Saturday, September 10, 2005

Points to Ponder:

All successful newspapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose. They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it; if the job is forced on them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else. [H. L. Mencken]


On the High Gas Prices and the Economics Involved Therein:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

The subject of high gas prices is is another subject --like the Hurricane Katrina subject itself-- I have not talked about at all but in light of paying $3.00 a gallon last week for the first time in my life, it seems appropriate to point out the real reason gas prices are so high. The answer of course is basic economics supply and demand my friends. But there is a bit more to it than just simple slogans so let us look at this matter a bit.

To start with, there has been a push for alternative fuel sources for decades by people who are utterly ignorant of how markets actually work.{1} These same people have sought to use the federal government to raise taxes on gasoline to try and shape the buying decisions of the public. Furthermore, the same people have sought to avoid the building of any additional oil refineries in the United States for about three decades making the refineries the weakness in the entire oil-into-petrol-into-your-local-gaspump chain if you will.

And of course if you add to the above concoction a massive storm devastating a key urban center with some of the very limited numbers of refineries in close proximity; inexorably you have a recipe for increased gasoline prices and why they will go up further as a result of the storm fallout over the coming months. At this point, it does not matter if the president taps into oil reserves or has the pumping capabilities in Alaska or other domestic sources increased. This would be done presumably with the idea of increasing supply of oil driving down the price of gas at the pump. But in the words of that great western philosopher Roscoe P. Coltraine: this theory has a serious "flaw in the slaw." For you can pump all the oil in the world but if you cannot increase refining capacities, the extra oil will not impact the prices at the pump. And for those who claim that we "should have had alternative energy sources by now" as their counter, it is now time for "economics 101" to dispatch with that notion in syllogistic form.

(1) The idea that the federal government can best manage the creation of alternative energy sources is a joke. There are very few things the federal government can do well and seeking to micromanage businesses is not one of them.{2}

(2) The creation of new energy sources involves putting capital at risk by private enterprises.

(3) Those who are the most vociferous about the need for new energy sources are almost always in favour of increased taxation and regulation on the so-called "rich" who own private enterprises.

(4) It is pretty obvious that with innovation being in virtually all cases the fruit of capital put at risk for research and development, there has to be an incentive to put capital at risk to develop the wanted alternative energy sources.

(5) If you seek to strangle the profit motive of private enterprises through heavy taxation and mountains of regulation, you remove any incentives to put at risk the capital that could be used to research and develop other forms of energy.

The end result of the above is that there will not be any new energy sources at all because those who are most zealous for them are too ignorant of the way markets operate to advance an agenda favourable for businesses to seek to profitably develop alternative sources.

Does that mean that no sources will not be developed??? Not necessarily so because there may well be companies willing to put up with all the taxes and other crap imposed by the government to hamper industry and develop them. But one thing is sure: because such companies would be very few, that means that the number of suppliers for alternative sources will be limited and that means high prices for the alternative energy sources. This is basic econ. 101 my friends. So, those who want to see alternative energy sources developed anytime soon should endorse the following agenda if they are serious about getting said sources in the near future:

--Supporting the lowering if not the elimination altogether of all taxes on businesses.

--Support the pruning of regulations on businesses except for what is truly required.

Those two steps alone would widen the field of potential companies willing to invest capital into research and development of alternative fuel sources. Furthermore, it would not artificially narrow the number of companies who may want to try such an endeavour; thus keeping the potential suppliers of said sources greater in number. The latter being the case, the probable result would be that the price for said sources (once they were available) would be lower as well. However, since that is a long term solution not a short term one, the following ideas should accompany the above ones as more directly impacting short term goals on the energy prices:

--Pruning back the taxation on gasoline by fifty cents a gallon or or more.

--The building of more refineries to refine greater amounts of oil to thereby increase the gasoline supply.

The former would see an immediate reduction in gas prices and the government could compensate for it by cutting the federal budget to account for the lesser revenue received. The latter idea would create in a matter of months or more (depending on how quickly said refineries could be built and made servicable) a glut of gasoline supply and we all know what happens when the supply of a product increases: price decreases.

Of course I predict that we will see the zealots for alternative energy sources as a rule not want to do any of what I noted above because so many of them are enslaved to the fallacious marxist weltanschauung. And not a few of them happen to hold elected office in the state and federal governments -including several with R's after their name.

Finally, those who think that the reduction in gas tax idea is unwise I remind you: the federal government already has a two trillion dollar budget of which 75% or more is unconstitutional federal spending.{3} The truth is, the federal leviathan could use some serious lopping off of funding and this suggested reduction is only a drop in the bucket of what is really needed if we want to get technical about it.


{1} Not coincidentally, these are the same people who tend to think that President Bush is another Hitler so keep that in mind as we look at the factors involved in what is noted viz. the increase of gasoline prices at the pump since these same people blame Bush for their own economic follies over the years.

{2} Do we need to remember that the idea of "planned economies" is a corner stone of the marxist philosophy and that it fails every time it has been tried??? And no, this is not because "the right people have not tried it" but because of the intrinsic flaws in the philosophy itself.

{3} You see my friends, all the prevarications about the "general welfare" clause of Article I Section VIII of the Constitution -used to justify the mountains of unconstitutional drivel that is in the federal budget- can be confuted by one reference to it by the Father of the Constitution himself -the man who was the primary drafter of the document- James Madison:

With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." [James Madison: On the "General Welfare" clause in the U.S. Constitution]

And so that my statement may be affirmed "on the word of two or three witnesses" (Deut. xix,15; Matt. xviii,16; 2 Cor. xiii,1; Heb. x,28; cf. John viii,17), I offer the testimony of Thomas Jefferson, another of the Founding Fathers who was not unfamiliar with the Constitution and its intentions:

"Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated."

The ignorance politicians have of the Constitution -while problematical of course- is nonetheless not as bad as the people who will vote for whomever enriches their interests irrespective of what the Constitution actually says. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa October 31, 2003)]

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Points to Ponder:
(On Appealing to Authority in Argumentation)

Though I have written on argumentation fallacies in the past{1} and undoubtedly will continue to do so in the future whenever it is germane to the subjects being discussed{2}, the following on the appeal to authority in argumentation (Lat. Argumentum ad verecundiam) can be seen as a supplement to what I have already written on this subject at this very weblog on more than one occasion.

Argumentum ad verecundiam (argument or appeal to authority). This fallacy occurs when someone tries to demonstrate the truth of a proposition by citing some person who agrees, even though that person may have no expertise in the given area. For instance, some people like to quote Einstein's opinions about politics (he tended to have fairly left-wing views), as though Einstein were a political philosopher rather than a physicist. Of course, it is not a fallacy at all to rely on authorities whose expertise relates to the question at hand, especially with regard to questions of fact that could not easily be answered by a layman -- for instance, it makes perfect sense to quote Stephen Hawking on the subject of black holes.

At least in some forms of debate, quoting various sources to support one's position is not just acceptable but mandatory. In general, there is nothing wrong with doing so. Even if the person quoted has no particular expertise in the area, he may have had a particularly eloquent way of saying something that makes for a more persuasive speech. In general, debaters should be called down for committing argumentum ad verecundiam only when (a) they rely on an unqualified source for information about facts without other (qualified) sources of verification, or (b) they imply that some policy must be right simply because so-and-so thought so. [Glen Whitman]


{1} Offhand, these threads come to mind though I am sure there are others if I had time to look for them:

On the Fallacy of False Dilemma

On the Fallacy of Argumentum ad Verecundiam (or "Appeal to Authority")

On the Argumentation Fallacy of Provincialism --An Audio Post

Argumentum ad Verecundiam Revisited Briefly

Detailing Seven Argumentation Fallacies in Response to a Moonbat Thread

{2} Most recently there was a revisiting of fallacious forms of Argumentum ad Verecundiam as being utilized by a friend of this writer in precisely this kind of context. Though dealt with in more detail in two rather long threads from September 6th, a previous posting from August 28th dealt more specifically with the Argumentum ad Vericundiam aspects of this -the latter of which can be read HERE for those who are interested.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Miscellaneous Threads for Reviewing:

Finishing the long-overdue JYB update thread is taking a drain on my limited time so I decided to take a brief vacation of sorts from it and post this thread to provide for the readers of this weblog some miscellaneous threads for reviewing in the interim. Having noted that, off on Warp 3 we go starting with Hurricane Katrina.

With regards to the latter, I have said very little thus far{1} preferring to let others hash things out a bit before weighing in further on the subject if I even do at all. However, since it is a major news item, it seems appropriate to get a perspective from a native New Orleanian since they basically agree with me on this matter and are in a better position to enunciate my view (in a macro sense) with some firsthand experience on the matter. For that I direct y'all to Oswald Sobrino of Catholic Analysis. Here is just a taste of what you will find:

As a native New Orleanian, I know well that laissez-faire attitude--I could use stronger words for it that you can fill in-- which is so true to type. The culture of New Orleans is the opposite of what the New Testament is always urging: be vigilant, be sober, be on watch. The roguish attitude of the "City That Care Forgot" is no longer even remotely amusing or entertaining in the face of floating dead bodies, masses of poor people living like animals, and the elderly finally being fished out of old folks' homes. The scandalous ineptness and stupidity shown by local and state officials in failing to enforce and implement a true evacuation of the most vulnerable is, unfortunately, a continuation of the long history of misrule that has marked my native city for decades. Remember that fact when you see local and state officials lashing out at the federal response. Their lashing out is an attempt at distracting from their own obvious responsibility for a self-magnified disaster. [Oswald Sobrino: Excerpt from The City That Did Not Evacuate (circa September 03, 2005)]

For more on the subject, I recommend the above thread if you are interested.

From the "'Sweet Home Alabama' Dept." of Rerum Novarum is this bit from Beth over at the Right Wing Conspiracy weblog on Howard "YEAAAAHHHHH!!!" Dean and his latest quip on the tragedy:

“We must … come to terms with the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a deadly role in who survived and who did not,” Dean said.

To which Beth responds as follows:

So what is he saying, that poor/old black people are too stupid or lazy to evacuate before hurricanes? WTF??

Or is he saying that the mayor of New Orleans who didn’t enable the evacuations is to blame because he’s black?

Ouch!!! Those who wonder why I supported the election of Howard "YEAAAAHHHHH!!!" Dean as Democratic National Committee Chair{2} now have yet another reason why. Moving on we have this latest bit of news on the ability of a fetus to feel pain:

New Study Finds Babies Cry in the Womb – "Even the Bottom Lip Quivers"

Of course to those for whom abortion is a key sacrament of their secularist "religion" this will not matter but I thought I would note it here nonetheless.

Fellow Blessed Sacrament parishoner Mark Shea returns to the blogosphere with thirty-nine postings in the last three days on various subjects!!!

Considering that he was absent from the sphere for roughly five months, I think criticisms of his output volumewise the past three days are inappropriate.

Moving from Shea's recent blogging blitzkrieg to the subject of Social Security Reform, we have this interesting link from one of the gang over at Southern Appeal:

Reforming Social Security: Lessons from Thirty Counties

I hope to examine it more in depth but at the moment will recommend it based on the habitual trackrecord of the SA crowd for posting stuff well worth reading. Finally, we have the following from Greg Mockeridge over at the Cooperatores Veritatis weblog on the skewed understanding of so-called "peacemakers" on the subject of torture:

[A Certain So-Called "Peacemaker" and Their] Dick Durbinesque Definition of Torture

While more links could be noted, that should provide y'all with some reading while I finish that JYB update thread. Oh and for those who were wondering why I did not cover the so-called "Catholic Consensus" viz.the subject of the atomic bombings in my two recent (and heavily detailed) confutations of Dave Armstrong (viewable here: Part I - Part II), apparently Greg Mockeridge did too and has weighed in on this subject HERE.


