August Bomb Follies 2017

Thursday, August 10, AD 2017

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.”

Paul Fussel, Thank God for the Atomic Bomb

 

 

 

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:

  1.  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.
  2.  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.
  3. 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.
  4. Mark Shea contributes the latest droppings from his mind here.

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45 Responses to August Bomb Follies 2017

  • This seems a corollary of Einstein’s definition of insanity. It happened.

    Millions of US servicemen (RIP) that daily were being killed in the Pacific would offer to fight them for their virtue signaling.

    Judge not lest . . .

    The Hiroshima/Nagasaki canard makes them feel superior and diverts attention from their tacit support of abortion, class hate, sodomy privileges, socialism, etc.

    Seen at Instapundit. For them, there is no “right” answer or “wrong” answer There only are evil and good. And, everyone that disagrees is evil.

    “Droppings” indeed.

  • Having to use nuclear weapons against Japan in WW II, and the concommitant loss of civilian life, was regrettable but we all know it would have been far worse for both side with full scale invasion of the Japanese islands.

    On a side not, I will say again what I have always said: the best nuclear weapon is one whose U-235 or Pu-239 has been recycled for use in fuel for commercial nuclear reactors. Generating electricity from heavy metal atoms once intended to destroy an enemy is in the best tradition of turning swords into plowshares. And the former US-Russian program of Megatons into Megawatts did much to reduce the stockpile of weapons grade uranium. Would Mark “I am the Pope’s gift to the Catholic blogosphere” Shea support ANY of that? Being one of the left coast inhabitants who general have ZERO military experience and NO Godly patriotism, likely NOT.

    In the meantime, we need an overwhelming, modernized, safe and effective nuclear deterrent. The United States, United Kingdom and Israel are the good guys. Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are the bad guys. It is really that simple. The jury however is still out on France (very confused country ever since Robespierre in the 1790s), and the Pakistan-Indian situation never did make much sense, but at least their mutual nuclear deterrents have kept both countries at bay.

    As an American, I think we should have an overwhelmingly powerful nuclear deterrent and an extremely effective missile shield. We should be able to strike with impunity and immunity, and we should be able to prevent any nuclear aggression from reaching us. After all, I am an American and I want us to be victoriously on top. That’s called being patriotic. If someone (like Mark Shea) doesn’t want America on top, then that person needs to leave this country (and perhaps emigrate to the DPRK).

  • If you look at the title of the link to Shea’s dropping at New Advent it says, “Just think of the Enola Gay as a big abortion clinic with wings.”

    Mark gets more than a few facts wrong. Surprising I know.

    First of all, he trots out the false claim that Pius XII condemned the bomb drops. Pius XII said nothing about them publicly.

    Secondly, the Urakami Church (it didn’t become the archdiocesan cathedral until 1981 when it was designated as such by St. John Paul II during his Apostolic Journey to Japan) was not the target of the bomb drop. The target was the Mitsubishi Torpedo Factory. The placards at ground zero at Nagasaki point that out. The church is almost a mile away from ground zero.

    Prominent Catholics (and Shea is not the only one by any means) who condemn the bombings without honestly interacting with the historical facts of the situation Truman faced need to shut the hell up because they do nothing but bring shame on the Church with their calumny!

  • I notice at Shea’s posting on the bomb that he’d not allowing any comments. I guess his ever thinning skin can’t handle differing opinions like he used to do!

  • Maybe someone could organize a crowd-funding campaign to raise enough money to convince Shea to convert back to whatever misbegotten sect he was in before he allegedly became Catholic. It would be a public service.

  • ” Mark “I am the Pope’s gift to the Catholic blogosphere” Shea”

    With this pope, that might be more a literal than a rhetorical statement. And with gifts like this, who needs…? Oh, never mind.

  • I don’t know if Catholic Weekly ever allows comments, none of Shea’s other pieces have there – could be site policy, could be him just not wanting to be called out on his lies.

    In reply to the invasion question, there’s been 3 major counters I’ve seen from the anti-bombers.

    1) Japan was trying to surrender already.
    2) It was unjust to require unconditional surrender.
    3) We could have blockaded them.

    I’ll leave the others to the board to disprove. I’ll merely note with #1 that America had signed a peace treaty with Japan right before the attack on Pearl Harbor. So with what reason would America have to believe future treaties?

  • Also there is this:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2017/08/haggling-about-the-price.html

    Where Shea adds:

    This was written before Trump’s threats of nuclear annihilation against North Korea began, but there is something chillingly poet that he should choose August 6-9 to give Catholic apologists for nuclear mass murder a chance to repent the lies they have told all these years.

    Of course how could they repent to Pope Shea when he doesn’t allow any of them to come by and talk? It’s a cold religion indeed that demands repentance, then locks the doors on the confession booth.

  • 1) The guys who tried to overthrow the god-king AFTER the bombs were “trying” to surrender?
    2) Baloney
    3) And starved to death the entire population. Brilliant.

    *****
    I got through to a lady I know when we were dancing around the subject– it was from the angle of WWII itself– and I pointed out that boys her son’s age were to be handed bombs and told to roll under tanks. And about the teenage girls who charged Marines, armed only with pointy sticks… the Japanese leadership of the time was seriously sick.

  • If one American life was saved by the bomb, it is justified since this war belongs to Japan.

  • 1) Japan was trying to surrender already.
    2) It was unjust to require unconditional surrender.
    3) We could have blockaded them.

    What the Japanese viewed as an acceptable resolution of the War was no occupation and their retaining some of their foreign conquests. The Japanese government, as opposed to factions within the government which wished to see the War concluded on acceptable terms to Japan, never prior to the bombs agreed to surrender. Of course this argument is laughable since even with the two atomic bombings, the Japanese did not surrender until eight days after Hiroshima.

    In regard to unconditional surrender, since Japan was the aggressor in a War in which they killed tens of millions of civilians, unconditional surrender to the US would have been a completely moral result. However, we did not demand unconditional surrender. We gave them conditions in the Potsdam Declaration and Truman lived up to each of the conditions:

    Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender
    Issued, at Potsdam, July 26, 1945
    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.

    Yes we could have blockaded them and caused a famine that would have killed tens of millions of Japanese. As it was, MacArthur barely averted famine with massive shipments of food for the US. MacArthur threatened to resign if the food was not forthcoming, flatly stating that famine was not going to happen in Japan on his watch.

  • The problem with debating this is that those who are against it from a traditionally liberal perspective rest on the idea that Japan was finished, it was all about peace, it wanted to end the hostilities, we had them beat, there was no reason to invade, Russia had ended the war in the Pacific already, or anything that makes it wrong. I don’t support the decision personally, but I don’t see it as some unique fluke from an evil United States just itching to nuke Japanese babies in order to take over the world.

  • For those intellectually honest, Richard B. Frank in his Downfall put paid to the notion that Japan was ready to surrender:

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/why-truman-dropped-the-bomb/article/7093

  • If one uses Catholic non-consequentialist moral reasoning partly based on Double Effect, then whether or not Japan was going to surrender anyway or how many lives might have been lost in an invasion is irrelevant.

    I tend to think they shouldn’t have done it (though I’m still not completely sure). But whatever the answer, I would never condemn or blame anyone involved. And of course the bombings came after years of conventional terror bombing by both sides.

  • If one uses Catholic non-consequentialist moral reasoning…

    It seems to me (especially when these a-bomb discussions come up) that in trying to run from consequentialism, many Catholics has ended up in the opposite error of moral equivalency. If not the sheer insanity that results never matter with actions.

  • I’m with Oakes. Consequentialism cannot save the decision, only Double Effect can. I am not convinced by Deacon Russell’s explication (or other similar efforts), but I acknowledge that the analysis is very tricky and very smart folks can disagree. In any case, I would no more condemn Truman et al than I would blame a soldier who intentionally kills his dying comrade in order to stop his suffering. Acts can be wrong but understandable and forgivable. Good people do bad things for good reasons all the time, and the actors remain good and the actions remain bad.

  • Nate, you are right that it is erroneous to suggest that results never matter. But when it comes to acts that are intrinsically evil (such as the deliberate targeting of non-combatants in war) the relevance of results is limited chiefly to evaluating an actor’s level of subjective culpability.

  • Well, around and around we go, but nothing alters the fundamental division of opinion: one side believes avoiding the predicted consequences of ground invasion justified the bombings (consequentialism) and the other view is that the deliberate targeting of non-combatants is never moral and not subject to any kind of moral “trade-offs,” being intrinsically evil. I suspect neither side will convince the other. But I *am* certain the ad hominems will continue to fly.

  • The use of atomic weapons in general violates the teachings of Just War and must be condemned no matter what. America committed a war crime when it dropped those terror bombs. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

  • One perhaps “good” effect of the bombings was to demonstrate the bomb’s devastation. And they are much more devastating now. However, quite effective devastation can be and has been wrought by non-nuclear, conventional weaponry, like firebombs and guns. Shoulda, coulda, woulda? Only answer to that is, “Was ya dere?”

  • Tom, it must be pointed out that the intrinsically evil nature of the intentional targeting of non-combatants is an undisputed Catholic teaching. What is disputed is whether Nagasaki and Hiroshima fall within that category as a matter of fact. The debates centers both on the facts surrounding the bombings as well as the proper technical application of Double Effect. There is plenty to study and presumably debate here, but Catholics who believe that an action that has net positive results cannot be wrong is not thinking with the Church.
    Finally, yes all too many folks resort to name-calling and ad hominems, but I don’t think I see any such behavior on this thread, at least yet.

  • An interesting take from a Japanese doctor in 1983. Not dispositive, but worth a read.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1983/08/06/us/japanese-doctor-says-bomb-averted-famine.html

  • But I *am* certain the ad hominems will continue to fly.

    Well… yes. Starting a debate by calling the other side evil will usually mean ad hominems fly. 😉

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  • As a side note, Japan embraced nuclear energy for electricity after the atomic bombing because the country has no oil, no gas, no coal. Then Fukushima happened and unlike Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Fukushima neither hurt nor killed any member of the public (though 12 recovery workers did die in industrial non-nuclear accidents after the event). Now the country opposes nuclear power.

    The atomic bombing motivated the Japanese to embrace nuclear energy because a small amount of uranium contains a huge amount of energy.

    The Fukushima accident motivated the Japanese to shut all their nuclear power plants down even though NO member of the public was either hurt or killed.

    This is so unlike the natural gas tank explosions in the Chiba Prefecture which killed hundreds, releasing chemical toxins that never ever decay away, and so unlike the hydro damn failures that killed thousands by drowning – all caused by the Tohoku earthquake that led to the tsunami).

    I have never understood such stupidity. The hydro and fossil fuel accidents after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 killed tens of thousands and nuclear killed ZERO in the public. I thought the Japanese were at least above that sort of thing.

    BTW, corollary: all those chemical explosives rained on Tokyo and other cities during WW II killed far more that the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    But the Roman Catholic Church has NOTHING to say about that and how that would have continued on indeterminately without the nuking.

    I am disgusted.

  • For two weeks prior to the bombing, American planes dropped leaflets warning the inhabitants to evacuate. A truth that seems to have been eradicated by the liberal, not so patriotic individuals.

  • Lucius, many Catholic prelates and theologians have pointed out that the so-called carpet bombings of Germany and Japan were morally indistinguishable from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and therefore intrinsically evil. Of course, this assertion rests on the conclusion that these bombings were, in fact, the deliberate targeting of non-combatants. Not all historians agree with that assessment.

    Mary, yes that is true and is this fact is often cited as evidence that the bombing therefore cannot fairly be regarded as the deliberate targeting of civilians. This argument is vulnerable to serious rebuttals, however, and I encourage you to research them.

    I have read quite a bit over the years regarding the moral legitimacy of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, and on balance have concluded that they were intrinsically evil acts, even if certainly understandable and forgivable under the circumstances. But my conclusion is not shared by all well-informed Catholic thinkers, and I certainly don’t regard it as free from doubt. Like many moral analyses of historical events, the analysis benefits from high dosages of humility.

  • “I have read quite a bit over the years regarding the moral legitimacy of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, and on balance have concluded that they were intrinsically evil acts, even if certainly understandable and forgivable under the circumstances.”

    Mike, that is where I fall on it. Unfortunately, too many use condemnation of the events as mushroom cloud shaped cudgels with which to bludgeon America, ideological opponents, or anything else. And, as some have charged, Japan is not innocent of having used the clouds as shields to downplay the millions who suffered and died under its administration of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

    Like always, it’s not what we do and don’t remember, it’s what we do with it.

  • I haven’t called anyone evil. I used to be just as vociferous in defense of the bombings as I now am against them, so I understand the indignation that people dare to question the morality of an action that may have in fact saved many of *our side’s* military lives. It’s just that at the end of the day, I could not rationalize away the clear traditional teaching (which also appeals to my sense of natural justice) that it’s wrong intentionally to target innocent women and children, a calculus that is changed not one whit by the attempt to “recategorize” the inhabitants of these towns as “combatants,” twisting normal language beyond breaking point. Read the post linked by Don which tells of the priests and penitents incinerated by Fat Boy. They were not combatants. Nor were the small children, and in fact, to my knowledge, while the terror effect of the bombings was extolled as a reason for their use, the flimsy claim that the entire populace of these towns were “combatants” was never advanced.

  • Agreed on all counts, Dave.

  • I see a lot of pontification, especially this time of year, about nuclear weapons by people who know little if anything about military strategy and nothing of any matters relating to nuclear. Such people wouldn’t know the difference between a neutron and an alpha, or what critical means, or how fusion and fission differ, but they perversely believe that they are entitled to an opinion. Really?!

    I therefore highly recommend reading and studing The Strategy of Technology by Dr. Jerry Pournelle (one of President Reagan’s science advisors on the Stategic Defense Initiative), Dr. Stefan Possony and Dr. Francis Kane (Colonel, Retired, USAF):

    https://www.jerrypournelle.com/slowchange/Strat.html

    I served aboard a nuclear armed, nuclear propelled submarine back in the Cold War, maintaining the peace by the doctrine of Mutual Assurred Destruction – a doctrine that demonstrably worked. Every sailor on my sub prayed we would never have to launch our nukes. But if we were given the order, then by God Russians were going to die. The Old Testament has plenty of precedence for God ordering the Children of Israel to wipe out every man, woman and child in the cities of the Promised Land during the initial invasion. Failure to comply with God’s direction led to continued strife and conflict with unsubdued pagan neighbors. Sadly and regrettably war kills women and children instead of just combatants. God’s wrath rains out on the just and unjust alike. But we get all Pharisitically self-righteous as arm-chair philosopher and theologians filled with useless, worthless sentimentality. War is freaking hell and it is NEVER a good thing and is to be avoided if at all possible, but when it comes, may God see fit to let America win. I don’t want war. None of us guys on the USS Jacksonville SSN-699 wanted war. But when it comes, you got to be able to rain hell on whoever is on the enemy’s line. Yes, avoid non-combatants. But there’s Biblical precedence here. Let’s not forget that.

  • The Bomb Follies are IMO an exercise in “imaginary” virtue at the expense of real virtue — for the sake of being on the “right” side of a moral dilemma that none of of have ever or will ever face (unless we have a time machine that can take us back to 1945 and turn us into Harry Truman), we indulge in rash judgment and contempt toward real, live persons in the here and now. I suppose that debating whether or not Hiroshima and Nagasaki were morally justified is supposed to help us make a sound moral decision in the future if/when nukes have to be used again (North Korea?) but even then, most of us pontificating on these blogs aren’t going to have any say in that matter. A morally messed up world in which there are, sometimes, no options except “evil” and “less evil” is the price we pay for original sin, I guess.

  • “A morally messed up world in which there are, sometimes, no options except “evil” and “less evil” is the price we pay for original sin, I guess.”

    Comment of the week Elaine! Take ‘er away Sam!

  • Someone pick up the phone because I called it!

    Over at Dave’s the ever cliche CC (Don knows who I’m talking about) says:

    The bomb was not needed to win the war. Japan was about to surrender anyway. This is according to Churchill, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Admiral King, Admiral Leahy, and others.

  • And Elaine Krewer wins the thread for nailing the issue exactly.

  • Churchill defended the use of the bomb at the time on the floor of the House of Commons. Big Mac was told about the bomb just prior to it being dropped. He was furious. He was looking forward to commanding the invasion of Japan, the biggest amphibious invasion in History. He argued after Hiroshima that an invasion would still be necessary. Ike, contra his memoirs, made no comment on the atomic bombings at the time. Even in his memoirs he noted that he had no responsibility for, and little knowledge of, conditions in the Pacific Theater. King and Leahy wanted to let the blockade lead to a famine that would have starved the Japanese into capitulation. Leahy’s pride also was stung when his prediction that the bomb would be a dud proved to be a dud.

  • “an exercise in “imaginary” virtue”

    “As regards his more general attitude to the war, you must not rely too much on those feelings of hatred which the humans are so fond of discussing in Christian, or anti-Christian, periodicals. In his anguish, the patient can, of course, be encouraged to revenge himself by some vindictive feelings directed towards the German leaders, and that is good so far as it goes. But it is usually a sort of melodramatic or mythical hatred directed against imaginary scapegoats. He has never met these people in real life—they are lay figures modelled on what he gets from newspapers. The results of such fanciful hatred are often most disappointing, and of all humans the English are in this respect the most deplorable milksops. They are creatures of that miserable sort who loudly proclaim that torture is too good for their enemies and then give tea and cigarettes to the first wounded German pilot who turns up at the back door.”
    CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.

  • I don’t think it’s a worthless pursuit to figure out if certain actions are morally justified or not, and we don’t need to be nuclear scientists to do it. The rhetoric of “well, it’s a messy world, sometimes you hafta choose evil to avoid evil” is not a Catholic viewpoint. Our martyrs would reject that line of reasoning, having rejected doing some “small” evil to avoid some “great” evil. I suspect Thomas More probably heard this argument when he was being urged to accept the Act of Supremacy. It’s curious to me that among otherwise orthodox Catholics, this mushy “morality is not black and white, but gray” line is lifted from the religious Left, who use the exact same language to justify why definitive judgments can’t be made about sexual morality, their pet cause. Vindicating anything the US military has ever done seems to be the cause on “our” side that brings out the “morality is a fuzzy, gray thing” line. It doesn’t diminish our patriotism or national greatness to admit certain of our leaders made a really bad decision. Or don’t we get to criticize our leaders in this country without being accused of being unpatriotic or simpletons?

  • As to the Annual Bomb Argument, my thought is that I’m glad I didn’t have to be in Harry Truman’s shoes.

  • One thing that gets left out of a lot of these discussions Mark Shea is that 20,000 Japanese soldiers died in the Hiroshima bombing. Calling it a terror attack, specifically targeting civilians misses some important facts.
    It’s ironic that people who say supporting welfare payments makes one more pro-life than outlawing abortion would suggest starving the Japanese through a blockade would be better than the bomb.
    I also appreciate Don’s explanations of backgrounds of MacArthur, Eisenhower, etc perspectives above.

  • There was supposed to be “cough” around Shea’s name.

  • I guess our option is not the relative magnitude of evil- but our option is prayer. We can do nothing about the past, it is fixed. The future is not fixed and prayer and repentance can change things, according to B16.

  • This is only peripherally related to the topic of this post. I just got some sad news today. After 40 years of service on nuclear power, my old submarine the USS Jacksonville SSN-699 is returning from her last voyage. She will be decommissioned in 2018 or 2019. She was refueled only once in 4 decades – a heck of a lot of energy in a uranium atom – ain’t God great?

    http://m.navaltoday.com/#newsitem-142063

    I was a reactor operator aboard her in the late 70s and early 80s. I got to sleep next to a subroc nuclear missile in the Torpedo Room because I was a junior petty officer and there wasn’t enough berthing space. Basically, we were a nuclear propelled weapons launching platform and people space was a second thought. Oh, I hated it at the time, but every young man ought to have the opportunity of cleaning the bilges beneath the reactor coolant charging pumps while in the North Atlantic in November.

    I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything in the world. Sadly nit wit idiots like Mark Shea have no idea what responsibility and integrity and patriotism really are.

  • Mary, yes that is true and is this fact is often cited as evidence that the bombing therefore cannot fairly be regarded as the deliberate targeting of civilians. This argument is vulnerable to serious rebuttals, however, and I encourage you to research them.
    After the warning the non-combatants were to be absent. So, there cannot be any charge of targeting non-combatants. Nobody knew what the atomic bomb could do. Initially, the scientists believed that the atmosphere would catch fire and a chain reaction would burn our air and kill all of us. Now we know a little more of how to handle nuclear fission. Applying today’s standards to yesterday is not fair. Today’s atomic bombs are more sophisticated as are our scientists.
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the War. The devil is in the details and you and I are dealing with the devil. War is bad. The devil is worse.

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July 26, 1945: USS Indianapolis Delivers Hiroshima Bomb to Tinian

Wednesday, July 26, AD 2017

 

The delivery of the Hiroshima bomb by the crew of the USS Indianapolis to Tinian on July 26, 1945 received screen immortality in Quint’s (Robert Shaw) speech in the movie Jaws (1975).  Although historically inaccurate on several points, the scene has an understated power that makes it a gem of the filmmaker’s art:

 

“Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into her side, Chief. We was comin’ back from the island of Tinian to Leyte. We’d just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes.

Didn’t see the first shark for about a half-hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that in the water, Chief? You can tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn’t know, was that our bomb mission was so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin’ by, so we formed ourselves into tight groups. It was sorta like you see in the calendars, you know the infantry squares in the old calendars like the Battle of Waterloo and the idea was the shark come to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin’ and hollerin’ and sometimes that shark he go away… but sometimes he wouldn’t go away.

Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn’t even seem to be livin’… ’til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all your poundin’ and your hollerin’ those sharks come in and… they rip you to pieces.

You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks there were, maybe a thousand. I do know how many men, they averaged six an hour. Thursday mornin’, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boson’s mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. He bobbed up, down in the water, he was like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he’d been bitten in half below the waist.

At noon on the fifth day, a Lockheed Ventura swung in low and he spotted us, a young pilot, lot younger than Mr. Hooper here, anyway he spotted us and a few hours later a big ol’ fat PBY come down and started to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened. Waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went into the water. 316 men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945.

Anyway, we delivered the bomb.”

