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Opinion

Opinion

Letter: Moral choice

May 12, 2013

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To the editor:

Should we have surrendered to Japan because nuclear war is too horrific? Unlike ersatz moralist Joe Douglas (“Missile message,” Public Forum, May 4) I do not think the Polaris missile display in Centennial Park symbolizes misguided patriotism. Mr. Douglas committed a false choice fallacy when he described the incontestable devastation of Hiroshima. He failed to recognize the vastly larger cost of any other course of action open to Truman. Blockade of Japan would have starved the most vulnerable of Japan while the bushido-driven military held out. Casualties on both sides in a land battle in Japan would have far exceeded the huge loss of life on one side from both atomic weapon attacks. Mr. Douglas failed to cite the fact that we were later able to peacefully demobilize (rather than kill or maim) more than 6.4 million armed Japanese troops.

In 1945 a Japanese officer said, “When the enemy actually lands, if we are ready to sacrifice a million men we will be able to inflict an equal number of casualties upon them. If the enemy loses a million men, then the public opinion in America will become inclined towards peace, and Japan will be able to gain peace with comparatively advantageous conditions.” (“The Last Great Victory” by Stanley Weintraub, p. 127)

The benefit of the prompt cessation of hostilities in 1945 gained by two nuclear weapons, avoided a savage ground war in Japan and thereby saved the lives of millions of noncombatants, allied troops and Japanese soldiers. Many of those Japanese saved from death created a friendly ally and the third-most productive economy in the world. The Polaris display reminds us of Truman’s correct and historic moral choice.

Comments

75x55 11 months ago

Curious comments regarding racism. Was this not a PRIMARY motivator for the Japanese in pushing their empire's boundaries - the inferiority of the other Asian races and the need to bring them under Japan's domination?

Not saying the concept is 'right' or 'acceptable' in a modern context, only an observation of contemporary conditions.

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Ron Holzwarth 11 months, 1 week ago

I read through all the comments, and there was a lot of discussion about atomic weapons. But, the Polaris missile on display in Centennial Park generates the most interest in children who know nothing of atomic weapons.

And to children, it's just a pretend rocket ship, and nothing more.

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pti3 11 months, 1 week ago

I have not looked long or hard. But did a quick google search on ethics of bombing Japan - right there was the UC Davis professor Dr. Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's work - oh, and on the same issue (and perspective) is an article in todays NY Times - see the science section. Mr. Kelly might take a look too:

For Witness to Nagasaki, a Life Focused on Science http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/05/12/science/for-witness-to-nagasaki-a-life-focused-on-science.html?from=science

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pti3 11 months, 1 week ago

Apparently some (at least one) of the student's theories are shared by a very credible scholar.

A Conversation with Tsuyoshi Hasegawa http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTwbEy...

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pti3 11 months, 1 week ago

Dear Sych: you can disagree with the paper - but it might be a stretch to say on the info you presented that a University of Michigan journal, even a student run one, is not credible. Feel free , if it is worth it to you, to address what you find problematic with it. It might not be the entirety of truth - nothing is (even many articles in eminent peer reviewed journals). And I did not say you were shocking, just the statement you made, and you addressed that. All the best to you.

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pti3 11 months, 1 week ago

Sych: thanks for explaining. No need for insults though. This paper gives interesting background on what went in to the decision to nuke 2 cities:

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Decision to Drop the Bomb By Jung Oh http://www.umich.edu/~historyj/pages_folder/articles/Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki.pdf

Excerpt from conclusion copied below: "Given the complexity of the decision, it is no wonder that perhaps no other events during World War II have generated as much scholarly controversy in recent memory than the atomic bombing of Japan. In analyzing the various motivations contributing to Truman’s decision, many factors merit consideration. They are, but not limited to, military reasons, desire for atomic diplomacy ( “impressing” the Soviets), racism, the need for a number of scientists to validate their work, fear of Congressional investigation for a two billion dollar expenditure, and the immeasurable momentum of the Manhattan Project itself in propelling the administration to use the bomb. No serious historian today fully believes that the bomb was used primarily as a means of saving American lives. In considering the counterfactual in which the bomb would not have been used, historians conclude that the bomb’s impact in achieving military objectives was quite nebulous. If the bomb was used with the intent of gaining leverage in..."

