Saturday, August 06, 2005

A Few Thoughts On This Day

An interview with the navigator of the B-29 Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, this day sixty years ago:

SPIEGEL: Do you feel any regrets today about dropping the first bomb?

Van Kirk: I'm not proud of all the deaths it caused, and nobody is. But how do you win a war without killing people? If you don't want to kill people, you should not start a war. And I think people that go around and start wars for any reason whatsoever are crazy, but that's another story. When you have a war, there is only one thing to do in my opinion, and that is make damn sure you win it and expend any energy that you must in order to bring that war to a rapid conclusion with a minimum loss of life.

You can read it in its entirety here.

Sixty years ago today, a B-29 Superfortress by the name of Enola Gay (named after Cpt. Paul Tibbett's mother) flew over the city of Hiroshima, dropping a uranium-filled explosive bomb nicknamed "Little Boy". In one fell swoop, 60,000 lives were vaporized, 10,000 of which were members of the Japanese Imperial Army. (The Japanese 2nd Army was stationed there.) Strangely, the Japanese didn't immediately and unconditionally surrender. They didn't even do that after another B-29 Superfortress (Bock's Car) three days later dropped a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki, incinerating another 40,000 Japanese. No...the surrender eventually came on August 15, nine days after Hiroshima and six days after Nagasaki. Contrary to the writings of faux historians like Howard Zinn and other far-left historical revisionists, Japan had no intention of surrendering before or after the bombs. It was only after Emperor Hirohito, the only man in the Japanese government who's word was indisputable, capitulated did Japanese hostilities cease. In the interim between the Nagasaki conflagration on August 9 and eventual surrender on August 15, US forces lost the following: several American flyers were captured and subsequently decapitated, the submarine Bonefish was sunk (no survivors), and two Destroyers, the Underhill and the Callaghan, were sunk. In the Pacific Theatre of Operations, American casualties were running at an average of 7,000 a week. The last week of the Second World War was no exception to that average. In addition, the Japanese were holding well over 40,000 American POWs. The Geneva Convention didn't apply to the Japanese, for over 12,000 American POWs had already been decapitated, worked to death, or denied sufficient medical treatment...resulting in death. (Consider that the Germans had over 100,000 Allied POWs, of which only 2% perished in their custody, normally due to escape attempts or malnutrition.) Emperor Hirohito eventually gave a taped surrender address on August 15; in its wake, the Minister of War and all of the Japanese military high command, who had attempted a coup d'etat and actually imprisoned Hirohito to prevent him from surrendering, all committed suicide. The war was over. But even after two atomic bombs, it was not a certainty. The military high command had no interest in surrender; their actions revealed their intent.

Various theories as to why the bomb was dropped have been floated over the last sixty years, many of which attempt to depict the United States as the villain. Among them are that Truman dropped the bomb in Japan to impress the Soviets, that the Japanese were going to surrender anyway and it was dropped out of vengeance, and that the Japanese got it instead of the Germans for racist reasons. Let me take a moment to confront all three and eliminate the apocryphal nature of all three contentions: The bomb was dropped to end the war. Period. End of story. The alternatives to dropping the bomb were so hideous that they actually made the atomic bomb look humane. For one, Gen. Curtis LeMay planned to completely incinerate the Japanese home islands vis-a-vis incendiary bombing. Since the European war was over, he would've had an additional 10,000 B-17s and B-24s arriving to Pacific air bases within weeks. The British, with 1000 Lancaster heavy bombers, would've contributed 11,000 additional bombers. Considering that a firebombing of Tokyo, done a few weeks before Hiroshima and Nagasaki, claimed 150,000 lives, one can easily see what the toll would've been. Secondly, the invasion of the Japanese home islands would've cost the Allies 500,000 casualties. Faux historian Howard Zinn claims this number was concocted "out of thin air" and claims that an invasion of Japan would've cost "only" 46,000 Allied lives. One more Allied life would've been cause enough to drop the bombs, in my opinion. Zinn also contends that the war would've ended, at the latest, by November of 1945. A quick calculation of that, sixteen more weeks of war at an average of 7,000 American casualties a day, comes out to an additional 112,000 American casualties. (Amazing how Zinn so blithely makes these unresearched, poorly thought out statements. Food for the malignant, I guess. But I digress....)

There is no reason to celebrate this anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. Some wars are justified, some are not, but they are without exception awful. The best that one can wish to do this day is give thanks that this horrible device, which claimed 100,000 people in two explosions, stanched the overwhelming additional carnage (which would've run into the several millions) that would've resulted had the bomb never been exploded at all.

No comments: