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    Shocked but not surprised

    Posted by Sean at 22:21, September 12th, 2007

    Wow. Shinzo Abe can’t win for losing. Japan’s opposition parties have been calling vociferously for his resignation for months. Yesterday he announced his resignation…and they’re criticizing him for it.

    Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his abrupt resignation announcement on Wednesday.

    “[Abe] had been scheduled to answer questions from party representatives about his policy speech at the Diet today, but he suddenly announced his resignation,” Ozawa said at a press conference, adding that it was the first time in his political career of 40 years that he had witnessed a prime minister resigning within days of delivering a policy speech in the Diet. “To tell you the truth, I’ve no idea what was going through Prime Minister Abe’s mind before he made the announcement.”

    Ozawa denied media reports that he had repeatedly rejected requests from Abe to hold talks with him. Ozawa said the first request from Abe came Wednesday morning through Liberal Democratic Party Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Tadamori Oshima to DPJ Diet Affairs Committee Chairman Kenji Yamaoka.

    Well, it was pretty abrupt. I remember reading the report yesterday and thinking, What was it that made him decide this today? This morning he announced that he’s going into the hospital to have gastrointestinal problems diagnosed, but commentators are divided over whether that was as big a factor as it’s made out to be. Abe has exhausted all his political capital for the moment, but he’s young. It’s been rumored for ages that LDP higher-ups had been urging Abe to step down while he still had some dignity and could make a new bid for the prime minister’s slot after a few more years of seasoning.

    Who knows? Maybe that could still work. But as I see it, Abe has one major problem that no amount of experience is likely to correct: he lacks charisma. Utterly. Koizumi was the sort of man who commanded attention. If you were cooking or reading with the television on in the background, you stopped what you were doing and looked up when he started speaking. He was a natural focal point, in a way that went deeper than his haircut and Elvis fixation and all that stuff. When he staked his job on the passage of the Japan Post privatization bills, it was a serious showdown. His sternness and conviction had dimension and heft. You felt it, even when he was making compromises left and right in practice.

    By contrast, when Abe staked his job on the passage of the extension of the anti-terrorism law, it was hard to get worked up (and I say that as a WOT-supporting American). Abe is clearly a skillful operator when it comes to negotiating with other politicians and playing them off one another–one does not become Prime Minister of Japan otherwise–but only to a certain point. That final promotion to political head of state brought the Peter Principle into play with a vengeance. The issues Abe’s administration has had to contend with–evolving Japanese nationalism, relations with China and the Koreas, the extension of the MSDF mission, tankerloads of corruption scandals–require an alpha wolf. Even in consensus-loving Japan, people get the heebs when it seems as if there’s no one in charge in the cabinet. Abe simply doesn’t project authority.

    On Wednesday, even Liberal Democratic Party Diet members close to Abe sternly criticized him after his resignation sent shock waves through the party.

    “I’m disappointed in him as he’s tossed out his administration,” one of them said.

    “How does he see the responsibilities of a prime minister?” another asked.

    At a press conference in Sydney on Sunday after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Abe indicated that he would devote his energies to extending the refueling mission by the Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Indian Ocean, even at the cost of his job.

    He gave the impression that he was determined to do his best to fulfill his international pledge of extending the MSDF mission by holding firm to his post.

    In reality, however, those who took the prime minister at his word were mistaken.

    One temporary advantage his successor will have is that he will have a ready excuse for seeming unprepared and needing a little time to find his balance. The opposition won big in the recent upper house election, but that wasn’t the result of affection for the DPJ as much as it was the result of disgust with the LDP. Unfortunately, I’m not sure there are any LDP players in the running who can project moxie as leaders while making the compromises necessitated by the new balance of power in the Diet. I’ve always liked Yasuo Fukuda, who like Abe is a former Chief Cabinet Secretary. He also has experience in foreign affairs and came off as tough and clear-headed when delivering the Koizumi cabinet’s policy statements to the press. He resigned amid the Social Insurance payment scandals of a few years ago, but there don’t seem to be any contenders for power who are unsullied by scandal these days. We’ll see soon enough who gets the nod.

    Added on 14 September: Speaking of no-charisma public figures, Ann Althouse links to this whinefest by Demi Moore about how she can’t get good parts because Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with older women:

    The 44-year-old told a magazine: “It’s been a challenging few years, being the age I am. Almost to the point where I felt like, well, they don’t know what to do with me. I am not 20. Not 30.