{1} The primary subject in the news is Hurricane Katrina and its decimation of New Orleans -Our hearts and prayers fo out to those who have suffered as a result of this catastrophe. And while there is a fair amount of wheat and chaff to discuss in that subject viz. how various parties have responded to the circumstances that took place down there but right now, it is more important to help out those afflicated. With that in mind, anyone who knows of some worthwhile charities which are targeting that area with their resources, please let me know and I will mention them on this weblog. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa September 4, 2005)]

{2} Yes, there are actually some Democrats who are pushing for Dean in this position out of a belief that he would help their party be viable again. Heck, I would support Dean as DNC Chairman because it would have precisely the opposite effect that the Democrats who want Dean to be Chairman actually want to happen. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa December 3, 2004)]

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"Tales From the Crypt Mailbag" Dept.
(On John Roberts Being Made Chief Justice)

Readers are asked to consider what is noted in the email response below in light of what was posted to this humble weblog a couple of days ago on the death of Chief Justice Rhenquist. The words of the emailer will be in black font.

Ok I'm open to correction here, but I really don't see this as a good idea. The Chief justice could've been unambigiously constructionalist, he didn't need a stealth nominee. I personally would've rushed that one through right away, get him confirmed, then once they try to oppose Roberts for being "out of the mainstream" point out they allowed an "extremist" through!

Well, in some respects this is a good approach because it prevents Bush from giving the title to Scalia or Thomas: which while I would like that would perhaps make the hearing worse than they will be. Roberts will get through because they have essentially already admitted as much; ergo Bush avoids the assertion that he is making an "extremist" chief justice. Besides, if Roberts is inclined towards the views of Thomas and Scalia (which appears to be the case) they will probably be the powers behind the throne if you will and sometimes it is better to control the king than be the king yourself.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"Armstrong Illusions" Dept.
(Part II of II)

As the previous installment of this thread sets down some points on which this thread builds on, it is advisable for the reader to read it first before proceeding to the material in this thread. The aforementioned previous installment of this thread can be read HERE.

In the introduction to the previous installment of this thread, I noted that since Dave does not want to actually interact with the lions share of my arguments- then all that I can do is dispatch with his sole attempt to interact with any of my arguments and then go after the sources he uses in trying to claim to "argue" against my publicly manifested position. And as the first part of that intention was unambiguously fulfilled in the previous thread, this one will handle the second part of what I promised in like manner.

In this thread, the so-called "experts" that he posits from various sources were principly compiled by an individual named Doug Long. Another way of saying it is that Doug Long posted the sources and they are thus received second hand on his site. Dave, by linking to that site and posting the citations in his so-called "argument" to his site is thus basing his premise of making an actual "argument" on second hand sources that he got from another source or what is called third hand sources. If readers find this an odd way to ground the substance of a proposed "argument" for a position, then they are not alone in viewing things this way but that is neither here nor there. Let us move onto those sources now but not without noting that they will be posted in firebrick coloured font to symbolize two things (i) going down in flames upon my dispatching of them one by one and (ii) the atrocious lack of accuracy Dave has in citing them..."bricking" being a term for bad shooting in basketball. My sources will be in darkblue font.

The best and most obvious place from which to start this examination in my humble opinion is with the Supreme Commander of the Pacific himself one General Douglas MacArthur. Doug Long starts his quote-fest by quoting from American Caesar which was William Manchester’s well written biography on the man. As I happen to own the very same William Manchester biography of General MacArthur being cited, I will deal with that source first. Starting on page 510, the following is outlined after discussing the inter-service rivalry between MacArthur, Le May, and Nimitz, the following words from pages 510-511 of American Caesar set the stage for putting Doug Long’s quote into proper context:

Hirohito’s generals, grimly preparing for the invasion, had not abandoned hope of saving their homeland. Although a few strategic islands had been lost, they told each other, most of their conquests, including the Chinese heartland, were firmly in their hands, and the bulk of their army was undefeated. Even now they could scarcely believe that any foe would have the audacity to attempt landings in Japan itself. Allied troops, they boasted, would face the fiercest resistance in history. Over ten thousand kamikaze planes were readied for “Ketsu-Go,” Operation Decision. Behind the beaches, enormous connecting underground caves had been stocked with caches of food and thousands of tons of ammunition. Manning the nation’s ground defenses were 2,350,000 regular soldiers, 250,000 garrison troops, and 32,000,000 civilian militiamen –a total of 34,600,000, more than the combined armies of the United States, Great Britain, and Nazi Germany. All males aged fifteen to sixty, and all females ages seventeen to forty-five, had been conscripted. Their weapons included ancient bronze cannon, muzzle loaded muskets, bamboo spears, and bows and arrows. Even little children had been trained to strap explosives around their waists, roll under tank treads, and blow themselves up. They were called “Sherman’s carpets.”

This was the enemy the Pentagon had learned to fear and hate –a country of fanatics dedicated to hara-kiri, determined to slay as many invaders as possible as they went down fighting. [William Manchester: American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, pg. 510-511)]

I have already discussed the concept of military conscription in part I of this thread so readers need to account for what was noted there when reading the above words from Mr. Manchester's book. From there the book discusses a dovish contingent that was also present. According to the book (pg. 511) everyone MacArthur talked to in the War Department believed that Japan could hold out for at least two more years. From there, the book quotes some Japanese persons with retrospect statements about how “Japan was finished” all of that is towards the end of page 511 leading into page 512 where the citation from Long is made. I will interact with these quotes shortly but first, here is the passage from pg. 512 as Long quotes it:

"...the Potsdam declaration in July, demand[ed] that Japan surrender unconditionally or face 'prompt and utter destruction.' MacArthur was appalled. He knew that the Japanese would never renounce their emperor, and that without him an orderly transition to peace would be impossible anyhow, because his people would never submit to Allied occupation unless he ordered it. Ironically, when the surrender did come, it was conditional, and the condition was a continuation of the imperial reign. Had the General's advice been followed, the resort to atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have been unnecessary." [William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, pg. 512.]

Before supplying the text after the quotation for proper context, I cannot avoid mentioning here that the quote given represents equal parts MacArthur’s outlook and the opinion of the biographer. The latter gives the assertion that "...[h]ad the General's advice been followed, the resort to atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have been unnecessary” which clearly is a normative argument and thus useless in a discussion of objective facts. Sure it is possible that the bombings may not have been necessary if MacArthur’s advice had been followed but was it probable -that is the question. And in response to the latter I must state for the record that I highly doubt it for reasons not only already outlined but also for additional reasons to be outlined in this thread you are reading.

Interestingly enough, Long does not quote the paragraphs immediately following what he does cite which state the following:

In an implacable mood, then, successive versions of “Downfall”, the code name for the invasion of Dai Nippon, were drafted in Washington, and revised in Manila. All of them assumed the worst: that Russian support would be unavailable, that B-29 raids and a naval blockade of Dai Nippon would not be decisive, and that the Manhattan project (of whose existence MacArthur and Nimitz were unaware until late July) would fail to produce practical nuclear fission devices. Germany’s surrender on May 7, 1945, however, guaranteed masses of veteran Allied infantrymen. Thirty divisions were on their way to the Philippines from the ETO. In June, there were 1,400,000 GI’s ready to stage from the archipelago; another 1,000,000 were expected by December. Courtney Hodges, commander of the U.S. First Army already had arrived in Manila but MacArthur still preferred his own field commanders. “Downfall” would begin with “Operation Olympic”, a frontal assault on Kyushu on November 1, 1945, whose purpose would be to secure, in the General’s words “airfields to cover the main assault on Honshu.” The second phase, “Operation Coronet,” the landing on Honshu, would follow on March 1, 1946. He himself probably with Eichelbarger as his chief of staff would lead that.

He had no illusions about the savagery that lay ahead –he told Stimson that Downfall would “cost over a million casualties to American forces alone”—but he was confident that with the tanks from Europe he could outmaneuver the defenders on the great Kanto Plain before Tokyo. Whether he would be as adroit with Eisenhower’s generals –not to mention Ike himself- was another matter. Granting an interview to Bert Andrews of the New York Herald Tribune, he said that the ETO commanders had made “every mistake that supposedly intelligent men could make,” that “the North African operation was absolutely useless,” that “the European strategy was to hammer stupidly against the enemy’s strongest points” and that if he had been given “just a portion of the force” sent to North Africa in 1942, he “could have retaken the Philippines in three months because by then the Japanese were not ready.” [William Manchester: American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, pg. 512-513]

Now then, having established the sitz im leben of Long’s quotation, let us examine the statements made on the preceding page about the dove contingent. First of all, it bears noting that MacArthur and Nimitz were not aware of the Manhattan Project until late July. The short gap in time between their awareness of the bomb's existence and its actual usage was therefore at most three weeks time. According to Louis Morton's writing The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb, MacArthur and Nimitz were told of the atomic bombing after July 25, 1945:

In orders issued on 25 July and approved by Stimson and Marshall, Spaatz was ordered to drop the "first special bomb as soon as weather will permit visual bombing after about 3 August 1945 on one of the targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata and Nagasaki." He was instructed also to deliver a copy of this order personally to MacArthur and Nimitz. [Louis Morton: The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb pg. 514 (c. 1958)]

The reason I make the assertion that MacArthur and Nimitz were told of the atomic bombing after July 25, 1945 is because with the greatest likelihood -because of the degree of secrecy that surrounded the Manhattan project- that this was the first time that either MacArthur or Nimitz heard about the existence of the bomb itself. If that theory is correct, than they heard about the bomb either on the 25th or (perhaps) the 26th of July in 1945. That would mean that they would have heard of it at the most with twelve days to go before the actual drop on Hiroshima. Considering that both General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz were heavily into planning strategery for the November 1, 1945 Operation Olympic invasion at that time --and what would have been the largest land and sea invasion in history: easily dwarfing Normandy-- they were unlikely to have put much thinking into the use of the bomb and the ramifications involved in said usage at that time. So that is one consideration which Dave is hereby offered to counter with evidence to the contrary or concede the point altogether. Of course even if he somehow could prove otherwise, it would not detract from what I am about to point out viz. General MacArthur and (presumably) Admiral Nimitz too. (In light of both their service rivalry and their disputes over how to execute the planned invasion this would appear to be the correct interpretation viz. Nimitz' knowledge on the matter as well.)

What was also definitely not correct is the assessment of Japan’s lack of capacity for making war. At this point, we will consider this position as mentioned in the Manchester biography of General MacArthur. To start with, their “production was finished” and they could only “produce war materials for a few days more”, had their “factories bombed out of existence” and had “no raw materials” as Japanese industrialist Ryozo Asano is quoted as saying in May of 1945 (American Caesar pg. 511), then how were the Japanese able to continue the building of carriers and other warships in Hiroshima, various planes and other munitions in Nagasaki which we knew that they were doing???

If they were so incapable of production as Ryozo Asano claimed, then those wily Japanese must have been building their ships from May through August of 1945 out of some kind of remains to see if Dave will assert that or not. Further still, how could they be in the process of producing at that time a jet powered fighter craft that (if they had later managed to put it into service in late 1945 for dealing with the impending US invasion) would have had easy pickings from our convoys of military ships due to its ability to run rings around the best planes that the US military had in service at the time???

Obviously this industrialist did not know what they were talking about viz. the whole of Japan and its capabilities since Hiroshima had not even been touched by bombs in the war nor was (to my knowledge) Nagasaki. Indeed, those targets were chosen not only because they constituted complex military industrial nerve centers of the island’s defense and production plants for the armaments to make war but also because of their pristine conditions viz. the effects of the bombings: they were untouched by any of our bombing runs. This was to show just how formidable this new weapon was –though even as I noted earlier, they knew it would be effective but not to the extent that it actually was.

Considering all of these factors, I am making an educated guess here and presuming that the aforementioned industrialist was from Tokyo, which had been decimated of its military production capacities at the time. If I am right about that, then they accurately assessed things as they were in Tokyo viz. military capacities for production but they had little to no knowledge of the capacities of production plants in cities in the south of Japan. Which reminds me.

With regards to the jet powered aircraft the Japanese were on the verge of mass producing, Germany had been producing a similar kind of plane in large numbers in the weeks prior to their surrender which was superior to anything the Allies had: including an order of over a thousand of them to have been built in June of 1945 alone. After 1945, the designer of those jet engines designed engines for the French military as well as the Israeli military –and jets from that designer were on the planes the Israelis used in their first defenses from attack as a nation in 1948. This is a little bit of additional postwar information but it serves to illustrate another fallacy in our beliefs in the capabilities of our Pacific enemies: the belief that we had cut the Japanese off from German scientists and their technology in 1942. Well, that assessment was highly inaccurate. If Germany had held out longer in the European arena, their planes would have wrecked havoc on the Allies in Europe.

Likewise, the Japanese jet planes (based on blueprints obtained from the Germans but with some modifications viz. economy of construction) if the November 1, 1945 invasion had happened as planned would have been in production for at least a month or more at that point. And those planes produced in that span would have been a huge factor for not a few reasons. For example, we would not have beaten them in dogfights as a rule and they would also have been too quick for our missiles. The only way we would have beaten them was to overwhelm them with trained military men flying the planes we had in a sheer numbers advantage since we were not producing planes anywhere near comparable to what the Japanese’s jet fighters would be capable of doing. (Not to mention that Japan had actually tested some atomic devices of their own in 1945 but nothing quite like what we had at the time.)

This is another reason why the blockade idea of The Commentator was so ludicrous: it would have taken a lot of ships to attempt it and our ships would have been sitting ducks for not only the kamikaze prop jobs but also for the jet fighters Japan was on the verge of producing at the time but were not able to produce and press into service before we dropped the two bombs. Germany had pressed their jet planes into service in the last two weeks of the war so we got them to surrender before those planes were even a factor. If we had not gotten an early surrender from Japan in that invasion, we would have been in a similar quandry with them viz. their jet technology as we narrowly averted with Germany in the European arena.

I repeat: our planes would not have caught them, our missiles would have been incapable of hitting them, and our ships would have been sitting ducks -particularly if we had tried the blockade approach. And as the blockade would have with a good degree of probability failed (due to what I noted above) and as you are ruling out the atomic strikes of military targets Dave, I ask you to consider what I note above as quoted in American Caesar (and with far more context than Doug Long cared to provide for his readers) and furthermore, where those men and equipment for the invasion were going to come from. They were going to come from Europe and at that point, I remind my friend Dave of what my very good friend Tim Tull noted in his response to my original article viz. Stalin and his character. I also remind him of the probability of the USSR sweeping across Western Europe. What we had there at the time would not have stopped him and by diverting those forces to the Pacific arena, it would have been a cakewalk for the Big Red Machine under the murderous dictator Josef Stalin.

Unlike President Roosevelt and the latter’s “Uncle Joe” schtick, President Truman did not trust Josef Stalin any further than he could throw him. He knew that Stalin’s word was worthless and that just as the latter had assimilated Eastern Europe into the Soviet collective (to use Star Trek Next Generation lingo), there would be nothing stopping him from doing the same to Western Europe.{1} And once that was done, a blockade of Great Britain would have sealed it. We may have been able to prevent a blockade of Great Britain by the USSR from succeeding in the capitulation of GB, but we would not have stopped the assimilation of Western Europe by the USSR without sending more military to Europe from the Pacific arena and also from America.

For more on the above Doug Long, the following observations from “Hiroshima_facts” –an internet interlocutor I will occasionally cite for an alternate take on these matters—is of interest: His words will be in blue font where applicable.

MacArthur's biographer seems ignorant of the reality of the surrender, in which Japan accepted our terms unconditionally, and in which there was no condition guaranteeing imperial reign.

The above points with regards to the surrender are a matter of record and are frankly not even disputable.

We did insist on a condition giving MacArthur the power to depose the Emperor at will though...

The biographer does note that in American Caesar interestingly enough which only underscores how those who make the “retaining-the-Emperor-would-have-resulted-in-an-early-surrender” argument missed the proverbial boat. If they were so concerned about the Emperor –and if they made his retention a matter of non-negotiation previously –then it is strange that they would agree later on to give General MacArthur the power to depose the Emperor at will: a minor matter perhaps but considered in light of everything else I noted above, it does not favour the view of those who have tried to argue against the bombings in the manner outlined above by the biographer.

Moving onto the second quote from MacArthur, we have this one:

Norman Cousins was a consultant to General MacArthur during the American occupation of Japan. Cousins writes of his conversations with MacArthur, "MacArthur's views about the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were starkly different from what the general public supposed." He continues, "When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor. Norman Cousins, The Pathology of Power, pg. 65, 70-71.]

It is obvious that MacArthur was operating from the faulty presumption that “the institution of the emperor” being retained would have resulted in a surrender. I will discuss this factor later on in this thread but not without noting that the Americans could not accept the Japanese idea of “retention of the emperor” which was vastly different from what was eventually accepted after the bombs were dropped.

More could be noted on this but perhaps the clincher is that MacArthur was not to my knowledge ever informed about MAGIC and what we knew from that source. Indeed, the biography I have cited heavily from is copyrighted 1978, which was around the time the first batch of MAGIC was partially declassified.{2} The reasons for the general's ignorance on the matter was twofold. First of all, President Roosevelt did not want General MacArthur to be too in the loop about this kind of stuff because he was capable of being disobedient to his superiors much the way General George Patton was in the European arena.{3} Secondly, President Truman (who actually served under then-Colonel MacArthur in WWI) was not unfamiliar with MacArthur’s reputation for flouting the commands of higher authorities and was not about to act any differently than Roosevelt had -particularly since General MacArthur had shown his loose-lips capabilities by being openly critical of the way military operations were handled in Europe in not a few ways. He was thus viewed as too much of a loose cannon to be trusted with this kind of delicate information. Nonetheless, considering everything noted above, it is safe to say that General Douglas MacArthur’s view on this matter was grounded on some faulty presuppositions and furthermore was not enlightened by the additional information that President Truman and the War Department possessed via MAGIC.

Nonetheless, since you want to pretend that this is a viable approach to complete argumentation Dave, let us look briefly at the Doug Long quotes one by one starting with General Eisenhower:

" [July] 1945... Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. ...the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.

"During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude..." - Dwight Eisenhower, Mandate For Change, pg. 380

In a Newsweek interview, Eisenhower again recalled the meeting with Stimson: "...the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing." - Ike on Ike, Newsweek, 11/11/63

As I have pointed out in not a few threads, the presumption that the Japanese were ready to surrender was an erroneous notion. Furthermore, as I noted in dealing with the MacArthur quotes, the MAGIC cables do not appear to be anything that General Eisenhower knew anything about. He may have known about Venona at the time due to his status as Supreme Commander in Europe but Venona was Soviet-focused and had nothing to do with what happened in the Pacific arena. Indeed, by the time he would have learned about these things as president, he would not have had time to go back and review stuff from 1945 as he had a country to run by that point after all. And (of course) in 1963 he was out of the loop completely and could not have accessed them even if he was inclined to. The following observations from the aforementioned internet interlocutor “Hiroshima_facts” are also of interest on these issues:

Funny how Stimson, who always recorded dissent from officials regarding the bombs, failed to record anything about Ike.

Even funnier how Ike's own early depictions of the encounter claimed that he did not voice any vehement objection.

Notice Dave how I cite sources to complement my own arguments and not as arguments in and of themselves…that is how it is supposed to be done. As what is noted in the above paragraphs are adequate to deal with the quotes from General (later President) Eisenhower on the matter, let us move from the two Supreme Commanders to the former president Herbert Hoover. In Doug Long's citations, we see the following:

Herbert Hoover

On May 28, 1945, Hoover visited President Truman and suggested a way to end the Pacific war quickly: "I am convinced that if you, as President, will make a shortwave broadcast to the people of Japan - tell them they can have their Emperor if they surrender, that it will not mean unconditional surrender except for the militarists - you'll get a peace in Japan - you'll have both wars over." Richard Norton Smith, An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover, pg. 347.

This is of course is what is called normative argumentation since Hoover was giving his opinion on the matter. We do not see anything to substantiate said opinion and furthermore, we already know that the Japanese insisted on retaining the Emperor but not in the fashion he was eventually retained.

On August 8, 1945, after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Hoover wrote to Army and Navy Journal publisher Colonel John Callan O'Laughlin, "The use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children, revolts my soul." quoted from Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, pg. 635.

I have already dealt with this canard in my posting on double effect (as well as in my last posting to you clarifying with no small degree of prescience btw some of your mistakes in trying to interact with the aforementioned thread) so I will not reiterate it here.

"...the Japanese were prepared to negotiate all the way from February 1945...up to and before the time the atomic bombs were dropped; ...if such leads had been followed up, there would have been no occasion to drop the [atomic] bombs." quoted by Barton Bernstein in Philip Nobile, ed., Judgment at the Smithsonian, pg. 142

Of course they were prepared to negotiate. However, they were also “prepar[ing] to negotiate” prior to Pearl Harbour…something that not a few people seem to conveniently forget. However, I for one have not.

It bears remembering that President Hoover was not in the loop on MAGIC so that needs to be taken into account as well when assessing his posited opinion above –indeed the aforementioned internet interlocutor “Hiroshima_facts” points this out as well:

That's not what the MAGIC summaries were indicating to Truman.

The Japanese government did not get behind the negotiation gambit until August 2nd, 1945.

All of that is true and verifiable by the evidences. (Again Dave, this means constructing an actual argument and not merely citing names and opinions thereof.) The next bit from “Hiroshima_facts” is subjective but I will post it nonetheless since it represents a MAGIC-informed opinion which my good friend Dave so obviously does not have:

At any rate, the war wasn't going to end with negotiations. The only way it could end was with Japan accepting all our terms unconditionally.

Of course that is not all that the former president had to say:

Hoover biographer Richard Norton Smith has written: "Use of the bomb had besmirched America's reputation, he [Hoover] told friends. It ought to have been described in graphic terms before being flung out into the sky over Japan." Richard Norton Smith, An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover, pg. 349-350.

Once again we have normative argumentation. The late President apparently forgot that we did not know the full extent of the bomb’s power beforehand…we knew it was superior to anything ever used before but insofar as its precise power we did not know – a point that Dr. Art Sippo noted in one of the threads I posted earlier. It is always easy to play “second guess” in retrospect but that game is subjective in nature and does not actually solve anything.

In early May of 1946 Hoover met with General Douglas MacArthur. Hoover recorded in his diary, "I told MacArthur of my memorandum of mid-May 1945 to Truman, that peace could be had with Japan by which our major objectives would be accomplished. MacArthur said that was correct and that we would have avoided all of the losses, the Atomic bomb, and the entry of Russia into Manchuria." Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, pg. 350-351.

I have already dealt with General MacArthur’s statements in this thread so I will not repeat them here. Furthermore, I have effectively disqualified former President Hoover as a credible authority on these matters so no more needs to be said about those assertions. I also already dealt with Col. Carter Clarke’s quote from an earlier posting.{4} Indeed, so many of the rest of Long's quotes from Einstein (scientist) to Nitze (Air Force) to Szilard (scientist) to General Spaatz (Air Force) were not privy to the MAGIC cables so they are easily dismissed on that score as not credible due to lack of key information on the matter. I will therefore touch on some of them only briefly here, starting with Paul Nitze.