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5 Responses to July 26, 1945: USS Indianapolis Delivers Hiroshima Bomb to Tinian

  • Shaw helped write the monologue. IIRC, he was also one of the reasons they added it in the first place. He, like Carl Gottlieb, was bothered that Quint had no real motive in the book (in the novel, Quint is just a mean SOB who charters fishing excursions). At least Hooper had some reason to be interested in Sharks. So they came up with this. Several drafts were considered, but it was Shaw’s final version that ended up being used. Also Dreyfuss, who didn’t get along with Shaw, admitted that when they filmed this, he was legitimately captivated. He said in an interview that he wasn’t acting – each time Shaw delivered that it was as spellbinding as the last.

  • It is absolutely terrifying how well the late Robert Shaw could act, when one recalls that he was usually doing it in the midst of a severe hangover, Shaw being a serious alcoholic.

  • Yes, Dreyfuss said that Shaw was deathly sick one morning that they were shooting. He didn’t speculate why, but I had a feeling. It’s the scene where Shaw is first trying to hook the shark, and Hooper is at the helm. Shaw looks over his shoulder and yells ‘Hooper ya idiot. Starboard. Ain’t you watchin’ it?’. Dreyfuss said the camera literally rolled for that one line. Shaw was barely able to sit up, then Spielberg said action, Shaw belted out the line, Spielberg said cut, and Shaw all but keeled over from his sickness.

  • May God bless and keep them.

  • The part about the PBY “Catalina” landing in the water is accurate—Lt. Adrian Marks, certainly defying protocol (because the big fat Flying Boat would never have been able to take off in the 12′ swells) and orders, did so because he saw the survivors were at the end of their rope, and if he circled and left, many would have just let go and slipped under the waves. They pulled in over 50 men in the worst condition, but the few survivors later said that his plane and his crew just being there gave them emotional support that helped them until nightfall of that 4th day when the destroyer USS Cecil J. Doyle, the first rescue ship , arrived at the site.

    Damaged beyond capacity to take off, the PBY-5 “Dumbo” was scuttled and sunk by the Doyle’s gunfire the next morning. Marx had to be wondering if he was going to be court-martialed. (Fortunately, he was not court-martialed, and in fact received the air medal for distinguished service pinned on him by Commander Nimitz himself he died in 1998.)

Hiroshima: History and Morality

Wednesday, June 1, AD 2016

Operation_Downfall_-_Map

 

 

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

Condemning the Hiroshima Bombing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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54 Responses to Hiroshima: History and Morality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    http://anesi.com/bomb.htm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Note to self: never get in an argument Foxfier! You would have made a formidable trial attorney Foxfier!

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Foxfier,

    You say,

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

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

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

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

  • Just in case you all missed this classic:

    http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2010/08/happy_consequentialism_day.html

    Ed Feser is always good — the comments are where the action is in this post 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • “so you could have a tomorrow.”

    Memorial to the dead of the British 2nd Division at the battle of Kohima:

    “When you go home tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Cemetery_in_Kohima

  • TomD asks,

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

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

    Donald says,

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

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

    Foxfier,

    You say,

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

    No — the fire bombing was immoral as well.

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

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

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

  • Jeffery S, try out this one:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Japanese slogan in the waning months of WWII: “The sooner the Americans come, the better…One hundred million die proudly.”

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

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

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

    A Wallace Presidency? [shudder]

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

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

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

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

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

    “A Wallace Presidency? [shudder]”

    Ah, you see the bitter side! Very good!

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

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

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

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

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

  • “The quotations are not fabricated.”

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

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

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

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

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

    *nod*

Hiroshima Regrets

Thursday, May 26, AD 2016

 

 

The White House has stressed Obama will not apologize for America’s use of the bombs when he visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park — the first sitting president to do so.

An apology would please some in Japan.

Related: The State of Nuclear Weapons 70 Years After Hiroshima

“Of course everyone wants to hear an apology. Our families were killed,” Hiroshi Shimizu, general secretary of the Hiroshima Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, told The Associated Press.

However, it would risk alienating Americans back home — especially giving the trip’s timing just ahead of Memorial Day.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Lester Tenney, 95, spent more than three years in Japanese prison camps, and still has the blood-stained, bamboo stick Japanese troops used to beat him across the face.

 

Go here to read the rest.  Here is a proposed apology :

 

To the people and government of Japan,

It is a pleasure to visit your beautiful land, a nation the United States has enjoyed good relations with since 1945.  The events of 1945 are upper most in my mind as I stand here in the city of Hiroshima.  It is a grand city today, a tribute to the hard work of the Japanese people and a tribute to the role that Japan has played in the world since 1945.  Hiroshima of course was largely destroyed by the United States on August 6, 1945 due to the blindness of the Imperial government in not surrendering prior to that time.  Then Nagasaki was largely destroyed by the United States on August 9, 1945 when Japan still hadn’t surrendered.  Japan finally did surrender on August 15, 1945 and the great blood letting that goes by the name of World War II finally came to a close.  Thinking about all this I have a few regrets:

 

  1.  I regret the loss of innocent lives in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  2. I regret the necessity of Japan and the US going to war at all, caused by Japan waging a war of imperial expansion and making a dastardly sneak attack on the US on December 7, 1941.
  3. I regret that millions of my countrymen had to put their lives on hold for years in order to repel Japanese aggression and I especially regret those who paid the ultimate price in stopping your nation’s march of conquest.
  4. I regret that Japan in its war of aggression slew some twenty million innocent civilians.
  5. I regret that Japan treated with unprecedented savagery my countrymen luckless enough to be guests of the Emperor during the War, along with all other Allied POWs, many of whom died in captivity due to forced starvation, brutality and casual murder by their Japanese guards.
  6. I regret that your former Emperor was so drunk with power that he approved of Japan attempting to conquer Asia, that he was so blind as to think that Japan could possibly win a war against the United States and that he was so cowardly as to lack the will to call publicly for peace until after both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  7. I regret that the Japanese government has never forthrightly admitted the shameful record of Japan during World War II and has instead told lies to its students for generations, seeking to paint Japan as a victim rather than as the aggressor state that the historical record reveals.
  8. I regret that too many of my fellow countrymen are focused only on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and are blind as to the events that made Hiroshima and Nagasaki the sad final notes in a symphony of blood begun by Japan.
  9. I regret that blunt, honest talk such as this is so rarely engaged in between nations and peoples.
  10. I regret that truth is always in short supply in this world.
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55 Responses to Hiroshima Regrets

  • Obama is thinking that he needs to apologize for the imperialist US forcing (trying to stop Japanese aggression) the Japanese to righteously bomb/sneak attack Pearl Harbor.
    .
    Because Nanking. They should have dropped them on the emperor and the war-mongering generals. I don’t know who (probably some politician in the White House) picked (target selection) Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the cities in Japan with material numbers concentrations of Japanese Christians.
    .
    Does anybody care what that moron says? This simply is another lie. Sadly, his imbecilic worshippers won’t see it, as they have failed to see thousands of lies he’s constantly spewed since the 2008 campaign.

  • First, I agree with this post. The Japanese committed a war of aggression throughout the Pacific in the 1940s, and to end it the United States utterly destroyed two cities. Lives on both sides of the conflict were saved by this action. Should we now forgive the Japanese? The fact that we rebuilt their country after WW II demonstrates that we did forgive them. But we should never let the world forget the terrible atrocities which the Emperor committed, murdering and torturing millions throughout the Pacific rim.
    .
    Second, on an admitted tangent, consider carefully the completely successful rebuild of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two cites on which nuclear bombs were dropped. There was no million year uninhabitable zone. The radiation decayed away, people moved back in, and reconstructed was completed. The cities are more prosperous now than they were before the detonation of the nuclear devices in 1945. Therefore, if all things nuclear are the fearsome and deadly stuff that enviro-wackoes make them out to be, why are there people living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? In fact, why have bears, wolves, deer and other wild life returned to and prospered at Chernobyl? And why did US NRC Chairman Jaczko over-react, demanding an unnecessary 50 mile evacuation zone around Fukushima?
    .
    Folks, this is all about an agenda – a liberal progressive agenda: apologize for the necessary thing that saved lives, and emasculate any peaceful use of the technology that cauused that destruction because that peaceful use just might help people prosper and become energy-independent, building a firm technological foundation for the betterment of the nation. It’s about control: revise the historical past so that people do not know where they come from, and enslave them in the present so that they cannot do anything without help from nanny Caesar.
    .
    Therefore, I say yes to a strong nuclear weapons deterrent – the enemy (Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, etc) will know that mutual obliteration comes from initiating teminal aggression. And I say yes to nuclear energy – let’s tell the Muslims to go drown in their mineral slime, and let’s stop polluting the air we breathe by burning fossil fuel. We have enough thorium and uranium in Earth’s crust to fuel a technological civilization at the energy consumpition rate of the average American for 9 billion people or more for the next 10 thousand years or more, and with that technology we can colonize the outer planets of the solar system and not put all our eggs into one basket – Earth.

  • Does anyone think that the Japanese wouldn’t have used atomic weapons if they’d invented them first? I know that that’s not proof that a thing is moral, but the US was probably the least war-crimey of all the players. Maybe France wouldn’t have used them, but then again there wouldn’t have been anywhere they could have used one beneficially. Everyone I can think of used everything they had except for poison gas on the battlefield.

  • Hiroshima and Nagasaki were picked because they had not been wiped out by LeMay’s carpet bombing incendiary campaign.

  • I also regret the fact that your country (Japan) has not found the courage to come to terms with and atone for what the Imperial government did during that time. You can set the example for the younger generation by telling them the truth about that dark period of your history by letting that truth by taught in your schools.

    Back in 2005, I took a trip back to Japan to places I was stationed in the mid to,late 80s. One f the places I visited was Peace Park in Nagasaki. They show a video timeline of the building to the dropping of the atomic bombs. At one part, they showed the footage of Pearl Harbor. And the caption underneath read, “The United States declares war on Japan and Germany.” Nothing about the unprovoked attack by the Empire of Japan. My jaw hit the ground so hard it about knocked the floor out from under me.

    The Japanese people have an enormous capacity for honor. Despite the fact that Christianity has hardly been a statistical error in Japan, it’s martyrology is the most glorious in Church history. The Catholic in Japan survived two centuries without any clergy. The Church no where else can make anything close to that claim. And to think that many Catholics don’t hold them in high enough regard to exhort them to come clean with this part of their history is beyond insulting.

  • Love Fr. Miscamble’s defense of bombing Hiroshima. He is one of the only bright spots at Notre Dame nowadays, and they are trying to snuff him out for upholding orthodoxy.

    Is there any place left Obama hasn’t apologized to, or any dictator left he hasn’t made friends with, or any allies he hasn’t insulted or distanced? Any perversion that has not been lifted from margins of society and transformed into a brave choice? Any deal or treaty left unsigned that unleashes enemy influence and power and curbs our own? Any specialty group that hasn’t been whipped into a frenzy and ‘justifiable’ riots that police are not permitted to oppose? Any historically traditional principles or values that built up our country besides religious liberty, capitalism, marriage & family, work ethic, respect for police & for the law that hasn’t been derided, damaged or destroyed? Well get ready. You can complain all you want about Trump but the real outrage and damage is being done right now under our noses by Obama and nobody makes a peep! And there’s more coming from this- worst president ever! And worse than any to come.
    BTW- no mention of our POWs and MIAs in Vietnam? and Memorial Day around the corner… someone tell me I’m wrong on that. Please.

  • Christine says:
    “Is there any place left Obama hasn’t apologized to, …”

    Confederate States of America

  • “he Catholic in Japan survived two centuries without any clergy. The Church no where else can make anything close to that claim.”

    See, I was about to say “Chicago”, but then I realized that’d be mean.

    But I know what you mean. St. Paul Miki is one of my favorite Jesuits. How great that order could be!

  • “Christine says:
    “Is there any place left Obama hasn’t apologized to, …”
    .
    Yes, the United States of America, which he tore down.

  • A contrary view, complete with authority from the Catechism, if that matters to anyone:
    http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/dropping-the-atomic-bomb-was-wrong-period

  • Check’s article is a joke. Here’s a piece I wrote taking on Bp Barron’s ridiculous take on the bombings

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2015/08/13/father-barron-and-the-bomb/

  • Check’s article is a joke, a bad one. I love the America bashing that permeates the piece.

    This vice is nothing less than a heresy condemned by Pope Leo XIII in 1899 as “Americanism.” Americanism, no less virulent in our day than it was in Leo’s, combines a collective sense of Christian exceptionalism (America as the “Shining City on a Hill”) with the hubristic conviction that America can draw up her own moral code. The American myth of a Shining City on a Hill has grown more powerful since John Winthrop fired the hearts of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 with the idea that they were building something ordained by Scripture. Herman Melville, who penned the novel Moby Dick, in 1850 wrote:

    Americans are the peculiar, chosen people—the Israel of our time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world. . . . God has predestinated, mankind expects, great things from our race; and great things we feel in our souls. . . . Long enough have we been skeptics with regard to ourselves, and doubted whether, indeed, the political Messiah had come. But he has come in us. (White-Jacket, ch. 36)

    The myth was used to justify our government’s treatment of the aboriginal population. When America began her westward expansion, John Dix, senator from New York, explained Manifest Destiny in religious terms, “It is the behest of Providence that idleness, and ignorance, and barbarism, shall give way to industry, and knowledge, and civilization” (Congressional Globe, 1848).

    Later, Abraham Lincoln would justify a war that claimed 600,000 lives by describing America as “the last best, hope of earth” (Annual Message to Congress, 1862) and Julia Ward Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (regrettably sung in Catholic Churches today) invokes apocalyptic imagery casting America herself in the last battle.

    His ignorance as to both Leo XIII and American history is appalling.

    His obvious ignorance of the historical facts surrounding the dropping of the bombs is demonstrated by a supposed estimate of American casualties in an invasion of the Home Islands at 50,000. Prior to dropping the bomb we had incurred 78,000 casualties in taking the island of Okinawa alone. For more on casualty estimates, none of which included 50,000 casualties for the entire invasion, see the link below:

    http://www.upa.pdx.edu/IMS/currentprojects/TAHv3/Content/PDFs/Operation_Downfall.pdf

    If we had invaded it was planned that we would have used atomic bombs to clear the beaches. Fall out casualties alone, which no one was thinking of at the time, might well have been in the tens of thousands. Of course the US was just beginning to become aware that Japan had guessed where the invasion of Kyushu was planned to come ashore and was flooding the area with new units. An invasion of the Home Islands would have been the bloodiest undertaking of the American military in our history. Thank God and Harry Truman it never came about.

  • Speaking of devoted and Holy Jesuits;

    http://www.spiritdaily.com/A527hiroshima.htm

    Praying the Holy Rosary daily?
    If not, you may wish to start.
    A shield of love and protection.

  • It’s likely that Truman suffers torments in the fiery nether regions, but likely not for Hiroshima.
    .
    Mac provides the facts above. Brevity is the soul of wit:
    .
    Dropping the bombs saved millions of lives and ended a war that the US did not start. Any other argument is simple-minded horse hockey.
    .
    Such wrong-headed, catechetical thinking (E.G., After WWI the US and Japan were “given” Pacific island protectorates: Japan militarized its “protectorates,” the Quaker in the US White House refused to prepare for war in the Pacific) greatly contributed to Japanese massacres of millions of innocents from 1937 to 1945.
    .
    Like everything limp-wristed liberals spew, the massive, unnecessary evils attendant to their getting their way don’t matter because their intentions were “pure.”

  • Do these lavender colored clerics think that God should have apologized for nuking Sodom and Gomorrah, and for threatening to do the same to Nineveh through his prophet Jonah if they didn’t straighten up and fly right?
    .
    I slept on a foam cot next to thermonuclear tipped subrocs in the torpedo room on my sub because there wasn’t enough rack space in berthing. If push had come to shove and I was the only one alive able to follow an order to do a launch, then you can be darn sure I would have done my duty, albeit with great fear and trembling. That resolve (and the communists knowing that that resolve existed) on the part of both sailors on submarines and airman in missile silos is what kept the Cold War from getting hot.
    .
    These accursed limp wristed wimps know nothing, absolutely nothing. We don’t want to use these weapons, but rest assurred that had our enemies had them no such reluctance would have existed among the Imperial Japanese or the Nazi Germans, and certainly no such reluctance exists in today’s Iranian government.

  • “That resolve (and the communists knowing that that resolve existed) on the part of both sailors on submarines and airman in missile silos is what kept the Cold War from getting hot.”

    Comment of the week LQC! Take ‘er away Sam!

  • “Hiroshima and Nagasaki were picked because they had not been wiped out by LeMay’s carpet bombing incendiary campaign.”
    PF, that’s the cart before the horse. They and Kokura and Niigata were set aside prior to Lemay’s campaign going into high gear. They were reserved so that the effects of the new weapons on pristine targets could be studied.
    Also, aircrews were told not to overfly the four cities unless ordered to do so because there was a concern that if shot down they might become nuclear causalities.

  • Philip, I didn’t follow all of your links, but my prior research has demonstrated that some of the stories concerning Fatima and the attack on Hiroshima are untrue. Several Jesuits WERE injured in Hiroshima, two severely. They all survived, which could be considered a miracle, but writing that says they were all unharmed is false.
    See http://todaysmartyrs.org/pdf/By%20Incident%20Date/Todays%20Martyrs%201945-08%20August.pdf and then follow the links to the original sources for the evidence.

  • Yeah, those pacifist wussy libruls JPII, Fulton Sheen, and the Catechism must be wrong. Anything is justified if some inexact calculus lets us guess that directly and intentionally killing these women and children will prevent the death of some guessed at number of other women and children.
    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/3293/The_Anniversary_of_Hiroshima_John_Paul_II_and_Fulton_Sheen_on_the_Bomb_and_Conversion.aspx

  • Ronald Knox and Evelyn Waugh also were lefty pacifists, too (from Waugh’s bio of Knox):

    Peace in Europe and the Socialist regime in England brought [Knox] little comfort. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki appalled him. The event, which others were greeting with jubilation constituted for Ronald a triple outrage on Faith, Hope, and Charity; on Faith in that the actual mechanics of the device, the discovery, as he phrased it, of ‘an indeterminate element in the heart of things’ seemed at first flush to cast a doubt on the hypothesis of causality and so on the five classical proofs of the existence of God; on Hope by ‘the prospect of an age in which the possibilities of evil are increased by an increase in the possibilities of destruction’; on Charity by ‘the news that men fighting for a good cause have taken, at one particular moment of decision, the easier, not the nobler path. At the moment of victory a sign appeared in heaven; not the comforting Labarum of the Milvian Bridge, but the bright, evil cloud which hung over Hiroshima. In this sign we were to conquer’.

    Evelyn Waugh, Monsignor Ronald Knox, Chapman & Hall, 1959.

  • Thank you TomD for passing along your research regarding this “miraculous” story.
    One does get the viewpoint from the author that only minor injuries were reported from the Jesuits housed close to ground zero.
    Utter destruction surrounded their compound.

    Was this the case?

    Please, if you will, share your research about this over exaggeration concerning the protection of these consecrated individuals.

    By the way, I am not disputing your claims, I’m just curious as to the written testimonials, since I believe a movie is soon to be released or recently was released that portrays a miraculous protection.

    Thanks in advance.

    Your previous link gave some light information as to the identification of SJ’s at Hiroshima.
    I do appreciate your work.

  • TomD.

    A Fr. Schiffer SJ, is being quoted as passing this story along. He is one of the survivors.

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2015/08/09/the-priests-who-survived-the-atomic-bomb/

  • Philip, Fr. Schiffer is one of the Jesuits I have listed as severely injured. In fact it was the Catholic Herald article that put me on this particular line of research.
    I got most of my info from http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/mp25.asp , which was written by another survivor, Fr. John Siemes.

  • Interesting TomD.

    Thank you so much.
    Have a great memorial weekend.

  • Tom, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again:
    Most of the people building bombs today are not Christians.
    A number of them have made comments that go way beyond any Western bloodlust on this subject.
    If you don’t want to see more dead children, the answer is not to argue Catholic theology, it is to become a missionary and convert souls. You can argue the theology with them after you convert them.

    Philip (and all), have a good weekend too.

  • “Ronald Knox and Evelyn Waugh”

    They have a great deal in common with current critics of the bomb: they were bone ignorant of the events involved and they were not among the troops who would have to fight their way through the Home Islands if the bombs were not used.

  • “Yeah, those pacifist wussy libruls JPII, Fulton Sheen”

    Both were in favor of nuclear deterrence during the Cold War that involved nuclear weapons targeted against cities that made the atom bombs look like fire crackers. John Paul was close to a pacifist by the end of his life, and Bishop Sheen actually was a critic of the Vietnam War.

  • Actually Don, I think these two comments from the same LQC are more deserving of the comment of the week award:

    “Do these lavender colored clerics think that God should have apologized for nuking Sodom and Gomorrah, and for threatening to do the same to Nineveh through his prophet Jonah if they didn’t straighten up and fly right?”

    “These accursed limp wristed wimps know nothing, absolutely nothing. We don’t want to use these weapons, but rest assurred that had our enemies had them no such reluctance would have existed among the Imperial Japanese or the Nazi Germans, and certainly no such reluctance exists in today’s Iranian government.”

    But apparently, I don’t get to make that decision.

  • I am working on a reply to Miscamble for my blog. It will partake of Anscombe’s reasoning, in greater or lesser extent. I will post it here when I am finished.

  • I’m amazed that opponents of this war crime are accused of ignorance. So rather than continue to argue facts, such as the grossly inflated and ridiculous claim that there would be half a million US casualties in an invasion (not “millions” as I’ve seen repeated), or the obvious facts that Japan was thoroughly beaten and could have been blockaded and their military targets bombed until they surrendered or were rendered ineffectual to defend against invasion, I’ll just remind the arm chair analysts that the men who actually knew the most about the facts and circumstances on the ground, at the time, thought the bombings to be unjustified or immoral or both.

    Yes, those lefty, pacifist, wussy, America-hating libruls, Eisenhower, MacAruthur, and Chief of Staff Admiral Leahy all opposed the bombings. Were these men “ignorant of the events involved and… not among the troops who would have to fight their way through the Home Islands if the bombs were not used”? (a statement that assumes it’s morally OK to execute women and children to save combatant lives).

