Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Are You Experienced? (released September 1967) AYE
Axis: Bold as Love (released January 1968) AXIS
Electric Ladyland (released September 1968) LADY
Smash Hits (released June 1969) HITS
Band of Gypsies (live) (released 1970) BOG (12-31-69 / 1-1-70)
The Cry of Love (released January 1971) CRY
BBC Sessions BBC (mostly Feb.-April / Oct.-Dec. 1967)
Jimi Plays Monterey MON (6-18-67)
Live at Winterland WIN (10-12 October 1968)
Live At Woodstock WOOD (8-18-69)
Live at the Fillmore East FILL (12-31-69 / 1-1-70)
Live at Berkeley BERK (5-30-70)
Blue Wild Angel: Live at the Isle of Wight ISLE (8-30-70)
Posthumous Studio Albums and Compilations
Rainbow Bridge RAIN
First Rays of the New Rising Sun RAYS
Experience Hendrix: the Best of Jimi Hendrix BEST
Voodoo Child: the Jimi Hendrix Collection VOO
The Jimi Hendrix Experience (box set) BOX
Nine to the Universe NINE
Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: Jimi Hendrix SCOR
(* = written by Jimi Hendrix)
(x = alternate studio or live version)
(+ = live performance)
(Mitch Mitchell played drums, except from November 1969 through February 1970 -- Buddy Miles)
(Noel Redding played bass up till around May 1969, then was succeeded by Billy Cox)
10-18-66 Hey Joe + BOX
10-18-66 Killing Floor + BOX
10-23-66 Hey Joe AYE / HITS / BEST / VOO
10-23-66 Hey Joe x BOX
11-2-66 *Stone Free AYE / HITS / BEST
11-24-66 *Love or Confusion AYE
12-13-66 *Foxy Lady AYE / HITS / BEST
12-13-66 *Foxy Lady x (alt mix) BOX
12-13-66 *Red House x BLUES
12-66 *Can You See Me AYE / HITS
1-11-67 *Purple Haze AYE / HITS / VOO / BEST
1-11-67 *Purple Haze x BOX
1-11-67 *The Wind Cries Mary AYE / HITS / VOO / BEST
1-11-67 *Fire AYE / VOO / HITS / BEST
1-11-67 *Third Stone From the Sun AYE / BOX / VOO (x?)
1-11-67 *Third Stone From the Sun x (vocal overdub session) BOX
1-11-67 ?51st Anniversary (mono) AYE / HITS
2-8-67 *Remember AYE / HITS
2-13-67 Hey Joe + BBC
2-13-67 Hey Joe +x BBC
2-13-67 *Love or Confusion + BBC
2-13-67 *Foxy Lady + BBC
2-13-67 *Foxy Lady +x BBC
2-13-67 *Stone Free + BBC
2-20-67 *I Don't Live Today AYE
3-28-67 *Purple Haze + BBC
3-28-67 *Fire + BBC
3-28-67 Killing Floor + BBC
3-29-67 *Manic Depression AYE / HITS / BEST
3-29-67 *Red House AYE / HITS / SCOR / BEST
4-3-67 *May This Be Love AYE
4-3-67 ?Highway Chile AYE / HITS
4-3-67 ?Highway Chile x (stereo) BOX / VOO
4-3-67 *Are You Experienced? AYE / VOO
4-3-67 ?Instrumental Jam BOX
4-4-67 ?Lover Man (instrumental) BOX
4-4-67 ?Somewhere + BOX
4-5-67 ?Taking Care of No Business BOX
4-17-67 *Manic Depression + BBC
5-4-67 She's So Fine AXIS
5-5-67 *If 6 Was 9 AXIS / BEST
5-5-67 *If 6 Was 9 x BOX
5-9-67 *Burning of the Midnight Lamp (instrumental) BOX
5-9-67 *Gypsy Eyes BOX
6-18-67 Killing Floor + MON
6-18-67 *Foxy Lady + MON
6-18-67 Like a Rolling Stone + MON / BOX
6-18-67 Rock Me Baby + MON / BOX
6-18-67 Hey Joe + MON
6-18-67 *Can You See Me + MON
6-18-67 *The Wind Cries Mary + MON
6-18-67 *Purple Haze + MON
6-18-67 Wild Thing + MON / VOO
[Monterey performance complete and in order]
7-7-67 *Burning of the Midnight Lamp LADY / VOO
9-5-67 *Fire + BOX
9-5-67 Sgt. Pepper BOX
9-5-67 *Burning of the Midnight Lamp BOX
10-3-67 *You Got Me Floating AXIS
