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Let The August Bomb Follies Begin!

This week marks the seventieth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and I will be having posts about this during the week.  The above video takes on Jon Stewart’s remark in 2009 that Harry Truman was a war criminal.  (Stewart subsequently apologized for that comment.)  Such remarks are a mixture of historical ignorance and a lack of empathy for the situation facing the United States as it confronted the prospect of a million casualties to force the Japanese leadership to admit defeat in a war that they clearly could no longer win.  Paul Tibbets who piloted the Enola Gay that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, had an encounter after the War with the lead pilot at Pearl Harbor, who subsequently became a fervent Christian:

I once met [pilot Mitsuo Fuchida] the commander of the Japanese forces that carried out the raid on Pearl Harbor. It was time to rebuild Japan, and they were here to visit our factories. He came over to meet me. I told him, `You sure as hell surprised us at Pearl Harbor.’

“His response was, `You sure as hell surprised us with that bomb. We had been instructed to fight until the last man, woman and child, and we were going to do it. But I came by to thank you for saving lives on both sides of that war.'”

In 2007 Fumio Kyuma, the then Japanese minister of defense, said “I understand that the bombings ended the war, and I think that it couldn’t be helped”.   He was then forced to resign because the official Japanese position is that nothing that Japan did in a War in which they killed some twenty million people justified the use of Little Boy and Fat Man, the two atomic bombs.  Of course the bombs allowed the Japanese to surrender for the first time in their history and save face.  As one Japanese general noted at the time, “Who can fight against science”?  However, for subsequent Japanese governments, playing the victim is more pleasant than admitting the actual role Japan played in the War it started and waged with astonishing barbarity.

So now on Saint Blogs we will have usual breast beating about Hiroshima and Nagasaki as part of the annual August bomb follies, and people will spit on the grave of Harry Truman who simply have no comprehension of  the bloody war he was attempting to quickly end, and who will never have the soul rending experience of knowing that whatever decision you make, quite a few people are going to die as a result of it.

 

 

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

55 Comments

  1. One point I raise with those who insist on calling Pres. Truman a war criminal, is why didn’t His Holiness Ven. Pius XII condemn the bombing or for that matter any other strategic bombing in Europe as well as Japan. He had ample opportunity to do so after the war. I can only surmise that given the circumstances and the brutality of the aggressors in the war, he felt that silence was the prudent course. Maybe that should give us all pause lest we become self-righteous in denouncing the actions of those called upon to make that horrific decision.

  2. I’m always suspicious of the remarks on this subject of people who have a taste for forensics but who have never made a decision that mattered outside the ambo of their own household. (Or whose bad decisions were limited in consequence to petty hoodlums or the victims of petty hoodlums and who seem to be perfectly guiltless about that).

  3. I’ve never seen a defense of the mass slaughter of non combatants that was Hiroshima and Nagasaki that did not boil down to consequentialism, a/k/a, the ends justifying the means. All the gallons of ink spilled on this issue have not changed this essential point in the pro-bombing position.

  4. “I’ve never seen a defense of the mass slaughter of non combatants that was Hiroshima and Nagasaki that did not boil down to consequentialism, a/k/a, the ends justifying the means.”

    When your moral calculation would result in the deaths of millions more of the people you claim to be concerned about (Japanese civilians) there is something wrong with your approach.

  5. “Maybe that should give us all pause lest we become self-righteous in denouncing the actions of those called upon to make that horrific decision.”

    The only contemporaneous condemnation I have ever seen was by then-Msgr. Sheen. Based on some comments made on his subsequent television show he appears to have eventually taken a step back from that position.

  6. I have read that more Japanese perished in the fire bombing of Tokyo than at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese were warned to surrender or else. The brutality of Japanese soldiers at Nanking is well documented; fighting these demonic militarists on their home soil from house to house would have been a massively bloody slaughter. Many Japanese and US families survive today because the bombs were dropped. As a final conclusion it is a fact that one massive bomb was not sufficient to compel their surrender; it took two. Both of them were ignited by obdurate Japanese intransigence.The bombs were created in fear of Hitler who was thankfully erased by the bloody loss of 20 million Soviet peoples. So they were deployed against his ally who refused to surrender a lost cause. I despise war and the massive killing of modern warfare especially but find the hand wringing over Hiroshima to be speciously sanctimonious.

  7. Consequentialism is usually raised Tom in the atomic bomb debates by those unwilling to accept that their preferred policy of not dropping the bomb would almost certainly have resulted in millions of more deaths. It is the moral stance of those, thank God, who will never have to make decisions that inevitably will cause lots of people to die and who are unwilling to accept that in this Vale of Tears during wartime the choice of actions is often not between the good and the bad, but between the bad and the worse.

  8. I’ve never seen a defense of the mass slaughter of non combatants that was Hiroshima and Nagasaki that did not boil down to consequentialism, a/k/a, the ends justifying the means.

    I’ve never seen that happen here except in the format of someone dismissing the steps taken to avoid civilian casualties because the Japanese responded with execution threats against anyone who tried to escape, or we couldn’t be sure, or less than 100% could be expected to leave, or– in at least one case– because their homes would be destroyed.

  9. However, for subsequent Japanese governments, playing the victim is more pleasant than admitting the actual role Japan played in the War it started and waged with astonishing barbarity.

    I think it’s not exactly playing the victim– it’s framing the attack as dishonorable. If it was dishonorable, then them losing wasn’t dishonorable.

    Saving face.

    A rather dangerous thing, given what their honor drove them to.

  10. I have watched this video many times on my computer but when attempting to show it to someone on PJTV’s website on my phone or iPad, it says that it is not available on mobile devices. Amazingly the video plays in my phone from this website. How did you do that?

    And thanks by the way.

  11. “I’ve never seen a defense of the mass slaughter of non combatants that was Hiroshima and Nagasaki that did not boil down to consequentialism…”

    Though the question raised is were they non-combatants to begin with. I think it is a difficult argument to make but if, in large measure, the population as a whole was militarized, then one has reason to say they were legitimate targets.

  12. They were teaching kids to do suicide bomb runs on tanks, and resistance to the notion was death.

    Yes, the drafted the entire nation.

    My uncle thought it was hogwash…until he was stationed in Japan, and he saw some of the tunnels they’d set up for resistance in the case of a land invasion.
    ***
    In a way, it makes sense– in their culture, when you invaded a place, you made sure to wipe out any who might be loyal to the prior lord, because that whole blood feud thing was a big deal. The only thing odd about Japanese culture, history-wise, is how advanced they got with it.
    Christianity is freaking odd, with all our assumptions about personal guilt rather than tribal, universal brotherhood/all humans are people, etc. The Germans very scientifically removed a lot of those JC assumptions (maybe that’s why they were so focused on removing the Jews and subverting the churches?) and ended up being rather more like the horrors of old Japan than one might expect, given the radically different history.
    Their logic was fine, it’s their foundational assumptions that was screwed up.

  13. And I see from the above comments that nothing has changed: “millions” of deaths (of the right people, ours) avoided by the indiscriminate military useless slaughter of the civilians of two cities.

    Pope Benedict: “we must begin asking ourselves whether as things stand, with new weapons that cause destruction that goes well beyond the groups involved in the fight, it is still licit to allow that a ‘just war’ might exist.” If the potential resort to such weapons would violate jus ad bellum, all the more would actual use of such weapons violate jus in bello.

    For those of us who are Catholics, and not simply Americans who don’t want religion impinging on our military decisions, the CCC is pretty definitive on this question (#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. 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

    All the attempts to bullshit and evade this clear teaching that we can’t legitimately murder innocent civilians in order to avoid our own military deaths is nothing more than the same liberal slop served up by dissenters to Humanae Vitae. Seems like it’s not only the Church’s sexual teachings that bring out the dissenters.

  14. And nice try, “militarizing” an entire populace, but that’s clearly 1) impossible in fact, and 2) historically unsupportable in this case. The vast majority of people killed in these strikes were elderly, women, and children. Not combatants. Even the American authorities at the time made no claim that the cities were really military targets consisting of only combatants.