    Eisenhower presumably knew a thing or two about large scale invasions said of the bomb:

    In 1945 … , Secretary of War Stimson visited my headquarters in Germany, [and] informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act…. During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and second because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face.’ The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude, almost angrily refuting the reasons I gave for my quick conclusions.

    Admiral Leahy’s judgment was this:

    the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make wars in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.

    And that famous hippie pacifist MacArthur was quoted by his biographer and by his consultant Norman Cousins as saying that “no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor.”
    Other America haters who believed the bombings to be either unnecessary or immoral or both were Joseph Grew, the Secretary of State during the war; John McCloy, the Assistant Secretary of War; Albert Einstein, and a host of other knowledgeable officials and experts at the time.

    So please, insist if you must that killing women and children directly and intentionally is justified to save combatant lives, but don’t try to portray those who disagree (including those of us who take seriously the Church’s teaching on just war) as ignorant of the facts.

  • “I’m amazed that opponents of this war crime are accused of ignorance.”

    First, it wasn’t a war crime and second your comment, as I will demonstrate, continues to demonstrate such ignorance.

    “such as the grossly inflated and ridiculous claim that there would be half a million US casualties in an invasion”

    Considering that the nation had just incurred 78,000 casualties Tom taking Okinawa, probably a half million American casualties was well within the ball park to take the Home Islands through invasion, albeit likely on the low side, with several million Japanese casualties likely. You do know that we planned to use atomic bombings as part of the invasion, don’t you? Admiral Leahy, who you love to quote, predicted that the invasion would cause at least 268,000 American casualties.

    “or the obvious facts that Japan was thoroughly beaten and could have been blockaded and their military targets bombed until they surrendered or were rendered ineffectual to defend against invasion,”

    A blockade would have killed millions of Japanese Tom through famine. MacArthur after the surrender just barely averted famine through massive shipments of food from the US. Our incendiary campaign, which was the only way to destroy the disbursed Japanese industry, had already killed many times the number of civilians that died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    “Yes, those lefty, pacifist, wussy, America-hating libruls, Eisenhower, MacAruthur, and Chief of Staff Admiral Leahy all opposed the bombings.”

    Eisenhower almost certainly made no statement at the time, contrary to the self-serving fabrication in his memoir,

    https://books.google.com/books?id=A2Zv3VD6ptQC&pg=PA17&lpg=PA17&dq=eisenhower+stimson+meeting+hiroshima&source=bl&ots=pkwdfvdzWc&sig=2CGzA6h_2AEphc7TENHz5ks76E4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwis6fOy2f_MAhUCOVIKHTXwAZ4Q6AEIMjAD#v=onepage&q=eisenhower%20stimson%20meeting%20hiroshima&f=false

    MacArthur was dismayed that he would not get to command the great invasion and argued even after Hiroshima that an invasion would be necessary (during the Korean War he called for the nuking of Chinese cities in Manchuria), and Admiral Leahy predicted prior to Hiroshima that the bomb would not work, Leahy preferring to starve Japan into surrender.

    In regard to your citations, and before you inflict junk history on this blog again which I will not tolerate, please buy and read Hiroshima in History: The Myths of Revisionism by Robert James Maddox (editor).

    http://www.amazon.com/Hiroshima-History-Robert-James-Maddox/dp/0826219624

    You are merely recycling the same sort of idiocy floating around the net as to Hiroshima and I will not allow such rubbish to be argued on this blog.

  • Your blog, your rules, but facts is facts.

    More war-hating, anti-military wussies who knew the bombings were unnecessary, immoral, or both:
    Chester Nimitz, “The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan. . . .”
    Admiral Bill Halsey, lefty commander of the Third Fleet and hero of Guadalcanal and the Solomons campaign: “The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment. . . . It was a mistake to ever drop it. . . . [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it. . . . It killed a lot of Japs, but the Japs had put out a lot of peace feelers through Russia long before.
    General Hap Arnold, General of the Air Force during the war, “The Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell, because the Japanese had lost control of their own air.” And, “it always appeared to us that, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse.”
    Curtis LeMay, the youngest four-star general in American history since Ulysses S. Grant and the youngest four-star general in modern history as well as the longest serving in that rank, and no philosophical opponent of nuclear weapons, also believed the war would be over in days, and said the dropping of the bombs “had nothing to do with the end of the war.” He said the war would have been over in two weeks without the use of the atomic bomb or the Russian entry into the war.
    Air Force General Claire Chennault, the founder of the “Flying Tigers” and Army Air Forces commander in China, stated that “Russia’s entry into the Japanese war was the decisive factor in speeding its end and would have been so even if no atomic bombs had been dropped. . .”

    Richard Nixon quoted MacArthur as being against the bombings on moral grounds, “MacArthur once spoke to me very eloquently about it, pacing the floor of his apartment in the Waldorf. He thought it a tragedy that the Bomb was ever exploded. MacArthur believed that the same restrictions ought to apply to atomic weapons as to conventional weapons, that the military objective should always be limited damage to noncombatants. . . . MacArthur, you see, was a soldier. He believed in using force only against military targets, and that is why the nuclear thing turned him off. . . .”

    In his memoirs, Ike, in addition to the statement I’ve provided before, said this:

    During [Secretary of War Stimson’s] recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives….

    But keep trying to convince us that the dropping of the bomb was a good and holy thing. I’ll stick with the experts. If it’s junk history, blame these men, not me.

  • As to Nimitz Tom he was informed of the Manhattan Project in February of 1945. His response was that he hoped they would have more than two bombs to drop on Japanese cities.

    Halsey, who I am reading the latest biography about coincidentally, made his statement on September 9, 1946. He had been firmly in the starve ’em out camp, which included most naval commanders. By 1946 the Navy was battling against huge budget cuts and the belief that the atomic bomb made navies obsole.

    Hap Arnold and LeMay reflected the Army Air Corp view that their bombing campaign would have brought Japan to its knees by the end of August. There is absolutely no evidence to support that view, since the Japanese did not surrender after Hiroshima. LeMay made his comments in 1985 after supporting the use of nukes against Vietnamese cities during the Vietnam War. Lemay’s bombing campaign of course killed many times the number of Japanese civilians who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • A good look at the historiography on the decision to drop the bomb:

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

  • Shhh. Don’t tell apology-tour Obama or his imbecile worshippers that Truman, who ordered them to drop the bombs, was a democrat.
    .
    Many years ago, I read John Toland’s book, The Rising Sun, a history of WWII Pacific from the Japanese standpoint. As I remember, the same (as had brought about the war) military gangsters were able and ready to fight to the last man, even after the first A-Bomb hit. The death-before- dishonor crowd was still strong enough to keep the war going. If necessary they’d have snuffed the emperor.
    .
    Re: them generals’ comments. You need to know the arrogance of them bast . . ., er, brass hats. Le May was opposed because the A-bomb wasn’t his “show” – that BS about Japan being weeks away from capitulation . . . In VN the arc light B-52 strikes weren’t splashy – his nukes would have gotten him more press. The post-war strategic bombing survey was enlightening. Mac Arthur same same. He was such a moral guy that he forced the hangings of a couple of Jap generals that beat him. Again, he got no “laurels” for A bombs.
    .
    The Navy had suffered hugely from kamikazes off Okinawa – that would have been eyewash compared to the kamikazes off Dai Nippon. And, they couldn’t run b/c the US ground forces (as before Okinawa) would have needed them right there. But, the admirals fired salvoes of 16-inch BS b/c they feared that nukes would make the navy irrelevant. JFK moved away from nuke deterrence in his adolescent embrace of snake-eaters, which romantic bravura/façade gave us Vietnam (500,000+ non/SF troops engaged), limited war, forfeited the initiative, no fire zones, sanctuaries, and etc.
    .
    Thing is when the enemy knows you won’t hit him with everything you got, he knows you ain’t serious. Ho and Giap knew it and so were willing to suffer (a million KIA) to the end-point of American (limited) resolve. I wish I didn’t remember this the day before Memorial Day.

  • I have observed that there is a set of people who practice as a form of piety however false the ideology of anti-nuclear pacifism. That and not what Sacred Scripture actually teaches us is their religion, their defining philosophy. For them the account of Genesis 19 may never have existed and will never be stated:
    .
    24 And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.
    25 And he destroyed these cities, and all the country about, all the inhabitants of the cities, and all things that spring from the earth.
    26 And his wife looking behind her, was turned into a statue of salt.
    27 And Abraham got up early in the morning and in the place where he had stood before with the Lord,
    28 He looked towards Sodom and Gomorrha, and the whole land of that country: and he saw the ashes rise up from the earth as the smoke of a furnace.
    29 Now when God destroyed the cities of that country, remembering Abraham, he delivered Lot out of the destruction of the cities wherein he had dwelt.
    .
    Indeed, through his prophet Jonah, God threaten to do the same to Nineveh. Was God wrong for such mass, indiscriminate destruction?
    .
    Amici, my sponsor in a 12 step program told me long ago that sadly some people have to die that others may live. I don’t like that, never have and never will. Indeed, God Himself in Ezekiel 18:32:
    .
    For I have no pleasure in the death of any one, says the Lord God, so turn and live.”
    .
    Nevertheless, we see that man sacrificing man has been the case throughout Biblical history, and God – being God – does not change His eternal, righteous and holy response. This day and age of mercy on one side of the coin has a justice even stricter than that of the Old Testament prophets on the other. It was for the sake of justice that God permitted Hiroshima and Nagasaki to have gotten nuked as Sodom and Gomorrah had been before them, so that God’s mercy to both American military men and the Japanese people might be manifest. While man’s free will mucks history up, God’s sovereign will shall always be done. Blessed be the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Okay. This is not likely to be a popular (or perhaps, unpopular) post – it’s somewhat of a summary and an attempt to analogize. http://sardonicexcuria.blogspot.com/2016/05/on-bombing-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki.html

    Enjoy!

  • While some people are pointing out the obliteration of innocent civilians in the bombing of Hiroshima, and of Nagasaki as well, as a major bone of contention in this debate, I don’t think anyone has discussed the civilians and in particular, their assumed innocence. The civilian population of Japan was highly organized as a last defense fight them with forks if we have to army. School were closed down and even children were enlisted. In preparation for Operation Downfall- or their counter Operation Ketsugo- the Patriotic Citizens Fighting Corps totaled 28Mil. They were expected to use whatever they had: bamboo spears, muskets, longbows. I don’t know if I was perhaps exaggerating when I mentioned forks. A high school girl Yukio Kasai was issued an awl and instructed to go for the abdomen. This was the last line of defense in an elaborate military plan to kill as many soldiers as possible before they even landed.
    Happy Memorial Day…Let us remember, that they did not die in vain.

  • Christine points out what may be a flaw in the analysis that large numbers of non-combatants were targeted at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On February 26, 1945, the National Resistance Program made men 15 to 60 and women 17 to 40 subject to training for a projected final defense of the homeland if it was invaded. 20,000 such conscripts fought at Okinawa.

    If the majority of the population was militarized, were they de facto military targets?

  • Phillip, earlier on this thread I had a discussion with another Philip, and I made reference to a first person account by Fr. John Siemes SJ, a Hiroshima survivor and German missionary. This account was written only a month after the attack; here again is the URL:
    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/mp25.asp

    According to Fr. Siemes’ account, the German Jesuit survivors, who saw firsthand the hideous effects of the bomb on human beings and who had attempted to aid the other victims, had the following debate in that first month after the attack: We have discussed among ourselves the ethics of the use of the bomb. Some consider it in the same category as poison gas and were against its use on a civil population. Others were of the view that in total war, as carried on in Japan, there was no difference between civilians and soldiers, and that the bomb itself was an effective force tending to end the bloodshed, warning Japan to surrender and thus to avoid total destruction. It seems logical to me that he who supports total war in principle cannot complain of war against civilians. The crux of the matter is whether total war in its present form is justifiable, even when it serves a just purpose. Does it not have material and spiritual evil as its consequences which far exceed whatever good that might result? When will our moralists give us a clear answer to this question?

  • Don, I have to say that I am getting rather tired of the way Tom McKenna et al debate the nuclear attacks on Japan. I am in total agreement with their objectives (no more deaths by nuclear war), but I cannot stand that way they debate. Year after year, thread after thread, they spin and misrepresent historical facts. You show that contemporary U.S. military leaders fully supported the use of nuclear weapons against Japan and Communist targets, and that their anti-nuclear comments are only driven by self-serving interservice rivalries. You repeatedly demolish their use of these military leaders’ anti-nuclear comments, and they repeatedly come back and reuse those quotes.
    I’m really tired of this game. Frankly, I think I could make a better argument against the attacks than they do.

  • TomD,

    I would welcome your thoughts on my own discussion.

  • “I have observed that there is a set of people who practice as a form of piety however false the ideology of anti-nuclear pacifism.”
    LQC, I don’t think that there is a great problem with that from a theological viewpoint, as long as it is not a false save-my-own-skin piety. Many of the Christians in the Mideast who live under the thumbs of Islamists do something rather similar. Christians before the development of just war theory are another example. And that shows the real moral problem with this anti-nuclear position: it really is not moral unless and until they have convinced the large majority of Christians to join them. If the U.S. government in 1945 had adopted their position it would have resulted in millions of Christians (and non-Christians too, of course) being forced to (more or less) knowingly dying for an anti-nuclear Christian pacifism. Without some form of consent that is not really moral either.

  • TomD,

    Thanks for your comment. I have read about similar debates among clerics present at Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the time.
    It is interesting that Father Siemes understood that Japan was involved in total war including, one may conclude, blurring the distinction between combatants and non-combatants.

  • Jonathan, are you the publisher of Sardonic ex Curia? If so I’ve already left one comment there. Let me know if that is where you want more.

  • Nevermind Jonathan, I figured out that you are. See you on your site later today.

  • Yep, Phillip. Fr. Siemes one personal comment “It seems logical to me that he who supports total war in principle cannot complain of war against civilians” is very interesting. I read it as meaning that a Tom McKenna may morally complain, but an Emperor Hirohito may not.

  • There is simply no way that modern warfare can be consistent with Catholic doctrine. Napalm, carpet bombing, cluster bombs, armed drones – all that stuff is anticipated by everyone to inevitably kill civilians, children, and the like. But see, here’s the deal: I like living in the country total war has preserved for me. I like the fact that human slavery was ended here by a war which killed half a million Americans. I enjoy living in a house which is built on land wrested from Native Americans through genocide. I am curious as to how God will judge me for my duplicity, but I am sure He will not need to judge me for sanctimoniously holding forth that all this slaughter is justified, theologically, because it benefits me. I take precious little comfort from my one moral victory amid all this perfidy from which I have profited. But there you have it – I’m fickle.

  • “There is simply no way that modern warfare can be consistent with Catholic doctrine.”

    Actually modern technology tends to be more discriminating when it comes to civilians than wars of the past. Sieges for example were grisly affairs where famine and disease could wipe out civilian populations in truly gruesome fashion. The common custom was that if a city was taken by storm, the civilian population was subject to plunder, rape and murder if they resisted. Captured soldiers were routinely enslaved if they were of a different religion. The chief slaughterer of civilians in military history is probably Genghis Khan in the thirteenth century. If modern modes of warfare are considered to be morally dubious under Catholic doctrine, than Popes were truly asleep at the switch morally in prior ages as they commanded papal armies and called for Crusades. Of course the neo-pacifism that now grips the Church has little in common with traditional Catholic attitudes or praxis towards war, probably a result of popes no longer leading secular states in war and Catholics in the West engaging in a holiday from history, along with most of the West, where all sorts of dubious utopian ideas are thought to be eternal truths rather than the passing transient residue of the unusual times in which we live.

  • Warfare, modern or not, is not consistent with Catholic doctrine. Just war theology allows for self defense from greater evils resulting from war, but it is hard to say that just war theology is consistent with Biblical doctrines such as the Beatitudes. Why Hollis Hanover would think that non-modern warfare would be consistent is beyond understanding.

    Also, Hollis appears to not understand the meaning of the word ‘duplicity’. If he cannot stop himself from wallowing in imagined guilt then he should relocate to someplace where he can avoid it, like Antarctica.

  • Don McC wrote:
    “…Of course the neo-pacifism that now grips the Church has little in common with traditional Catholic attitudes or praxis towards war…”
    Not exactly. This is true since Augustine, but probably not so before. Augustinian just war theology was a massive shift in Christian thinking on this subject, a shift that can be justified or disputed depending on how we perceive the demand to love our neighbor.

    “…probably a result of popes no longer leading secular states in war and Catholics in the West engaging in a holiday from history, along with most of the West, where all sorts of dubious utopian ideas are thought to be eternal truths rather than the passing transient residue of the unusual times in which we live.”
    Exactly right. Could not have been better put.

  • “Not exactly. This is true since Augustine, but probably not so before. Augustinian just war theology was a massive shift in Christian thinking on this subject, a shift that can be justified or disputed depending on how we perceive the demand to love our neighbor.”

    Prior to the time of Constantine the Church suffered periodic persecution from the State and service in the Legions involved pagan sacrifice. Once this changed under Constantine the Roman military within a few decades became a largely Christian organization. Augustine was reflecting the praxis of the Church which had developed in the fourth century following the conversion of Constantine.

  • True, I would just maintain that that pre-Augustine praxis was not unified by any means. It varied from place to place and from Christian to Christian. Legend or not, the story of the Theban Legion is quite instructive – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theban_Legion

    Remember too, that Roman army enlistments were effective for many years. Converts to Christianity could not abandon their military duty, and so the pacifists among them in the early church had to tolerate their service. How tolerant are pacifists today? Back then they were Christians first, today many are pacifists first and Christians second.

  • “Pacifists first and Christians second”. Whoa, momma. Are the pages of your Bible which constitute St. Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7 stuck together? Christianity, to the extent it consists of following the words of Jesus of Nazareth, is pure pacifism. The compromises of Augustine, intended to give us a pass on some of the more onerous suggestions of Jesus, were political. I am all for getting a pass, all for being rich, all for forgetting that death, for a Christian, is not a bad thing. I am mildly opposed to being so thick that I think I am living a holy life by doing so. Maybe I am wallowing in guilt (get the hog pen analogy, wink, wink), but I enjoy my life even though I have no illusions about what it is I am wallowing in.

  • No, Mr. Hanover, your previous comments show that you do have illusions, illusions that force you to wallow when you don’t have to. Did Jesus wallow in guilt over what his forefathers did to the Canaanites, Philistines, Amorites, etc. etc. etc.? There is no record of it (therefore it was of no concern to early Christians) and I for one doubt that he did. When YOU harm someone you can then wallow. In fact wallowing in the guilt of others is spiritually dangerous, because it can diminish one’s own perceptions on one’s own sins. I will concede that looking at the sins of the past has educational value, but that’s all.

    Your contention that Christianity is pure pacifism is contradicted by Apostles who had swords and a Savior who whipped moneychangers. I give great credence to Christian pacifism as practiced in the early Church and by holy conscientious objectors today (as many of my posts on this thread show). All I was criticizing are so-called Christian pacifists who are pacifists because their desire to not die exceeds their desire to not kill. That kind of person would not willingly put their own head on the chopping block.

August 15, 1945: The Voice of the Crane

Saturday, August 15, AD 2015

Something for the weekend.  Kimigayo, the Japanese national anthem.

And so World War II ended with the people of Japan standing at attention or bowing as they heard their Emperor tell them, in a classical Japanese that most of them probably found hard to follow, that it was time to endure the unendurable:

TO OUR GOOD AND LOYAL SUBJECTS:

After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in Our Empire today, We have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered Our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that Our Empire accepts the provisions of their Joint Declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of Our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by Our Imperial Ancestors and which lies close to Our heart.

Indeed, We declared war on America and Britain out of Our sincere desire to ensure Japan’s self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from Our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone – the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people – the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

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, not only would it 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.

We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to Our Allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire towards the emancipation of East Asia.

The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met with untimely death and all their bereaved families, pains Our heart night and day.

The welfare of the wounded and the war-sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood, are the objects of Our profound solicitude.

The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.

Having been able to safeguard and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, We are always with you, Our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.

Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion which may engender needless complications, or any fraternal contention and strife which may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.

Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishability of its sacred land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibility, and of the long road before it.

Unite your total strength, to be devoted to construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, foster nobility of spirit, and work with resolution – so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.

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6 Responses to August 15, 1945: The Voice of the Crane

  • Let’s pray the “bloodiest war in human history,” will indeed come to an end.

    The 22nd of August, Queenship of Mary, is a day that those who can not fight for themselves will have prayer warriors standing in for them at the front lines. PPprotest.org
    Over two hundred cities.
    Over two thousand American taxpayers pleading to Heaven to help us de-fund Worse than Murder Inc.

    Join in for an hour or two next Saturday, and help to end this ongoing war, the bloodiest in our Nation’s history.

  • Thanks for posting this Donald.
    When I first read this a few years ago, I was struck by the arrogance of the concession speech, as if it was their altruistic decision that terminated the war because of concern for the greater good.

    Iin researching for a book I wrote on the war years back, I concluded that God did draw good from all this evil, since it terminated a centuries old warrior mentality that might well have taken many more lives than those lost in the war had it been victorious.
    Two concepts of man, I realized, were at play—the dignity of man is found in humility not honor that comes from abusing other people. They killed their own dishonored and captured prisoners, we risked death to save our prisoners.

    War, nukes included, is a heck of a way to bring about peace. Let’s hope that the Judeo-Christian world’s present enemies don’t take us to the brink of disaster over their “destruction of other human life is good” mentality.

  • Don Mc- is this your writing? ‘As a piece of political mendacity, replete with lie after lie, it has few equals, but it served its purpose: Japan would surrender and the bloodiest war in human history was finally at an end.

    makes me think of jn8:44

  • There was a saying I picked up from someone who used to work in DC, as I used to – “Close enough for government work”.

    The statement was certainly arrogant, but it was close enough to get the job done.

