Thursday, 13 August 2009

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

I'm about a week late on this one. I've been having a lovely visit from my grandsons at our home in Oughterard, in the west of Ireland, and I hope readers of the blog will forgive me for taking a few days off. Daniel Ellsberg became a household word back in the 1970s when he became the pariah of the American right for releasing the so-called 'Pentagon papers'. He was personally targetted by Richard Nixon and his 'dirty tricks' department. I've had the privilege of getting to know Dan a bit a the marvellous weekend seminars organised by Robert J. Lifton at his home on the Cape Code dunes. Dan has written an interesting piece about Hiroshima on his blog: He promises much more to come.
Do any readers have comments on the legal qualification of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Robert McNamara, who passed away a few months ago, wrote that had the Americans lost the war, he and others would have been prosecuted for war crimes by the Japanese. If the 'international community' puts its energy behind prosecuting atrocities committed in Cambodia in the 1970s, why not do the same for atrocities committed in Japan in the 1940s? I ask the question, without proposing an answer. Observations on this would be welcome.

1 comment:

chorneliaus said...

Personally, I believe we've reached the point where scholars and government officials alike are afraid to address the possibility of 'war crime' because it's already been swept under the proverbial rug. Like an ostrich, if we cant see the problem, it's not there. Similarly, few -if any- activists are still complaining about the atrocity committed the governments would rather leave it alone, pretend it didn't happen.

As for it being a war crime or not is still subject for debate. I don't see how mass murder can ever be justified but in a time of war, when mistakes are being made on both sites, it is acceptable to forgive such crimes. Although we know now that less people would likely have died in the long run due to the bombing, at the time the only purpose was for shock and awe. Evidently it worked, leading to the surrender of the Japanese but does that cancel out the vaporization of so many innocent lives?
I see it, ultimately as a good thing, but at the time the decision to bomb Japan was a horrible idea. However, the U.S. had seven more bombings planned (that may not be a fact, i cannot recall the actual number of bombings planned) but they didn't go through which it which shows us they realized their fault and stopped with Hiroshima and Nagasaki.