Wednesday, August 09, 2023

The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Terrible, Wonderful, Righteous Things

Seventy-eight years ago today, the Japanese Empire was finally defeated.  It took over four and a half years of bloody fighting and the ferocious bombing of Japanese cities with incendiaries and atomic bombs to beat them into surrender.  It is a great thing that the Japanese Empire was crushed.  It was a remarkably brutal regime and had the support of most of its people.  It was totalitarian, racist, and out to subjugate Asia.  "We" at Unforeseen Contingencies celebrate Hiroshima Day (August 6) and Nagasaki Day (August 9).  They were triumphs for civilization.

It's a dark and terrible thing that it required such force to end Japan's resistance.  One account, by an American historian who had access to records of Hirohito's cabinet, shows how Hiroshima was not sufficient.  And even after Nagasaki some in the cabinet desired to press on with their suicidal war.  Hirohito himself finally resolved the debate by accepting surrender.  

Some people today are squeamish, or posture with false moralism, and whine about the supposed crime of using atomic weapons on Japan.  This is a reprehensible, shameful position.  The sooner the war was brought to an end with the defeat of Japan, the better.  The death count for Chinese people from the start of the war for them (the 1937 Lukouqiao Incident) until the end was 15-20 million military and civilian dead from Japanese violence and starvation.  Using the lower bound of the estimate, that means the Japanese were killing on average 5,100 Chinese every day of the war.  The massacre of Nanjing, documented so well in Iris Chang's horrific The Rape of Nanking, was reported in Japan regularly as it went on, as if it was some sort of sporting competition, with officers piling up civilian body counts.  (Chang documents this.)   Unit 731 in Manchuria was a Japanese medical experimentation center that murdered at least 200,000 people in gruesome experiments that rivaled and exceeded those of Joseph Mengele.  I had the opportunity to meet an American M.D. and his wife, a nurse, who were Lutheran missionaries in New Guinea prior to the Japanese invasion.  The Japanese captured them, tortured them, starved them, and kept them prisoners until finally defeated.

American casualties in an invasion of the Japanese islands were expected to be 1,000,000.  My father was a U.S. Navy pilot.  He and his unit were training in Florida, and had just received orders to begin packing for Japan when news of Hiroshima and Nagasaki arrived.  My Aunt Johane, a U.S. Army nurse officer, and her fiancé, my Uncle Tuck, a U.S. Army engineer, were in Germany and had just received orders to prepare for Japan.  Several of my other uncles were also gearing up (all but one who had already been murdered by the SS while arranging surrender of a German division).  None of them were sent; the invasion was rendered unnecessary.  Japan was defeated.

All of my relatives I ever asked were grateful for the atomic bombs that brought that evil regime to its senses and ended the war and preserved their lives.  It's possible that I would never have existed had my father gone into combat in Japan.  All the evils perpetrated by the Japanese regime and its people were brought to a stop.  The Brauns and many other prisoners were liberated.  Nuclear weapons brought the war to a quick end.  I can safely say that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were terrible, wonderful, righteous things.

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