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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

You need to read and understand two articles. First: "Why America Was Right To Drop The Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki," by Mike Kemble. Second: "A Day to Remember," by Hyman Rudoff

Specifically, as regards the second:

What is less well known is that in the fire-bombing of Tokyo and other major Japanese cities using conventional bombs, the accepted, "normal", incendiary bombs of modern war, the total casualties were actually greater than at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In Tokyo alone there were over 100,000 deaths, and many thousand more in the other cities. It was just as horrible as "nuking". Yet this series of raids was regarded as a normal operation leading to a normal victory, which in the coldest statistical sense it truly was. These "ordinary" bombings didn't shock the public. After Dresden and Hamburg and Tokyo we were used to the immolation of whole city populations. The only thing that really impressed us was the suddenness of the massive destruction at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. To say that it impressed, shocked, and dismayed Japan would be an understatement. Within a very few days thereafter, Japan surrendered and the war was over. There were no millions of casualties.

Calling our atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki “our original sin” is balderdash. There was nothing sinful about the use of atomic bombs against Japan.

Using atomic weapons against Japan was absolutely the right thing to do. Their use saved millions of lives.

Jack Davis

Phoenix, AZ

Apr 16 2010 - 1:31pm

Web Letter

It has been said that history is more objective if it is written well after the events being studied. Actually, every generation brings its own preconceptions to the study of history, and historical accuracy is the responsibility of the author whenever it is written.

There was no policy discussion before the bombs were dropped, because this was wartime and the development of the atomic bomb classified. Truman didn't know about it until he became president. According to one documentary, he instructed the military to be careful about civilian casualties, when he authorized their use. For the general public and Congress, the consequences of the use of Nuclear weapons resulted in policy discussions about their use.

The Soviet Union declared war on Japan between the first bomb dropped on Hiroshima and the second one on Nagasaki. There was no certainty that the Soviet Union would come into the Pacific War.

HBO has a docudrama called The Pacific, which is based on the experiences of real Marines who fought in the Pacific. Okinawa Campaign is coming up! Watch it and you may get some idea of what an invasion of Japan would have cost.

No sane person can regard the use of nuclear weapons as moral, and, during my time in the military, it was a second-strike deterrent to be used in reply to a first strike attack on the US by another country. I totally oppose the use of nuclear weapons of any size as a tactical or strategic first-strike weapon. I do not like Obama's conditional approach to the use of these weapons. If he were old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis, his policy might be totally different. These people are incompetent.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Apr 13 2010 - 3:48pm

Web Letter

For those who are curious about the cultural impact of The Big One I can recommend three works that must be viewed:

Doctor Atomic, by John Adams. It captures the German/American fascination with total annihilation. A powerhouse opera.

On the Beach: Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, Anthony Hopkins are the unfortunates who are left to die as the human species disappears.

Testament: Jane Alexander gives the ultimate performance of her career as an inevitable victim of a nuclear attack, a mother who ends up burying her own and her neighborhood's children, before she too succumbs to radiation.

Alfredo Villanueva-Collado

New York, NY

Apr 13 2010 - 1:17pm