Obama need not apologize for US use of nuclear arms

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Later this month, as a side trip during a visit to Japan, Barack Obama will become the first United States president to visit Hiroshima.

He insists he won’t go bearing any apologies for the events of Aug. 6, 1945, when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city and unleashed a nuclear hell that left 140,000 people dead. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says no mea culpas are desired or expected.

Good. That is the way it should be.

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We’ve discussed before, on milestone anniversaries of the bombing, our displeasure with revisionist history that has circulated in succeeding generations about the necessity and the validity of President Harry Truman’s decision authorizing the atomic attack on Hiroshima and the one three days later on Nagasaki.

Obama likely is disappointing some of those elements with his refusal to apologize.

Those folks think the U.S. should hang its head in shame as the only country ever to use a nuclear weapon. (That decision was made in a specific circumstance, and has not been repeated in nearly 71 years.)

They claim Hiroshima wasn’t a valid military target. (Hiroshima housed a major military garrison and large military supply depots, and was a major shipping center.)

They decry the loss of civilian life. (That bridge had long been crossed with conventional weapons, plus the Axis powers weren’t too particular about where they dropped bombs.)

They hold the U.S. responsible for unleashing the nuclear arms race. (Historical records show Germany and Japan were trying to beat us there, and Russia already had been dabbling in nuclear fission for three decades; that race was underway long before Hiroshima.)

They think Japan already was a beaten foe, and an atomic bomb should only have been dropped as a demonstration to convince it to surrender, if at all. (We’ll note that having two cities incinerated didn’t prompt an immediate Japanese surrender, and that once the decision to quit was made, radical military diehards attempted to stage a coup and prevent it.)

They quote military leaders, analysts and historians as saying the bombing was extraneous and unnecessary. (There’s an equal amount of pontificating otherwise.)

They dismiss the fears that an Allied invasion of Japan — the alternative to trying to end the war quickly — would’ve meant enormous casualties. (Use Google and check out what the generals and admirals in charge of the war effort and privy to the real-time data and intelligence predicted.)

They claim the Allies provoked Japanese resistance by demanding unconditional surrender. (That tradition dates back to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, and given the events of Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, any deviation would’ve produced riots in the streets and impeachment proceedings in Washington.)

They try to apply modern morals and sensibilities and squeamishness to something that was bloody and vicious and brutal — and painfully but absolutely necessary to end that bloodshed as quickly as possible.

World War II, as we’ve also noted, was the last military conflict involving the U.S. where there were no shades of gray. That doesn’t easily compute in an era where shading has become desirable, even a prerequisite. It’s also getting harder to say “you had to be there,” because people who were are disappearing daily.

Obama plans to highlight his ongoing commitment to “a world without nuclear weapons.” We share that commitment — moving forward, and without sitting in judgment of the past.

Online – www.gadsdentimes.com