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 »
Charles C. Johnson reports: Although President Obama claims that he can’t avoid shutting down public sites and monuments, war memorials were in fact kept open during the 1995/1996 government shutdowns. The administration’s decision to barricade the Lincoln Memorial marks the first time in its history the memorial has been totally off limits to visitors during a shutdown.
The administration has also balked at efforts by non-governmental groups to maintain access to public sites.
But during the Clinton-era shutdown, World War II veterans kept the Pearl Harbor memorial open.
While our president still enjoys his essential employees and locations: the White House chefs, Camp David, and a military golf course, there doesn’t seem to be any question that in mercenary pursuit of a political win, this White House is determined to unreasonably punish as many everyday people as possible. And this includes children sick with cancer. That might sound like hyperbole, but it is not.
Although Barack Obama’s chefs have been deemed “essential,” employees at the National Institutes of Health who offer last-chance experimental cancer treatments for children suffering from cancer have not. Worse still, House Republicans have offered to compromise with the president and single the NIH out for funding. The White House has threatened a veto. Read the rest of this entry »
Ed Driscoll writes: “The conduct of the National Park Service over the last week might be the biggest scandal of the Obama administration,” Jonathan Last writes at the Weekly Standard, in editorial that begins with President Reagan’s statement that “We are a nation that has a government — not the other way around,” a notion that seems to be receding further into the rearview mirror every day:
The conduct of the National Park Service over the last week might be the biggest scandal of the Obama administration. This is an expansive claim, of course. Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS, the NSA, the HHS mandate—this is an administration that has not lacked for appalling abuses of power. And we still have three years to go.
Even so, consider the actions of the National Park Service since the government shutdown began. People first noticed what the NPS was up to when the World War II Memorial on the National Mall was “closed.” Just to be clear, the memorial is an open plaza. There is nothing to operate. Sometimes there might be a ranger standing around. But he’s not collecting tickets or opening gates. Putting up barricades and posting guards to “close” the World War II Memorial takes more resources and manpower than “keeping it open.”
Patrick Poole writes: Yesterday I reported from the National World War Two Memorial on several members of Congress crashing the barricades set up by the National Park Service that were keeping out several hundred Honor Flight veterans — many of whom were WW2 veterans — from visiting their own memorial. The Park Service claimed that the memorial and the entire National Mall area had to be closed because of the government shutdown.
The same scene was reenacted again today as two Honor Flights from Missouri and Chicago arrived in prearranged visits. These Honor Flights were met by hundreds of ordinary citizens and about a dozen members of Congress, who once again crashed the barricades to let the veterans into the WW2 Memorial.
After about an hour, about 20 protesters arrived on the scene chanting “Boehner, get us back to work” and claiming they were federal employees furloughed because of the shutdown.
In the video below these protesters were marching towards the press gaggle and I was asking them to show their federal IDs to prove they were in fact federal workers. No one wore their federal ID and none would provide it to prove their claim.
Then, remarkably, a guy carrying a sign passed by wearing a McDonald’s employee shirt, which I noted. I then began asking them how much they had been paid to protest, at which point the guy wearing the McDonald’s shirt came back and admitted he had been paid $15. Read the rest of this entry »