  15. The troops on the ground didn’t know about the plans for “sherman carpets,” but they did know from prior experience with even outlying areas that invasion meant they’d be facing “soldiers” that included 15 year old girls with sharp sticks– too old to be strapped with explosives and told to roll under tanks.
    (At least one Japanese school girl who survived to be interviewed was issued only an awl. Not an awl pike, the hand tool. She was instructed that she might at least kill a single American, go for the gut.)
    Failure to do so meant you were dishonorable. A non-person. An enemy. And would also dishonor your family.
    You can see what not being an honorable enemy meant in terms of treatment– although I suggest, if you’re not already familiar with it, that you avoid any looking into the Japanese actions in the Philippines.

  16. And nice try, “militarizing” an entire populace, but that’s clearly 1) impossible in fact, and 2) historically unsupportable in this case.
    You are ignorant, and prideful in your ignorance.
    Either that, or you’re lying.
    Either way, it’s not worth wasting time when you will flatly reject facts and try to substitute your own, especially when you can’t be bothered to figure out what the Japanese had already done in other areas.

  17. I’ve never seen a defense of the mass slaughter of non combatants that was Hiroshima and Nagasaki that did not boil down to consequentialism, a/k/a, the ends justifying the means.

    And nobody can ever create a consequentialism free morality without eventually becoming monstrous. That they set themselves up as some how superior moral thinkers becomes darkly hilarious as they fail to grasp the ancient knowledge that context & consequences determine morality. No, to them they watch old ladies be run over by buses because it is “always wrong to push old ladies” and to push one to safety is consequentialism.

    It’s easy to see how this arises, one only has to note the frequent occurrence of evil men who justified their actions to the greater good. But like the bible lady who looks at teen pregnancies and abortions and declares that all sex must be outlawed, such thinkers take a reasonable limitation and force it into areas it doesn’t belong. That every time this leads to either absurdities or horrors never seem to occur to any of them.

    At the very least, they need to spend less time in books and more on the streets.

  18. “And nice try, “militarizing” an entire populace, but that’s clearly 1) impossible in fact, and 2) historically unsupportable in this case. The vast majority of people killed in these strikes were elderly, women, and children.”

    Though the links Don and others have provided these days show the attempts to militarize the vast majority of the population (14-50 in males, 15 – 40 in females). So could it be possible, hard to say but it seems they sought to try.

    The vast majority of people killed in the bombing of Europe were elderly, women and children, though Catholic moral teaching has not ruled that these bombings were intrinsically immoral – at least certainly not at the time.

  19. “So could it be possible, hard to say but it seems they sought to try.”

    “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.”

    The Japanese planned no evacuation of any of the civilian populations at the time of an invasion of the Home Islands. They were to be left in place to fight.

    This is what happened on Saipan:

    “Being a former Spanish and then German territory, Saipan became a Mandate of Japan by the League of Nations after World War I, and thus a large number of Japanese civilians lived there — at least 25,000.[15] The U.S. erected a civilian prisoner encampment on 23 June 1944 that soon had more than 1,000 inmates. Electric lights at the camp were conspicuously left on overnight to attract other civilians with the promise of three warm meals and no risk of accidentally being shot in combat.[15]

    Weapons and the tactics of close quarter fighting also resulted in high civilian casualties. Civilian shelters were located virtually everywhere on the island, with very little difference noticeable to attacking marines. The standard method of clearing suspected bunkers was with high-explosive and/or high-explosives augmented with petroleum (e.g., gelignite, napalm, diesel fuel). In such conditions, high civilian casualties were inevitable.[16]

    Emperor Hirohito personally found the threat of defection of Japanese civilians disturbing.[15] Much of the community was of low caste, and there was a risk that live civilians would be surprised by generous U.S. treatment. Native Japanese sympathizers would hand the Americans a powerful propaganda weapon to subvert the “fighting spirit” of Japan in radio broadcasts. At the end of June, Hirohito sent out an imperial order encouraging the civilians of Saipan to commit suicide.[15] The order authorized the commander of Saipan to promise civilians who died there an equal spiritual status in the afterlife with those of soldiers perishing in combat. General Hideki Tōjō intercepted the order on 30 June and delayed its sending, but it went out anyway the next day. By the time the Marines advanced on the north tip of the island, from 8–12 July, most of the damage had been done.[15] 1,000 Japanese civilians committed suicide in the last days of the battle to take the offered privileged place in the afterlife, some jumping from places later named “Suicide Cliff” and “Banzai Cliff”.”

