before commenting on a historical event.

    “but this DOES NOT mean that had the bombs not been dropped that some other factors wouldn’t have accomplished the same or similar goal.”

    The Japanese High Command thought they could inflict enough casualties on an Allied invasion to get what they considered decent terms. Unless they could get such terms, in the absence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they were simply not going to surrender.

    “maybe post WWII Japan would have been like post WWI Germany – but how can we possibly know?”

    It wasn’t worth the risk to find out. The US had fought in two World Wars between 1917-1945. Most of the men at the top in the US were World War I veterans, including Truman who was a World War I combat veteran. They were not going to risk setting up World War III without doing everything in their power to avoid it. Considering the peaceful Japan the world has seen since 1945 they chose wisely.

    “I also think you make way too much of the failure to surrender after Hiroshima.”

    No because meetings were held by the Japanese decision makers between Hiroshima and Nagasaki and we know from those meetings that Japan was not going to surrender. One of the main arguments that the militarists used in those meetings was that the US probably only had one such bomb. Nagasaki destroyed that pleasing illusion.

    “I’ve always found it a bit obnoxious to call other people’s ideas laughable”

    And I have always found it obnoxious for people to venture to give opinions about historical events, and to render judgments about them, when they clearly do not know what the devil they are talking about. Read this blog. You will find from such reading that history is very, very important to me. It annoys me to no end when people make historical blunder after historical blunder and seem to have no interest in doing the research and reading necessary to gain knowledge about what they are pontificating about.

    “Yes, there are facts which support your theory – but there are other facts which suggest that the Japanese were already looking for ways out of the war.”

    No there aren’t. The Japanese were not interested in surrendering until after both bombs were dropped, at least not on any terms that any of the Allies were willing to accept.

  • “Eisenhower and MacArthur both advised against the Bomb”

    No they did not. Eisenhower in 1963 said that he thought that the bomb was unneccessary, but he also said that he did not know conditions in the Pacific being totally concentrated on Europe. MacArthur did not even know about the Bomb until a few days before it was used. He was furious that it took away his day in the sun as the commander of the largest amphibious invasion in history, and continued to insist that the land invasion was essential, even after Hiroshima, until the Japanese surrendered. During the Korean War MacArthur advised Truman to authorize the nuking of Chinese cities, so MacArthur certainly had no moral qualms about nuking civilian centers.

    “Japan tendered surrender terms before Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nuked. She asked only that the Emperor be left on his throne.”

    No they did not. Read the article by Richard B. Frank linked below:

    “The conduit for this initiative was Japan’s ambassador in Moscow, Naotake Sato. He communicated with Foreign Minister Togo–and, thanks to code breaking, with American policymakers. Ambassador Sato emerges in the intercepts as a devastating cross-examiner ruthlessly unmasking for history the feebleness of the whole enterprise. Sato immediately told Togo that the Soviets would never bestir themselves on behalf of Japan. The foreign minister could only insist that Sato follow his instructions. Sato demanded to know whether the government and the military supported the overture and what its legal basis was–after all, the official Japanese position, adopted in an Imperial Conference in June 1945 with the emperor’s sanction, was a fight to the finish. The ambassador also demanded that Japan state concrete terms to end the war, otherwise the effort could not be taken seriously. Togo responded evasively that the “directing powers” and the government had authorized the effort–he did not and could not claim that the military in general supported it or that the fight-to-the-end policy had been replaced. Indeed, Togo added: “Please bear particularly in mind, however, that we are not seeking the Russians’ mediation for anything like an unconditional surrender.”

    This last comment triggered a fateful exchange. Critics have pointed out correctly that both Under Secretary of State Joseph Grew (the former U.S. ambassador to Japan and the leading expert on that nation within the government) and Secretary of War Henry Stimson advised Truman that a guarantee that the Imperial Institution would not be eliminated could prove essential to obtaining Japan’s surrender. The critics further have argued that if only the United States had made such a guarantee, Japan would have surrendered. But when Foreign Minister Togo informed Ambassador Sato that Japan was not looking for anything like unconditional surrender, Sato promptly wired back a cable that the editors of the “Magic” Diplomatic Summary made clear to American policymakers “advocate[s] unconditional surrender provided the Imperial House is preserved.” Togo’s reply, quoted in the “Magic” Diplomatic Summary of July 22, 1945, was adamant: American policymakers could read for themselves Togo’s rejection of Sato’s proposal–with not even a hint that a guarantee of the Imperial House would be a step in the right direction. Any rational person following this exchange would conclude that modifying the demand for unconditional surrender to include a promise to preserve the Imperial House would not secure Japan’s surrender.”

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/894mnyyl.asp?page=3

    “After the bombings, Japan surrendered unconditionally, with her Emperor intact. What was gained?”

    Nope, the future of the Emperor was left in the hands of the Allied High Authority in Japan as Hirohito understood. Here is the actual provision:

    “From the moment of surrender the authority of the Emperor and the Japanese government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied powers who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate the surrender terms. …The ultimate form of government of Japan shall, in accordance with the Potsdam Declaration, be established by the freely expressed will of the Japanese people.”

    “Truman was jubilant when the bomb was dropped, dancing around excitedly like a little kid. When your own generals advise against aggression, it’s time to listen. Truman was an ass, out to prove something to himself.”

    No, by all historical accounts Truman was anguished by the decision and was relieved after the Japanese surrendered. Where did you pick up the above piece of historical fiction?

    A useful antidote to the types of myths about Hiroshima floating around the net is the book linked below:

    http://www.amazon.com/Hiroshima-History-The-Myths-Revisionism/dp/082621732X

    People are entitled to their own opinions. They are not entitled to their own historical facts.

  • Donald,
    Excellent and informative. Pulp It…missed this one.

  • ScottL,
    Yes, certainty is elusive in the realm of counterfactuals. But those making decisions don’t live in such realms. The live in a world with real but limited information. There is absolutely no reason to believe that Truman did not make the most prudent (I’m not saying moral — that is a different question) decision possible under the circumstances taking account everything he could know. It is plain to me that instead of doing your homework in order to assess Truman’s world you would rather just jump into the world of counterfactuals in order to critique the posts of others with uninformed speculation. Really not very sensible.

  • Phillip: “So the dilemma of deterrence (which implies use) and the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons.

    Solutions?

    When in Rome do as the Romans do. When dealing with insane dictators, the game is played according to their rules, the rules they make up to rule the world. A nuclear standoff that worked, that had to work, or these posts would never be written.

  • Why weren’t these cities targeted earlier? … because American soldiers could not get to them, thus the war in the Pacific, and the horrific loss of life, the horrific loss of life.

  • I’ll note again that aside from attempting to brush aside the moral objections to the bombings as inane and disproportionate, no apologist for the bombings has refuted the fact that the bombing was contrary to Catholic moral principles. All I’ve read have been one variety or another of “but it was justified because of x, y, or z.”

    The direct, targeted killing of civilians on a massive scale like Hiroshima and Nagasaki is morally impermissible, no matter what x, y, or z factor seems to make it really, really, really necessary. You can’t commit an intrinsic evil to accomplish a purported greater good.

    Continue now with the litany of reasons why the immoral act was really, truly for the best.

  • The nuclear detonations over Hiroshima and Nagasaki were immoral and wrong. The alternative – hand to hand combat and mass starvation with far, far more loss of innocent life – was more immoral and wrong.

    As I repeatedly mentioned above, during the Cold War, I was a reactor operator on a nuclear submarine armed with some of those fearsome weapons. For our qualification in submarines, we were all trained to launch in case the submarine was fatally hit and we were the only ones left alive aboard. Given the order (very, very unlikely given my job position back at the Reactor Plant Control Panel), I would with fear and trembling have launched, self-appointed Pharisitical ponificating bloggers anmd commenters in this present day and age notwithstanding. It’s easy to be self-righteousness when you haven’t had to hide at test depth off the continental shelf of some coastline waiting for that Soviet submarine to move on.

    PS, our motto was “Death from Below” and that was exactly what we were prepared to give the atheist Soviets if it had come to blows. And I don’t care if that isn’t politically correct, because exactly that strategy preserved the freedom of yellow-bellied, cowardly bloggers and commenters to now decry what saved their very lives.

  • Speaking of inane Tom, I loved this comment of yours:

    “I think the bottom line is that probably a land invasion would have been the best moral option in that it would have resulted in the deaths only of combatants (except for the genuinely collateral casualties that all war produces–but which would not be directly intended).”

    Over 142,000 civilians died on Okinawa despite the best efforts of our troops to avoid civilian casualties, including evacuating civilians from combat zones, and well over 100,000 civilians died in Manila in our battle to take it back from the Japanese. In Operation Olympic we planned to use atomic bombs as tactical nukes to attack Japanese troop concentrations close to major cities near the beach landing zones. The radioactive fallout would have been devastating. The Japanese army made no plans to evacuate Japanese civilians, and instead planned to use them to attack allied troops. The bloodbath among civilians would have been in the millions. This was all clearly foreseeable at the time. To say that such clearly foreseeable casualties are “collateral” and “unintentional” is truly Orwellian. Condemn Truman forever if you must, but saying that the invasion was more moral is risible.

    The best book on what an invasion of Japan would have been like: Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan 1945-1947

    http://www.amazon.com/Hell-Pay-Operation-Downfall-1945-1947/dp/1591143160

  • Tom,
    Show us where Catholic moral doctrine deals with the case of a city that is warned with leaflets and radio, given days to leave and then does not leave the area. You can’t. You’re presuming you know how the Cardinals at the CDF in their catechism would answer such a twist in the issue. Shouldn’t a Pope by now have declared the incident at hand immoral…like internet Catholics do. Why haven’t they?
    Were you correct, bad nations need only place their missile bases in their largest cities and no good nation could attack their military assets. Does the Vatican want to state your position as long as that position has those absurd consequences?

  • Were you correct, bad nations need only place their missile bases in their largest cities and no good nation could attack their military assets.

    At least not with large yield nukes. But that scenario is somewhat mitigated now by modern targeting technology.

    Well past time to accept history and move on, recording and remembering the event, thus ensuring that another stiuation like it never occurs again – ever!.

    But that is the difficulty, as 170+ comments demonstrate. What have we learned? Some argue the tactic was not justifiable, others that it was. So how will we ensure it never occur again?

  • *snip* no apologist for the bombings has refuted the fact that the bombing was contrary to Catholic moral principles *snip* it was justified because of x, y, or z.”

    That would be the refuting you asked for.

    And no matter how many times you and others try to insist that the bombings were targeted mass killings of civilians, or that the point of destroying the city was to slaughter civilians, you can only hand-wave away the efforts to get civies out of there.
    It didn’t work (and here I’m repeating myself AGAIN in a new phrasing) because the Japanese turned their civilian force into a military one and would kill those who left as deserters. One of the cities had been bombed before, the other had the most intact stuff in an area that the damage from the bomb would make the biggest impact. One of the cities was only added to the list AFTER their version of Rome was removed.

    Perhaps the folks on the side that requires passing on false-to-facts claims about what happened and assuming the worst possible interpretation of motivations should look a little at their views?

  • As a relevant aside, I strongly recommend Takashi Nagai’s “The Bells of Nagasaki,” and Fr. Glynn’s biography of Nagai, “A Song for Nagasaki.”

    Nagai was a radiologist and convert to Catholicism who was working at the university on August 9. Ironically, he was already dying of leukemia, but he survived (his wife did not) and became an eloquent voice for peace in the postwar period.

  • C Matt asks, “But that is the difficulty, as 170+ comments demonstrate. What have we learned? Some argue the tactic was not justifiable, others that it was. So how will we ensure it never occur again?”

    2nd Chronicles 7:14 answers, “…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

    Repentance by all the nations is the only certain way to avoid this in the future. The solution has not changed in the 3000 years since King Solomon uttered those words.

  • Bill,

    There is a profound moral difference between targeting military assets contained within a city knowing that there will be substantial non-combatant casualities (morally permissible depending on the circumstances) versus “indiscriminately” targeting an entire city that includes both non-combatants and military assets (not permissible).

    Your reference to “absurd consequences” in the last sentence is especially telling. This is precisely the reasoning relied on by the defenders of Sister McBride, who excommunicated herself by authorizing an abortion. In that case, the hospital’s medical staff had unanimously concluded that the mother and non-viable baby would both die unless that baby was aborted. The abortion was authorized in order to avoid the “absurd consequence” of two deaths that would have resulted from a refusal to cause one (which would have happened anyway).

  • Note, it’s:
    “Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself.

    Not “indiscriminately” targeting an entire city that includes both non-combatants and military assets.

    Got to take the whole thing, and can’t rephrase it to something different.

  • Mike,
    I’ve consistently affirmed the situation in sufficient posts above of warning civilians in any such cases to leave and to give time for that leaving (in one post, stressing sufficient time for elderly to leave.). Each poster has an overall context that might not be obvious if one reads him partially.
    I’ve been making abortions less likely in Beijing for years, monthly at a sacrifice that hurts…that tar won’t stick with God who knows it intimately.

  • And no, that’s nothing at all to do with the McBride case, no matter how much folks want to drag it in.

  • My view on this is rooted in “first principles”, like in natural law application, is best formed around the Magisterium’s teachings and ongoing guidance through the Pope and Bishops’. Not that Catholics are the ones who could see first principles or the natural laws in operation- but as that other Notre Dame professor Rice noted in his book on Natural Law- the Church is the surest guide in this moral matters- makes perfect sense if the Catholic Church is as advertised!

    If from First Principle we agree that innocent civilians should never be the direct and intended target in any violent action- even in the midst of a Just War- then I really can’t see a moral way around the conclusion that we should have taken the Nuclear Option off the table when picking over possible military actions at the time we are referencing here. It seems that the logic being deployed in this thread is that somehow with ample warnings being made to the populace in H. and N. those who stayed around would no longer be innocent civilians. Maybe the analogy here is how in an ectopic pregnancy the procedure used is not considered an immoral abortion- or how in treating for cancer a woman may licitly receive treatments that would quite likely harm or even kill the unborn child within her. Maybe my analogies are off- but that is what comes to my mind immediately.

    Now, if we isolate on the “We gave them ample warning- those who stayed were combatants and not innocent civilians” then we have moved from the First Principle zone into some prudential territory. I think this is the only place where we aren’t in consequentialist troubles. My assessment so far is that the First Principle is still in place with regards to the nuclear attacks on H. and N. I’m wide open to an intervention by the Pope and Bishops to help me understand this particular case better- but piling on with historical quotes showing how “necessary” the dropping of these weapons of mass destruction were is not going to move me from the rock of first principles which is the basis for my understanding that terrorism is always wrong because it is in the first place targeted at civilian targets- even if in the subjective opinion of the terrorist- these civilians are not true civilians because they support or have elected their leadership who is conducting the dark side of an unjust war or foreign oppression. This line of thinking has been used by those who have attacked Israeli population centers for example.

    Does the crux of this matter come down to whether or not the warnings given the people of H. and N. create a new argument that allows for faithful Catholics to move past the First Principle of do not directly target civilian cities with weapons of mass destruction? One final point- the idea that we could use the Old Testament examples of supposed genocide as a point of defense for American use of similar tactics seems a very dangerous theology- simply put- We are not God, America is not the New Israel, we cannot allow a quick reading of Old Testament examples to excuse behavior that is not allowable by Church teachings- which is why I look to the Magisterium as my primary source of moral theological knowledge- properly applying what is meant and should be applied from examples in Holy Scripture- otherwise we are all left to interpret according to our singular lights and that quickly leads many off a cliff.

  • The First Protocol to the Fourth Geneva Convention, in the opinion of many publicists is simply a restatement of customary international law

    rticle 51 — Protection of the civilian population
    1. The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations. To give effect to this protection, the following rules, which are additional to other applicable rules of international law, shall be observed in all circumstances.

    2. The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.

    3. Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this Section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.

    4. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are:

    (a) those which are not directed at a specific military objective;

    (b) those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or

    (c) those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol; and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.

    5. Among others, the following types of attacks are to be considered as indiscriminate:

    (a) an attack by bombardment by any methods or means which treats as a single military objective a number of clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in a city, town, village or other area containing a similar concentration of civilians or civilian objects; and

    (b) an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

    6. Attacks against the civilian population or civilians by way of reprisals are prohibited.

    7. The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.

    8. Any violation of these prohibitions shall not release the Parties to the conflict from their legal obligations with respect to the civilian population and civilians, including the obligation to take the precautionary measures provided for in Article 57

  • If from First Principle we agree that innocent civilians should never be the direct and intended target in any violent action- even in the midst of a Just War- then I really can’t see a moral way around the conclusion that we should have taken the Nuclear Option off the table when picking over possible military actions at the time we are referencing here.

    That would only be true if there was something about nukes that causes them to directly and intentionally target civilians on any use. Barring something showing that, they’re bombs.

    Maybe the analogy here is how in an ectopic pregnancy the procedure used is not considered an immoral abortion- or how in treating for cancer a woman may licitly receive treatments that would quite likely harm or even kill the unborn child within her.

    Yep. Believe it’s been mentioned several times. I know I pointed it out, along with the fatal force for defense point. Gone unanswered.

    these civilians are not true civilians because they support or have elected their leadership who is conducting the dark side of an unjust war or foreign oppression.

    Not analogous at all. There’s the lack of warning that attacks will happen, the lack of actually targeting military centers with civies being hit by splash-over, and the little point that the entire purpose of terrorism is to kill those who didn’t do anything, and the little detail that “support or elect leadership” is not the same as continuing to work in a military center after there’s been warning that said military center is going to be attacked by the people you are fully and openly at war with.

    Does the crux of this matter come down to whether or not the warnings given the people of H. and N. create a new argument that allows for faithful Catholics to move past the First Principle of do not directly target civilian cities with weapons of mass destruction?

    No, the warning civilians to get away from military targets that THEY had built in a population center “allows” faithful Catholics to move past the point of not targeting extensive areas and their populations.

    If there had been a way to selectively explode only military ports, factories, bases, etc— do you seriously doubt they would have taken that? On what basis, other than the constant assertion that the point was to kill a bunch of innocent civilians?

  • Excellent post, Tim.

    Foxfier, the Sister McBride case stands for the proposition that one cannot do evil, even in order to achieve optimal consequences. Many of the posts here (certainly not all), as well as the featured video, analyze the morality of Truman’s decisions solely by reference to predicted outcomes (i.e., conseqeuences). Sister McBride’s case presents a perfect example of this error. I agree with Tim that the question as to whether the civilian populations of H and N constituted combatants due to peculiar circumstances is a fair one, even if I am not remotely convinced.

    Bill, the last thing I intended to do was tar you with anything. My reference to Sister McBride was to illustrate a moral error, not to question your anti-abortion credentials.

  • I still am not convinced that giving warnings is sufficient to remove the prohibition against indiscriminate targeting.

    Does it depend on the efficacy of the warning, the ability of the targeting populace to comply with the warning, the objective or subjective credibility of the warning from the perspective of the recipient of said warning? To simply say we dropped leaflets therefore we are golden is far too simplistic. Not to mention whether from moral, rather than legal, perspective, does a warning excuse immoral conduct?

  • “I think the bottom line is that probably a land invasion would have been the best moral option in that it would have resulted in the deaths only of combatants (except for the genuinely collateral casualties that all war produces–but which would not be directly intended).”

