Last Thursday was the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb. Europe and Asia were devastated by World War II, but the reason the Hiroshima bomb stands out is because so much devastation was caused by a single mob as opposed to thousands of bombs dropped on a city.
Historical context is critical here. Japan was brutal and ruthless in the war, and the Rape of Nanking stands as one of the worst atrocities in human history. The city was destroyed, over 200,000 people were massacred (the death toll may have been as high as 300,000) and tens of thousands of women and girls were brutally raped by sadistic Japanese soldiers. That atrocity was only one example of Japan’s evil.
Most of the discussions about war crimes in World War II is focused on Nazi Germany, but Japan was just as brutal as Germany. Japan was the aggressor in World War II and brutally subjugated conquered lands. Japan could have avoided the devastation of their homeland by not crushing other nations under its heel. The moral responsibility for the civilian toll of Hiroshima falls more on Japan itself than on the United States.
American forces were fighting an enemy determined to win at all costs. Japan’s military was so fanatical that they resorted to kamikaze attacks – flying planes into ships and sacrificing the pilot to kill Americans. The invasion of Okinawa had a terrible human toll as Japan was committed to fighting to the last man. An invasion of the main island of Japan was a daunting task that would result in a staggering cost in American lives, and an even larger cost in Japanese lives – both military and civilian.
The nuclear mob that destroyed Hiroshima was a justified use of military force in the context of World War II. President Truman chose the lesser of two evils when he approved nuclear weapons – not just for the United States, but for Japan as well. That using a nuclear bomb actually saved lives demonstrates something that we must never forget: War is Hell.