    Japanese speaking Marines, Nisei most of them, using loud speakers, begged the civilians not to commit suicide, appalled as they saw women and kids leaping to their deaths. On Okinawa out of a civilian population of 300,000 there were 142,000 civilian casualties, and that is with the US taking stringent efforts to avoid civilian casualties. People today have absolutely no conception of what the war in the Pacific was like.

  20. Foxfier gives us a story about a Japanese school girl to show how ruthless and evil the Japanese civilian population was — why no stories about Japanese babies? Japanese three year olds? Surely they were being trained against the invasion?

    Tom is right — all the defenses boil down to consequentialism. Just like defenses of abortion or so-called gay “marriage.” Why dropping a couple of atomic bombs gets a pass, I’m not sure.

    Mind you, I’m a big fan of Truman and think he faced a terrible decision. I’m not even sure I would have done anything differently (although I hope I would have.) In other words, I have a lot of sympathy for historical figures — just as I have sympathy for people like Robert Lee or Stonewall Jackson even though I’m a Union man. That doesn’t make slavery right — it just means that history is complicated and people are not one-dimensional so I can appreciate their virtues as well as their vices.

    At the end of the day, it is important for Catholics to understand why dropping those bombs is morally wrong even if it was a difficult decision. The moral reasoning helps us make contemporary moral decisions.

  21. “millions” of deaths (of the right people, ours) avoided by the indiscriminate military useless slaughter of the civilians of two cities.”

    No, the millions of deaths would have been Japanese civilians, the people you claim to care so much about.

    “Mind you, I’m a big fan of Truman and think he faced a terrible decision. I’m not even sure I would have done anything differently (although I hope I would have.)”

    But what would you have done differently? You anti-bomb types just condemn, but never state what you would have done instead. Invade? Japan would have been turned into a slaughterhouse. Blockade? How many people would you be willing to starve to death, keeping in mind that the Japanese military would make sure that their troops starved last?

  22. Jeffrey S. on Monday, August 3, A.D. 2015 at 3:47pm (Edit)
    Foxfier gives us a story about a Japanese school girl to show how ruthless and evil the Japanese civilian population was

    No.
    I tell you what HAPPENED to show what was actually faced. You respond with false accusations and an attempt to change the subject. That school girl didn’t have a choice, which you would’ve caught on to if you read what I wrote.
    I can give you information. I cannot force you to understand.
    .
    Tom is right — all the defenses boil down to consequentialism.

    If you remove inconvenient facts, ignore the details that show otherwise, sure. The classic “No true Scotsman” joke shows that just fine.
    ****
    You anti-bomb types just condemn, but never state what you would have done instead.

    They have an imaginary invasion where we faced only what they consider “real” soldiers, even though the standard invasion tactics were tried elsewhere– and that’s why we know that the Japanese would “draft” what they insist are civilians.

  23. But what would you have done differently?

    At this point Groucho’s (and Elizabeth Anscombe’s) duck comes down again. These discussions have the properties of a disagreeable board game.