10-3-67 Little Miss Lover x BOX
10-5-67 *Bold as Love (instrumental) BOX
10-6-67 *Little Miss Lover + BBC
10-6-67 *Burning of the Midnight Lamp + BBC
10-6-67 Catfish Blues + BBC
10-6-67 Hound Dog + BBC
10-6-67 Driving South + BBC
10-6-67 Driving South +x BBC
10-6-67 *Jammin' (w/ Stevie Wonder: drums) + BBC
10-6-67 I Was Made to Love Her (w/ Stevie Wonder: drums) + BBC
10-9-67 *The Wind Cries Mary + BOX
10-9-67 Catfish Blues + BOX
10-67 *Castles Made of Sand AXIS / BEST
10-67 *One Rainy Wish AXIS
10-67 Little Miss Lover AXIS
10-17-67 Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? + BBC
10-17-67 I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man + BBC
10-17-67 Driving South + BBC
10-25-67 *Little Wing AXIS / BEST / VOO
10-25-67 *Little Wing x BOX
10-26-67 *Wait Until Tomorrow AXIS
10-26-67 *Ain't No Telling AXIS
10-28-67 *Spanish Castle Magic AXIS
10-29-67 *Up From the Skies AXIS
10-29-67 *Bold As Love AXIS / BEST
11-10-67 Catfish Blues BLUES
11-13-67 *Angel BOX
12-9-67 *Hear My Train A-Comin' (acoustic) BLUES
12-15-67 *Hear My Train A-Comin' + BBC
12-15-67 *Hear My Train A-Comin' +x BBC
12-15-67 *Spanish Castle Magic + BBC
12-15-67 *Radio One + BBC
12-15-67 *Wait Until Tomorrow + BBC
12-15-67 Day Tripper + BBC
12-21-67 *Crosstown Traffic LADY / BEST / VOO
1-21-68 All Along the Watchtower LADY / BEST / VOO (4-track)
3-13-68 *My Friend CRY / RAYS / SCOR
3-15-68 *Fire + BOX
4-18-68 *Long Hot Summer Night LADY
4-22-68 Little Miss Strange LADY
4-23?-68 *1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be) LADY
4-23?-68 *Moon, Turn the Tides...Gently, Gently Away LADY
5-68? *Gypsy Eyes LADY
5-1-68 *House Burning Down LADY
5-2-68 *Voodoo Chile LADY / SCOR
5-3-68 *Voodoo Child (Slight Return) LADY / BEST / VOO
5-3-68 *Voodoo Chile Blues BLUES
6-68? *(Have You Ever Been To) Electric Ladyland LADY
6-10-68 *Rainy Day, Dream Away LADY
6-10-68 *Still Raining, Still Dreaming LADY
6-14-68 *(Have You Ever Been To) Electric Ladyland x BOX
6-29?-68 *...And the Gods Made Love LADY
8-12-68 *Room Full of Mirrors x BOX
8-27-68 *Come On (Pt. 1) LADY
8-27-68 *Come On (Pt. 1) x SCOR
10-10-68 Killing Floor + WIN
10-10-68 Sunshine of Your Love + WIN
10-11-68 *Fire + WIN
10-11-68 *Foxy Lady + WIN
10-11-68 *Red House + WIN
10-11-68 Tax Free + WIN
10-12-68 *Purple Haze + WIN
10-12-68 *Fire + VOO
10-12-68 *Manic Depression + WIN
10-12-68 Hey Joe + WIN
10-12-68 Hey Joe + VOO
10-12-68 Wild Thing + WIN
10-12-68 *Spanish Castle Magic + WIN
10-22-68 *Look Over Yonder RAIN
10-29-68 *Electric Church Red House BLUES
1-4-69 *Voodoo Child + BBC
1-4-69 Hey Joe + BBC
1-4-69 Sunshine of Your Love + BBC
2-11-69 ?It's Too Bad BOX / SCOR
2-17-69 *Spanish Castle Magic x VOO / BOX
2-17-69 *Hear My Train A-Comin' x BOX / SCOR
2-17-69 ?Country Blues SCOR
2-24-69 *Little Wing + BOX
2-24-69 *Voodoo Child (Slight Return) + BOX
3-15-69 ?Blue Window Jam SCOR
3-18-69 Star Spangled Banner RAIN / BOX
3-19-69 ?Mother, Mother SCOR
3-25-69 *Jimi/Jimmy Jam NINE
4-7-69 *Stone Free x VOO / BOX
4-21-69 *Room Full of Mirrors x BOX
4-22-69 Mannish Boy BLUES
4-24-69 *Drone Blues NINE
4-26-69 *I Don't Live Today + VOO / BOX
5-14-69 *Young/Hendrix (Jam) NINE
5-14-69 ?Jelly 292 BLUES
5-21-69 ?Bleeding Heart BLUES