First of all, he was in the Air Force so he knew nothing about MAGIC. That is the first strike against him as a credible source. The following points from the aforementioned internet interlocutor “Hiroshima_facts” are also quite interesting –pertaining as they do to Paul Nitze’s position:

The Strategic Bombing Survey was Air Force propaganda that tried to claim that conventional heavy bombers would have won the war on their own, and so should receive the most funding from Congress in an era of rapidly shrinking post-war defense budgets.

Now as far as I know, that is an accurate assertion to some extent -a bit exaggerated perhaps but the essence of the statement is accurate. I challenge Dave to debunk it if he likes. Furthermore, I have already dealt with the rivalry element of the different armed service divisions as well as pointed out that the Air Force had no familiarity with the contents of the MAGIC cable intercepts after at least February of 1942 –the decoding of various portions being the job of the Army and Navy branches after that time. The Air Force was actually in favour of approaches such as firebombing (as advocated by General Curtis Le May) so I will not say anything more than that –as I am sure Dave and I agree that firebombing of civilian targets was an unacceptable practice even in wartime. Nonetheless, that is adequate to dispatch with Paul Nitze.

With regards to Joseph Grew (another supposed "authority" posited by Doug Long which Dave makes use of), I will defer to the internet interlocutor “Hiroshima_facts” on Joseph Grew before addressing this matter myself.

Something most people miss about Grew's suggestion. He was suggesting we allow Hirohito's son to be Emperor under a constitutional monarchy, not suggesting a guarantee for Hirohito himself.

Those who want to review Grew’s comments to check to see if that interpretation is viable are free to do so. It appears correct to me since Grew refers to the "[retention of the] dynasty" which does not necessarily mean Hirohito himself. Here they are from Doug Long's files:

Joseph Grew
(Under Sec. of State)

In a February 12, 1947 letter to Henry Stimson (Sec. of War during WWII), Grew responded to the defense of the atomic bombings Stimson had made in a February 1947 Harpers magazine article:

" the light of available evidence I myself and others felt that if such a categorical statement about the [retention of the] dynasty had been issued in May, 1945, the surrender-minded elements in the [Japanese] Government might well have been afforded by such a statement a valid reason and the necessary strength to come to an early clearcut decision.

Anyone can say something after the fact. Why on earth this should be considered a solid piece of evidence is a mystery to me. Moving on...

"If surrender could have been brought about in May, 1945, or even in June or July, before the entrance of Soviet Russia into the [Pacific] war and the use of the atomic bomb, the world would have been the gainer." Grew quoted in Barton Bernstein, ed.,The Atomic Bomb, pg. 29-32.

And if there were real leprechans and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow, that would be great too. Honestly, it is quite evident that Grew was ignorant of the MAGIC cables just by the idiotic statements he made above. I will deal with this in a moment -since unlike Dave I actually present evidences and arguments for my position rather than merely assert it and then cite names of people. But let us first review the words of John McCloy which are similarly misguided before we address both of them with some explication on the subject at hand.

John McCloy
(Assistant Sec. of War)

"I have always felt that if, in our ultimatum to the Japanese government issued from Potsdam [in July 1945], we had referred to the retention of the emperor as a constitutional monarch and had made some reference to the reasonable accessibility of raw materials to the future Japanese government, it would have been accepted. Indeed, I believe that even in the form it was delivered, there was some disposition on the part of the Japanese to give it favorable consideration. When the war was over I arrived at this conclusion after talking with a number of Japanese officials who had been closely associated with the decision of the then Japanese government, to reject the ultimatum, as it was presented. I believe we missed the opportunity of effecting a Japanese surrender, completely satisfactory to us, without the necessity of dropping the bombs." McCloy quoted in James Reston, Deadline, pg. 500.

And this was also wishful thinking. As the very well-read (and MAGIC-informed) historian Richard Frank correctly noted on the whole question of a Japanese surrender:

The Japanese government retained two minimal war aims: preservation both (1) of the Imperial Institution and (2) of the old order in Japan in which the militarists were dominant. They were not just seeking a guarantee of the imperial institution with a figurehead emperor as is often argued. The U.S. war aim of "unconditional surrender" was not merely a hollow wartime slogan. By 1945, it formed an essential element in an overall vision for an enduring peace. "Unconditional surrender" meant the U.S. would secure the legal authority to conduct a complete renovation of Japan to eradicate the old order and assure that Japan never again launched a war of aggression.

Given these minimal war aims on both sides, diplomacy could not work because there was no common ground for compromise between the continuation and the extinction of the old order in Japan. As the [PBS] program noted, even after the atomic bombs and Soviet entry, the Japanese cabinet deadlocked, with the hard liners still holding out for terms including no occupation -- and no occupation means no occupation reforms. As the program further highlighted, as late as the first Japanese peace offer of August 10, 1945, they were still demanding that the U.S. grant real, substantive power to the emperor so that he could veto occupation reforms and defeat the American aim of eradicating the old order in Japan. While critics speak broadly about backing away from or even dropping "unconditional surrender" they have not, to the best of my knowledge, set forth precisely how this could be accomplished and still allow the U.S. to conduct the occupation and the ensuing reforms that produced the peaceful Japan that has exited since 1945. Thus, insisting on "unconditional surrender" was not merely a matter of pride or some perverted American version of "face"; it was the key to the enduring peace. [Richard Frank: Victory in the Pacific from the thread Was there a real strategic reason for the bombing of Nagasaki? (circa May 3, 2005)]

That is more than adequate to dispatch with the fantasies of John McCloy and Joseph Grew on this matter as any kinds of "authority" to use in supporting one's argumentation. But we are not done yet as there are a couple more to tend to.

Admiral William Leahy
(Chief of Staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman)

"It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.

I have already gone over in detail why this presumption (that Japan was already defeated and ready to surrender) was false. And to show Dave how one should use sources, I will now supplement my arguments by referring the reader back to my previous citation from the historian Richard Frank. There is also these points to take into consideration on the matter:

That diplomacy offered no prospect of success was made clear to American leaders by the daily Magic Diplomatic Summary covering the decoded Japanese diplomatic communications. Copies of each day's edition were distributed to a select band of American policy makers, with the president at the top of the list. The intercepts first of all established that the diplomats of foreign (neutral) governments in Japan were reporting to their own governments by a three or four to one ratio that it was clear to them that the Japanese had no intention of surrendering and meant to fight on to the end. The intercepts next demonstrated that a half dozen or so Japanese diplomats, including military and naval attaches in Europe, who attempted to approach American officials to initiate negotiations all lacked actual authority from the Japanese government for their actions.

The Magic Diplomatic Summary demonstrated that the sole Japanese diplomatic effort that carried the actual sanction of any real authority in Japan was an effort to secure Soviet good offices to mediate an end to the war on terms acceptable to Japan. It was not, as it is sometimes represented, just an effort to have the Soviets act as a postman to deliver a "we surrender" note. The man who was supposed to present this proposal to the Soviets and secure their good offices was the Japanese Ambassador in Moscow, Sato Naotake. When you read as American officials did Sato's comments, you see clearly the diplomatic initiative was not serious. [ibid.]

It seems to me that Admiral Leahy's opinion was summarized well in the following part of the text:

"The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children." - William Leahy, I Was There, pg. 441.

Of course retrospect has shown us that the use of those bombs not only brought a quick end to the war and saved lives on both sides –as I noted in my original posting—but that there have been no subsequent atomic or nuclear weapons which have been used in warfare. Indeed, we even test them underground because of the knowledge of the radiation effects now, which was not available to us back then. As far as the claim that we were "making war” by "destroying women and children” I refer the readers to what I outlined not only in the double effect posting but also in my two subsequent postings on the bomb subject -including the first part of this two part thread.

To second (to some extent) my position on Admiral Leahy, I again refer to the interlocutor “Hiroshima_facts” who correctly notes the following:

This is a post WWII position, not a WWII position as claimed above.

And whether or not that is true or not is of course debatable. I have already noted the problem with retrospective argumentation so the viability of that last Leahy quote is at least called into question and thus cannot be viewed as a piece of evidence to establish an argument upon. And (of course) what is not debatable is that Admiral Leahy was presenting a normative argument on the matter.{5}

More could be noted but I think it is clear how so many of those who are cited as “proofs” do not stack up for reasons I have noted above. Frankly, I do not see much in the other statements that you cited from Doug Long that is not one giant normative argument and those will not do for reasons I already cited. But (of course) I have done more than merely assert it but indeed have interacted with all of the names on the list who were of any position to potentially have access to all the pertinent information. There is but one more remaining and that is Ralph Bard and he will be dealt with next...

Ralph Bard
(Under Sec. of the Navy)

On June 28, 1945, a memorandum written by Bard the previous day was given to Sec. of War Henry Stimson. It stated, in part:

"Following the three-power [July 1945 Potsdam] conference emissaries from this country could contact representatives from Japan somewhere on the China Coast and make representations with regard to Russia's position [they were about to declare war on Japan] and at the same time give them some information regarding the proposed use of atomic power, together with whatever assurances the President might care to make with regard to the [retention of the] Emperor of Japan and the treatment of the Japanese nation following unconditional surrender. It seems quite possible to me that this presents the opportunity which the Japanese are looking for.

We know of course that even after the bombs were dropped that the Japanese War Cabinet was considering four conditions prior to Hirohito's intervention. One of them was the retention of the Emperor this is true but not in the fashion that the bureaucrats like Bard were naively presuming. Furthermore, there was also the elements of (i) no occupation and (ii) voluntary disarmament in the mix. It is absurd to suggest that the Japanese would have settled for less before the bombings than they were seeking afterwards and (if not for Hirohito's intervention) they would with the greatest of likelihood not have budged from that position -particularly the ones on no occupation and veto power for the emperor over any US reconstruction ideas.

"I don't see that we have anything in particular to lose in following such a program." He concluded the memorandum by noting, "The only way to find out is to try it out." Memorandum on the Use of S-1 Bomb, Manhattan Engineer District Records, Harrison-Bundy files, folder # 77, National Archives (also contained in: Martin Sherwin, A World Destroyed, 1987 edition, pg. 307-308).

See my previous comments.

Later Bard related, " definitely seemed to me that the Japanese were becoming weaker and weaker. They were surrounded by the Navy. They couldn't get any imports and they couldn't export anything. Naturally, as time went on and the war developed in our favor it was quite logical to hope and expect that with the proper kind of a warning the Japanese would then be in a position to make peace, which would have made it unnecessary for us to drop the bomb and have had to bring Russia in...". quoted in Len Giovannitti and Fred Freed, The Decision To Drop the Bomb, pg. 144-145, 324.

The naiveity of the above statement is amazing!!! Furthermore, it ignores the fact that a wounded animal often fights with even greater ferocity and the Japanese were certainly wounded. The Navy had yet to face the full brunt of 10,000 kamikaze planes and I guarantee that the Japanese would have sooner chose that route than surrender: a concept foreign to their 2000 year history and something that those who opined on them surrendering never seemed to take into consideration.

Bard also asserted, "I think that the Japanese were ready for peace, and they already had approached the Russians and, I think, the Swiss. And that suggestion of [giving] a warning [of the atomic bomb] was a face-saving proposition for them, and one that they could have readily accepted." He continued, "In my opinion, the Japanese war was really won before we ever used the atom bomb. Thus, it wouldn't have been necessary for us to disclose our nuclear position and stimulate the Russians to develop the same thing much more rapidly than they would have if we had not dropped the bomb." War Was Really Won Before We Used A-Bomb, U.S. News and World Report, 8/15/60, pg. 73-75.

