The "Bomb"

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Michael Wrenn, May 28, 2012.

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  1. Michael Wrenn

    Michael Wrenn
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    Was it morally justifiable when the U.S dropped the atom bomb on Japan?

    I used to think so, based on the the view of it saving American lives.

    My wife does not think so, and I have come around to that view, too. I don't think that killing children is ever morally justifiable -- for any reason.

    What say you?
     
  2. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I am not sure, but was it really any worse than the fire storm bombings of Dresden, Tokyo, etc?

    Dan Carlin's recent Hardcore History podcast is very long, but a very thought provoking study on this topic.

    http://www.dancarlin.com/disp.php/h.../Second World War-World War Two-World War One

    There are a lot of resource there as well. I especially enjoyed reading H.G. Wells 'War in the Air' and Vonnegut's 'Slaughterhouse 5' (be warned, this book contains foul language and [email protected] references) afterwards.

    It did not just save American lives. The method of bombing cities to the point of creating violent fire storms would have continued. The bombing in Tokyo killed an estimated 100,000 people. Since these folks did not yet know all the effects of radiation the atomic bomb had the same affect as the massive firebomb attacks, just at less cost and less danger to American pilots.

    Slaughterhouse 5 is based on the fire bombing of Dresden and its effects.

    War in the Air describes a fictional bombing raid by German balloons on Wall Street that has the devastating effect of intensified conventional bombing.


    All of that, and I still don't know. The more I study this the more complex the question becomes.
     
    #2 NaasPreacher (C4K), May 28, 2012
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  3. Scarlett O.

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    What say I?

    Was dropping the atomic bomb morally justifiable? I suppose it would depend if one is a pragmatist or not.

    As a side note, the greatest mind of the previous century could not come to a staunch conclusion of the moral justification of wielding this kind of energy as a weapon of destruction.

     
  4. Tom Butler

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    For purposes of discussion, let us assume that America did not respond to the attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. Because killing was wrong. What would be the outcome of that decision?

    Could we have reasonably expected the Japanese to island-hop their way to the continent, uncontested by any American resistance?

    In Europe, could the United States have reasonably expected Hitler to stop with the conquering of Great Britain, having declared us a mortal enemy? Was there any point along the way where we should have resisted the German war machine? Such as our shoreline?

    Should we have simply surrendered to the Japanese and German forces on the grounds that to resist would have required killing people, which of course is wrong?

    Now, let's take another example: You are awakened by a noise. You take a pistol from the drawer in the night table and go to investigate. You see a shadowy figure coming up the stairs toward you and you speak. "Stop. Put up your hands."

    He continues to climb the steps, at the same time taking a weapon of some kind from his coat pocket.

    What do you do at this point? Your wife and children are down the hall. Do you try to stop the intruder? What effort will you expend to stop him? Will you go so far as to shoot him? Would killing him to defend yourself and your family be wrong?

    The answer is this. You will do whatever is necessary to protect yourself and your loved ones. Whatever. There is nothing you would not do. Including killing.

    To do otherwise would be an act of cowardice.

    The argument is the same, whether it's your family or your country.
     
  5. carpro

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    It was. Without a single doubt.

    It saved lives, both Japanese and American.
     
  6. Tom Butler

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    It is the aggressor which placed innocent children in harm's way by his own act. The death of innocent children is on the aggressor's head, not the defender's. To ask a defender to not do all in his power to defend himself, his family, his country, is unreasonable.
     
  7. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I think the question is not one of responding to attack and to eliminate the enemy's ability to make war, that is what war is all about.

    The question comes when it comes to the whole-scale elimination of the civilian population. Is it right take the lives of 100,000 people who are not a part of the war-making machine?

    The Germans did that in the bombing of London, the Allies did it in German cities and then Tokyo before the introduction of this terrible new weapon.

    Is any action, including the slaughter of innocent members of the non-warmaking populace, acceptable in war?
     
  8. Michael Wrenn

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    The issue is not killing, or defending oneself or family. Killing in self-defense is morally justifiable. I just don't believe that dropping the atom bomb on children was killing in self-defense.
     
  9. ktn4eg

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    I will apologize for America dropping the atomic bombs on Japan when Japan apologizes to America for their bombing of Pearl Harbor.
     
  10. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    One was a military base - one was a city full of innocent people.

    I once believed the same way as others here.

    Since the US was already killing tens of thousands with the fire storm bombings perhaps this was the only way out. That is the reason I lean towards this action being horrible, but the best thing in retrospect. In invasion of Japan would have been extremely deadly for both sides - but, it would have been mostly military targets.

    But, I don't see any excuse to kill 100,000 innocent people. The idea seemed to be to kill as many civilians as possible as quickly as possible.

    This is why I no longer know how I feel.