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Mike Ford 11 months, 1 week ago

liberty.....have you heard of this scandal? US Ambassador Steven was Chinook Indian from Oregon. His ancestors met Lewis and Clark in 1804-05. He was a descendant of Chief Comcomly. His tribe had it's federal recognition terminated under House Resolution 108 in 1954-55 during the Eisenhower Administration. When the termination policy was repudiated by President Nixon in 1972 the Menominee Tribe was restored to federal recognition as were numerous Oregon Tribes under President Carter in the late 1970's. The head of the BIA under President Clinton, Kevin Gover, Pawnee, was okay with the Chinook tribe of Ambassador Stevens being restored to federal recognition in 1999-2000. However, when the Bush Administration came in they unexpectedly reversed the federal acknowledgement of the Chinook, Duwamish, and a couple of Connecticut tribes due to the pressure applied by anti-Indian republicans like Frank Wolf of Virginia and the Abramov scandal. US Senator and longtime US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs member John McCain stood by and did nothing as US Ambassador Steven's Chinook Tribe was assailed by gop policies on Indians during the Bush Administration. Being one of the fox network quoters you probably know nothing of this liberty but that's to be expected. Keep blowing smoke...only your fellow deniers believe you.

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pti3 11 months, 1 week ago

It is simplistic to say "there is absolutely nothing at all humanly ethical about warfare" - (self defense?) the Geneva Convention among others outline ethical conduct for ex: prohibit unethical treatment of prisoners including torture. I realize the discussion is about dropping nuclear bombs on heavily populated cities - and the 'ethics' of that which even if you think it was okay- saying you have no problem with that is a little shocking. And then more problematic ethical issues came out of the atomic bomb including secret human experiments - many of which have not been accounted for as the recent report shows (above). And these were done in the name of the war that followed. What will be uncovered in 60 years that is classified today and found out by accident as is what happened with the recent exposure of horrific human experiments the US gov conducted on the most vulnerable Guatemalans in 46-48?

"CDC Report on Findings from the U.S. Public Health Service Sexually Transmitted Disease Inoculation Study of 1946–1948, Based on Review of Archived Papers of John Cutler, MD, at the University of Pittsburgh" http://www.hhs.gov/1946inoculationstudy/std_inoc_study.pdf

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Satirical 11 months, 1 week ago

For the sake of argument...

If dropping the bomb on Japan was ethical, why have we not done it since then, and why would we not even consider doing it today, unless faced with our own destruction?

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Bob Forer 11 months, 1 week ago

My father was a navigator and side gunner on a B-17. His entire crew sat for months at Scott Field in St. Louis waiting for orders to be shipped overseas. Shortly after the nuclear bombs were dropped, he like hundreds of thousands of other servicemen, were unceremoniously, but honorably discharged and sent home to their families. The war was over!!!

Later my father learned that he, like most of his similarly situated comrades, would have lead the planned invasion of Japan. Casualties had been projected in the hundreds of thousands.

Yes, for me it is very personal. I have absolutely no problem with the decision to drop the two bombs.

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freeadvice 11 months, 1 week ago

The Japanese brought the American's into the war when they bombed pearl harbor. Better to drop the atomic bombs there than lose another American soldier.

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pti3 11 months, 1 week ago

A related issue: secret nonconsensual radiation experiments reported in Missouri:

"Secret human testing: Victims in St. Louis speak, demand answers" http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/344422/3/Victims-of-secret-human-experiments-in-St-Louis-demand-answers Copied from site; "...the Army selected the poor and powerless, and exposed them to potentially harmful chemicals without their knowledge or consent."

"Missouri's two U.S. Senators, Democrat Claire McCaskill, and Republican Roy Blunt, are demanding more information about the secret human testing. But so far, the Army remains silent. The problem for the government is that survivors remember and for the first time are sharing their stories in hopes someone will listen and perhaps be held accountable."

See also the author's published research: The Manhattan-Rochester Coalition, research on the health effects of radioactive materials, and tests on vulnerable populations without consent in St. Louis, 1945--1970 by Martino-Taylor, Lisa, Ph.D. http://gradworks.umi.com/35/15/3515886.html

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Water 11 months, 1 week ago

This topic reminds me of the conversations about changing the name of Missouri Street in Lawrence because of Kansas-Missouri history. I think it was stemmed more from a college sports rivalry. Ergo, a self-referential child's egoic wounding.