    Yeah riiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhtttttttttttttt. Here is what the Allies would have faced in a land invasion according to MacArthur’s biographer:

    “Hirohito’s generals, grimly preparing for the invasion, had not abandoned hope of saving their homeland. Although a few strategic islands had been lost, they told each other, most of their conquests, including the Chinese heartland, were firmly in their hands, and the bulk of their army was undefeated. Even now they could scarcely believe that any foe would have the audacity to attempt landings in Japan itself. Allied troops, they boasted, would face the fiercest resistance in history. Over ten thousand kamikaze planes were readied for “Ketsu-Go,” Operation Decision. Behind the beaches, enormous connecting underground caves had been stocked with caches of food and thousands of tons of ammunition. Manning the nation’s ground defenses were 2,350,000 regular soldiers, 250,000 garrison troops, and 32,000,000 civilian militiamen, a total of 34,600,000, more than the combined armies of the United States, Great Britain, and Nazi Germany. All males aged fifteen to sixty, and all females ages seventeen to forty-five, had been conscripted. Their weapons included ancient bronze cannon, muzzle loaded muskets, bamboo spears, and bows and arrows. Even little children had been trained to strap explosives around their waists, roll under tank treads, and blow themselves up. They were called “Sherman’s carpets.” This was the enemy the Pentagon had learned to fear and hate,a country of fanatics dedicated to hara-kiri, determined to slay as many invaders as possible as they went down fighting. [William Manchester: American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, pg. 510-511)]”

    From two inescapable conclusions can be drawn. 1) There were no longer any civlian targets in Japan . 2) The slaughter of Japanese civilians in a land invasion would have made the atomic bombings look like a mouse fart in a wind storm by comparison.

    With all due respect Mr. McKenna (I do actually have considerable repect for your work on the death penalty), you seem to have about as much understanding the circumstances leading up to Truman’s decision to drop the bombs as Archbishop Charles Chaput does with the death penalty.

  • No, I understand perfectly well that the Japanese high command intended to impress their civilian population into their land defense plans in the event of an invasion. We cannot know to what extent this would have succeeded, nor really what civilian casualties it would have produced.

    Nevertheless, the point is and remains, it was an option that would have taken us out of the business of mass-scale, intentional slaughter. It matters what means are chosen to carry out a just war, and this ,b>jus in bello requirement would be met if we had invaded, and had to kill many, many civilians in self-defense because the enemy interposed them between us and themselves. The moral blame would rest with the enemy. On the other hand, dropping a bomb that indiscriminately incinerates vast swaths of population, mostly civilian, while it might have induced a surrender, simply did not pass muster according to jus in bello principles because the Church has time and again condemned their use against populated areas:

    Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of
    entire cities or of extensive areas along with their population is
    a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal
    and unhesitating condemnation. (Pastoral Constitution on the
    Church in the Modern World, No. 80).

    And as restated in the Catholic Catechism,

    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).

    Sorry, again, all I read here are reasons why it was more convenient to use the bombs, I have not read how the use of the bombs were not, as the Church maintains, per se immoral, being used as they were against “whole cities” and “vast areas with their inhabitants.”

    It’s not difficult to understand what the Church teaches. It’s merely difficult to accept it when it might suggest our side blew it. I can understand that it might be a humbling prospect to realize we were wrong for doing it, but in my view, it would burnish our greatness, not diminish it, to admit that we blundered in unleashing horrific indiscriminate death on a large number of innocent civilians.

  • Tom:

    Once again you are ignoring a crucial point. Nowhere does either the catechism or Gaudium et Spes say “even if the line between combatant and non-combatant has erased”, something Japan clearly did in WWII. In fact, for the either GS or the CCC to do so would be for the Church to repudiate her own teaching, something the charism of infasllibility prevents.

  • Greg, I think you overstate your case. At most, the line between combatant and non-combatant was perhaps rendered murky. And perhaps a case can even be made that a reasonable person could conclude that it was erased, but to say with confidence (“clearly”) that it was erased is a stretch, especially when we are talking about women and children, infants, and the infirm. But I do appreciate that you are grappling with Catholic teaching, as am I, rather than simply resorting to a consequential analysis.

  • Yes. Mike, clearly. What else can you conclude when you conscipt practically the entire adult population, train children to strap explosives to themselves and roll under tanks among other things? If that’s not completely erasing that line what would be?

    Furthermore, there is a huge difference between a indiscriminate effect (even if that effect is a foregone conclusion) and intent. This is something many lose sight of.

  • Foxfier, the Sister McBride case stands for the proposition that one cannot do evil, even in order to achieve optimal consequences.

    *exasperated sigh*
    Which assumes that you’ve actually established that bombing Hiroshima was evil in the same manner as abortion, rather than evil in the same way as killing another person (such as in war, self defense, etc).

    It’s kind of ironic that you think Greg is over-stating his case, when that’s the exact problem that my fingers are worn out pointing out about the opposite case.

    Many of the posts here (certainly not all), as well as the featured video, analyze the morality of Truman’s decisions solely by reference to predicted outcomes (i.e., conseqeuences).

    The video is about correcting bad history, clearly states that he chose military targets, and it is either blind or slanderous to claim that those who disagree with you here are arguing “solely by reference to predicated outcomes.” Frankly, since you’re still claiming something is “clear” when it’s quite obviously not (“clearly targeted civilians”), you might be a bit more careful about complaining about the confidence of others.

    It is delightful to see that some hundred comments later, you’ve admitted that someone might actually disagree with you without committing consequential analysis. Perhaps you could reconsider your opening accusation that we hadn’t considered it might be an intrinsic evil….no, probably not, you’re still quite sure you know they were really aiming for the civilians that were warned to flee, rather than the huge flippin’ military targets.

    Holy circular reasoning, Batman…. flip it, I’m out. When people aren’t even bothering to deal in good faith, it’s not worth it. Facts, sources, rational arguments, the actual text about destroying cities and their population …. if that doesn’t sway you, I sure as heck can’t.

  • Yeah Tom: under the right circumstances (that is, when we are the Good Guys[tm] and have dropped leaflets), the hundreds or thousands of unborn children murdered in the womb by the atomic blast were “combatants”.

    Folks keep responding as if abortion were an analogy here. It isn’t. They are laboring to justify mass abortion via bomb blast, as if that change in technique somehow changed the moral nature of the act.

  • “The best book on what an invasion of Japan would have been like: Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan 1945-1947”

    Or Richard Frank’s Downfall (a book mentioned by Fr. Miscamble in his response Tollefson):

    http://www.amazon.com/Downfall-The-Imperial-Japanese-Empire/dp/0141001461/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343342897&sr=8-1&keywords=richard+frank

  • Mr. McClarey,

    If not technically an ad hominem attack, it is a lame and unnecessary personal insult which you can not support. You don’t know what I know from one blog posting (one that you misunderstood by the way), and it is unfortunate that you think you do. I am tempted to continue trading insult for insult, but I’ll do my best to take the high road.

    You may have an impressive array of facts at your immediate command, but you still don’t seem to understand causality, without which facts can mislead you to think you know more than you do. You make the very common error of thinking that because one variable appears to cause another variable, it is an essential cause. It is a fallacy to claim to know that absent the bombs, an acceptable solution would have been impossible. At one point you respond with the very simplistic claim that since we have recordings of discussions between Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we know – KNOW! – that they would have never surrendered. It’s as though, in all your self acknowledged historical reading, you have never encountered stories of leaders who changed their mind. Or at least never changed their mind after three whole days.

    Here’s an example of what I mean by causality. Now I’m guessing that we can both agree that the Cuban Revolution was a tragic disaster for Cuba. But I think most historians agree that in the areas of public health and education, the Castro regime rather quickly began providing widespread basic services to the poor majority that Batista and others had largely neglected. By the logic you’re applying to this debate, not only should we say that the Cuban revolution caused these services to be provided, but that ONLY the Castro revolution COULD HAVE resulted in these services for the poor. You don’t seem to get that absent a variable like the Revolution, or the bombs, the dependent variable – social services or surrender/containment may still have been possible. Now I’m betting we actually agree that had the Castro revolution failed, it still would have been possible for Cuba to develop basic social services for its citizens. Yet applying your same logic from the atomic bomb debate, you’d have to deny it. After all, where are all the recordings of Batista officials planning to create these programs? Where are the “facts”?

    The unfortunate reality is that we never know the counterfactual, and it is particularly hard to have any certainty about it when we’re talking about one historical event like Japanese surrender. At least with experiments we can mimic the counterfactual by having control and treatment groups, but even that has lots of potential error. In historical analysis – which often relies on systematically biased information available to us – we should have great humility (if we care about being honest about what we “know”) when predicting what would have happened absent the independent variable – in this case, the bombs. You seem to think we know everything now – end of story. Miscamble has written the final word!

    By the very source you cite, we know that Japan was looking for a negotiated settlement. I have simply said that some sort of surrender or solution – at worst containment – could have been a reasonable possibility, and therefore we didn’t have to kill 200,000 people in an instant. Our main disagreement is over opinion – not fact – ie, whether something less than unconditional surrender would have sufficed. You say it wasn’t worth the risk – fine, but again that’s a matter of opinion, not fact. In your mind, it was worth killing all of those people instead of accepting something less than unconditional surrender. To many of us, that idea seems kind of repulsive. But I trust that for you it comes from a sincere belief (not a fact though, just an unverifiable belief) that Japan would have restarted its murderously imperious ways. And your best evidence is that well, Germany did it. And as we all know, there is no difference between German history, culture, and institutions of the 20s and 30s and the Japanese situation in 1945.

    Anyway, as you point out, you’re too smart to waste your time reading something from an ignoramus like me, so no point in going on too long. Congratulations for knowing your facts. Facts are necessary, but they at best the beginning, not the end of wisdom.

  • To claim that there were no civilians left in Japan does not stand up.

    Assuming, for the sake of argument that Greg Mockeridge’s figures of “2,350,000 regular soldiers, 250,000 garrison troops, and 32,000,000 civilian militiamen, a total of 34,600,000,” are correct, Japan’s population in 1945 was a little over 71,000,000. That means some 36,400,000 non-combatants, a majority of the population.

    Even if 90% of these were willing and able to offer some resistance, that would still leave over 3, 640,000 non-combatants.

  • Mr. Patterson-Seymour:

    Your argument would only make even remote sense if all civilian conscripts were concentrated in one area. But as anyone with a lick sense knows that all males aged fifteen to sixty, and all females ages seventeen to forty-five that had been conscripted was throughout the enire country of Japan.

  • “But as anyone with a lick sense knows that all males aged fifteen to sixty, and all females ages seventeen to forty-five that had been conscripted was throughout the enire country of Japan.”

    True. I have a friend, a retired Methodist minister, Ollie Zivney, who was a Navy medic with the Marine Corps during World War II. He served at Guadalcanal and other hellish battles. After the surrender, he was sent to Hiroshima to set up aid stations. He learned to speak Japanese and grew fond of the people and their culture. His Japanese friends showed him the arms that had been stored up in schools, hospitals and temples, almost all bamboo spears. They told him that they would have fought and died for the Emperor if the US had invaded, although now that they realized that US servicemen like my friend weren’t going to kill and eat them, as propaganda had told them for years, and seemed like pretty decent Joes, they were glad that the Emperor had surrendered instead! Ollie has never had had any doubt that Truman spared Japan one of the greatest slaughters in world history, as Japanese civilians attempted to kill US Marines and GIs with bamboo spears and anything else they could get their hands on. Ollie met Truman years later, and Truman told him that it had been a hard decision to drop the bombs, but he never doubted that it was the right one.

  • ScottL,

    For what it’s worth, I appreciate your comments. I also enjoy reading this blog even though it’s obvious I don’t fit in well, so I hope maybe you will chime in on other topics as they develop.

  • Apparently, MacArthur (if you believe the Peck movie) agreed with Zippy, MS, and the judgmental jugheads that the bombings were wrong.

    No Glory! The American caesar actually wanted to invade Japan and have umpty-umph millions more killed. It, mass murder, is what the Army does. The bombs did it in nanoseconds. Did he see that as a professional threat?

  • “If not technically an ad hominem attack, it is a lame and unnecessary personal insult which you can not support. ”

    I can only judge your lack of historical knowledge in this area Scott from what you wrote, lacking as I do the charism of mind reading.

    “I am tempted to continue trading insult for insult, but I’ll do my best to take the high road.”

    How charitable of you to point out that you are the noble one in this debate in your eyes.

    “It is a fallacy to claim to know that absent the bombs, an acceptable solution would have been impossible.”

    I know it based on the historical record Scott. You do not know the history and substitute guesses and hopes.

    ” At one point you respond with the very simplistic claim that since we have recordings of discussions between Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we know – KNOW! – that they would have never surrendered.”

    Scott, I was responding to your claim about how did we know that we know that the Japanese would not have surrendered after Hiroshima. I enlightened your obvious bone ignorance on that score. You respond by saying that perhaps the Japanese would have changed their mind in the future. We know what changed their mind: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Your resort to counterfactuals is no argument against Truman’s actions, since they, in fact, accomplished what was necessary, caused the Japanese to end a conflict which was killing hundreds of thousands each month. The idea that the US was going to wait endlessly for the Japanese leadership to decide that their situation was indeed hopeless is, and I know you will appreciate my use of the term, risible.

    “But I think most historians agree that in the areas of public health and education, the Castro regime rather quickly began providing widespread basic services to the poor majority that Batista and others had largely neglected.”

    As a matter of historical fact, that would be an error, and would betoken a lack of knowledge of both the Batista and Castro regimes.

    “By the logic you’re applying to this debate, not only should we say that the Cuban revolution caused these services to be provided, but that ONLY the Castro revolution COULD HAVE resulted in these services for the poor.”

    No, that does not follow at all. My argument is that the Japanese leadership were not going to surrender on terms acceptable to the Allies absent Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a land invasion or mass famine, and the historical record, what actually occurred, supports this conclusion. In your hypothetical the rather pathetic Eastern European style welfare state imposed by Castro and his cutthroats could have been vastly improved upon by many other types of regimes. Your use of this hypothetical demonstrates graphically your failure to understand the historical record in regard to the bombings. A better analogy would be someone attempting to argue that Lincoln would have agreed under virtually any circumstances to the Confederacy breaking away from the United States. We know that is not a valid hypothetical based upon the historical record. Let us propose another hypothetical. The Confederacy surrendering in the Spring of 1862 on the condition that they could keep slavery and that Lincoln accepted it. We know that is a valid hypothetical, based upon the historical record. One can always postulate some outlandish event, like alien armies landing from the Andromeda galaxy, that alter everything, but if one is going to second guess what Truman did, one has to hew to the historical record as to what the Japanese leadership would do in the future, and the best determinant of that is what they did and said in regard to surrender both before and after the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima.

    You are obviously miffed by our back and forth. I am not. I do this for fun. I enjoy the cut and thrust of a good debate. If you do also, comment in the future. When you are right in my opinion I will agree with you and when you are wrong in my opinion I will argue with you, but in either case it will be not taken overly seriously by me, since amusement is my main goal.

  • It is a fact to be taken into consideration about the evil effects of the BOMB necessary to make it morally acceptible is that the intention of the Japanese was total world domination, hence no religious freedom or acknowledgement of the human being’s rational, immortal soul. It was also the intention of Hitler to dominate the whole world, to subjugate what Hitler preached as “the inferior races” to Arianism. Sometime, I wonder what would have happened if both were the only two left to duke it out. Total conflagration without the freedom fought for so valiantly by the Americans. All the reason and more to use the BOMB. You are here posting today because Truman used the BOMB.

  • Zippy
    Our fighter jets in the US, since 9/11, are under orders to shoot down a highjacked commercial plane over less densely populated areas…a plane filled with several terrorists plus numerous traveling innocents: men, children and women possibly pregnant…lest the hijackers use the plane to hit densely populated areas or key targets like the White House. No Pope nor Bishops have denounced same ongoing orders because the innocents are being killed simultaneously (not literally but virtually) to the terrorists for a good reason: to protect a greater number or more critical persons…the principle of double effect. Apparently that instance is not like saving a
    mother by abortion.
    You Zippy are a soldier going house to house in Afghanistan and suddenly a pregnant womn begins to aim an AK47 at you and you shoot her and her innocent triplets to save your life but also your role in Afghanistan. I never heard the Vatican argue against that action of yours either.
    Catechisms seem to keep things very simple, black and white, and not address nuances.
    Were the civilians in the Japanese cities in not fleeing…as innocent as the civilians in the plane or the triplets within the woman you shot? Or were they responsible young and old, as when parents speak for their infants as agents of decision in infant baptism…and both are held to a choice though the infant made no choice? It’s odd that the Magisterium or a Pope by now did not produce a moral theology document that exhaustively analyzed such an iconic event in comparison to similar actions that they permit by silence.

  • Now I’m guessing that we can both agree that the Cuban Revolution was a tragic disaster for Cuba. But I think most historians agree that in the areas of public health and education, the Castro regime rather quickly began providing widespread basic services to the poor majority that Batista and others had largely neglected. By the logic you’re applying to this debate, not only should we say that the Cuban revolution caused these services to be provided, but that ONLY the Castro revolution COULD HAVE resulted in these services for the poor.

    An ancillary point. IIRC, per capita income in Cuba ca. 1955 was such that it was among the more affluent Latin American territories (ranking 5th out of 20, I believe). To the extent that this metric could be divined from published data, Cuba was by the end of the century at the bottom of the pile or leading only the poorer Central American republics. Literacy rates north of 90% are nowadays characteristic of all Latin American republics, as are life expectancies north of 70.

  • Bill Bannon:

    You seem awfully confident that shooting down airliners filled with innocent civilians is morally licit. You base that confidence on the fact that “No Pope nor Bishops have denounced same ongoing orders …”

    You insert your own assumptions about the reasons for that silence after the elipses. But as Elizabeth Anscomb has pointed out and as documented in Denzinger, the argument from the silence of the Holy See has been, itself, explicitly condemned by the Holy See.

    In addition, you engage in a specifically Catholic fallacy I have in other contexts called Magisterial Positivism or the Appeal to finer detail.

  • Zippy,
    Well you are alluding to Denziger without giving the cite nor the context and without showing the actual text; so it remains an allusion only. The Vatican has an obligation to be non silent about iconic issues that are in the larger society though it does not have an obligation to comment on relatively obscure moral questions that pertain to subgroups…like nuances of the investor world. The Vatican as a blanketly non accountable actor is rediculous as a concept. The CDF is really a group of Cardinals making $69 a year til death as celibate men with maid service and I suspect housing. By now they should have commented on Hiroshima…but that’s just me.
    Let’s look at what you didn’t face (Afghanistan) and we’ll give a domestic example: You are camping with your wife and daughter in Alaska and have a .50 caliber pistol with you for protection against grizzly bears. A drunken pregnant woman approaches you three as you eat supper around a fire. Suddenly from 20 feet away, she pulls out a .50 pistol and begins firing at you three. Are you going to let your family be killed by this person because she has innocent(s)
    inside of her or are you going to kill her?
    Pope Benedict is sporadically excessive against violence and you can see it in his apostolic letter ( where he does not have to be as precise as in an encyclical) Verbum Domini sect.42. He states that ” the preaching of the prophets vigorously challenged
    every kind of injustice and violence, whether collective or individual…”. That sounds like
    America magazine or Commonweal…but it’s totally mistaken because Elijah, the only human appointed by God to return right before Christ’s Second Coming…killed 450 Prophets of Baal:
    I Kings 18:40
    ” Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Let none of them escape!” They seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon and there he slaughtered them.”

    Saul failed to kill Agag as ordered by God so the prophet Samuel had to do it while removing Saul from the kingship due to his failure:
    I Sam.15:33
    “And Samuel said,
    ‘As your sword has made women childless,
    so shall your mother be childless among women.’
    Then he cut Agag to pieces before the LORD.”

    Elisha, the prophet, cursed children who derided him and thus his office and two bears killed 42 of them. God tells Elijah to anoint Elisha and Jehu to a great deal of violence and apparently Elisha is actually Jehu’s back up…God is speaking here:

    I Kings 19:16  “You shall also anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you.
    17 Anyone who escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill. Anyone who escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill.”

    Apparently Benedict was incorrect. The prophets did not oppose all violence. You have a .50 Smith and Wesson and a drunken pregnant woman is shooting at you and your two ladies from 20 feet away. What would you do?

  • Pingback: FRIDAY MORNING EDITION | Big Pulpit
  • Correction: that’s 69K a year not $69 a year for the Cardinals.

  • I have been emailing representatives of our Hierarchy to see if in fact we have the freedom to take the public position that the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were morally licit and offer potential guidance for any future decisions re: such use of weapons of mass destruction. If this is in fact a prudential matter then I think all of the historical evidence forming the context is worthwhile in forming a Catholic-conscience on this important issue. But if the first principle set forth in #509 in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church is indeed applicable to these bombings then I believe all faithful Catholics would have to conclude that this public debate should be over- just as in the case of certitude that we should have as Catholics on the issue of abortion.

    Archbishop Chaput emailed me back that in his current role he is not able to get directly involved with “outside groups” in commenting directly on our controversy here at this forum. He suggested getting with our own Bishops to seek counsel- I have also sent out a bunch of emails to the Pope and sundry Vatican officials with a link to this article in the hopes of drawing out more official commentary- I’m into longshots and Hail Marys’! I do this because I know that one of the criteria of this blog is that we are offering the public a faithful witness of Catholic orthodoxy- I am also a Catholic theology teacher of our youth- so I am particularly careful to try and find the more exact position of our official Church teaching authorities. I don’t want to overreach in my own application of principles put down in authoritative documents. If there is freedom to take a positive view of the nuclear bombings in Japan due to all the factors presented in this thread- then so be it- I am no idealogue- I have my own frame and background so I know that bias is always a possibility- this is why I/we need the Catholic Magisterium- which promises (through our Lord’s grace) not to lead us into hell through faulty principles and teachings. I am between Bishops at the moment in the midst of a major move across the state- if anyone has contacts with their bishop or email addresses for Vatican officials relevant to our discussion- please share!

  • The Vatican has an obligation to be non silent about iconic issues …

    Good of you to dictate the pace of doctrinal development to the Holy Spirit, Bill.

    Anscombe’s citation from Denzinger is number 1127. It is from a list of “Various Errors on Moral Matters,” condemned in a decree of Sept 24, 1665 by Pope Alexander VII. In my version of Denzinger it is on Page 321, and reads in English translation as follows (remember, this is a condemned proposition):

    “If a book be published by a younger or modern person, its opinion should be considered as probable, since it has not been rejected by the Holy See as improbable.”

    In other words, in arguing that the silence of the Holy See supports your position, you are taking a position which has been expressly condemned by the Holy See.

  • Zippy,
    That is such a stretch from our conversation about the Vatican needing to comment on iconic events known to the whole world…. to book censorship and Vatican silence, that you should have your own TV program on stretching exercises.
    All pacifist leaning internet persons not just you, avoid all questions of what they would do when faced with protecting their daughter etc. in a real situation.
    You avoided the Alaska situation because you’re hoping God will protect you from every such case. I hope He does but He is obviously not protecting many persons from same as Investigation Discovery TV shows 24 hours a day.
    In the Alaska case, I’d shoot the drunken woman and my guidance: God ordering, amongst the ancient Jews only, the stoning of adultresses…period. Adultresses were probably often pregnant and not showing or were showing and were to be stoned. If the Sanhedrin later spared those showing, they had no way of sparing those not showing. I’m very sure the killed children involved are in Heaven right now because God “wills all to be saved” and “it is easy in an instant
    for the Lord to make a poor man rich” Sirach 11:21….ie to wipe away original sin in their case.
    Our Alaska drunkard shares pregnancy as a detail with those whom God commanded to be stoned as adultresses. If later Judaism made exceptions that were no where in the Pentateuch, that could have been wisdom or it could have been foolish as in Saul’s sparing of Agag. Only the Judgement will reveal.
    Peace. You have a good heart. But if you come home someday and a criminal is attacking your wife, put a long screwdriver deep into his ear and into his brain and then deep into his eye and into his brain unless you’re adept at martial arts and then you can go lighter on him with a rear naked choke. Criminals are safer with martial artists in such situations. But you have no obligation to produce their adeptness out of thin air. Samuel may have over done it on Agag because it wasn’t his usual field.

  • Zippy,

    Thanks for joining the conversation.

    How about a gravatar?

    JMJ

    Tito

  • FWIW, Jimmy Akin has addressed the application for the DDE in the context of shooting down a hijacked airliner. I think he did a fine job.

    http://jimmyakin.typepad.com/defensor_fidei/2006/12/shooting_down_h.html

  • Don

    What you mistake for my ignorance, is a distinction I’m making between the bombs being sufficient and the bombs being necessary. Please figure out the difference if you’re going to try to interpret history instead of just describing it.

    You don’t appear to understand my hypothetical about Cuba, and the observation that Batista was providing social services to the majority of poor Cubans would probably be a surprise to them.

    I am not the only one “guessing” here – the difference between my guesses and your guesses is that I’m not justifying massive human slaughter based on them. The historical record can not tell us what would have happened had the bombs not been dropped. Nor can it tell us what would have happened had Truman settled for something less than unconditional surrender. And the fact that the Japanese were not prepared to surrender within 3 days of Hiroshima is not proof that Nagasaki was necessary. This is all mere conjecture, for which the historical record can not tell us much. Saying that Fat Man and Little Boy were sufficient causes for the Japanese to surrender is not the same thing as saying they were necessary for surrender. Causal inference 101. Truman’s mistake was in not being more patient and creative before unleashing such a horrific weapon onto human history. All of the transcripts of stubborn Japanese generals in the world does not prove this to be false, because it is not based on an assumption that the generals were about to buckle. It is based on the idea – promoted by the Magisterium – that certain weapons and actions are uniquely evil and therefore at the very least we must do everything possible – ie, go much further than Truman – to avoid their use. Even if this had meant accepting less than optimal surrender terms by Japan, or taking the risk that they may have by some miracle (perhaps with the help of those aliens you refer to) turned into the same evil empire as before, right below the world’s eyes.

    Finally, I am sorry if earlier I appeared too sensitive. It is agreed that in the future, I will keep in mind that when you hurl inane and witless insults, this is just your idea of fun.

  • “What you mistake for my ignorance, is a distinction I’m making between the bombs being sufficient and the bombs being necessary”

    No Scott your ignorance was quite clear. What you are doing now is flailing about because you were called upon it.

    “and the observation that Batista was providing social services to the majority of poor Cubans would probably be a surprise to them.”

    I see that your ignorance of history Scott is not limited to the decision to drop the bomb. The Cuban people of all classes were far better off economically under Batista than they have been under Castro. I assume that you either missed Art Deco’s comment or are studiously ignoring it.

    “the difference between my guesses and your guesses is that I’m not justifying massive human slaughter based on them.”

    Of course you are Scott. You would have preferred that the bombs not have been dropped and that the war go on until it concluded with far greater loss of life. You do not get to simply cancel out the bombings and then be free from the consequences of your choice.

    “And the fact that the Japanese were not prepared to surrender within 3 days of Hiroshima is not proof that Nagasaki was necessary. This is all mere conjecture,”

    No it isn’t Scott. and I assume you still haven’t looked up the records of the surrender discussions that occurred within the Japanese government between Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or you wouldn’t use the term conjecture.

    “Truman’s mistake was in not being more patient and creative before unleashing such a horrific weapon onto human history.”

    Your mistake Scott is in being blithely indifferent to the consequences of Truman not acting. Of course you do not really care about those consequences. So long as Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not bombed, the fact that millions of Japanese would have died as a result of famine, or as a result of a land invasion in which hundreds of thousands of American troops would have died or been wounded, all while 250,000 Allied citizens died in Japanese occupied territory each month, is simply a matter of indifference to you. If the Japanese government responsible for the war was to be left in power that is also OK with you, if the bombings could be avoided, even at the risk of another Pacific War. I cannot be so cavalier about human life, which is why I support Truman’s decision.

    ” It is agreed that in the future, I will keep in mind that when you hurl inane and witless insults, this is just your idea of fun.”

    Actually people like you who get overwrought about combox to and fro do appeal to my sense of humor. Thanks for giving me a hearty laugh to start off the weekend!

  • To be precise, my point was that Cuba is at this time not all that exceptional in the realm of public health and education and that over more than fifty years annual improvements in production have lagged behind the pace of the rest of Latin America and it has lost many places in regional rankings of economic well-being. I tend to doubt that production levels in Cuba are lower than they were in 1955.

    The rest of Latin America has improved in well-being while building a more liberal-democratic political order. Cuba is not only the most retrograde country in the hemisphere, its government maintains a tyrannical quality exceeded only by North Korea & some cesspits in equatorial Africa.

  • Without the BOMB. Had Japan and Hitler been the two behemoths waging war to dominate the whole world, Hitler, who was obviously a madman and might be likened to Beelzebub, would have lost. The Emperor of Japan, who might be likened to Mephistophiles, would have won. Only the BOMB came between the Emperor of Japan and his conquest of the world. It is said that as the BOMB was being built, Russia was given a daily report, so Russia would have had the BOMB, as well, and there would have been nuclear conflict between Russia and Japan. I think we said that already.

  • This is precisely why I became a medic when I enlisted. Morally, it was so much simpler. And I was pretty good at it. If it’s a just war, you’ve done your bit. If it’s an unjust war, you’ve picked up the pieces. Loved the infantry I was attached to. Great people.

    One thing that is missing, is the issue of who does what to whom. Sometimes, you have to allow bad people to do wrong, constraining their actions as best you can. Had we blockaded the islands, the Japanese, not the Americans, would have been responsible for the effects, not the Americans. The Japanese could mitigate it at any time through surrender.

    Sometimes, you just need to back off and let things run a course you don’t like. Had we walled Japan off from the rest of the world, Americans would not have had to target civilians, and Americans would not have been culpable for what happened. Only the Japanese would have been culpable for the inevitable famine in Japan.

    But that would not have ended Japanese aggression in the rest of Asia. For that, only the Japanese were culpable. We were not. To the extent that we would have attempted to end that aggression, we would have been morally laudable. But we can never do evil that good might result. If there are no good prospects of success, we might… might… be able to step aside and allow evil to exist if we must. This is what we are currently doing with the atrocity of abortion.

    Abortion has killed far more than Japan ever could. Yet we stand against the bombing of abortion clinics, even empty ones, and for justifiable reasons. They are the same reasons one could use to argue against the use of the atomic bomb in Japan.

    Reasonable people can disagree on this, but on a personal level, I would find it easier as a Catholic to be the guy who bandages the wounded than the guy who pulls the trigger, but who would pull the trigger to defend the wounded.

  • Alphatron Shinyskullus

    You are quite right that a blockade would not have been morally problematic.

    The object of a blockade is to interrupt the enemy’s commerce, it is not aimed at killing anyone. Even torpedoing or bombing a blockade-runner has, as its object the sinking of the vessel itself; any casualties are a foreseen, but unintended consequence.

  • Americans would not have escaped culpability for what transpires in Japan had they imposed a naval siege to force surrender. That is how it works out in practice. The sanguinary images surrounding the Royal Navy’s blockade of Germany during WW1, the Nazis’ 900 day siege of St Petersburg (Leningrad) during WW11 and the US air embargo on Iraq after the first Gulf War, all attest to the fact that greater approbrium is attached to the besieger than to defenders, whatever be the merits of the case.

  • Actually MPS that is incorrect. An example of what I am talking about is the British blockade of Germany in World War I which included food stuffs. Some 400-600,OOO German civilians died of malnutrition as a result of this blockade. Japan due to the blockade in World War II would have faced a famine of epic proportions in 1945-1946. MacArthur barely averted the famine historically after the Surrender by massive shipments of food aid from the US, and the establishment of food distribution centers throughout Japan.

  • Yet all the besieged need do is surrender. The siege is aimed at stopping the aggression. The besieged’s intransigence in continuing to resist is the moral evil, not the siege itself. This is why SWAT teams are advised to cordon off a residence and wait for surrender.

    At the same time, a SWAT team must enter the residence if the besieged begins killing hostages. In the case of Japan, it seems this might have occurred. In that instance, perhaps the bomb could have been delayed to see if a blockade could have resulted in surrender or loss of life. It was never tried so we will never know.

  • We do know AS that far more civilians would have died if a famine had taken off in Japan than died in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By the time of the Surrender the Japanese civilian ration included an edible weed normally used as chicken feed mixed in with the rice to stretch out the rice. The ration was due to be cut in half by November and the Japanese civilians were already starving with the old ration. The famine that was barely prevented in Japan by American food aid following the Surrender is one of the more overlooked factors when Hiroshima and Nagasaki are looked at in the rear view mirror.

  • Bill Bannon:
    If I were you, I wouldn’t be too flip about interpreting your way out of a heresy condemned in 1665 by appealing to some putative difference between books and blog posts. The argument that some modern opinion is more probable because the Holy See hasn’t condemned that opinion has, itself – that substantive mode of argument – been condemned. Insistence that the Holy Spirit simple must bow to popular demand for immediate clarification on ‘key issues’ is very democratic and all; but as I understand things, Heaven is not a democracy.

    Also, I’ve noted in the past that what “pacifist” often seems to mean in online discussions is “believes in stricter rules of engagement than I do”. Nuking a city of civilians can’t be done morally: it is intrinsically immoral, so every right-thinking person’s “rules of engagement” rule it out. A ground invasion would in all likelihood end up killing (foreseeably but accidentally, for those still capable of making that distinction, e.g. the distinction between traffic deaths and murder deaths) more people, soldier and civilian alike; yet it is possible to conduct a ground invasion morally. Apparently favoring the latter (or at least considering it “on the table”) – on the grounds that the former is intrinsically immoral – means I have pacifist tendencies.

    I’ll now be regaled with detailed arguments that human-caused global warming is real and can be stopped by the Kyoto protocol, I mean that ground invasion and limited blockade would have resulted in a Japanese empire ruling the world. But I don’t really care what the global warming fantasists, I mean armchair historical revisionists, have to say. Their self-delusion about knowing counterfactual history and projected futures doesn’t move me in the slightest.

    In the first place, I am unmoved because our first job as Catholic moral actors is to act virtuously: to do concretely good acts and avoid concretely evil acts. Nuking a city of civilians is a concretely evil act, and Catholics are required not merely to refrain from it but to unequivocally condemn it (Catechism).

    In the second place, I am unmoved because in playing with the toy soldier models in their heads or spread out on the tables at the gaming shop every friday night, the fantasists are not dealing with actual reality – just like the warmists. There is no more reason to believe their counterfactual history / projected future ‘models’ than there is to believe anthropocentric global warming models.

  • It’s funny how we come against and condem other nations for their crimes against humanity. Killing and disfiguring hundreds of innocent women and children and babies. Yet when it comes to the horrors of what those who died and those who survived the nuclear bombs—no notices or thinks to care. I have seen films on the aftermath of what was done to those women, children an babies. Alive skin torn in huge chunks to the bone. Wounds that still haunt me even years and years later. Horrible burns over so much of their little bodies. You’ll view pictures of the holocost and find them horrible. I gaurantee if you view picture of the victims of the atomic bombs not only will you become sick to your stomic but you can’t help but cry. I pray I shall never view such devastation again in my life. I dare everyone to search out films of the aftermath which show what happened to those who survived right after the bombs fell. Look at those people, the women, the children, the babies. Imagine Russia or any other country doing the same to us. Using the same reasoning our country did, would you say they were right? Would they have the right then to innialate two of our citys, killing all and inducing horrible wounds and burns upon our children and babies. What if North Korea is contemplating such a move right now if they feel threatend by us. What if it was the city where your loved ones lived????

  • I think that the Age of Blogging is a new place of major challenge for wanna-be orthodox Catholics- armchair social teaching application has moved out of the barbershops and entered the world wide web of information dissemination. With this sudden new access to a broader public- I think we need to keep in mind this from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine:

    539. In the particular Church, the primary responsibility for the pastoral commitment to evangelize social realities falls to the Bishop, assisted by priests, religious men and women, and the laity. With special reference to local realities, the Bishop is responsible for promoting the teaching and diffusion of the Church’s social doctrine, which he should do through appropriate institutions.

    For example – I’m not comfortable at all that the overall message being delivered by a wanna-be orthodox Catholic blog is that the dropping of nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were morally justified- in part because of the other bad alternatives, and part because civilians lose their identity as non-combatants if they do not take warnings of bombings serious enough to depart the areas being threatened. My worry is not over how much judgement we should heap upon then-President Truman or the Catholic Americans of that time who supported the nuclear decision. My chief concern is that we get our first principles right and straight here and now- lest we fumble our way into another historical lesson gone awry. Now, while I remain unconvinced that the first principle expressed by the Magisterium here-

    “Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.”

    is to be side-stepped due to the reasons mentioned in this article- I am as well open to being enlightened by the proper teaching authorities of the Church. So, again I reiterate- all of us who have been commenting and leaving a trail of our take on the Catholic truth to be taken away from this teachable moment on the internet- we all need, if we are indeed wanna-be orthodox Catholics- to make the attempt to consult with our Bishop or someone in the Hierarchy who could take up the responsibility to lend his view on the acceptability of a range of views- pro or con- on the thesis being set forth here- that we have the doctrinal freedom to look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki without being sent straight to the first principle quoted above- for unhesitating condemnation of the acts and any support given the acts to this day.

    I am in the midst of a major move, but I emailed Archbishop Chaput who responded that the Blog was an “outside group” that falls out of his jurisdiction- but recommended we get in touch with our local Bishops. Trust me- when I get re-settled in the Diocese of Venice, Florida, I will be putting in a call or a letter to the Bishop there and will report back later. I have sent emails to Vatican officials- if I hear back I will let everyone know that as an update as well- as a short blog entry to bring this topic up fresh. Can I ask all the wanna-be orthodox Catholics reading this to do something similar and make haste to their Bishop and let us know if we have strayed into public scandal territory- or if we are right where we should be as lay Catholics grappling with a major moral issue from the past that has present and future implications in the way we think about the use of weapons of mass destruction. I am have offered my opinion to this point as has everyone else- with no real resolution- so as a convert I appreciate that this is the place where the Catholic Hierarchy can play a deciding role- and I think it is warranted because of all the confusion generated in this one article and commentary – among thoughtful Catholics. Any takers on this challenge to check on our responsibility not to bring public scandal to our Faith?

  • “We do know AS that far more civilians would have died if a famine had taken off in Japan than died in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By the time of the Surrender the Japanese civilian ration included an edible weed normally used as chicken feed mixed in with the rice to stretch out the rice. The ration was due to be cut in half by November and the Japanese civilians were already starving with the old ration. The famine that was barely prevented in Japan by American food aid following the Surrender is one of the more overlooked factors when Hiroshima and Nagasaki are looked at in the rear view mirror.”

    That part is was not taught in history classes when I was in college. I did not know that, and it certainly changes things. I’m glad you pointed it out. I wonder why the liberals never go on a rant about the moral culpability of the Japanese leadership in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? It seems they bore most of it.

  • Lillian Connor,

    Self-defense is not a crime. Why didn’t the Japanese government surrender to protect their citizens? The Japanese government’s rage to dominate the world was more important to them then their own people. What do you think the Japanese would have done to us if they had succeeded in Pearl Harbor? Los Angeles? San Francisco? Hitler had a plan to invade America. Japan’s plan to invade America and conquer the world was so old that it was inculturated.

    Zippy,
    Everytime you say Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I think Pearl Harbor. I think Okinawa, Tarawa
    Iwo Jima. Bataan. It is burned into my memory like the flesh burned from the people, and I do not say victims, I say people, of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. You are doing to us what the Holocaust deniers are doing to Pope Pius XII.
    Japan coveted the Hawiian Islands for centuries as an outpost, a stepping stone to conquer America and then the whole world. You and I, Zippy, would be speaking Japanese if it weren’t for the BOMB, and there would be plenty of American flesh hanging off the bones of American citizens in the aftermath without the BOMB.
    In India the people have a saying: “When two elephants fight, only the grass get trampled.” Do you want to be the dandelion or the daisey? Let me be the other.

  • “Americans would not have had to target civilians,”
    Amercans did not target civilians. There were civilians in Pearl Habor. Did the Japanese target the Pearl Harbor civilians? No. The Japanese goal was to conquer the Hawaiian Ilsand and targeting civilians would not further their goal. Forcing the surrender of Japan by destroying the aggressor’s cities was the goal of the BOMB.

  • Mary De Voe:
    Everytime you say Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I think Pearl Harbor. I think Okinawa, Tarawa Iwo Jima. Bataan.

    In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t defended any of the effervescent wickedness of the Japanese Empire. Yes, the Empire brought war upon itself, and we justly set out to defend ourselves from their wickedness.

    It does not follow, however, that the mass scale destruction of civilian cities using conventional and atomic weapons can be morally justified. It cannot. Furthermore, Catholics have an obligation to unequivocally condemn such acts.

    The fact that self (and other) defense is justified does not license any conduct whatsoever in carrying out that defense. Many kinds of concrete acts are absolutely prohibited, and nuking civilian cities isn’t the only kind. Things like mass rape are also prohibited, for example, even if those concrete acts in fact and demonstrably have a demoralizing effect on an enemy and can bring about a faster end to war, ultimately saving lives (at least as measured by statistics: particular fates of particular individuals will vary, of course).

    Licit ends to not imply that every means is morally acceptable. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were morally abominable means. That both the means and ends of the Japanese empire were morally abominable does not license us to use morally abominable means to oppose them.

  • “Americans did not target civilians”

    Perhaps I misspoke. Urban areas with large numbers of civilians were targeted. General Douglas MacArthur didn’t think either city had significant military value. Eisenhower and MacArthur both thought the bombings were unnecessary. Admiral William Leahy, chief of staff to Roosevelt and Truman wrote “”The use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children, revolts my soul.” We can grasp all we want at the fact that there were military installations there, but we knew we would be killing a lot of civilians.

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

  • I am have offered my opinion to this point as has everyone else- with no real resolution- so as a convert I appreciate that this is the place where the Catholic Hierarchy can play a deciding role- and I think it is warranted because of all the confusion generated in this one article and commentary – among thoughtful Catholics.

    If you think that statements from individual bishops are going to move the needle for folks who are rationalizing away the clear statement in the Catechism, which was issued by the Pope, I expect you’ve got another thing coming.

  • It is really amazing to see those who haven’t served for one microsecond the country that gave them the freedom they have to utter such words of nonsense and pontificate with pharasitical self-righteousness, as if speaking as the official interpreter of the Magisterium, Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture.

    Given a lawful order, however, I would have still (with much fear and trembling) pushed the button (as it were) to save the lives and the freedom of these ungrateful individuals when during the Cold War I was on patrol under the waves. I require no approval from the ungrateful for doing what is right and correct, nor does any submariner. And the same applies to Truman and those who “dropped the bomb” to end a horrible war.

  • Zippy,
    Be careful not to overstate the distant past papacy in the matter of your 1665 example. Here is the perfect example below from 1520AD of a like condemnation which proved with development to have been perfectly erroneous yet people then were excommunicated for agreeing with Luther although the vast majority of the Catholic hierarchy right now in our day agrees with the Lutherian position that was condemned.

    First you will see Luther’s opposition to burning heretics…then you will read Pope Leo X condemn it under pain of excommunication with great fanfare but not with agreement of Bishops but rather with agreement of Cardinals oddly enough:

    33. That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.

    With the advice and consent of these our venerable brothers (Cardinals paren.mine) with mature deliberation on each and every one of the above theses, and by the authority of almighty God, the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own authority, we condemn, reprobate, and reject completely each of these theses or errors as either heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears or seductive of simple minds, and against Catholic truth. By listing them, we decree and declare that all the faithful of both sexes must regard them as condemned, reprobated, and rejected . . . We restrain all in the virtue of holy obedience and under the penalty of an automatic major excommunication….
    ……………………………………………………………

    So Zippy….this Exsurge Domine1520…if still valid in some far right mind, would mean that after Vatican II opposed coercion in religion, literally the entire Church would be excommunicated latae sentenciae for seeing burning Protestants as against God’s will.
    The Church now agrees with Luther and disagrees with Leo X. The Church should review all these old documents and state where they err, when are they relevant, how far does their underlying principles obtain. Until the CDF does such work, I generally ignore them as suffused with the problematic. This goes to the oddity that we have one billion Catholics and 11 Cardinals working at the CDF while there should be several hundred…and they should not be bogged down over long with problems like the SSPX. They should be fixing the chaos in dogmatics whereby Catholics have little sense of which documents are really de fide, infallible, common theological opinion, no longer valid… etc etc….because Denzinger itself is edited by non Popes…like Karl Rahner when he was alive. The far right is always schisming precisely because they hold an old papal document over a new one and call the old one infallible while the Popes will see the old document as superceded by an Ecumenical Council.

  • Tim Shipe,
    All a Bishop can do is give you his opinion on whether warning civilians changes the bombing from indiscriminate to e.g. regettable but moral. But he can’t point to a document of great weight that has addressed that very dichotomy already…that’s why people can only point to texts that in our eyes presumes no warning period…but in others’ eyes presumes both warnings or no warnings. A second dichotomy is those who see civilians as helpless to obey the warning and those who see them as obligated even under duress to obey the warnings. There is no document that covers the latter issues. One group sees the “indiscriminate” word as covering all these issues and the other group says they are giving the text and that one word.. credit for facing questions that it has not faced.
    And you would have to be sure your new Bishop is credible on security issues. Did he protect Catholic children from sexual predators or did he endanger boys by too soon returning fast therapied priests to parishes. You wouldn’t seek counsel on security issues from a Bishop who placed predators near new children.
    Sirach 37:11
    ” 11 Do not consult a woman about her rival, or a coward about war….”

  • Paul,

    It is not a display of “pharasitical self-rightousness” for a Catholic to proclaim the clear and unambigous teaching of the Magisterium:

    “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.” – CCC 2314

    Those words either mean what they say, or they do not.

    You may of course describe describe such words as “nonsense” if you so choose (you would certainly not be the first), but nevertheless the fact remains that this is what Catholics believe. Or at least his is what they publicly proclaim that they believe at every Mass with the reciting of the Creed (or is that also just more “pontificating”?).

    We all have a free choice to make: whether to follow the teachings of Christ or to follow the teachings of Man.

    The fact that many times this can be an extremely difficult choice to make does not relieve us of the responsability of having to make it.

  • Considering that Pope John Paul II found nuclear deterrence to be moral, Andre, I find your statement as to the unambiguous teaching of the Magisterium to be completely misplaced, unless one indulges in the fantasy that our missiles were not aimed at Soviet cities.

    From an earlier comment I made on this Purgatory of a comment thread:

    “In current conditions ‘deterrence’ based on balance, certainly not as an end in itself but as a step on the way toward a progressive disarmament, may still be judged morally acceptable. Nonetheless in order to ensure peace, it is indispensable not to be satisfied with this minimum which is always susceptible to the real danger of explosion.” Pope John Paul II, Message to the UN Special Session (1982)

    Let us think this through. Nuclear deterrence was moral. Nuclear deterrence only worked on the assumption that if the US was nuked it would nuke the USSR. The idea that such deterrence was moral only if it was a simple bluff strikes me as ludicrous. Let us be honest here. Nuclear deterrence was deemed moral by John Paul II and his predecessors because they understood that the West dropping its nukes would have been suicidal. As a matter of fact, when the US bishops were drafting their anti-nuke pastoral in 1983, Cardinal Bernadin behind the scenes, deep sixed a call for unilateral disarmament because Bernardin, committed liberal though he was, understood that if the bishops came out for uniltateral disarmament they would be viewed as nutcases and not be taken seriously by anyone. George Weigel, the biographer of John Paul II has the details here:

    “Archbishop Bernardin’s shaping of the war/peace committee was a classic expression of his ecclesial and political style. As for the bishop-members of the committee, get the pacifist (Thomas Gumbleton) and the former military chaplain (John J. O’Connor) aboard in order to define the “extremes,” then appoint two other bishops who could be counted on to follow the lead of Bernardin and the committee’s chief staffer, Father Hehir, in defining the liberal “consensus.” That was clever, if not terribly original, bureaucratic maneuvering. What was more telling was Bernardin’s instruction to the committee members at the beginning of their work: namely, that the one policy option they would not consider was unilateral nuclear disarmament. For that option, adopted, would brand the bishops as cranks who would no longer be “in play” in the public-policy debate.”

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2011/01/the-end-of-the-bernardin-era

  • Tim Shipe:
    I hate to say I told you so, but, I told you so. Preemptively, on the part of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki apologists, nothing any bishop says can gainsay the righteous holiness of the nuclear fire. That possession of nukes is morally licit implies that their use against civilian populations cannot possibly be intrinsically immoral, under the impenetrable McClarey “strikes me as ludicrous” rubric.

  • “Thank you, Donald”

    No problem Paul. People can say whatever fool thing they wish, but attempting to make you ashamed of your service to our country is beneath contempt.

  • And of course the Zipless Wonder does not respond as to how nuclear deterrence could be moral if the use of nukes against Soviet cities was immoral since that was the only way nuclear deterence worked. Fortunately the Popes did not agree with him that Catholicism is a suicide pact in the nuclear world.

  • Donald,

    I believe that you have totally misunderstood the point that JPII was making in his Message to the Un Assembly on June 7, 1982.
    I defy any honest observer to read the transcript of that speech(http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/1996/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_07061982_gen-assembly-onu_en.html) and point out anywhere that it could in any plausible way be argued that JPII indicted that the “indiscriminate destruction of whole cities” would be anything other than a great moral evil. To even suggest such a thing is completely absurd.

    To casually proffer the claim that “Pope John Paul II found nuclear deterence to be moral” without context or qualification is either an act of self-serving dishonesty or of gross ignorance.

    If you haven’t actually read the whole text of the speech, but have only cribbed a line or two from some secondary source, then go read it now, before you further undermine the credibility of some of your other, better arguments with such silliness.

  • No Andre, I was familiar with the entire speech. My interpretation of the Pope’s words is entirely accurate. John Paul II obviously wanted disarmament, but he was also a realist who understood that nuclear deterrence had kept the peace.
    Mine is not some unusal interpretation, but is accepted by such critics of nuclear deterrence as Archbishop Migliori:

    http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/blogs/this-catholic-s-view/posts/vatican-questions-nuclear-deterrence

    Some theologians disagreed with the pope. In 1988 John Finis, Joseph Boyle, Jr and Germain Grisez wrote a book called Nuclear Deterrence, Morality and Realism in which they examined nuclear deterrence and judged that it could not be morally justified because it stood upon inflicting harm to innocent people.

    http://www.amazon.com/Nuclear-Deterrence-Morality-Realism-Finnis/dp/0198247915

    Now the interesting thing about this tome is that the three authors understood, and truly deplored, what they assumed would be the consequences in the unlikely event that the United States embraced what they were arguing: the destruction of freedom and a world dominated by the Soviet Union. ( It was ironic that the book came out as the Soviet Union was heading for the ashheap of history.) Fortunately, this is not what the Popes have held. Why not? Because the Popes have real power and responsibility. They do not merely toss around arguments in comboxes. As a result, the Popes have accepted nuclear deterrence, and the forthright statement of John Paul II noting that it was morally acceptable was merely a recognition of the reality that the Popes had lived with for decades.

  • “John Paul II obviously wanted disarmament, but he was also a realist who understood that nuclear deterrence had kept the peace.”
    – Donald.

    There you go again. You repeat the same mischaracterization and misleading oversimplification of the position laid out by JPII in the speech in question. The whole point of his speech was not a validation of the policy of deterence but a pointed criticism of it! While acknowledging that it had “worked” so far, he clearly held that it was a long term losing proposition and that a new way must be found:

    “Many even think that such preperations constitute the way – even the only way – to safeguard peace in some fashion or at least to impede to the utmost in an efficacious way the outbreak of war, especially major conflicts….As my Predecessor Paul VI put it: “The logic underlying the request for the balances of power impels each of the adversaries to seek to insure a certain margin of superiority, for fear of being left at a disadvantage”…Thus in practice the temptation is easy- and the danger always present- to see the search for balance turned into a search for superiority of a type that sets off the arms race in an even more dangerous way. In reality this is the tendancy which seams to continue to be prevelent today perhaps in an even more accentuated fashion than in the past….The actual convocation of this meeting indicates a judgement: the nations of the world are already overarmed and are overcommitted to policies that continue that trend. Implicit in this judgement is the conviction that this is wrong and that the nations so involved in these actions need to re-think their positions.” -JPII\

    That is not an endorsment of the modern theory of Nuclear Deterence, that is a clarion call of warning about the ultimate disaster to which it may be leading. Your interpretation of the Popes opinion is not “entirely accurate”, it is ass-backwards.

    I must also point out that the version of “Deterence” that JPII supported as a minimally acceptable and temporary stop gap measure was not at all the Satanic cartoon version you have presented. It was most emphatically not “if you attack us we will commit massive war crimes targeted against your civilian population”. The morally acceptable theory of Deterence based on “balance of power” was that a nation could maintain adaquate military standing so that in the event of an attack it was capable of defending itself to a sufficiant degree that the aggressor would have a powerful incentive not to attack in the first place. From the Christian perspective, it goes without saying that any such defensive response must conform to well established moral guidelines. That could take many forms short of a targeted campaign of genoicide against the attackers civilian population.

    Never having had access to Classified information, I have no definitive knowledge of what targets our missles where pre-programed to strike, but I agree with you that it would probably rise to the level of “fantasy” to assume that they were not targeted on Soviet cities. But that is an indictment of the morality of our strategic military posture during those years, not a defense of it, and to imply, if not outright claim , that John Paul II would have supported such an irredemably evil strategy is as monsterously slanderous as it is historicaly uniformed and completely without basis in the evidence.

  • Bill Bannon

    There is always a danger of reading into papal condemnations more than the words will bear.

    As Blessed John Henry Newman put it, in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk:-

    “As to the condemnation of propositions all she tells us is, that the thesis condemned when taken as a whole, or, again, when viewed in its context, is heretical, or blasphemous, or impious, or whatever like epithet she affixes to it. We have only to trust her so far as to allow ourselves to be warned against the thesis, or the work containing it. Theologians employ themselves in determining what precisely it is that is condemned in that thesis or treatise; and doubtless in most cases they do so with success; but that determination is not de fide; all that is of faith is that there is in that thesis itself, which is noted, heresy or error, or other like peccant matter, as the case may be, such, that the censure is a peremptory command to theologians, preachers, students, and all other whom it concerns, to keep clear of it. But so light is this obligation, that instances frequently occur, when it is successfully maintained by some new writer, that the Pope’s act does not imply what it has seemed to imply, and questions which seemed to be closed, are after a course of years re-opened. In discussions such as these, there is a real exercise of private judgment and an allowable one; the act of faith, which cannot be superseded or trifled with, being, I repeat, the unreserved acceptance that the thesis in question is heretical, or the like, as the Pope or the Church has spoken of it

    In these cases which in a true sense may be called the Pope’s negative enunciations, the opportunity of a legitimate minimizing lies in the intensely concrete character of the matters condemned; in his affirmative enunciations a like opportunity is afforded by their being more or less abstract. Indeed, excepting such as relate to persons, that is, to the Trinity in Unity, the Blessed Virgin, the Saints, and the like, all the dogmas of Pope or of Council are but general, and so far, in consequence, admit of exceptions in their actual application,—these exceptions being determined either by other authoritative utterances, or by the scrutinizing vigilance, acuteness, and subtlety of the Schola Theologorum.”

    This is particularly true, where the condemned propositions are subject to a global censure (as was the case in Exurge Domine) ranging from “heretical” to “offensive to pious ears.” Perhaps, Clement XI’s condemnation of 101 propositions, extracted from the works of Pasquier Quesnel [Unigenitus (September 8, 1713)] and to which the subscription of the clergy was required, furnishes the best example. By contrast, when Innocent X condemned the Five Propositions [Cum Occasione (May 31, 1653), a specific censure was attached to each of them.

    Moreover, infallibility is a purely negative charism. It is does not mean that popes or councils receive a divine illumination that enables them to pronounce definitively on every controverted question. It took rather more than four hundred years (reckoning from Sixtus IV to Pius IX to come to a definitive judgement on the Immaculate Conception, with Trent ducking the issue and Pius V [Super Speculam, 1570]; forbidding public discussions on the issue).

  • John Paul II understood what he was doing Andre when he endorsed nuclear deterrence as moral. It is fanciful to think that he understood nuclear deterrence to be other than the balance of terror between the United States and the Soviet Union. You disagree so you deploy a lot of verbiage and outrage to conceal the very simple fact that what you wish Papal policy was, a condemnation of nuclear deterrence, simply is not what the Popes have chosen to do.

  • Michael PS
    Butt covering. Newman: ” So light is the obligation…etc.”. Exsurge Domine: “We restrain all…under the penalty of an automatic major excommunication.”
    Picture a highly intelligent Non Catholic reader at this thread trying to reconcile Newman and thou….with Exsurge Domine’s automatic major excommunication irrespective of the “impious to pious ears” nature of an article. He’d look no further into Catholicism. We need a major overhaul and explicit classification and criticism of past documents and we need to drop the illusion of the hermeneutic of continuity. Lol…the Vatican executed 500 criminals in the first half of the 19th century in the papal states and now Popes are trying to stop all executions including of mass murderers like Timothy McVeigh and Saddam Hussein….and this is continuity. God supports burning heretics 1520 AD…God’s against burning heretics 1964 AD…continuity?

  • Bill,
    The Church is composed if sinners who commit all kinds of errors. The Holy Spirit’s protection only applies to the teaching of error. This is not hard to grasp, really, but it is an important distinction.

  • We need a major overhaul and explicit classification and criticism of past documents and we need to drop the illusion of the hermeneutic of continuity.

    Yeah, that’s just what we need. Wait, we already have it: it is called “Anglicanism”.

  • Donald:
    …attempting to make you ashamed of your service to our country is beneath contempt.

    I have three brothers who are veterans and two nephews currently serving (a coastie and a jarhead), so trying to paint me as holding the military in contempt isn’t any more credible than the “pacifist” tripe. And there is no shortage of valiant military men who have condemned the use of nukes and firebombs on civilian populations.

    Not that that ad hominem sidetrack in the discussion has any bearing on the “firm and unequivocal condemnation” doctrinally required of Catholics in the case of “every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants”.

  • I wasn’t referring to you Zippy in regard to my comment, however citing your relatives who have served in the US military is beside the point. If the US embraced your position regarding nuclear weapons we would all have been radioactive dust long ago, including your relatives who served.

  • I think it is rather telling that in this thread, supporters of the use of the atomic bomb on civilian populations are so fixated on ad hominem: on the red herring of the man rather than the objective act. “Bob is a good guy, and he says X” and “saying that X is wrong is accusing Bob because of personal things about Bob; but Bob is a great guy” are forms of ad hominem: the idea is to distract the discussion from the substantive issue at hand by focusing on some particular man, as if that distraction had any bearing on the substantive issue at hand.

    But the mass murder of civilian populations (via nuclear ordinance or conventional), is morally abominable, period. I don’t get to choose who supports these abominable acts and who, with the Church, condemns them. The people who make that choice for themselves are the ones doing the choosing. I fully appreciate that some people are faced with a more difficult choice than others: that personal history, personal ties, etc can make it a far more tangled choice for some than for others.

    But that again has no bearing whatsoever on an objective moral evaluation of the act itself. Dragging those things into the discussion is just a form of ad hominem.

  • Donald:
    … however citing your relatives who have served in the US military is beside the point.

    We agree about that. Others in this thread citing their own military service is also beside the point.

