Monday, August 9, 2010

On the Atomic Bombings

So, I sometimes check out the blog Tokyo Mango to see all the wacky stuff people make in Japan. Today I came across an entry made for August 6th, which had a high-quality photograph of devastation following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima done 65 years ago. It’s awfully somber and really makes you think about the horrific nature of war and the bomb in particular. I was talking to someone fairly recently about the atomic bombings, and I’ll repeat my sentiments here. The United States should never have atomic bombed Japan.

People like to say that the Iraq war is terrorism and that Bush is a terrorist, but this label is more applicable to Truman in WWII and the bombings largely go unexamined. It’s mostly just accepted that the U.S. did what it needed to end the war and that’s that. If you look at history, though, dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki really wasn’t necessary. Japan was losing the war; it would have collapsed soon enough anyway. The bombs really kicked the spirit out of the Japanese, but the real reason of blowing up those cities was to intimidate the Russians.
If the United States wanted the Japanese to see the destructive power of which they were capable, they could have just detonated a bomb or two in the sea off the east coast where Emperor Hirohito could see it. Dropping the bombs in the sea would cause deaths and poison the area, but it would be nowhere near the devastation of the current scenario. The current scenario includes the deaths of thousands of civilians who were just living there in the cities. I know there were military forces in the cities, but when you compare bombing the Japanese cities to the Iraq war where the Americans at least try not to involve Iraqi civilians, it seems like the stigma of terrorism really belongs with Truman rather than Bush. At the very least, they could have only bombed Hiroshima to get the job done; Nagasaki was excessive.
And I’ve heard a few people saying that America shouldn’t have bombed Japan—a History channel documentary at least presented the opinion if not endorsed it—but this opinion is in the minority. People should at least be talking about it. I think it’s just because patriotism runs deep in American culture and Americans don’t want to criticize events in the past that have been romanticized in history books. I’m not picking on Americans here, just speaking specifically about America. If you think about it, the U.S. is characterized for being subversive. The country was founded from rebellion, after all. So I’m criticizing a lack of patriotism when criticizing Americans for being patriotic… if you can understand me.

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