Monday, August 9, 2010

Was Hiroshima and Nagasaki Immoral?

Jimmy Akin argues that the USA was clearly wrong to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

This is a line of argumentation that a lot of Catholics don't like to hear, because they want to support the end of the Pacific front in World War II, but we need to hear it and discuss it - because applying Catholic teaching must come before being an American. I am not saying that you MUST agree. But, I am asking you to prayerfully consider what Jimmy has to say. A snip:
The idea was not to end the war through the direct destruction of military resources in these two cities, nor was it to end the war by scaring Japan into thinking we might destroy all of its military resources. It was scaring Japan into surrendering by threatening (explicitly) to do this over and over again and inflict massive damage on the Japanese population. In other words, to make them scared that we would engage in “the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants.”

That means that, even if Hiroshima and Nagasaki had contained military resources that of themselves would have justified the use of atomic weapons (which is very hard to argue), our intention still was not pure. We were still using Japanese civilians as hostages to the war effort, still threatening to kill civilians if Japan did not surrender. That was the message we wanted the Japanese leadership to get—not, “We will take out your military resources if you keep this up,” but, “We will take out big chunks of your population if you keep this up.”

That meant that the U.S. leadership was formally participating in evil. It does not matter if the attacks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki could (through some stretch of the imagination) be justified in themselves. The fact is that they were used to send a message telling the Japanese government that we would kill massive numbers of the military and civilian population, without discrimination. That message is evil, and to knowingly and deliberately send that message is to formally participate in evil.

That made these attacks war crimes.
Continue Reading.

5 comments:

Mickey Addison said...

Marcel...I also posted this at Jimmy Akin's site:

I think you've correctly applied Catholic moral teaching and Just War...to the wrong problem.

Consider the following:

1. Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were legitimate military targets because of defense industries contained therein. The Japanese didn't have many large scale factories, they had a network of small shops. Furthermore, the workers in defense plants are engaged in belligerent behavior, and are legitimate targets under international rules of war.

2. The invasion of Okinawa cost over 200,000 American and Japanese lives. The atomic bombings of both cities together was roughly the same number. The fire bombings of Japanese cities (see item #1 above) cost approximately the same number.

3. An invasion of Japan would've cost 5 times those numbers. Among those casualties would've been a significant number of non-combatants (women and children) who were being trained as suicide bombers.

4. Even after the atomic bombings, the Japanese War Cabinet was split on continuing the war. It took the Emperor's personal intervention to end it.

Given two bad choices...land invasion or continuing the destruction of Japan from the air...the Allies chose the least worst choice and actually minimized the casualties among non-combatants and combatants alike.

This was a terrible, but morally licit, decision to end the slaughter with the least killing. "No killing" was simply not an option, and any other choice would've resulted in more killing.

Jeremy Poole said...

Well said Mickey. I would add that beyond being trained as suicide bombers, civilians were brain washed into believing the Americans would brutalize them.
There were an amazing number civilians on surrounding islands that committed suicide when the Americans took over their island.
It is disturbing when people judge actions without taking into account the facts of the situation.

tour86rocker said...

Mickey, you are listing all of the reasons the A-bomb was useful and expedient. It doesn't make it right.

Let us not do evil in hopes that good will result.

tour86rocker said...

Jimmy Akin indirectly links to some good articles on why the bombing might have been unnecessary.

"A million lives were not saved. Indeed, McGeorge Bundy, the man who first popularized this figure, later confessed that he had pulled it out of thin air in order to justify the bombings in a 1947 Harper's magazine essay he had ghostwritten for Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson." http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0805-24.htm

"...many U.S. leaders--including Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Admiral William D. Leahy, War Secretary Henry L. Stimson, Acting Secretary of State Joseph C. Grew and Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy--thought it highly probable that the Japanese would surrender well before the earliest possible invasion, scheduled for November 1945." http://www.doug-long.com/letter.htm

esurio said...

Nuclear war is evil. However, I agree with Mickey, especially because there are mountains of evidence of evil Japanese atrocities during WWII - more than the 4 points that he lists. Please read, study and understand the history in detail.

1. The Japanese Unit 731 used GERM warfare (an argument to considered the a-bomb a morally proportional response) extensively - please read more about this evil act by the Japanese.

*...These attacks, orchestrated by Japan’s infamous Unit 731 between 1932 and 1945, are the only documented mass use of germ weapons in modern times. .... Sheldon H. Harris, the late American historian, estimated in a pioneering work that between 10,000 and 12,000 Chinese prisoners perished in the bloodcurdling experiments that Unit 731 performed in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. Another 300,000 to 500,000 civilians died, he wrote, as a result of Japan’s massive germ assaults on more than 70 Chinese cities and towns... *

Resource: http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_2_germ-warfare.html

2. The Rape of Nanking - women raped with bayonets, children thrown out of windows, men being shot on site.

3. The Bataan DEATH March -between 600 and 700 Americans and between 5,000 and 10,000 Filipinos died on the march.

4. The death rate for U.S. POWs held by Germany was slightly over 1% - the death rate for U.S. POWs held by the Japanese was more than 40%. Why? Starvation, “Hell Ships,” and more of #3 above.

5. The Japanese were actively developing the Atom bomb and had plans to bomb the U.S.

6. In the U.S. we held German POWs, we did not hold Japanese POWs because they fought to the death.

7. The Japanese men, women and children were ordered to fight in the event of an American invasion. Our soldiers would have had to fight women and children.

Put this in context.
After the dropping of the 1st bomb the Japanese did NOT surrender. Does that not give you pause to wonder at the type of enemy we were dealing with? And even worse, what they would do to us? Remember they were already using germ warfare. After fighting for years in Europe and seeing what the Germans had done to the Jews our leaders now faced the Japanese; the German's ally in war. Our leaders had the duty and moral obligation to protect us; the American people. Imagine facing an enemy who would fight to the death. You either win or lose, there was no in between.