  • Mike,
    I think you may have missed the detail that Exsurge Domine condemned under excommunication what we now teach implicitly as truth…article 33 (Luther’s position then) was condemned then and implicitly affirmed now. That is teaching error then in 1520. The guidance of the Holy Spirit in teaching is clear only in de fide and infallible areas. Here is Fr. Brian Harrison otherwise and exactly on Leo X excommunicating for non support of burning heretics:
    . Therefore, especially in the light of the fact that the burning of heretics (or, indeed, their execution by any other method) formed absolutely no part of Catholic practice or tradition for the first thousand years of church history, and in fact, was explicitly repudiated by councils and popes as recently as the 11th century (cf. B2 and B3 above), I do not believe it is incumbent on Catholic apologists in the third millennium to go to great lengths trying to defend this non-infallible decision of Leo X.”
    In short, Harrison is saying the obvious…where infallibility is not present, the Church can err not just in actions but in teaching. He is saying what Ludwig Ott implies in the Intro to his Fundamentals of the Catholic Faith:
    With regard to the doctrinal teaching of the Church it must be well noted that not all the assertions of the Teaching Authority of the Church on questions of Faith and morals are infallible and consequently irrevocable. Only those are infallible which emanate from General Councils representing the whole episcopate, and the Papal Decisions Ex Cathedra (cf. D 1839). The ordinary and usual form of the Papal teaching activity is not infallible. Further, the decisions of the Roman Congregations (Holy Office, Bible Commission) are not infallible. Nevertheless normally they are to be accepted with an inner assent which is based on the high supernatural authority of the Holy See (assensus internus supernaturalis, assensus religiosus). The so-called “silentium obsequiosum.” that is “reverent silence,” does not generally suffice. By way of exception, the obligation of inner agreement may cease if a competent expert, after a renewed scientific investigation of all grounds, arrives at the positive conviction that the decision rests on an error .”
    So the Holy Spirit guides teaching perfectly only where infallibility, inerrancy etc. is present.
    Where it is not, His guidance is rather on putting limits to the perniciousness of the degree of error. The error in Exsurge Domine prolonged the burning of human beings in a context Vatican II condemns. That is not light…but it is also not deep error like Manichaeans seeing childbirth as the imprisonment of the divine light. It is such deep dogmatic error that leads to actions as a root to branches that is impossible in Catholicism while simple but fearful moral error has happened and been taught.

  • So, Zippy, you have painted yourself into Nirvana or probably limbo. One cannot live another person’s life for them. America can only try to prevent JAPAN’S annihilation of us, as equal human beings. You would proscribe self-defense as no defense. Have you no soul? THAT IS RATIONAL AND IMMORTAL? Sorry Zippy. It was self-defense and intended as self-defense. The fact that not a square inch of territory except that as was needed for graves for our military heroes is proof positive that the BOMB was self-defense. We took no slaves as did the abominable Japanese, not property either, and America rebuilt Japan. I suppose you drive a Mitsubishi auto. I do not. If the atomic bomb saved one innocent American life, it was worth it.

  • Scott:
    “Truman’s mistake was in not being more patient and creative before unleashing such a horrific weapon onto human history.” Truman’s mistake was in not letting Japan annihilate us. Would you be here?

  • Mary De Voe:

    I agree that dropping the atomic bomb(s) on Japan was self defense. It was self-defense using morally abominable means.

    In Catholic moral theology, there are certain concrete acts – intrinsically immoral acts – which cannot be justified, ever. That means among other things that they cannot be justified even as the means to a perfectly legitimate end, such as self defense. I gave the example above of mass rape: mass rape of civilian women might shorten the war by demoralizing the enemy, but it is nonetheless never morally acceptable.

    Some Catholics attempt to justify the Bomb by appealing to the principle of double-effect. But the principle of double-effect only applies when (among other criteria) the means chosen to achieve the end is not intrinsically immoral. Tom McKenna explained above why it cannot apply here.

    But one need not understand the moral theology of the matter in detail in this case anyway, because the Magisterium has been crystal clear that “firm and unequivocal condemnation” is doctrinally required of Catholics in the case of “every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants”.

    Even when it is done in self defense.

  • Zippy: “Even when it is done in self defense.”
    That is a 180 of what the Catholic Church, in fact, said. It is your private opinion.

    “every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants”. An act of self defense is not an act of war or aggression. And it certainly was not “indiscriminate”, but was calculated to end the war sooner than later. Obliterating the teachings of the Catholic Church to promote your own agenda is rather appalling. When the World War II veterans call the BOMB immoral, you will have my ear.

  • Pingback: Father Wilson Miscamble: The Myth of the Supply Problem | The American Catholic
  • Bill Bannon

    The “lightness of the obligation” refers to the fact that papal pronouncements are frequently found to imply less than was thought at the time of their promulgation, or even by the author himself.

    Who doubts that “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” the doctrine of “St. Ignatius, St. Irenæus, St. Cyprian in the first three centuries, as of St. Augustine and his contemporaries in the fourth and fifth,” as Newman notes, was understood in a more comprehensive sense than it is taught now? However, we believe with the Fathers that “there is no other communion or so called Church, but the Catholic, in which are stored the promises, the sacraments, and other means of salvation.”

    Again, a superficial reader of the acts of that council might conclude that Chalcedon had condemned the formula “one Nature incarnate of God the Word,” [??? ????? ??? ???? ????? ???????????] but the eighth canon of the Fifth Ecumenical Council declared it orthodox, if those using it “accept it as the Fathers taught, that by a hypostatic union of the Divine nature and the human, one Christ was effected” even though “Mia Phusis” was the watchword of the Monophysite party.
    Laurentius Berti was denounced by two French bishops, for reviving Jansenism, but in May 1751, Pope Benedict XIV, declared that nothing had been found in his work contrary to any decision of the Church.

    In our own day, Henri de Lubac’s Surnaturel was long suspected of Modernist teachings condemned in Lamentabili and Pascendi; it is now hailed as a pivotal moment in the history of 20th century Catholic theology. The same is true, to a lesser extent, of works by Bouyer, Chenu, Congar, Daniélou and Maréchal; these five, together with de Lubac are now recognized as the leading theologians of the last century. Again, we have had the recognition that the 40 propositions of Rosmini can bear an orthodox sense.

    Papal and Conciliar pronouncements are often the starting-point, rather than the termination of a process of theological development.

  • Michael PS
    Yes…..but that long term progress didn’t help the heretic dying from flames for 5 or more centuries ( I realize scholars are ever at work whittling an Inquisitor’s 31K burn figure down to one man in downtown Madrid). And I’m all for the death penalty but the Gentiles…us…were only given it for murder alone in Genesis 9:6 and asked to shed blood not cook it…echoed in Rom.13:4 with the icon…”sword” not fire. CCC #58 and #71 say that that Noachide covenant lasts til the end of time….tell that to CCC #2267 which ignores a 3% arrest rate in Guatemala
    ( meaning modern penology or life sentences could only protect Guatemalans from 3% of
    murderers…with our hierarchy showing no awareness whatsoever). Adieu. Donald wants this thread to stop being the Hotel California.

  • (I realize scholars are ever at work whittling an Inquisitor’s 31K burn figure down to one man in downtown Madrid).

    I believe there were 2,800 executions by various means, mostly between 1478 and 1530.

  • tell that to CCC #2267 which ignores a 3% arrest rate in Guatemala
    ( meaning modern penology or life sentences could only protect Guatemalans from 3% of
    murderers…with our hierarchy showing no awareness whatsoever).

    Unless you are planning a mess of extra-judicial executions, the police and courts are not going to protect than from any more than 3% even if the ultimate penalty is instituted. Guatemala needs to make incremental improvements in its civil service and its courts. Firing squads may be just, but that is a side issue.

  • ” Adieu. Donald wants this thread to stop being the Hotel California.”

    Correct. Let’s stay on topic please.

  • The Catechism states:
    “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.”

    Mary De Voe responds to the Catechism:
    “An act of self defense is not an act of war or aggression.”

    Defining the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as not-war is a transparently desperate rationalization. If self-defense is not-war by definition, as you would apparently have it, then the whole just war theory of the Church – both jus ad bellum and jus in bello – kind of goes out the window.

  • Whenever my father heard folks saying we shouldn’t have dropped the bomb he would say, “They weren’t sittin’ in the Phillipines waiting to invade Japan like I was.”

  • True Gil. Like my uncle Chuck who had fought his way across the Pacific in the Marine Corps and thought that he was certain to die in the invasion, or my uncle Bill who served on a destroyer and assumed, after what he saw at Okinawa, that a Kamikaze could well take out his ship sometime during the invasion. The news of the Surrender hit those men like a rescission of a death sentence.

  • Zippy: There is force, the Armed Forces, the Air Force, the Police Force. Then there is violence, which does violence to all mankind and creation. Violence does violence There is a difference. Force ends violence. You will know them by what they do. In your sense, Lucifer would still be cruisin’ around heaven ridiculing almighty and eternal God…for creating him.

  • Pingback: Global Warming and the Hiroshima Bombing « Zippy Catholic
  • Pingback: Father Wilson Miscamble Defends the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki « Almost Chosen People

Is The Public Crazy Not To Support Gun Control?

Monday, July 23, AD 2012

A number of opinion writers have taken the occasion of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado to express disgust with the fact that the American public shows little inclination towards increased gun control. According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who say they “feel that laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict” dropped from 78% to 44% during the period from 1990 to 2010.

Some of the more hyperbolic has claimed this is because the US is seized by a “death cult” or that it “worships violence”, but I think the actual reason is quite rational.

If we look at the percentage of people supporting stricter gun control in relation to the percentage of people who say they own guns (also from Gallup) and the US homicide rate, we see that the homicide rate dropped by 49% from 1990 to 2010 while gun ownership rates have remained fairly flat.

Since people readily perceive that gun ownership remains common, and yet violent crime has fallen significantly since the height of the ’80s and ’90s crime wave, people seem to implicitly believe that restricting gun ownership is not necessary in order to deal with crime.

We can get a somewhat longer term view of this if we look at an older Gallup question which is available in the same study, the percentage of Americans who say they support a ban on civilian handgun ownership. The question has been asked somewhat sporadically by Gallup, so we have only a few data points from the 50s, 60s and 70s, but the pattern is still very interesting.

Gallup first asked the question in 1959 when the murder rate had just gone up from 4.1 in 1955 to 4.9 in 1959. Support for a ban was quite high as 60%. Support for a ban dropped rapidly while crime increased. In 1979 31% of Americans supported banning handguns and the murder rate was 9.8. Support for a handgun ban then rebounded, reaching a recent high of 43% of American in 1991, which was also one of the worst years for violent crime with a murder rate of 9.8. However, violent crime then fell sharply and has continued a gradual decline, and support for banning hand guns has declined along with it with only 29% of Americans supporting such a ban in 2010.

This suggests to me that Americans actually have a pretty reasonable approach to the question. Despite the occasional headline grabbing catastrophe, the current murder rate is down at the same level as the 1950s, despite the availability of Glock handguns and “assault rifles”.

Continue reading...

34 Responses to Is The Public Crazy Not To Support Gun Control?

  • Thank you, Darwin Catholic, for this post.

  • “A number of opinion writers have taken the occasion of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado to express disgust with the fact that the American public shows little inclination towards increased gun control.”

    The attempt by some Leftist pundits to use this tragedy by either a very insane, or very evil, man to promote war on the Second Amendment is as predictible as it is contemptible. Norway has fairly strict gun control laws, and they did absolutely nothing in preventing a far worse massacre a year ago:

    http://world.time.com/2012/07/21/trying-to-forget-breivik-one-year-after-the-norway-massacre/

  • Far more guilt is to be laid on the people who removed the Fifth Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill” from the public square.

    Guns do not kill people. People kill people.

    The Right to Life fair was a miracle and a blessing. The woman approached the table and stated that “babies of crack mothers ought to be aborted.” Charles said: “My wife and I adopted a crack baby and she is doing fine”. Last year a woman approached the table and said: “Disabled children ought to be aborted.” David, the man born blind who goes to work on the train to teach others with his disability said: “What kind of disability are you talking about?” and the weather held up. Thank God. One Hail Mary

  • Forks kill!

    Millions are dying horrid deaths from obesity.

    Ban forks.

    Correlation is not causation. Since the 1950’s, liberals have added layer upon payer of gun control laws restricting access of law-abiding people to firearms. And, year after year, we have seen horrid increases in violence.

    Americans outside the welfare states on the fringes/coasts, realize that criminals employ guns and they don’t obey gun laws.

    We understand that banning guns won’t stop violent predatory criminals.

    “So, if the USA follows Australia’s lead in banning guns, it should expect a 42 percent increase in violent crime, a higher percentage of murders committed with a gun, and three times more rape.”

    Plus: “The International Crime Victims Survey, conducted by Leiden University in Holland, found that England and Wales ranked second overall in violent crime among industrialized nations. Twenty-six percent of English citizens — roughly one-quarter of the population — have been victimized by violent crime. Australia led the list with more than 30 percent of its population victimized. The United States didn’t even make the ‘top 10? list of industrialized nations whose citizens were victimized by crime.”

  • Oddly, by choosing guns, this man avoided the McVeigh route and killed very few people RELATIVE to what his science trained mind could have done with fertilizer etc. Twelve is awful.
    Hundreds would have been worse. If we cannot stop 12 million illegals from entering the country, I suspect prohibition of guns would create a highway from Taurus pistols in Brazil right to our cities. Then only bad guys would have them and our probable cause restrictions would prevent cops from searching houses in the worst neighborhoods….as obtains now.
    We do need to de-glorify violence though. Example: It’s absurd that there are fist fights in professional hockey and none in Olympic hockey. A bar brawler gets time in jail for the very thing that hockey takes pride in while the municipal governments hosting the hockey games look the other way because of the money brought to surrounding culture by hockey.
    Secondly…we are still not as a culture identifying those who are moving into states of true oddity…whether of mental illness or of homicidal evil inclinations which they signal on the internet.
    Thirdly the papal Swiss guard is better equipped than our security guards in large venues to kill a mass murderer wearing body armor because they are given Heckler and Koch PDW’s ( smaller than submachine guns) with armor piercing bullets…the 4.6 mm in MP 7’s which Heckler and Koch probbly donated to Vatican city. So our anti death penalty Vatican is realistic off camera. It’s not impossible that Al Qaeda one day sends someone with body armor into St. Peter’s. The Swiss Guard are actually ready whereas our security in movie theaters are probably unarmed normally.

  • A little further on what Bill said. We have to consider ourselves lucky that Holmes only used guns and he was not well trained in using them – it could have been much worse.

    Lets face it. If only 1/10 of 1/10% of our population in America is truly insane enough to perpetrate something like this that is still 30,000+ individuals. In most cases we are lucky they choose less massively lethal ways of killing people.

    In this particular case the bomb making skills were in evidence and could easily have been used but weren’t. I won’t go into the many, many ways to make bombs, biological or chemical agents out of the proverbial “household items”. Suffice to say that we can ban everything but wooden spoons and one of those 30,000 will still find a way.

    At least with guns there is a chance for members of the public to actually defend themselves if they can legally carry. It is really hard to defend yourself against an IED.

  • Anybody that disagrees with the elites and their liberal narrative is both crazy and dangerous.

  • T. Shaw, I shall proudly join you in being both crazy and dangerous. 😉

  • Here is a curious autobiographical fact. On three occasions, I have been in the near vicinity of a bomb explosion.

    The first time, on Monday 22nd January 1962, aged 16, I was on the embankment of the Seine, in front of the French Foreign Office at Quai d’Orsay, when the OAS plastiqueurs set off a bomb there. Three 5 kg (11 lb) charges of C-4 were used, packed into the mouldings of the facade. Hundreds of windows were blown in. One woman was killed and thirteen people injured.

    The second was on Thursday 8th March 1973, when the IRA set off a bomb () outside the Central Criminal Court in Old Bailey in London. The bomb, about 14 kg or 30 lb of Semtex, was in a car across the street from a public house called the Magpie & Stump. One bar faces the street and the other is behind it, reached from an alleyway called Bishop’s Court. I was in the back bar, when the front of the building was blown in. In the street, one person died and one hundred and forty were injured

    The third was on Saturday 17th December 1983, when the IRA planted another car bomb, similar to the Old Bailey bomb, in Hans Crescent, at the back of Harrods’s, the London department store. I was going there to do some Xmas shopping and had stopped to chat to a friend in Sloan Street. I would have used the Hans Crescent entrance. Six people were killed, including three police officers who had just arrived and were still in their car. One of the dead was an American visitor. Ninety people were injured.

    It is worth noting that, in each case, the bomb was small enough to have been carried with ease in a suitcase or back-pack. From 1973 onwards, the regulations and licensing procedure governing the possession, storage and use of explosives, especially plastic explosives, have been tightened considerably. Terrorists in the UK now tend to use hydrogen peroxide based bombs.

    I have never been shot at.

  • Michael,
    So in your cases, 1,1 and 6 were killed. In the USA, lapsed Catholic Timothy McVeigh killed 168 of whom 19 were children with one very big bomb in a truck. According to reports, he received the Catholic Extreme Unction/ Anointing of the Sick… prior to execution.

  • I am not familiar with the current level of gun control, but aren’t there things such as waiting periods and backgrounds checks already in most states, not to mention licenses for concealed carry?

  • Besides, my understanding of the 2nd Amendment is its purpose is to provide citizens some modicum of defense against a tyrannical government, not self protection from criminals. Even if there is a crime/gun ownership correlation, that would seem to be irrelevant to a 2nd Amd analysis (in other words, the Framers determined the trade off was worth it).

  • “…aren’t there things such as waiting periods and backgrounds checks already in most states…?”

    In North Carolina I bought my mini-14 rifle and ammunition by just walking into the gun store and picking and choosing what I wanted.

    But there are mandatory training courses and background checks for conceal and carry handguns which a close friend of mine has. He let me see his handgun one day and by goodness, it’s ammunition would do worse damage than what my mini-14 uses! 😉

    Again, what terrorists like James Holmes and dictators like Barack Hussein Obama fear more than anything else is a well-armed citizenry able to defend its right to life, liberty and the private ownership of property.

  • “…my understanding of the 2nd Amendment is its purpose is to provide citizens some modicum of defense against a tyrannical government, not self protection from criminals.”

    Doesn’t matter, C Matt. Everyone has the moral right to defend his life and that of his loved ones against aggression. The Maccabean brothers knew that.

  • “Besides, my understanding of the 2nd Amendment is its purpose is to provide citizens some modicum of defense against a tyrannical government, not self protection from criminals.”
    Is there a difference?

  • No, Mary De Voe, not in today’s government where the criminal is the President.

  • “The Swiss Guard are actually ready whereas our security in movie theaters are probably unarmed normally.”

    Like the body guards of Ronald Reagan, the Swiss Guards are to throw their bodies down on the Pope as shields against the Pope’s harm. There were several men, real men, who saved their beloved ones.

    Our culture needs to return to the love of man for the love of God.

    While walking home from the fifth grade, my son was shot at with a bb gun. I picked the bbs out of his hood. He could have lost an eye. It is a law of physics: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Let the punishment equal the crime. Bring the power of God into the public square.

  • People don’t stop killers.

    People with guns stop killers.

  • Amen, T. Shaw! Another lesson from the Maccabean brothers, except they had only swords, spears, and bows and arrows to use.

  • Technical point of order for Mr. Primavera (whose points are right on):
    The .223 in your Mini-14 can do a lot more damage at the equivalent range than your friend’s handgun, can, unless he’s got one heck of a handgun. It’s the energy that determines stopping power. Remember that E=1/2mv^2. The .223 has low mass, but – coming out of a rifle barrel with a pretty good charge behind it – has a lot higher velocity. Your rifle will yield about 1100-1200 ft-lbs muzzle energy, depending on the round; a .45 handgun delivers way less than half of that.

