Friday, August 05, 2005

Hiroshima at 60

I think one problem with coming to grips with the actions of the allies during World War 2, is the fact that the conflict was so very bloody. The current lethality of the U.S. military makes it almost impossible to comprehend the loss of life in one battle back then, let alone the whole conflict. From VDH:
But in August 1945 most Americans had a much different take on Hiroshima, a decision that cannot be fathomed without appreciation of the recently concluded Okinawa campaign (April 1-July 2) that had cost 50,000 American casualties and 200,000 Japanese and Okinawa dead. Okinawa saw the worst losses in the history of the U.S. Navy. Over 300 ships were damaged, more than 30 sunk, as about 5,000 sailors perished under a barrage of some 2,000 Kamikaze attacks.
The whole piece is good, but it concludes:
The truth, as we are reminded so often in this present conflict, is that usually in war there are no good alternatives, and leaders must select between a very bad and even worse choice. Hiroshima was the most awful option imaginable, but the other scenarios would have probably turned out even worse.

More From here(thnx corner):
Sixty years later, Tomiko Morimoto West still remembers the low drone of the B-29 that flew over Hiroshima and changed her life forever.
She was just 13. The horrific atomic blast on Aug. 6, 1945, all but wiped out her hometown in an instant. Her widowed mother was killed, and her grandparents would die later in agony.

"They left me all by myself," she said.

All alone, she suffered the effects of radiation sickness, which may have contributed to her inability to have children. But she is not bitter.

West, now 73 and a retired Vassar College lecturer, believes the atomic bomb that robbed her of her family and her innocence saved countless lives - Japanese and American.

"If it was not for the atomic bomb, we [Japanese] were in such a mental state, we would have fought until the last person," said West, who was taught as a little girl how to fight with a sharpened bamboo stick in the event of an invasion.
VDH alludes to this in his piece where some Americans were against the bomb because they were robbed of their chance to wipe out Japan.


Matty D said...

Stephen Ambrose wrote in his historical memoir, To America, about his change in views on the atomic bomb.

He wrote that he originally felt it was wrong, but then moved towards supporting it upon completing more historical research. The Japanese, under a trance from their emperor basically, were trained to fight to the death of every last woman and child. All of them were trained to use bamboo sticks, chopsticks, anything found in the household.

Yeah, the Americans probably would have succeeded in an invasion of the main islands of Japan, but the cost would have been exponentially larger than what happened as a result of the atom bomb.

Saving lives is what it really did.

Basically, the way I see it, is that it is so very sad that things came to the point that they did; using the early version of a weapon that could arguably destroy the world, but this really was a situation where the end justified the means.

RT said...

My boss just broached this subject with me this morning and had I not read your post last night, I probably would have been lost. So I have to say Thank You for raising my awareness.

That being said...

The subject of war has always been kind of touchy with me. Until just recently, I was definitely against war of all forms. I could never understand why, in a civilized world, we feel the need to kill each other. My opinion started to change when someone made me realize that this will never be a civilized world. While we like to think that it could be, you simply can not control another person. There will always be dictators and tyrants that place no value on human life. It's sad, but I can't deny that.

So, and I'm sure this is the point that Miss West was trying to make, while I still hate the thought of war, I now know that it is necessary in some cases.

I don't know if that was where you were going with this post, ES, but it's the only comment I can make because in all honesty, I don't know enough about WWII (other than it was a bloody battle) to go into much detail.

Evil Sandmich said...

Ah yes, 'civilized world'. I recall that one floating around, and although it does look good on paper, it's idealistic intentions run into trouble when it meets up with the real world (much like the U.N. and 'international law'). Derb over at National Review had made a more perfect analogy when he said to imagine a civilized 'section' of the world, with barbarians originating from the outlying terroritories waiting to destroy it.

Anyway, I guess where I always go when this comes up is the inability to come to a black and white conclusion on the topic. As a note, I can't plug this post about my visit to the Hiroshima museum enough, it's probably one of the best things I've ever written, which probably isn't saying much...

Matty D said...

Ya know RT, there are many interesting theories on the reasons for war.

A famous, or infamous one, we studied was Carl von Clausewitz's famous treatise "On War."

He famously said in it that war is an extension of politics.

Chew on that fits many, many questions. Granted, Clausewitz was a Prussian military officer, thus a natural hawk, but something about his work just fits.