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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

atomic sowell

In "Trashing our history; Hiroshima", Thomas Sowell attacks those who question the decision to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
The guilt-mongers have twisted the facts of history beyond recognition in order to say that it was unnecessary to drop those atomic bombs. Japan was going to lose the war anyway, they say. What they don't say is -- at what price in American lives? Or even in Japanese lives?
I like Sowell a lot, so it's unfortunate that he buys into the tired old argument that it was a choice between the atomic bombs and even greater death on both sides from a conventional invasion. Fortunately, he does get to a better argument near the end:
We might have gotten a negotiated peace if we had dropped the "unconditional surrender" demand. But at what cost? Seeing a militaristic Japan arise again in a few years, this time armed with nuclear weapons that they would not have hesitated for one minute to drop on Americans.

As it was, the unconditional surrender of Japan enabled General Douglas MacArthur to engineer one of the great historic transformations of a nation from militarism to pacifism, to the relief of hundreds of millions of their neighbors, who had suffered horribly at the hands of their Japanese conquerors.
I wish Sowell had spent the entire column supporting that argument, but that's as far as he goes. Obviously, I disgree. It's tough to really know what might have happened under a negotiated surrender, but if there was any chance that the Japanese could have prevented the rise of the communists in China, that would have been an enormous plus, one that Sowell does not address.


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