    “There aren’t that many good roles for women over 40. A lot of them don’t have much substance, other than being someone’s mother or wife.”

    Moore refurbished herself into a wrinkle-and-flab-free android–check out the two photos, and notice how spookily vinyl-ish she looks in the more recent one–but didn’t address her failure to translate the bubbly, mischievous charm she projected during her Brat Pack days into adult terms.

    How long can you go?

    Posted by Sean at 22:43, September 11th, 2007

    Flamin’ Nora, this is NEVER going to end, is it (via Henry at Gay Orbit)?

    Sen. Larry Craig filed court papers Monday seeking to withdraw his guilty plea in an airport sex sting, arguing that he entered the plea under stress caused by media inquiries into his sexuality.

    Craig, an Idaho Republican, pleaded guilty in August to disorderly conduct following his June arrest in a sting operation in a men’s bathroom at the Minneapolis airport. A police report alleged that Craig had solicited sex from a male officer at the airport, which the senator has denied.

    Okay, I can certainly understand being stressed out by the knowledge that the media are investigating your sex life. But you’d think that being under the gun that way would make you even more likely to protest your innocence as loudly as possible at every turn. Certainly, people who are stressed out often make snap decisions that don’t make much sense to outsiders, but it’s hard to interpret Craig’s guilty plea as anything but an acknowledgment that he’d done something he knew he could be busted for. (BTW, what could that hand-swiping movement possibly signal? “I can pay by credit card if you’re seeking genero$ity”?)

    If some cop in a public toilet showed me his badge from a neighboring stall and told me to follow him out, I’d be pretty baffled about what he was on about. I don’t pretend to be a choirboy; it’s not that I’m unaware that sex goes on in toilets. It’s not even that I never have throbbingly urgent homosexual thoughts in airport bathrooms–just that they’re along the lines of, Damn it! This tube of Origins Make a Difference Rejuvenating Hand Treatment in my bag is WAY more than four ounces! Great…with my luck, it’ll get confiscated, and for what? Do they expect me to terrorize a 747 full of passengers into submission by getting a flight attendant in a hammerlock and threatening to over-hydrate her skin? And you just know the drug store by the gate, if there is one, will have nothing but Jergens crap that goes on like motor oil…. A police officer who interrupted this reverie to inform me that any accompanying hand and foot motions suggested plans to engage in illegal behavior would get a blank look from me. “What…you think I was trying to sell you drugs or something?” Plenty of people plead guilty to crimes to avoid alternatives that seem worse, so a guilty plea doesn’t necessarily imply moral culpability, but Craig seemed awfully defensive for someone who wasn’t doing anything unseemly.

    Maybe I’m just naive, but it seems to me that the best way to stop shenanigans in the rest rooms is to post prominent signs that say “PREMISES MONITORED BY POLICE FOR YOUR SAFETY,” then to be sure a police officer does, in fact, look over the place once every ten minutes or so. If Craig really was caught by an excessively zealous patrol officer, then it’s only reasonable to wish him the best in getting his name cleared. (Eric thinks there may have been a constitutional issue, too.)

    But whichever way Craig exercised poor judgment, it was still poor judgment, and he’s making himself and his party look like fools. I wish the guy would just stop the press conferences, quietly go about seeking his day in court, and devote himself to a life of anonymous service to others until he figures out how not to be such a public flibbertigibbet. Yeah, I know–it’ll never happen, and I’ve just written a post about the whole ridiculous mess, which I’d promised myself I wouldn’t do.

    I never thought I’d live to see the day when I prayed the media would get back to obsessing over Britney.


    Posted by Sean at 05:59, September 7th, 2007

    Well, Tokyo wasn’t wiped out by last night’s Epochal Vortex of Death, though of course it managed to screw up air and rail transit schedules beautifully. At my office, we were ordered to leave by eight o’clock (which people do have to be told here in Japan). One thing you never get used to if you’re from the States (or Australia, say my antipodean friends), is seeing weather graphics like this:


    Notice the way the storm essentially covers the entire width of the country as it moves northward. There’s been only one confirmed death, and there have been several dozen injuries, but things appear not to have been as bad as the “Storm of the Century” (all seven years of it?) fears.

    Hey You

    Posted by Sean at 09:48, August 26th, 2007

    My computer came back from Toshiba this weekend, so I’ve been getting it back into something reasonably resembling the shape it was in before it went crazy on me. Can’t quite get rid of all the crazy, though. You know how these things go–once you start installing programs and they start talking to each other, all kinds of bizarre things happen. I am now the proprietor of a machine on which

    • iTunes has alphabetized my Madonna songs after the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and before 10,000 Maniacs. This state of affairs is so plain weird that I’m tempted to go to the Apple store to ask whether Madonna’s first initial is now assumed to come after Z in the letters or before 0 in the numbers and other characters, just to satisfy my curiosity. Maybe something wacky happened when I sneaked my tracks back into iTunes from my iPod, which was the only place they’d been backed up? But why only Madge?

    • no browser wants to open google.com or gmail.com. I’ve tried making a special permission in Norton 360, turning off the firewall temporarily, and using every conceivable alternative URL. Nothing works. Good thing Gmail Lite is around.
    • the brightness refuses to stay set at three levels below maximum. It reverts to full-on lightbulb-in-the-interrogation-room setting whenever I restart the computer. Now that I think about it, maybe it did that when I first bought the machine three years ago and I’ve just forgotten what I did to fix it.

    These modern conveniences–such a time-consuming chore to work with. Should be back as normal soon.

    (BTW, speaking of Madge, the title of that newest single captures with exquisite, if obviously unintentional, perfection the strident haranguing tone she adopts when she gets going on one of her moral crusades. And please–no one whose personal dressing room and gym probably consume more energy per day than Sierra Leone should be preaching at us to…uh, actually, I’m not sure what the hell she’s telling us to do. This is not one of her more incisive sets of lyrics.

    But of course I can’t help liking it anyway.)

    Added on 28 August: Speaking of Windows-related woes (which started this whole situation), I just got this from a colleague. The parody of Word–I hate that damned paper clip!–made my day.

    “Quiet, understated, and a great comfort to all of your friends”

    Posted by Sean at 02:43, August 24th, 2007

    or “Deliciously sinful,” if you prefer.

    Via Eric, the latest Blogthings quiz: What kind of sandwich are you?

    You Are a Ham Sandwich

    You are quiet, understated, and a great comfort to all of your friends.

    Over time, you have proven yourself as loyal and steadfast.

    And you are by no means boring. You do well in any situation – from fancy to laid back.

    Your best friend: The Turkey Sandwich

    Your mortal enemy: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    What Kind of Sandwich Are You?

    Nice that Eric and I have compatible sandwich identities. Funny that I was designated ham, of all things, since I was brought up in a Sabbatarian Christian sect that didn’t eat meats deemed unclean in the Old Testament. In fact, I still don’t, largely out of habit but also because they give me a tummyache. (My mother memorably said a few years ago, “Out of all the rules your father and I taught you from the Bible, the prohibition against pork and shellfish is the only one you decided to keep?!”)

    My laptop is at the Toshiba repair center getting its poor dead hard drive replaced, so posting will probably continue to be pretty light until the middle or so of next week. Hope everyone has a good weekend.

    By any other name

    Posted by Sean at 00:17, August 16th, 2007

    The anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender always brings controversy over visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where fourteen men convicted as Class-A war criminals by the international tribunal are enshrined along with fallen military personnel. Yesterday, former Prime Minister Koizumi went, but of the sitting cabinet, the only member to make a pilgrimage was Sanae Takaichi, State Minister for (of all things!) Okinawan Affairs. The Mainichi also ran an article citing high-ranking sources stating that Emperor Hirohito believed that including the fourteen Class-A war criminals in the enshrinees at Yasukuni was a diplomatic error: “While the Shrine gives repose to the souls only of those who died in the war [itself], this would change its nature,” and “[This move] will plant the seeds for deep-rooted trouble in the future with nations that were affected by the war.”

    I’ve always been of two minds about the Yasukuni issue. I have no trouble explaining why I disagree with the shrine’s official position. (This is from the English site.):

    According to the faith conveyed to us by the mythical accounts of the Nihon Shoki and the Kojiki, the Kami, Izanagi and Izanami, in giving birth to the country of Japan, also gave birth to the people. This is to say that the Japanese islands and people are both born from the Kami. Therefore, the soul of man is identical with the Kami. And so long as this universe continues to exist, the soul of man can be nothing else than eternal.

    Isn’t it a fact that the West with its military power invaded and ruled over much of Asia and Africa and that this was the start of East-West relations? There is no uncertainty in history. [!] Japan’s dream of building a Great East Asia was necessitated by history and it was sought after by the countries of Asia. We cannot overlook the intent of those who wish to tarnish the good name of the noble souls of Yasukuni.