See my previous citation from Richard Frank on the "surrender attempt to the Russians" red herring pro-offered by Bard above.{6} Moving on we come to this final thread from Lewis Strauss:

Lewis Strauss
Special Assistant to the Sec. of the Navy)

Strauss recalled a recommendation he gave to Sec. of the Navy James Forrestal before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima:

"I proposed to Secretary Forrestal that the weapon should be demonstrated before it was used. Primarily it was because it was clear to a number of people, myself among them, that the war was very nearly over. The Japanese were nearly ready to capitulate... My proposal to the Secretary was that the weapon should be demonstrated over some area accessible to Japanese observers and where its effects would be dramatic. I remember suggesting that a satisfactory place for such a demonstration would be a large forest of cryptomeria trees not far from Tokyo. The cryptomeria tree is the Japanese version of our redwood... I anticipated that a bomb detonated at a suitable height above such a forest... would lay the trees out in windrows from the center of the explosion in all directions as though they were matchsticks, and, of course, set them afire in the center. It seemed to me that a demonstration of this sort would prove to the Japanese that we could destroy any of their cities at will... Secretary Forrestal agreed wholeheartedly with the recommendation..."

I have already outlined in detail why the above opinions (about the Japanese being "nearly ready to capitulate" are the exact opposite of what was reflected in the MAGIC summaries. If Dave wants to explain why such ill-informed so-called "experts" are still viable for this discussion he can feel free to. I am confident though that the casual readers can put things together and see why they are not -any future attempts at Dave to spin them otherwise notwitstanding.

Strauss added, "It seemed to me that such a weapon was not necessary to bring the war to a successful conclusion, that once used it would find its way into the armaments of the world...". quoted in Len Giovannitti and Fred Freed, The Decision To Drop the Bomb, pg. 145, 325.

We know of course via the MAGIC Russian cryptological branch of MAGIC called Venona that the Russians had already hacked into the Manhattan Project so the idea that somehow the weapon would have not been put into the arsenals of the world's powers if we had not used it in WWII is pathetically naive at best.

In summary Dave, every single so-called "authority" you cited from Doug Long fails and fails badly to be a credible source on this subject for reasons I have detailed in this thread. And do not think because I am not addressing various Catholic names you dropped that those anointed "experts" would withstand my scrutiny any better. If anything they would fare much worse for reasons too numerous to go into at this time not to mention various pseudo-"historians" you cite in your response too. Time constraints and space factors prevent those from being interacted with here but do not believe for a second that they are any firmer in foundation than what Doug Long supplied.

Oh and lest you forget, I wanted to keep this kind of stuff private Dave expressly stating this to you more than once at your site. However, you expressed no interest whatsoever in doing that. So for that reason, I am making these threads public as I did with the originally intended private email and issue to you the following challenge:

I challenge you to try and refute what I have written in the threads I have posted thus far –the first eight, the one from yesterday, and this one argument by argument– and cease this illogical and fallacious argumentation form of merely listing names of people who disagree.

If you cannot do what is noted above, then you cannot expect me to take your attempts to refute me even remotely serious. As these two threads amply show (not to mention the ones previous to it which discuss various facets of this subject matter) you are out of your league viz. what we are discussing. I humbly request that you cease and desist before you lose any more face on this matter publicly.

I am sorry for this bluntness my friend but your mere assertions of points without sustaining them by argument -or the approach of simply naming names of people with differing opinions on the bombings of whom we have no idea how they arrived at those opinions were arrived at- does not wash, not even with Tide bleach. I will (and do) give plenty of deference to you and to many other Catholics on not a few theological issues in general{7}; however. on matters of history, I will not since there is already too much attempted revisionism by Marxist-minded polemicists as well as those who do so either out of ignorance or (in their mind) the best of intentions. Either way, these kinds of actions I will not allow to take place in my presence.

I do not care how many people you can list who disagree with me, if all you are posting are conclusions and opinions, then this attempt at dialogue is over. I do not say that such lists are without merit of course but as my good friend Tim Tull noted the other day on the phone (when we discussed your approach on these matters) what you are doing is only valid as support for arguments you have already set forth and established. Once you have done that, the value of people with concurring opinions or conclusions can have some persuasive weight –particularly if the persons are recognized experts or of otherwise high moral authority (i.e. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, etc). But without using such citations as icing on the cake of the arguments you set forth, they are not of much value at all if any.

In this posting, I have dispatched with the Doug Long citations which formed a large basis of your attempt to dispute this matter with me publicly. Will I (or someone else) need to expose Raico, Zinn,{8} and Buchanan in the same fashion too before things finally focus themselves for you??? Or have you seen enough of what happens when you resort to this kind of presumed "argumentation" where you do not actually make an argument but instead only cite sources: something I noted to you earlier this week before these two threads were even started.

My good friend Tim Tull can vouch for what I am saying here as he has returned to college to pursue a new vocation. If he tried to present a paper arguing a case as you have done -or if I had done that in college myself- we would have been given D’s if not failing grades altogether if our teachers were grading fairly and were not ideologues.{9} Furthermore, if an attorney tried to argue a case in court as you have done, they would be laughed out of court by the judge. Indeed, if we were in court, I would be making a motion for dismissal from the judge for want of viable evidence viz. your position. But since this is not court and since I trust you will recognize in these last three threads why dialogue with you is not possible on this subject, I humbly ask that you reconsider your tactics since I have really had to restrain myself in dealing with your inanities.

I made a statement about your view publicly some time ago which I want to reiterate at this time:

I believe in conclusion that you are WRONG (though in fairness I will give your piece a thorough read: I ask that you consider the above threads into your matrix of argumentation in return of course) but either way, I do not challenge your honesty, your good will, your sense of charity, your sense of fairness, your orthodoxy, or anything else that [not a few polemicists] would assert. And I will note this when I post your thread on the matter so that there is no confusion whatsoever -particularly since I am rather harsh about so-called "peacemakers" and do not want my readers mixing you in with that crowd.

With that note, I conclude this thread and note for the readers that the vast majority of those you cited as credible sources have been discredited Dave. And since you offered no actual arguments prior to having recourse to them, you have been confuted soundly on this subject my friend. I fail to see what more I have to say than that so I will end the thread on that note.


For further reading on the subject of attempted historical revisionism at the 1995 Smithsonian Exhibit, see this very good article. Readers who recognize in there some of the names I have just been critical of can consider the additional arguments in that thread as supplements to my own in this thread.

I also noted in a last minute addition to the eighth footnote a thread from Kevin Tierney where he goes into some detail on the subject I touch on in that point of the thread. If anything else becomes available in the next twenty-four hours on this subject of a similar approach, I will note it here in this posting in purple font. And though I reserve the right to call rebuttal witnesses if the need arises, the prosecution rests.

[Update: I suspect that Dave will yet again begin writing a response without reading what I have written in these last two postings and/or post something in response within the next three days in true de ja vu fashion...let us see if he vindicates NostraShawnus on this score or not. If he does, then he vindicates my premise from over a week ago that he is not interested in dialogue at all on this subject. If he does not, then I predict he will only wait out the three days and prove by what he writes in response that he has not assimilated my arguments yet again before presuming to try and disprove them. -ISM 9/06/05 7:00pm]

[Update: Greg Mockeridge has weighed in on this subject from the standpoint of so-called "Catholic Consensus" in a thread which can be read HERE. -ISM 9/08/05 1:10pm]


{1} This is a point brought up in some of the feedback to my original Hiroshima thread from a good friend (and WWII maestro) who did not think I took my arguments on some of the subjects I covered in my original posting far enough:

Imagine this homeland invasion scenario...our casualties are higher than expected or the campaign is dragging out a couple of years. The Soviets sensing a weekness in our massive transfer of forces to the Pacific (which was in the works), saw an opportunity to quickly gobble up Europe including England. Don't put it past them! Don't forget that Stalin declared war on Japan upon hearing of the first nuke falling. Do you think Stalin wouldn't have done it because he believed in a man's word and a handshake - ha! This would have been his one shot at Western Europe. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 18, 2005)]

{2} They would not be fully declassified until 1995 as a result of the tireless efforts of the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

{3} I will not go into the problems that General Eisenhower had with General Patton and who I side with on that issue as it is not germane to this discussion.

{4} See my post prior to the previous one made to this weblog (footnote 4) for details.

{5} The reason I posted a "points to ponder" thread on the subject of normative argumentation back on August 13, 2005 (four days before the original Hiroshima posting) was because I anticipated that this may well happen with those who disagreed on the issue of the bombings . And with the above words, you have played according to my predicted script by trying to make an objective principle of argument into a subjective one by postulating the subjective notion of "too many" into the mix. And with that, your entire thread of argument inexorably unravels. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 28, 2005)]

{6} Also worth considering is this observation from Austin Hoyt:

People who argue Japan was about to surrender also ignore the military intercepts which indicate an increase in the divisions defending the invasion beaches on the southern island of Kyushu from three in June to nine in July to 13 in early August and a fight to the death attitude on the part of the Imperial Army.[Austin Hoyt: Victory in the Pacific from the thread Are there historians who believe that the atomic bombs were not justified? (circa May 2, 2005)]

Those who recognize those military numbers as being from my original thread are correct. I did not get them from Austin Hoyt or even from the Truman library but they are common facts for those marginally familiar with these subjects.

{7} Provided of course that they actually demonstrate their assertions rather than merely make assertions –as anyone can do the latter.

{8} Indeed, if Dave had been paying attention to recent threads to Rerum Novarum, he would have been informed that Howard Zinn is a communist propagandist and is not a serious scholar. This was pointed out courtesy of my very good friend Tim Tull. The first was on education in general and the problem with history revisionist texts being commonplace in today's colleges:

One Cabrillo College English 2 class requires reading Communist propagandist Howard Zinn's book People's History of the United States. Zinn got his start in politics the day he was beaten by police while marching in a Communist Party rally in New York. When asked in an interview for clarification on describing himself politically, Zinn's reply is, "Look at Alexander Berkman's pamphlet, 'Communist Anarchism'" (Perspectives of Anarchist Theory Vol.7 – No.1) Zinn personally traveled to Cuba where Castro warmly received him to perform pro-Communist plays in a country where any speech critical to the government means imprisonment. has a long list of students almost exclusively saying how the entire English 2 class consists of being fed radical views or having to regurgitate the opinions of the class lest they be punished in their grade. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (Tim Tull's Guest Editorial circa July 13, 2005)]

The second posting was from one of the very threads in the post-8/17 thread string which was directly related to this very subject matter in question -so Dave has even less of an excuse for missing this one:

Thank you for pointing out that Hiroshima was a major military logistics and munitions center. The rekindling of this debate points out the real dangerous poison coming from the Zinn-like authors and their Cool Aid drinking followers[.] Going down this path of selective examination of our national history usually roots in Marxist philosophies veiled in objective research. The debates always have in common a very narrow focus that omits the major information. Our whole media industry is based on the strategy. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 18, 2005)]

{9} See footnote eight.

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"Armstrong Illusions" Dept.
(Part I of II)

As it is becoming more and more apparent that this will not be a dialogue -particularly since Dave does not want to actually interact with the lions share of my arguments- then all that I can do is dispatch with his sole attempt to interact with any of my arguments and then go after the sources he uses in trying to claim to "argue" against my publicly manifested position. Because of the nature of this situation, I will have to handle these things in two parts to be less cumbersome to read so please bear with me on that score. It is after all easy to make a bunch of unsubstantiated assertions and throw up reams of non-sequitur stuff and call it an “argument” but it is not as easy or economical on one’s time to respond to such things. And since my time for these things is significantly less than Dave’s is, please pardon me in advance if I am more critical of my friend than one would suspect…again Dave is the one who wanted to air this stuff publicly rather than first hashing them out in private as I would have preferred to do for various and sundry reasons too numerous to outline at this time.

