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.

Truman’s decision to drop the bomb was a good — and humane — idea

Dropping the atom bomb in 1945 was a good idea?!  Yes, it was a good (and humane) decision; no, it was not just to show off to the Russians; and yes, given that my Mom was a Japanese POW, I am here because of the bomb:

For a further development of this same idea, I highly recommend Paul Fussell’s Thank God for the Atom Bomb and Other Essays.

With friends like Obama, why would Israel need enemies?

I've always suspected that, in addition to the official message, Obama added his own little prayer about Israel's demise.

I’ve always suspected that, in addition to the official message, Obama added his own little prayer about Israel’s demise.

Harry Truman could have been called an anti-Semite based on some of the things he said about Jews, but it was he who voted “yes” at the UN, making possible Israel’s creation in 1948.  Nixon could have been called an anti-Semite based on some of the things he said about Jews, but it was he who saved Israel’s bacon (pardon the non-kosher word choice) in 1973.

Oh, and here’s the really funny part:  Barack Obama, who claims to be the greatest friend Israel has ever had in America, gives every indication of being the worst enemy Israel has ever had in the White House.  He speaks of love, but his actions can be measured just by looking at his appointments to State, Defense, and the UN.

And speaking of Obama’s appointment to head America’s State Department:

Yes, in what’s now being called his ‘poof’ speech, our secretary of state went out of his way not to blame Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO’s intransigence and refusal to negotiate anything for the failed talks. Of course, it’s all Israel’s fault!

“Israel didn’t release the Palestinian prisoners on the day they were supposed to be freed, and another day passed, and another day, and then another 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem, and ‘poof’…that was sort of the moment,” remarked Kerry before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Read the rest here.

I’m struggling to come up with some amusing animal kingdom analogy (“lions blame antelope for hastening their own deaths because they run away, enticing the lions”), but I can’t.  I’m too irritated, and there’s nothing amusing about this.  It’s just scary.

Uninformed ambassadors are an old joke

Ethel Merman Donald O'ConnorI’ve been reading a great deal about Obama’s proposed ambassadorial appointments, some of whom have never been to the countries in which they’ll be America’s representatives. They’re getting the jobs as sinecures in exchange for financial services rendered to the President.

Much as I’m always happy to leap onto the anti-Obama bandwagon, he’s not doing anything new. Back in 1949, President Truman did exactly the same thing. He appointed Washington, D.C. hostess and Democratic Party fundraiser Perle Mesta as the Ambassador to Luxembourg in 1949. She was famously uninformed about Luxembourg (or really about anything).

Inspired by this uninspired appointment, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse wrote “Call me Madam,” about Sally Adams, the oil-rich “hostess with the mostest” ambassador to “Lichtenburg.” She is blatantly, amusingly, ill-informed, but comes complete with style and charm. She also sings wonderful Irving Berlin songs, so everyone is happy.

The show, starring Ethel Merman, was a Broadway hit in 1951. I’m now watching the 1953 musical, also starring Merman, as well as George Sanders, Donald O’Connor, Billy DeWolfe, Charles Dingle, and Vera-Ellen. It’s not a great movie, but it helps while away the time while I’m doing my post-surgical rest, ice, compression, and elevation, as well as my ten hours a day on the “knee moving machine.”

My only real regret watching the show us that Donald O’Connor didn’t have a bigger, longer career. I love watching him. He’s a charming actor, has a beautiful voice for show tunes, and is one if the best dancers to have come out of Hollywood. It was his misfortune to be stuck in the “Francis the Talking Mule” films, as well as to get the fever (from Francis) that debilitated him and helped derail his career.

Conservatives end to target the Obama administration for things that really matter. Getting our collective knickers in a twist about something that’s as old as politics is a waste if time. Doing otherwise makes us as silly as the Senators who waste their time targeting the Washington Redskins.

Separating principles from personal preferences

One of the things I’ve always admired about Harry Truman is the fact that he was able to separate principles from personal preferences.  He was a racist who integrated the American military and an antisemite who was among the first to recognize the State of Israel.

I keep thinking of Truman when I see the American media’s stunning lack of curiosity, let alone outrage, about the Mark Steyn persecution taking place in Canada.  (Here’s a good, recent summary, for those unfamiliar with the matter.)  As a matter of principle, American newspapers should be howling at the thought that the Canadian government is stifling free speech.  The most that’s happened in the MSM, though, is a single New York Times article that presents the whole thing as an interesting relativistic question between old fashioned American values (free speech) and sophisticated European norms.

The problem, of course, is that members of the American media don’t like Mark Steyn’s speech, which recognizes factual truths that the American media refuses to acknowledge.  They’re therefore very happy for the Canadian government to do their dirty work and shut Mark Steyn down.  The fact that a greater principle is involved than their personal prejudices — and it’s a principle that affects them, the media, more than any single job demographic in America — does not seem to occur to them.  They are little people, with little minds, and no discernible values.