    To bring an end to war is the earnest wish of mankind. Regardless of whether we can realize this or not, the act of despising the souls of those who offered their lives for the national community by those who were left behind is no more than extreme ingratitude of a people without a country.

    Note the way this allows the administrators of the shrine to have it both ways—positioning Japan as in line with the rest of mankind in desiring world peace while justifying the practice of honoring those who presided over Unit 731 and the Rape of Nanking. Japanese theology regards the souls of good and evil alike as passing into the next world-—fine. But that doesn’t mean it provides a good defense for failing to draw moral distinctions among their actions while they were alive in this one.

    On the other hand, one can visit a house of worship without necessarily buying into the full line pushed by those people in charge of it. Koizumi’s stubbornness about making pilgrimages to Yasukuni always struck me as politically unwise, but his positions on the WOT, economic liberalization, and individualism were enough to convince me that he wasn’t a closet Tojo fan. Koizumi probably does believe that you can perform rituals at Yasukuni without letting all the kami off the hook for their war conduct. Not so sure about others, including those on the cabinet.

    Speaking of conflicting religious conceptions, this (via Instapundit) strikes me as very worrying, though hardly without precedent:

    A Roman Catholic Bishop in the Netherlands has proposed people of all faiths refer to God as Allah to foster understanding, stoking an already heated debate on religious tolerance in a country with one million Muslims.
    Bishop Tiny Muskens, from the southern diocese of Breda, told Dutch television on Monday that God did not mind what he was named and that in Indonesia, where Muskens spent eight years, priests used the word “Allah” while celebrating Mass.

    A survey in the Netherlands’ biggest-selling newspaper De Telegraaf on Wednesday found 92 percent of the more than 4,000 people polled disagreed with the bishop’s view, which also drew ridicule.

    Huh? Words refer to ideas, and ideas have consequences, to coin a phrase.

    It’s one thing for Christians in a mostly non-Christian country to call God by the best local equivalent. Professor Bainbridge says, “Words matter. To a person of faith, no word matters more than the name of God,” but in my experience, there is some give there. For example, Japanese Christians also call God 神様 (kamisama: kind of like “God, Sir”). However, those I’ve meet are keenly aware of the difference between their god and the Japanese kami themselves. And Dutch, presumably, already has a perfectly good word for “God.” The substitution of “Allah” would presumably imply to the average listener that the speaker was mindedly shading it with the conception of God in Islam. I’m not sure what can be accomplished through that at this historical moment except the beclouding of distinctions between religions that it would be wise to keep in mind.


    Posted by Sean at 23:59, August 14th, 2007

    James Kirchick on IGF:

    Yet there’s a common, unattractive feature that many conservative gay men share: a serious chip on their shoulder. Being part of a community that is so intolerant of their views, gay conservatives can be embittered, patronizing, and castigatory of their gay brothers. It’s not a particularly attractive attitude. Perhaps it’s for this reason that I have not started cruising Log Cabin Republican meetings for dates.

    Yes, yes–a thousand times, yes. The more annoying gay leftists are worse (as the rest of Kirchick’s piece discusses), to be sure. Their worldview is mostly inaccurate. They assume that gatherings of gay guys are safe spaces not only for letting loose and being gay but also for slamming Bush, Israel, and capitalism without opposition. And they insist on pushing forward with political discussions even when it’s become clear that the only result will be more acrimony. For sheer obnoxiousness, they can be pretty tough to top.

    Still, there are gay conservatives who seem to be doing their best, conveying a smug sense of election and an ostentatious look-how-suffering-has-sanctified-me fortitude that even Hillary Clinton would surely regard as overdoing it. Cool don’t advertise, gentlemen.

    Personally, I don’t think I’ve met anyone I would describe as embittered, exactly. But I’ve encountered more than one conservative gay guy who’s seemed almost affronted when he discovered that I agreed with him on policy—as if the existence of another right-ish gay man somehow diluted his distinctiveness or something. Of course, that’s just my interpretation, based only on people I myself have met. I just can’t think of another plausible reason one would act annoyed at being agreed with.


    On a related note, Connie has this to say (my emphasis):

    I love feedback. I love comments. I love discussion. But if I say I like the taste of apple sauce, I really don’t care if you think I’m an idiot for liking it. It is perfectly OK to have unexpressed thoughts. I have millions of them.

    Good grief, yes. You are not duty-bound to loose upon the world everything that floats through your head. Really.


