Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Truman Center for Nuclear Peace

The U.S. attended the 65th anniversary ceremonies commemorating the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. It's memorable because the U.S. has never attended before, and because the Obama administration managed to resist what was probably an urge to apologize for taking a justifiable wartime action.

In other news, a private American group announced that they have purchased land, and plan to build a 15 story community center two blocks from ground zero in Hiroshima. The structure will be called the Truman Center for Nuclear Peace. The promoters hope to spread their message that nuclear weapons not only brought an end to the Pacific War, but kept the peace throughout the Cold War. Their organization stresses the peaceful purpose of nuclear weapons, and the developers believe this new center will help create greater understanding between Japanese and Americans on the issue of nuclear weapons. Initial reports show strong Japanese opposition to such a project, with many labeling it the Ground Zero Bomb Center.

Although recent polls show that more than 50% strongly oppose the Truman Center for Nuclear Peace, it has achieved remarkable support from local politicians and political pundits, particularly on the left. They point out that the center isn't about the bombing, but about peace, and that it isn't actually on ground zero -- it's a whole two blocks away. They derisively dismiss any and all opposition as ignorant anti-American bigotry. But opposition continues to grow.



For the clueless... everything but the first paragraph is satire.

7 comments:

  1. I don't know about it being justifiable. If you say that winning with minimal cost to yourself justifies any action, then it was. But if you say that reducing "collateral damage" as much as humanly possible is a moral imperative, then it wasn't. I've debated the matter with myself many times over the years, but finally voted for the latter.

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  2. "I don't know about it being justifiable."

    Opinions can differ on whether it was justified, but it is definitely justifiable on a number of grounds. I personally believe that it was justified, given the total war situation, and the other prevailing conditions at that time.

    "But if you say that reducing "collateral damage" as much as humanly possible is a moral imperative, then it wasn't."

    That was obviously not our position during WW2 -- particularly not in the bombing campaign against Japan. The Japanese population was targeted directly well before the two nuclear weapons were used.

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  3. I know of the firebombing of Tokyo. Of course, there was also Dresden. My understanding is that the British--angered by the bombing of London--took to targeting civilians well ahead of the Americans, and that the Americans opposed it. Later, when the Americans began doing it too, it was not without opposition even among their own commanders.

    I'm not a student of the war, but some aspect of it will interest me from time to time, and I will study that somewhat. Presently, I'm reading "Living in Nazi Germany" and also "The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler." I've also watched maybe 20 hours of documentaries about Hitler of late. Before that, I read--and watched documentaries--about island hopping in the South Pacific.

    I'm aware that what seems morally compelling in ordinary times does not necessarily seem so in all out war when desperation, bitterness, and weariness arise, yet I can't say that I think it is ever morally defensible to target civilians.

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  4. The British air commanders, especially General Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris, specifically targeted German populations centers partly as an effort to break German morale, whereas the U.S. favored "precision" bombing against industrial targets.

    But in the Pacific, General Curtis "Bombs Away" LeMay, took an approach similar to the British, arguing that Japanese workers -- in effect pretty much anyone -- were legitimate targets. As LeMay said about the Japanese, "if you kill enough of them, they'll stop fighting."

    It wasn't just Tokyo that got firebombed. The U.S. deliberately used incendiary bomb loads designed to create firestorms in the lightly constructed Japanese cities. One of the problems in selecting targets for the nuclear weapons was that most major Japanese cities, and many smaller ones, had already been reduced to rubble by the firebombing campaign.

    And then there was the unrestricted U.S. submarine warfare campaign against Japan that slaughtered Japanese civilian merchant seaman in large numbers, and imposed severe hardships on the civilian population hit by the effects of economic strangulation.

    "I'm aware that what seems morally compelling in ordinary times does not necessarily seem so in all out war when desperation, bitterness, and weariness arise"

    Yes, that's my main point, that presentist type arguments about nuclear weapons ignore the conditions of the times.

    "I can't say that I think it is ever morally defensible to target civilians."

    The main argument in favor of it in a total war situation is that it can shorten the war, which ultimately saves more lives, both yours and the enemy's. The other argument is that it isn't the civilians themselves who are being targeted, it is their war-making potential. In the case of the nuclear bombings of Japan, as with other bombings, some who were less comfortable than Curtis LeMay with killing civilians preferred to see it as attacking military targets with the unfortunately consequence that many civilians would also be killed -- the collateral damage argument.

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  5. "The other argument is that it isn't the civilians themselves who are being targeted, it is their war-making potential."

    Of course, that argument could preclude bombing civilians because you would kill a lot of people who have no war-making potential. I understand that the choice might come down to ideals versus practicality, so I hope I never have to choose.

    I just posted a little about my Hitler studies.

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  6. Hopefully we will never face another war anywhere near the scope of WW2.

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