The Polaris missile is there to commemorate a time in our history. Whether or not we can agree with the decisions and actions of their time, isn't necessarily the point. It's presence reminds us that some decisions are just tough.

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Mike Ford 11 months, 1 week ago

liberty.....the only thing to libya is the weakness of the gop and their imagination of a scandal...of course with their intellectually challenged constituency imagination is fact. are you proof of this? Furthermore Germany wasn't the cause of WW I. Serbia was. Instead of punishing Serbia or Austro-Hungary the Versailles Treaty punished Germany with reparation which they actually paid in full in the 1980's. That treaty drove Germany into such economic depression that a person like hitler was palatable. It looks like the gop now is trying so hard to stymie Mr. Obama like a bunch of haters and drive this country back into the bush putting us in the ditch years and get one of their crazies to become palatable to the non thinking constituency of this country. Pay much attention liberty or do you just repeat made up facts?

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verity 11 months, 1 week ago

If you want to go all hypothetical, what would have happened if such a destructive "peace" hadn't been imposed on Germany after World War I? What would have happened if Europe hadn't rushed to war after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand? Perhaps neither of the World Wars would have happened. We don't and can't know.

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Mike Ford 11 months, 1 week ago

moral imperialism.....ignoring consequences and facts and acting emotionally.... wrong then and the cause of trillions of dollars of debt now from ignoring the histories of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan and not acting objectively. the reason half of this country is immune to intelligence or facts. like building a presidential library for a president who likely didn't learn much from reading because he read elementary level books like much of his constituency.

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Liberty275 11 months, 1 week ago

If we had surrendered right after Pearl Harbor, I bet we'd have more sushi resturaunts and squid-flavored ice cream.

America just needs to do what other countrues tell it to do, then we won't have any more war. That would be so great!

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 months, 1 week ago

I've no doubt that Truman considered many of the hypotheticals Mr. Kelly listed in his letter. But they were hypotheticals then, and they are hypotheticals now, not facts as Mr. Kelly attempts to assert.

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Richard Heckler 11 months, 1 week ago

To this day so many forms of cancer cannot be identified to a source. How in the world can any definite information be applied regarding long term impacts of atomic bomb explosions? Of course those who made the decision would want to portray minimal impact of such I contend.

Nuke power people also like to minimize the impacts of accidents. Therefore we are left with speculation.

Varying opinions are of course out there. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines.shtml?/headlines03/0131-03.htm

http://www.atomicarchive.com/Effects/effects17.shtml

http://www.motherearth.org/nuke/begin2.php

https://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/1997/00/00_babst_consequences.php

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Steven Gaudreau 11 months, 1 week ago

Would you rather be vaporized or slowly starved to death, hmmmmm?

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msezdsit 11 months, 1 week ago

".....Blockade of Japan would have starved the most vulnerable of Japan..."

Why, of course it would be more humane to vaporize them.

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Abdu Omar 11 months, 1 week ago

It wasn't the democrats who made that judgment. Truman won the election and became the President. The people chose him over Daly. That means that not just democrats but republicans put their trust in him and he made the decision to end the war. I, personally, hate war, think it is totally avoidable, and think it is a senseless loss of life when started. What gains do we get from war? Iraq produced exactly what? Afghanistan what? Grenada What? Vietnam what? Millions dead for a cause that was unmanageble and fruitless.

"It is good that war is so terrible, else we would become too fond of it", Robert E. Lee

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Richard Heckler 11 months, 1 week ago

How many...... perhaps a million have since died from cancer since the radioactive blasts? Yes tons of contamination as a result of the blasts that never can be cleaned up. Radioactive weapons contamination lives for thousands of years. How many are still dying as a result of those blasts is the question?

Our soldiers in the war for world wide oil control have be exposed to radiation by way of depleted uranium weapons dust in the air. Which has left behind tons of soil contamination for innocent people to be exposed. This contamination is alive and dangerous to the point whereby some parents perhaps should consider not having babies. Those parents are Americans and those in the war zones native to their respective communities.

One thing is certain no one can run from the radio active wastes left behind that remain alive for thousands of years. Radioactive waste cannot be seen. This is also a huge problem with nuclear power plants. Cancer often does not become visible for 25 years or more after the fact.

Uranium should be left in the ground instead of refined for war and huge profits = the moral choice.

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