    On another related note, a friend has written to whether my post the other day stemmed the flow of hate mail so completely that I’m starting to miss it, in which case he gallantly offers to befoul my inbox with rants and insults of my choosing. Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m fine. Really.

    He also sends this link, which I’ll pass along just in case you haven’t already encountered it through Instapundit or The Corner:

    Here’s a story you don’t see every day – “Gay Nicaraguan Man Goes Into Hiding After Refugee Bid Denied“:

    His case made headlines in Canada and Nicaragua in February when the Immigration and Refugee Board denied him asylum saying they didn’t believe he was gay.

    Is that what Canadian immigration officials do all day? “Funny. You don’t look gay. Walk across to the men’s room again and this time put a bit of life into it.”

    I appreciate their concerns. Being gay isn’t exactly one of those jobs Canadians won’t do. Let a lot of squaresville straights stand muscling in on the gay immigrant fast-track, and there goes the neighborhood. But contrast the exacting entry qualifications for the gay refugee line with those for the terrorist refugee line. Ahmed Ressam, the famous “Millennium Bomber” arrested at the British Columbia/Washington State border en route to blow up LAX, was admitted to Canada because he told them he was a convicted Algerian terrorist.

    That’s right: As Mme Shouldice of the immigration service explained, being a terrorist was a legitimate criterion for admission, on the grounds that you had a reasonable fear of being ill-treated if you returned to the country where you were trying to blow people up. And, unlike gay refugees, terrorist refugees weren’t asked to prove it: “Go on, then. If you’re such a bigtime terrorist, blow someone up. Try the laughably obvious heterosexual at the payphone frantically trying to order up a Judy Garland boxed set.”

    Steyn wrote about Ressam in 1999 here.

    過ちは (Nagasaki)

    Posted by Sean at 22:45, August 8th, 2007

    The anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing is today just after 11 o’clock.


    Sleep in peace,
    For the mistake
    is one we will not repeat.

    That’s the inscription on the stone under the memorial arch in Hiroshima. A man broke in and chipped away the word mistake (過ち) a few years ago, maintaining that Japan had nothing to regret. (The we is intended to refer to all of humanity; however, because the sentence in Japanese has no explicit subject, it can be interpreted as meaning that the Japanese themselves are apologizing for entering the war that brought on the bombing.) I’m not sure whether it’s been reinscribed, though I assume it has been; the last time I visited was ages ago.

    On 6 August Cathy Young linked to this post about the Hiroshima bombing. It’s well written and worth reading. She also cites some comments appended to an Oliver Kamm piece in The Guardian defending the bombings. The first sentence of the first one appeals to the authority of Noam Chomsky; they go (further) downhill from there.

    No one can deny that a lot of children and pregnant women and old grandfathers died in the atom bombings. But we are talking about action taken nearly four years into a declared war that had engulfed a good deal of the planet and had already claimed millions of innocent lives. The time for peace, love, and understanding would come, but the first order of business was to demonstrate with finality that there was no point in continuing to fight. And the only reliable way to do that was to send a clear message: We can destroy your land and people utterly if you force us to. No peaceable people wants to run about sending such a message except under extreme circumstances. The Pacific War was an extreme circumstance. Taking the position that it was the Americans (and British and Australians and Canadians) who were demonstrating contempt for individual human lives—-vis-à-vis the early-Showa Japanese, no less–is so morally bankrupt as to defy comprehension. That we all fervently hope that the atom bombings never have to be repeated does not, sadly, make Hiroshima and Nagasaki a mistake.

    The Boor Wars

    Posted by Sean at 02:02, August 8th, 2007

    So we’re back to discussing the difficulties of talking politics politely. Eric says:

    I’ve noticed that the louder and more opinionated a person is, the more likely he is to see a political disagreement with his position as a personal attack. Perhaps it’s because he’s put so much of his persona into it by being so loud. I think these types are best dealt with in blogs, where insults and ad hominem attacks tend to be self discrediting, WHERE YOU CAN’T SHOUT ANY LOUDER THAN THIS, and the loudly opinionated boors are reduced to inferior-looking lines of text.

    Real life is another, very ugly matter.

    I’ve always had friends who disagree with me, but things are getting a little ridiculous where it comes to meeting new people. When I meet new people, I often wonder about the advisability of telling them what I think, especially if they show signs of being in kneejerk group agreement on a given issue.

    Is there a duty to publicly disagree when that can turn an otherwise enjoyable social event into an ordeal?