  24. Tom quoted article 2314 of the CCC:
    .
    “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.”
    .
    That article or paragraph does not consider the reality in which we live: because the communist Chinese, the Russians, and the North Koreans will never ever surrender their nuclear weapons, and because Iran will not stop in its quest to develop nuclear weapons, we (the United States) must maintain a strong nuclear force so that if any of those countries launches an attack, they would be destroyed and they know it.
    .
    Now that said, I fully support recycling weapons grade plutonium-239 as mixed oxide fuel and down-blending highly purified uranium-235 for use in commercial nuclear reactors to (a) peaceably, safely and benignly generate low cost, pollution free electricity, and (b) forever render the plutonium and uranium unusable in weapons of war.
    .
    However, evil regimes with nuclear weapons exist in the world. Today’s modern Popes -especially Francis – are loathe to point that out unless criticism is directed against evil capitalist countries.
    .
    Nevertheless, in all this I have to say that the regime currently controlling the United States is itself utterly evil – pro-abortion, pro-sodomy – and as such unfit and untrustworthy to be in charge of nuclear weapons. But that was not the case in WW II. The nation and its government were different back then. We were the good guys and the Japanese government was evil.
    .
    BTW, what have we to say about all those times God commanded the children of Israel to destroy the pagan inhabitants of the land of Canaan? What about the time God Himself “nuked” Sodom and Gomorrah? What about the time God flooded the entire Earth to destroy mankind’s wickedness? Is it unfathomable that God Who never ever changes and ever remains the same would allow in if not His perfect will then at least His permissive will the destruction of every man, woman and child in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? We have clear Biblical precedence for such action on the part of God Himself. Why would He NOT have allowed man to do the pruning on his own this time? He once commanded the children of Israel to do it. I find God’s behavior to be very consistent.

  25. Paul W Primavera-
    I think that it depends on if one insists on “indiscriminate” meaning “making no attempt to avoid civilians,” or force it to mean– as so many wish it to– any destruction of cities/areas and inhabitants.
    .
    The bombings in Japan weren’t “indiscriminate.”
    Bombs don’t have eyes, so they warned people. Contrast with things like the bombing of London and– from memory– the bombing that our allies did. (I seem to remember Americans tended to drop leaflets, but I don’t know if that was always or usually or “a couple of times before the BIG bombs.”)
    This also deals with your biblical examples, incidentally; those were not indiscriminate, although they were a lot broader/less precise than a modern JC audience would find acceptable.

  26. Nate Winchester –
    the infuriating thing is that they wish to define a thing– destroying a large area– as inherently wrong, and will mutilate the CCC to do so.
    They choose to ignore that war is, essentially, scaled up self-defense– and the side effects are likewise scaled up.
    I cannot try to kill someone.
    I cannot indiscriminately fire into a crowd to scare the bad guy off.
    .
    I can shoot the guy trying to kill me, even though innocents are put at risk, and even though it will probably result in his death, though.
    I must take all reasonable steps to avoid harm to innocents– that’s why I have “self defense rounds” in my concealed carry pistol; they will put a larger hole in the first thing they hit, but are less likely to go through a drywall or even wood and kill an innocent I can’t even see. (Police are barred by law from using these, which has resulted in several children accidentally shot in their beds. /sorrow)

  27. Agreed, Foxfire.
    .
    That said, sometimes God Himself is not discriminate even though we may be discriminate.

  28. For the record.
    The CCC is a collection of existing teaching– the stuff isn’t elevated by being included.
    http://www.jimmyakin.org/2005/02/ratzinger_on_th.html
    So, I went to the CCC to find the source for 2314.
    It’s “Gaudium et spes 80, 3.”
    That’s this:
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_cons_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html
    80. The horror and perversity of war is immensely magnified by the addition of scientific weapons. For acts of war involving these weapons can inflict massive and indiscriminate destruction, thus going far beyond the bounds of legitimate defense. Indeed, if the kind of instruments which can now be found in the armories of the great nations were to be employed to their fullest, an almost total and altogether reciprocal slaughter of each side by the other would follow, not to mention the widespread devastation that would take place in the world and the deadly after effects that would be spawned by the use of weapons of this kind.

    All these considerations compel us to undertake an evaluation of war with an entirely new attitude.(1) The men of our time must realize that they will have to give a somber reckoning of their deeds of war for the course of the future will depend greatly on the decisions they make today.

    With these truths in mind, this most holy synod makes its own the condemnations of total war already pronounced by recent popes,(2) and issues the following declaration.