Though I will deal with them in detail later on in this multipart thread, I will give a brief prelude to them by noting for the reader at this time that the veracity of the citations posited by Doug Long (and uncritically parroted by Dave) will therefore be a primary purpose of the thread following this one. (As well as the actual competence of the people listed to give authoritative positions on the matter.) And while what I note there may not deal with everyone Dave has mentioned -since that would take more time and type than I have the patience for at this point of the monologue{1}- what is noted will more than amply implode the foundation from which he presumes to set forth an “argument.” I have already explained HERE why Dave’s methodology is so fatally flawed from an intrinsic standpoint so I shant reiterate it anew in this thread or in the thread following it except (at most) briefly and in passing. Hopefully Dave will change his mind and make this a dialogue but I am frankly near the point of no return viz. assuaging my doubts that this is possible. He may be able to fool those who react to this issue as a result of either emotionalism or the historical revisionism that passes for "history" in today's school system. However, those of us who know better will not be swayed by his overall lack of anything resembling an original argument.

Now to casual readers, it may appear that he has made an argument with the interaction with my thread on double effect. But that would be an erroneous premise for reasons I will soon make apparent. In scanning his various threads, the very things he says make it clear that my assertions that this is no actual dialogue are correct. For example, in one of his latest assemblages of random out of context citations (where he now fancies himself as someone who actually is familiar with MAGIC), Dave repeats the assertion that Brigader General Carter Clarke was an expert on MAGIC and applies it in the context of him knowing about MAGIC with regards to the Japanese situation. Of course readers of my last post know that I have discredited Colonel Carter Clarke (he was a colonel in 1945) as a credible authority on this subject. But Dave ignores what I wrote and again posits Clarke as a viable authority, which only shows that he is not assimilating my arguments. He did this in the first response he made as well with the citing of Ralph Raico and Patrick J. Buchanan as credible sources. To explain why the latter two examples are yet more proof of him not listening to my arguments, pardon me this brief explanation please.

In my original posting, I absolutely destroyed the credibility of the “46,000 deaths as a worst-case scenario” argument. Dave then quotes Raico making it and Buchanan as concurring with it and somehow expects this to be a viable response to my arguments from the first thread. It does not take a rocket scientist to recognize that you cannot reassert the argument previously debunked by an adversary as if it is still a viable one. But by citing Raico and Buchanan in doing this, that is precisely what Dave has done. This is at best the accepting of a questionable premise which would mean that the argument is fallacious even if it was valid. I will deal with these factors later on in this thread but want to note them briefly at the outset since they present no small problem with his entire methodology of attempted "argument."

When you take it down to brass tacks, Dave does not make his own arguments on the subjects I raised. Instead, he makes a laundry list of people who agree with him irrespective of their actual agendas or the arguments they advance to arrive at their conclusions and opinions. This is nothing more than the fallacious form of appealing to authority which I pointed out in my last posting. And since Dave has not to my knowledge interacted with that criticism, it stands to reason that he does not dispute it. Indeed, it is indisputable as anyone even vaguely familiar with how to construct and present a viable argument is well aware. But enough on that and let us deal with the mirage of argument that he presents trying to oppose my thread on double effect.

I cannot deal with that thread without noting first of all that his statement that I have appealed to double effect with scarcely any necessary additional supporting argumentation is…well...let us be honest about it: a profound prevarication. I have after all posted nine threads on this subject of which only one of them was on double effect. Frankly, I should not have even had to post the latter but I relented and did so nonetheless in the interest of leaving no lace untied on the matter.

In response, Dave takes the non-normative (and objective) standards of the double effect principles and makes of them in response a normative (and subjective) argument against the first premise. He says that the act cannot be morally good or indifferent (the premise of point one) for this reason:

"Hiroshima and Nagasaki...involved the killing of over 200,000 civilian noncombatants. Such an act is condemned in traditional just war criteria which forbids deliberate targeting of such non-military populations."

I have (of course) already explained that there was no deliberate targeting of civilians but Dave continues to assert the opposite view without a counter-argument; ergo, he fails to disprove my argument in support of the applicable criteria. Something he has not proven does not by dint of repetition become truth. I will for the sake of charity not note the sorts of people to whom this methodology was a way of advancing very evil agendas -preferring instead to simply exhort my friend Dave to not tacitly consent to such an approach and actually make an argument of his own instead. I spent the first thread I wrote on the bombings explaining in detail why these cities were legitimate military targets. My friend Dave has merely said they were not and then resorted to positing contrary opinions of others on the matter rather than constructing a counter-argument of his own on the matter. If we were in a courtroom, I could right now be filing with the judge a motion for dismissal for lack of evidence on his part: that is how seriously weak the argument he advanced actually is in the realm of actual arguments and supporting evidences for them. But that is not all.

You see gentle reader, Dave further betrays his lack of knowledge of this principle when stating that:

[T]he target areas (the centers of both cities) and the knowledge that the effect of the bombs spread outwardly from ground zero to cover a known area of a particular estimated size, and the obvious fact that cities contain citizens and population (read: people, persons, human beings; read, "including many elderly men, women, and children"), make it quite implausible (I think, virtually impossible) to maintain that those who ordered such a strike were targeting only military installations and not also people.

Again, double effect requires four principles at once to be concurrent and one of them is recognition of a proposed action where a good effect is sought with the conscious recognition of a corresponding bad effect from the action taking place. In other words, the targeting of the military installations (and the bomb was targeting military installations as I explained in earlier threads) was in and of itself sufficient to meet the required good (or at least indifferent) part of the equation and thus neutralize the bad effect part. That is how the principle works Dave and I would appreciate it if you would reflect on these matters before attempting more “cut and paste” style responding. I have given you several advanced lessons in both history as well as military calculations if you will which go into explaining the proportionality aspect of this subject. If you continue to ignore them then I see no reason to continue trying to dialogue with you on this subject.

Dave then tries to argue that firebombing a city where there is a deliberate targeting of everything in sight (and thus civilians) is no different than an atomic blast which targets military installations and (as a derivative effect) happens to also kill civilians. This is a distinction with a difference but it rises above standard garden-variety boilerplate apologetics arguments. That is one key reason I wanted to discuss this privately with Dave because it will be exceedingly difficult for him to save face after this one. After all, we have only just begun and it will not be prettier from here on out by any stretch.

The distinction between the two approaches as noted above is chiefly in methodology viz. the active human cooperation involved. In the act of detonation, the atomic bombs exploded of their own volition as well as the effects of that cause acting in like fashion. By stark contrast, the fire bombings involved a variety of elements not exploding of their own volition but through human direct cooperation in the process. Here is what went into the gumbo of a firebombing campaign:

The ordinances loaded aboard a B-29 for an incendiary rain contained one of three combustibles: the bombers in the leading formations generally contained napalm, or jellied gasoline bombs, which ignited small fires. A second wave of bombers usually dropped clusters of oil containers, which splayed their contents over the napalm fires in showers, and the mixture ran through the streets in fiery streams. Magnesium thermite bombs, mixed with the oil and the napalm, set fires of fierce intensity [World War II: Time Life Books Chronology of the Second World War pg. 408 (c. 1989)]

There is a difference between dropping an atomic bomb -where there is very little if any human cooperation in the direction and intensity of the effects upon explosion- and a firebombing campaign. In the case of the latter, there is a lot of direct involvement manifested in that there is a process of bombing in three waves various fuels and combustibles to create the effect. If Dave cannot recognize the differences here in these two distinctly different approaches, then what is the point of having this discussion??? A bomb intended for a military target which takes out derivative structures and personnel is significantly different than an indiscriminate bombing campaign where combustibles are dumped from one wave of bombers followed by burning fuels to heighten the blaze from a second wave of bombers and then by magnesium thermite bombs from a third wave to ratchet up the intensity of the blaze and its corresponding destructive effects. One of these circumstances fits the parameters for double effect and the other quite evidently does not. This is why to mix them as you have is to mix apples and oranges as I have already explained Dave. (And to which you have not responded to thus far with an actual counter-argument I again remind you.)

As far as how the atomic bombs were detonated, they were detonated about half a mile above the city with the deliberate intention of limiting fallout: which in case you did not know it Dave, is increased the closer to the ground that the bomb is detonated. So this action itself further demonstrates an interest in trying to limit derivative effects which also is an important point to consider from within the matrix of double effect principles. For if we were simply out to get everyone, a more efficient approach would have been to explode it at ground level for maximal effect. But one of the principles guiding the double effect is seeking to avoid as much as possible the bad effect resulting from the good or morally neutral action.

In light of the various scenarios for deaths and other casualties generated by the other military options I outlined in my original posting -as well as numerous subsequent postings elsewhere on this weblog to which you have been thus far generally ignoring Dave{2}- the above timing of the blast as well as the intention of limiting overall deaths and casualties (which must accompany any approach under the rubric of double effect) was easily met with the atomic bombings. However, I cannot see how a firebombing campaign achieves any of these aims since the very approach taken is intended to be indiscriminate and utilizes a three-step bombing wave approach that strives to insure maximum destruction. (Not to mention General Curtis Le May picked a circular bombing pattern to prevent civilian retreat from the effects of the firebombing campaign on Tokyo.) That is adequate to dispatch with your attempt to posit a kind of “moral equivalence” between the dropping of the atomic bombs as we did with the earlier indiscriminate firebombing campaigns.

Dave then notes that [i]f indeed only the military targets were in mind, then why drop these horrific weapons on the center of the city? Was that the way to take out the most military targets?

Finally, a decent question. If I recall correctly (and I may be mistaken on this one), the original target was partially over water which would have also mitigated the effects of the blast if they had hit the target. As it was, they missed it by over a thousand feet and ground zero was on land instead.

I have read that the bulk of these targets were on the outer peripheries of the city, not in the center.

Where did you read that Dave, after all, anyone can say something. The proof is in the pudding and just because you read something somewhere does not make it so. The renowned and original thinker Arthur Jones once said that ninety-five percent of what is published on all subjects is hogwash. I have often said the same thing over the years and have found through experience that it is true. It would help if Dave remembers that the next time he wants to play “Google scholar” but lest I digress, let us look at this logically:

I remind Dave (yet again) that the primary military production unit of Hiroshima was warships which generally are things like carriers, battleships, destroyers, etc. There were three waterways through Hiroshima and the bombing was aimed at the nexus of two of them in the center of the city. Simply from the standpoint of odds alone, there is far greater likelihood of destroying shipyards, military ships, dry docks, etc. by aiming at the main waterways in an industrial city since it is on the edges of these that ships are actually built and launched.

Again readers, I have not merely made assertions as to Hiroshima being a military target (as Dave has in saying it was not) but I have actually set forth arguments and stated evidences that anyone can verify. And while I could draw out this post with yet further reinforcements of my assertions, I will remember my readers and their patience and stick to one for now: Wikipedia. This is generally a source I do not like for various and sundry reasons but I will use it as a lawyer uses a “hostile witness” in court to point out some facts on this matter that seem to elude my good (but misinformed) friend Dave:

At the time of its bombing, Hiroshima was a city of considerable industrial and military significance. Some military camps were located nearby such as the headquarters of the Fifth Division and Field Marshal Hata's 2nd General Army Headquarters, which commanded the defense of all of southern Japan. Hiroshima was a major supply and logistics base for the Japanese military. The city was a communications center, a storage point, and an assembly area for troops. It was chosen as a target because it had not suffered damage from previous bombing raids, allowing an ideal environment to measure the damage caused by the atomic bomb. The city was mobilized for "all-out" war, with thousands of conscripted women, children and Koreans working in military offices, military factories and building demolition and with women and children training to resist any invading force. [Wikipedia: Entry on Hiroshima]

I will return to these points later on when delving into my copy of American Caesar and pointing out where Doug Long is deceptive in quoting the source. But before doing that, let us deal with the subject of conscription since it also changes the landscape of this issue and is a detriment to Dave’s argument:

The opposite of voluntary enrollment is conscription, carried out by the nation-state. The resulting military force lacks the moral characteristics of a volunteer army; it is essentially a machine requiring severe discipline, its cohesion being maintained by the threat of punishment. Its great problems, desertion and slackness among the troops, can be kept within bounds only by strong organization and leadership…

[Most often], conscription is part of a program of universal military service accepted by the public and carried out in cooperation with it. [Encyclopedia Brittanica Fifteenth Edition: Excerpt from War, the Theory and Conduct of Macropaedia Volume XXIX, pg. 705 (c. 1985)]

Obviously, where you have conscription taking place of giant chunks of the population, that changes the dynamic of a key point of the argument altogether. Again, this is not secret knowledge but to listen to Dave’s arguments, he evinces no familiarity whatsoever with this factor of the overall equation. But I will pick this subject up in the thread where I go over the various third hand quotes from Doug Long.

