Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Nuking Japan

It was only last week that leftie talk show host Jon Stewart, when challenged, stated on air that President Truman was a war criminal for having the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in World War II. This man not only corrects Stewart's facts, but shows him to be a moral and intellectual buffoon. Witty, yes, but still a buffoon.

Watch Whittle's video and learn a little history in the process. It's fascinating.


Coach Brown said...

I hate when people have the comforts of the modern era to criticize such choices.

At least he had the guts to apologize.


Darren said...

Being made to look like a fool will do that to you sometimes.

Fritz J. said...

For those who enjoyed Mr. Whittle's history lesson, his blog also contains some very good reading. It can be found at

I highly recommend reading "Seeing the Unseen," parts one and two. Part one can be found in the archive of November 2006, and part two in the April 2007 archive.

Unknown said...

Now I see the flaws of blogging, you probably haven't watched the interview, and you probably don't know that he apologized during the next episode saying that the statement was entirely a "dumb" thing to have said.

His specific argument was over not using one bomb as a test explosion off the coast of Japan to show what we had and the consequences of continuing the war. According to the "facts" of the video you link to we had another bomb ready, so theoretically we could have used one for a test explosion off the coast or at one of the many already destroyed sections of Japan. A leaflet doesn't quite have the impact of a mushroom cloud. The least we could have done was shown video footage of what our test explosion had done so then the Japanese people would have more of an idea of what was coming.

The big thing that your source leaves out is that Jon Stewart stated that none of the people involved in the present torture scandal, the Japanese internment, or the atomic bombing of Japan, including Truman, should ever face trial due to the drastic decision making that occurs at times of extreme fear. So yes they may be be war criminals in his opinion, but yet they also shouldn't be tried or thought of as responsible for their mistakes.

His main argument was that America often oversteps its own moral code during war, and that most of those who have done so shouldn't be held responsible, since they truly weren't responsible and didn't act with malice. So to the argument that Jon Stewart would think Abe Lincoln was a war criminal, that's very well possibly, but the definition of war criminal he was working with applies to all people making the tough decision to do what is wrong for the right reasons. Hitler doesn't really fall under that category, now does he?

Darren said...

Ronnie, I'm quite aware he apologized. I just don't believe him. I also think your psychoanalysis of him is flawed. *I* think he just wanted to win the argument, got backed into a corner, and had to say something stupid to try to get his way out of it. The fact that he was given opportunities to reverse himself, and didn't take them, makes that fairly clear to me.

Your comment above strikes me as an apologia for Stewart, one he doesn't deserve.

David Foster said...

Ronnie...specifically why do you feel (f you do) that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were more morally problematic than:

--the fire bombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities?
--the fire bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, and other?
--the killing of about 20,000 French civilians by pre-D-Day bombing intended to cripple the railway network and prevent the movement of German reinforcements?

Or do you believe that these were also instances of America "overstepping its own moral code in war?"

mmazenko said...

Ronnie makes a good point - and Stewart did as well, though Darren is not wrong for disagreeing.

Far from being apologists/revisionists
/monday-morning-quarterbacks, they argue it is important for us to look back at history with a critical eye. The Truman example is always heated, and it's been debated ad nauseum. Certainly, there is validity behind the decision, it can clearly be argued it saved lives, it easy to criticize when you're not in the heat of the moment, and what's done is done.

However, it's also irresponsible to simply say it was the right decision period and we shouldn't fret over the loss of innocent life. Stewart made one sarcastic, yet valid, comment when he said, "war is insane." We shouldn't feel good about any of these deaths, though we can concede it was a necessary evil. For much greater insight about this, I would recommend Tim O'Brien's incredible Vietnam novel, "The Things They Carried."

I believe, and have often argued, that while we should never condemn Truman's decision and should understand it, we should use hindsight to say maybe we could have used a demonstration, maybe we could have ended the war without losing those hundred thousand, maybe we could have waited longer than two days before we dropped the second one. Those are valid positions.

Stewart also reasonably argued that, like all human beings, we have tended to panic and overreact (ie. the interment camps) and maybe we should remember that, as well as we can, during the next crisis. That's what education and history and rational debate is all about, and it is one of America's greatest strengths.

maxutils said...

Did you see Stewart's apology? If you don't believe that one, you will never believe any apology.

Darren said...

With his smart-aleck joke at the end?

maxutils said...

If he hadn't made a joke, it wouldn't have been sincere.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Sorry Mike, Stewart and Ronnie aren't arguing that we should look back on history with a critical eye but that we should look back on history with an *un*critical eye.

An even-handed, and thus critical, view of history would have to include such considerations as national survival, the limits of knowledge, momentous events dealt with as current not historical events and the uncertainty of making plans under duress. But that's not what Stewart and Ronnie are doing. Both of them enjoy the luxury of viewing historical events with the detachment that both time and the knowledge of victory allow.

Denouncing Truman as a war criminal is just good, clean fun because what harm could come from it? Truman's dead, Japan lost and besides, it all happened an incredibly long and boring time ago. It'll get all those oh-I'm-so-serious conservatives riled up and what's the harm in that?

As for the decision to drop the two bombs, an honest reading of the history puts any other course but the one Truman chose in the category of irresponsible profligacy with human lives.

Yes the two atomic bombs killed a lot of civilians but targeting civilian populations was already seen as a brutal necessity of total war and any other course would've resulted in more, not less, Japanese deaths at a time when Japanese lives weren't viewed as all that worthwhile and many more American deaths.

Stewart's and Ronnie's notion that dropping one bomb as a demonstration would've been, somehow, morally less reprehensible has to be viewed against the knowledge that we only had two bombs with no more on the way for some time. That means that if the Japanese weren't sufficiently frightened by the demonstration we would have just thrown away one of the only two of these "super" weapons to do nothing more worthwhile then send a message. It's a dated cliche now but if you want to send a message, call Western Union.

It turns out that the Japanese weren't impressed with the actual dropping of the two atomic bombs on their cities and but for an accident the war would have gone on in the indeterminable future. With only one bomb dropped I doubt the will would've been there to even pursue peace as determined as some Japanese were to continue hostilities.

A more honest appraisal of the Truman's decision to drop the bomb would cause him to be viewed as a great and courageous humanitarian who saved the lives of millions of Americans and even more millions of Japanese.

Anonymous said...

"... we should use hindsight to say maybe we could have used a demonstration, maybe we could have ended the war without losing those hundred thousand, maybe we could have waited longer than two days before we dropped the second one. Those are valid positions."Those are valid positions. But one then needs to answer the question, "How many dead Americans is it worth to end the war later?" It isn't like the casualty rate was zero leading up to the first A-bombing, nor was it zero between them.

I'm fine with something like, "Maybe we could have ended the war 14 days later and not killed the Japanese civilians," but the rest of it has to be something like, "... and I find it an acceptable tradeoff that XXX Americans died to save those Japanese lives."

I'm quite confident, however, that the idea of saving Japanese lives at the cost of American lives wasn't a very widely held position in the US in 1945. And, if I had had a father/son/uncle/whatever at risk, I don't think I would have been very sympathetic to that position, either.

-Mark Roulo

Darren said...

The Japanese had shown that life wasn't very valuable to them (see Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Kamikaze). I don't know why *we* should have valued *their* lives more than they did.

Anonymous said...

"The Japanese had shown that life wasn't very valuable to them"

Yes, however the Japanese you are referring to were soldiers, not civilians. I don't think average civilians practiced the Bushido Code in their everyday lives.

Anonymous said...

So, because Stewart made factual mistakes on ONE occasion (and later apologized), he is instantly labeled a buffoon?

By those standards, someone like Bill O'Reilly would be far worse than a buffoon. In fact, by those standards, we're all buffoons.

Darren said...

He certainly showed himself to be one in this instance.

And while the public may not have practiced the Bushido code, they were being trained and "propagandized" to fight to protect the homeland--with sticks and stones, if necessary. Watch Whittle's video, as he covers that material rather well.

mmazenko said...


"Good clean fun"? A humanitarian? I know enough about Truman to know even he wouldn't make that interpretation. Not surprising, though, from one who thinks taxes and public education are just a conspiracy for "control."

A long manifesto wouldn't make a difference to you, so suffice it to say, you are quite simply wrong in this case.

But thanks for playing.


Yours is a nicely worded and valid response. I couldn't agree more.


The answer, of course, has always been "because we're better than that." We're the shining city on the hill.

W.R. Chandler said...

"Yes, however the Japanese you are referring to were soldiers, not civilians. I don't think average civilians practiced the Bushido Code in their everyday lives."

Really? Japanese civilians were trained to resist the Americans in the event of our invading the islands - to resist to the end with bamboo spears if necessary.

Had we invaded Japan as planned, it would not have been merely soldiers we would have been fighting.

allen (in Michigan) said...

> A long manifesto wouldn't make a difference to you, so suffice it to say, you are quite simply wrong in this case.

I guess we'll never know whether a long manifesto wouldn't make a difference to me then, hey? Or what I'm quite simply wrong about.

As to Truman's humanitarianism, that's beyond any reasonable doubt.

A sea invasion of the home islands would've resulted in at least a million American casualties and many more millions of Japanese casualties among which would've been vast numbers of civilians. Whether Truman gave a damn about those Japanese is immaterial to the fact that his decision to drop the bombs precipitated the shaky series of events that led to Japanese capitulation which prevented those millions of Japanese deaths.

Maybe in your, and John Stewart's, part of town a guy whose difficult decision saves millions of peoples lives is considered a war criminal but in my part of town he's considered a great humanitarian.

> But thanks for playing.

And thank you for reinforcing my view that the left edge of the political spectrum appeals to people's less-admirable characteristics. My only regret is that understanding hasn't yet lead to a means of causing you to re-evaluate those attractions.

Anonymous said...

Chanman, put yourself in their shoes.

Mazenko is right on.

mmazenko said...

Nice twisting of the facts, Alan.

I, in no way, endorsed the naming of Truman as a war criminal, and I still don't. Neither does Stewart, though in the heat of an argument he made a foolish statement. Oooh, the humanity.

It's simply a matter of being a rational human being who seeks to evaluate and re-evaluate on the way to wisdom. Keep trying. Someday you'll get there.

As I've noted, I don't dispute the pragmatism of the bomb over invasion. Clearly, it saved lives. But while Truman obviously saw it as a necessary evil - a point on which I've already agreed - I doubt he'd feel good about the "humanitarian" side of it, and would instead look at militarily in terms of cost-benefit analysis. That's why we honored people like him with the title we did. Because he makes the hard decision in the heat of the moment.

And then we look back and reflect.