Nukes and Peace: Hiroshima, 61 Years Later

Over the weekend, the 61st anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and subsequently Nagasaki, was observed. It’s common, as Hiroshima’s mayor did this year, to mark the anniversary with a call for a nuclear-free world.

In 2006, when you say “Fat Man and Little Boy,” you could be referring to Michael Moore and George Stephanopoulos, but 61 years ago, devices sporting those seemingly innocuous monikers caused historically unmatched destruction, and ended a long war.

With each passing anniversary of the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan comes the inevitable question: “Was it necessary?”

Our opinion of what is “necessary” is often subject to our personal proximity to the danger, and since so many of us weren’t even alive in 1945, it’s easy to debate that question without the pressures of the moment. Harry Truman and company didn’t have such a luxury.

Isn’t it strange that you don’t often see polls or debates on whether or not it was “necessary” to attack Pearl Harbor in 1941?

Should the atom bomb have been first dropped as a demonstration of its power, such as on a remote island or isolated military base? If you’re somebody who thinks a “demonstration” would have made Japan surrender, think about it for a minute. Japan didn’t even surrender after the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and instantly killed tens of thousands of their citizens. Do you really think blowing up a rock pile somewhere in the Pacific would have made Japan’s leadership throw their hands in the air and wave the white flag?

Rational people who figure their enemy is also rational could be making a lethal assumption.

As you would expect, many of the critics of Truman’s decision are right here in the United States. After all, it can be easy for anti-war Americans to point the finger at the United States when it comes to civilian death in war. The United States has been lucky. With the exception of 9-11, civilian deaths on the mainland America due to enemy action have been minimal. The geographic location of the United States made it tough for enemies of America to stage strikes on its soil. This isn’t due to lack of desire, but rather lack of ability.

Heavy criticism of America’s bombing of civilians implies that their World War II enemies instead focused on military rather than civilian targets (don’t tell that to the victims of the rape of Nanking or the other millions of Chinese civilians killed in the second Sino-Japanese War, or British victims of Germany’s Blitzkrieg), but the United States doesn’t return the favor. Enemies of America were so honorable that, for example, if Japanese leadership discovered that the USS Arizona were filled with Cub Scouts shortly after ordering “Tora Tora Tora,” the attack would have been aborted. Sure.

Because of this, the U.S. critic may find it easy to look at the incendiary attacks on Dresden, carpet bombings on German and Japanese cities, and the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — millions of civilian casualties in all — and assume the United States was unfairly advantaged because Japan and Germany were unable to return the favor to Joe Sixpack in Boston, Los Angeles and Paducah. American success in World War II violated the tenet of leftist philosophy: fairness. They’ve read and seen “Failsafe” so much that the only acceptable final ending to the U.S.-Japan war would have been for Henry Fonda to order American planes to nuke New York.

In World War II, as far as nations go, the good guys won, and the bad guys lost. Period. Basing historical judgment of wars purely on its kindness, or lack thereof, to civilians, is like searching for anthill-friendly steamrollers.

For the most part, the good guys have nukes, and the bad guys don’t. We need to keep it that way, even by using the threat of, you guessed it, nuclear annihilation.

The mayor of Hiroshima calling for a “nuclear-free world” is a lovely consideration. Now if somebody can invent a time machine and travel back to 1930 we can fulfill his wish.

Until then, let’s allow nukes to remain a terrific deterrent to anybody seeking a repeat of imperial Japan’s dream of global domination. Nuclear weapons were used against human beings in 1945, and haven’t been used since. Whether or not they are ever unleashed again is up to the bad guys, not the good guys.


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Author: Doug Powers

Doug Powers is a writer, editor and commentator covering news of the day from a conservative viewpoint with an occasional shot of irreverence and a chaser of snark. Townhall Media writer/editor. alum. Bowling novice. Long-suffering Detroit Lions fan. Contact: