WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

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WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#1

Post by Philip » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:15 pm

Our discussion over when, in wartime, is it moral to kill enemy combatants, got me to thinking about the atom bombs dropped on civilian populations of Japan.

Prior to dropping these, hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians had already been killed by allied bombing. Japan still would not surrender. We must remember, this was NOT in an era of laser-guided bombs of pinpoint accuracy. Many of the targets were military or industrial, but adjacent civilian areas. Against this backdrop, a mere month before, Truman got word the bombs were ready.

He had at least 4 options, detailed here:
https://www.nps.gov/articles/trumanatomicbomb.htm

Of Truman's options, Option #3 should have been tried first - maybe even twice (they only initially had two bombs to use). And if that did not work, they could have warned of an imminent drop in a given city with ample time for it to be be evacuated. Of course, that doesn't mitigate the issues surrounding radiation or mass displacement of people. But one wonders, after hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, and still no surrender, short of invasion, it's unclear what would have forced a surrender, given the leaderships ethic of death before dishonor. An invasion would have killed more people. In fact, to understand Japan's fanaticism, in 1944 Emperor Hirohito sent out the first imperial order encouraging all Japanese civilians to commit suicide rather than be taken prisoner. So, the empire's leadership was ready for it's armed services to fight to the last man dropped.

All of the backdrop above said, I think that first trying to demonstrate the bomb on a remote, uninhabited place was the moral choice. But make no mistake, whether killed by conventional weaponry (guns, artillery, aerial bombardment) or atomic weapons, (and particularly a land invasion) just as many would likely have been killed, and more counting both sides. Before unleashing such a horror on a civilian population, one would think that every other possible strategy would have been tried, short of invasion.

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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#2

Post by RickD » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:25 pm

Immoral?

I'd have to say yes. Any time civilians are directly targeted and killed in war, it has to be considered immoral.

Was it the best/least immoral choice, given the circumstances?

I think that's the real question.

As with most times in reality, we are faced with tough decisions. And many times, there is no ideal choice. When forced to choose a course of action, without a perfect choice available, isn't it our duty to choose the least evil/immoral choice?
As individuals and as a country?
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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#3

Post by Hortator » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:46 pm

Spending another year trying to wrangle the fanatical mainland would have been far more inhumane

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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#4

Post by Philip » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:33 pm

Couple of takeaways:

If anything good came out of this - there's nothing like the photos of mushroom clouds, leveled cities, and the remaining victims dying of radiation and horrible wounds, to make the world realize what can happen, and powerfully encourage all efforts to see it won't ever again.

Perhaps our biggest danger of a nuclear exchange would be such weapons getting into the hands of a rogue state determined to wipe out its perceived enemies - like Iran views Israel and the West. What might some deranged religious head of state command? And to a lesser degree, from terrorists willing to die themselves using a dirty nuke, etc. Fortunately, the world powers having nukes seem to all have leaders who realize and fear what would happen if they launched first, knowing they'll also do themselves in. No matter, we must realize God is in control, even when the world appears to be out of it.

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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#5

Post by Kurieuo » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:38 pm

I think America's williness to use an atomic bomb, and not simply that, but rather conduct tests thereafter at places like Bakini Atoll which ruined the people there who trusted the good 'ol US of A -- that there is in fact a prevaling superiority complex that the US as a whole.

This dehumanises other nations, which are full of people, often considered by many as an, "oh, but they're over in that side of the world which is a craphole anyway." Like that is justification for taking advantage in whatever way we can to further our own Western nations.

The extent of such nationalistic pride, which I'd otherwise encourage in any nation, I see as being in direct opposition against an Imago Dei theology. That is, an understanding of all human beings being made in the image of God, no matter where they are located, the colour of their skin, or what nation they grew up in or belong to. It is this dehumanisation of others that is inherent in an extreme Nationalism, and that is immoral and can pull out the rug from a love your neighbour (someone in another nation) as yourself.