    The US launched a pre-emptive strike on Iraq under Sadam Hussein on the notion that he had WMD. Would Iraq have been justified in using nuclear weapons in response?

    I would highly recommend H.G. Wells 'War in the Air' as a study in the mindset of aerial bombing. It was written in 1908, but is a good study of what aerial warfare would be like.
     
    #10 NaasPreacher (C4K), May 28, 2012
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  11. Jim1999

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    Civilians are always the victims in a war. Germany bombed England and mostly East London, all civilians, day and night for 7 months. We had to live in the tubes, and even one of those was bombed. ALL the caualties were civilians. Do I have hard feelings about when we bombed Berlin to dust? Not in the least. War is hell, no matter how you look at it. Civilians do play a roll in supporting their governments, including Germany and England, Japan and America.

    The atom bombs were not used without forethought. If you understood the Japanese civilians you would not claim their innocence. Think of what Japanese civilians did to captured Chinese in 1940. They were brutal, as they were with English and Canadian soldiers serving in Hong Kong. The bombs were the only way to bring the Japanese to surrender and end that cruel war.

    My father witnessed Dutch infants on the ends of German bayonettes. His fellow soldiers did not take any more German prisoners! You have to see these things to even imagine how your mind would work.

    In Korea, pregnant women came into camp. The soldiers offered her comfort and peace and food. In return she set off a bomb attached to her body. This sure changes how one engages another civilian village. As I said earlier, War is hell!

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  12. billwald

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    It is amusing when Christian people use words like "innocent" and "saved" in a political context that is exactly the opposite of the meaning in a theological context. It must confuse outsiders especially ESL people.
     
  13. carpro

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    How many of those estimated 5-10 million Japanese casualties would have been children??

    I believe the use of the atomic bomb saved millions of lives, most of them Japanese. Perhaps they should thank us for not invading.
     
    #13 carpro, May 28, 2012
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  14. Bob Alkire

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    I agree!! After the cities were hit the people were pushing for Japan to surrender, if I recall correctly. If you can turn the civilian population against something, most of the time the government will change its view.
     
  15. Michael Wrenn

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    I think most of you arguing in favor of the proposition are forgetting something of importance and something that makes a difference -- the children.
     
  16. mandym

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    OK a reasonable consideration but what about all the many more people who would have died because the war extended out?
     
  17. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I agree with this, I think :) . If the US had continued the type of urban fire bombing that had already killed over 100,000 in Tokyo it could have been terribly deadly. If that had been extended even more would like have died as a result. The atomic bombs were so impressive and so devastating that they did the same thing as fire bombing, just in less time.

    The invasion would have been a military conflict with primarily military casualties, that is a part of war. Fire bombing had already set the precedent over wiping our civilian populations. I guess I wonder if that should be the focus of the debate rather than those two atomic bombs. What two planes did with one bomb each was, in essence, already being done with hundred of planes and thousands of bombs.
     
    #17 NaasPreacher (C4K), May 29, 2012
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  18. Michael Wrenn

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    Tragic, yes, but adults are responsible for their own actions; children have no choice but to take whatever adults put on them -- they have no voice and no choice, and that is even more tragic.

    I'll never forget a picture I saw of a little girl running from the blast, tears running down her face, screaming in terror with radiation burns on her.

    I bet on that day, Jesus wept -- again.
     
    #18 Michael Wrenn, May 29, 2012
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  19. Jim1999

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    Those of us who have been in wars up front have seen all kinds of tragedies to humanity. War is hell, no two cents about it. In Canada, the veterans pledge is "Never again". None of us wishes to do battle again. Most of us won't even talk about the wars, except to wake some people up.

    If you go to Middle East to-day, you will see those innocent children throwing bombs at the crowds. There is a whole other mentality, even amongst children, in times of war.

    Modern wars, WWI,II and Korea were meant to stop the killing, and we had to kill in the process of doing that....sadly, but so.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  20. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I think the debate needs to be not such much on the particular atomic bomb, but on the concept of targeting civilian populations instead of military targets.

    Obviously war is hell and women and children are killed as a by product of combat. The question of morality comes about when we decide to obliterate civilian targets with the purpose of breaking the spirit of the general populace.

    The children in London, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki had nothing to do with the war effort. Is it ever right to target them?

    We have 'improved' the concept of surgical strikes today, but still have civilian causalities, but that is different than wiping out whole cities.

    In the aerial attack on New York City in Wells' 'War in the Air' (1908) the German commander first bombs communication and supply targets. The mayor surrendered, but the people kept fighting back. In response the German commander has a balloon fly down Wall Street in a surgical strike to devastate the economic heart of New York. As the war continued, in a eerie prophecy, balloons from both sides begin the kind of urban attacks not seen in actuality until WWII.

    Is bombing with the goal of wiping out urban centres an acceptable war tactic today? Was in acceptable in 1944-1945?
     
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