Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Truman and the A Bomb

I just finished a great book from Bill O'Reilly called, "Killing the Rising Sun," about WWII with Japan.  I knew little about this part of the War, unlike the War in Europe.  All I knew was that my grandpa Bill was in the navy then, stationed in the South Pacific, as a mechanic on the ships.  He spoke little about it, but he did show me his scrapbook of pictures that him and a buddy took while they were there.  

Within those pages were pictures of half-naked natives, bombed-out buildings, and war planes.  He also had some Japanese money and postcards that he got off a dead Japanese soldier.  As  a child, I didn't understand why he called them Japs, but now as an adult, I realize that he was not the only one.

Many people of that era did.  Their Pearl Harbor was like our 9-11.  They saw them as the enemy, and most agreed with the need to use the A-bomb.  I wasn't sure about anything.  All I could remember was the picture of a naked girl on a magazine, the mushroom cloud in the sky.  I guess I never wondered if it was a good idea or not.

A few years ago, "Unbroken" was a popular book and movie, a true story about a man who survived such horrendous atrocities in a POW camp.  I have also read "China Dolls" by Lisa See about the Rape of Nanking.  But I wanted to read this latest book, as I have read all of O'Reilly's other Killing books, and found them to be honest and informational, as well as interesting reading.  I don't know which military was worse, the Nazis or the Japanese.  I cried, felt sick, and wondered how people could do such horrible things to others.  It seems, like the Nazis, that the Japanese military and its leaders, saw all others as inferior.  They even saw their emperor as their god, and this attitude trickled down through the civilians.  Even after all the destruction of their cities due to Allied bombing, and all the starving and dying, they still saw their empower as their god.  How sad to see such a horrible and brutal man, one puny, little man, as a god.  All he cared about was himself.  This was evident when he was willing to surrender but wanted a promise that he would not be convicted along with others for war crimes.  And it took 2 A-bombs to do it!  It boggles the mind to think of one so selfish and so evil.  But then again, there have been many dictators before and since.  

"Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans." 

Harry Truman had a difficult decision to make. It is not something that he, nor anyone else, enjoyed, but found it was out of necessity.  Sometimes diplomacy just doesn't work.  Japan had laid a swath of destruction through China and the South Pacific.  It wasn't going to end. There was no other choice to be made.  
We can live in our ivory towers and pretend that all people are basically good and just want peace.  But that is not reality.  One only needs to look to history to see that, and even now, how there are still dictators out there destroying their own people, because they can.  

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