Friday, August 05, 2005


I am not proud of the fact that America was the first and only country to have used nuclear weapons against civilians.

I don't know any Americans that are.

I've never known any Americans that were. I was never taught by any Americans that I should be.

My culture never told me to be. My religion never told me to be.

I'm not ashamed of it, either.

It is troublesome that I declare that purposely killing civilians as a war tactic is wrong, always wrong. And yet here I sit in a country that did that twice on a significant scale.

I should point out that dispite ample ability, this country has not done it since then, either.

I am not Harry S. Truman, and I don't wish that I was. I'm not sure I'd have made a different decision knowing what he knew then. The man had a lot to weigh.

What I am about to say is not meant to take away from the pain innocent people suffered. It will not bring anyone back. But it is meant to put the bombs in their historical context.

It is well known that when a war reaches a populated area, civilian casualties soar.

The battle of Okinawa ended less than two months before the bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki... the nuclear ones, anyway. Plenty of other bombs were falling in cities from planes on both sides, killing thousands of civillians per week throughout the last several months of the war.

On Okinawa, the civilan casualties were on the order of 130,000. This is a small, southern Japanese island.

That's about the same number as directly killed by the bombs. Over time, the toll from radiation sickness was somewhere around 200,000, maybe 230,000. That's an awfully big number. Pre-bomb, nobody believed, including the US that it would be that high. But even with the real numbers in front of us, look again at the number of dead civillians in the battle for the small island of Okinawa and extrapolate that to the main islands. This makes it no less horrifying to the families of those people - on the other hand, there are hundreds of thousands more, perhaps even millions -- who would likely have been killed and who lived on because of it.

There are those who point to research that produced evidence that Japan was "ready to surrender" in January of 1945 -- but that is only a piece of the available evidence and it is taken out of context. Many social leaders were indeed ready to give it up, but they were not in control. The Japanese military was in control, and they were not about to give up. If Japan was ready to surrender in January, why did they fight so fiercely at Okinawa much later in April-June? Why did they not then surrender after the first bomb was dropped? Why did it take 6 days after the second bomb for them to surrender if they were ready so much earlier?

This war had gone on for six years. Millions died. Hundreds of thousands more, at least, would die. The Japanese were particularly barbaric in their killing, and they slaughtered the civilians by the thousands -- somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 in Nanjing alone (more than were killed by both atomic bombs). And they even used plague-infested fleas in field tests agains the Chinese.

Causing death to prevent still more death may just possibly be the only justification for use of weapons against civilians, and even then it is a horrible, horrible decision for anyone to have to make.

It's much easier for us to look back at the horrific spectacle of 40-60,000 people dying in an instant -- twice, and think of the slow deaths that occurred due to aftereffects and wring our hands and shake fingers -- but we were not there to make the decision, and even if we were we would not have had this hindsight at the time.

Again, this brings nobody back, but the Japanese population was also warned by 60 million leaflets dropped over cities and radio broadcasts from American stations on captured nearby islands. (Hey, according to the Koran, that would absolve us of any guilt! Oh, wait, that would only apply if we were Islamic, probably) Here is the text from some of the leaflets.

“Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America's humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives. America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace which America will bring will free the people from the oppression of the military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan. You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders who will end the war. We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked but some or all of them will be, so heed this warning and evacuate these cities immediately.”

I think it is safe to say that America lived up to those promises. And America, too, was so shocked by the awesome power of the weapons that she has never used them again.

On top of that, we have created bombs with eyes to help lessen the horrible impact of warfare on citizens.

Contrast this with Islamic extremist threats to have our blood run in the streets, and how just it is for them to kill us wherever we are, and how such death will surely send the killer to heaven.

The new President of Iran fought for one Ayatolla Khomeni. He wants to bring Iran back in to line with Khomeni's vision. Here is what Khomeni had to say about his vision of Islam:

"Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled and incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world. But those who study Islam Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world . . . Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this man that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]? Islam says: Kill them [the non-Muslims], put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Does this man sitting back until [non-Muslims] overcome us? Islam says: Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you! Does this mean that we should surrender to the enemy. Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Koranic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet} urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim."

I am not saying all, or even most Moslems in the world believe what Khomeni said, (but they are damned sure slow and reluctant and vague in condemning those who share it). But the point here is, again, the Moral Equivalence argument about nuclear proliferation, and the difference in the visions the United States has for its conquored, and the vision the Iranian president aligns himself with, and decide who you'd rather have the upper hand in the end.

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