Harry Truman’s Atomic Bomb Decision: After 70 Years its Time to Replace Those Old Myths with Some New OnesPosted: August 6, 2015
J. Samuel Walker writes: President Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan in 1945 is arguably the most contentious issue in all of American history. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have generated an acrimonious debate that has raged with exceptional intensity for five decades. The spectrum of differing views ranges from unequivocal assertions that the atomic attacks were militarily and morally justified to claims that they were unconscionable war crimes. The highly polarized nature of the controversy has obscured the reasons Truman authorized the dropping of the bomb and the historical context in which he acted.
The dispute over the atomic bomb has focused on competing myths that have received wide currency but are seriously flawed. The central question is, “was the bomb necessary to end the war as quickly as possible on terms that were acceptable to the United States and its allies?”
The “traditional” view answers the question with a resounding “Yes.” It maintains that Truman either had to use the bomb or order an invasion of Japan that would have cost hundreds of thousands of American lives, and that he made the only reasonable choice. This interpretation prevailed with little dissent among scholars and the public for the first two decades after the end of World War II. It still wins the support of a majority of Americans. A Pew Research Center poll published in April 2015 showed that 56% of those surveyed, including 70% aged 65 and over, agreed that “using the atomic bomb on Japanese cities in 1945 was justified,” while 34% thought it was unjustified.
The “revisionist” interpretation that rose to prominence after the mid-1960s answers the question about whether the bomb was necessary with an emphatic “No.” Revisionists contend that Japan was seeking to surrender on the sole condition that the emperor, Hirohito, be allowed to remain on his throne. They claim that Truman elected to use the bomb despite his awareness that Japan was in desperate straits and wanted to end the war. Many revisionists argue that the principal motivation was not to defeat Japan but to intimidate the Soviet Union with America’s atomic might in the emerging cold war.
It is now clear that the conflicting interpretations are unsound in their pure forms. Both are based on fallacies that have been exposed by the research of scholars who have moved away from the doctrinaire arguments at the poles of the debate. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 12, 2015
— NYT Archives (@NYTArchives) March 12, 2015
Posted: August 15, 2014
[PHOTO] This Week in History: August 14, 1945: President Truman Announced Japan’s Unconditional Surrender, Ending World War IIPosted: August 15, 2014
August 14, 1945: President Truman announced Japan’s unconditional surrender, ending World War II. American troops began returning to New York harbor soon after the German surrender in May 1945. Two million New Yorkers flocked to Times Square upon the announcement of Japan’s surrender on August 14, 1945, signaling the war’s end. While the Allies’ victory was widely celebrated, the country faced great losses; approximately 400,000 Americans were killed in the war, including 18,000 New Yorkers. (via)
Posted: July 16, 2014
The Search for a Communist Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Quest for a Female Richard Nixon
In Search of a Neo-Nazi Abraham Lincoln
Finding a Gay Harry Truman
The Snowmobile Craze in Death Valley
Seeking Teeny Jumbo Shrimp
Subsidized Snow Cones in Hell
Posted: January 1, 2014
For Reason, A. Barton Hinkle writes: You can’t swing a dead cat by the tail these days without hitting a news story about the lack of legislation issuing from the 113th Congress. From CNN to McClatchy to NPR to the L.A. Times, the air is thick with pieces lamenting that the 113th makes “the infamous ‘do-nothing Congress’ of the late 1940s look downright prolific.”
Apparently we’re all supposed to feel really bad about that.
Before the holiday break, Congress sent just 70 bills to the president’s desk. That compares — unfavorably, we are given to understand — with the 395 bills passed by the 80th Congress, whose supposed indolence Harry Truman ran against. It even compares unfavorably to the 112th Congress, which led to only 231 new laws.
The censorious pieces never stop to explain precisely why Congress should be judged according to the number of bills it passes. That’s simply assumed. This is one of those telltale signs of media bias that are always cropping up, if you keep your eyes open. (Here’s another: Run a Google News search for the terms “economic inequality” and “economic liberty.” The former shows up more than 50 times as often. Guess why.)
Unpack the assumption behind the stories about congressional productivity, and you find a bias toward statism: the notion that government action is inherently good, and that more government action is inherently better — and that this is true as an analytic proposition, entirely separate from whatever a particular government action might entail.
Which is pretty funny, when you stop to think.
Posted: October 22, 2013
Gillispie said, of Sebelius, “she should have tendered her resignation,” and added “This is the biggest G.D. deal that a liberal administration has put forward since Harry Truman.”
“If the President didn’t know a couple days before how bad it was,” Gillespie added, “what is he, Hitler in the bunker? That is objectionable. ”
“Almost as objectable as the Hitler reference,” a smiling Van Jones added, because this is Crossfire.
“He’s like Nixon,” Gillespie allowed. “Is that better?”
Posted: September 8, 2013
My old boss George W. Bush will never say it for himself, so I’ll say it for him: With President Obama’s foreign policy in tatters across the Middle East, maybe we’ve finally arrived at a moment where we can look at what we threw out when we replaced the Bush Doctrine with the Obama Doctrine.
Even calling the 44th president’s policy a doctrine is being generous. From the start, it had two chief components. One was the idea that you make your foreign-policy decisions based on domestic politics. The second was the new president’s apparent faith that the mere fact of his person would so dazzle the world that the lions would lie down with the lambs. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 21, 2013
Millennials who enthusiastically voted him in should support his legacy and sign up for Obamacare.
By Jonah Goldberg
Okay, young’ns, here’s your chance.
In two consecutive elections, you’ve carried Barack Obama to victory. When he said, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” he basically meant you. You voted for Obama by a margin of 66 percent to 32 percent in 2008, and, despite a horrendous economy for people your age, by nearly that much again in 2012.
The president announced his candidacy in 2007 by insisting, “This campaign can’t only be about me. It must be about us — it must be about what we can do together. This campaign must be the occasion, the vehicle, of your hopes, and your dreams. . . . This campaign has to be about reclaiming the meaning of citizenship, restoring our sense of common purpose, and realizing that few obstacles can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change.”
And on the night of his reelection in 2012, he proclaimed, “The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.”
Between those two elections, the president pandered to you like no president in American history. As I wrote last fall, he visited college campuses more often than a Red Bull delivery truck. He’s carried water for you on college loans like an aqueduct. He made sure you can stay on your parents’ health-care plans until you’re 26, which is a really nice consolation prize when you can’t find a job.
And not to put too fine a point on it, but you kids ate that stuff up. It reminded me of H. L. Mencken’s line about Harry Truman: “If there had been any formidable body of cannibals in the country he would have promised to provide them with free missionaries, fattened at the taxpayers’ expense.”
Whenever curmudgeons like yours truly suggested that young people were getting caught up in a fad or that Obama was simply buying votes at the expense of taxpayers, you’d have a fit. You’d insist that millennials are not only informed, but eager to make sacrifices for the greater good.
Well, here’s your chance to prove it: Fork over whatever it costs to buy the best health insurance you can under Obamacare. Just in case you forgot, under Obamacare healthy young people such as yourself not only need to buy health insurance in order for the whole thing to work, but have to be overcharged for it. If you don’t pay more — probably a lot more — than what you could get today on the market in most states, Obamacare will come apart like wet toilet paper.