Friday, August 26, 2005

Expanding Futher on the Subject of Double Effect Viz. the Atomic Bombings:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

I received an email back on the seventeenth of August to the thread I posted earlier that day on the atomic bombings and the problems common to ivory tower revisionists in discussing the subject. The emailer's words will be in green font. My comments will remain in regular font while any quotes are posted in darkblue font.

Well I read it, interesting laying out of the facts. However, I really don't see you outlining why dropping the bomb was a neutral act or how the principle of double effect applies here. (I'm not disagreeing with you per se, but I could see this as a valid criticism from the legalistic [Commentator].)

The first principle was to point out that The Commentator's assertions of 46,000 casualties was a misuse of statistics and that the actual estimates when all factors had been taken into consideration -only some of which I used in that note- pointed to the approach for lessening lives being that of dropping the bombs as we did.

The dropping of the bombs by my estimates saved 430,000 Japanese lives as well as preventing about a million plus military casualties. (That excludes civilian deaths and casualties mind you.) The dropping of the bombs also spared by my estimates between 65,000 and 350,000 American lives (if not more) and between 184,000-and 650,000 Japanese war casualties in a best case scenario. I also ran scenarios where the deaths amongst Japanese would be 414,000-460,000 and the casualties between 1,153,000 and 1,700,000. In light of these factors, I think you can see why The Commentator's assertions are not only ludicrous but a downright pipe dream.

From the standpoint of limiting death and injury, the dropping of the bombs was a slam dunk. That was the first point noted in that posting. The second was the assertion by The Commentator's that evil was being done for a good result. That is where the double effect principle comes into play.

The principle of double effect applies because the targets chosen were military ones and therefore the deaths of civilians were a derivative effect of destroying military targets rather than a primary focus. The situation is similar to one where a pregnant woman has cancer surgery despite knowledge that such surgery will result in an abortion: if the abortion is not willed then there is no sin should it happen. That is the same principle that is at work here.

Duble effect also comes into play in the area of self-defense (i.e. you accidentally kill someone when defending yourself from attack) and numerous other moral and ethical subjects. It furthermore comes into play with the whole interfaith gathering subject not to resurrect that subject at the present time. I remind you of the four criteria for double effect from my web posting -the latter of which is linked to the Hiroshima thread (in footnote eleven) for a reason. Nonetheless, let us unpack the criteria step by step so that it is easier to see how this moral/ethical principle applies to the subject in question:

---The act itself must be morally good or at least indifferent.

The bombing could be viewed either as a moral good (in light of how the bombs flattened two military targets and spared many deaths and casualties on both sides which would have occurred as a result of a land invasion) or as morally indifferent (in light of the fact that the bombs destructive range was known but in light of the known dispositions of the enemy -coupled with a desire to preserve lives on both sides- the two combine to essentially create a moral wash of sorts). I happen to favour the latter myself but I am open to persuasion of the former. Either way, the first critieria is met with the bombings.

---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.

President Truman (as the agent involved here acting in the US's stead) made it clear in his diary that though he anticipated civilian casualties that he chose these targets for their military significance: the latter being the reason he did not choose Tokyo or Kyoto which were heavily civilian populated and had no military significance.{1} In this sense, the bad effect can be said to be not positively willed but instead permitted or indirectly voluntary in a derivative sense.

Furthermore, a limiting of the lives which the bombs achieved could not have been realized by a land invasion alone; ergo that was not an option to avoid the bad effect. For other reasons I will not mention (but which an email on the matter from my friend Tim Tull the WWII maestro that I will post in a few days will make clear by implication){2} the blockade idea of "bringing the war machine to a halt" would not work either despite The Commentator's fantasies on the matter. If The Commentator is interested in saving lives, a blockade as they mentioned may have taken two years to reach a surrender and we have no way to estimate how many millions would have died in that time from starvation.{3}

---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.

I think we can definitely say that the good effect of limiting overall deaths and achieving a quick end to the war were a direct flow from the action itself and as immediate as the bad effect -albeit not necessarily in order of time. In other words, the surrender and quick end of the war and the sparing of hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives was produced directly from the actions themselves (with the civilian deaths being a derivative thereof). For that reason, it is not using a bad means to a good end as The Commentator asserted.

---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.

This factor in light of what I noted already is easily met.

And as all four criteria for double effect are met with the actions we took with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the principle of double effect can be said to legitimately apply here.


{1} Whether or not a later bombing of Kyoto or Tokyo in this fashion would have similarly been unjustified is debatable. Certainly though, it would have been with the first two bombs being dropped since those were heavily-populated cities with no military (and only psychological) significance.

{2} The email from Tim I mentioned in that response was posted back on the nineteenth of August.

{3} For further clarification on the matter, I refer the readers to the email posted earlier this morning the text of which I have forwarded to Tim for verification of the contents thereof. (It looks very accurate to me but if Tim sees problems with it, I will clarify them in a short update to that thread.)

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And Yet Still More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontificatons" Thread:

Actually, this is an argument against the critic whose stuff I responded to HERE. Here is the text which the emailer refers to from that posting (the words of the interlocuter will be in italics in reposting the thread):

We could simply have blockaded them, in which the responsibility for civilian deaths would fall solely on the shoulders of the Japanese leaders, or simply accepted a conditional surrender.

No, a blockade which resulted in millions of starvation deaths would have placed the responsibility for civilian death on our shoulders.

That Hiroshima built carriers was irrelevant.

No, that situation made Hiroshima a legitimate military target; ergo the assertion of irrelevance does not stick.

Under the US air and naval blockade they were not capable of doing such.

So goes the revisionist myth. As I noted in an email to another critic who raised the blockade idea:

The blockade proposal (made by the commentator) and the land invasion proposal would have been very costly in that respect -certainly far more than the option we did choose. With the blockade, there would have been immeasurable numbers of deaths by starvation. Why is death by starvation more acceptable than death by atomic bomb???

The answer of course is that the latter is seen as more "politically correct"...the little dirty factoid that those who play revisionist history with the atomic bomb droppings do not care to admit to. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum circa yesterday]

In response to the above comments from the interlocuter, I received this email about twelve hours ago:

Your interlocutor's assertion that the U.S. Air and Naval "blockade" of Japan prohibited it from building aircraft carriers. The Japanese launched the following carriers in 1944: Shinano, Taiyo, Unryu, Amagi, and Katsuragi. The Shinano, converted after Midway from construction as a Yamato-class superbattleship, was the largest aircraft carrier in the world (by tonnage) until the United States commissioned the Forrestal in 1955. Japan was also building the Kasagi, Aso, and Ikoma which were not completed by war's end.

And while I could submit this thread to my buddy Tim Tull (the WWII maestro) for verification of the facts; nonetheless I am no slouch on the subject myself and I see nothing inaccurate in what the emailer says. As far as what I said on the blockade, they made the following comments:

BTW, civilian death estimates from the Allied blockade of Germany at the close of WWI run from 850,000 to 1.5 million. The calculation is disputed because of different estimates on the blockade's effect on the 1918 influenza epidemic in Germany / Austria. (Germany's influenza death rate was over 200% of Great Britain's).

Again, these figures look accurate to me. I will send this thread to Tim for verification but in the meantime, let this stand as yet another argument against the blockade idea as advanced by The Commentator and reiterated by the interlocuter from yesterday's posting.

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And More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontificatons" Thread:

This is a response to two arguments posited against my original posting on the atomic bombings. I responded in short order to two critics back on August 20th and to differentiate between them, I will use black and fire coloured fonts for their words. My words will remain in regular font.

What if,in WWII, the allies developed the capability to drop enough troops and equipment into civilian populations such as Hiroshima, bypassing the Japanese military? Further, what if they had the capability of quickly pulling out before the Japanese military could respond? And finally, what if the American soldiers killed the same number of civilians as the bombs? Would such a tactic have been moral?

Lots of what ifs here P. Nonetheless...

What if,in WWII, the allies developed the capability to drop enough troops and equipment into civilian populations such as Hiroshima, bypassing the Japanese military?

They did not have that capability so the question is a normative one. Normative questions are subjective by nature and do not depend on an objective review of the facts but instead on individual "feelings." They are thus quite open to the logical fallacy of solipsism factoring into the equation. For that reason, I would be very careful in advancing such questions if I were you.

Further, what if they had the capability of quickly pulling out before the Japanese military could respond?

Which they did not have...again, you are asking a normative question.

And finally, what if the American soldiers killed the same number of civilians as the bombs? Would such a tactic have been moral?

