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    Nagasaki bombing anniversary

    The anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing gets less attention, I think, in the Western media than that of the Hiroshima bombing, which precedes it. The speeches on 9 August tend to contain harsher soundbites, though. Part of that is that the mayor of Nagasaki is outspoken about nuclear disarmament; given that he’s not responsible for defending the nation, he can afford to be. A few months ago, he stated that the US has not made serious efforts toward nuclear disarmament. His sentiments were, as always, echoed by speakers today:

    A representative of the survivors of the bombing, [Ms.] Fumie Sakamoto (74), read the “Peace Pledge,” calling for the abolishment of nuclear weapons: “I have managed to live 60 years since that day; no one else must be allowed to taste this kind of suffering.”

    Prime Minister Koizumi also made the usual bland statements in support of worldwide nuclear disarmament. However, with due respect to Ms. Sakamoto and her fellow survivors’ truly awesome fortitude, it is simply not possible for rich nations not to arm themselves with the best offensive and defensive military technology available.

    Well, I guess it would be possible in the short term, but it would also be foolish. Practically the entirety of world history consists of the building up of material and intellectual riches by imaginative and hard-working peoples, followed by attempts by other peoples to grab those resources by force. Life is strife, unless we want to return to subsistence farming in isolated hamlets. The best way any free country can honor its war dead in deed is to allow its citizens to better their lives without impediment and to protect them, unwaveringly, when when others go after the fruits of their labor.

    Added on 10 August: I saw this a week or so ago and forgot to mention it when posting on 6 August: Romeo Mike likes to take pictures of stupid-lefty political posters and stapled-up handbills around town. Last week, there was one about Hiroshima in the middle of this post.

    I can’t tell whether the pattern on the woman’s obi is supposed to be origami doves of peace or, you know, lotuses of enlightenment or something. I can say that the first time I read the main message of “No more US wars / Abolish all nuclear weapons / Troops home from Iraq now,” I thought, For crying out loud, is that a flippin’ haiku? Please tell me they didn’t…oh, sweet Amaterasu, they couldn’t have…. Luckily, they hadn’t–I was faked out by that five-syllable first line. That was where the relief ended, of course. (You have to read the “What will socialism look like?” one, too, which pushes the time-dishonored line that real socialism would lead to paradise on Earth; the problem is that no one’s done it right yet. And at the risk of cramming too many topics in here, you might want to read RM’s thoughts on the push for same-sex marriage in Australia, which appears to be prey to the same problems as it is in the States: disagreement among advocacy groups about both strategies and goals, contempt for dissenting gays and thoughtful opponents. The sun never sets on lefty stupidity.)

    Added on 11 August: I don’t want to beat this topic to death, but Michael and Daily Pundit have noted the way reports about the bombings land in La-la Land non-reality. Michael questions a Globe and Mail headline, and Bill Quick–well, if you want to know why I never cite The Japan Times here, it’s because I don’t read it. Check this out:

    The U.S. actions arose not from any rage but from cool, calculated thinking. The intent was to deliver a crippling psychological blow to Japan by obliterating two of its important cities. No warning was given to the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki before unleashing the nuclear holocaust.

    Before dropping the second bomb, shouldn’t the U.S. have given Japan a reasonable and firm deadline to surrender? In rushing into a second nuclear attack before Japan could grasp the strategic significance of the first bombing, Truman achieved little more than showing that a tested implosion-type bomb worked.

    No warning? A reasonable and firm deadline? You’d think we were talking about that employee in cubicle A7 who never submits his paperwork on time.

    4 Responses to “Nagasaki bombing anniversary”

    1. John says:

      This is the time of year when I get harsh. Cry me a river, Mrs. Sakamoto. My father-in-law left an 18 year old wife and two kids in Shandong because you @#&*ers decided to screw with North Chinese politics. He has not seen them since 1948, and has no idea if they are alive or dead. He was 17 when he first had to kill another human being (with a knife) – a Japanese soldier. No one should have to live like that either. Yet he is still open-minded enough to talk to me in Japanese. I’m not sure I’d be as magnanimous.

      Was Mrs. Sakamoto protesting Japanese militarism in 1945, or was she working in a school yard munitions factory or learning how to use a bamboo spear to repel invaders from Kyushu? Did she ever speak up against the use of Korean and POW slave labor in the coal mines of Kyushu? I’d really, really like to hear some honest answers there.

      The Japanese were the schoolyard bullies of Asia in the 20s and 30s. They got their asses handed to them by Zhukov in ’39, so they decided to go for easier pickings. But the Russians were even bigger bullies. Think Zhukov would have been any kinder in 1945 than in 1939? Think again – the Russians pushed the fighting in Manchuria and Sakhalin after they knew the armistice was signed, just to get a few more square miles. Let’s look at the DPRK, let’s think about a North Japan / South Japan scenario, and then let’s talk about the bombs again, shall we?

      Germany was castigated and had to reapply for admission to the human race in 1945. Sometimes I think that it was a grave mistake that the war crimes trials in Japan amounted to little more than MacArthur seeking vengeance on the generals who had bested him. Hirohito, at least, should have danced the hemp fandango.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      So what do you really think, John?

      I think it is good to take these few days to think about the special kind of destruction the atom bomb works: the point of no return is the split second it’s dropped, and from that all resultant destruction flows. It’s not like a ground siege, or even a conventional bombing, either of which can be suspended midway or adjusted somewhat in intensity. Point taken.

      But as you say, people get awfully selective about what they wring their hands over.

    3. John says:

      Yeah, and the effects of an A-Bomb last a long, long time, too, making large areas dangerous or downright unihabitable. That’s the real spectre of atomic war. It is good to reflect, I agree.

      I get a little reflective around this time of year, too, but I reflect on a lot of different things, both the bombs and whether I should convince my father-in-law to go back to China with us to search out the fate of his kids.

      It’s best to be dispasionate about the bombs. I wonder if Japan would have surrendered with one bomb if we had given them more time, and I’m glad the crew of the Box Car screwed up the drop and didn’t destroy the old city in Nagasaki. But I also wonder how much time it would have taken with just one bomb, and how much land Uncle Joe would have grabbed.

      A hard strike at Japan was necessary, and indeed deserved. Aside from ignoring how much the Japanese brought on themselves and how much more they would have suffered under a bipartate occupation, the hand wringing seems to imply that the long term effects of radiation were conetmplated. We would not have exposed so many of our own soldiers in the tests if that had been true.

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      If your father-in-law ever does go back to China, best of luck to him in finding his family.

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