5-24-69 *I Don't Live Today + (from the record album Kiss the Sky)
5-24-69 *Purple Haze + VOO / BOX
5-24-69 *Red House + BOX
5-29-69 *Nine to the Universe NINE
6-25-69 *Easy Blues NINE
8-18-69 *Message to Love + WOOD
8-18-69 *Hear My Train A-Comin' + WOOD
8-18-69 *Spanish Castle Magic + WOOD
8-18-69 *Red House + WOOD
8-18-69 ?Lover Man + WOOD
8-18-69 *Foxy Lady + WOOD
8-18-69 *Jam Back at the House + WOOD
8-18-69 *Izabella + WOOD
8-18-69 *Fire + WOOD
8-18-69 *Voodoo Child (Slight Return) + WOOD
8-18-69 Star Spangled Banner + WOOD / BEST / VOO
8-18-69 *Purple Haze + WOOD
8-18-69 *Woodstock Improvisation + WOOD
8-18-69 ?Villanova Junction + WOOD
8-18-69 Hey Joe + WOOD
[Woodstock performance in order]
8-29-69 *Izabella (x; single mix) VOO
8-29-69 *Izabella x BOX
11-14-69 *Stepping Stone (single mix) VOO
11-17-69 *Room Full of Mirrors RAYS / RAIN
12-15-69 Born Under a Bad Sign BLUES
12-18-69 *Ezy Rider CRY / RAYS
12-31-69 *Hear My Train A-Comin' + FILL
12-31-69 *Izabella + FILL
12-31-69 Auld Lang Syne + FILL
12-31-69 *Machine Gun + FILL
1-1-70 *Machine Gun + FILL
1-1-70 *Machine Gun + BOG
1-1-70 *Machine Gun (x?) + VOO
1-1-70 Wild Thing + FILL
1-1-70 *Stone Free + FILL
1-1-70 *Power of Soul + FILL
1-1-70 *Power of Soul (aka Power to Love) + BOG
1-1-70 *Voodoo Child (Slight Return) + FILL
1-1-70 We Gotta Live Together + FILL
1-1-70 We Gotta Live Together + BOG
1-1-70 *Who Knows + BOG
1-1-70 *Who Knows + FILL
1-1-70 Changes + FILL
1-1-70 Changes + BOG
1-1-70 *Stepping Stone + FILL
1-1-70 ?Stop + FILL
1-1-70 *Earth Blues + FILL
1-1-70 ?Burning Desire + FILL
1-1-70 *Message of Love (aka Message to Love) + BOG
1-17-70 *Izabella RAYS
1-20-70 *Earth Blues RAIN
1-20-70 *Earth Blues x BOX
1-20-70 *Message to Love x BOX
1-23-70 *Astro Man x BOX
1-23-70 ?Country Blues x BOX
1-23-70 ?Once I Had a Woman BLUES
2-16-70 *Freedom x BOX
3-23-70 ?Midnight Lightning SCOR
5-30-70 ?Pass It On (Straight Ahead) + BERK
5-30-70 *Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) + BERK
5-30-70 ?Lover Man + BERK
5-30-70 *Stone Free + BERK
5-30-70 Hey Joe + BERK
5-30-70 *I Don't Live Today + BERK
5-30-70 *Machine Gun + BERK
5-30-70 *Foxy Lady + BERK
5-30-70 Star Spangled Banner + BERK
5-30-70 *Purple Haze + BERK
5-30-70 *Voodoo Child (Slight Return) + BERK
5-30-70 *Hear My Train A-Comin' + RAIN / VOO
5-30-70 Johnny B. Goode + VOO / BOX
5-30-70 Blue Suede Shoes (afternoon sound check) BOX
6-16-70 *Night Bird Flying CRY / RAYS / BEST
6-17-70 *Straight Ahead CRY / RAYS
6-24-70 ?Cherokee Mist / *In From the Storm x BOX
6-25-70 *Freedom CRY / RAYS / BEST
6-26-70 *Stepping Stone RAYS
7-1-70 *Dolly Dagger RAYS / RAIN / BEST / VOO
7-1-70 *Beginnings (aka Jam Back at the House) RAYS
7-1-70 *Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) RAYS / RAIN / VOO
7-1-70 *Pali Gap RAIN
7-15-70 ?Come Down Hard on Me Baby BOX
7-17-70 *Red House + VOO
7-20-70 ?Lover Man x BOX
7-23-70 *Angel CRY / RAYS / BEST / VOO
7-30-70 *Foxy Lady + VOO
7-30-70 *Hey Baby + BOX
7-30-70 *In From the Storm + BOX
8-20-70 *Drifting CRY / RAYS
8-20-70 ?Slow Blues BOX
8-22-70 *Astro Man CRY / RAYS
8-22-70 *Ezy Rider x BOX
8-22-70 *Night Bird Flying x BOX
8-24-70 *Belly Button Window CRY / RAYS
8-24-70 *In from the Storm CRY / RAYS
8-30-70 God Save the Queen + ISLE