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

    The unique hazard of modern warfare consists in this: it provides those who possess modern scientific weapons with a kind of occasion for perpetrating just such abominations; moreover, through a certain inexorable chain of events, it can catapult men into the most atrocious decisions. That such may never truly happen in the future, the bishops of the whole world gathered together, beg all men, especially government officials and military leaders, to give unremitting thought to their gigantic responsibility before God and the entire human race.
    ****
    Read it in context. It’s a decrying MAD in the “you hit us, we hit you– no warning” format.

  29. If the bomb saved one American soldier it was worth the effort. This was Japan’s war and the USA brought the war home to them . The collateral damage is the responsibility and bloodguilt of Japan.

  30. Brian English asks me what I would have done differently — he mentions an invasion or a blockade. While no one has a time machine and can say with perfect certainty these options would have killed more people (soldiers? civilians?) We can say with perfect certainty that deliberately dropping atomic bombs near heavily populated cities violates basic Catholic moral law.

    I note that Foxfier remains worked up about Japanese teens, but remains curiously silent on the subject of Japanese babies, three to five year olds, frail and sickly individuals, etc., etc.

    I leave it as an exercise for others to figure out why Paul’s Biblical examples are total non-sequiturs in this context. However, as an interesting side project, my blog has a great post on the problematic nature of the Canaanite slaughter stories and Christian morality. There is no good way to square that circle!

  31. Brian English asks me what I would have done differently — he mentions an invasion or a blockade. While no one has a time machine and can say with perfect certainty these options would have killed more people (soldiers? civilians?) We can say with perfect certainty that deliberately dropping atomic bombs near heavily populated cities violates basic Catholic moral law.

    No, you assert it.
    Without support, as has been pointed out.
    **
    I note that Foxfier remains worked up about Japanese teens
    Repeating falsehoods does not make it true, and you still haven’t either supported your claims or offered a counter-argument to the supported claims others have made.
    ***
    Should I note that Jefferey S finds 15 year old school girls who have been literally pulled from their schools and given an armband and a hand-tool to attack fully armed American soldiers, under threat of rape, torture, and their families being treated likewise, to be acceptable soldiers?
    Because that’s what your desire to try to dismiss those actions by the Japanese government implies.

  32. “Consequentialism is usually raised Tom in the atomic bomb debates by those unwilling to accept that their preferred policy of not dropping the bomb would almost certainly have resulted in millions of more deaths.”
    Yes, it is all consequentialism. No one is excused from it.

  33. Don, I’m all for breast beating over Japan (not just over Hiroshima and Nagasaki). I’m also all for seriously comprehending the grim realities of these events and the pressures under which those tasked with making decisions operated. There is nothing incompatible with one regretting a course of action that one considers necessary.

  34. Fr Wilson Miscamble argues very neatly for the necessity of dropping the bombs considering the alternative. I saw him debate one or 2 others on a panel years ago.
    The last week or so I said to myself it must be the bomb anniversaries because there were a number of TV shows- the Openheimer movie, something with the women of Nagasaki… I kept hitting the remote. I have no patience for the revisionism and liberal guilt. So the follies have already begun. Maybe they are expanding the window of opportunity for re-education.
    Thanks for all the info above- even more reasons for the awful necessity of the bombs.
    Btw- what are/is ‘Saint Blogs’?

  35. “While no one has a time machine and can say with perfect certainty these options would have killed more people …”
    Nice dodge, Jeffery. No one in July 1945 had a forward looking time machine that gave perfect certainty either.

    Let me twiddle the knobs on my time machine. Oh My! Not pretty! A bunch of mushroom clouds, what do you know? And not one American, Russian, British, or French bomb to be seen. China? Oooh, that’s blurry. Hope not.

    Think you might want to put some effort into this one, and stop fighting the last war. Can you speak Farsi, Hindi, Urdu?

  36. Everybody has 20/20 vision with the benefit of hindsight.
    The armchair peacenicks always come out at this time of year to decry an importane decision made 70 years ago.

    Truman made the RIGHT decision – the alternative was millions more dead on both sides. Get over it..

    Consequentialism – Crap.

  37. I note that Foxfier remains worked up about Japanese teens, but remains curiously silent on the subject of Japanese babies, three to five year olds, frail and sickly individuals, etc., etc.,

    So to you it would have been more moral to have let the babies, young children, and weak die a slow death of starvation and want because all their caretakers had been wiped out in the war after being conscripted?