    I would reccommend, however, trying to avoid being hit with either 🙂

    Rules for a gunfight (traditional):
    1) Bring a gun
    2) Bring more guns
    3) Bring all your friends with guns

  • Hey! A guy who knows Newtonian physics. Hooray! Thanks, Mike the Geek!

  • Because I’m a stodgy and un-fun kind of guy (and I authored the post) I’m just going to stick my nose back into the threat briefly and say that I don’t think it’s remotely accurate to describe the current president as a dictator or a criminal. I most certainly want to defeat the guy in November, but we’ve been blessed to have real criminals or dictators among our presidents, and I think it’s worth keeping that in mind. Otherwise I’d feel like I was following in the path of so many of my liberal acquaintances who spent eight years suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome.

  • Agreed Darwin. Obama is not a criminal or a dictator. He merely is a President giving James Buchanan a run for his money in regard to Buchanan’s title of worst President of the United States! 🙂

  • *dryly* Yeah, let’s have more gun control, especially gun free zones– they work so well for preventing a large number of deaths.

  • I suspect that one reason support for gun control has dropped so dramatically over the past 20-30 years is the spread of concealed carry laws to the majority of states. The doomsayers who predicted that concealed carry would lead to constant Wild West-like shootouts have, for the most part, been proven wrong. As gun ownership and carry permits become more common– every state except, you guessed it, Illinois has some provisions for civilians to carry concealed weapons, though some states make the rules so strict that they might as well be no-carry states — more people learn how to use guns properly, and more people successfully use guns to defend themselves or their families, they lose their fear of them.

  • Donald R McClary

    There is a street market for second0hand books in Farringdon Street in the City of London, where second-hand books are sold, usually for coppers. I once saw a copy of “Mr Buchanan’s Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion” there, rather handsomely bound and gilded. It had one of those engraved heraldic book plates on the inside front cover, of the kind rather pretentious Victorians used to put in their books. The man wanted £5 for it, but accepted £3.

    Of course, I checked the arms in Papworth and it turned out it had belonged to Sir Edward Gray, who was British Foreign Secretary from 1905-1916. He obviously acquired it before being created a Viscount in 1916, as there was no coronet or supporters on the arms. It is now in my old college library.

  • What a coincidence MPS! I have a copy of one of the volumes in the Cambridge Ancient hstory that had once been in Grey’s library! He lived until 1933 and I assume his lbirary, or portions of it, must have been sold off after his death.

  • Did it have a book-plate?

  • Yep. And the spine in gold leaf states that it was part of his library.

  • I most certainly want to defeat the guy in November, but we’ve been blessed to have real criminals or dictators among our presidents, and I think it’s worth keeping that in mind.

    I think you can make a case for the criminality of some (I would be cautious with that – there’s a whole ‘investigative reporter’ subculture which has for forty years or more been manufacturing literature contending each and all were) and Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, and Roosevelt were certainly severely and unjustly abusive to swaths of the domestic opposition and to people who just happened to be in the way. However, I do not think there has ever been a time where public policy could be made on the President’s whim.

  • Elaine,
    New Jersey allows concealed carry but to the absolutely rare person as per your remark. NJ is the most densely populated state per square mile so it makes sense vis a vis the probability of a distant bystander being hit by an errant self defense shot. P.A. is actually an open carry state except for large cities, Federal buildings and state parks; and concealed carry seems very possible there to almost anyone normal since many towns probably prefer that people don’t open carry for tourism reasons. Visiting my brother in Shippensburg PA, I never saw a person open carrying because not crime but bad teenage driving seems to be the greater danger in some rural areas. What should be allowed and is not in big NE cities is the .410 pistol that shoots a shotgun shell that quickly dissipates in power past the criminal’s space. So far though these pistols also shoot the .45. Where’s the creativity? Make a .410 only pistol which would stop criminals but dissipate as to far away bystanders in populous states.

  • Art,

    I’m an idiot. That was meant to read, “we’ve been blessed NOT to have real criminals or dictators among our presidents.”

  • Police don’t stop killers. People with guns stop killers.

    NY Daily News: “The evidence is clear: Massacres are stopped by legally armed citizens.”

The mainstream media and the Leadership Conference of Religious Women: “Fair and balanced” reportage?

Monday, July 23, AD 2012

 

The so-called “mainstream” media had a feeding frenzy immediately after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) announced its doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

If one was to believe the reports, an institution led by patriarchal, misogynists who don’t “get it” are now attempting to strike back by discrediting “the good sisters.”

Bishop Leonard Blair
Diocese of Toledo (OH)

There’s another side to the story not being reported by the main stream media.  It’s provided by Bishop Leonard Blair, who led the initial inquiry into the LCWR.  In an article entitled, “Reality Check: The LCWR, CDF, and the Doctrinal Assessment,” Bishop Blair explores what he calls “the distortions and misrepresentation of the facts being asserted by the mainstream media.

These include:

  • The claim that CDF has no direct authority over the LCWR.  In fact, the LCWR’s function, responsibilities, and statutes have been approved by the Holy See and to which the LCWR remains accountable.
  • The claim that the CDF and the bishops are attacking or criticizing the life, work, and members of women’s Catholic religious congregations in the United States.  In fact, the CDF’s concerns are doctrinal.
  • The claim that the “investigation” is directed at women’s religious congregations and their members.  In fact, the word “investigation” mischaracterizes the doctrinal “assessment” ordered by the CDF.  The assessment was aimed at the LCWR’s operations, including its programs and publications.
  • The claim that the assessment was covert, blindsiding the LCWR and its members.  In fact, the assessment was carried out in dialogue with the LCWR leadership, both in writing and face-to-face, over several months.

For Bishop Blair, the fundamental question was simply this: “What are the Church’s pastors to make of the fact that the LCWR constantly provides a one-sided platform—without challenge or any opposing view—to speakers who take a negative and critical position vis-a-vis Church doctrine and discipline and the Church’s teaching office?”

Suffice it to say, the Church’s pastors had every reason to be concerned about the LCWR’s doctrinal positions.  After listing some causes for concern, Bishop Blair then asks:

[Is] it the role of a pontifically recognized leadership group to criticize and undermine faith in church teaching by what is said and unsaid, or rather to work to create greater understanding and acceptance of what the Church believes and teaches?

Note too, Bishop Blair asserts, that those who are criticizing the CDF and the bishops for assessing the LCWR don’t hold the teachings of the Catholic Church or are Catholics who dissent from those teachings.

A good observation.  Why should those who dissent from Church teaching—Catholic or not—determine for the Church what constitutes a “legitimate cause for doctrinal concern” about the activities a pontifically-approved organization?

More interesting is Bishop Blair’s prognosis about what the future portends.  He writes:

The response thus far is exemplified by the LCWR leadership’s choice of a New Age Futurist to address its 2012 assembly, and their decision to give an award this year to Sister Sandra Schneiders, who has expressed the view that the hierarchical structure of the church represents an institutionalized form of patriarchal domination that cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.

So much for the much-touted, post-Vatican II spirit of “communio.

To The Motley Monk, it’s sounding more and more like heresy and schism.

Call it what it is and be done with it as nature follows its inevitable trajectory.

 

 

To read Bishop Blair’s article, click on the following link:
http://thecatholicspirit.com/that-they-may-all-be-one/bishop-blair-offers-a-reality-check/

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

Continue reading...

4 Responses to The mainstream media and the Leadership Conference of Religious Women: “Fair and balanced” reportage?

Men Acting Like Men

Monday, July 23, AD 2012

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

 

Remember these men who, sadly, are no longer with us:  Matt McQuinn, Jonathan Blunk, and Alex Teves.    One of the prime duties of any man is to defend those he loves, and these gentlemen lived up to that responsibility at the cost of their lives:

They took bullets for their beloveds.

Three young men are being hailed as heroes for their old-fashioned chivalry  and courage under fire in saving the lives of their girlfriends.

While using their bodies as shields, Matt McQuinn, 27, Jonathan Blunk, 26,  and Alex Teves, 24, were killed in the worst mass shooting in US history.

Nine others were also murdered when deranged gunman James Holmes unloaded a  fusillade of bullets into the packed Century 16 theater early Friday in Aurora,  Colo.

McQuinn dived in front of his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler, also 27, when the  gunfire erupted. She was shot in the knee. McQuinn was fatally struck three  times.

Jonathan Blunk threw his date, Jansen Young, 21, to the floor, pushing her  under the seat.

“Stay down!” he told her, moments before he was shot to death.

“He took a bullet for me,” Young told NBC’s “Today” show.

“He always talked about if he were going to die, he wanted to die a hero,” Blunk’s estranged wife, Chantel Blunk, told NBC News.

Teves, of Phoenix, used his body to cover girlfriend Amanda Lindgren, Teves’ grandmother Rae Iacovelli told The Post.

“He shielded her. He got down on the floor and covered her up,” said  Iacovelli, who lives in Barneget, NJ. “She was pulled out from under him. I  don’t know who pulled her out.”

Continue reading...

3 Responses to Men Acting Like Men

Genesis, the Government Revised Version

Sunday, July 22, AD 2012

 

 

The sharp eyed Iowahawk gives us a reading from the Book of Barack:

In the beginning Govt created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the economy was formless and void, darkness was over the surface of the ATMs, and the Spirit of Govt was hovering over the land.

3 And Govt said, “Let there be spending,” and there was spending. 4 Govt saw that the spending was good, and that it separated the light from the darkness. 5 Govt called the spending Investments, and this he did in the first day.

6 Then Govt said, “Let there be roads and bridges across the waters, and let dams divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus Govt made the infrastructure and the patronage jobs for eternity under the firmament from the Potomac which was above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And Govt called the firmament Washington. This Govt did on the second day.

9 Then Govt said, “Let the regulations and the guidlines under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the Bureaus appear”; and it was so. 10 And Govt called the Bureaus demigovts, and the gathering together of them He called AFSCME. And Govt saw that it was good.

11 Then Govt said, “Let there be police, and firefighters, and teachers according to their kind, for they will create more jobs”; and it was so. 12 And then Govt bade the void bring forth crime, and arson, and stupidity, that each would yield seed to bring forth more police, and firefighters, and teachers, and jobs. And Govt saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 On the fourth day Govt said, “Let Us make the economy in Our image, according to Our likeness; let it have dominion over the cars of the road, over the appliances of the supercenters, and over the pet groomers of the strip malls, over all the clickthroughs of Amazon and over every creepy thing of the Dollar Stores.” 15 So Govt created the economy in His own image; services and wholesale and retail He created them. 16 Then Govt blessed them, and Govt said to them, “Be fruitful and use the multiplier effect; fill the land with jobs; thou have dominion over thy realm, within limits, as long and thou remember to get thy permits and tithe thy taxes, for they are good. Hope to see you at the fundraiser.”

17 And on the fifth day Govt made an official Govt holiday, and headed off for a 3-day golf weekend at Camp David. But first Govt said to the economy, “you are free to eat from any tree in the garden, except the tree of Knowledge. There is a serpent in that thing, and thy health care does not cover it.”

18 So when Govt was on vay-cay the economy set about the garden, plowing its fields and generating revenue for the glory of Govt. They obeyed the regulations and were not ashamed.

19 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the balanced, publicly-funded birds the Lord Govt had made to sing news to the economy. The serpent was on the AM band. He said to the retail sector, “Did Govt really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? ”

20 “Only yours, serpent,” said the retail sector.

21 “Don’t be a wuss,” the serpent said to the retail sector. 22 “For Govt knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will wise to Govt’s scam.”

23 When she saw that the fruit was pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, and also free to download, she took some and ate it. She emailed a copy to her wholesaler, and he ate it; and then the wholesaler to the manufacturer, and he to the servicer. 24 Then the eyes of all of them were opened, and they realized they were being taxed naked; so they outsourced fig leaves to make coverings for themselves. 

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Genesis, the Government Revised Version

  • Excellent!

    The Guvmint is my Shepherd there is nothing I shall want . . .

    David Harsanyi: Obama’s ideas are un-American.

    “If not un-American, the ideas that propel Obama’s re-election campaign are certainly unprecedented. . . . The president’s central case rests on the idea that individuals should view government as society’s moral center, the engine of prosperity and the arbiter of fairness. Traditionally speaking, that’s not a very American notion. Surely, he’s not the first president to think it, but he’s probably the first to say it — and he says it over and over again.”

  • “We’re in this together with God”

  • Aw – thought the first video was the heretical one, due to that third day stupidity which got me again.

    And as to creepy things in Dollar stores, which are the Govt. version of $.05 and $.10’s of olden times (even the cent symbol is not on common keyboards), which had ‘soda fountains’ with seats that spun around and menus for things in view (grills, milk shake mixers etc.) when seated at counter, and every color of threads and knitting yarn, model planes and cars, and other not so creepy necessities not in bubble pkgs. – I don’t know – check the card racks in your support of the Govt. economy.

  • I always rather liked the Member of Parliament’s prayer

    Our Leaderer which art in the Treasury
    Whatsoever be thy name
    Thy power be prolonged; Thy will be done
    In the country as it is in each session
    Give us this day our usual sops
    And forgive us our absences
    As we will not forgive those who divide against Thee
    And lead us not to the hustings
    But deliver us from the People
    For Thine are the places, the perks and the pensions
    Forever and ever. Amen

  • Good post. Also loved the poem that Michael Paterson-Seymour provided.

  • Pingback: Devil Church Fathers Eternal Life Jill Stanek Obama FBI | Big Pulpit

I Built This

Sunday, July 22, AD 2012

Hattip to commenter Phillip.  A truly devastating reply to Obama’s remarks here.  Put me down for building my law practice.  Did I do it alone?  Certainly not!  My right hand woman, Chris, my secretary for 27 years and counting, deserves a large share of the credit, as does my wife, with her love and support, along with helping out at the office.   My parents, who taught me that with hard work I could be what I chose to be, will always get all the credit I can muster for anything good I’ve accomplished in this world.  Finally, my clients, who have blessed me with their business over the years, will always have my humble thanks.  All that having been gratefully acknowledged, I think my usual 50 plus hours a week that I put in at the law mines might have had a wee bit to do with it. 

Continue reading...

2 Responses to I Built This

  • Ungrateful serf! You couldn’t even write this blog post without the gifts that President Antiochus Epiphanes has so graciously bestowed upon this nation. He and his tireless team of experts even provided you with an alphabet and punctuation, which you now misuse out of your grumbling and unappreciative contempt for the charitable bounty he has provided. I suggest you begin your mandatory contraception immediately before you pollute the land with additional parasitic Catholic organisms. And forget about using your lawyerly wiles to avoid it. If you can’t use the law as it was intended, the law will be taken away because you are not worthy of laws, and you’ll just have to do what you’re told.

July 22, 1862: Lincoln Advises Cabinet of Emancipation Proclamation

Sunday, July 22, AD 2012

One of the more momentous dates in American history.  On July 22, 1862, President Lincoln stuns his cabinet by showing them a preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Artist Francis Carpenter in February 1864 heard from Mr. Lincoln’s own lips about this cabinet meeting.  This was appropriate since Carpenter spent six months in the White House immortalizing the scene for future generations in his painting First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln which is at the bottom of this post.  Here is what Carpenter recalled Lincoln saying:

“It had got to be,” said he, “midsummer, 1862. Things had gone on from bad to worse, until I felt that we had reached the end of our rope on the plan of operations we had been pursuing; that we had about played our last card, and must change our tactics, or lose the game! I now determined upon the adoption of the emancipation policy; and, without consultation with, or the knowledge of the Cabinet, I prepared the original draft of the proclamation, and, after much anxious thought, called a Cabinet meeting upon the subject. This was the last of July, or the first part of the month of August, 1862.” (The exact date he did not remember.) “This Cabinet meeting took place, I think, upon a Saturday. All were present, excepting Mr. Blair, the Postmaster-General, who was absent at the opening of the discussion, but came in subsequently. I said to the Cabinet that I had resolved upon this step, and had not called them together to ask their advice, but to lay the subject-matter of a proclamation before them; suggestions as to which would be in order, after they had heard it read….. Various suggestions were offered. Secretary Chase wished the language stronger in reference to the arming of the blacks. Mr. Blair, after he came in, deprecated the policy, on the ground that it would cost the Administration in the fall elections. Nothing, however, was offered that I had not already fully anticipated and settled in my own mind, until Secretary Seward spoke. He said in substance: “Mr. President, I approve of the proclamation, but I question the expediency of its issue at this juncture. The depression of the public mind, consequent upon our repeated reverses, is so great that I fear the effect of so important a step. It may be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for help; the government stretching forth its hands to Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to the government.” His idea,” said the President, “was that it would be considered our last shriek, on the retreat.” (This was his precise expression.) “Now,’ continued Mr. Seward, ‘while I approve the measure, I suggest, sir, that you postpone its issue, until you can give it to the country supported by military success, instead of issuing it, as would be the case now, upon the greatest disasters of the war!'” Mr. Lincoln continued: “The wisdom of the view of the Secretary of State struck me with very great force. It was an aspect of the case that, in all my thought upon the subject, I had entirely overlooked. The result was that I put the draft of the proclamation aside, as you do your sketch for a picture, waiting for a victory.”

Continue reading...

Debunking Realignment Theory

Saturday, July 21, AD 2012

For well over half a century political scientists have promoted the idea of electoral realignments or critical elections. Popularized by the likes of V.O. Key, the idea is that every 32 or 36 years electoral currents shift radically to favor one party or the other. Roughly speaking, the critical elections have been 1800 (Jefferson and the emergence of the Jeffersonian Republican), 1828 (Jacksonian Democracy), 1860 (the Lincoln Republicans), 1896 (McKinley and the dominance of the GOP), 1932 (FDR and the New Deal), and 1968 (Nixon and the New Right). According to this theory, we are overdue for a critical election. Some assumed Barack Obama’s 2008 victory marked such a shift. John Judis and Ruy Teixeira argued back in 2002 in The Emerging Democratic Majority that demographic trends favored the Democrats, and that the party would be ascendant for the foreseeable future.

David Mayhew wrote the definitive rebuttal to the realignment school of thought. Mayhew dug deep into the electoral data and showed that political scientists had overvalued demographic trends and missed subtle clues that completely contradicted the critical election theory.

Sean Trende builds upon Mayhew and also rebuts realignment theory in The Lost Majority: Why the Future of Government is Up for Grabs – and Who Will Take It. Trende looks back at electoral data dating into the 19th century and argues that those who advocate on behalf of realignment theory conveniently ignore elections that do not quite fit in with their neat picture. For example, if the 1896 election began a period of Republican dominance, what happened in the 1910s? To argue that Wilson’s election in 1912 was a fluke ignores the fact that Democrats had won control of the House in 1910, and had done quite well until World War I shifted the electorate back towards the Republicans. Trende also points out that the McKinley-Roosevelt-Taft GOP was a different beast than the Harding-Coolidge-Hoover GOP, as the party had become much more conservative.

Trende’s most startling argument – and one which the data certainly supports – is that the New Deal coalition did not flame out in the 1960s; rather, the New Deal coalition was dead as early as 1938. Southern Democrats had tolerated FDR’s early New Deal program, but his advocacy of greater government intervention pushed the southern Democrats away. Though Democrats retained nominal control of Congress for much of this period, Republicans and conservative Democrats had an effective majority.

Along these same lines, Trende postulates that if any real realignment occurred, it took place during the Eisenhower administration. The Eisenhower coalition, as he puts it, pushed the GOP to decisive victories in seven of nine presidential elections. Moreover, the solid Democratic south began shifting towards the Republican party at this point. In fact the south’s gradual shift towards the GOP had begun as early as the 1920s, but the Depression halted Republican advances here. Once the New Deal had ramped up, the Republicans again began making inroads. Republicans began being truly competitive in presidential elections during the 1950s, then started making inroads in Congressional races in the 1970s and 80s, and are finally now the dominant party on the local level.