8-30-70 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band + ISLE
8-30-70 *Spanish Castle Magic + ISLE
8-30-70 All Along The Watchtower + ISLE / BOX
8-30-70 *Machine Gun + ISLE
8-30-70 ?Lover Man + ISLE
8-30-70 *Freedom + ISLE / VOO
8-30-70 *Red House + ISLE
8-30-70 *Dolly Dagger + ISLE
8-30-70 ?Midnight Lighting + ISLE
8-30-70 *Foxy Lady + ISLE
8-30-70 *Message to Love + ISLE
8-30-70 *Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) + ISLE
8-30-70 *Ezy Ryder + ISLE
8-30-70 Hey Joe + ISLE
8-30-70 *Purple Haze + ISLE
8-30-70 *Voodoo Child (Slight Return) + ISLE
8-30-70 *In From The Storm + ISLE / BOX
[Isle of Wight performance complete and in order]
Songs Most Performed in Concert
[judging from the seven major recorded concerts: BBC Sessions ('67) / Monterey ('67) / Winterland ('68) / Woodstock ('69) / Fillmore East (Band of Gypsies) ('70) / Berkeley ('70) / Isle of Wight ('70) ]
Hey Joe 8
Foxy Lady 7
Purple Haze 6
Voodoo Child (Slight Return) 5
Hear My Train A-Comin' 5
Spanish Castle Magic 4
Stone Free 3
Killing Floor 3
Wild Thing 3
Machine Gun 3
Red House 3
Driving South 3
Message to Love 3
Lover Man 3
Manic Depression 2
Sunshine of Your Love 2
Star Spangled Banner 2
Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) 2
[Jimi Hendrix died tragically from a drug overdose on 18 September 1970]
Most of the above information (particularly dates) was obtained from the informative web page: Jimi Hendrix: Discography, Track index, Set lists]
Monday, August 29, 2005
Declassified Top Secret Documents From Harry Truman and Others Reveal Discussions and Qualms Concerning the Morality of Nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II: A Collection of Primary Sources:
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 162, Edited by William Burr
(posted on August 5, 2005)
The author states:
These are photographs of the government documents in pdf form. I didn't (being naturally lazy about these things) figure out how to cut and paste (if it is possible with these documents), so I will cite the summarizing blurbs on this page and give the URLs so anyone can read the primary documents which are thus summarized in a particular fashion. In any event, these documents will demonstrate that the persons involved were well aware that civilian casualties were involved (which supports my contention that it is ludicrous to assert that they neither knew the consequences, or that it is justifiable by the Catholic principle of "double effect"). They knew full well what they were doing. And not all were pleased with it.
With the material that follows, the National Security Archive publishes the most comprehensive on-line collection to date of declassified U.S. government documents on the atomic bomb and the end of the war in the Pacific. Besides material from the files of the Manhattan Project, this collection includes formerly "Top Secret Ultra" summaries and translations of Japanese diplomatic cable traffic intercepted under the "Magic" program. Moreover, the collection includes for the first time translations from Japanese sources of high level meetings and discussions in Tokyo, including the conferences when Emperor Hirohito authorized the final decision to surrender.
