Sunday, August 3, 2008

Anniversary Angst

*Author's note: this column originally published on 8-3-05; updated 8-3-08*

Some anniversaries' angsters.

In the late spring/early summer of 1945, it would be a little while before the rest of the world learned what the US had wrought at the Tennessee Skunkworks, and in the deserts of New Mexico.

On August 6, 1945, the world -- the Japanese in particular -- learned the truth: humanity had entered the Atomic Age. It was re-emphasized three days later. A week later, the Japanese capitulated, and the costliest war in Earth's human history came to an end.

All wars since, have been fought in the shadow of The Bomb.

World and American Leftists love to bemoan, whine, and kick their little feet over anniversaries like this. If it's bad, America must have had something to do with it, period, end of story, in their intellectually dishonest, stunted minds.

I wasn't alive in '45. I can't speak to the tenor, the thought processes, or the politics of the times. I can only look back through the eyes of those who lived it, worked it, and wrote of it. I can only read history -- as it happened, and as it is spun by differing ideologies -- and make the best, most reasonable conclusions possible in hindsight, politically-motivated spin aside.

And I can only look at the world today, as it evolved from those seemingly 'at the edge of Armageddon' days, to make some conclusions about it all.

There are a few aspects of American history where it's not out of line to feel ashamed of things this nation did. Use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on August 6 and 9, 1945, isn't one of them.

By August of 1945, the United States had been engaged in nothing less than total war with the Imperial Empire of Japan for over three bloody years. It was total war, against an ideology that had signalled brutal totality on December 7, 1941, and had made POW treatment at Gitmo seem like a Saturday Night Live skit, compared to Japanese treatment of American, British, Australian, Chinese and other POWs in their hands. Ask any Marine, soldier or sailor who faced the fanatical Japanese code of bushido in such places as on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, New Guinea, Saipan, Guam, Peleliu, the Philippines, on Iwo Jima, Okinawa, or on the waters off of any of these storied battle zones. These experiences -- individually and collectively -- showed America that the Japanese warrior was capable, brutal, suicidal, averse to the so-called "rules" of war, and would not surrender easily, if at all. It had become bloodily evident that the cost of bringing final defeat to them on their home islands would be cataclysmic, as the savage campaign on Okinawa clearly demonstrated.

Anticipated casualties for Operations Olympic and Coronet -- the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands of Kyushu and Honshu -- were expected to run into the hundreds of thousands or more for the invaders, and probably millions for the Japanese. It would have been an apocalyptic blood bath on a scale unimaginable, short of a modern-day nuclear holocaust.

I am satisfied that the Truman Administration weighed all factors, and came to what at that time seemed the most reasoned, viable option available, to bring an end to the world's bloodiest conflict. Had Nazi Germany still been holding out at this point in history, facts long since known prove that 'The Bomb' would have been unhesitatingly deployed there, as well.

My upcoming opinion is possibly debatable, but I think history thus far sustains it: the dawning of the Atomic Age dramatically altered the notion of widespread conventional war as an instrument of foreign policy. Granted, the Atomic Age hasn't done away with war or the threat of it, as the period of 1945-2008 clearly demonstrates. But what could arguably have been the triggers for World War III -- the blockade of Berlin by the Soviets, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Arab-Israeli 'Yom Kippur' War of 1973, even September 11, 2001 -- all could easily have grown to world conflagrations, but for the nuclear weapons element, hanging like an apocalytic vulture in the wings.

Granted, the jury's still out on that last, as fundamentalist Islamofascist regimes like Iran, seek The Bomb for use against "the infidel". For you Leftists out there, that means "us", you included.
Still, it is arguable -- such is my take -- that the stark reality of August 6 and 9, 1945, has kept the world from crossing the brink all-out, a brink so easily crossed in all-out fashion in 1914 and 1939.

Whatever your take on the history of 63 years ago, you won't find me wastefully emoting and shallowly hand-wringing over it. What's done is done. What matters is what we've done in the years since. Japan has put it all behind, and is a staunch ally and friend, as is Germany. And that we're all still here, and still living in the greatest nation in the world, suggests that America's contribution to the world since World War II, hasn't been all that bad.

Even for the Left.


Blogger Monica said...

I like reading your takes on history...I hope you include some of your Lewis & Clark stuff on here some day.

Take care, friend.

04 August, 2005 10:06  
Blogger Greek Shadow said...

I agree MAD (mutually assured mass destruction)kept us and the USSR and China from going into a knock down drag out war like WWII even when the Soviet Union melted down it did so without them going down fighting.

13 August, 2005 18:12  
Blogger Debbie said...

I'm not sure the US would use the bomb again, at least not today with the political climate as it is. No question it was the right thing to do in WWII.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

04 August, 2008 10:37  
Blogger Little Lamb said...

Happy Anniversary!

05 August, 2008 04:08  

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