What passes on the Left for intelligent argument about the Atomic Bomb (UPDATED)

Japanese execution0001
Japanese beheading an Australian POW

I was feeling a little puckish, so I posted on my “real me” Facebook the same video about the atom bomb that I posted at Bookworm Room yesterday. In brief, it argues that, contrary to Leftist propaganda after WWII, Truman did not drop the bomb, killing tens of thousands of Japanese just to impress Stalin. Instead, as contemporary documents prove, he dropped it to save lives: The Japanese were refusing to surrender even though they’d manifestly lost the war, and all credible estimates (as it turned out, estimates from the Japanese side too) were that millions of Japanese would die if the war came to the home island. Additionally, and of much greater importance to Truman in a war that the Japanese had foisted on America, up to a hundred thousand or more American troops would die too.

With those predictions facing him, Truman made the logical, and surprisingly humane, decision to end the war quickly with the bomb. No matter how deadly it was, it wasn’t as bad as the alternative. War is like that: you have to choose between bad and worse. You can’t vote “present,” since a failure to decide and act is often the worst course of all.

One of my Facebook friends couldn’t have disagreed more strongly with this historically accurate premise. You can only fully appreciate her comments if you know that (a) she was one of the smartest kids in my high school and junior high school; and (b) she is first-generation Chinese-American, so you’d think that she’d have the memory of the Rape of Nanking living somewhere in her brain. Instead, in the 40 years since I first met her, she’s become a victim of Leftist thinking. (Note: I’ve slightly altered some wording in this woman’s comments so as to protect her privacy. The fact that she’s become a Leftist mush-brain doesn’t mean that she gave permission to have herself publicly humiliated. All commenter’s names have been changed.)

Sally Fu: I found a poem “Museum of Doubt : Nagasaki photos” (graphic images not suitable for children), by Kathleen Flenniken, a civil engineer turned poet, who spoke at Seattle’s Hiroshima to Hope festival.

Sally Fu: Japan was about to surrender. Truman only bombed Japan to impress the Soviets. While the results were good for America, Taiwan became a police state under an American-supported dictator who killed of Taiwan’s intellectuals. The US also turned Asia into a source of cheap labor. [Bookworm here: Who knew in 1945 that Truman was prescient enough to envision Mao’s successful Communist takeover of China four years later, which saw the Nationalist Chinese government retreat to Taiwan?]

Danny Lemieux (yes, our own Danny: Sally, where did you read that Japan was about to surrender? I’ve looked at myriad sources about WWII, including Japanese sources. Everything I read said that the Japanese government had ordered every man, woman and child to defend “every blade of grass” to the last person. Indeed, Emperor Hirohito opposed the military junta’s demands when he finally agreed to surrender . . . and that was only after the Nagasaki bombing.

Sally Fu: Danny, it’s okay if you to want to believe in the moral high ground. The fact is, though, that America’s militarism (in fact, all militarism) serves all sorts of goals, including security and economic goals. Whatever journalists say, Asia, and especially Japan, has a long history of resisting colonial rule/interference, while the US and other Western nations have a long history of using the military towards global economic dominance.

Danny Lemieux: But Sally, I was looking for an answer to a specific question: You stated that “Japan was about to surrender.” What support do you have for that statement? Japan attacked America, America fought a war, and America won that war. It’s really not that complicated.

Sally Fu: Simple is good, and a simple story is necessary to defend not one but two actions of horrendous inhumanity in the eyes of the world public and to teach as history.

Another Conservative Voice: There is no evidence whatsoever that Japan was about to surrender. To the contrary: it was defiant even after the US dropped the first atomic bomb. As to “using the military towards global economic dominance,” it seems, Sally, that you’re very disconnected from Asian history. The only reason Asia hadn’t attempted to become an imperial power was because the Asians had fought amongst themselves for centuries, both between countries and within their own countries. Europe was able to engage in imperial growth, not only because the rule of law and relatively orderly governments were the norm, but also because Europe had, by historic standards, exceptionally long periods of peace and prosperity. It was these stretches of time that enabled the economic luxury of exploration and discovery, not to mention economic, military, and/or cultural imperialism. Although it was a painful process for Asia, Asia was ultimately fortunate that the West did influence it, since the alternative would have been continued inter-Asian warfare. India is the world’s largest democracy because of – not despite – western influence.

I haven’t yet weighed in. The short statements “Sally Fu” made are so rich in errors that I haven’t yet decided how to go about introducing new ideas in her mind. Her soil may have been killed off by years of Leftist influence, but that once incredibly bright brain may just be lying fallow, and new ideas, introduced correctly, may eventually take root.

UPDATE:  Tom Elia has also been struggling through conversations with liberals.  He has a wonderful line of thinking that sustains him during those moments.