. . . This briefing book will not attempt to answer these questions [various points of controversy briefly noted] or use primary sources to stake out positions on any of them . . . Instead, by gaining access to a broad range of U.S. and Japanese documents from the spring and summer of 1945, interested readers can see for themselves the crucial source material that scholars have used to shape narrative accounts of the historical developments and to frame their arguments about the questions that have provoked controversy over the years. To help readers who are less familiar with the debates, commentary on some of the documents will point out, although far from comprehensively, some of the ways in which they have been interpreted. With direct access to the documents, readers may be able to develop their own answers to the questions raised above.
[my kind of approach! Bravo!]
Document 11: Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy, "Memorandum of Conversation with General Marshall May 29, 1945 – 11:45 p.m.," Top Secret
Source: Record Group 107, Office of the Secretary of War, Formerly Top Secret Correspondence of Secretary of War Stimson (“Safe File”), July 1940-September 1945, box 12, S-1
Blurb (these will be in blue henceforth):
Apparently dissenting from the Targeting Committee’s recommendations, Army Chief of Staff George Marshall noted the “opprobrium which might follow from an ill considered employment of such force.” This document has played a role in arguments developed by Barton J. Bernstein that a few figures such as Marshall and Stimson were “caught between an older morality that opposed the intentional killing of noncombatants and a newer one that stressed virtually total war.”
Citation from another web page:
General Marshall said he thought these weapons might first be used against straight military objectives such as a large naval installation and then if no complete result was derived from the effect of that, he thought we ought to designate a number of large manufacturing areas from which the people would be warned to leave-telling the Japanese that we intended to destroy such centers. There would be no individual designations so that the Japs would not know exactly where we were to hit-a number should be named and the hit should follow shortly after. Every effort should be made to keep our record of warning clear. We must offset by such warning methods the opprobrium which might followfrom an ill considered employment of such force.
Document 12: "Notes of the Interim Committee Meeting Thursday, 31 May 1945, 10:00 A.M. to 1:15 P.M. – 2:15 P.M. to 4:15 P.M.," n.d., Top Secret
Source: RG 77, MED Records, H-B files, folder no. 100 (copy from microfilm)
. . . Interested in producing the “greatest psychological effect,” the Committee members agreed that the “most desirable target would be a vital war plant employing a large number of workers and closely surrounded by workers’ houses.” Bernstein argues that this target choice represented an uneasy endorsement of “terror bombing”--the target was not exclusively military or civilian; nevertheless, workers' housing would include noncombatant men, women, and children.
Document 15: Memorandum of Conference with the President, June 6, 1945, Top Secret Source: Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, Henry Lewis Stimson Papers (microfilm at Library of Congress)
. . . At the end, Stimson shared his doubts about targeting cities and killing civilians through area bombing because of its impact on the U.S.’s reputation as well as on the problem of finding targets for the atomic bomb. Barton Bernstein has also pointed to this as additional evidence of the influence on Stimson of “an older morality.”
Document 38: Truman's Potsdam DiaryBarton J. Bernstein, "Truman At Potsdam: His Secret Diary," Foreign Service Journal, July/August 1980, excerpts, used with author’s permission
Some years after Truman died a hand-written diary that he kept during the Potsdam conference surfaced in his personal papers. For convenience Barton Bernstein’s rendition is provided here but linked here are the scanned versions of Truman’s handwriting on the Truman Library’s web site (for 16 July and 17-30 July respectively).
The diary entries cover July 16, 17, 18, 20, 25, 26, and 30 and include Truman’s thinking about a number of issues and developments, including his reactions to Churchill and Stalin, the atomic bomb and how it should be targeted, the possible impact of the bomb and a Soviet declaration of war on Japan, and his decision to tell Stalin about the bomb. Receptive to pressure from Secretary of War Stimson, Truman recorded his decision to take Japan’s “old capital” (Kyoto) off the atomic bomb target list. Barton Bernstein and Richard Frank, among others, have argued that Truman’s assertion that the atomic targets were “military objectives” suggested that either he did not understand the power of the new weapons or had simply deceived himself about the nature of the targets.
Document 58: Memorandum of Conference with the President, August 8, 1945 at 10:45 AM
Source: Henry Stimson Diary, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, Henry Lewis Stimson Papers (microfilm at Library of Congress)
At their first meeting after the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, Stimson briefed Truman on the scale of the destruction, with Truman recognizing the “terrible responsibility” that was on his shoulder.
