Bombing Mary! A reminder of this sad day in history.

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by ThomasPaine, Aug 6, 2005.

  1. ThomasPaine
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    ThomasPaine Active Member

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    http://www.pfm.org/AM/Template.cfm?...mplate=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=16548

    This Saturday marks the sixtieth anniversary of the detonation of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, an act that, along with the destruction of Nagasaki three days later, haunts the modern imagination for mostly the wrong reasons. The latest issue of Time, with its “Eyewitnesses to Hiroshima” cover story, is typical of what we can expect over the next few days. We’ll hear from the Hibakusha, the survivors of August 6, 1945, and nod piously as they recount their experiences. Then we’ll quickly change the subject to what really matters: us. Political leaders will, with all due solemnity, vow to build a world where such a thing can never happen again. There will be the obligatory stories about the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, Iran, and Fredonia. We may even hear about the need to erect a shield to make nuclear weapons obsolete even though, by my reckoning, it will be at least 175 years until the Federation perfects that technology.

    While this emphasis on the physics of the explosions helps to sort out their historical and political significance, it does little for our understanding of their moral significance. This distinction is summed up by Stanford’s David M. Kennedy in his Time essay, “Crossing the Moral Threshold”: “The weapons that incinerated these two unfortunate cities represented a technological innovation with fearsome consequences for the future of humanity. But the U.S. had already crossed a terrifying moral threshold when it accepted the targeting of civilians as a legitimate instrument of warfare. That was a deliberate decision, indeed, and it’s where the moral argument should rightly focus.”

    Not to be indelicate, but the approximately 150,000 killed by the atomic bombs were no more dead than the hundreds of thousands of other Japanese and German civilians who had been killed by our old friend napalm and other incendiary devices. After his transfer to the Pacific Theater in 1944, General Curtis LeMay, commander of the Twentieth Bomber Command, made disruption of the Japanese economy through what he called “permanent worker absenteeism” his strategic goal. After we bombed the factories and made workers afraid to go to work, we then made the “permanent absenteeism” more, well, permanent by targeting the workers themselves. More people—an estimated 100,000—died on March 9 and 10, 1945, in Tokyo than in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The people of Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe suffered similar fates. (The suffering of the people in Kobe is depicted in what Roger Ebert rightly calls one of the greatest films ever made about war: Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies. Anyone in the D.C. area interested in seeing it has a standing invitation to view it at my home.) This “deliberate decision” made the debate about whether to use—“drop” makes it sound like an accident—the atomic bomb disturbingly simple for our leaders.

    War is by its nature filled with savage ironies, and in World War II, few stories are as savagely ironic as that of the principal victims of the Nagasaki bomb: Japan’s Christians. Christianity came to Japan with the Portuguese traders in the late sixteenth century. Starting from the Portuguese base of operations in Nagasaki, Christianity spread to the rest of Kyushu and then to parts of western Honshu. Hatred of their faith, and suspicion towards the Japanese who had adopted it, went hand-in-hand with resentment and loathing of the gaijin. Sporadic but intense persecution eventually turned into the expulsion of foreign missionaries and severe restrictions on Christians. (Japanese authorities replaced the Portuguese with the Dutch who were content to just make money and not bother with that whole “saving souls” thingy.)

    In the two centuries between the edicts of “National Seclusion” and the arrival of Commodore Perry, Japanese Christians were subject to intense scrutiny, at best, and, at worst, forced relocation and even death. Yet, they survived, built churches, ordained clergy and religious, and kept the faith. Then, on August 9, the second atomic bomb detonated over Nagasaki’s Urakami district, home to most of the region’s Christians. In a few minutes, the Bomber Command succeeded where the Tokugawa Shogunate had failed. Among the wreckage was the blackened head of a statue of Mary that had once stood on the altar of a church in the Urakami district. She was, fittingly enough, found by a returning Japanese soldier who was also a Trappist Monk. (There’s a campaign to include The Madonna of Nagasaki in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list.)

    “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation. A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons -- especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons—to commit such crimes” (Gaudium et spes, as quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2314).

    While relatively few Americans can bring themselves to say that the deliberate targeting of non-combatants during World War II, regardless of the physics involved, was immoral, our commitment to jus in bellohas grown to make the avoidance of “collateral damage” official policy. At least until another hard, less asymmetrical, case comes along. Then it’s likely that the same utilitarian calculus used to justify Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Tokyo, Kobe, Nagoya, and Osaka don’t seem to require any justification) will be difficult to resist.

    This is neither critical nor cynical. It’s a reminder of what Scripture and Sacred Tradition teaches: while we may reside and even thrive in the Earthly City, our citizenship is elsewhere. The two cities aren’t identical, and their requirements won’t always coincide. As Augustine famously put it, “Two cities, then, have been created by two loves: that is, the earthly by love of self extending even to contempt of God, and the heavenly by love of God extending to contempt of self.” For citizens of the City of God, suffering injustice rather than risk committing one is part of “contempt of self.” The other city can’t begin to imagine such a trade-off. Not because it’s contemptuous of God—although it is—but out of simple self-preservation. (If this sounds a bit theoretical, recall that just the other day, a congressman suggested bombing Mecca in response to a terrorist attack. If this idea made sense to you, welcome to the City of Man.) Love of self and its emphasis on self-preservation is why utilitarianism is the City of Man’s default position, in war as in peace.

    So, while we are not exempt from the “obligations necessary for national defense,” those obligations aren’t open-ended. The “evaluation” of whether the criteria of the Just War doctrine have been met may belong “to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good,” but that doesn’t mean that they’re always right or that, once they’ve spoken, we must shut up. If that happens, then something a lot more important than workers will be absent from our society: its conscience.
     
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  2. Merlin
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    Merlin Active Member

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    Tid Bit of irrelevant trivia information: Thirty minutes before the first Japanese bomb hit Perle Harbor, the US sunk a Japanese sub just outside of the Harbor, in essence, firing the first shot of WWll. Unknown to us, the Japanese planes were in the air on their way to Perle at the time.
     
  3. ThomasPaine
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    ThomasPaine Active Member

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    Truman was justified in dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Potential losses of hundreds of thousands were saved. And I know the line had been crossed by the Germans, Brits, the United States, and others durng WWII, that non-combatants would be targeted in the war. It was just as Eisenhower said after the atomic bombings "My belief(was) that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnessary".
    Just check my posts I'm a staunch conservative and supporter of our efforts in the WOT. However when one considers that it was mostly women and children, and some military, that were killed in the atomic bombings it just makes the heart sick. Here's hoping that precedent will not be repeated.

    Oh, and by the way, the link to this article was found on TOWNHALL.COM
    a conservative site posting conservative ed-ops. Perhaps you should reread the column.
     
  4. KarlMarx
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    KarlMarx Senior Member

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    Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were industrial centers that supported the Japanese war effort. The choice of those two targets was not made on a whim. The reason that mostly women and children were killed in the blasts is that that they were the only ones left to operate the machinery and work in the factories after the men were sent off to fight the war.

    Sorry, war is all hell, you don't get into it except as a last resort, but once you are in a war, the only objective should be to win the war. Winning the war means defeating your enemy and making certain that your enemy not only won't try it again, but making certain that they can't try it again. That means bombing factories, railroads, highways, bridges and destroying farms.
     
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  5. MissileMan
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    MissileMan Senior Member

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    I would go even further...if you are concerned about possible casualties of civilians, don't start a war. As far as targeting Mecca is concerned, is anyone naive enough to believe that religious sites aren't exactly where the cockroaches are going to scatter to when the shit really hits the fan?
     
  6. ThomasPaine
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    ThomasPaine Active Member

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    dropping of the bombs didn't hasten the wars end. And surely you're not saying that all things are acceptable in warfare. Do you really believe that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were selected as military targets? All of Japan supported the war effort just as almost all of the United States did in one respect or another. Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been previously spared so that the full extent of the nuclear detonation would be known by both the United States, in terms of the weapons effectiveness, and the Japanese, in both destructive potential and loss of life.

    That the decision was very controversial at the time, and remains so today, demonstrates the ethical difficulties most people have with targeting non-combatants in warfare. Readily observe our attempts with smart weapons during the current conflicts and the Gulf War to avoid damage to non-combatants as indicative of the American perspective that targeting non-combatants is not only unethical but immoral....
     
  7. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    Civilians were training to kill Americans when we invaded the main islands. Would it had been preferable to kill them with bullets at the expense of about a million US lives and up to 9 million Japanese?
     
  8. KarlMarx
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    KarlMarx Senior Member

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    Well.... let's put it this way.... we COULD have just shown it to them as a threat, but since we had to drop the bomb on them twice before they surrendered, that clearly would not have worked.

    secondly, nuclear weapons have prevented wars from occurring precisely because they are so horrible, no sane person would willingly use them, thus diplomacy and other means of avoiding wars have been used.

    Does the ends justifies the means when it comes to winning wars? Clearly not. There are some things that clearly shouldn't be done (e.g., genocide), but let's also not confuse war with a Sunday School picnic. If wars were fought in the same fashion as in the times of the Greeks and Romans, where battles sites were removed from civilians, yes, I would agree with you, however, the nature of war has changed. Wars now affect large areas, sometimes entire continents. Because of war's wide reach, unfortunately, innocent lives are sacrificed.

    There is another ugly fact of war. Oftentimes, the choice isn't whether to kill innocent people or not, but a course of action which can be taken to acheive objectives with minimal loss of life. In the case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the objective of winning the war was met by sacrificing 200,000 Japanese and no Allied servicemen. The other choice was sacrificing up to 500,000 Allied servicemen and millions of Japanese. Clearly, this was a no-brainer.
     

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