    I’m sure as the days passed and their stomachs gnawed at them, those innocents would be so grateful that you were able to preserve your self-righteousness.

  38. “what I would have done differently — he mentions an invasion or a blockade. While no one has a time machine and can say with perfect certainty these options would have killed more people (soldiers? civilians?)”

    This is a cop out. Something had to be done. The Japanese warlords could not be allowed to remain in power. Japan had to be defeated. There were a limited number of options available to Truman. He chose the one that was expected to result in the lowest number of deaths of Americans and Japanese.

    “We can say with perfect certainty that deliberately dropping atomic bombs near heavily populated cities violates basic Catholic moral law.”

    Pius XII apparently didn’t think so. Or is he a dissenter as well?

  39. I see lots of verbal gymnastics, and lots of ugly rhetoric about “screw em, kill em all and let God sort em out.”

    What I don’t see, as I mentioned at the outset, is any defense of the indefensible that escapes the morally and theologically inadmissible principle of using bad means to achieve a good end, a/k/a, consequentialism. Nor has anyone shown how the bombings did not violate the CCC teaching I’ve referred to.

    All the rationalizations simply avoid the cold fact that the bombings, deliberately and intentionally targeted known civilian populations, and were in fact recognized by the administration as “terror” bombing intended not to advance a specific, distinct military objective but to terrorize the Japanese into political surrender by slaughtering thousands of civilians. Only post facto do we see ludicrous rationalizations claiming that the entire Jap population would become militarized.

    But all rationalizations deflect from Church teaching, deflect from the incinerated bodies of the innocent civilian populations of the cities, and deflect from human decency, which tells us that we don’t do the ISIS thing and hold a gun to the heads of the elderly, women, and children in order to bully our opponents into submission.

  40. What I don’t see, as I mentioned at the outset, is any defense of the indefensible that escapes the morally and theologically inadmissible principle of using bad means to achieve a good end, a/k/a, consequentialism.

    I guess then you cannot read english as I and several others posted those.

    Why bother with the willfully blind then who would rather choose to let the innocent suffer rather than risk getting their hands a bit dirty. Sorry, but I don’t consider lives to be worth sacrificing to your own self-righteousness.

  41. Unless you can offer us a good means for achieving the good end of winning the war, the champion gymnast here is you.

  42. What I don’t see, as I mentioned at the outset, is any defense of the indefensible that escapes the morally and theologically inadmissible principle of using bad means to achieve a good end, a/k/a, consequentialism.

    You might explain what the morally impermissible means are, keeping in mind that you have a limited choice of means.

  43. ” Nor has anyone shown how the bombings did not violate the CCC teaching I’ve referred to. ”

    Perhaps because the CCC provision you keep citing was promulgated almost 50 years after the bombs were dropped.

  44. Tom wrote: “What I don’t see, as I mentioned at the outset, is any defense of the indefensible that escapes the morally and theologically inadmissible principle of using bad means to achieve a good end, a/k/a, consequentialism.”

    Tom, my opinion is that the nuclear attacks on Japan do not escape consequentialism. I wouldn’t try to deny otherwise.

    Now, since you are so against nuclear weapons, please tell us how a blockade, invasion, or any other option that does not result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands escapes consequentialism. Please tell, so the next time around we can all help to come to a better decision.

  45. Now, since you are so against nuclear weapons, please tell us how a blockade, invasion, or any other option that RESULTS in the deaths of hundreds of thousands escapes consequentialism. Please tell, so the next time around we can all help to come to a better decision.

    My apologies for the cut’n’paste error above

  46. Tom wrote: ‘I see lots of verbal gymnastics, and lots of ugly rhetoric about “screw em, kill em all and let God sort em out.”’

    Sorry, I see only one “let God sort em out” comment.

  47. I hear crickets chirping on my questions to the critics of nuclear weapons use in 1945:

    1)Why are non-nuclear killings of Japanese to end the war not guilty of consequentialism?

