Today is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The picture above gives a glimpse of the devastation. We would all do well to study the photograph and reflect on the human suffering that occurred in that city. Living as we do, it is difficult to conceive what that picture really represents.
That said, I do not join the chorus of those proclaiming the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be war crimes. If you are not open to argument on this point, then please just disregard this post. If you are, Roger Kimball explores the circumstances of 1945 and the options Truman faced. I recommend your reading his thoughts.
As for my thoughts, I can’t explain the big picture better than Kimball. My own small picture comes from my father, who was a Marine pilot flying off the U.S.S. Cape Gloucester.
More than once he told me his squadron already had its orders for the assault on Japan. The planes were to take out large artillery pieces controlling sea lanes where our ships needed to pass. The artillery was heavily protected by anti-aircraft weapons. His squadron was told they would not survive the attack so they shouldn’t even think in those terms. They were to get in what shots they could before the anti-aircraft fire got them. My father credited the atomic bomb as being the only reason he survived the war.
Update August 27, 2015: For a contrary view, see Miscamble’s Most Miserable Morality.