Monday, August 08, 2005

Hiroshima & Nagasaki 1945: The Loss of Moral Authority

Whenever you hear of a suicide bomber entering a pizza parlor and blowing himself up amongst civilians. The same refrain is repeated over & over: "You do not intentionally target civilians and, to do so, is an act of cowardice." The rule is stated as an absolute by both the left and the right. There is no cost benefit analysis to be had and anyone who even considers such an analysis is deemed to be a terrorist sympathizer. The rule is a bright line not to be crossed.

Yet, in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and then on Nagasaki, three days later, the United States deliberately and intentionally dropped the most awesome bombs ever used on large civilian populations killing tens of thousands immediately and probably hundreds of thousands over time. To this date, Americans on both the left and the right debate the necessity of Truman's decision and the debate almost always involves speculative cost-benefit analyses.

This is especially the case for those who support Truman's decision even though those same people are vocal advocates of the absolutist line in condemning attacks on civilian populations by other political movements.

Not only did the bombings open a pandora's box regarding the direct use of WMD, but, more importantly in my mind, it detracts from the moral authority to absolutely condemn all acts of violence deliberately aimed at civilian populations for political gain.


  • Good point. I've been guilty of this hypocrisy too.

    By Anonymous Nathan, at 11:36 PM  

  • The war had already opened that pandoras box against civilians. The mindset was that everyone was fair game. It may be wrong, but the US was not the first to do anything like this. Nay, you forget that the Japanese are 2nd only to Germany as being the worst human rights offenders of the 20th century. They commited terrible attrocities in countries they tried to conquer, like korea and the pacific islands. They were never going to surrender peacefully, and thus the terrible decision was made to use atomic bombs to end a terrible war.

    I think it was the right one.

    By Anonymous Vec, at 4:40 PM  

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