Having noted all of that, let us now interact with Dave’s attempted syllogistic argumentation with regards to point one of the double effect principle.

1) Deliberately killing civilians in wartime is wrong.

Without question.

2) The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did that (to the tune of 200,000 + casualties).

Again, you have not proven this but merely asserted it over and over again. Appealing in true emotions-to-the-expense-of-sound-thinking fashion is not how you construct a viable argument. Your syllogism therefore breaks down at this point and does not require me to interact with it further. I will do so nonetheless of course since there are more flaws in your slaw here which may not be so apparent at first glance.

3) It cannot plausibly be maintained that this was a non-intended effect of a moral good (taking out military installations) because of the nature of the weapon, where it was targeted, and immediate historical precedent.

Yes it can be plausibly argued that this was not intended if in the process of doing so it is recognized that the bad effect will take place concurrent with the moral good of destroying military targets. Indeed I have already done this in more than one place by pointing out and detailing arguments that point to the proportionality standard which unquestionably is more than amply met in this circumstance. The argument for the nature of the weapon is a subjective one and thus does not pass muster for attempting to interact with the non-normative nature of the elements that go into the matrix of double effect methodology. (Nice try Dave but we need to deal with objective reality here.)

As far as where it was targeted, I already dispatched with this canard further up –the fact that I even have to do so points to Dave’s obvious ignorance of the geography of Hiroshima as well as the substance of my original arguments for why it was a legitimate military target and the correlative ramifications thereof. And finally the immediate historical precedent argument also falls flat since Dave does not actually argue for this point but again merely assumes it. So point three likewise fails to sustain itself in all four parameters which Dave framed it in.

4) Therefore, it was an evil act, since contrary to Catholic just war criteria, and inability of justification by this criterion of double effect.

Since points two and three fail to sustain themselves, Dave’s conclusion in point four likewise fails to materialize. I will note in brief that Dave seems to have a confusion about these matters since (i) double effect is not required to be sustained by just war criteria since the act in conforming to its intrinsic principles already meets that standard and (ii) a seeming unawareness of what a proper appeal to just war theory actually is. On the latter, I will now briefly touch on so that readers do not think I am merely asserting something without proof (as my good friend Dave seems wont to do with this subject matter):

[I]n medieval times, the term “just war” applied to the authority for levying the war, rather than to the substance of the cause or the complaint. If levied on the authority of an independent prince, the war was considered just, since there was no higher authority to judge the cause, and battle settled the issue. [Encyclopedia Brittanica Fifteenth Edition: Excerpt from War, the Theory and Conduct of Macropaedia Volume XXIX, pg. 643 (c. 1985)]

Dave by trying to apply it to the substance of the cause or the complaint rather than to the authority for levying the war thus misappropriates the principle in no small detail. And lest he object to me quoting a non-Catholic source above on the matter, I will now quote from my copy of the Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary on the subject of war:

War. War is waged justly if it be initiated by public authority for a sufficiently grave and just reason. Soldiers enlisted before the outbreak of war can take its justness for granted unless the contrary is apparent; after the outbreak, those who join the army must first be morally certain of its justness. In a just war all means are licit which necessary and suitable for carrying the war to a successful end, provided that they are not contrary to natural or international law; e.g. the killing of any man under arms or of spies but not of non-combatants, the laying of ambushes, the destruction, but not the poisoning, of wells, are lawful acts of war. For a war to be just the motive must be the vindication of a certain right, of proportionate importance, which has been certainly violated, or a just intervention to defend the rights of others, and then only when other means of redress have failed. [Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary Tenth Edition: Donald Attwater - General Editor pg. 553 (c. 1941)]

The above definition in all of its parameters has more than amply been met with the first eight posts of the nine I have posted on this subject since August 17th.{3} The reader can notice that Dave’s appropriation of the principle has been seriously flawed all along. So point four fails both by virtue of the two previous points it builds on failing to sustain themselves but also by virtue of its own argumentation. That brings us to point five of Dave’s syllogism which is the following one:

5) Conclusion: the bombings violate double effect by being morally bad and not at all indifferent.

Obviously, as three of the four points in his syllogism fail to withstand scrutiny, this conclusion is thus an invalid one. But enough on point one of the double effect matrix of argumentation.

Though I see no real reason to continue this thread, I will anyway since there are more misunderstandings of this principle enunciated by Dave in his statements on points two through four. The other notes will be in firebrick fontage:

The agent may not positively will the bad effect but may merely permit it. If he could attain the good effect without the bad effect, he should do so. The bad effect is sometimes said to be indirectly voluntary.

As argued, I think it is impossible and ludicrous to maintain that 200,000 deaths as a result of a bomb of known proportions and effects were not willed, but merely permitted.

This gets back to the subject of numbers and my questions to Dave in the previous posting that he has thus far not deigned to give answers for.{4}

How can one drop such a weapon and claim to not know that such a result in human cost would happen?

It is not a matter of knowing Dave, it is a matter of not permitting the action but not positively willing it. The doctor who does not will the abortion of an unborn child when operating on its mother for cancer of the uterus but who knows that an abortion spontaneously will likely take place as a result is not held as blameworthy. That is the principle in play here. It is an objective one not a subjective one as you try to make of it.{5}

As I stated previously, one can't simply play word games and act as if the magic words "military target" wrap up all the difficulties of this cynical, downright malicious (from the standpoint of the victims) reasoning.

Notice that Dave is now trying for cheap shots rather than actually interact with my arguments and also interact with double effect principles in a non-normative fashion. I am not playing word games Dave, I am applying these principles in their proper (non-normative) fashion and I have spilt a lot of type explaining such factors as legitimate military targets. It is you who are acting emotional here and making assertions without actually sustaining them as if that constitutes a viable argument when it does not.

The second sentence is also quite applicable and damaging to the proponents' position, thought not fatal in and of itself, due to the nature of probabilistic or contingent or theoretical calculations of what would happen in the future.

Thank you for that much of an acknowledgment.

As many high military figures felt at the time (Eisenhower, MacArthur, Nimitz, Halsey, Carter Clarke: who was in charge of the radio intelligence summations that Shawn emphasized in his "case"; also former President Hoover, etc.), surrender could have been achieved by the end of 1945 without recourse to such horrible measures. There was certainly enough opinion and evidence along these lines for us to have at least more seriously considered such an option, in accord with this principle.

Once again, Dave is dealing with “feelings” as if that is a valid way to argue. I will deal with most of the figures noted above in a later posting but first, notice that Dave repeats the claim that "Carter Clarke...was in charge of the radio intelligence summations that Shawn emphasized in his 'case'” In previous postings, I dispatched with this assertion both briefly{6} and also in subsequent detail with another history lesson for my confused friend.{7} Nonetheless, Dave once again does not bother listening before he repeats already disproven sources and continues to claim that they are viable ones when they are not.

Or else, I suppose Shawn and other proponents could simply argue that all these military experts were ignorant, misguided, acting on emotions alone (as if the pro-bombing crowd did not have a large amount of emotions clouding their reasoning, too), or (as Shawn has now asserted) that they only reported their supposed feelings anachronistically, and after the fact (due to the Cold War, the second-guessing of hindsight, etc.). Shawn feels himself able (as a non-military and non-academic person), 60 years after the fact, to better make such judgments than folks like Eisenhower and MacArthur. Is that not exceptionally presumptuous?

I will deal with all of this in the next thread where the readers can observe that these personages are not as credible on this subject as Dave is making them out to be (for reasons I will outline in that thread).

If we grant that President Truman acted in good faith, with good motives (as I freely do), then we must also grant that those opposed to the decision at the time were equally in good faith, with roughly equal the information needed to make the decision one way or the other.

No, I do not have to grant the second premise because it is false. This will be demonstrated in a later thread when I interact with Doug Long’s quotes. That is right interact with the work of someone else appropriated by Dave (who did not bother doing his own research) whereas by contrast I did do my own research and Dave summarily ignores virtually all of it.

This was not a unanimous consensus at the time, however one wishes to slant or spin it.

I did not claim that it was. But once again, I will deal with all of this in the previously mentioned followup posting.

In other words, many thought that we could achieve the good end without the bad effect of what the bomb in fact caused. it was a viable option; therefore it should have been seriously considered and (I say) chosen as the more moral option of the two.

Of course Dave provides no arguments of his own to sustain this position of his, he merely posits the opinions of others on the matter. Thus, he once again falls into argumentation fallacy mode and I need not say anything more about this point than that. Moving onto the third of the four points, we have this one:

The good effect must flow from the action at least as immediately (in the order of causality, though not necessarily in the order of time) as the bad effect. In other words, the good effect must be produced directly by the action, not by the bad effect. Otherwise, the agent would be using a bad means to a good end, which is never allowed.

This criteria applies, because the good end desired (the surrender and thus the end of the wanton slaughters of the Japanese army and suicides even of Japanese civilians) was promptly achieved. So far so good.

Thank you.

The good effect was also produced by the action; yet it was also produced by the bad effect of the action (the mass killings convinced the Japanese of the futility of continuing). Thus, this would seem to suggest that Hiroshima and Nagasaki do not meet the criterion expressed in the second sentence above.

Dave is missing the crucial point here in that the principle presumes that the bad had to flow out from the good does not have to be in sequence of time. Furthermore, he ignores the various arguments I have posted which heavily factor into the issues of proportionality as well as the worse scenarios from the other options being considered at the time.{8} Those are also of no small importance in discussing this matter.

And thus we arrive at the crux of the matter: the previous state of affairs being true; therefore a good end was achieved by a bad means, and this (as Shawn tells us) is "never allowed."

Once again, Dave is confusing this issue by presuming that since the damage took place before the good end (surrender of the Japanese) that this proves a bad means achieved the good end. In other words, he is assuming that these things have to be in sequence of time when indeed they do not have to be for double effect to remain in effect.

Therefore, the bombings are unjustifiable once again, on this separate and distinct ground.

I have already disproved this notion so we need not say more about it.

If, to speak theoretically, somehow we had had the technology then to wipe out 200,000 Japanese soldiers, and very few civilians as nonintended "collateral damage," then the act would have been quite acceptable by these standards. But since the dead were some 95% civilians, the rationale doesn't wash (as that is the very opposite ration of what should be for this to be a moral act). It was, therefore, an evil act. And one must not commit eveil, even for the achievement of a great good. Such is not Christian ethical thought. Period.

The readers are asked to notice that again Dave states his personal opinion as if that is somehow a constituent factor in making non-normative assessments. Furthermore, he goes back to the numbers game again and fails to recognize that double effect does not depend on factors such as “few”, “many”, or “all” to be viable. What is the issue here is the objective assessments themselves and a bomb is not unjust or just based on the number of people it can kill. Instead, it is either unjust or just by virtue of whether its use conforms to objective moral principles. And double effect is an objective moral principle. That is not to say that we can or cannot differ on how it applies but subjective arguments (as Dave is using) cannot trump objective ones (as I am using). If Dave wants to trump me on this subject, he has to approach these things from a non-normative standpoint. Otherwise, he fails to make his case with equal viability as I have done.