One can take pride in their country for many positive things. I guess, like I previously mentioned Phil, there's nothing wrong with pride in moderation, same with nationalistic pride. But, when its used like by the Japanese to think themselves a supreme race, or by Nazi Germany in some master race, or America who believe it is their right to reign supreme and do as they please in places like the Middle East no matter the cost to others, then such falls out of sync with Christ, His teachings, and also an understanding of Christ's Church which is comprised of a people without boundaries.
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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#6

Post by Kenny » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:57 pm

Perhaps I’m missing something here. Why is killing thousands via nuclear blast more inhumane than to kill thousands via conventional bombing blast? If (for example) 1 Nuclear bomb has the effects of 2000 conventional bombs, and they use 1 nuclear bomb on a city instead of 2000 conventional bombs, what difference does it make? I know Nuclear bombs have a lot of radiation, but all bombs have radiation; Nuclear bombs have much more because they are more powerful. Everyone talks about Hiroshima, and Nagasaki because a lot of people died when they dropped the atom bombs on those cities, but nobody talks about fire bombing of Tokyo where far more people died than in Hiroshima or Nagasaki. To die via Nuclear bomb is no more dead than to die via fire bomb; why is one a problem but not the other? Am I missing something here?

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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#7

Post by melanie » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:41 am

I think the difference is because many people believe that in WW2, the atomic bomb was the catalyst to the end of the war. So as a justification from a US perspective it was successful.
A necessary evil.
Which is an interesting perspective, considering the lives lost and the ongoing fallout.

Is it an isolated incident which the US carried out in a desperate act in a world war, no. History has highlighted a very different pattern of lies, by proxy wars and imperialism acted out to the tune of billions and paid by the price of millions in lives.

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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#8

Post by Kenny » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:39 am

melanie wrote:I think the difference is because many people believe that in WW2, the atomic bomb was the catalyst to the end of the war. So as a justification from a US perspective it was successful.
A necessary evil.
Which is an interesting perspective, considering the lives lost and the ongoing fallout.

Is it an isolated incident which the US carried out in a desperate act in a world war, no. History has highlighted a very different pattern of lies, by proxy wars and imperialism acted out to the tune of billions and paid by the price of millions in lives.
But all of those proxy wars and imperialism was done without the use or even the threat of Nuclear weapons; so what does Nuclear weapons have to do with any of that?

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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#9

Post by melanie » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:28 am

The use of nuclear weapons in the 1940’s I think is entirely permissible to the imperialism in the 21st century. How could it not be!?
That’s how you establish dominance.
How do think you invade and disrupt? Starve to the tune of millions, systematically topple and manipulate Middle Eastern politics all the while under the guise of democracy.
How exactly does the only nation ever crazy enough to drop a nuclear weapon become the world police on every other countries nuclear weapons program?
Through the action itself, it establishes dominance.
When every nation knows that the US holds and has tested the biggest arsenal of nuclear weapons but thinks it’s within its right to dictate what every other sovereign nation does then yes it’s important why the cocky imperialism of the US hasn’t been so far tested, nuclear speaking because no one is as reckless as the US and they thus far hold that card but that will change.

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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#10

Post by Kenny » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:18 am

melanie wrote:The use of nuclear weapons in the 1940’s I think is entirely permissible to the imperialism in the 21st century. How could it not be!?
Because one had nothing to do with the other. Had the US won the war without the use of Nuclear Weapons, do you really think they would have refrained from acts of imperialism? Of course not! The reason they behaved that way was because they won the war! Not how they won it.

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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#11

Post by Philip » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:46 pm

We better be glad that SOME nation is trying to stop the spread of nukes, seeking treaties of non-proliferation, etc. The history of nations is inherited by the grandchildren of those of WWII era. So, we today SHOULD be trying to keep the nuke peace. And the most powerful thing that keeps it is assured self-destruction. If the benevolent nations gave up their nukes, you can be the likelihood of aggressive nations using their nukes would be FAR greater. If there were no western nukes, and none in Israel, do you think Iran wouldn't nuke Israel in a skinny minute? And then it's Arab enemies.

