More Americans than ever are questioning the conventional history of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that murdered 129,000-246,000 or more people, mostly children, women, and the elderly. A new poll shows 56 percent believe the attacks were justified, opposed to the 34 percent who say they were unjustified.
“Seven-in-ten Americans ages 65 and older say the use of atomic weapons was justified, but only 47% of 18- to 29-year-olds agree. There is a similar partisan divide: 74% of Republicans but only 52% of Democrats see the use of nuclear weapons at the end of World War II as warranted.”
Initially, 85 percent of Americans supported the massive attacks ordered by Democratic President Harry Truman. Now more might sympathize with Zora Neale Hurston’s characterization of Truman as the “butcher of Asia” thanks to the work of libertarian historians and writers such as Ralph Raico, Anthony Gregory, and David Henderson. Indeed, this article pulls together much of those three, but is nowhere near a sufficient summary so let the reader be advised to bookmark and read those pieces in their entirety for a more complete view.
Lies and suppression of inconvenient truths have long dominated the mainstream understanding of this 70 year old history. For starters, Truman lied to the American people via radio message just hours after the Nagasaki bombing and three days after Hiroshima. He said, “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.”
Hiroshima wasn’t a military base, so that couldn’t stick for long. More myths would have to be created. But maybe Truman didn’t know any better when he spoke to the American people? Like other guilty parties, Truman couldn’t keep his story straight. In a response to a clergyman’s criticism of the attack, Truman cited vengeance as a primary reason:
“Nobody is more disturbed over the use of Atomic bombs than I am but I was greatly disturbed over the unwarranted attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor and their murder of our prisoners of war. The only language they seem to understand is the one we have been using to bombard them. When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast. It is most regrettable but nevertheless true.”
And why did Truman call the Hiroshima bombing the “greatest thing in history” when breaking the news to his Secretary of State? When a newspaper accurately characterized his words as jubilation, Truman tried to say he was only jubilant about Russia’s entering the war against Japan. That explanation doesn’t fly, because the Russians actually hadn’t entered that theatre of the war until two days after the Hiroshima bombing.
All of this squirming by Truman should’ve pre-empted the next lie, but it didn’t. The idea that the bombings saved more lives than they burned, mutilated, and obliterated. Virtually all American kids are inculcated with this rationalization, but once the non-cooperative history is dusted off, the idea that the atomic bombings were a noble rescue mission of millions of soldiers and civilians clearly becomes nothing but desperate propaganda.
But even top military brass opposed the bombings. General Dwight Eisenhower advised Truman not to use the weapons and in 1963 told Newsweek, “The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” General Douglas MacArthur said the war could’ve ended weeks earlier without any atomic bombing if the US had just accepted a conditional Japanese surrender allowing the emperor to remain in power. The US refused to allow any conditions whatsoever, but ultimately the emperor remained even after the damned pointless bombs Little Boy and Fat Man were dropped.
There is a fear that if the use of atomic weapons is condemned, much of the rest of the war comes into question as well (the fire-bombings of Dresden and Tokyo among other crimes), then before long the entire World War II is in question. And that is something the national religion can’t afford, because it runs on war, and today’s wars are always shrouded in the World War II myth-context.