Document 65: Diary Entry, Friday, August 10, 1945, Henry Wallace Diary
Source: Papers of Henry A. Wallace, Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa (copy courtesy of Special Collections Department)
Secretary of Commerce (and former Vice President) Henry Wallace provided a detailed report on the cabinet meeting where Truman and his advisers discussed the Japanese surrender offer, Russian moves into Manchuria, and public opinion on “hard” surrender terms. With Japan close to capitulation, Truman asserted presidential control and ordered a halt to the atomic bombings. Barton J. Bernstein has suggested that Truman’s comment about “all those kids” showed his belated recognition that the bomb caused mass casualties and that the target was not purely a military one.
Quote from the above: "Truman said he had given orders to stop atomic bombing. He said the thought of wiping out another 100,000 people was too horrible. He didn't like the idea of killing, as he said, "all those kids."
Truman's letter to Senator Richard B. Russell: August 9, 1945:
I read your telegram of August seventh with a lot of interest.
I know that Japan is a terribly cruel and uncivilized nation in warfare but I can’t bring myself to believe that, because they are beasts, we should ourselves act in the same manner.
For myself, I certainly regret the necessity of wiping out whole populations because of the "pigheadedness’ of the leaders of a nation and for your information, I am not going to do it unless it is absolutely necessary. It is my opinion that after the Russians enter into war the Japanese will very shortly fold up.
My object is to save as many American lives as possible but I also have a humane feeling for the women and children in Japan.
Russell had written to President Truman on August 7:
This was a total war as long as our enemies hels all of the cards. Why should we change the rules now, after the blood, treasure and enterprise of the American people have given us the upper hand.
Next, from the Internet info-page: The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb:
Smyth report on atomic bomb: August 6, 1951:
"Then," the President said Stimson and I began to discuss the use of the bomb. It was my suggestion that we pick out a place to drop it as near a war plant as possible so as not to injure any more people than necessary. He said he conferred not only with Stimson but with Byrnes and Admiral Leahy and the decision was reached to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The President said that the military leaders beleived, up to that time, that it would require an army of at least a million Americans to defeat Japan and they told the President, in answer to his inquiries that they estimated there would be about 25% casualties. He said he asked what the population of Hiroshima was and his recollection was that they said about 60,000. He said that he felt and said it was far better to kill 60,000 Japanese than to have 250,000 Americans killed and he, therefore, ordered the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
[Note then, that Truman was not averse to wiping out the entire population of Hiroshima; yet we are told that he did not intend to target civilians, and that this was an unintended effect of a military strike]
President Truman to Samuel McCrea Cavert, August 11, 1945
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.
Samuel McCrea Cavert to President Truman, August 9, 1945
[a plea from a Christian to reconsider the bombings; Truman was responding to this in the above letter]
Many Christians deeply disturbed by use of atomic bombs against Japanese cities because of their necessarily indiscriminate destructive efforts . . .
Federal Council of the Churches of the Churches of Christ in America
Samuel McCrea Cavert, General Secretary
THE EVALUATION of the ATOMIC BOMB as a MILITARY WEAPON
The Final Report of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Evaluation Board For Operation Crossroads
30 June 1947
Six--Consideration of Targets
1. The selection of targets for attack by atomic weapons must take account of the number of such weapons available in the predictable future. Thus selection and priority of targets become of prime importance in the employment of the weapon.
2. The correlation of the results of the explosions of atomic bombs over Japanese cities and against naval bessels, at Bikini, gives ample evidence that the bomb is pre-eminently a weapon for use against human life and activities in large urban and industrial areas, as well as seaports.
[ . . . ]
Seven--Effectiveness of the Bomb against Cities
1. However feasible passive means of defense may prove for small vital installations, such protection will be inadequate for a city. Its structures and inhabitants, except as interception measures at a distance are effective, are fully vulnerable to atomic bomb attack.
2. Conventional methods of fire control, emergency policing, care of the wounded and the restoration of essential services would certainly mitigate the results no matter how extensive. But the personnel for these services would have to be recruited from outside the area and where radioactive contamination existed could enter it only with extreme difficulty and after some lapse of time.
Letter from the President to Atomic Energy Commissioner Thomas E. Murray, January 19, 1953
I rather think you have put a wrong construction on my approach to the use of the Atomic bomb. It is far worse than gas and biological warfare because it affects the civilian population and murders them by the wholesale.