As I noted in the post above, there would have been significantly more deaths and casualties with a land invasion no matter how you crunched the numbers. Likewise (though I did not mention it) the blockade idea of The Commentator would have resulted in deaths by starvation of at least a million civilians if not more in the two years or more it would have taken to become effective in ending the war. So if your choices are (i) a blockade where a million or more civilians perished from starvation (ii) a land invasion where there would be upwards of two million or more total casualties (and 30-50% or more of those deaths) and three to six months or more of land war with the additional loss of American lives: all of this as a best case scenario or (iii) dropping two atomic bombs on military targets that killed about 220,000 people and ended the war in less than a week, which choice looks the most moral to you???

Remember, we have to look at facts and try to make an objective assessment here. Normative questions as you post cannot be answered by any theory. This was well covered by Dr. Walter E. Williams in a recent posting to my weblog and what he notes bears serious consideration by everyone involved in discussing these kinds of subjects.

Is it moral for the military to bypass a foreign army and specifically target civilians?

I know why you are asking this question and it is to posit that we did this with the bombings. (I got some emails from people trying this tactic so I am not unaware of what this kind of question intends to do.)

As I pointed out in my Hiroshima thread, we did not do this at all but (apparently) some people do not want to discuss things from an objective assessment but prefer to deal with normative questions: the latter of which have a "X should have been done" or "should we not have tried X instead" kind of component to them. As the latter questions are purely subjective in nature, they cannot be interacted with by an attempt to do so objectively since you state them not from emperical evidences but instead from personal opinions.

We should strive to avoid the subjectivist approach to argumentation in this kind of discussion (which puts one in trap of solipsism more often than not) and instead stick to verifiable data rather than resorting to normative questioning.

Gen Douglas MacArthur maintained the position until his death that the bombings weren't necessary.

Is this the same General Douglas MacArthur who wanted to nuke Chinese cities north of the Yalu River in the Korean War??? The reason MacArthur did not view their use as necessary on Japan is not because he was opposed to the weapons themselves.

He did hold the position that they were on the verge of surrender.

And he was very much wrong about that as the MAGIC cables established quite clearly. If I recall correctly, those who were privy to the transmissions were to a man in support of using the bombs. MacArthur however died in 1964 was was not aware of them to my knowledge. So I do not fault MacArthur for not knowing that though since MAGIC was heavily classified at the time and was not partially declassified until 1978 (and fully declassified in 1995).

I do not doubt for an instant that if MacArthur had the same information as Truman, Stimpson, and other officials in the War Department on the situation in Japan that he would have taken a different view...that is, if he favoured a quick and casualty-limited ending rather than a long drawn out battle.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Points to Ponder:

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat. [President Theodore Roosevelt]

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And Yet More Feedback on the "Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Profound Problems With Ivory Tower Revisionist Pontificatons" Thread:

This is another response to my recent weblog posting on Hiroshima and the atomic bomb droppings. Unlike the others posted, this one is on balance more critical and it touches not only on my own material but some of those who gave positive feedback on the original thread. I post these in the interest of providing some balance since not all feedback on that thread was of a positive nature. The words of the critic will be in black coloured font and an ally (of sorts) will have their words posted in purple coloured font. Any citations I make will be in shale coloured font.

So in other words, [Shawn] completely ignores the fact that we deliberately attacked civilians,

Historical ignorance and revisionism must be bliss. The truth is, we attacked legitimate military targets and there were civilian casualties as a derivative result of this action being taken.

and keeps spouting off the "We'd take more casualties invading than simply nuking them" line.

Apparently this person does not understand the principle of double effect in moral and ethical argumentation. I alluded to it in the posting by adding a footnote linking to a thread whereby I explained this moral/ethical principle and how it applies.

He fails to understand that deliberately attacking civilians is a moral evil, no matter what, as well as that it was not "Invade or nuke."

Again, we did not "deliberately attack civilians." If this person is incapable of getting the little facts right, I am left to wonder how they expect to understand more complex moral and ethical principles from which the little facts are built on.

We could simply have blockaded them, in which the responsibility for civilian deaths would fall solely on the shoulders of the Japanese leaders, or simply accepted a conditional surrender.

No, a blockade which resulted in millions of starvation deaths would have placed the responsibility for civilian death on our shoulders.

That Hiroshima built carriers was irrelevant.

No, that situation made Hiroshima a legitimate military target; ergo the assertion of irrelevance does not stick.

Under the US air and naval blockade they were not capable of doing such.

So goes the revisionist myth. As I noted in an email to another critic who raised the blockade idea:

The blockade proposal (made by the commentator) and the land invasion proposal would have been very costly in that respect -certainly far more than the option we did choose. With the blockade, there would have been immeasurable numbers of deaths by starvation. Why is death by starvation more acceptable than death by atomic bomb???