  • “As a piece of political mendacity, replete with lie after lie, it has few equals, but it served its purpose: Japan would surrender and the bloodiest war in human history was finally at an end.”
    After reading the ignorance of “good and loyal subjects and servants of the Imperial State”, “subjects and servants of the state”? Free will, sovereign personhood? and he talked about human civilization. Japan had coveted Hawaii as a steppingstone to invade the U.S.A forever. I was upset when I read the speech until I read you response; “replete with lie after lie” Thank you. Donald McClarey

August 14, 1945: Surrender and a Coup Attempt

Friday, August 14, AD 2015

 

 

Allied bombers had been used on August 13, 1945 dropping leaflets over Japan which described, in Japanese, the surrender offer and the Allied response.  On August 14, 1945 Hirohito met with his military leaders, several of whom spoke in favor of continuing the War.  Hirohito urged them to help him bring the War to an end.  Meeting then with the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War and heard out those who recommended a rejection of the Allied offer unless there was a guarantee that the Emperor would continue to reign.  Hirohito then spoke:

I have listened carefully to each of the arguments presented in opposition to the view that Japan should accept the Allied reply as it stands and without further clarification or modification, but my own thoughts have not undergone any change. … In order that the people may know my decision, I request you to prepare at once an imperial rescript so that I may broadcast to the nation. Finally, I call upon each and every one of you to exert himself to the utmost so that we may meet the trying days which lie ahead.

In normal times in Japan that would have been that.  It was quite rare for the Emperor to so overtly intervene in a decision of the government, indeed it was forbidden under the then current Japanese constitution, but when he did, it would have literally been unthinkable for any Japanese not to instantly obey.  However, these were far from normal times.

The rest of the day was taken up with Hirohito preparing an address to his people and having a recording played to be broadcast on August 15, 1945.  Washington was advised that Japan had surrendered via the Japanese embassies in Switzerland and Sweden and the Allied world went wild with joy.

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14 Responses to August 14, 1945: Surrender and a Coup Attempt

  • And all along I thought they settled all this in Tokyo by playing the Japanese version of paper, rock, scissors…..

    Seriously though, I had heard that the Emperor did not speak much because he had a high falsetto voice. Anyone know about this?

  • Hirohito was an extremely shy man, but it was not the tradition in Japan for the Emperor to play an overt role in Japanese politics, since as a “living god” he was considered to be far above earthly affairs. Behind the scenes was another matter, and Hirohito was a consummate behind the scenes operator.

  • Which might explain why our WWII posters of the Axis powers seemed to feature Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo.

  • Hirohito approved (or so I read) the pearl Harbor attack. He was as guilty of that exercise ans any Japanese who actually committed the attack.

  • yep!! and G. HERBERT WALKER Bush led the american delegation to honor this war criminal. He should have put on his old pilots leather cap and flown the Enola Gay into
    tokyo rather than honoring this criminal.

    E.G. at the end of june 44, after the battle of saipan, Showa issued his first communication
    encouraging Japanese to committ suicide! the famous Banzaii cliffs…. And we as a people honored him ……..? or is it that Bush paid homage to the #1 growing economy in the world at the time.

  • Please. Hirohito received the diplomatic courtesies due the head of state of a friendly power. MacArthur made the call long ago on that point, and it was a good call. Hirohito’s execution was not worth a Japan constantly in revolt during the American occupation, and everlasting enmity thereafter.

  • please back – – MacArthurs decision is not the question – diplomatic courtesies do not necessarily extend to ‘friendly’ heads of state – especially the POTUS attending ….Thatcher ? -Franco
    that man was a homicidal criminal mass murderer and should have been dealt with as such. I’m quite sure MAc put him in his place where he belonged more than a few times, as MAC did the russians.
    We should have sent Dan Quayle to show our tTRUE level of appreciation for the Showa …

  • “Diplomatic courtesies do not necessarily extend to ‘friendly’ heads of state – especially the POTUS attending”

    Usually they do. For example, Ike visited Franco in Spain. I am not sure why you tossed Thatcher into the mix.

  • ike did not attend his memorial service – nelson rockefeller did- i chose thatcher cause
    the U.S. presidential delegation to her send off was led by former secretaries of state George Schultz and James Baker had kissinger and cheney along. NO OBAMA….

    my memory was telling me it is a high[er] diplomatic honor to have the POTUS physically at one of these type memorial events. that was the thinking…. but that was when we had real men in US politics- Dirksen, Johnson, Reagan …….and the POTUS was a dignified office of some moral suasaion. then there is Will. Jeffereson clinton and Presidue……

  • “NO OBAMA….”

    That tasteless bit of theater was due to his pose to hate the Brits because of his father and particularly Thatcher who he viewed as not only a Brit but an ideological foe. As usual with Obama’s actions, a wise President will do otherwise.

  • without saying, my comment was predicated on cultured,at least externally moral humans occupying the top office. That excludes Barry, William Jefferson and perhaps both bush’s……see Herbert Walker.

    But the point stands- to have the POTUS attend personally add’s a level of significance and dignity to the event…..previous comment NOT withstanding. No POTUS should have ever attended the burial of a war criminal,[ recall Reagan and the SS cemetery] especially one as vulgar and base as the SHOWA . Who went to UNCLE JOE”S [ the ex seminarian’s ] internment? … oh, that’s right…he was a head of state but by that time RECOGNIZED as not a friendly. FDR would have gone- IKE did not.
    uuummmmm……

  • Mr. Coffey,

    Hirohito wasn’t the only WWII villain to escape justice. The US government ran Operation Paper Clip, the plan to get German scientists out of Germany and working for the USA, even if they belonged to the SS, a condition that ordinarily barred entry to the US. Von Braun wasn’t a nice man working for the Nazi dictatorship but the US took him in because he could not be allowed to work for Stalin. As I remember it, von Braun was in the SS. There was the Japanese head of chemical and biological warfare who plea bargained his way to freedom in exchange for what he knew.

    So Hirohito stayed. The man is dead and has faced God’s judgment.

  • I am failing to communicate [ the Captain to Luke] I never broached that others have escaped justice. what a slippery slope that is for our beloved church.

    the issue i raised a long way back was with the POTUS attending the funeral albeit a state function of a WAR CRIMINAL [with the further clarification that the occupier of the office attempts to maintain the dignity of same via his actions and demeanor] . G.W. [the great ]would only slightly bow , more a nod, toward other state officials, he felt it beneath the dignity of the Office to shake hands with them.

    e.g. there is more to the sedia gestatoria than just a free ride. Dignity of office. And yes , let Showa rest in peace. but not too soon.

Father Barron and the Bomb

Thursday, August 13, AD 2015

Here is a guest post by Greg Mockeridge:

 

It should go without saying that readers of TAC are familiar with the work of Fr. (soon to be bishop) Barron. His presence on You Tube is ubiquitous. He has also produced the Catholicism series, featured not only on Catholic media outlets like EWTN, but also on secular outlets like Pbs. In and of themselves, using outlets such as these to get the message of the Church out are commendable. And certainly Fr. Barron has done some good work along these lines and has earned a rather immense popularity as a result. Again, in and of itself, being popular is not a bad thing. But popularity can be just as dangerous in Catholic circles as in secular circles. In fact, I would say it is even more dangerous in Catholic circles than secular, given that it is done under the aegis of Catholic orthodoxy.

Any honest Catholic who has paid attention to what has gone on in popular orthodox Catholic circles cannot deny that there are serious problems with the way many Catholics, clergy and lay alike, prominent in orthodox circles have conducted themselves over at least the last decade. For example, we have seen the mean spirited and calumnious treatment by Mark Shea of those, Catholic and non-Catholic, who take views on geopolitical matters that conflict with his. It doesn’t matter to Shea that such views are both consistent with Catholic teaching and factually compelling. Even worse is the manner with which bishops like Archbishops Chaput and Cordileone speak on matters such as capital punishment, going to the extreme of falsely asserting that the death penalty system is administered in a racist manner against minorities. We have also seen Cardinal Timothy Dolan engage in race baiting calumny against the state of Arizona over SB 1070, which allows, pursuant to what has been federal law since 1940, for local law enforcement to inquire about the immigration status of those they have reason to believe are in the country illegally. We also have the scandal of the USCCB, in their annual Fortnight for Freedom campaign, listing certain state immigration laws as violations of religious liberty equal to that of the Obama Goonsquad (err Administration) forcing employers to provide coverage for contraception in their health insurance plans, despite conscience objections baed on religious conviction. Equating these two things cannot by justified by any stretch of the Catholic imagination.
Although I wouldn’t say Fr. Barron has gone to the lengths of the examples listed above, he is not without his serious problems. I first saw problems with Fr Barron when he gave a glowing review of Ross Douthat’s book Bad Religion. This book was bad in its own right, bad research methodology and some bad religion of its own. Douthat nakedly  misrepresents Catholic teaching with regard to socio-economics as well as misrepresenting Michael Novak. Douthat’s portrayal of the torture issue is no different in substance than that of Mark Shea, sans the snark. How any respectable orthodox Catholic, much less one who is an influential cleric, can give a glowing review of such a dishonest piece of work is beyond baffling.
Then Fr. Barron, in this article for the National Review of all publications, draws parallels between the anti-Catholic sentiment of many of the American Founding Fathers and the pro-abortion movement of today. To be sure, many of our founders did harbor anti-Catholic sentiment, but to draw the parallels Fr. Barron did is not only without merit, but downright appalling. No such parallels are anywhere close to existent. I would say that the pro-abortion movement is not anti-Catholic as an end in itself, but sees Catholic opposition to abortion as a threat. In fact, these very same people are very favorable to the elements of Catholicism they think comports with their “social justice” worldview and often invoke it in an attempt to buttress their views.
So, it should be of no surprise that when Fr. Barron deals with an issue like the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the 70th Anniversary of which passed a few days ago), his analysis would be woefully devoid of Catholic moral principles and a real good faith attempt to accurately present the circumstances within which President Truman made the decision to drop the atomic bombs.
Recently, I came across a video he did last year where he deals with the subject. In it, he confirms that hunch. And in the same manner he juxtaposes the anti-Catholic sentiment of our Founders with the pro-abortion movement of today, he does the same with drawing parallels with support for the bomb drops with rejecting Catholic sexual teaching. First of all, his assertion that “very few” wars in human history were just vis-a-vis Catholic moral teaching is a matter of opinion, namely his, not of fact. He repeatedly says “clearly” that things like carpet bombings as well as the atomic bombings did not comport with the principle of proportionality. Well, clearly, he is either ignorant of the circumstances within which these actions were taken or he is counting on the ignorance of his viewers. And, unfortunately, counting on the ignorance of many orthodox Catholics on issues like this is a well-founded assumption. Proportionality has do with the bad effect being avoided being greater than the bad effect inflicted. And in the cases he discusses, especially with regard to the atomic bombings, the case for the principle of proportionality being met is compelling. I would say it is incontrovertible. He says nothing about the principle of double effect and how it may apply to this situation.

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37 Responses to Father Barron and the Bomb

  • Great article. Fortunately for me, I have such an abrasive personality that the problem of the world liking me is very remote.

  • What a terrible analysis. I gather it makes you feel good to think that the American experiment has been a Catholic project since the beginning. You are suffering from a bad case of Americanism– a heresy diagnosed by Pope Leo XIII in 1899 –and today is more virulent than ever. http://bit.ly/1QicjiA ,http://bit.ly/1dQBTyU The dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not a close moral case. The problem is consequentialism –a moral heresy that since that day has become the most popular moral heresy in the postmodern world. http://bit.ly/1D7TKx5 It has been condemned by every pope since it happened and ever major Catholic theologian including Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen who, along with many others, believed that Hiroshima was far more than just a military /political operation (as you wish to analyze it) but a singular event that resulted in the moral chaos which gave rise to the Sexual Revolution and the Culture of Death. http://bit.ly/1gFpUpy

  • “You are suffering from a bad case of Americanism”

    Ah, Americanism, the phantom heresy!

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2013/03/08/cardinal-gibbons-and-the-stormy-conclave-of-1903/

    Gibbons was on good terms with both Pope Leo, who gave him his cardinal’s cap, and Pope Pius of whom he wrote a biography. Americanism was an imaginary heresy, largely the result of Pope Leo XIII being ill-informed about conditions in America and paying too much heed to idiots among American clerics who delighted in attempting to stir up trouble over nothing. Modernism was a real enough heresy, although Pope Pius tended to throw the baby out with the bath water and completely orthodox Catholic scholars suffered along with complete heretics.

    Cardinal Gibbons and the rest of the American heirarchy responded that no one among them taught these propositions that were condemned:

    1.undue insistence on interior initiative in the spiritual life, as leading to disobedience
    2.attacks on religious vows, and disparagement of the value of religious orders in the modern world
    3.minimizing Catholic doctrine
    4.minimizing the importance of spiritual direction

    They were really scratching their heads on this one and had a hard time figuring out why the Pope was concerned with a non-problem in this country.

    This tempest in a papal tea pot had more to do with the French Church. A biography of Father Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulists and now a Servant of God, was mistranslated into French and portrayed Father Hecker as some sort of flaming radical which he was not. This book became popular among liberal Catholics in France. As usual the relationship
    between the French Church and the Vatican was turbulent at this time. Pope Leo XIII’s concern about “Americanism” could have better been labeled a concern about “Frenchism”. Purportedly Leo XIII was reluctant to attack the Church in America, which he had often praised, and made his rebuke of “Americanism” as soft as possible.
    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13teste.htm

    “We having thought it fitting, beloved son, in view of your high office, that this letter should be addressed specially to you. It will also be our care to see that copies are sent to the bishops of the United States, testifying again that love by which we embrace your whole country, a country which in past times has done so much for the cause of religion, and which will by the Divine assistance continue to do still greater things. To you, and to all the faithful of America, we grant most lovingly, as a pledge of Divine assistance, our apostolic benediction.”

    The statements of loyalty from the American heirarchy were sufficient for the Pope and “Americanism” vanished from history as quickly as it appeared.

  • “The dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not a close moral case.”

    Agreed. It was clearly the best of the bad options Truman confronted.

    “It has been condemned by every pope since it happened and ever major Catholic theologian”

    Incorrect on both counts.

    “but a singular event that resulted in the moral chaos which gave rise to the Sexual Revolution and the Culture of Death.”

    One of the sillier things that Bishop Sheen said, for which there is bupkis evidence. By the way Becky, did you know that both Bishop Sheen and the Popes supported nuclear deterrence during the Cold War? Nuclear deterrence only worked because of the certainty that if we were attacked by the Soviet Union or China with nuclear weapons, we would unleash nuclear weapons on their cities that would make the atom bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki look like firecrackers. This is a much more complicated area than you conceive of, and deserves far more thought than your cut and paste diatribe that you have used several times on this blog.

  • Thank you for posting this article. It contains thoughts I’ve had for quite some time. I am continually amazed how so-called orthodox Catholics periodically leave logic and reason behind, and frequently the truth, then tell me my contrary view is not Catholic. It’s almost as though they are trying to maintain their credibility/popularity with the left. Mr. Mockeridge lists several of the usual suspects, but sadly, there are quite a few more.

  • Chances are, 99.99% of the time those questioning the merits and positions of Fr. Barron had best re-calibrate themselves.

  • Fr.Barron, in spite of his perceived conservative orthodoxy, is a liberal. He has publically taught Adam and Eve aren’t historical figures. He’s also against the death penalty. So, his stand on the Bomb shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has taken the time to understand what he really believes.

  • “Chances are, 99.99% of the time those questioning the merits and positions of Fr. Barron had best re-calibrate themselves.”

    I remember visiting a center of Opus Dei once. They were debating the morality of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most felt it immoral but there were two who offered very cogent arguments on why they were. These individuals weren’t equated with those rejecting the sexual teaching of the Church. The group held that the Church had not definitively judged the bombings and that there was legitimate freedom in disagreeing.

    Perhaps Opus Dei is now a heretical sect. Or perhaps there is room to licitly disagree.

  • Wow, this article is a mish-mash. Ad hominem attacks against Fr. Barron (with whom I disagree about much, including my strong area of interest, capital punishment). Misapplication of the principle of double effect, the first requirement of which is that the act to be done must be good in itself or at least morally indifferent– dropping atomic bombs on civilians is not “good” or “morally indifferent” so double effect does not even apply. And throwing up counterfactual historical theories such as the laughable army of women, old men, and children that would supposedly have faced American troops. The Japanese could not even clothe these “troops” much less train or arm them. In any event, if they would have engaged our military, their deaths would not be morally attributable to our actions, but to their own and their government’s.

    This is yet another weak attempt to evade the clear teaching of Veritatis Splendor and Pope Saint John Paul II’s condemnation of the primary error in moral reasoning in our time, that of consequentialism, the idea that avoiding some perceived evil or attaining some great good justifies the direct commission of an immoral act.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not populated by the laughable militia we’ve now seen several references to… they were civilian populations with minimal military significance. Their destruction was not intended to advance a military goal, but simply to terrorize the Japanese government into surrender by the threat of further mass killing of civilians.

    That this direct, deliberate killing of tens of thousands of civilians, including women, children, the elderly, might have averted the need for an invasion of Japan, does not justify it according to traditional Catholic moral principles.

    I have seen no argument yet that does not run afoul of either Veritatis Splendor’s condemnation of consequentialism, or of the clear magisterial condemnation of the use of nuclear weapons:

    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; cf. Gaudium et Spes 80)

  • What a terrible analysis. I gather it makes you feel good to think that the American experiment has been a Catholic project since the beginning.
    .
    The modern method [of argumentation] is to assume without discussion that [your opponent] is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it Bulverism. Some day I am going to write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father — who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third — ‘Oh you say that because you are a man.’ ‘At that moment’, E. Bulver assures us, ‘there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.’ That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth [and Twenty-First] Century.

    –C. S. Lewis, “Bulverism,” in God in the Dock, p. 273
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/culture/c-s-lewis-on-bulverism/

  • Fr. Jone’s conclusion, by the way, is not a vindication of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is theoretically possible that the use of the bombs on a purely military target, for instance, an island like Iwo Jima which had been totally occupied by enemy troops, would be justified.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not significant military targets, but even if they had been, the presence of tens of thousands of civilians would violate Fr. Jone’s restriction of use of these weapons to military targets only.

    At any rate, the bombings were not a military necessity, but a perceived political one. Don’t take my word for it, if you’re interested in the views of actual military experts (not merely bloggers), check out what George Marshall, Eisenhower, MacArthur, William Leahy, Chester Nimitz, and Curtis LeMay said about the bombings, here: http://www.garalperovitz.com/2011/08/on-the-sixty-sixth-anniversary-of-the-bombing-of-hiroshima/

    No group of suspicious Catholic libruls there. But alas, even when military experts who were there and had far more intimate knowledge than any one in a combox could possibly have, it will not convince those who do not wish to be convinced, since maybe they’d have to admit that Truman made a poor choice.

  • Never thought to much of Father Barron since he said he didn’t know if hell really existed. I don’t guess he’s read the Bible.

  • , doesn’t sound like the Fr. Barron others are seeing. Comments like that are much the problem here. You mistake the “existence” of a place with the knowledge that it’s “populated”. The church has always said “yes” and “don’t know”.

  • Tom: On capital punishment, the death penalty, ordained and consecrated men and women are to serve God through the Catholic Church. Ordained priests, all priests are above the secular world of the state. Read John Henry Cardinal Newman on capital punishment and the duty and power of the state. It is among the most beautiful language, I have ever read. This is for Father Barron too. Being completely computer ignorant, I cannot supply a link.
    On the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. First, I was alive at the time, being 73 years old now, People were exhausted, Rosie the Riveter, Uncle Sam, there was no more left in the American people fighting the war on two fronts. There was no more left. (Lisa Mitner who had discovered nuclear fission refused to help build the bomb, her nephew did, Oppenhiemer was revealed to be a double agent for the USSR, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were gassed for treason and bloodguilt during war.) There was no more left. No one really knew much about the BOMB. The scientists themselves believed that the nuclear fission started would consume the atmosphere and all the earth with its inhabitants would perish. The Enola Gay was to drop the bomb on Tokyo, but Tokyo was too far away. The twin cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were war production. After the war, many of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki toured the globe with their skin hanging off as though it was melted, as it was, and on TV, pretty much accused the USA of being an aggressor and a monster.
    The bomb brought the Japanese war back to Japan. No apologies necessary. If Japan had won the war and global dominance, Fr. Barron would probably not even be here. What would Hitler and Hirohito face off bring?
    Let me tell you about how Czar Nicholas II waged war. 9 to 15 soldiers were sent out onto the battlefield with one rifle. When the first soldier fell, the second soldier picked up the rifle, down the line. That is how war was fought without proper armaments. I have no doubt that the Japanese, who believed that their emperor was a god, would have fought to the death. The threat was real. The enemy was not to be trusted. If the bomb saved one American soldier it was moral and licit. Would that he be John Basilone of Raritan, N.J.

  • Father Barron did not say that hell is empty of souls. Father Barron said that we, as people, cannot know if a person has gone to hell, which is true, but let me add that souls in hell are never remembered, so, if anyone is wondering if a certain person is in hell, he probably is not, if he is in your memory. The torments of hell are unimaginable. To experience hell, even through another person’s experience of hell is unsustainable. The children at Fatima would have died upon seeing hell but for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s hand. The children saw the souls of the damned falling like snow into hell and asked for First Saturday Penitence. Father Barron is correct when he says that the fires of hell are the love and mercy of God as rejected by the sinner, as death fixes our relationship with God as unchangeable. Heaven is the Beatific Vision forever and forever and forever.

  • Every time the issue of the atomic bombs (and other issues like it) come up within the Catholic Media Complex, the term “consequentialism” gets passed around like a joint in a hippie commune.

    With regard to Gaudium et Spes, it doesn’t say anything like “even though the line between combatant and non-combatant has been erased”. And that is an essential element in any moral analysis of the bombings.

    Mr. Check’s analysis is some of the same tripe his predecessor at Catholic Answers, Karl Keating, put out a decade ago. In the words of Pete Townsend, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

    Apparently, Chris Check has no problems with the death penalty, seeing as how he executes a whole slew of straw men.

    Anyone who understands the nature of the enemies we faced in WWII (Japan even more so than Germany) knows why the Allies were insistent on the unconditional surrender. It prevented WWIII, which would have occurred within about a decade after WWII if not sooner.

    I find Mr. Check’s article all the more painful because he was an artillery officer in the Marine Corps. And he has to know much of what he says is not true.

    Father of Seven, I agree with you. The list of bad actors is much longer than the list I provided. I didn’t want to get too far afield in my article. To give a thorough treatment of the problem would require a book.

  • This about the battle of Okinawa. While this is from Wikipedia and thus subject to error, one can see that there was already a fairly robust conscription of civilians including “middle school seniors.” The number conscripted represents about 10% of the estimated civilian population of Okinawa at the time. Ultimately almost 100,000 civilians died in the invasion.

    “The Japanese land campaign (mainly defensive) was conducted by the 67,000-strong (77,000 according to some sources) regular 32nd Army and some 9,000 Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) troops at Oroku naval base (only a few hundred of whom had been trained and equipped for ground combat), supported by 39,000 drafted local Ryukyuan people (including 24,000 hastily drafted rear militia called Boeitai and 15,000 non-uniformed laborers). In addition, 1,500 middle school senior boys organized into front-line-service ‘Iron and Blood Volunteer Units…'”

    More on the Boeitai:

    “The Boeitai was a Japanese “home guard” force of World War II. It was established by the War Ministry in June 1944 in response to the worsening war situation facing Japan, and initially comprised all reservists in the 20-40 age group including those who would not normally be liable for military service under the Japanese conscription system. The Imperial Japanese Army’s area armies had responsibility for raising and administering Boeitai units, and there was considerable variation in how these formations were structured and used. Boeitai units were established in the Japanese home islands, Okinawa, Korea and Formosa. Unlike regular Japanese Army soldiers, Boeitai personnel were not indoctrinated to fight to the death or consider themselves to be imperial subjects.

    “Around 20,000 local Boeitai conscripts were involved in the Battle of Okinawa during 1945, with most initially serving as labourers or in support roles but some augmenting frontline Army units. Most of the Okinawan Boeitai were teenagers or aged in their 30s and 40s. As the fighting continued, many of the support personnel were assigned to combat duties despite not being provided with any training for this role or effective weapons; some Boeitai personnel were ordered to conduct suicide missions in which they attempted to blow up tanks with satchel charges. In addition, several Okinawan Boeitai groups fought as partisans armed mainly with spears and grenades.”

    For those who were planning the invasion of Japan and considering the use of the bomb, the thought of a militarized Japanese population was a realistic expectation.

  • Tom:

    The mass conscription that turned the entire country of Japan into a military base was the very military objective (which was the word actually used) described by Fr. Jone. And there is nothing “laughable” about the massive bloodbath, made more bloody by the chaotic civilian involvement, that would have resulted from an invasion of mainland Japan.

  • Truman was a democrat. Enough said.
    .\
    “. . . At any rate, the bombings were not a military necessity . . .” Not sure about that.
    .
    My opinion, to the extent that (fallen, fallible) civilian and military authorities were convinced that the bombs would quickly induce surrender, there would be both military necessity and purpose.
    .
    Hiroshima, I believe, was the location of an army corps HQ. Hit the snake in the head. However, my target preferences would have been first Imperial Army HQ and then (if it was not a heap of radioactive ashes) Hirohito’s palace. That’d show millions of murderous fanatics that the Emperor is not god.
    .
    Herein I’m channeling Curtis Lemay. If the shia mullahs both want the end of the world and the bomb, I suggest someone (Israel maybe ) detonate a demo model over the next mass meeting. Now, Obama and the rest of the western losers are acting like Chamberlain and Quisling on steroids.

  • I think its time to rename this blog, “The Americanist Dissenting Catholic.”

  • wj,

    I missed the arguments for the opinions you are disputing.

  • Why tamper with the title? To simply cast aspersions?
    American:
    Location identified.
    Catholic:
    Religion identified.
    As to assent and dissent, there are reflections of morals guided by the faith taught carefully by our Lord, thanks be to God.

  • a dose of moral sanity from ed feser, philosopher and orthodox Catholic:

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/08/happy-consequentialism-day.html

  • jpk,

    Ed Feser is a great philosopher. So he knows that killing the innocent, no matter what the reason, is wrong. He, contra many Catholics of disordered thinking, also defends the death penalty:

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/03/capital-punishment-should-not-end.html

    I juxtapose these issues because he knows of double effect, he knows one can use lethal means to stop an aggressor and he would know to engage the arguments posted above rather than provide a bland comment.

  • Philip,

    IProf. Feser does reference the PDE in the combo box thread of the post I referenced above. He writes (August 11, 2010 at 10:30 AM) in response to another commentor:


    Mark,

    Yes, naturally (as a natural law theorist) I subscribe to PDE. But PDE doesn’t justify Nagasaki. It would do so only if the bombers were not trying to kill people who they knew to be innocent, but were instead trying to destroy munitions factories or some such thing, and the civilian deaths were a foreseen but unintended byproduct. But that is not what they were doing. They were, again, trying to kill the civilians.

    You might respond “But they were doing so only for the sake of ending the war sooner.” True, but irrelevant, and to think it is relevant evinces a misunderstanding of PDE. PDE doesn’t say “As long as your ultimate goal is OK, you can justify whatever means you need in order to achieve it.” The act of intentionally bombing thousands of innocent people is itself intrinsically immoral, and the reason you are doing it doesn’t change that. The act of intentionally bombing a city for the sake of destroying munitions factories is (according to PDE) a different act, even if you know civilians will die as a result, because killing the civilians is not part of the intention behind the action.

    Feser also agrees in another thread how bad the Japanese were, and how it is in consequence extremely difficult to stick to moral principles in the face of grave evil. The link to that thread is here: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/01/unconditional-surrender.html, and here is a relevant quote but the whole article and comment discussion is worth the read:

    Third, for that reason it is probably true that the atomic bombings saved many lives, both Allied and Japanese, that would have been lost in an invasion. It is also probably true that it saved the lives of POWs like Zamperini. Given Japan’s wicked “kill-all” policy of massacring POWs before they could be liberated – which had been carried out already many times in other parts of Japan’s empire – it is likely that only the abrupt end to the war the shock of the bombings made possible could have prevented the implementation of that policy in the home islands. Critics of the bombings should not pretend otherwise: If they hold (as they should) that we should never do what is intrinsically evil, regardless of the consequences, then they should admit that Hiroshima and Nagasaki force them to put their money where their mouths are, if any real-world example does.

    I agree that Prof. Feser is a great philosopher and a Catholic gentleman. That is why I’m thankful that he is out there providing sound reasoning consonant with the Catholic faith on such weighty issues. I certainly need all the help I can get.

  • But that does not address the question if a large part of the civilian population had been militarized.

  • As I said above, the term “consequentialism” gets passed around the Catholic Media Complex like a joint in a hippie commune. And Feser takes a nice long toke. Nowhere does he address the the issue of mass conscription that erased the line between combatant and non-combatant. Neither does Jimmy Akin. To do so would lay bare just how ridiculous their argument are.

  • Please give a principled response to Feser below:

    What matters is that any consequentialist must allow that it is at least in principle legitimate intentionally to kill the innocent for the sake of a “greater good.” And from the point of view of us reactionary, bigoted, unprogressive natural law theorists and Catholics, that is enough to make consequentialism a depraved doctrine. For it is never, never permissible to do what is intrinsically evil that good may come – not even if you’d feel much happier if you did it, not even if you’ve got some deeply ingrained tendency to want to do it, not even if it will shorten a war and save thousands of lives. Never.

  • “at least in principle legitimate intentionally to kill the innocent for the sake of a “greater good.””

    Actually the Church has allowed the killing of the innocent in War to serve a “greater good”. The Crusades would have been impossible if the innocent had an all embracing exemption from harm that critics of Mr. Truman think they should possess. What is being argued here, among other issues, are questions of intentionality, foreseeability and just how much of a target needs to have military applications before it is licit to bomb the target. All this of course is being debated in an atmosphere of the neo-Pacifism embraced by the Church since World War II, a new stance for the Church, probably the product of the very simple fact that contemporary popes no longer wage wars, unlike the vast majority of their predecessors. However, even with this neo-Pacifism the popes of the Cold War did endorse nuclear deterrence that rested on obliterating entire civilian populations in retaliation for a nuclear attack. I think this poses a problem for the Hiroshima critics that I have never seen them address.

  • The principled response is that I agree. There is no reason to commit evil so that good may come of it. However, you continue to miss the point.

    But yet we are allowed to go to war. The reason is (as with the death penalty) is that the state can use lethal force to defend itself and others. This has been consistent Church teaching. The discussion is, if the Japanese had de facto conscripted the majority of their population, then in fact the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were not bombings directly aimed at civilians but at regular and irregular (conscripted) military.

    Yes, there would still be civilians in those cities, but the Church has always accepted that there may be casualties among civilians if the intentions was to target the army (or militarily related targets) and not civilians, there was proportionate reason to do so and that the act did not proceed through the killing of civilians (the argument from PDE.) Thus, for example, the Church allowed besieging cities, knowing that there would be harm and death among civilians, in order to defeat an aggressor army.

    Here, now I will help you. The argument will now turn on two points. That the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had in fact been conscripted (at least in principle) and that their numbers were proportionate reason to use the bomb given the effects of the bomb that could be foreseen (the deaths of civilians.)

  • Gentlemen, thank you for your responses. I will think more on the issue.

  • First: Japan is guilty for the deaths of all the innocent people who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and in the war Japan started.
    Second: Reparations being demanded and paid to the people interned in Arizona by the government, interned because they were Japanese is nonsense. These people were in protective custody. The kids across the street were “the germans”. In a Polish neighborhood, a hail of stones greeted them every time they came around. They were “the germans.” Mussolini and Mrs. Mussolini were dragged through the streets by their feet, tied upside down in the public square and beaten with sticks.

  • Consequentialism is a term used by Pope Saint JPII to describe just the type of moral reasoning occurring in these discussions.

    I suppose the late Pope might be viewed as a hippie passing a joint around, but I prefer to see his teaching in VS a mere reiteration of the Church’s timeless moral reasoning, which was in effect even during the Crusades, during which any direct killing of innocents would never have been viewed as morally justified. The Crusades were carried out by lay armies, not by moral philosophers. Abuses happened, and they were just that: abuses, not examples of moral behavior.

  • “The Crusades were carried out by lay armies, not by moral philosophers. Abuses happened, and they were just that: abuses, not examples of moral behavior.”

    If there was any condemnation by the Church at the time of the massacre of almost all the Muslim and Jewish population of Jerusalem after its fall to the First Crusade, I am unaware of it. The attitude of the Church towards War today has not always been the attitude of the Church towards War.

    Citations by authority are weak arguments Tom, as I am sure you would agree since you were certainly unconvinced by John Paul II’s statements against the death penalty.

  • Consequentialism is a term used by Pope Saint JPII to describe just the type of moral reasoning occurring in these discussions.

    Quote and source, please, if not an actual link to the entire context.
    You have shown a consistent pattern of interpreting statements in ways that are not supported by their actual content, and ignoring that which cannot be interpreted away.

  • Now, Veritatis Splendor did have a condemnation of consequentialism.
    Problem being, it’s got nothing to do with the form of an argument, it’s a matter of foundation claim.
    The condemnation is of those who go by that name who maintain that it is never possible to formulate an absolute prohibition of particular kinds of behaviour which would be in conflict, in every circumstance and in every culture, with those values.
    In other words, denial of inherently wrong actions being possible.
    About the only way this could reasonably get dragged into this discussion would be via an unexamined assumption that an action is inherently immoral coupled with a projection on to the other side that they agree and are arguing that an inherently immoral action is OK in this case.
    For example, someone who believed that cutting a living human is inherently wrong would have to come up with some sort of a system that worked that way to deal with surgery, even the very ancient sorts.

  • The Judicial system. Justice is predicated on intent. Surgery to save a life; and any law may be broken to save human life as in the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, as self defense against an aggressor, or the Court ordering a blood transfusion for Jehovah Witnesses, not to intervene in their religion but to save a life, even an unborn child who becomes an aggressor against his own mother may be aborted justly. This last case scenario has never happened. The child would be removing himself from life-support, but it is the case of self-preservation and self -defense inscribed in our natures and in the Preamble.
    The intent to take a life is homicide and a sin and crime. The informed consent to commit homicide (attempted murder) and the intent to commit a grave mortal sin in informed consent, self-excommunicates a person from the church and makes an outlaw of a citizen, a persona non grata, and exile.
    This informed consent is the free will exercise of the will and a proof that man has a soul, a sovereign soul, from the very first moment of his existence, who directs his life and growth.
    America dropped warning leaflets on Hiroshima and Nagasaki warning the inhabitants of the bomb and instructing them to leave for two weeks prior to the bombing. America did not intend to kill any inhabitants. America intended to disable the cities and scare a surrender out the Emperor god. The Emperor god knew that the bomb was coming, yet Hirohito did nothing to save his people. Hirohito’s “subjects and loyal servants to the imperial state” perished. Are “subjects” and “loyal servants to the imperial state” waging a war of aggression innocent? Ought these” subjects and loyal servants to the imperial state” supposed to be in surrendered non-combatant state of being?

Japan’s Atom Bomb Program

Thursday, August 13, AD 2015

 

Most Americans are unaware that during World War II Japan had two programs seeking to build an atomic bomb.

In 1939 Dr. Yoshio Nishina,  a Japanese nuclear physicist, recognized the potential of the then theoretical atomic bomb.  ( In 1934 Professor  Hikosaka Tadayoshi theorized about such a bomb.)  In 1940 he spoke with Lieutenant-General Takeo Yasuda, director of the Army Aeronautical Department’s Technical Research Institute, about the potential of an atomic bomb.  The Japanese Army began its program to develop an atomic bomb in April 1941.

Meantime, the Japanese Navy began its own program creating the Committee on Research in the Application of Nuclear Physics chaired by Dr. Nishina in 1942.  The Navy’s project ended in 1943 when the Committee reported that while such a bomb was feasible it predicted that it would be difficult for even the United States, with all its resources, to harness the power of the Atom in time to have an impact on the War.

However, the Navy dropping out had no effect on the Army’s program which continued on to the end of the War, hampered both by lack of materials and by ever heavier US bombing.  How far the Japanese got is open to speculation as the project was veiled in the deepest secrecy during the War, and most documents pertaining to it were destroyed by the Japanese prior to the Surrender.

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4 Responses to Japan’s Atom Bomb Program

  • This doesn’t mean anything. Only heterosexual, tax-paying, white men are capable of doing evil.

  • One of the many, many interesting things about Takashi Nagai’s “The Bells of Nagasaki” is that he and some of his surviving physicist colleagues correctly speculated that the attack was atomic in nature on August 9. Apparently, nuclear weaponry was considered plausible by a large number of scientists.

  • This extract from the Tonizo Dossier may be of interest..

    Meeting on Uranium research at the Nishina laboratory. 6th July 1943.

    Attendance: Dr. Nishina, Gen. Nobu-uji, Ishida ( gishi / engineer ?)
    From page 4 of 5.

    Dr. Nishina; The minimum mass of uranium 235 is about 10Kg and is determined by the balance between the neutrons generated by fission and those lost though the surface. If too many are lost then there will be no sustained chain reaction. Though this critical mass is about 10 Kg, it will not make a bomb, there needs to be extra, assume an extra 10 Kg (1).
    Gen. Nobu-uji asks if this extra will also under go fission. Nishina says, no, only a portion will undergo fission, the rest will be lost in the explosion (2). At present it is not within our capability to implement such a device.
    There are other reasons why a bomb is not practical and therefore not recommended ( fu-tokusaku. In order to achieve the largest possible explosion, the bomb needs to be held ( hoji ) together for 1/30 to 1/20 [micro]* second and to achieve this it requires a large and heavy tamper or reflector (3). The weight would be enormous ( jindai ), therefore it is considered impractical and as a bomb not suitable ( tekito narazaru ).
    Footnote;
    (1) Modern nuclear parameters yield a critical mass for U235 of about 17 Kg with a substantial reflector. The Hiroshima bomb used 80% U235 and was about 2.8 critical masses.
    (2) Only about 700 grams of U235 out of 64 Kg underwent fission at Hiroshima., the rest being lost in the explosion.
    (3) Due to the exponential increase of the fission process, 99.5% of the energy is released in the last 4.6 fission periods. At about 10 nano-seconds per period this is 46 nano-seconds or approx. 1/25 micro-second. During this period the energy released must overcome the inertia of the tamper holding ( hoji suru ) the device together.
    * The word micro is missing from the text, micro-second = haku man bun no ichi byo.

  • In Germany at about the same time, Heisenberg talked of the critical mass of U235 as having a radius 54 cm and weighing 10 tons.
    The dividing line between success and failure is perhaps not as obvious as it may appear.

August 11, 1945: US Responds to Surrender Offer

Tuesday, August 11, AD 2015

Harry-Truman-The-Buck-Stops-Here-silverman-21

On receipt of the Japanese offer to surrender, the decision was quickly made by Harry Truman as to the US response.  From his August 10, 1945 diary entry:

“Ate lunch at my desk and discussed the Jap offer to surrender which came in a couple of hours earlier. They wanted to make a condition precedent to the surrender. Our terms are ‘unconditional’. They wanted to keep the Emperor. We told ’em we’d tell ’em how to keep him, but we’d make the terms.”

Truman ordered that no more atomic bomb attacks be made, although conventional attacks be continued.  When the press misinterpreted an Army Air Corps briefing that mentioned that no bombers were flying over Japan due to bad weather on August 11, 1945, Truman ordered a halt to conventional attacks so the Japanese would not be confused on his willingness to give them a short time to consider the Allied response.  The response went out on August 11, the Soviets signing on reluctantly as they were busily conquering Manchuria from the Japanese and did not want the War to stop until they had wiped out Japanese opposition.  Here is the text of the Allied response:

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August 10, 1945: Japan Offers to Surrender, With One Condition

Monday, August 10, AD 2015

Screen%20shot%202010-08-27%20at%202_29_48%20PM

 

Meeting just after midnight on August 9, 1945, in the first hour of August 10, 1945, with Emperor Hirohito present, the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War deadlocked yet again, 3-3 between peace and war factions.  Looking to Hirohito to break the deadlock, the Emperor suggested acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration if the Imperial Throne were preserved.  The Japanese government asked the Swiss government to present to the US its conditional acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration.  Here is the text of the American Charge d’Affaires  to the Secretary of State conveying the news:

 

 

August 10, 1945

Sir; I have the honor to inform you that the Japanese Minister in Switzerland, upon instructions received from his Government, has requested the Swiss Political Department to advise the Government of the United States of America of the following:

“In obedience to the gracious command of His Majesty the Emperor who, ever anxious to enhance the cause of world peace, desires earnestly to bring about a speedy termination of hostilities with a view to saving mankind from the calamities to be imposed upon them by further continuation of the war, the Japanese Government several weeks ago asked the Soviet Government, with which neutral relations then prevailed, to render good offices in restoring peace vis a vis the enemy powers. Unfortunately, these efforts in the interest of peace having failed, the Japanese Government in conformity with the august wish of His Majesty to restore the general peace and desiring to put an end to the untold sufferings entailed by war as quickly as possible, have decided upon the following.

“The Japanese Government are ready to accept the terms enumerated in the joint declaration which was issued at Potsdam on July 26th, 1945, by the heads of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, and China, and later subscribed to by the Soviet Government, with the understanding that the said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.

“The Japanese Government sincerely hope that this understanding is warranted and desire keenly that an explicit indication to that effect will be speedily forthcoming.”

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6 Responses to August 10, 1945: Japan Offers to Surrender, With One Condition

  • “…any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.”

    Somewhere in Washington, aides are scrambling to include that historic phrase on the TOPTUS for future speeches–alliteration and all.

  • “…any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.”
    of a defeated evil nation…

  • Don, how many weeks earlier to 8/10 had the Japanese tried to surrender? 3-4?? well before 8/6 and 8/9- and it was blocked by Stalin who wanted into the Sino war and did so in Manchuria on 8/8. asking Uncle Joe stalin for his ‘good office’….. he killed between 30-40 mil people.-
    from above…
    ‘ the Japanese Government several weeks ago asked the Soviet Government, with which neutral relations then prevailed, to render good offices in restoring peace vis a vis the enemy powers. Unfortunately, these efforts in the interest of peace having failed, the Japanese Government in conformity with the august wish of His Majesty to restore the general peace and desiring to put an end to the untold sufferings entailed by war as quickly as possible, have decided upon the following…………………….

    Was the bomb really necessary? Uncle Joe and all those other good Democrats –

  • “An inner cabinet in Tokyo authorized Japan’s only officially sanctioned diplomatic initiative. The Japanese dubbed this inner cabinet the Big Six because it comprised just six men: Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki, Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo, Army Minister Korechika Anami, Navy Minister Mitsumasa Yonai, and the chiefs of staff of the Imperial Army (General Yoshijiro Umezu) and Imperial Navy (Admiral Soemu Toyoda). In complete secrecy, the Big Six agreed on an approach to the Soviet Union in June 1945. This was not to ask the Soviets to deliver a “We surrender” note; rather, it aimed to enlist the Soviets as mediators to negotiate an end to the war satisfactory to the Big Six–in other words, a peace on terms satisfactory to the dominant militarists. Their minimal goal was not confined to guaranteed retention of the Imperial Institution; they also insisted on preservation of the old militaristic order in Japan, the one in which they ruled.”

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

  • your Frank esq. quote is encouraging me to see another side to this issue – the ‘shock value of the bomb’ for the japanese peace party [sic] …… Really – i am expanding my view on this in my mind after 30 yrs or so…….N.B.:Kido Koichi , Lord keeper of the privy Seal is not mentioned in Franks gang of 6- maybe he was in under a nome de plume http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/008633.html
    ….As Asado points out, the dropping of the two atomic bombs was the equivalent of American aid to Japan’s beleaguered peace party. Thus, Kido Koichi, the emperor’s main advisor, agreed that “we of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war.” He agreed, in other words, with the very man Nobile attacks, Henry L. Stimson, who understood the “profound psychological shock” the bomb would have. As Asado writes: “This ‘strategy of shock’ worked, for it encouraged the peace party to redouble its efforts to bring about a decision for surrender.”… Both the Japanese peace group and the U.S. advisors accepted the atomic bomb and its use as the main instrument for ending the war, a linkage that Asado notes “rested on the atomic devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” It was, as Rear Admiral Takagi Sokichi said, one of the “gifts from Heaven,” since it averted an impending and probable military revolt by the Japanese generals, and hence guaranteed acceptance of the Potsdam terms.

  • i mis sequenced Koichi Kido’s given and surnames. The Lord high keeper of the privy seal …..and sometime visitor to titi pu.

August 9, 1945: Bombing of Nagasaki

Sunday, August 9, AD 2015

 

 

On August 9, 1945 the second atomic bombing mission was launched.  The target was the city of Kokura, with Nagasaki, a seaport and a vital part of the military industrial power of Japan, as the secondary.  Fat Boy was being flown in Bockscar, commanded by Major Charles W. Sweeney.  Kokura was obscured by clouds and by smoke from a nearby US fire bombing raid.  After three abortive bombing runs over Kokura, and with fuel running low from a failed fuel pump, Bockscar headed for Nagasaki.

 

Nagasaki too, was largely obscured by clouds.  At 11:01 AM, a break in the cloud cover allowed the dropping of the bomb.  Fat Man exploded 47 seconds later over a tennis court, halfway between the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works and the Nagasaki arsenal.  The blast was confined to the Urakami Valley and the rest of Nagasaki was protected from the initial blast by the hills around the valley.  Immediate deaths on the ground are estimated from 22,000-75,000.

Bockscar due to the fuel leak, had to make an emergency landing on Okinawa with about five minutes of fuel to spare.

Contrary to mythology popular among more paranoid Catholic circles, Nagasaki was not chosen in an evil Masonic plot by Truman to wipe out Japanese Catholicism.  Urakami Cathedral was not the aiming point for the bomb, which was the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works.  The Cathedral was destroyed because the bomb missed its aiming point by three-quarters of a mile and exploded 500 feet from the Cathedral.

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2 Responses to August 9, 1945: Bombing of Nagasaki

  • Bryan Suits traced the “they were about to surrender” thing back to the guy who would’ve been big in the ground invasion, and very soon after the bombings.
    It was more like “I could’ve done that,” not “the paperwork was almost signed.”

  • I always thought the idea that Truman purposely targeted Japanese Catholics as far-fetched and lame-brained, especially considering Nagasaki was a secondary target. Bockscar is still on display at the New England Air Museum in Connecticut. My dad was Captain and pilot of the B-29 “Bengal Lancer” and stationed on Tinian Island at the time. Thanks for the interesting video. I wished we hadn’t dropped the bombs on cities, but it’s easy to play armchair QB today. Gen. Curtis “bombs away” LeMay admitted he probably would have been tried as a war criminal if the U.S. had lost the war.

The Asian Holocaust

Saturday, August 8, AD 2015

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”I want to make sure with my own eyes about this cruelty, so I can someday tell others about it as a witness.”

John Rabe, German Nazi businessman credited with organizing the efforts to save the lives of some 200,000 Chinese during the rape of Nanking that saw the murder of 300,000 Chinese civilians by the Imperial Japanese Army.

 

One of the problems of the analysis of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is that the events are often treated as if they occurred in a moral vacuum.  They did not.  Here are a few of the crimes of the Empire of Japan:

 

1. Launching a sneak attack against a country you are not at war with.

2. Murdering approximately 20 million civilians in a war of aggression.

3. Using live enemy POWs and civilians for bayonet practice.

4. Forcing enemy civilian women to serve as “comfort women” for your troops.

5. Starving POWs and interned enemy civilians.

6. Beheading enemy POWs and civilians for such serious crimes as stealing a bowl of rice or failing to bow low enough to a camp guard.

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15 Responses to The Asian Holocaust

  • The critics and haters of the USA, from the National Schismatic Reporter to the Remnant, focus upon the evil and cruelty of the USA, its Masonic founders, its Mason President Truman who wanted the bomb dropped on a Catholic Church, etc.

    Critics of the Bomb weren’t alive in 1945. Obviously they weren’t in the Army, Navy or Marines faced with death fighting a fanatical enemy. Nor were they prisoners of Japan.

    Crickets.

  • I suspect many (but certainly not all) critics of America’s using the bomb are kissen-cousins to those who spend their lives taking down America by preaching lies about our deliberately killing the “Indians” with diseases we brought here as weapons.(failing to mention the lasting destruction of live “tobacco.”)

  • Japan sowed the whirl wind. Guess what it reaped!
    .
    Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap.
    .
    The Prophet Hosea and St Paul continue to speak on deaf ears.
    .
    🙁

  • With all due respect, it’s a totally asinine and illogical argument that “party x” did “wrong thing y” in war and that therefore “party a” became justified doing “wrong thing z”

    Seriously, are we suggesting on a site with “Catholic” in the title that two wrongs make a right?

    No one doubts that the Japanese *military* and by extension her government committed war crimes. How in the world would that justify the US committing a war crime itself?

    No, Axis atrocities don’t absolve the Allied powers, who should have known better, from their own war crimes, such as the fire-bombing of Dresden and other militarily useless cities in Europe, and the indiscriminate destruction of absolutely innocent civilian lives at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  • Tom, your thinking is correct if that is what the issue was, but I’m afraid the issue was more complex. You might consider one more appropriate moral criterion to be “the lesser of two evils, and toss in the idea that the civilian population was effectively conscripted as part of the military–by its construct-to fight to the death (think radical Islam)
    There was reasonable hope that millions of Japanese lives could be saved.
    Having been there during the “occupation” I can assure you they were more than thankful to be offered the opportunity to become westernized, putting a permanent end to the evils of their bushido warrior mentality–thus saving unknown lives even to this day..

  • There is no evidence that the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were “militarized.” I would challenge anyone to produce contemporary, reliable evidence that the people of those cities were armed combatants.

    This claim, like the “1 million American dead” upon invasion claim, is an attempt to get around what we know happened: thousands of civilians directly and indiscriminately killed in order to compel a Japanese surrender. The towns were not bombed to destroy combatants, but to terrorize the Japanese government into surrendering. That such an act would save 50k or 500k soldiers’ lives is not a sufficient moral justification under Christian moral teaching.

    Here’s what Ike said about the bombings: “It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing . . . to use the atomic bomb, to kill and terrorize civilians, without even attempting [negotiations], was a double crime.”

  • “There is no evidence that the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were “militarized.” I would challenge anyone to produce contemporary, reliable evidence that the people of those cities were armed combatants.”

    You missed the post on Ketsu-Go Tom? How blind of you.

    “This claim, like the “1 million American dead” upon invasion claim”

    Tom, your wanting to claim that the atomic bombings were wrong no matter what is one thing. Attempts to deny historical facts, for example with your ludicrous 50K American casualties for an invasion of the Home Islands, is another. If you can’t participate in this discussion without lying, please do not participate.

  • Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff to FDR and Truman:
    “It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.

    “The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”

    Norman Cousins, relating a conversation with MacArthur:
    “When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor.”
    Assistant Secy of War, John McCloy:
    “I have always felt that if, in our ultimatum to the Japanese government issued from Potsdam [in July 1945], we had referred to the retention of the emperor as a constitutional monarch and had made some reference to the reasonable accessibility of raw materials to the future Japanese government, it would have been accepted. Indeed, I believe that even in the form it was delivered, there was some disposition on the part of the Japanese to give it favorable consideration. When the war was over I arrived at this conclusion after talking with a number of Japanese officials who had been closely associated with the decision of the then Japanese government, to reject the ultimatum, as it was presented. I believe we missed the opportunity of effecting a Japanese surrender, completely satisfactory to us, without the necessity of dropping the bombs.”

  • Again, thick with ad hominems and name calling, thin on any Catholic rationale justifying the bombings.

    I’m surprised, but shouldn’t be, that when shibboleths like the morally mandatory nature of the bombings is questioned, the long knives come out.

    I expect that kind of argumentation from people like Shea, not from folks who say they’re committed Catholics.

  • “Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff to FDR and Truman:”

    Yeah Tom, Leahy wanted to follow your moral policy of starving several million Japanese to death. His considerable pride was also stung because he had predicted that the atomic bombs were a waste of money and wouldn’t work. His contention that the Japanese were ready to surrender is ludicrous and I defy you to find any evidence that the Japanese were prepared to unconditionally surrender prior to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Their idea of surrender was that Japan would keep some of their foreign conquests, that there would be no foreign occupation of Japan and that they would try their war criminals. Oh, incidentally, Admiral Leahy opposed the land invasion because he correctly thought it would be a blood bath, with at least 268,000 US casualties for Operation Olympic alone.

    “When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted.”

    As was often the case, Big Mac was speaking BS. At the time he was contending that a land invasion was still needed after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was furious that the bombs had stolen his opportunity to command the invasion of the Home Islands. He obviously had no moral problem nuking cities since during the Korean War he called for the nuking of Chinese cities in Manchuria

  • “I have always felt that if, in our ultimatum to the Japanese government issued from Potsdam [in July 1945], we had referred to the retention of the emperor as a constitutional monarch and had made some reference to the reasonable accessibility of raw materials to the future Japanese government, it would have been accepted.”

    Once again, there is zero evidence of that. The statement is odd because the Potsdam Declaration did guarantee access to raw materials through trade to Japan.

  • Tom, it’s not an ad hominem attack to state that you either don’t know history or that you tailor and cherry pick the facts that you want. Your opponents in this debate are not doing that. Don McC says you are lying. I think you are deluded. But it really doesn’t matter. You are wrong on your facts. period.

    The only point I can grant you is that, yes, the nuclear attacks were a direct evil. The problem is that you effectively deny the truth about the alternatives, almost all of which are also direct evils. The invasion intends the deaths of those who oppose it, regardless of age or gender, and yes even some just in close proximity. The blockade intends the suffering and death by starvation of millions. Every time I or others point this out you are mum. Sorry, you cannot have only one direct evil in this debate. Facts are facts.

  • Going to be less polite than others, in a vague hope it MIGHT penetrate.
    Again, thick with ad hominems and name calling, thin on any Catholic rationale justifying the bombings.
    Due to your own contributions, I must admit this is true for the combined total of the Bombing posts on this site in the last month.

  • Re: Eisenhower, Leahy, MacArthur (according to Cousins), and McCloy:
    .
    J. Glenn Gray’s all.

  • “When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor.”

    This is pure bovine feces. McAthur & his staff provided Truman with the 50,000 number you keep mentioning re: the US deaths–except onstead of 50,000 total deaths–it eas 50,000 US dead from the first 30 days of the first phase of what was to be a 2 phase planned invasion of just part of the Japanese homeland. I have already cited an exact source of that info for you an an earlier post. MacArthur did indeed want to invade Japan–he was not content with Truman’s decision to bomb. The individual claiming that MacArthur saying he was never consulted either 1.is greatly exaggerating, 2. Is lying or 3. Simply misunderstood what he was told.

    Nothing in Truman’s nature or pattern of political functioning would suggest that Truman would leave even the smallest stone unturned in gleaning any and all info available to him for decision making.

    Re: your repeated claims that there is no Catholic belief that allows for the dropping of those two bombs on the Japanese under the situation that Truman found himself as the commander-in-chief of the US forces & also bearing great responsibility for the lives of all Allied forces. Again, I will point out that Truman had led men in battle during WW 1 & knew first hand what it was to face the death, hell, & suffering of war. I’m sure those first hand experiences greatly impacted his feelings of responsibility re: the savings of lives under his WW 2 leadership. Truman headed up a committee in the US Senate before becoming VP in which he worked tirelessly to make sure that our soldiers were provided with the most effective & best quality materials with which to fight these battles–in order to save US lives.

    What does Catholic teaching have to say about the saving of lives and governmental responsibility to protect the lives, property, souls, and freedom of those under your governmental authority? What does Catholic teaching say about dragging wars on longer than necessary when you have in your hands the ability to bring one to a quick close? Before God, Truman’s first responsibility was to the men & women of our armed forces–and to the families who loaned them to the US govt for the fighting of this war. What in Catholic teaching would have vacated Truman’s responsibility to those US citizens?

Hiroshima Survivors

Friday, August 7, AD 2015

 

At my first law firm I worked with a charming Irishman, Tom Ryan.  Dead now sixteen years, during World War II he was a staff officer with the Eighth Air Force in Europe.  At the conclusion of the struggle on that continent he was slated to participate in the invasion of Japan.  He referred to himself as a Hiroshima survivor.  The late Paul Fussell, literary critic, I heartily recommend his The Great War and Modern Memory, served as an infantry Lieutenant in the fighting in France and Germany during  World War II.  He too was tagged to take part in the invasion of Japan. A political liberal after the War, in 1981 he wrote an essay entitled Thank God for the Atomic Bomb  in which he spoke for Hiroshima survivors like him:

 

When the atom bombs were dropped and news began to circulate that “Operation Olympic” would not, after all, be necessary, when we learned to our astonishment that we would not be obliged in a few months to rush up the beaches near Tokyo assault-firing while being machine-gunned, mortared, and shelled, for all the practiced phlegm of our tough facades we broke down and cried with relief and joy. We were going to live. We were going to grow to adulthood after all. The killing was all going to be over, and peace was actually going to be the state of things.

When the Enola Gay dropped its package, “There were cheers,” says John Toland, “over the intercom; it meant the end of the war.” Down on the ground the reaction of Sledge’s marine buddies when they heard the news was more solemn and complicated. They heard about the end of the war with quiet disbelief coupled with an indescribable sense of relief.

We thought the Japanese would never surrender. Many refused to believe it. . . . Sitting in stunned silence, we remembered our dead. So many dead. So many maimed. So many bright futures consigned to the ashes of the past. So many dreams lost in the madness that had engulfed us. Except for a few widely scattered shouts of joy, the survivors of the abyss sat hollow-eyed and silent, trying to comprehend a world without war.

These troops who cried and cheered with relief or who sat stunned by the weight of their experience are very different from the high-minded, guilt-ridden GIs we’re told about by J. Glenn Gray in his sensitive book The Warriors. During the war in Europe Gray was an interrogator in the Army Counterintelligence Corps, and in that capacity he experienced the war at Division level. There’s no denying that Gray’s outlook on everything was admirably noble, elevated, and responsible. After the war he became a much-admired professor of philosophy at Colorado College and an esteemed editor of Heidegger. But The Warriors, his meditation on the moral and psychological dimensions of modern soldiering, gives every sign of error occasioned by remoteness from experience. Division headquarters is miles—miles—behind the line where soldiers experience terror and madness and relieve those pressures by crazy brutality and sadism.

Indeed, unless they actually encountered the enemy during the war, most “soldiers” have very little idea what “combat” was like. As William Manchester says,

“All who wore uniforms are called veterans, but more than 90 percent of them are as uninformed about the killing zones as those on the home front.”

Manchester’s fellow marine E. B. Sledge thoughtfully and responsibly invokes the terms drastically and totally to underline the differences in experience between front and rear, and not even the far rear, but the close rear. “Our code of conduct toward the enemy,” he notes, “differed drastically from that prevailing back at the division CP.” (He’s describing gold-tooth extraction from still-living Japanese.) Again he writes:

“We existed in an environment totally incomprehensible to men behind the lines . . . ,”

even, he would insist, to men as intelligent and sensitive as Glenn Gray, who missed seeing with his own eyes Sledge’s marine friends sliding under fire down a shell-pocked ridge slimy with mud and liquid dysentery sh-t into the maggoty Japanese and USMC corpses at the bottom, vomiting as the maggots burrowed into their own foul clothing.

“We didn’t talk about such things,” says Sledge. “They were too horrible and obscene even for hardened veterans…. Nor do authors normally write about such vileness; unless they have seen it with their own eyes, it is too preposterous to think that men could actually live and fight for days and nights on end under such terrible conditions and not be driven insane.”

And Sledge has added a comment on such experience and the insulation provided by even a short distance: “Often people just behind our rifle companies couldn’t understand what we knew.” Glenn Gray was not in a rifle company, or even just behind one. “When the news of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki came,” he asks us to believe, “many an American soldier felt shocked and ashamed.” Shocked, OK, but why ashamed? Because we’d destroyed civilians? We’d been doing that for years, in raids on Hamburg and Berlin and Cologne and Frankfurt and Mannheim and Dresden, and Tokyo, and besides, the two A-bombs wiped out 10,000 Japanese troops, not often thought of now, John Hersey’s kindly physicians and Jesuit priests being more touching.

If around division headquarters some of the people Gray talked to felt ashamed, down in the rifle companies no one did, despite Gray’s assertions. “The combat soldier,” he says, knew better than did Americans at home what those bombs meant in suffering and injustice. The man of conscience realized intuitively that the vast majority of Japanese in both cities were no more, if no less, guilty of the war than were his own parents, sisters, or brothers. I find this canting nonsense. The purpose of the bombs was not to “punish” people but to stop the war.

To intensify the shame Gray insists we feel, he seems willing to fiddle the facts. The Hiroshima bomb, he says, was dropped “without any warning.” But actually, two days before, 720,000 leaflets were dropped on the city urging everyone to get out and indicating that the place was going to be (as the Potsdam Declaration had promised) obliterated. Of course few left.

Experience whispers that the pity is not that we used the bomb to end the Japanese war but that it wasn’t ready in time to end the German one. If only it could have been rushed into production faster and dropped at the right moment on the Reich Chancellery or Berchtesgaden or Hitler’s military headquarters in East Prussia (where Colonel Stauffenberg’s July 20 bomb didn’t do the job because it wasn’t big enough), much of the Nazi hierarchy could have been pulverized immediately, saving not just the embarrassment of the Nuremberg trials but the lives of around four million Jews, Poles, Slavs, and gypsies, not to mention the lives and limbs of millions of Allied and German soldiers.

If the bomb had only been ready in time, the young men of my infantry platoon would not have been so cruelly killed and wounded.  All this is not to deny that like the Russian Revolution, the atom-bombing of Japan was a vast historical tragedy, and every passing year magnifies the dilemma into which it has lodged the contemporary world.

As with the Russian Revolution, there are two sides—that’s why it’s a tragedy instead of a disaster—and unless we are, like Bruce Page, simple-mindedly unimaginative and cruel, we will be painfully aware of both sides at once.

To observe that from the viewpoint of the war’s victims-to-be the bomb seemed precisely the right thing to drop is to purchase no immunity from horror. To experience both sides, one might study the book Unforgettable Fire: Pictures Drawn by Atomic Bomb Survivors, which presents a number of amateur drawings and watercolors of the Hiroshima scene made by middle-aged and elderly survivors for a peace exhibition in 1975. In addition to the almost unbearable pictures, the book offers brief moments of memoir not for the weak-stomached:

While taking my severely wounded wife out to the river bank . . ., I was horrified indeed at the sight of a stark naked man standing in the rain with his eyeball in his palm. He looked to be in great pain but there was nothing that I could do for him. I wonder what became of him. Even today I vividly remember the sight. I was simply miserable.

These childlike drawings and paintings are of skin hanging down, breasts torn off, people bleeding and burning, dying mothers nursing dead babies. A bloody woman holds a bloody child in the ruins of a house, and the artist remembers her calling, “Please help this child! Someone, please help this child. Please help! Someone, please.”

As Samuel Johnson said of the smothering of Desdemona, the innocent in another tragedy, “It is not to be endured.” Nor, it should be noticed, is an infantryman’s account of having his arm blown off in the Arno Valley in Italy in 1944:

I wanted to die and die fast. I wanted to forget this miserable world. I cursed the war, I cursed the people who were responsible for it, I cursed God for putting me here … to suffer for something I never did or knew anything about. (A good place to interrupt and remember Glenn Gray’s noble but hopelessly one-sided remarks about “injustice,” as well as “suffering.”) “For this was hell,” the soldier goes on, and I never imagined anything or anyone could suffer so bitterly I screamed and cursed. Why? What had I done to deserve this? But no answer came. I yelled for medics, because subconsciously I wanted to live. I tried to apply my right hand over my bleeding stump, but I didn’t have the strength to hold it. I looked to the left of me and saw the bloody mess that was once my left arm; its fingers and palm were turned upward, like a flower looking to the sun for its strength.

The future scholar-critic who writes The History of Canting in the Twentieth Century will find much to study and interpret in the utterances of those who dilate on the special wickedness of the A-bomb-droppers. He will realize that such utterance can perform for the speaker a valuable double function. First, it can display the fineness of his moral weave. And second, by implication it can also inform the audience that during the war he was not socially so unfortunate as to find himself down there with the ground forces, where he might have had to compromise the purity and clarity of his moral system by the experience of weighing his own life against someone else’s. Down there, which is where the other people were, is the place where coarse self-interest is the rule. When the young soldier with the wild eyes comes at you, firing, do you shoot him in the foot, hoping he’ll be hurt badly enough to drop or mis-aim the gun with which he’s going to kill you, or do you shoot him in the chest (or, if you’re a prime shot, in the head) and make certain that you and not he will be the survivor of that mortal moment?

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14 Responses to Hiroshima Survivors

  • Silly me, I thought this was a post about these people:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/08/05/what-it-was-like-to-survive-the-atomic-bombing-of-hiroshima/

    A taste:

    So many had, in an instant, lost those dearest to them. Eiko Taoka, then 21-years-old, was carrying her 1-year-old infant son in her arms aboard a streetcar. He didn’t survive the day. “I think fragments of glass had pierced his head,” she recounts. “His face was a mess because of the blood flowing from his head. But he looked at my face and smiled. His smile has remained glued in my memory.”

  • Yep, and Mr. Fussell noted those other Hiroshima survivors Jeff, just as you ignored his group of Hiroshima survivors, which is about par for critics of Truman. Silly you indeed.

  • From earlier in the same article:

    .
    “Another bright enlisted man, this one an experienced marine destined for the assault on Honshu, adds his testimony. Former Pfc. E. B. Sledge, author of the splendid memoir With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa, noticed at the time that the fighting grew “more vicious the closer we got to Japan,” with the carnage of Iwo Jima and Okinawa worse than what had gone before. He points out that

    what we had experienced [my [i.e. Fussell’s] emphasis] in fighting the Japs (pardon the expression) on Peleliu and Okinawa caused us to formulate some very definite opinions that the invasion . . . would be a ghastly bloodletting. It would shock the American public and the world. [Every Japanese] soldier, civilian, woman, and child
    would fight to the death with whatever weapons they had, ride, grenade, or bamboo spear.

    “The Japanese pre-invasion patriotic song, “One Hundred Million Souls for the Emperor,” says Sledge, “meant just that.” Universal national kamikaze was the point. One kamikaze pilot, discouraged by his unit’s failure to impede the
    Americans very much despite the bizarre casualties it caused, wrote before diving his plane onto an American ship “I see the war situation becoming more desperate. All Japanese must become soldiers and die for the Emperor.”
    Sledge’s First Marine Division was to land close to the Yokosuka Naval Base, “one of the most heavily defended sectors of the island.” The marines were told, he recalls, that

    due to the strong beach defenses, caves, tunnels, and numerous Jap suicide torpedo boats and manned mines, few Marines in the first five assault waves would get ashore alive—my company was scheduled to be in the first and second waves. The veterans in the outfit felt we had already run out of luck anyway…. We viewed the invasion with complete resignation that we would be killed—either on the beach or inland.

  • These words of His Holiness Ven. Pope Pius XII, our wartime Pope, are sobering and worthy of reflection. They were made as part of a talk given to the Word Medical Congress on Sept. 30, 1954:
    “Is modern «all out warfare», especially[atomic, biological, chemical] warfare, permissible as a matter of principle? There can be no doubt, particularly in view of the untold horror and suffering induced by modern warfare, that to launch such war other than on just grounds (that is to say, without it being imposed upon one by an obvious, extremely serious, and otherwise unavoidable violation of justice) would be an «offense» worthy of the most severe national and international sanctions. One cannot even in principle ask whether atomic, chemical, and bacteriological warfare is lawful other than when it is deemed absolutely necessary as a means of self-defence under the conditions previously stipulated. Even then, however, every possible effort must be made to avert it through international agreements or to place upon its use such distinct and rigid limitations as will guarantee that its effects will be confined to the strict demands of defence. Moreover, should the use of this method entail such an extension of the existing evil as would render man wholly incapable of controlling it, its use should be rejected as immoral. In such an instance it would no longer be a question of «defence» against injustice, and of the necessary «safeguarding» of legitimate possessions, but of the pure and simple annihilation of all human life within the radius of action. Under no circumstances is this to be permitted.”

    Ven. Pius XII was far better acquainted than we are, 70 years after the fact, of the insane, diabolical war conduct of the Axis powers, but also aware of the threat to humanity that Nuclear Weaponry presented to our world. I don’t interpret his words as a condemnation of past decision making but as a warning to mankind of what awaits us if we fail to turn to God.

  • This was Japan’s war and the Enola Gay brought the Japanese war home to them.

  • I read about a lot of sufferring in this post. That is why I went aboard a submarine. Death by implosion from torpedo impact would be quick. I am a coward. I could not do what those soldiers did or endure what those victims had to endure. War is hell if not worse than hell. Terrible as the atomic bombs were, they had to be used. Thank God during the Cold War those weapons aboard my submarine did not have to be used.

  • Chris, now, come on, what did Pius XII know? He was just a librul, Amurica-bashing rad trad or a reader of the National Schismatic Reporter, dontcha know. Take your pick.

    He obviously did not understand the nuances that the bombs were necessary because without wiping out defenseless civilians in a thoroughly beaten country, American soldiers would had to have died in a pointless invasion, there were no other possible recourses than land invasion, and terrorizing the Japs into surrender by showing our willingness to obliterate civilian population centers was totally moral. To the extent some pope or Catechism or Catholic moral principle gets in the way, why, it must give way to the “practicality” of the situation. The ethics of the act, in short, are derived from the situation, kinda like situational ethics. Got it?

  • chris c.-
    Thank you for that; I now know better why none of the “it was immoral” folks have quoted the Pope at the time on the subject; I’d thought they’d avoided him because of the Soviet smear on his reputation.
    That he did not give the statement they would want– he didn’t say it was impermissible.
    That’s a scaled up version of deadly force considerations, matching the amount of damage involved.

  • I dunno. We didn’t need to fight WWIII. My guess one reason was both super-powers’ nucular arsenals and the doctrine of “mutually-assured destruction” which seems to have been one reason. Thank God the US didn’t (as the left-wing geniuses wanted and Obama is doing today) surrender and unilaterally disarm.

  • Tom, your reply to chris made no sense. You sound like you are floundering.

  • Tom D-
    I don’t know how common it is, but I suspect that it’s a kind of “reading what you wish to read” thing; some folks, when they favor don’t do this and see an authority saying be careful, take it to be an order of don’t do this. I’ve run into it more in bio-ethics, with the major example that comes to mind being a guy who took an official work that said Snowflake babies divided our experts, we can’t make an official finding because one side says save babies and the other says be careful lest it legitimize the horror that resulted in them as meaning thou may not have Snowflake babies.
    So, he reads a Pope saying “it’s not OK in all situations” and understands “it’s not OK.”

  • It’s kind of like those folks who respond to someone asking “how late to Mass can you be and fulfill your obligation” with rants about how you should NEVER be less than five minutes early, etc.
    Fails to answer the question and quite possibly does actual spiritual harm to others, especially as they actively prevent those with a well supported answer from answering, and are preventing people of good will from Communion when they SHOULD be receiving.

  • Foxfier, I think Tom was trying to be sarcastic in some way, but the point of the sarcasm was really obscure. The meaning of Pope Pius XII’s statement is plain and clear. If Tom were trying to state that we were not interpreting it correctly then he did it in a really bizarre manner. I really could not get the point of it. I have the feeling he was just upset and banged out whatever his emotions led him to.

August 7, 1945: No Japanese Surrender

Friday, August 7, AD 2015

Hirohito_Sirayuki

 

One of the arguments of critics of Truman’s use of the atomic bomb, is that a demonstration could have been made of it without blood being shed, over the ocean for example, the Japanese would have seen the power of the bomb and surrendered.  Well, we know that is incorrect.  We know that because the Japanese did not surrender after Hiroshima.  We also know that the Japanese had no intention of surrendering after Hiroshima.  Discussions within the Japanese cabinet were deadlocked until the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, with the dominant war faction claiming that the US probably had no more atomic bombs and that their strategy of holding out, inflicting a defeat on an American land invasion, and then negotiating from strength, was the best strategy for Japan.  The deadlock continued on August 9, 1945 when the atomic bombing of Nagasaki caused the war and peace factions to agree to bring their differences to the Emperor.

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12 Responses to August 7, 1945: No Japanese Surrender

  • The Japanese culture was such that to be taken captive in battle was thought to be an incredible disgrace–they would often kill themselves in
    order to keep from giving up or being captured.

    The attempts to apply modern American cultural reasoning re: these issues to the thinking of the Japanese military in the 1940s is ridiculous. If the Japanese had been using American reasoning, the Japanese would have never bombed Pearl Harbor.

    These folks, who rant & rave against the EXTREMLY limited use of nuclear weapons, usually never mention the unprovoked attack on our naval forced at Pearl Harbor that came w/o any warning.

  • These ranters and ravers are the same self-righteous bunch that rant and rave against any dissent from their tidy little cocoon of Progressive ideology. As that package is complete and without error, to oppose it is to demonstrate some sort of emotional and/or intellectual inferiority.
    .
    The kindest Progressives will simply condescend, with or without the charity of correction, in order that you may know and be content with your status an untermensch; the harshest will consign you to “the wrong side of history” and dismiss you with some sarcastic analysis of your lack of erudition, worldliness or genetic integrity.
    .
    In any event, they’re really fun to piss off. Progressive apoplexy is high comedy indeed.

  • I have thought a lot on this subject, but those first three sentences, put together like that, are compelling in a way I had not fully considered. A counterargument is that details from Hiroshima after the attack were sketchy, while a well staged demonstration (perhaps involving Japanese scientists and other leaders invited to the first test in New Mexico) could have stated the surrender rolling.

    But that counterargument requires all of the invited personalities to have been, well, of the same frame of mind as today’s anti-nuclear critics. It is entirely possible that some invitees would have immediately thought of countermeasures to take so as to continue the fight even with the promised use of nuclear weapons.

    Another, more minor point, is that a demonstration would have required the expenditure of another bomb. Remember, the success of the first test was not guaranteed, so the Japanese could not have been invited to that one.

  • In 1946 the U.S. Navy thought their ships at anchor around Bikini Atoll survived two atomic bombings rather well.
    .
    Until the geiger counters starting going off. And even then it took an expirement involving unexposed film and a freshly caught fish to convince the admirals that there was no way they could sail those ships home.
    .
    So I think it unlikely a demonstration in July ’45 would have convinced the Japanese of anything, simply because nobody as yet could fully comprehend the terrible power of the A-bomb.
    .
    That’s a long way of saying if losing a real city didn’t compel the Japanese to surrender, how was the obliteration of a mocked up American town in the middle of the New Mexico desert supposed to convince them?

  • Horrible weapon, that bomb. I suspect that the failure to surrender even then was precipitated not by fear of dying, regardless of the method, but by the fear of agreeing to losing–dishonor being far worse than death.
    If I recall, the Emperor’s “surrender” speech sounded much like a modern liberal’s apology–you’d have thought they had won.

  • These ranters and ravers are the same self-righteous bunch that rant and rave against any dissent from their tidy little cocoon of Progressive ideology.

    Again, Mr. McKenna is an alt-right denizen whose usual shticks would be neo-confederate historiography and making a case for capital punishment (without ever specifying the boundaries of that). The Shea votaries are a mess of crabs-in-the-bucket whose distinguishing feature is a loathing of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney.

  • Great point about the Bikini test Ernst. Although, we didn’t build mock towns at nuclear tests until 1949 or so.

    Don L, you are also correct. It would seem that much of the Japanese resistance to surrender was also projection on their part. Their expectations of military occupation appear to have been based entirely on how they had treated others when they were the occupiers. This probably also explains why they fell all over themselves opening up official brothels before the Allies arrived at the end of August.

  • The Japanese culture demanded that death before disgrace was the policy. Death was the only choice the Japanese people and military had. Perhaps if the atomic bomb in the ocean would have caused an earthquake and tsunami and death would have come to Japan this way, it might have worked.

  • The Japanese culture demanded that death before disgrace was the policy.

    And their idea of disgrace was nuts.
    You know how in bad kung-fu movies, one of the things that’s mocked is that a whole group of guys is dancing around, and they kindly attack Our Hero one at a time?

    Their military actually did that. In sea and on land. One group of Marines was sure they’d die, because they were outnumbered hugely, and then the Japanese only attacked in groups that slightly outnumbered them.
    Good tactics meant that you respected the enemy, and we’re not Japanese, so saying you thought those (insert insult here) over there were AS GOOD AS US was dishonorable.

  • This thread is long on ad hominem and ends-justifies-the-means un Catholic reasoning, short on demonstrating how the bombings in any way comport with the clear teaching of the Church, which, like the messenger or not, is abundantly clear about the immorality of direct killing of civilians in wartime in such an indiscriminate manner.

    Ad hominems are the last resort of one without a rational argument.

  • And of course, if the Japs *really were* going to fight to the last man, woman and child, and believed in death before surrender and dishonor… then why did they surrender at the loss of two cities? If it’s true that they were, to a man, woman, and child, committed to death before surrender, why did they surrender? Because they saw the futility of continuing? They would have seen the same futility if we had conventionally attacked them after a long and crippling blockade.

    But we didn’t even try a less destructive method, likely because Truman was worried about the Soviets grabbing territory if the war was prolonged any further. So Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s civilians had to die in order to terrorize the Japanese government into quick surrender.

  • “And of course, if the Japs *really were* going to fight to the last man, woman and child, and believed in death before surrender and dishonor… then why did they surrender at the loss of two cities?”

    Because the Emperor told them to. If he had told them not to surrender, they would have fought on to the last, which is what they did in almost every Pacific battle they fought. The Emperor surrendered because he realized, finally, with the atomic bomb the jig was up. Even then the Imperial Army attempted a coup to carry on the fight.

Himmler, Mark Shea and False Equivalence

Thursday, August 6, AD 2015

false-equivalence-jesus-and-hitler

False Equivalence-A common way for this fallacy to be perpetuated is one shared trait between two subjects is assumed to show equivalence, especially in order of magnitude, when equivalence is not necessarily the logical result. False equivalence is a common result when an anecdotal similarity is pointed out as equal, but the claim of equivalence doesn’t bear because the similarity is based on oversimplification or ignorance of additional factors. The pattern of the fallacy is often as such: If A is the set of c and d, and B is the set of d and e, then since they both contain d, A and B are equal. d is not required to exist in both sets; only a passing similarity is required to cause this fallacy to be able to be used.

 

Oh good.  I was afraid that we would miss on the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima Mark Shea’s usual histrionics:

 

Or the rhetoric of those who champion the incineration of thousands of civilians for the Greater Good:

If nuking these cities was a major U.S. war crime, illicit under international law and Church teaching, then we are put in the position of demanding a higher price in blood to salve our consciences. There are times in real life when one must commit a wrong in order to avoid an even greater wrong. These instances arise frequently in wartime. Another example: the terrorist who must be “tortured” in order to find out where the bombs are.

Jimmy, you’re right when you say that we were participating formally in evil when we dropped the bomb. Unfortunately, our participation in evil began almost four years earlier when we entered the war. This is the nature of war. There is much, much evil in it, and we do ourselves a disservice when through our well-meaning but futile efforts to mitigate its evil we prolong it and make it even worse.

What ties each of these stories together is perverted courage. For instance, note the sick logic at work in Himmler’s remarks: the willingness to commit murder is transmuted, in Himmler’s diabolical imagination, into a brave act of self-sacrifice. He consoles the SS soldiers by telling them they are tough men willing to do the dirty work of war. They don’t moralistically refuse to do acts that risk hell but bravely undertake the work of sinning gravely for a higher cause. They have the guts softer men lack to butcher thousands of innocent Jews and are willing to endure this hardship—the psychological trauma that goes with doing monstrous evil—for the sake of the love of country without looking for any loopholes.

Myers uses the same curious rhetoric of bravery to undergird his stirring defense of his Kermit Gosnell view of life – which also turns out to be a stirring defense of the Dr. Josef Mengele view of life. These men, like Myers, were “unafraid” to reduce millions of other, slightly older, human beings to “pieces of meat”. Once again, the language of “courage” and “bravery” is deployed to describe the embrace of grave evil.

And it doesn’t stop there. The Croatian butcher likewise speaks of his monstrous evils in tones indistinguishable from Milton’s Satan. As though the filthy charnelhouse he helped to staff was an act of noble rebellion against an unjust God whom he had no choice but to defy, what with His simplistic ideas of “just war” that get in the way of what Needs to Be Done to Win. He speaks of his participation in slaughter as a beautiful act of patriotism that none but the bravest could undertake. Sure, he’ll go to hell for it. God is unjust! But our brave soul will spend his eternity in Hell secure in the notion that He Did the Right Thing.

This is much of a muchness with our last quotation from an American who argues (like ever so many Americans) that God asks far too much when he imposes Just War criteria on us and seriously expects us to believe that not even we can directly intend the mass slaughter of innocent human life. This reader doesn’t mess around with pretenses that Hiroshima and Nagasaki weren’t violations of Just War teaching. Instead he simply declares that God is wrong, we are right, and we have to have the courage to just go ahead and do monstrous evil because it’s the Right Thing to Do and God is a fool to say otherwise. You must “commit a wrong in order to avoid an even greater wrong.”

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40 Responses to Himmler, Mark Shea and False Equivalence

  • So Shea thinks we should have taken an additional million casualties so he can feel better about his countrymen? Do I have that right

  • The toughest thing the fat man ever had to do was push himself away from the kitchen table. Monday morning quarterbacks get paid zip.

  • Ken, he does not do the toughest thing you say he does for if he did, then he would avoid surrending to that one particular of the seven deadly sins that causes his condition. And having surrendered to one, surrender to others – wrath against Conservatives and Pride in one’s own flawed thinking – follows as surely as the night does the day. This criticism would not be leveled if a certain pompous blogmeister would at least acknowledge that he is not the divine dispenser of apostolic wisdom.

  • One of the problems with this whole you can’t do that! It’s immoral/atrocious/criminal line of thought (besides the whole isn’t war is organized immorality/atrocity/criminality question begging I mean) is that it renders ideas about just war and self defense futile. So, say Putin decides to take back everything that used be behind the Iron Curtain, and he’s prepared to use nuclear weapons to do it. Are we supposed to let him? Apparently yes. Because using nukes is always wrong/bad and you can’t do a wrong/bad thing, even to achieve a good end.
    .
    That’s not to say that A-bombing Japan was a good thing. Only that it was the least bad choice among a range of increasingly worse ones.
    .
    And if that seems too worldly, as perhaps it is, then it further seems to me that Ghandi had the right of it after all: All of Europe should have marched happily into that Nazi death camps and trusted in God to change the hearts of men.

  • Mark Shea is the Catholic blogosphere’s version of Jon Stewart.

    It is a waste of time to point out the militarization of the Japanese population. It is a waste of time to point out that the firebombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities were deadlier than Fat Man and Little Boy. It is a waste of time to point out that President Truman’s job was to end the war as fast as possible with as few American casualties as possible.

    I don’t know this for sure, but I doubt Mark Shea has spent little or no time with war veterans from the Pacific Theater.

    the LAST think I want to hear from Mark Shea, given his distaste for traditional Catholics, is a lecture about Just War or anything else. St. Thomas Aquinas did not live in the 20th century and did not face the monstrorus evils that existed in the 20th century.

  • I would think that the surviving Jews of Europe would be insulted to be compared as equivalent to the Japanese who material supported their war effort. That is exactly what Mark Shea is doing with his word games.

  • I would argue that destroying a city to kill one soldier is immoral, but destroying a military base with one civilian among 100,000 enemy soldiers is acceptable(would Mark Shea agree with the second statement? ). Somewhere in between, a line is crossed. I think a debate about that line would be very illuminating for this argument. It would at least tell us a lot about Mr Shea.

  • Or to rephrase, what proportion of combatant/non combatant defines a location as a valid military target vs off limits/war crime?

  • For myself, I’d like for one of these titans of moral insight to tell us we should have done in 1945 instead of telling us why what we did do was wrong.
    .
    Just once

  • MikeS wrote, “I would argue that destroying a city to kill one soldier is immoral, but destroying a military base with one civilian among 100,000 enemy soldiers is.”

    Take the case of the Lusitania. She was carrying contraband of war (a small cargo of arms). Was topedoing her justified?

  • Penguins Fan said it. He’s Jon Stewart. What does anyone really expect from him? A wise professor once told me to always ask who’s ox is getting gored. If Mark Shea’s was the life that was spared by Truman’s decision, something tells me he would have a different view of the matter.

  • MPS,

    I believe the traditional answer would be if there were proportionate reasons. Sinking the Lusitania would likely not meet that criteria as the death of a large number of civilians could not be justified by destroying a small arms shipment. If there were a small number of civilians on a freighter carrier munitions, aviation fuel etc., that would be different.

  • Yesterday was Shea’s birthday. This was the perfect gift for that pompous fool!

  • For myself, I’d like for one of these titans of moral insight to tell us we should have done in 1945 instead of telling us why what we did do was wrong.

    Well, you can go on his site and ask. The following will take place: (1) one of his pet pit bulls will make rude and snide remarks in reply, (2) Shea himself will issue a denunciation of you in the comments section or a succeeding post, and (3) all of your remarks will be deleted. About the most patient description of the quality of his commentary on any subject was offered just the other day by a competing blogger: “Shea’s signal-to-noise ratio [has] long since dipped below the level I’m prepared to deal with”.

  • “I wrote about this some time ago (here) saying that I thought it had been a mistake for the movement against abortion to adopt the term “pro-life.” Not that it’s not accurate, and not that I don’t understand the rationale for it. But it invites the response which it regularly gets: “You’re not truly pro-life, because you don’t support [some other cause] in addition to your own.” The other causes can be anything that the speaker believes to be good for people, or for that matter for animals, or the entire planetary ecosystem.

    For reasons that are obscure to me, this tactic is used even by some people who are actually anti-abortion. I can only conjecture that they are so repelled by the right-wing associations of the pro-life movement that they want to distance themselves from it. A few weeks ago, for instance, I saw a link to a piece by Catholic blogger Mark Shea that appeared to suggest that insufficient concern about gun violence disqualifies one from calling oneself pro-life. I say “appeared to suggest” because I didn’t read more than a few sentences, Shea’s signal-to-noise ratio having long since dipped below the level I’m prepared to deal with; the link appeared on my Facebook feed because someone I know had commented on it. Then a few days ago he pointed out that you aren’t truly pro-life if you don’t consider illegal immigrants to be human.

    I dare say that almost all pro-lifers are opposed to the use of guns in settling disputes or committing crimes, and believe immigrants, legal or otherwise, to be human. But it doesn’t matter. The tactic is so tempting that those who use it often don’t even seem to care whether the charge is true. I.e., the thing they say pro-lifers should support (or oppose) is often something that many or most of them do in fact support (or oppose), although perhaps not embracing the specific solution proposed by the leftist who is the usual accuser. But it does seem to be an effective way of changing the subject, at least for those who want to change it, and of putting the anti-abortion side on the defensive.”

    http://www.lightondarkwater.com/2015/08/pro-life-vs-anti-abortion.html

  • “For myself, I’d like for one of these titans of moral insight to tell us we should have done in 1945 instead of telling us why what we did do was wrong.”

    And also explain why such an outrage against Catholic morality was apparently missed by the entire hierarchy of the Church.

  • Since I refuse to go to Shea’s website can someone give a brief description of how Shea brings Planned Parenthood into this? I remember reading on another blog a year or two ago the argument that there is a direct link between the bombings and Roe v. Wade, and I am wondering if Shea was trying that same historically ignorant approach.

  • For Brian English:
    It can roughly be approximated as, “it took false courage for the Nazis to massacre Jews, it takes false courage for PP to dismember children and it took false courage for us to drop the bombs.”
    He also sets up a straw man who says that all war is evil anyway, so the bombs weren’t any worse.

  • Even a broken clock is right twice a day. This is once. Actually, not sure there is another.

  • Oh, and another logical fallacy is the agumentum ad hominem.

    I think Mark is a putz most of the times on most issues. That does not mean he is wrong this time. In fact, the responses I see are the same type of crazed bile that *Mark* is usually noted for. And still, none can square the bombings with Church teaching, and simply repeat the mantra that “a million” were saved, which, even if true (I do not grant it: the Pentagon only predicted 50k casualties, but we can never know), would not justify incinerating Grandma, Grandpa, and little Suzy in order to terrorize the Jap government into surrendering. It’s profoundly immoral to kill innocent people in order to get a bad guy to stop doing bad things. That’s what it all boils down to stripped of the verbal vomit.

  • (I do not grant it: the Pentagon only predicted 50k casualties, but we can never know),

    You continue to promote this fraud. There isn’t a judge in Virginia who should take a word out of your mouth at face value.

  • Tom, your last post was really crippled by that 50k comment. It is simply not true as a realistic estimate. Your inclusion of it shows you are in denial about the realities.

    And to repeat: do you think starving Grandma, Grandpa, and little Suzy to death in order to force (terrorize is a word reserved for the innocent) the ‘Jap’ government into surrendering during a 1945-46 blockage is not profoundly immoral?

  • Can someone point me to one respected moral theologian who has concluded that the bombing was morally right?

  • Judging from the attitude of the American people, I’d suggest that their “respected moral theologian” in this case is named Harry Truman. WJ, can you name any “respected moral theologian” who has written about the atomic bombings who was slated to participate in Operation Olympic? Oh, and I’d put Father Wilson Miscamble up against any “respected moral theologian” you’d care to name.

    Go to the links below to see an example of why I put “respected moral theologian” in quotes:

    https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/ctsa-considers-resolution-contraception-mandate

    http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/theological-society-backs-vatican-criticized-nun

    http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/CatholicEducationDaily/DetailsPage/tabid/102/ArticleID/3523/Prof-Explains-Controversial-History-of-Catholic-Theological-Society-of-America.aspx

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/life-and-family/sexuality-contraception/reluctance-among-clergy-to-speak-about-the-catholic-sexual-ethic/

    https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/08/in-the-wake-of-heroic-theology

    In practice the Catholic Theological Society of America is, in the main, merely a left wing pressure group.

  • “Can someone point me to one respected moral theologian who has concluded that the bombing was morally right?”

    The well respected (that is, before the KGB-inspired “Hitler’s Pope” calumnies) moral theologian Pius XII refused to say that the bombing was absolutely wrong. See
    http://the-american-catholic.com/2015/08/07/hiroshima-survivors/#comment-270117

  • Brevity is the soul of wit: Mark who?

  • Tom,

    In the past I would be inclined to agree with you. Given the information on the conscription of most of the population of Japan, one is inclined at least to give ear to those who would look at Japan as one large island fortress. The Church has never declared that there can be no civilian casualties in battles. Thus the poor grandmothers and babies line is subject to criticism.

    As TomD intimates, a blockade would also be immoral (JPII declared the sanctions on Iraq were immoral and asked they be lifted due to the effects on ordinary people.) An invasion would likely have cost huge numbers of casualties and at some level lend itself to the question of its morality. That leaves us with negotiating peace with a Japan militarized in a total war mindset and in control of foreign territories.

  • “That leaves us with negotiating peace with a Japan militarized in a total war mindset and in control of foreign territories.”
    And as Don McClarey has pointed out over and over, in control of the monthly murders of tens of thousands of civilian citizens of nations were had agreed to fight for. A failure of responsibility to force Japan to surrender would be seen today as complicity in these civilian deaths of our Allies. There is no denying it.

  • Tom D wrote, “A failure of responsibility to force Japan to surrender would be seen today as complicity in these civilian deaths of our Allies. There is no denying it.”

    We must not confuse foresight with intention, which is at the root of most of the moral dilemmas posed by consequentialists.

    Miss Anscombe details the result of such confusion, “Christianity forbids a number of things as being bad in themselves. But if I am answerable for the foreseen consequences of an action or refusal, as much as for the action itself, then these Prohibitions will break down. If someone innocent will die unless I do a wicked thing, then on this view I am his murderer in refusing: so all that is left to me is to weigh up evils. Here the theologian steps in with the principle of double effect and says: “No, you are no murderer, if the man’s death was neither your aim nor your chosen means, and if you had to act in the way that led to it or else do something absolutely forbidden.” Without understanding of this principle, anything can be–and is wont to be– justified, and the Christian teaching that in no circumstances may one commit murder, adultery, apostasy (to give a few examples) goes by the board. These absolute prohibitions of Christianity by no means exhaust its ethic; there is a large area where what is just is determined partly by a prudent weighing up of consequences. But the prohibitions are bedrock, and without them the Christian ethic goes to pieces.”

  • “But if I am answerable for the foreseen consequences of an action or refusal, as much as for the action itself, then these Prohibitions will break down.”

    Ah, but the Church has always taught that we are just as responsible for sins of omission as sins of commission. “For what I have done and what I have failed to do.” is not merely a string of words we recite at Mass. That is precisely the Hiroshima Dilemma that Ms. Anscombe attempted to “solve” by simply ruling out the potential sin of omission clearly involved. Clever, but ultimately unconvincing, at least to me, especially if we had chosen what she assumed was the moral course, ignoring the clearly foreseeable consequences, and millions more had died as a result.

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “Ah, but the Church has always taught that we are just as responsible for sins of omission as sins of commission…”

    But a sin of omission requires a positive duty to perform a particular act in all the circumstances of the case. Thus, St Alphonsus gives the case of a man who jumps to his death off the top of a burning building. His intention is to escape the flames; his death is merely the foreseen, but unintended consequence. Now, the prohibition of suicide is absolute, but the duty to preserve one’s life is not, so his choice is a legitimate one (S Alphonsus Liguori, Theologia moralis, lib. III, tractatus IV, cap. I, 367) Another example would be giving a dose of an analgesic to a patient sufficient to prevent his suffering, even though its foreseeable effect is also to terminate life.

    Cases where it is not permissible not to do x are very rare.

    Of course, the principle of Double Effect can be abused; thus, Miss Anscombe rejects several examples drawn from the Jesuit casuists, “that it is all right for a servant to hold the ladder for his criminous master so long as he is merely avoiding the sack by doing so; or that a man might wish for and rejoice at his parent’s death so long as what he had in mind was the gain to himself; or that it is not simony to offer money, not as a price for the spiritual benefit, but only as an inducement to give it.” All these were condemned by Innocent XI.

  • “But a sin of omission requires a positive duty to perform a particular act in all the circumstances of the case.”

    Indeed? If an assailant is killing my family, I doubt if I have a duty to intervene, but I have no doubt that it would be a great sin if I did not. Additionally, let us say that I kill not only the assailant, but also his friends who are cheering him on and might pose a threat to my family. I perhaps have committed a crime in doing so, but have I sinned? Under the circumstances I think not. This is not as clear a moral area as Ms. Anscombe mistakenly thought.

  • “We must not confuse foresight with intention, which is at the root of most of the moral dilemmas posed by consequentialists.”
    Thank you Don, for showing that the distinction between foresight and intention is not a clear cut as some would think. I could rattle off many examples of people and indeed nations taken to task over their intentions when the issue is really one of foresight. The philosophers’ distinction hardly matters to politicians and their supporters. It should, but it often doesn’t.

  • I”Cases where it is not permissible not to do x are very rare.”

    MPS, I would submit that the case of it being not permissible to not do the necessary acts to end the Japanese murders of Chinese and other civilians in 1945 would be one of the rare ones.

  • Estimates are estimates. There was a wide divergence concerning the potential casualty figures for an invasion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Downfall

    Obviously, it is impossible to know how many casualties would have been suffered, because there was no invasion. The 1 million assumes Don’s theory that the entire Japanese populace would have fought, a very unlikely occurrence in my opinion. Some would have, many or most would not have, or would have only done so reluctantly and ineffectively, like the boy soldiers of the Third Reich.

    In any event, it’s all immaterial, irrelevant, and beside the point, which is that under Christian moral reasoning, you cannot kill civilians as a direct war aim to attempt to induce surrender. That is doing a direct evil in order to bring about a good, something impermissible, for Christians anyway.

    The populace of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not combatants in any sense of the word. Their direct murder to compel Japanese surrender was simply immoral.

  • Tom D wrote, “I would submit that the case of it being not permissible to not do the necessary acts to end the Japanese murders of Chinese and other civilians in 1945 would be one of the rare ones.”

    That is far too widely framed. I am obliged to rescue a drowning man, but only if I can do so without imperilling my own safety.

    Again, a ship’s master is under a duty to pick up people in a lifeboat, but only if he would not endanger his own vessel, or risk the deterioration of his cargo or the loss of his market, by reason of diversion or delay.

    That is why I say that an absolute positive duty is so rare.

  • “Again, a ship’s master is under a duty to pick up people in a lifeboat, but only if he would not endanger his own vessel, or risk the deterioration of his cargo or the loss of his market, by reason of diversion or delay.”

    Probably under nautical law. I doubt seriously that the Church would look at it in the same way.

  • @MPS – Funny, when I read Matthew, I see that what separates the goats from the sheep and drives the former from the master’s sight is what the goats did NOT do, not what they did.

    Seems the Boss takes inaction as seriously as He takes actions.

  • “That is far too widely framed. I am obliged to rescue a drowning man, but only if I can do so without imperilling my own safety. ”
    No, it is not too widely framed. We were at war. it is impossible to equate a violent and implacable human enemy with a body of water. The safety of our servicemen was already imperiled. The only way to avoid the peril would be to agree to a cease fire that would have negated the war aims.

  • Tom D wrote, “The safety of our servicemen was already imperiled. “
    In absolving the government of the Netherlands for liability for the deaths of some 8,000 civilians at Srebrenica on11 July 1995, Larissa Alwin delivering the unanimous opinion of the International Court at the Hague on 16 July 2014, repeatedly stressed the paramount duty of military commanders to ensure the health and safety at work of the troops under their command and to carry out (and record) proper risk assessments to ensure that they operate in a safe working environment, “principals long enshrined in Public International Law and International Humanitarian Law.”
    By contrast and applying the same principals, the court found that, by cooperating in the deportation of some 300 men from the Dutch compound by Serbian forces, the Dutch acted unlawfully.
    Because troops are already, in some measure, “imperilled,” their government is not absolved from its duty of minimising that risk and every case will turn on its own facts.

Truman Announces the Bombing of Hiroshima

Thursday, August 6, AD 2015

 

Truman’s statement after Hiroshima was classic Harry Truman:  blunt, concise and no confusion about who had made the decision and what he intended to do next if Japan did not capitulate.  Truman did not write it, he was still at sea returning from the Potsdam conference, but Arthur W. Page who did captured Truman’s style perfectly.  His statement in the text given to the press that Hiroshima was an important army base has engendered a lot of criticism, although considering that the Second General Army, that commanded Japanese defenses in southern Japan, was headquartered in Hiroshima, and that on the day of the bombing there were 43,000 Japanese troops stationed in Hiroshima, of which 20,000 died, a good argument can be made for his interpretation.  Here is Truman’s statement:

A short time ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British “Grand Slam” which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.

The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In their present form these bombs are now in production and even more powerful forms are in development.

It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.

Before 1939, it was the accepted belief of scientists that it was theoretically possible to release atomic energy. But no one knew any practical method of doing it. By 1942, however, we knew that the Germans were working feverishly to find a way to add atomic energy to the other engines of war with which they hoped to enslave the world. But they failed. We may be grateful to Providence that the Germans got the V-1’s and V-2’s late and in limited quantities and even more grateful that they did not get the atomic bomb at all.

The battle of the laboratories held fateful risks for us as well as the battles of the air, land, and sea, and we have now won the battle of the laboratories as we have won the other battles.

Beginning in 1940, before Pearl Harbor, scientific knowledge useful in was pooled between the United States and Great Britain, and many priceless helps to our victories have come from that arrangement. Under that general policy the research on the atomic bomb was begun. With American and British scientists working together we entered the race of discovery against the Germans.

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2 Responses to Truman Announces the Bombing of Hiroshima

  • ” The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.”
    .
    Technically correct – the sun in nuclear fusion draws its energy from the strong nuclear force, and the atomic bombs used at the end of WWII in nuclear fission draw their energy from the strong nuclear force. However, fusion of light nuclei is different than fission of heavy nuclei. Fusion of light nuclei releases energy from the change in mass due to binding energy differences between the light nuclei being fused and the heavier nuclei which result from the fusion. Fission of heavy nuclei releases energy from the change in mass due to binding energy differences between the heaviest nuclei being fissioned and the lighter nuclei which result from the fission. At the bottom of the binding energy curve is iron – all fusion of light elements and all fission of heavy elements go to the bottom (which is why an iron core is poison for a super nova). Fusion however releases more energy gram for gram than fission because the binding energy curve slop (ie., rate of change) is steeper between light elements and iron than between heavy elements and iron. The delta in curve slope accounts for the energy release. Additionally, in fusion the electrostatic coulomb repulsion of positively charged protons in the nuclei being fused must be overcomed by great energy input (which in the case of the sun is gravity and in the case of fusion weapons is a fission induced implosion and in the case of fusion power experiments like ITER or the old Soviet Tokamaks is magnetic field compression or laser / particle beam impingement) whereas in fission the use of neutrally charged neutrons to impinge on nuclei to split them apart involves no electrostatic coulomb repulsion. Therefore, fission is far easier to achieve than fusion (which accounts for why fusion energy is still just 50 years away and likkely always will be until we master artificial gravity).

  • “I shall recommend that the Congress of the United States consider promptly the establishment of an appropriate commission to control the production and use of atomic power within the United States. I shall give further consideration and make further recommendations to the Congress as to how atomic power can become a powerful and forceful influence towards the maintenance of world peace.”
    .
    The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 established the old Atomic Energy Commission. It was an amendment to 1946 act. See http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/governing-laws.html#aea-1954. In the early 1970s the AEC was broken apart into the US Department of Energy and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The US DOE is supposed to promote energy-related issues and th US NRC is supposed to be an unbiased, impartial safety regulator. That was the case until the current anti-nuclear Administration put anti-nuclear activitists into certain key positons within the US NRC and created a hostile regulatory environment. That said, the overwhelming majority of people in the US NRC are good, hard working public servants who simply want to protect public health and safety.
    .
    As for the economic competitiveness of nuclear energy, it is difficult to compete when the regulatory playing field isn’t leveled and certain industries get unfair economic advantage over others. Case in point: if coal power were subject to the same radiological release limits as nukes, then not a single coal plant would be operating becauuse of the radioactivity that naturally occurs from uranium, thorium and radium in coal. The same is true of fracking for oil or gas – those industries would not survive if they were not permitted to release radioactivity that occurs naturall from the ground during the fracking process, and which exceeds what a nuke is allowed to release during normal operation. And as for unfair economic advantage, can we all spell Solyndra. Solar and wind are useless for baseload power and yet they receive unfair economic advantage. I could go on but I will stop for now. Truman’s and Eisenhower’s dream has gone by the way side in this era of green energy, black death. 🙁

August 6, 1945: Bombing of Hiroshima

Thursday, August 6, AD 2015

 

In 2002 Studs Terkel interviewed retired General Paul Tibbets about the Hiroshima bombing:

 

Paul Tibbets:  I think I went to Los Alamos [the Manhattan project HQ] three times, and each time I got to see Dr Oppenheimer working in his own environment. Later, thinking about it, here’s a young man, a brilliant person. And he’s a chain smoker and he drinks cocktails. And he hates fat men. And General Leslie Groves [the general in charge of the Manhattan project], he’s a fat man, and he hates people who smoke and drink. The two of them are the first, original odd couple.

 
Studs Terkel:  They had a feud, Groves and Oppenheimer?

 
Paul Tibbets:  Yeah, but neither one of them showed it. Each one of them had a job to do.

 
Studs Terkel:  Did Oppenheimer tell you about the destructive nature of the bomb?
Paul Tibbets:  No.

 
Studs Terkel:  How did you know about that?

 
Paul Tibbets:  From Dr Ramsey. He said the only thing we can tell you about it is, it’s going to explode with the force of 20,000 tons of TNT. I’d never seen 1 lb of TNT blow up. I’d never heard of anybody who’d seen 100 lbs of TNT blow up. All I felt was that this was gonna be one hell of a big bang.

 
Studs Terkel:  Twenty thousand tons – that’s equivalent to how many planes full of bombs?

 
Paul Tibbets:  Well, I think the two bombs that we used [at Hiroshima and Nagasaki] had more power than all the bombs the air force had used during the war in Europe.

 
Studs Terkel:  So Ramsey told you about the possibilities.
Paul Tibbets:  Even though it was still theory, whatever those guys told me, that’s what happened. So I was ready to say I wanted to go to war, but I wanted to ask Oppenheimer how to get away from the bomb after we dropped it. I told him that when we had dropped bombs in Europe and North Africa, we’d flown straight ahead after dropping them – which is also the trajectory of the bomb. But what should we do this time? He said, “You can’t fly straight ahead because you’d be right over the top when it blows up and nobody would ever know you were there.” He said I had to turn tangent to the expanding shock wave. I said, “Well, I’ve had some trigonometry, some physics. What is tangency in this case?” He said it was 159 degrees in either direction. “Turn 159 degrees as fast as you can and you’ll be able to put yourself the greatest distance from where the bomb exploded.”

 
Studs Terkel:  How many seconds did you have to make that turn?

 
Paul Tibbets:  I had dropped enough practice bombs to realize that the charges would blow around 1,500 ft in the air, so I would have 40 to 42 seconds to turn 159 degrees. I went back to Wendover as quick as I could and took the airplane up. I got myself to 25,000 ft and I practiced turning, steeper, steeper, steeper and I got it where I could pull it round in 40 seconds. The tail was shaking dramatically and I was afraid of it breaking off, but I didn’t quit. That was my goal. And I practiced and practiced until, without even thinking about it, I could do it in between 40 and 42, all the time. So, when that day came….
Studs Terkel:  You got the go-ahead on August 5.

 
Paul Tibbets:  Yeah. We were in Tinian [the US island base in the Pacific] at the time we got the OK. They had sent this Norwegian to the weather station out on Guam [the US’s westernmost territory] and I had a copy of his report. We said that, based on his forecast, the sixth day of August would be the best day that we could get over Honshu [the island on which Hiroshima stands]. So we did everything that had to be done to get the crews ready to go: airplane loaded, crews briefed, all of the things checked that you have to check before you can fly over enemy territory. General Groves had a brigadier-general who was connected back to Washington DC by a special teletype machine. He stayed close to that thing all the time, notifying people back there, all by code, that we were preparing these airplanes to go any time me after midnight on the sixth. And that’s the way it worked out. We were ready to go at about four o’clock in the afternoon on the fifth and we got word from the president that we were free to go: “Use me as you wish.” They give you a time you’re supposed to drop your bomb on target and that was 9:15 in the morning , but that was Tinian time, one hour later than Japanese time. I told Dutch, “You figure it out what time we have to start after midnight to be over the target at 9 a.m.”
Studs Terkel:  That’d be Sunday morning.’

 
Paul Tibbets:  Well, we got going down the runway at right about 2:15 a.m. and we took off, we met our rendezvous guys, we made our flight up to what we call the initial point, that would be a geographic position that you could not mistake. Well, of course we had the best one in the world with the rivers and bridges and that big shrine. There was no mistaking what it was.

 
Studs Terkel:  So you had to have the right navigator to get it on the button.

 
Paul Tibbets:  The airplane has a bomb sight connected to the autopilot and the bombardier puts figures in there for where he wants to be when he drops the weapon, and that’s transmitted to the airplane. We always took into account what would happen if we had a failure and the bomb bay doors didn’t open; we had a manual release put in each airplane so it was right down by the bombardier and he could pull on that. And the guys in the airplanes that followed us to drop the instruments needed to know when it was going to go. We were told not to use the radio, but, hell, I had to. I told them I would say, “One minute out,” “Thirty seconds out,” “Twenty seconds” and “Ten” and then I’d count, “Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four seconds”, which would give them a time to drop their cargo. They knew what was going on because they knew where we were. And that’s exactly the way it worked; it was absolutely perfect. After we got the airplanes in formation I crawled into the tunnel and went back to tell the men, I said, “You know what we’re doing today?” They said, “Well, yeah, we’re going on a bombing mission.” I said, “Yeah, we’re going on a bombing mission, but it’s a little bit special.” My tail gunner, Bob Caron, was pretty alert. He said, “Colonel, we wouldn’t be playing with atoms today, would we?” I said, “Bob, you’ve got it just exactly right.” So I went back up in the front end and I told the navigator, bombardier, flight engineer, in turn. I said, “OK, this is an atom bomb we’re dropping.” They listened intently but I didn’t see any change in their faces or anything else. Those guys were no idiots. We’d been fiddling round with the most peculiar-shaped things we’d ever seen. So we’re coming down. We get to that point where I say “one second” and by the time I’d got that second out of my mouth the airplane had lurched, because 10,000 lbs had come out of the front. I’m in this turn now, tight as I can get it, that helps me hold my altitude and helps me hold my airspeed and everything else all the way round. When I level out, the nose is a little bit high and as I look up there the whole sky is lit up in the prettiest blues and pinks I’ve ever seen in my life. It was just great. I tell people I tasted it. “Well,” they say, “what do you mean?” When I was a child, if you had a cavity in your tooth the dentist put some mixture of some cotton or whatever it was and lead into your teeth and pounded them in with a hammer. I learned that if Ihad a spoon of ice-cream and touched one of those teeth I got this electrolysis and I got the taste of lead out of it. And I knew right away what it was. OK, we’re all going. We had been briefed to stay off the radios: “Don’t say a damn word, what we do is we make this turn, we’re going to get out of here as fast as we can.” I want to get out over the sea of Japan because I know they can’t find me over there. With that done we’re home free. Then Tom Ferebee has to fill out his bombardier’s report and Dutch, the navigator, has to fill out a log. Tom is working on his log and says, “Dutch, what time were we over the target?” And Dutch says, “Nine-fifteen plus 15 seconds.” Ferebee says: “What lousy navigating. Fifteen seconds off!”
Studs Terkel:  Did you hear an explosion?

 
Paul Tibbets:  Oh yeah. The shockwave was coming up at us after we turned. And the tail gunner said, “Here it comes.” About the time he said that, we got this kick in the ass. I had accelerometers installed in all airplanes to record the magnitude of the bomb. It hit us with two and a half G. Next day, when we got figures from the scientists on what they had learned from all the things, they said, “When that bomb exploded, your airplane was 10 and half miles away from it.”

 
Studs Terkel:  Did you see that mushroom cloud?

 
Paul Tibbets:  You see all kinds of mushroom clouds, but they were made with different types of bombs. The Hiroshima bomb did not make a mushroom. It was what I call a stringer. It just came up. It was black as hell and it had light and colors and white in it and grey color in it and the top was like afolded-up Christmas tree.

 
Studs Terkel:  Do you have any idea what happened down below?

 
Paul Tibbets:  Pandemonium! I think it’s best stated by one of the historians, who said: “In one micro-second, the city of Hiroshima didn’t exist.”

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