    I haven’t lived in the States for years, and I frequently socialize in groups in which I’m the only American. Most of the time, conversation stays neutral: life in Japan, where else everyone has traveled, the wretched weather (usually not a bland topic in Tokyo, actually).

    If talk turns to politics, people tend to register the stock surprise that a gay man could possibly be “right-wing”—-not the way I characterize myself, of course, though I try to resist the temptation to bore my dinner partners senseless by explaining how being a libertarian is different—-but I generally find that keeping an even tone and having a sense of humor gets me a fair hearing. In the overwhelming majority of political discussions I’ve had, I’ve been the only person to the right of Hillary Clinton but have been treated respectfully, if not always amiably.

    One does at times, though, encounter people for whom it’s not topics but positions that count as intrusively “political.” More than once I’ve heard someone venture placidly over the rim of his gin and tonic that the Iraq invasion was terrible (or that America is turning into a police state, or that it’s awful how Israel and its allies gang up on the Palestinians), clearly expecting the remark to be no more controversial than “What about all this rain, huh?” If, instead of murmuring assent and passing to the next pleasantry, you respond that you supported the invasion or that you haven’t noticed anyone’s opinions being suppressed in the US or that Israel happens to be the only liberal democracy in its neighborhood, you’re accused of being an agent of acrimony–hijacking an innocuous discussion and trying to turn it into a political debate.

    Well, okay. Frankly, I don’t like conversations that give me indigestion any more than the next guy. Having been brought up the old-fashioned way, I avoid being the person to bring up politics (or religion) among people I don’t know very well. But surely once a topic has been put on the table by others, it’s fair game. I’d generally be happy to let these things pass were it not for the fact that they come from the sort of people who maintain that Americans are complacent and ignorant about the state of the world because we’re not exposed to dissenting views!

    空爆 (Hiroshima)

    Posted by Sean at 21:01, August 5th, 2007

    There are always, in the week before the anniversaries of the atom bombings, articles run about the decreasing numbers of survivors and the effort to keep their stories alive. One such piece was an AP story picked up by the Yomiuri on-line (not sure whether it ran in the print edition:

    Monday’s anniversary comes just a month after Fumio Kyuma was forced to quit as defense minister for seeming to implying that the bombing was inevitable, because otherwise Japan would have gone on fighting and would have lost territory to a Soviet invasion.

    Not so, says Steven Leeper, the first American to head the Hiroshima Peace and Culture Foundation. “Historically, that’s not correct,” he said in an interview, “And it’s unbelievable that he said it.”

    Leeper shares the view of most Japanese: that Japan had already lost the war and that the bombing of Hiroshima, and of Nagasaki three days later, was wrong and unnecessary.

    “Everybody knows on the left and the right that Japan was finished at the time the bomb was dropped,” Leeper said.

    Historically, the American justification was that the bombing ended the war and limited the number of U.S. military and Japanese civilian lives that would have been lost in a land invasion.

    The Japanese perspective argues that Japan was already working on negotiating a peace treaty, as well as a surrender, and that the U.S. dropped the bomb to test its destructive power and to intimidate the Soviet Union.

    I love Japan and am glad that we’re allies today. But sixty-odd years ago, our grandfathers were enemies. It was the responsiblity of ours to crush theirs. I’m glad they did it conclusively. One hopes that no civilized society has to resort to nuclear warfare again, but it’s a mistake to prettify history for the sake of expedient would-be humanitarianism.

    I’ve never seen it disputed that Japan had already lost the war by August, in the sense that it clearly wasn’t going to win. Whether it was “finished,” however, is another matter. The government was hedging over the Potsdam Declaration. There was vocal opposition to surrender from some military leaders–even after both bombings, they tried to prevent the emperor’s surrender proclamation from being broadcast–who wanted to make good on previous promises to resist an invasion of the mainland by any means necessary. The Japanese people’s meek acceptance of occupation and immediate dedication of energy to rebuiding a peacetime economy seems inevitable now, but only because we know that’s how it happened.

    And as for sending a minatory message to the Soviets, that does indeed appear to have been a factor, but I can’t see why it’s evidence of moral turpitude. Japan had mindedly inserted itself into an international conflict, betting that the United States and British Commonwealth would not have the resources to fight effectively in both Pacific and European theaters. It turned out to be a bad bet of global dimensions. What would be done with Japan after its surrender would affect the post-war balance of power, and our military leaders would have been nuts not to factor that in when deciding how to attack it.