The good effect must be sufficiently desirable to compensate for the allowing of the bad effect. In forming this decision many factors must be weighed and compared, with care and prudence proportionate to the importance of the case. Thus, an effect that benefits or harms society generally has more weight than one that affects only an individual; an effect sure to occur deserves greater consideration than one that is only probable; an effect of a moral nature has greater importance than one that deals only with material things.

If the pro-bomb calculations of the potential future dead in a non-bomb scenario are anywhere near correct, this criteria would seem to be met also.

Thank you.

However, as in the previous example, it cannot be reasonably argued that the bombings were a morally good or neutral acts themselves.

I have already disproved this notion so we need not say more about it.

Since the principle itself (and Shawn's own commentary on it) rules out using a bad, evil, immoral act for the purposes of producing good effects, this is a moot point, no matter how good the effects may be. A good effect indeed was produced (the surrender), but the means to achieve it were evil. Therefore, they are not justifiable.

I have already disproved the second premise he makes in the last sentence so we need not say more about it.

Of these four conditions the first two are general rules of morality. A person is never allowed to perform a morally bad action. Nor may one ever positively will an evil effect of an action, even though the act would otherwise be lawful...The third and fourth conditions enumerated above pertain specifically to the principle of the double effect.

The bombings fail the criteria of the second sentence above, and the second (the evil effect if civilian deaths was in fact willed, and it is absurd to rationalize otherwise, as if it were not a certainty beforehand; so evil effects were willed by means of inherently evil acts).

Again, notice that Dave fails to recognize this principle of argumentation for what it is. Again, it is not a matter of knowing whether or not there will be civilian deaths Dave, it is a matter of permitting the action but not positively willing it. The doctor who does not will the abortion of an unborn child when operating on its mother for cancer of the uterus but who knows that an abortion spontaneously will likely take place as a result is not held as blameworthy. That is the principle in play here. It is an objective one not a subjective one as you try to make of it.{9}

The bombings (in terms of good effects alone) can pass muster for Principles III and IV, but since the crucial premise ("such an act must be good and not evil in the first place") is absent, and since good effects alone were not all that was accomplished, it ultimately fails there too. Shawn and proponents obviously emphasize almost entirely Principles III and IV, because these are most plausibly met by the result of surrender and the saving of so many thousands of lives. But they neglect (as is quite evident in his present argument) the presuppositional, preliminary ethical considerations of Principles I and II, which bring down the effort, and make III and IV null and void, as instances of use of a bad means to achieve a good end (violation of a bedrock principle of Christian ethics and morality).

I have already proven that Dave is wrong on his assessments of my arguments on double effect (which I remind the readers were given thumbs up by a trained Catholic philosopher) with regards to the first two points so his concurrence on the last two means that the arguments remain intact, stable, and valid.

I freely grant the good intentions and good faith of those who disagree with me on this.

As do I Dave. You have shown a remarkable unfamiliarity for the complexities of this subject matter but I do not for an instant believe you are of poor intentions or poor faith. Good people with good intentions can be spectacularly wrong at times after all. In your case, that is what we are seeing here as my arguments more than adequately demonstrate.

But I cannot agree with their moral logic.

Since you do not properly understand the moral principle of double effect, I can understand why you do not agree with my logic here. Logic is objective not subjective and you have been arguing from a largely subjective weltanschauung. This has been well established and is not even debatable: heck, your very arguments speak for themselves in this respect.

In my opinion, it violates traditional just war criteria, the specific principle of double effect, and also the standards of the larger natural law, whereby it is instinctively known by virtually everyone that deliberate killing of women and children (in wartime as well as outside of it) is inherently wrong.

I have shown that Dave's premises on all three of these points is in error. He is right about the part viz. deliberate killing of women and children but he is wrong to assert that it applies in this instance without actually positing an argument for the assertion first. That is not to say that the latter would vindicate his view mind you but at the very least it would present a viable alternative viewpoint for consideration.

It's been argued that one might obliterate the civilian / soldier distinction in a militaristic society like wartime Japan, with its suicides and maniacal tendencies, etc.

To a certain extent this is true.

But how could a three-month-old baby be part of that, or a senile old woman, or a mentally ill man, etc.?

No one says that they would be Dave. Indeed, even by military conscription requirements in Japan at the time of the war (which I will go over later), these parties would be excluded. This is like saying, “even if we could obliterate the cancer in a woman’s womb with its obvious deadly implications, how could the death of an unborn child be part of that process”??? And it is in providing an answer to that kind of question which is why theologians have long propounded the double effect principle for explaining situations with varying effects (some good, some bad) and seeking to provide a barometer for regulating such situations.

Even if we were to grant that (which would take some doing), there would still be many exceptions to the rule. The bombings, therefore, would still have to be judged as immoral, since they involved the killing (and I am not averse to using the word "murder" after having established the ethical reasoning chain above) of many "innocents" in terms of the war.

Since I have already broken his "ethical reasoning chain, I do find the use of the word “murder” to be highly inappropriate for this discussion.

This is a far different scenario from a smart bomb taking out a munitions factory (the intent), with part of the shell skidding off to a house a mile away and burning it and its inhabitants (not the intent at all). That is tragic but justifiable.

That is retrojection since such weapons were not available in 1945; ergo, we need not interact with it.

Dropping a nuclear bomb into the center of a heavily-populated city is not.

Of course Dave ends his statements with that sentence because it gives a veneer of legitimacy to his arguments. And I must at least acknowledge that Dave did mount a effort at interacting with one of my threads so for that I thank him. However, he errs in thinking that he can argue this thread without taking into account the seven threads I posted which preceded it and which set forth many of the key points which this complex issue requires if it is to be properly comprehended.

Dave apparently thought that he could blithely dismiss my other threads (and my last one as well) and that somehow seeking to disprove this one would make my entire structure fall like a house of cards. If that is the case, then he at least deserves credit for trying some strategery in his overall approach of “cut and paste citation” prooftexting coupled with highly subjective argumenation. But as I noted in the post you have just read, his arguments on double effect fail since he does not grasp the concept properly nor how to argue it in a viable manner. Nor for that matter does he properly represent either the nature of the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the principle of just war. That is all I will say on the above stuff except to remind the readers that in the next thread, I will be showing why the third hand citations on which he built his original attempt at “argumentation” collapse like a cheap tent in a big wind when subjected to moderate scrutiny.

To move onto part II of this thread, click HERE...


{1} And yes, this has been a monologue. It cannot be a dialogue until you actually interact with my arguments and engage in non-normative arguments as I have presented with non-normative responses.

{2} Threads on the Atomic Bomb Droppings, Military and Statistical Calculations, the Moral and Ethical Aspects of the Subject Matter in Question, Etc...A Rerum Novarum Recapitulation Thread (circa August 28, 2005)

All threads posted between August 17, 2005 and August 26, 2005 pertaining to this issue are listed at the above link:

Clarifying Some Additional Points on the Atomic Bombing Subject With Dave Armstrong (circa August 28, 2005)

{3} See footnote two for details. The last of the two threads in that note was mostly a clarification of some points and an exhortation to Dave to actually have a dialogue –which I remind you involves listening which he obvious has not been doing–and also to can the “Google scholar” schtick.

{4} The reason I posted a "points to ponder" thread on the subject of normative argumentation back on August 13, 2005 (four days before the original Hiroshima posting) was because I anticipated that this may well happen with those who disagreed on the issue of the bombings. And with the above words, you have played according to my predicted script by trying to make an objective principle of argument into a subjective one by postulating the subjective notion of "too many" into the mix. And with that, your entire thread of argument inexorably unravels.

Your use of "too many civilian casualties" is the downfall since you are then obligated to tell us what "enough" would be in your scenario. Would 50 be "enough"??? What about 1,000??? 10,000??? 40,000??? 70,000??? 100,000??? 400,000??? 1,000,000??? At what point is your subjective criteria of "enough" met and we have moved into the realm of the "too many"??? And furthermore, how can you objectively verify that you have reached the point of "too many" in your statements Dave??? That is a trick question actually because the answer of course is that you cannot. The reason you cannot is because you are arguing from a normative standard which is by its very nature subjective rather than objective. And that is why you have yet to actually enter into the subject of double effect and whether it does or does not apply. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 28, 2005)]

{5} Another way of saying it is this: even if this situation happened a thousand times or a hundred thousand times, the principle I have outlined is viable because it is an objective one. It does not depend for validity on a certain number to be valid and another to be invalid as that is subjective criteria. If it is valid for one, it is valid for one hundred, one thousand, or one hundred thousand, etc. If it is not valid for one, it is not valid for one hundred, one thousand, or one hundred thousand, etc. That is what I mean by objective criteria but note again gentle readers, Dave has been avoiding that like a vampire fleeing from a crucifix.

{6} The same thing happened when Dave reposted an argument I shredded in detail as if reposting the discredited argument meant it was still a viable one. Here is how I responded to that in a previous brief posting:

I would be remiss in not noting that you seem to be posting anything (and from whatever dubious sources) in a disjointed fashion to try and make your case. For one example of many which could be mentioned, you cite Ralph Raico and treat his stuff as "much needed information." Dave, I absolutely destroyed many of the arguments he makes in my posting…particularly his regurgitation of the 46,000 figure:

But the worst-case scenario for a full-scale invasion of the Japanese home islands was forty-six thousand American lives lost.

I explained in detail and with actual mathematical models of battlefield casualties in the Pacific theatre why that figure was a pipedream. You not only do not interact with my arguments but you place them on the same plain as Raico's drivel. And that brings us to Patrick J. Buchanan who reiterates the same stuff and tries to pass off Raico as a respectable scholar.

I will not go into how shoddy Mr. Buchanan's scholarship is when discussing these issues as I have done this at other times. He is so partisan that he is willing to prooftext sources to present his case. I originally thought that [a certain ideologue] was the culprit when I wrote that thread but discovered later that [the ideologue] got his information from Mr. Buchanan. Now you are citing the same Mr. Buchanan on this matter -not to mention on the subject of just war??? Who will be cited next, Mother Jones??? The World Socialist Workers Party Newspaper??? The Journal of Historical Review??? Any source you can remotely find to give credence to your already held position??? How is that in any sense to be a constructive dialogue.

You should recognize that not all sources are of the same weight and anytime you have third hand quotes (of which many of your quotes happen to be btw) that there can be misrepresentation or quotes could be posited without concern for actual context[...]: all of which mitigates against their viability as evidences...

Remember, people can say anything and I have not merely undermined many of the arguments from many of the sources you cite but have obliterated them. You cannot expect me to take your reposting of them as if they are still viable to be serious…that is not only not authentic dialogue but it is its very antithesis. [I. Shawn McElhinney: Excerpt from Cor ad Cor Loquitur Comments Thread (circa August 27, 2005)]

{7} Here is an argument I made in reasonable detail which Dave evasively passed over as if said evasion constitutes a valid response to what I said:

Carter Clarke was not a Brigader General in 1945 but was instead a colonel. And as he was in the Army and assigned to head up SSA in early 1943, Colonel Clarke would not have overseen the dispatches on the Japanese from at least early 1943 onward. The reason of course should be obvious: he was the founder of the Venona branch of the MAGIC network and the Army had no involvement in the Japanese decoding from that point onward. Colonel Clarke worked on Venona from February 2, 1943 through at least October of 1949...I am uncertain as to if he was involved with Venona past that point. Nonetheless, it is not even deniable that Colonel Carter Clarke was involved in the founding of Venona in early 1943 and that with Venona, Colonel Clarke was involved with Soviet cabels not Japanese ones. For this reason, citing him as MAGIC operative in the position as Doug Long does (in the context of Pacific Theatre codebreaking and information gathering under MAGIC) is very sloppy scholarship (to put it nicely). [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 28, 2005)]

The readers can note that Dave quite obviously did not bother reading what I what is noted in this footnote as well as footnote six are adequate evidences of.

{8} See footnotes two, four, and five.

{9} See footnote five.

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