Remember facts

On Dec. 3, 1991, The Northern Star ran an editorial in which it agreed with President Bush that the United States should not apologize for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945. Maybe we should apologize and maybe we shouldn’t, but we should make a decision based on facts and not myths.

Unfortunately, the Star and Bush base their argument for not apologizing on the myth that the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan because we wanted to save millions of American and Japanese lives. However, there is no evidence to support that claim.

In 1945, President Truman’s military advisers could not accurately predict casualties for the proposed invasion of the Japanese home islands. Despite the lack of agreement by Truman’s advisers over casualties, the president convinced himself that there would be a million casualties if the U.S. invaded the home islands.

The Star also argued that we were justified in using atomic weapons on Japan because war is terrible and we should not be blamed for ending something that is terrible, no matter how we do it. This line of reasoning is flawed as well as frightening. It’s flawed because Truman had many options for ending the Pacific War in 1945.

He could have defeated Japan by blockading the home islands or he could have waited for the entrance of the Soviet Union into the war in the Far East. We may not know exactly why Truman chose to use atomic bombs on Japan, but we do know Truman did not have to use the atomic bomb to end the war with Japan.

The Star’s reasoning is dangerous because it leads to the acceptance of wars of extermination. War is a brutal business; however, when people who live in the nuclear age accept the idea that any weapon should be used at any time, we can look forward to the end of the human race.

The two bombs that were dropped on Japan in 1945 incinerated thousands of people within seconds of detonation. Today’s nuclear weapons are many more times powerful than those that were dropped on Japan and their use should not be taken lightly.

As the 50th anniversary of America’s entry into World War II approaches, we should reassess how we fought that war and why we ended it the way we did. World War II is not a distant and unimportant event. The strategies and tactics that were developed during that conflict greatly affected how the U.S. fought the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War.

However, we should not continue to try and justify our use of atomic weapons by appealing to myths that the president and the editors of the Star still cling to.

Glenn S. Rodden

Graduate Student