We prisoners know the blasts were necessary to end the war. No Japanese soldier or civilian was preparing to surrender in August 1945.
Lester Tenney writes: What does it mean to fight to the end? In April 1942, it meant fighting until my tank battalion and I were forced to surrender at the Battle of Bataan. For everything else that followed I only fought to survive: the Bataan Death March, brutal transport aboard a “hell ship” to Japan, and slave labor in a Mitsui coal mine.
For my imperial Japanese enemy, in contrast, to fight to the end meant to give his life in a presumably noble and glorious fashion. He would die for the emperor—who ruled by divine right—confident that he would be enshrined with his ancestors for his efforts in defense of a mythic civilization. There could be no surrender and no negotiated peace. Death itself was beautiful, and death alone was honorable.
The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, upended this belief. The bombs showed the Japanese the devastating and ultimately inglorious outcome of their fight. The bombs offered no true opportunity for confrontation and no chance of death with honor; they promised only obliteration.
Like its erstwhile ally Nazi Germany, Japan was fighting an ideological war. A superior race was destined to guide those less graced. Death for the empire earned a blessed afterlife in the emperor-god’s eternal favor. For a loyal subject, surrender was a betrayal of everything that sustained the empire’s system of patriotic values. The only option in the face of certain battlefield defeat was to fight to the death.
Japan tried to keep fighting long after any chance of victory was gone. On the mainland, women, children and the elderly were armed with sharpened bamboo sticks. Beginning in May 1945, schools for disabled children were ordered to organize military units and women ordered to serve in volunteer combat units. Young men were recruited by the hundreds for kamikaze missions aboard wooden gliders or small boats.
The country’s infamous biological-weapons research program was hard at work concocting flea-borne plague agents to float by submarine and balloon toward populated American shores. By the late spring of 1945, some incendiary explosives called fugo had already landed on the West Coast. Read the rest of this entry »
Charles Krauthammer writes: On Sunday, at the great Paris rally, the whole world was Charlie. By Tuesday, the veneer of solidarity was exposed as tissue thin. It began dissolving as soon as the real, remaining Charlie Hebdo put out its post-massacre issue featuring a Muhammad cover that, as the New York Times put it, “reignited the debate pitting free speech against religious sensitivities.”
“As for President Obama, he never was Charlie, not even for those 48 hours. From the day of the massacre, he has been practically invisible.”
Again? Already? Had not 4 million marchers and 44 foreign leaders just turned out on the streets of France to declare “No” to intimidation, and pledging solidarity, indeed identification (“Je suis Charlie”) with a satirical weekly specializing in the most outrageous and often tasteless portrayals of Muhammad? And yet, within 48 hours, the new Charlie Hebdo issue featuring the image of Muhammad — albeit a sorrowful, indeed sympathetic Muhammad — sparked new protests, denunciations and threats of violence, which in turn evinced another round of doubt and self-flagellation in the West about the propriety and limits of free expression. Hopeless.
As for President Obama, he never was Charlie, not even for those 48 hours. From the day of the massacre, he has been practically invisible. At the interstices of various political rallies, he issued bits of muted, mealy-mouthed boilerplate. Followed by the now-famous absence of any high-ranking U.S. official at the Paris rally, an abdication of moral and political leadership for which the White House has already admitted error.
“On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror. Obama began his administration by purging the phrase from the lexicon of official Washington.”
But this was no mere error of judgment or optics or, most absurdly, of communications in which we are supposed to believe that the president was not informed by staff about the magnitude, both actual and symbolic, of the demonstration he ignored. (He needed to be told?)
On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror. Obama began his administration by purging the phrase from the lexicon of official Washington. He has ever since shuttled between saying that (a) the war must end because of the damage “keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing” was doing to us, and (b) the war has already ended, as he suggested repeatedly during the 2012 campaign, with bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda “on the run.”
During the White House briefing on Monday, press secretary Josh Earnest discussed the administration’s decision not to send a high-level official to a march honoring the victims of last week’s attack on a satirical newspaper and said the French ambassador would go to the White House later that day.
Recently, President Obama exchanged five Taliban leaders for an American POW, Bowe Bergdahl. One prisoner for five is an iffy trade to begin with — but even moreso when it was revealed that Bergdahl had deserted his post. So, Obama got his man, but there was a lot of collateral damage — it kind of reminds us of a movie we once saw…