they could withdraw from the war without dishonor because it would strike them

They could withdraw from the war without dishonor

This preview shows page 4 - 6 out of 11 pages.

they could withdraw from the war without dishonor, because it would strike them, as it had usin the silence of our prison night, as something supernatural."In an exchange of views not long ago in The New York Review of Books, Joseph Alsop and DavidJoravsky set forth the by now familiar argument on both sides of the debate about the "ethics"of the bomb. It's not hard to guess which side each chose once you know that Alsop experiencedcapture by the Japanese at Hong Kong early in 1942, while Joravsky came into no deadlycontact with the Japanese: a young, combat innocent soldier, he was on his way to the Pacificwhen the war ended. The eclitors of The New York Reviewgave the debate the tendentious title"Was the Hiroshima Bomb Necessary?" surely an unanswerable question (unlike "Was ItEffective?") and one precisely indicating the intellectual difficulties involved in imposing ex postfactoa rational and even a genteel ethics on this event. In arguing the acceptability of the bomb,Alsop focuses on the power and fanaticism of War Minister Anami, who insisted that Japan fightto the bitter end, defending the main islands with the same techniques and tenacity employed atIwo and Okinawa. Alsop concludes: "Japanese surrender could never have been obtained, at anyrate without the honor-satisfying bloodbath envisioned by . . . Anami, if the hideous destructionof Hiroshima and Nagasaki had not finally galvanized the peace advocates into tearing up theentire Japanese book of rules." The Japanese plan to deploy the undefeated bulk of their groundforces, over two million men, plus 10,000 kamikaze planes, plus the elderly and all the womenand children with sharpened spears they could muster in a suicidal defense makes it absurd, saysAlsop, to "hold the common view, by now hardly challenged by anyone, that the decision todrop the two bombs on Japan was wicked in itself, and that President Truman and all otherswho joined in making or who [like Robert Oppenheimer] assented to this decision shared in thewickedness." And in explanation of “the two hombs," Alsop adds: "The true, climactic, andsuccessful effort of the Japanese peace advocates . . . did not begin in deadly earnest until afterthe second bomb had destroyed Nagasaki. The Nagasaki bomb was thus the trigger to all thedevelopments that led to peace." At this time the army was so unready for surrender that most
5looked forward to the forthcoming invasion as an indispensable opportunity to show theirmettle, enthusiastically agreeing with the army spokesman who reasoned early in 1945, "Sincethe retreat from Guadalcanal, the Army has had little opportunity to engage the enemy in landbattles. But when we meet in Japan proper, our Army willdemonstrate its invincible superiority.” This possibility foreclosed by the Emperor's post-A-bomb surrender broadcast, the shocked, disappointed officers of one infantry battalion,anticipating a professionally impressive defense of the beaches, killed themselves in the

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture