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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Hiroshima Remembered

Today is the anniversay of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. War is a horrible reality, and the effects of nuclear bombs are a particular kind of horror. There is nothing to celebrate, everything to grieve that humans bring such a state of affairs into being. Somber reflection is warranted.

Unwarranted are attacks on the United States for using the weapon in an effort to conclude one of those horrible realities, WWII. I wish there had been no war but war was brought to the US by the Japanese. The wider war began in a bid for empire by the Japanese in the 1930s and they brought that war to us in a sneak attack, followed by innumerable stories of brutality to Americans. Also, by many (though not all) accounts, Japanese military leaders were planning for a fight to the death on their home islands.

Here is what is odd in some recent conversations I've had with critics of the US, who happen to be liberal Americans. When I protest their protest of Hiroshima by saying we were attacked in 1941, these liberals have justified Pearl Harbor by saying the US forced the Japanese into it by restricting the flow of oil and other materiel to Japan. No so. Our restrictions did not force the Japanese into attacking. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a decision freely made by the Japanese leadership. That the US was obstructing their dreams of empire naturally was the factor that most influenced their decision, but simply because the US obstructed another nation's military conquests does not logically mean we merited a sneak attack. The choice the Japanese should have made was to give up their campaigns in China and elsewhere. To apply the twisted logic of these liberal acquaintances, North Korea and Iran should attack the UN (or its members) for imposing sanctions on them. It's odd to me that these liberals advocate the UN and sanctions for contemporary geopolitical crises but think the US's 1940-1 restrictions on Japan somehow meant the US deserved Pearl Harbor.

These same liberals, who justify to me in conversation the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, turn around and say the bombing of Hiroshima was unethical. In this strange America-hating calculus, the Japanese were justified in a sneak attack and the Americans were without justification in using a weapon to end the war. Go figure.

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