The answer of course is that the latter is seen as more "politically correct"...the little dirty factoid that those who play revisionist history with the atomic bomb droppings do not care to admit to.

Premise 1: To deliberately attack a civilian target in war is objectively sinful.

Since we did not deliberately attack a civilian target in war, the first premise fails to sustain itself and we need not entertain the rest of the argument.

Premise 2: The proposition "The ends justify the means" has been condemned by the Church.

See my previous comments.

Conclusion: There is no just and moral reason to deliberately attack civilians.

See my previous comments

In addition, it may be noted that Pope Pius XII condemned the nuclear bombings

Those who make this assertion never seem to want to provide the proof. Likewise, this person apparently fits the common mould since if they had the proof (and further, if it was convincing proof at that), then they would have cited it chapter and verse in this response. That they did not do this is quite telling to say the least for those with eyes to see..

and the Second Vatican Council condemned the strategic use of nuclear weapons, such as that demonstrated at Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

"Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation." Gaudium et Spes 80.

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not aimed indiscriminately. They were instead targeted at military installations. The deaths of civilians (which did happen) was a derivative of this action but not the intention of the action itself. This is where the moral and ethical principle of double effect comes into play. (A topic I have delved into before on my weblog.)

I am starting to remember why I do not post much at message boards anymore.{1} The main reasons for this position involve the tendency of those who want to have a discussion on those mediums often taking the approach of (i) making grandiose assertions, (ii) not bothering to sustain said assertions with source citations in proper context for the examination of others, (iii) repeating the same easily debunkable assertions in their argumentations -assertions I might add which they make without any pretense at demonstration whatsoever. Whatever else someone wants to say about my arguments, I do not do any of the above things and never have.{2}

Lastly, it may be noted that his commentator's idea that Stalin would have made a grab at Western Europe is ridiculous.

This was obviously written by someone who was unfamiliar with the true capabilities of the Soviet military...not to mention unfamiliar with the kind of person who was Josef Stalin.

Stalin did not have the logistical capability to do so, much less the sealift capability to take England.

There was nothing that stood in the way of the Red Army sweeping across Western Europe -particularly if we removed military personnel and equipment and moved it to the Pacific theatre. And what we had there would not have prevented the Soviets from taking continental Western Europe.

Remember, the Soviets had by far the most powerful military force in Europe at the time. And once they swept across Western Europe -which they would have if they had detected any weakness whatsoever in our resolve to defend it- they could have blockaded England and brought the latter to her knees without the kind of scruples about such actions as we in the US would have had with doing the same thing to the Japanese. Stalin after all was not against doing whatever he needed to do to achieve his objections -as my ancestors who died in the Ukrainian terror famine could amply testify to (if they still had voices to speak about it).

Furthermore, even assuming that the Red Army actually obeyed their orders (they may have hated the Germans with a passion, but that hatred did not extend to the rest of the West), they would have faced these nuclear weapons, and the use of nukes against an army in the field is completely moral.

We did not have enough nuclear weapons to use them in Europe at the time. Furthermore, the nukes were not pinpoint in accuracy and would have wiped out a lot of civilians in the European theatre. Unlike in Japan (where they military-civilian line was blurred for not a few reasons), the civilians in the European nations would have been far more innocent than many of the Japanese civilians were.

Whether they actually could have beaten us is a very good question.

Yes it is. I for one do not believe the Americans would have had the patience to deal with another war in Europe so soon after the surrender of Germany...particularly since we still had Japan to deal with. By contrast, the Soviets were on an imperialist mission and would not have hesitated if we had shown any weakness in this situation...the kind of weakness that a long protracted land invasion or a blockade attempting to wait the Japanese out with would have involved.{3}

It must be remembered that Nazi and other anti-communist guerillas (such as the Ukranian Insurgent Army) managed to keep fighting until the 1960's in places.

This is true. But again, the Soviets would have used whatever they wanted without scruples against the Nazis and others who were still holding out...such as nuclear bombs without any concern whatsoever for those who would have died as a result.

In response to another contributor commenting on the text I responded to above, someone else had this to say.

CC, that's rather a warping of the facts.

Indeed it was MC. But that is what happens when people try to argue historical events and situations in selective fashion without concern for the sitz im leben.

The conditional surrender they requested pre-Hiroshima was entire preservation of the Japanese hierarchy, no occupation, and no interference with their actions in Korea. They'd basically withdraw from China and the Pacific.

Precisely. And there was no way we could have accepted that.

As for ends and means, the argument is the validity of the means. And let it not be claimed our church has not justified the means via the end before.

Whatever the case with your above statement, it does not apply in this instance. Instead, as I noted to CC, the proper interpretive matrix is the moral and ethical principle of double effect. I am coming to the conclusion that I am going to have to unpack this so it is better understood.

As for Vatican II, please everyone note when the Council happened.

Oh happened in the 1960's. This was the era of rampant revisionism on the part of not a few parties in the secular world on recent events and circumstances. (The revisionist histories of the atomic bomb droppings happened at this time along with the revisionist histories of Pius XII: two significant examples worth mentioning.)

Historical revisionism is one of the many masks of marxism as I noted earlier this year. This is not to say that CC is a marxist of course but this parallel should be a sobering one for them as I see it.

As for your last posting on the subject MC, you interpreted GS 80 in the correct context.


{1} Signum Crucis and Anawim could vouch for the fact that prior to December 31, 2002, I was a frequent contributer to Steve's board for not a few years.

{2} If anything, I probably overdocument which is certainly far more preferable to underdocumenting (or ignoring the latter altogether).

{3} To reiterate footnote six from my August 17th posting:

There were 10,000 military aircraft targeted for Kamikaze missions against the US military along with roughly a quarter million or more soldiers in Hiroshima alone. Also, Hiroshima was not on Kyushu but instead was on Chukoyu one island up. So after an invasion at Kyushu, there would be fighting there and also with a quarter million more troops in Hiroshima which could either have remained there or moved east to Shikoku. Either way, there would have been no avoiding them since (unlike Europe) a blitzkreig tank attack strategy would not work and without such a lightening fast approach, the Japanese troops at Hiroshima would have been able to engage the enemy and also have knowledge of the terrain to their advantage too. But that is not all.

Since moving to Shikoku would have involved two island jumps instead of one as in going to Hiroshima (see this map for a visual guide), it is most probable that they would have gone through Hiroshima where the quarter million additional military troops were already stationed. Furthermore, there was approximately three million civilians who were instructed in taking a "last stand" against the possible invaders. This was not accounted for in the original numbers cited by The Commentator: the idea that the civilians would place themselves in the position of being considered military personnel by trying to kill invading American troops. Stop to consider that for a moment.

Imagine if you will a child with sharp objects (or civilian men and women) trying to use said objects as weapons on invading soldiers. And from there, I am sure you can imagine that such a tactic would not go on too long before the soldiers had to start shooting civilians simply to insure their own safety. After all, you cannot have people stabbing you in the back with sharp objects when you are at battle and at that point, civilians blur the lines between civilian and military personnel. And at that point, the "self-defense" approach would kick in and I guarantee you the deaths and casualties would probably double over any projections from a purely military standpoint.

Remember, with a quarter million troops in Hiroshima being engaged after the massive troop levels at Kyushu -and presuming we actually pushed north from there of course- and three million civilians instructed as noted above- the American forces would be outnumbered significantly. Hence, when I say 650,000 deaths (and one and a half million additional casualties if not more) amongst the Japanese populace, consider everything I noted in this note and you will recognize I am sure that these are not inaccurate estimates. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa August 17, 2005)]

Anyone who thinks that those 10,000 plus kamakaze planes (which were based solely in Hiroshima: they were not the only planes available for kamakaze missions I might add) would not have been used against the ships of any attempted long-term blockade on the part of the US is in need of a reality transplant.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Anti-War Protestors Target Wounded At Army Hospital

I would like to say that I am surprised by the report at the above thread but sadly, I am not. Readers are advised to interpret the above thread through the twin lenses of Greg's recent "points to ponder" thread as well as my July 3, 2005 "points to ponder" thread on the many masks of modern marxism.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Points to Ponder:

Isn't it ironic that those who incessantly wail about giving peace a chance every time this country takes up arms to protect itself promote policies of appeasement that always lead to bigger and bloodier wars.

The anti war crowd is also violent both in their rhetoric and in their actions.

So much for "Blessed are the peacemakers." [Greg Mockeridge (circa August 17, 2005)]

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Musings on the Third Anniversary of Rerum Novarum:
(From the Webmaster)

Yes my friends, today is the third annivesary of this weblog's existence. And while anniversaries have generally been acknowledged in six month increments during that span (excluding last February where nothing was said on it to my knowledge), somehow I have managed to get the date incorrect every time. So for the first time since I have marked an anniversary, I am not off by one day if you will: the result of checking my archives rather than going off of memory this time.

