Monday, August 08, 2005

A-Bomb Was a Lifesaver

People who don’t much like America (and this includes a number of Americans) love to point out that the United States is the only nation that has used nuclear weapons in anger.

But the reality, as Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe points out, is that these fearsome weapons actually saved lives.
[Today], the revisionists are still going strong. An article in the radical journal CounterPunch, for example, labels the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki “the worst terror attacks in history,” and trots out the old canard that their real purpose was to intimidate the Soviet Union. In the Los Angeles Times the other day, Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin asserted as “unpleasant historical facts” that “the atomic bombings were unnecessary,” serving only to devastate an “essentially defeated enemy.”

More than ever before, the historical record confirms what [American] soldiers knew in their gut: Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hideous as they were, shortened the war that Japan had begun and thereby saved an immensity of lives. Far from considering itself “essentially defeated,” the Japanese military was preparing for an Allied assault with a massive buildup in the south. It was only the shock of the atomic blasts that enabled Japanese leaders who wanted to stop the fighting to successfully press for a surrender.

“We of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war,” Kido Koichi, one of Emperor Hirohito’s closest aides, later recalled. Hisatsune Sakomizu, the chief cabinet secretary, called the bomb “a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war.” That is still the right way to see it. President Truman’s decision to use the new weapons stopped a war that would otherwise have raged savagely on, and made possible the transformation of Japan from vicious aggressor to peaceful democracy. Six decades after August 1945, it is clear: The bomb made the world a better place.
The reality is that even after the dropping of the two bombs, it required the intervention of the Emperor — who normally avoided involvement in policy making — to tip the scales in favor of surrender. Many of the Japanese warlords were willing to fight until the last Japanese died.

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