I read this John Pilger article in the paper today and I must say I found it rather striking. Pilger is a fairly renowned/condemned polemicist but the article is worth reading and evaluating on its merits before dismissing it on the basis that the author has form, so to speak.
Iíve always found it incredibly hard to judge anything that occurred in that insane and extraordinary time sitting, as we do, comfortably sixty years removed from events and so, while the action itself was unquestionably abhorrent, Iíve never felt qualified to properly criticise the decision to use the Bomb in Japan. After six long years of conflict and millions of deaths I can see why the ability to bring things to a close rather than face a continuing and bloody invasion with further losses was utilised even if the reality of using a nuclear weapon is as terrifyingly horrible as it is. I havenít been sure whether I would support it or not and Iím very ambivalent about the whole thing but it was the starkness of choices available and the consequences either way that I thought somewhat obviated my thoughts from being pertinent.
What really caught my eye in the article, rather than the implications and accusations exposed in relation to contemporary positioning, and made me ruminate on my position, was this paragraph:
The National Archives in Washington contain US government documents that chart Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US dispels any doubt that the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including "capitulation even if the terms were hard". Instead, the US secretary of war, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was "fearful" that the US air force would have Japan so "bombed out" that the new weapon would not be able "to show its strength". He later admitted that "no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the bomb". His foreign policy colleagues were eager "to browbeat the Russians with the bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip". General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the bomb, testified: "There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis." The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Truman voiced his satisfaction with the "overwhelming success" of "the experiment".
If thatís accurate it paints a very different picture of things and I would be very interested to see those documents. Iíve always considered that the use of nuclear weaponry brought with it military and political advantage and status but I have equally also thought that it was chosen as a course of action not because of this but in addition to it. If it wasnít a matter of choosing what was perceived to be the lesser evil as there were limited choices though, Iím certainly inclined to feel far less ambivalent about the matter.
Anyhow, thoughts on this or the general morality of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?