Know why there was not huge rage per Trump declaring our embassy to be put in Jerusalem? It's because the Arab nations know that siding against the U.S. right now would only help the Persians - the perpetrators and spreaders of much terrorism against Arab interests. A fully nuclear, unchecked Iran terrifies the kingdoms of the Gulf! These Arab nations also know that Israel is a strong ally - even if an undeclared one - against the spread of Iranian aggression against them - so they're more anti-Iran than they are pro-Palestinian.

But, Kenny is correct, a necessary invasion to stop Japan would have killed more per conventional weaponry - with the result likely far more casualties. However, we should have demonstrated the power of such a bomb in a remote area first - maybe several times - before launching over a civilian population - which might well have worked.

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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#12

Post by neo-x » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:03 pm

Philip wrote:We better be glad that SOME nation is trying to stop the spread of nukes, seeking treaties of non-proliferation, etc. The history of nations is inherited by the grandchildren of those of WWII era. So, we today SHOULD be trying to keep the nuke peace. And the most powerful thing that keeps it is assured self-destruction. If the benevolent nations gave up their nukes, you can be the likelihood of aggressive nations using their nukes would be FAR greater. If there were no western nukes, and none in Israel, do you think Iran wouldn't nuke Israel in a skinny minute? And then it's Arab enemies.

Know why there was not huge rage per Trump declaring our embassy to be put in Jerusalem? It's because the Arab nations know that siding against the U.S. right now would only help the Persians - the perpetrators and spreaders of much terrorism against Arab interests. A fully nuclear, unchecked Iran terrifies the kingdoms of the Gulf! These Arab nations also know that Israel is a strong ally - even if an undeclared one - against the spread of Iranian aggression against them - so they're more anti-Iran than they are pro-Palestinian.

But, Kenny is correct, a necessary invasion to stop Japan would have killed more per conventional weaponry - with the result likely far more casualties. However, we should have demonstrated the power of such a bomb in a remote area first - maybe several times - before launching over a civilian population - which might well have worked.
It probably wouldn't have worked either. Just goes on to show that there are bound to be necessary evils.
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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#13

Post by Philip » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:42 pm

Neo: It probably wouldn't have worked either. Just goes on to show that there are bound to be necessary evils.
Neo, you might be right, but it seems to me that the moral thing would have been to at least try that. Also, if THAT didn't work, they also could have warned that, after a demonstration of the devastating power of such weapons, that a subsequent bomb would be dropped on military / industrial targets over whatever city with a broadcast warning to first evacuate it. And yet, the likely continued resistance would, despite a demonstration or two, have come from the fanaticism of the Japanese military, and the core idea of death before dishonor, as I've already mentioned the Emperor sent out proclamations for even civilians to commit suicide rather than surrender.

Perhaps the biggest reason to disbelieve any demonstrations on remote, uninhabited areas would have failed, is that after first Hiroshima, and three days later, Nagasaki, being razed, so many thousands of civilians killed, unbelievably, Japan still failed to surrender until 6 days after the second bomb was dropped. Its leadership couldn't possibly have been so deluded to think it still could win. Incredible!
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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#14

Post by PaulSacramento » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:25 am

Killing is immoral ( it is never right), but at times it is necessary (which doesn't make it right,just necessary).

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Re: WAS dropping atom bombs on WWII Japan an immoral act?

#15

Post by Kenny » Mon Feb 05, 2018 6:40 am

PaulSacramento wrote:Killing is immoral ( it is never right), but at times it is necessary (which doesn't make it right,just necessary).
If doing wrong is sometimes necessary, would you say there are times when sinning is necessary also?

Ken

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