    2) Why more concern with the past deaths of Japanese than the likely future deaths of Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians, Israelis, etc.?

    You’ve had all day guys. Where are you?

  48. Tom D, The answer to your questions is simple: it’s nucular! These people are afraid of nucular. Never mind that the fire bombings killed far more. That’s just fossil fuel weaponry. They understand all about fire and carbon. But not nucular. It’s dangerous. It’s evil. The uranium, the plutonium – the devil’s tools. Be afraid. Be very afraid of radiation. We’re gonna die I tell ya!
    .
    My sarcasm should be obvious.

  49. “So now on Saint Blogs we will have usual breast beating about Hiroshima and Nagasaki as part of the annual August bomb follies”

    Not to mention the usual rash of St. Bloggers and commenters condemning one another as material heretics, actual or potential mortal sinners, or both because of their speculative opinions regarding an event that happened long before most of them were born, and over whose outcome none of them have any influence.

    If one should conclude (as I do) that Truman made the right decision — or more precisely the least bad decision — that does NOT necessarily mean you must be a Dr. Strangelove who “loves the Bomb,” nor does it mean you cannot have serious moral reservations about present-day nuclear weapons policies. The Hiroshima bombing was the first ever undertaken on Earth, in an attempt to end the most horrific war the world had ever seen to that point, and at a time when no other nation but the U.S. had the Bomb so there was no risk of retaliation. Atomic power itself was an extremely recent invention and perhaps the moral implications of its use were not yet fully understood.

    Today, however, with multiple countries possessing nukes and the short- and long-term effects of nuclear weapons better understood due to nuclear testing, tracking of the Hiroshima survivors, etc., the situation is different. For these reasons, I don’t think there is any moral inconsistency in asserting both that Truman did the best he could under the circumstances he faced, and that any attempt to use nukes against a civilian target TODAY would be thoroughly immoral.

  50. Paul, you are largely right about nuclear technology and my question #1. Notice that all I do in it is concede their point on the moral philosophy, and then demand they apply it consistently. Their refusal to apply consequentialism to non-nuclear wartime killing of the Imago Dei is telling.

    That doesn’t explain #2, since both sides of the equation there are nuclear. My thought is a large part of that failure is due to anti-Americanism (America BAD) and multiculturalism (others GOOD). Some is due to the “time machine” argument they use (“you can’t really know the future”) against all possible choices except the nuclear – but funny how with today’s nuclear proliferation we are in a sense back to a pre-1945 world. Perhaps they simply cannot admit such a gloomy conclusion.

  51. Hi Elaine,

    “Not to mention the usual rash of St. Bloggers and commenters condemning one another as material heretics, actual or potential mortal sinners, or both because of their speculative opinions regarding an event that happened long before most of them were born, and over whose outcome none of them have any influence. ”
    True. I do think, though, that there has been an attitude among some Americans that idolized the Bomb. From Christian perspective this is dangerous. I think there might be an element of truth in the idea that in some sense that “God must not have wanted me to be shipped off to invade Japan” but this can lead to several ugly anti-Christian thoughts if one lacks humility. I have a small amount of sympathy with these critics.

    “Atomic power itself was an extremely recent invention and perhaps the moral implications of its use were not yet fully understood. ”
    There were statements made by some people in Los Alamos that they were shocked by the flash burns and radiological effects suffered by the Japanese. One said they expected most people to be killed by the explosive force (“killed by a brick”). Now, these were smart people perfectly capable of doing calculations that would have shown their assumptions to be wrong. They were probably just immersed in their work and thus in a kind of denial (it was probably no accident that the petition to not use the Bomb came out of the Met Lab outside Chicago). I can also write that even in the early 1950’s weapons effects tests were giving surprising results. Probably even today no one really knows what will precisely happen in the next nuclear war, except to note that it will be horrible.

  52. A postscript to my last comment to Paul P: It should be noted that the critics here constantly appeal to “church teaching” to attack the use of nuclear weapons, but the most likely places for the next nuclear war have few Christians and so church teaching has zero traction. This is another likely reason for their silence on my question #2.

    If true this is just another reason to pray for and work for the conversion of the world.

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