Saturday, May 02, 2009

Truman as a War Criminal

Was Harry Truman a war criminal for dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Jon Stewart said yes when asked the other night.

Of course (of course), anyone who ever dropped an atomic bomb on an American city would be labeled a war criminal, no question about it. What's the difference?

The difference is that we think we can parse out morality. We thought we had good reasons for killing tens of thousands of completely innocent Japanese women, men, children, and babies. Just as they thought they had good reason to bomb Pearl Harbor. I mean, the Japanese didn't just wake up one morning and decide to commit as much evil as possible. The Japanese needed oil, and the US was dogged in trying to deny them that.

Funny how, when we need oil, it's justifiable to attack Iraq, but when the Japanese needed oil, they're not justified in looking out for their interests.

Actually, the whole damned thing makes me sick -- it's OK to murder thousands of little babies in this case, but not in that case, and we were justified because of what they did to us, but of course they were justified because of what we did to them.

It's OK for the US to waterboard to protect our people, but it wasn't OK for the Japanese to do the same to protect their people. Because they're just Japanese but we're Americans.

Like it all isn't at the bottom just stupid, naked, nationalistic tribalism.

I do not believe in a God, but I almost wish there was one, just so maybe some day I could get to see Truman and Yamamoto and Patton and Eisenhower and Hirohito and every one of the murderers standing at the pearly gates still arguing with whomever is still listening about how right there were and how wrong everyone else was, all talking over one another, still pointing fingers at everyone else, still trying to explain why they were a true Christian or whatever other stupid religion they thought they were pretending to practice, but it was just all the other guys who still forever without a clue and why can't you let me in after all these years and how responsble can you expect me to be just because I dropped a bomb that killed thousands of children and babies?

What did you expect?


Anonymous said...


You should view this commentary on Stewart's view.

A man breaks into your neighbor's house and shoots the father. You run in after and shoot the intruder before he can shoot the mother and kids.

Are both shootings morally equal?


Anonymous said...

Why is it always claimed that Iraq was invaded so we could get their oil? Have you seen any evidence of the US receiving any of this? I do agree with the rest of your post however.

Anonymous said...

Were there any military targets outside the cities?

The cities were not then being defended against solitary overflying aircraft, which had become daily routine. Did that affect the choice of targets?

Anonymous said...

What's funny is how the past is being revealed so long after the fact. None of the history I find when I look this up matches what I was taught about it decades ago. Google, it's a subversive influence.

"... According to the Joint War Plans Committee, the Tokyo Plain had many more beaches suitable for amphibious assault, with its geography precluding the concentration of defense. The favorable terrain would allow American forces to outmaneuver the Japanese in combat.
With this in mind, the military planners concluded, “in terms of percentage of casualties the
invasion of the Tokyo Plains should be relatively inexpensive” (1945, 342).
The report was not alone in questioning the military necessity of the atomic bomb.
Many of America’s most important military leaders urged the Truman to avoid using the bomb. At a time when Japan’s main army was in China, cut off from supplies and reinforcements as Chinese and Russian forces closed in, U.S. military planners knew that a Japanese surrender was forthcoming. Both General Eisenhower and MacArthur, supreme commander of the Allied forces in Western Europe and the Pacific respectively, voiced
“grave” misgivings about the use of the atom bomb and deemed it “completely
unnecessary” in achieving the military objective (Takaki, 1995, 30). Their views were supported in a 1946 report by the U.S. Bombing Survey that concluded, “certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945 [the date of the planned Kyushu invasion in Japan], Japan would have surrendered even if the bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated” (13) ...."

Anonymous said...

The difference is, the winners write the history books.

As it has been for thousands of years.

If you do not dehumanize your enemy, how will you kill and defeat him?

So in the case of naming people war criminals, first there is victory and then there is politics.

MT said...

A man breaks into your neighbor's house and shoots the father. You rush in with his parents and handcuffs, behead his mother before his eyes and after positioning to slice his father's throat as well, you say "Go ahead, make my day!"

Are the acts equal?

That's more like the nuking and firebombing of cities in WWII. Not to mention Sherman's burning of Atlanta.