It is customary to involve myself in various kinds of unusual weblog indulgences on birthday anniversaries be they annual or biannual ones. And in light of how many have shown an unfamiliarity with (or have disputed) how to situate the atomic bombing subject within the matrix of double effect argumentation, I thought about posting on that matter today. However, as that can always be discussed later on, I would instead like to request on this occasion a reiteration of what I asked for a couple of days ago. Thankyou for your ever-increasing patronage the past three years and with God's will and your faithful readership, I shal blog again soon...

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Points to Ponder:
(On the Atomic Bombs and Their Usage)

The problem with doing moral calculus in hindsight is that it tends to treat the issues as mere variables in a problem. When you are the guy on the anvil being hammered by all parties and you need to make a decision NOW things are not quite that simple. Morality proceeds as much from character and good habits as it does from the facts of the case. In some cases more than one moral option may present itself so that there is no one "right" or "wrong" answer.

The most despicable people imaginable are those who vilify the man who made a choice in good faith under fire. It is one thing to say that they disagreed with his choice but another thing entirely to say that he was a bad person for choosing what he chose. That is not necessarily so. Sometimes a man can only do his best and hope that later generations will appreciate how hard his decision was.

The atomic bombing of Japan was a terrible event in our history that was thrust upon the US by circumstances. No one knew the extent of the damage the bombs would do. It was expected that an air-burst such as they did in both bombings would minimize fallout and that the primary concern would be the initial flash and the shock wave that followed. No one anticipated that there would be radiation casualties. It was thought that anyone close enough to be radiated would be killed outright by the physical effects of the blast.

Had we known this before hand, would we have used the bombs? I suspect that we would have. We might have modified the target selection or the altitude from which the bombs were dropped or even augmented the bombings with other ordnance. (It was initially planned that the atomic bombings would be accompanied by fire bombings immediately afterwards. Talk about adding insult to injury!) But the bombs would have been used.

If we had known, SHOULD we have used the bombs? That is a good question. I think that we should not have fire-bombed Dresden or Tokyo as we did. There were several other aspects of the demand for "unconditional surrender" that were in my mind morally dubious. A negotiated end to hostility in Germany might have saved many thousands of lives and prevented the Russian occupation that became a tinder point over the next 20 years. If the Japanese could have negotiated a surrender that allowed them to keep their emperor and protected their civilian populace from reprisals but still required occupation and the trial of war criminals, no invasion or bombing may have been necessary.

But this is wool-gathering. Truman made a choice based on the cards he was dealt and he did what he thought was right. In light of the horrors of this terrible war, I can not blame him for trying to end it swiftly and decisively by making the aggressors who started it bear the brunt of the final assault. [Dr. Art Sippo (circa August 20, 2005)]

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Tim Tull Comments on Dr. Art Sippo's Email:

[Notificaion: When going through various old drafts at this weblog, I found the following one from August of 2005 on the atomic bombing controversy which I intended to blog but forgot to. Nonetheless, I decided to publish it at this time for the sake of greater completion of that corpus of work and also to incorporate it into the recapitulation threads on these subjects published on August 28, 2005 and January 23, 2006. - ISM 3/21/06 4:00pm]

The email being commented on was blogged a couple of days ago and can be viewed in its entirety HERE.

The Dr. has the critical point that the argument must be extended. When the argument is narrowly focused into a bomb blast and civilian suffering, then liberals are able to tug at heart strings and move people to their side. That is why omission is the greatest weapon of mass distorition the left has in their arsenal. They play this game here, with Abu Ghirab, Guantanomo, the death penalty, homelessness etc.

What's even more dangerous[ly] illustrated in the Dr.'s response is his statement of "inhumane treatment" of prisoners of the Japanese. With the left's obsession of redefining language, one reads that and may be inclined to think of present-day American jailers turning up air conditioners to make prisoners shiver, putting underwear on a prisoners head or making dogs bark at them. These words "inhumane treatment" of prisoners now lump together the above mentioned with Japanese assigning thousands of captured Chinese women to multiple soldiers to rape until they were done with them and killed them. Or Japanese soldiers gloating of bayonetting children in Nanking. Or murdering 98 unarmed American contractors on Wake Island. This list goes into the millions of effected lives across the Pacific and we're left to equate this to an Iraqi terrorist prisoner standing on a box with a hood and harmless wires attached to his fingers in Abu Ghirab as a poster child to American "atrocities".

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