Smarter and more industrious folks than I am lead me to believe that the plan to detonate an atomic bomb above the unalerted Japanese city of Hiroshima was carefully devised because a more humane demonstration of overwhelming power might have failed miserably (with disastrous consequences to American military and political [not scientific] careers).
No prior warning was provided to anybody Japanese. Civilians were commonly held to be every bit as hostile to American military action as were members of the Japanese military.
The bomb was regarded as an unreliable means to persuade Japan to end the war; unreliable, because it might fail to explode and an humane warning would only serve the counterproductive purpose of calling attention to an American failure.
Civilian target. No warning. These choices were made to insure that American face would be saved if the demonstration of our power fizzled. But the atomic device didn’t fizzle, it worked — and any pretensions of our moral superiority were vaporized in each of the successful detonations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 911 outrage loses luster in this context.
The American government’s race to beat the German government to the creation of unparalleled destructive power resulted in the obliteration of lots of Japanese lives because the Japanese people were known to be incredibly loyal to their government. Loyalty…bad.
Ken Burns’ The War and the BBC’s Oppenheimer haven’t helped me to an understanding of the pleasure we Americans took on VJ Day. Both presentations strive to be fair, but the information they present doesn’t (attempt to) disguise unfathomable atrocity, instead they spread before me entire feasts of nauseating wrongs, American and otherwise.
Perhaps a more strenuous course of investigation (following lines of research previously covered in these two productions) will yield reason for more comforting evaluation of these facts. Comfort…good.
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