Trende’s thesis effectively destroys the notion that Republicans only began being competitive in the south once Nixon deployed the “southern strategy” to woo racist southerners after the Civil Rights Act. As already mentioned, the GOP vote share in the south had been incrementally creeping up in the 1930s, with GOP vote shares moving out of the 15-20% range and inching up towards parity slowly and surely. In fact the GOP vote share in the south did not noticeably increase during  the 1960s, but instead crept up in the same incremental 1-2% annual range. Where Republicans really started making dents were with younger southern voters, as older southerners continued to cling to the Democratic party even though the national party’s values no longer matched their own. Considering that younger voters tended to have much more liberal racial views, the transformation of the south into a Republican stronghold has to be explained by something other than racial matters.

Even though Trende doesn’t come right out and say this, if anything the changing electoral map can just as easily be explained by the Democrats pursuing a northern strategy. As the Democrats began appealing to elite northern voters by pushing a more liberal agenda, this drove southerners and midwesterners away from the party. This trend would continue until Bill Clinton pursued a much different strategy, crafting his agenda to appeal to suburbanites and middle income whites. Clinton and the New Democrats were able to rip into Republican strongholds by advancing a more moderate platform. The end of the Cold War, as well as the rise of the Evangelical right, fractured the Eisenhower coalition, allowing the Democrats to win presidential elections.

But the Democrats do not have a stranglehold on the electorate themselves. First of all, their coalition is an uneasy one, consisting of discordant demographic groups (upper-class and working-class whites, for instance) that have potentially conflicting interests. And despite their ability to attract large chunks of the minority vote at the current moment, Trends believes that pundits are mistaken in their belief that Democrats will continue to perform at their current rate among these different groups for decades to come. For example, Latinos vote more like whites as they advance economically. Though middle class Latinos still vote more Democratic than do their white counterparts, as they assimilate they do tend to vote more Republican. It is for this reason that he dismisses arguments advanced by those who claim that exit polls actually over-represent GOP-leaning Latinos. These individuals point out that since Republicans win around 20% of the vote in precincts that are almost wholly Latino, it is inconceivable that Republicans could be claiming 35-40 percent of the Latino vote. But these communities tend to be among the poorer ones, and therefore there is nothing incongruous with wider GOP support from Latinos living in more affluent and mixed neighborhoods.

Trende also notes that the signs of the collapse of a Democratic majority were already apparent in the 2008 election. Obama’s electoral majority was actually fairly weak considering the state of the economy and widespread disapproval of George Bush. Moreover, the Democratic Congressional majority, as large as it was, was helped by Democratic over-performance in Republican-leaning districts. When Obama pursued what was largely considered to be a very liberal agenda, this pushed those Republican-leaning districts back into the GOP fold. Finally, the state of the economy at the time of the 2010 mid-terms cannot explain in full the size of the Republican victory that night, as most models based on the economy suggested a slightly more moderate Republican victory.

In general, Trende believes that prognosticators put entirely too much stock into economic performance. Though the state of the economy certainly plays a role in elections, it hardly tells the whole story. In fact most recent national elections have gone against economy-based projections. There are too many variables at play to simply base electoral projections on the unemployment rate and GDP growth.

Long story short, Trende thinks that electoral fatalism (ie. the idea that we are headed towards a period of one-party dominance) is mis-placed. Events will always transpire that will alter the electorate one way or the other. With that being said, upcoming elections are truly up for grabs.

Continue reading...

44 Responses to Debunking Realignment Theory

  • Single party governance has never had the sustainability of a system like ours, where the left-liberal Demoncrats make radically evil changes and right-liberal Republicans insure that those evil changes are implemented slowly enough that they can’t be reversed. Demoncrats wants the frog boiled RIGHT NOW; Republicans insure that it gets boiled slowly enough for the project to succeed.

  • Right-liberal Republicans? This reminds me of a story that Lincoln used to tell. If we call a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Four, because calling something what it isn’t doesn’t make it so.

  • Electoral realignment I think does sometimes occur if a part falls flat on its face, or is perceived to do so, in a crisis situation. That happened to the Democrats during the years leading up to the Civil War. The Republicans encountered the same problem as a result of the New Deal. Jimmy Carter’s disaster of a Presidency paved the way for Reagan and a Republican resurgence. Bush in 2006-2008 did the same for the Democrats and Obama is acting as a mirror image of Bush 43 for the Republicans in 2010-2012. What we always must realize is that politics is ever changing, and that when pundits begin to write about Democrat or Republican dominance as far as the eye can see, that is about the time that the party slips on a massive political banana peel. I think the Republicans will do very well in November indeed, and if they do, the next day I will dust off this post that I wrote the day after the Republican victories in 2010.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/11/03/no-final-victories-no-final-defeats/

  • Yes, Republicans are right-liberals, in deed and fact the great co-dependent enablers of the modernist revolution, however they may think of themselves in the private little psychological recesses of their minds.

  • Arguments are so much more convincing Zippy if they are supported by those quaint items known as facts.

  • There have been electoral long cycles in federal politics. One party is predominant but does not have exclusive control throughout. Interstitially, there are inchoate periods (1788-1800, 1824-1834, 1854-1860) and periods of parity (1876-1896). What we can see retrospectively is that the Democratic Party’s general advantage dissipated around about 1968 and presented the country with something of a novelty: a period of parity where the campaigns for legislative and executive office have rather different valences. The period we have been living in has been the longest the country has experienced. One other curio is that elections for the federal executive have turned increasingly on small segments of the electorate while (if anything) legislative elections have grown more volatile one year to another.

    The demography obsessives might attempt to offer an explanation of why the GOP has performed so much better in legislative elections in the last eighteen years than it had previously even though the composition of the congressional Republican caucus has rendered the party less tractable to the opposition (to the consternation of Christine Todd Whitman, David Frum, &c.).

    The partisan Democrats’ discourse about the ‘southern strategy’ (and ‘dog whistles’ and ‘racial cues’) has always been patent and malicious nonsense, but there is no arguing most of them out of it.

  • Yes, Republicans are right-liberals, in deed and fact the great co-dependent enablers of the modernist revolution, however they may think of themselves in the private little psychological recesses of their minds.

    Zippy, the point of political terminology is to have designations and summaries which lubricate conversation. You are conversing with other people, not with your navel and not just with John Rao. (And I will wager most engaged Republicans understand themselves better than you understand them. A little humility isn’t going to hurt you).

  • I didn’t make an argument, I made an observation, analogous to “the sun keeps coming up every day” or “Barack Obama despises the unborn”. There is a reason why the Codependent Party nominee was once Ronald Reagan, and today is Mitt Romney. Anyone with half a modicum of objectivity and common sense can see that reason.

  • Shorter Zippy: It’s so because I say it’s so.

    It’s that precise logic backed up by sound reason that has the most briliant political mind of our age enraptured.

  • I didn’t make an argument, I made an observation, analogous to “the sun keeps coming up every day”

    Phrases like “the great co-dependent enablers of the modernist revolution” are not analogous to common-and-garden observations of the physical world. They are references to insider discourse. They do not have much ready meaning to the rest of us and would likely be contested if they were elaborated upon in ordinary language. (For starters, just what is the ‘modernist revolution’ and why should we regard it as something going on outside your head?)

  • I know, guys: he’s not a mean drunk, you just fell down the stairs.

  • We do try to communicate in English on this blog Zippy, and not every comment you make needs to contain a non-sequitur.

  • “Trende also points out that the McKinley-Roosevelt-Taft GOP was a different beast than the Harding-Coolidge-Hoover GOP, as the party had become much more conservative.”

    This analysis illustrates that in a 2 party system the parties morph in order to get votes or for circumstantial reasons. (With 3 or more parties there is an increased utility in adhering to outlier voting blocs.) So a party at one moment in time cannot be equated to the same named party at a different moment. Nor can sports teams, who may wear the same uniform from year to year but perform very differently. The modern Democrat party is almost the exact inverse of the original non Federalist party of Jefferson etc. and is now basically a Fabian socialist party. Thus it is very superficial and misleading to base analyses on such variable entities. It’s more fruitful to analyze politics on the basis of large policy divides such as the relative importance of central vs local government, isolationist vs interventionist foreign policies etc

  • Is THE Zippy back?

  • Will that realignment swing to unAmerican?

    David Harsanyi: Obama’s ideas are unAmerican.

    “If not un-American, the ideas that propel Obama’s re-election campaign are certainly unprecedented. . . . The president’s central case rests on the idea that individuals should view government as society’s moral center, the engine of prosperity and the arbiter of fairness. Traditionally speaking, that’s not a very American notion. Surely, he’s not the first president to think it, but he’s probably the first to say it — and he says it over and over again.”

    Quick, someone ask Zippy and all other saintly people that can’t bring themselves to vote for Romney and America’s preservation, whether they are asserting that that also motivates Mitt Romney and the GOP?

  • More importantly, let Zippy show his arguments about Republicans (and perhaps in line with MM and others, the American founding itself) being simply expressions of the Enlightenment.

    Perhaps we can go beyond merely philosophical arguments and actually provide historical references. It might be particularly useful to offer concrete references to the Liberalism of the Enlightenment dominating the deliberations for the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

  • “It might be particularly useful to offer concrete references to the Liberalism of the Enlightenment dominating the deliberations for the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.”

    Glad you asked. Right this way, hot off the presses, 700 pages worth:

    http://www.amazon.com/Liberty-God-That-Failed-Constructing/dp/1621380068/ref=la_B008B0EGI8_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342960810&sr=1-1

    The book cites a McClarey TAC post at one point. (Then again, it’s got a blurb from John Rao, so Mr. Deco might want to spend his hard-earned elsewhere…)

  • From one of the reviews:

    “The American Revolution, far from being a “conservative” expression of the “moderate” Enlightenment, as many modern conservatives would have it, in fact represented a radical rejection of all religious influence over government, and directly inspired the even bloodier French Revolution (not to mention, in surprising ways, the Civil War). The ironic end result is an atheistic (in all but name) super-state that purports to represent the “will of the people” but which in fact recognizes no authority above its own — in stark contrast with the supposed Catholic “tyrannies” of pre-Reformation Christendom, which explicitly recognized Christian principles as limits to and guides for their authority.”

    Clearly this is not a new interpretation. It will now be helpful for discussion of the merits of this argument.

  • It has none.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    Interesting comments at the link below by Tom Woods regarding Chris Ferrara, the author of the tome cited. Hmmm, when Tom Woods is calling you extreme…

    http://www.tomwoods.com/on-chris-ferrara/

    And Chris Ferrara’s view of Tom Woods:

    http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/2010-0215-ferrara-ludwig_von_mises_versus_christ.htm

  • From Mr. Woods:

    “Ferrara himself, meanwhile, spent this time not preparing a layman’s guide to the old Mass, but writing a book criticizing the Catholic television network EWTN for its liberalism.”

    Now who would of thought that Mother Teresa and her nuns were a bunch of liberals.

  • Dr. Woods and Ferrara, esq. are now at odds?

    I will spend my funds elsewhere for the following reasons:

    1. Ideas have consequences, but these are not the only things that have consequences (or even the principal motors of social life).

    2. Elective and deliberative institutions exist and have existed for centuries, even among people who could not read Sallust in the original and were not influenced by those who could.

    3. My local mayor and town council still have to pass a budget, consider nuisance ordinances, supervise those who see to it that the snow is ploughed and the water system in good working order. They have these things to do even if the federalist papers is written in masonic code and Andrew Cuomo a usurper of the power of the governor entrusted to our rule by the legitimate descendent of gracious Charles II.

  • I could be wrong. I think the US Constitution makes no mention of Creation, God, or unalienable rights.

    “We the people in order to forma more perfect union . . . ”

    Here’s my opinion (Fire in the hole!).

    The Founders wanted no established, state religion, as had been de facto everywhere since the end of the Western Roman Empire: not the HRE.

    The Founders wanted no established religion because they didn’t want anyone persecuted or favored because of religion.

    That is not atheism nor is it antipathy to religion.

    Hit the deck!

    Phillip,

    I have a bridge for sale. It spans the East River to Brooklyn. If you think the post-reformation protestant regimes were less violent in suppressing non-established religions . . . Read the histories of the English persecutions of Catholics in England and Ireland. And, refer to histories of the civil wars in the German duchies.

    I misspent a year in Germany at Ramstein AB. Landstuhl and Ramstein villages are across a valley from each other. Ramstien has a big Lutheran church a a little Catholic chapel. Landstuhl vice versa. That dates to the wars and mass murders after Luther opened Hell’s gates.

  • T. Shaw,

    “I have a bridge for sale.”

    You can keep it. You are obviously ex-Air Force toto the degree you have missed my point. I have heard the “America is founded on evil Liberalism” meme from multiple sources. None of them seem to have convincing arguments other than those based on philosophical/theological axe grinding. I was hoping the illustrious Zippy or the now present cyrillist would offer some. From the link Don offers, there appears to be none. But I am willing to be corrected. In the meantime I am content with the assertion that the American founding is consistent with (if not exhaustive of) Catholic Social Teaching.

    BTW, when were you in Ramstein. I was two years in Rota and got to Ramstein and Landstuhl a couple of times on Medevacs. There was this great little restaurant in Landstuhl that served awesome homemade German noodles. I’d like to get them again sometime.

  • Phillip,

    There is a gasthaus on every corner. Landstuhl Army Hospital, big place: they had a tunnel from the bahnhof so that German civilians didn’t see how many wounded were in the hospital.

    Were you there in 1975? I DEROS’ed in January 1976. I never looked back. Yesterday, I saw a photo of two USAF personnel in uniform. It was on Facebook. Some useless moron.com sob sends me that sorta stuff. The two were in uniform getting same-sex married by some female in some kinda white uniform. I’m glad I never looked back.

    When you’re holding a hammer everything looks like a nail.

  • So, as the dust clears after the impact of one li’l ol’ Amazon link, we find that:

    – Woods and Ferrara had a falling-out, a dust-up, and a donnybrook over libertarianism, thus proving that Ferrara is a nut.

    – Mother Angelica apparently unloaded EWTN onto Mother Teresa at some point. (Can Old Mother Hubbard be far behind?)

    – Even if Ferrara’s thesis could be shown to be completely valid, it doesn’t matter, because we have to keep the trains running on time.

    Look, I’m not necessarily about to bet the farm that the functional result of Republican Party policies is to gradually make the policies of the Democratic avant-garde palatable to the populace at large, but I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility without at least a little modest inquiry. Nor would I dismiss the possibility that, in accepting the religious tolerance offered by Amendment Uno, the understandably battle-fatigued Catholics (and hey, Protestants!) settled for a mess of pottage and effectively handed the Hobbes-Locke groupies in Philly the new country on a platter. Because the flip side of “Let’s not fight over religion” tends to be “because we don’t think that stuff really matters.” And isn’t that where we are now?

    (…okay, I guess that wasn’t entirely unlike philosophical/theological axe-grinding. So sue me.) (Mr. McClarey, I may require your services…)

    Phillip – So, after I point you to a massive volume completely devoted to the questions you raised, you want _more_? The intro and Chapter 1 are available via the Amazon link – check those out if you haven’t already, and then feel free to blow it off by all means, if it doesn’t float your boat. (Full disclosure: I had the honor of helping to proofread the darn thing. Twice.)

    Also, imho, the Zippy who posted above doesn’t read much like the Zippy of St. Blog’s legend and song.

  • – Even if Ferrara’s thesis could be shown to be completely valid, it doesn’t matter, because we have to keep the trains running on time.

    It will not be. There is not an unlimited way to structure public institutions, no matter what sort of discourses are in circulation at particular points in time. You default to one of a set of basic patterns, with local variation. How they come to be structured is a resultant with a number of vectors behind it. The state constitutions enacted in the last quarter of the eighteenth century and the federal constitution were adaptations of existing models, which were in turn erected by people with a variety of protestant dispositions. And it is not as if republican institutions were exactly novel even in 1621.

    If you are worried about bad ideas polluting public discourse, you might concern yourself with what is choking people here and now, which is not late 18th century deism or freemasonry.

  • …the Zippy who posted above doesn’t read much like the Zippy of St. Blog’s legend and song.

    Oh, it is me alright, and whether one likes the tune or not, it’s one I’ve been singing for quite a long time. My blog archive is now at WordPress, and I’m so closely aligned with Vox Nausea that I bequeathed upon them the moniker Debate Club at Auschwitz.

    Personally I’d recommend Jim Kalb’s The Tyranny of Liberalism as a gentle introduction to why the classical liberalism very loosely favored by a minority of Republicans leads to the more modern forms, and can’t be separated from them.

    I haven’t read the Ferrara book.

  • Zippy – My bad, maybe because I haven’t heard your greatest hits for so long, hint hint. Jim Kalb left some complimentary phrases on the back of Ferrara’s book as well, so we come full circle.

    Art – Today’s bad ideas came from somewhere, and the closer to the root they get cut, the better.

  • Art – Today’s bad ideas came from somewhere, and the closer to the root they get cut, the better.

    And you all fancy you know where the root is.

    the classical liberalism very loosely favored by a minority of Republicans leads to the more modern forms, and can’t be separated from them.

    By all means, let’s end the tyranny by re-introducing the Corn Laws. We could use us some feudal dues as well.

  • “By all means, let’s end the tyranny by re-introducing the Corn Laws. We could use us some feudal dues as well.”

    Hear, hear! As of mostly Irish descent I am also in favor of a state supported Church. That little relic of History worked out so well in Ireland after the Anglicans imposed the Church of Ireland on the Emerald Isle.

  • Just don’t resurrect prohibition.

    Hoard hooch. It’ll be valuable for barter when the economy collapses. Otherwise, my advice: drink heavily.

  • Whether Kalb is right or not looks a lot like one of those pesky questions of diagnostic fact, though certainly a complex one. How one feels about other eras of history doesn’t really have any bearing on whether or not the diagnosis is true.

  • “Phillip – So, after I point you to a massive volume completely devoted to the questions you raised, you want _more_? The intro and Chapter 1 are available via the Amazon link – check those out if you haven’t already, and then feel free to blow it off by all means, if it doesn’t float your boat. (Full disclosure: I had the honor of helping to proofread the darn thing. Twice.)”

    I actually don’t ask more, I ask you to present the arguments so they can be discussed here. If you proofread the darn thing twice you should be able to. You make the claim, you present the proof. That’s what floats boats.

  • Whether Kalb is right or not looks a lot like one of those pesky questions of diagnostic fact,

    Good luck with that.

  • It is obvious that in a two-party system, each party is going to represent a broad coalition of interests, with few or none of its supporters in favour of its whole manifesto.

    The politicians themselves tend to form two groups, the friends of corruption and the sowers of sedition: those who hope to profit from existing abuses and those who hope to profit from the disaffection such abuses naturally excite.

  • It is obvious that in a two-party system, each party is going to represent a broad coalition of interests, with few or none of its supporters in favour of its whole manifesto.

    That depends on the array of interest and opinion in the territory in question. In this country, people’s positions (speaking of the attentive public) within the arguments which form on subsets of public policy tend to be more strongly correlated than is the case in (say) Israel. Unconventional arrays are composed small subsets. (And in this country, the small subsets tend to be decidedly unappealing).

    The politicians themselves tend to form two groups, the friends of corruption and the sowers of sedition: those who hope to profit from existing abuses and those who hope to profit from the disaffection such abuses naturally excite.

    Pithy but rubbish. Corruption is a given where you have discretionary power and varies in its intensity according to local history and culture. It can be much more intense in one political faction than another for long periods (in New York, the Democrats were the more corrupt organization from the immediate post-bellum period all the way down to about 1980). Thomas E. Dewey was not a ‘sower of sedition’, if the term ‘sedition’ means anything. Sowers of sedition in this country tend to be found on the bench, in law offices, or among loudmouths on picket lines.

  • A fair request, Phillip. But such a discussion on a thread devoted to, what was it? realignment theory? would probably complete its derailment, just as Michael and Art are starting to get it back on track.

    Plus, I’m not sure that any of TAC’s proprietors would be interested in starting a new thread devoted to a thesis which calls the propriety of this country’s founding into question, since acceptance of the overarching wisdom of the Founding Fathers would appear to be one of the site’s guiding principles. (No insult to TAC intended – were I the founder of a traditionalist Catholic forum, for example, I would think twice before authorizing a post extolling the overwhelming superiority of the Novus Ordo.)

    I jumped in on this thread in the first place in response to your request for historical examples, which the Ferrara book has in spades, and in spite of my proofreading prowess, I’m not sure of my ability (or the requisite time) to do it justice via encapsulation. If I had a blog (which I don’t) with regular correspondents (which I certainly don’t), I’d probably link to the book’s intro, call for discussion, and take it from there.

    Is this response completely free from any hint of copping out? Nah, probably not. 🙂

  • Good post, and good to see the realignment theory getting some deserved knocks, Paul.

  • Plus, I’m not sure that any of TAC’s proprietors would be interested in starting a new thread devoted to a thesis which calls the propriety of this country’s founding into question, since acceptance of the overarching wisdom of the Founding Fathers would appear to be one of the site’s guiding principles. (No insult to TAC intended – were I the founder of a traditionalist Catholic forum, for example, I would think twice before authorizing a post extolling the overwhelming superiority of the Novus Ordo.)

    I think part of the issue is that while there is some validity to the criticisms that classical liberalism comes in for, those who double down on those criticisms have a strong tendency to miss all of the very real problems that the ancien regime alternatives had.

  • By “corruption,” I was not thinking primarily of personal corruption or bribery, but of institutional abuses, where laws, policies or expenditure confer undue gain or advantage on one group, locality or interest at the expense or to the detriment of another. One set of politicians hope to profit electorally from defending these avantages acquis, as the French call them.

  • “Plus, I’m not sure that any of TAC’s proprietors would be interested in starting a new thread devoted to a thesis which calls the propriety of this country’s founding into question, since acceptance of the overarching wisdom of the Founding Fathers would appear to be one of the site’s guiding principles.”

    But perhaps it should. Perhaps Darwin, Donald or others might make this possible. If you are right it would be a service to us. If, as Darwin intimates above, you are partly or mostly in the wrong, it would be as service to you.

    BTW, I did skim what was available on Amazon of Ferrara’s book and unfortunately did not find the evidence I was asking for. So no copping out for you. Begin to present. 🙂

  • By “corruption,” I was not thinking primarily of personal corruption or bribery, but of institutional abuses, where laws, policies or expenditure confer undue gain or advantage on one group, locality or interest at the expense or to the detriment of another.

    Doesn’t fix it. Patron-client politics is a given everywhere.

  • Thank you for your kind words, Darwin.

    Cyrillist: Thanks for your concerns about getting the thread back on track, though at this point we might as well say it’s a lost cause.

    Plus, I’m not sure that any of TAC’s proprietors would be interested in starting a new thread devoted to a thesis which calls the propriety of this country’s founding into question

    As a matter of fact we have had threads about the justness of the Revolutionary War, and several TAC bloggers argued that it was indeed unjust. And I’m sure we’ve had many discussions about the nature of the Enlightenment and the “liberalism” of the Founders. With regards to the book you linked to, I can’t comment without reading it, though I have several objections at the outset. First of all, it appears as though the author lumps all of the Enlightenment together without distinguishing between the Continental and British Enlightenments. Second, and related, to the extent that Enlightenment thought is diverse, the British (and I’m including the Scots in this group) were hardly hostile to religion. Third, I think that people who write on this subject overrate how much the Founders were actually influenced by other thinkers and thus disregard the uniqueness of American political thought (and I lump myself as one of the guilty in this regard).

    It’s a fascinating topic, and I do think it’s important to know where we came from, so to speak. That said, it’s definitely a long way removed from the post’s topic.

  • Paul Zimmo

    You are right that we must distinguish between the British and Continental Enlightenments. I would only note that the French and German Enlightenments were notably different from each other The French philosophes were lapsed Catholics; Kant, who dominated the German Aufklärung came out of the Lutheran Pietist tradition, with all Luther’s and Spener’s contempt for human reason.

    Of course, the French Enlightenment was influenced by the irrationalism of Rousseau. Interestingly, he was a Swiss Calvinist from Geneva.

Fireworks Melody

Saturday, July 21, AD 2012

Something for the Weekend.  I always find the Handel composition Music For the Royal Fireworks (1749) to be stirring.  It was written to celebrate the ending of the War of the Austrian Succession and the signing of the peace of Aix-La-Chappelle in 1748.  It turned out to be merely a truce before the start of the Seven Years War, the big war of the Eighteenth Century, known as the French and Indian War in America, and initiated by a 22 year old George Washington!  Counting the fighting in America which began in 1754, it should properly be known as the Nine Years War.

Continue reading...

2 Responses to Fireworks Melody

  • How do you figure that George W initiated it?

    Charlie

  • He made the decision to attack the encroaching French in the Ohio country at the battle of Jumnonville Glen. This began an ever increasing cycle of fighting in the Ohio country which led to the war between France and England in 1756. The fighting would doubtless have broken out even if Washington had never been there. However, he was the man in command at the sharp end of the stick, and even at the ripe old age of 22 he did not hesitate to take charge and make hard decisions.

Lincoln and the Modern GOP

Friday, July 20, AD 2012

 

Jackie Hogan, head of the Sociology department at Bradley University in Peoria, wrote a piece for the Christian Science Monitor in which she argued that Abraham Lincoln would have difficulty in winning the presidential nomination of the modern Republican Party.  The article cries out for a fisk, and I am happy to oblige:

1. Lincoln ‘invented’ income tax

While Republican candidates today win kudos for signing Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, it is unlikely that Lincoln would sign on, since he, in effect, invented income tax. That is to say he was the first American president to sign federal income tax into law. And not only that, but it was a progressive income tax, with the wealthiest Americans paying a higher rate.

He made no distinctions between earned income and capital gains – money made was money earned – and Lincoln’s administration needed its cut to pull the nation back from the brink of collapse. Strike one against Honest Abe.

Actually current Republicans would hail the Lincoln income tax.  It had two rates, 3% and 5%.  Many Republicans have been calling for a flat tax for years, and Lincoln’s two tier system with very low rates would receive thunderous  approval from a GOP audience.

2. He didn’t advertise his faith

Strike two: He didn’t advertise his faith. Debate over Lincoln’s religious beliefs is heated. But there’s good evidence that he questioned Christian orthodoxy, perhaps not so surprising at a time when Biblical verses were routinely used to defend slavery, an institution he found morally repugnant.

While it’s true that Lincoln frequently evoked the Divine in his speeches, he never took up membership in a church, and certainly never spoke publicly about his personal relationship with Christ.

I find this to be simply bizarre.  Few Presidents have invoked God more frequently than Lincoln.  This section from the Second Inaugural would certainly brings calls for Lincoln’s impeachment from the American Civil Liberties Union:

 Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

Continue reading...

16 Responses to Lincoln and the Modern GOP

  • His administration “invented” fiat currency.

    In 1861, they issued paper that was redeemable in gold: okay. A year or two later, they issued about three times more paper redeemable in US Treasury debt: just like today’s Federal Reserve Notes.

    Prior to the CW, US “money” was constitutional: either gold/silver coins or notes, Congress defining the weights and measures, issued by private banks. In 1871, the SCOTUS ruled that fiat money, the “greenback”, is constitutional.

  • The greenbacks were an incredible success in helping finance the War T. Shaw. Unlike the Confederate currency which rapidly reached almost zero value, the Greenbacks retained their value well during the War, and were of course paid in full by the victorious Union government after the War.

  • It takes one Lincoln speech to completely contradict her second point, as you duly noted. Several of her points don’t even apply to the GOP specifically (his looks), and her comment regarding colonization is incorrect (or at least incomplete) from an historical standpoint and really not even germane to the contemporary issue.

    Other than that, truly fascinating.

  • If Gutenberg had known what his invention would someday spawn, I wonder if he’d not have burned the thing out back.

  • Lincoln could do sound bites. He may have given long speeches, but every political speech these days gets cut down to 10 seconds for the nightly news, and Lincoln would have done just fine in this atmosphere.

    Was he not a looker? He was tall and slender, 52 years old when he was elected for the first time. I don’t think his looks would have been a problem.

    The reason he couldn’t get the GOP nomination today is his lack of experience. The Republicans place much more emphasis on the resumes of their candidates. Tea partiers may have supported Lincoln as an outsider, though.

  • Exactly, Mac, the greenback was a highly successful financing/debt vehicle, not really “money.”

    Greenbacks, or variously United States notes, were in circulatiin (alongside Federal Reserve Notes from 1913) until 1966.

    Many blamed the economic panic and depression of 1873 on the Treasury’s contraction of the currency — removed greenbacks from circulation to return to the gold standard, which would require that a $1 note be redeemable for $1 in gold.

    Gold bugs proved stronger in the national debate. In 1878, the total circulation of United States notes was fixed at about $346 million. Eventually, the notes became redeemable (1900 Gold Standard Act) in gold until 1933, when FDR took over; and also confiscated (a stark reversal of his 1932 campaign pledge) all gold coinage held by we the people.

    PS: The second smartest man in history, Isaac Newton, invented the gold standard.

  • Someone needs to write something similar about JFK or Truman. Two Democratic icons whom I think would get freaked out if they saw what happened to their parties in the 1970’s. Plus trying to bring Lincoln into today’s political world is impossible. Would she say that Andrew Jackson would run for the Democratic nomination today? Let’s compare today’s GOP to Eisenhower or Nixon, but c’mon, a president from 150 years ago?

  • “If he came back and the nomination was offered to him by acclamation, I wouldn’t be surprised if he agreed to be the Republican standard-bearer a third time. Lincoln 2012! I like it”
    Donald. I totally disagree with this notion. I believe the reason Lincoln was assassinated is because he might have been offered a third term which he would totally have refused. Suffering ambition and not acting on one’s ailings are the makings of heaven. Honest Abe who counseled men: “If you are given a nickel, use the money to reply in thanksgiving”. Did Lincoln not walk miles to return the debt of $2.00. Honest Abe would not have taken a third term. Lincoln would have taken a V.P. and worked as hard as anybody to resurrect the nation, or any post, even as consultant, to further his nation. We, the people, are Lincoln’s constitutional posterity. Honest Abe’s children and his heirs. Ronald Reagan is the closest heir to Lincoln and rightfully, a president, as Lincoln was heir to George Washington. Let us see the next president of the USA emulate Washington, Lincoln and Reagan. Washington who refused the crown of king (and halo) and a third term. Lincoln who freed the slaves and saved the union because this is what Jesus did, and Reagan who freed those tyrannized by the group, by the “masses” mentality of the “state owns you and yours, you have no soul, no immortal destiny, you have nothing but what we say you have”. Ha, and by people who do not even know the treasures of their own immortal soul. No, Lincoln would not have taken a third term. Obama has yet to act as President of the USA.

  • Chill out Mary. This post was meant to be light hearted. Time to unwind the coil a bit.

  • WK Aiken says:
    “If Gutenberg had known what his invention would someday spawn, I wonder if he’d not have burned the thing out back.” Gutenberg printed the Holy Bible first. There is LIFE in that Book. This alone redeems his printing press.
    Einstein said that if he knew what would be used of his work, he would have become a plumber. All that saId, if one innocent American life was saved by “THE BOMB”, God blessed Einstein’s work.

  • Donald McClarey: Coil unwound. Thanks a bit, now off to man the Right to Life Booth at the Cecil County Fair. Prayers.

  • Mary De Voe says:
    Saturday, July 21, 2012 A.D. at 10:07am
    Donald McClarey: “Coil unwound. Thanks a bit, now off to man the Right to Life Booth at the Cecil County Fair. Prayers.”
    Thanks for your prayers, Right to Life booth did well. I worked alongside a man blind from birth. Not too many right to choosers challenge him. (He gets on a train and goes to work teaching computers to others with his disability) There were many young mothers with four and five and seven children in tow. Many pregnant. It was beautiful.
    The children were especialy beautiful.

    There was at the fair, the Democratic party with a great big red STOP THE WAR ON WOMEN sign. I approached and asked them why it is not on the ballot to voice the will of the people and got no answer. It is their way or no way.

    Please continue to pray. Monday is going to be over 90 degrees. Last year it was 108 degrees, one cow and one goat collapsed from heat exhaustion. A cooler full of ice and a fan work fine.

  • God bless you for your good work Mary! I hope you have no more collapsing livestock! 🙂

  • One Hail Mary for you Donald McClarey.

  • james says:
    Saturday, July 21, 2012 A.D. at 12:24pm
    Interesting

    james
    My humble apologies for the plagiarism of your Blessed Pastor, Reverend Stanislao Esposito’s words: “There is LIFE in that Book”, found in his preaching but not in his blog Heavenwards.org. Do please continue to pray for my mission in the Right to Life. And may God bless.

Please Pick A Nobody

Thursday, July 19, AD 2012

I’ve made the following points before, but they are worth repeating:

1. The Vice Presidency is the most useless institution ever devised by man. With rare exceptions, the Vice President has almost no pull within an administration, and is usually shunted off to state funerals and the like.

2. Vice Presidential candidates rarely have a major impact on the polls. As with point number one, there have been exceptions – notably the 1960 election – but there is little evidence that the Vice Presidential nominee moves the polls much one way or the other. There is almost certainly no LBJ-like figure on the horizon.

3. Losing Vice Presidential candidates go on to have non-descript political careers. Again, there are exceptions, including someone who went by the initials FDR. Lloyd Bentsen would also become an important cabinet member in the Clinton administration. By and large, however, these individuals do not ever come close to reaching the prominence they did as a losing candidate.

So with all that in mind, I whole-heartedly second Warner Tood Huston’s post titled: Dear GOP, Let’s Not Waste Romney’s VP Pick on One of Our Best Guys, OK?

I don’t want Paul Ryan to be Romney’s Vice Presidential pick. I also don’t want Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, or Marco Rubio to be picked. It’s not because I don’tlike these guys, but because I do like them. It is precisely because they are good politicians, necessary politicians, effective politicians that I don’t want them wasted as a measly VP pick.

Does that seem counter intuitive? Well, as the founders always used to say, let’s let history be our guide. History tells us that the vice presidency is a career killer, a position to which we should try to avoid nominating our best guys.

Not only do Rubio, Ryan, and Jindal all have bright futures that should not be wasted by a losing Vice Presidential run that will tarnish their image, or by spending four or eight years as a non-entity, but all these individuals have important work to do in their own spheres. The GOP is going to need Ryan to be their economic leader in the House a lot more than they need him to be the guy judging spelling bees. Bobby Jindal still has work to do in Louisiana, as does Chris Christie. Choosing any of these guys to be VP would be akin to relegating the best pitcher on a Major League baseball team to mop-up relief duties.

The sad fact is that though the Vice Presidency is itself fairly worthless, the VP can instantly become the most powerful man (or woman) in the world in the blink of an eye. So some thought should go into the pick. The best choice would be someone with some executive experience who has otherwise solid conservative credentials, and who is near the end of his term in office or already out of office. It would help if nobody would really notice if this individual never had the public spotlight again should Romney go down in flames.

If only there were such a potential candidate out there.

 

Continue reading...

23 Responses to Please Pick A Nobody

  • I know the thread is about who might be our next vice-president. The vice president is a heartbeat away from the presidency. Lyndon Johnson is a good example.

  • Someone who’s an ordinary decent politician can serve as president. Getting elected as president requires a slightly different skill set than serving. Mostly it’s the ability to take and keep an oath to the Constitution, which is why the presidential succession consists of only such high level oathtakers instead of being all elected officials.

  • I think this election Rubio would help bring Florida into the Romney column and would probably raise Romney’s vote total among Hispanics by 5%. I think Rubio could have an impact on the election. I think the rest of the Veep candidates would have almost none.

  • Christie should not even be on any conservatives list for VP or any job, even the one he’s got. He’s not a conservative. Andrew McCarthy lays it out in plain English how Christie is “not one of us.”:http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/301071/christie-not-one-us-andrew-c-mccarthy

  • I think Romney should be able to win Florida without Rubio. Not sure if such a selection would sway enough swing Hispanic voters in other states except perhaps New Mexico and Arizona. But I agree he would be the only one to have anything beyond a negligible electoral impact.

  • Well we might just advocating abolishing the elective vice presidency in favor of appointive deputies assigned to supervise blocs of departments and agencies.

    Here is an idea:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirk_Kempthorne

    He has held office as a mayor, governor, and federal cabinet secretary; he served in Congress for a few years; and he has had to cope with the national media. He is likely as prepared as anyone to assume the executive responsibilities of the presidency and is not known for any odd or eccentric policy preferences. He has also had environmental lobbies breathing down his neck, so is more likely than most politicians to have had any conflict-of-interest problems exposed by now. He is 61 years of age and does not display much in the way of late life ambition, so should be well adapted to being second banana.

    By the way, “non-entity” is a gratuitous insult. The current occupant of the presidency might be called that. We do not need that in any position.

  • An important aspect of the vice-presidency is that 14 vice-presidents have become president. That’s 33%, so the position is not a useless institution.

  • I just finished Sean Trende’s book, which I will review when I have a moment. He makes a very good point towards the end about Rubio. He is a Cuban-American. We have this tendency to lump all Hispanic and Latinos together, when in fact they have very distinct cultural and political identities. So while he could help win Florida, he might necessarily have any appeal to a Mexican-American in New Mexico or a Puerto Rican in New Jersey.

  • I’d love to see Romney not pick an attack dog. In recent years, the rule has been to pick someone who takes the low ground, while the presidential candidate takes the high ground. Supposedly that lets the candidate look classy. Romney could really look classy by picking a different kind of vp nominee. Plainspoken truth can be a lot more appealing than cheap shots.

  • Rubio is the only one that could possibly help Romney a little but I would be surprised if he gets picked. It’s more like Portman or Pawlenty.

  • I like Rubio. However, here is the thing; Hispanics are not a homogeneous community. They could say good for himself but would not necessarily vote for him because of that. Hispanic celebrities (naively like most others) think Obama is great and back him all over the hispanic media. Cubans, Venezuelans and other immigrants who have fled from leftist governments know better and would vote for a Rubio ticket, but most Hispanics don’t have that background. In terms of their religion, although they are somewhat socially conservative (the grown ups at least) they dont realize how in America, their vote affects this. Furhermore, In terms of helping with Florida, his election was not a straightforward Rep vs Dem issue but a complicated three way race. Also, the media could scare white independents with the claim that he is considered to be “the crown prince of the tea party movement” and awake their misplaced disgust.

    There is however a different voting block that can swing by a percentage and that is suburban women. The best way to court them is to have someone great like Kelly Ayotte who by the way is a wonderful Catholic and could also help with catholics in Ohio and Florida.

    Those are my USD 0.02

  • You left out mention of Cheney who probably had a more important and different role as VP than his predecessors. Having said that, Romney would be unlikely to want to continue that precedent for a variety of reasons. And if Obama and the Dems win in 2012 I don’t think it much matters who the Repubs put up in 2016 or 2020 anyway

    Is it really true though that a failed run as VP blights an ascending career except at the Presidential level? Bob Dole went on to become Senate Majority leader after all. Most of the others who fizzled were bit players to begin with who, so to speak, just got 15 minutes of fame (Ferrarro, Edwards etc.). Lieberman wasn’t particularly affected. Based on his MA experience with LtGov., Romney is not likely to pick someone with an independent base of support so that means Pawlenty most probably. I would particularly not want a prominent conservative because that would be used to blur the respective positions. The Beltway Repubs are not going to adopt conservative positions except by utter (external) necessity.

  • Having said that, Romney would be unlikely to want to continue that precedent for a variety of reasons.

    What reasons?

    What structural reason is it that prevents a President from assigning a Vice President to a cabinet post, other than inertia?