In general, the principle is, the farther from the scene of horror the easier the talk. One young combat naval officer close to the action wrote home in the fall of 1943, just before the marines underwent the agony of Tarawa: “When I read that we will fight the Japs for years if necessary and will sacrifice hundreds of thousands if we must, I always like to check from where he’s talking: it’s seldom out here.” That was Lieutenant (j.g.) John F. Kennedy.
And Winston Churchill, with an irony perhaps too broad and easy, noted in Parliament that the people who preferred invasion to A-bombing seemed to have “no intention of proceeding to the Japanese front themselves.”
It has been rather quiet this year on the annual breast beating over the Atomic bombings around Saint Blogs. Here are a few posts I have seen:
- Deacon Jim Russel at Crisis looks at the principle of Double Effect and the bombings. It is a rather good piece. Go here to read it.
- Ah, what would the August Bomb Follies be without Patheos. Mary Pezullo at Steel Magnificat puts us on notice that she is not like those terrible Catholics who defend the bombings. Go here to read it.
- Matthew Walther at The Week I think would like to dig up Harry Truman and put him on trial if he could. Go here to read his post.
- Mark Shea contributes the latest droppings from his mind here.
I recall on this day a late uncle of mine, one of the toughest men I have even known. I saw him cry only once, at the funeral of my father. I heard of him crying on only one other occasion. He had been a Marine in the Pacific during World War II and had been involved in some of the very worst of the island fighting. At 20 he was a hardened combat veteran, morally certain that it was his fate to die on some Japanese beach during the invasion of the Home Islands. My grandmother told me that he told her that he wept when he heard about the atomic bombings, hoping that they would end what he always referred to as “the damn War”. As a result of Truman’s decision, he always maintained, he got to go home, get married, have two sons, and lead a long and peaceful life. Since he isn’t around now to contribute to the debate, I thought I would add his comment from the large group of which he was a member: the Hiroshima Survivors.
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.