From the web page: Hiroshima: Harry Truman's Diary and Papers:
7/25/45 Diary Entry:
We met at 11 A.M. today. That is Stalin, Churchill and the U.S. President. But I had a most important session with Lord Mountbattan & General Marshall before than. We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world. It may be the fire destruction prophesied in the Euphrates Valley Era, after Noah and his fabulous Ark.
Anyway we 'think' we have found the way to cause a disintegration of the atom. An experiment in the New Mexican desert was startling - to put it mildly. Thirteen pounds of the explosive caused the complete disintegration of a steel tower 60 feet high, created a crater 6 feet deep and 1,200 feet in diameter, knocked over a steel tower 1/2 mile away and knocked men down 10,000 yards away. The explosion was visible for more than 200 miles and audible for 40 miles and more.
The weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop this terrible bomb on the old capital or the new [Kyoto or Tokyo].
He [Stimson] and I are in accord. The target will be a purely military one and we will issue a warning statement [known as the Potsdam Proclamation] asking the Japs to surrender and save lives. I'm sure they will not do that, but we will have given them the chance. It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler's crowd or Stalin's did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful.
8-9-45 public statement:
The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base.
See an additional collection of related documents, collected by historians Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, and also Documents Relating to American Foreign Policy: Hiroshima.
In more than one letter, Truman justifies the use of nuclear bombs based on the fact that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. For example, in a public statement of 8-6-45: "The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold."
Doug Long, in his thoughtful, thought-provoking page, Hiroshima: Random Ramblings, provides appropriate closing thoughts:
Was President Truman a Bad Guy?
I am not interested in "finding fault" with President Truman. From reading his diary, his letters to his wife, and accounts of private conversations he had with others, I've come to the conclusion that Truman believed dropping atomic bombs on Japan would save American lives. After studying Harry Truman and the awful cup that passed to him, my heart goes out to him. He was happy in the Senate and did not want to become Vice-President or President. When the presidency was thrust upon him, we were struggling through one of the most crucial and chaotic periods in our nation's history. To make matters worse, neither Roosevelt nor Truman had taken care to see that Truman was well-informed on the war situation. Not surprisingly, the new President, by his own admission, was overwhelmed by the tasks facing him. . . .
Didn't the Japanese Deserve It?
Perhaps some did; many atrocities were committed by Japanese soldiers against American POWs and other people as well. But those who "deserved it" were not the primary targets of the atomic bombs. The primary targets were civilians who were much like us, who had no control over government policy, who feared the war and wished it would stop, and who were propagandized by their government into believing that God was on their side. Those whom the Allies decided "deserved it" were tried at the Tokyo War Crimes trials.
Altho he never publicly admitted it, President Truman had his misgivings about using a-bombs on cities. On Aug. 10, 1945 (the day after the Nagasaki bomb), having received reports and photographs of the effects of the Hiroshima bomb, Truman ordered a halt to further atomic bombings. . . .
On July 21, 1948 Truman confided some other private thoughts on the atomic bomb to his staff. Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission David Lilienthal recorded Truman's words in his diary that night, along with Lilienthal's own observations in parentheses:
"I don't think we ought to use this thing [the A-Bomb] unless we absolutely have to. It is a terrible thing to order the use of something that (here he looked down at his desk, rather reflectively) that is so terribly destructive, destructive beyond anything we have ever had. You have got to understand that this isn't a military weapon. (I shall never forget this particular expression). It is used to wipe out women and children and unarmed people, and not for military uses."
(David Lilienthal, The Journals of David E. Lilienthal, Vol. Two, pg. 391) [my -- i.e., Long's -- emphasis].
Truman's candid comments underscored the indiscriminate power of the atomic bomb that causes it to kill people we don't want to kill.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
On Whether the Catholic Ethical Principle of "Double Effect" Can Justify the Nuclear Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
I have contended that such a justification is ludicrous and an example of rationalizing special pleading of the worst kind. It simply can't be sustained, given nuclear technology, even if relatively unknown at the time. If we grant this "lessening of culpability due to ignorance" for Hiroshima, we still could not do so for Nagasaki, since it was then known what would happen.
Furthermore, the target areas (the centers of both cities) and the knowledge that the effect of the bombs spread outwardly from ground zero to cover a known area of a particular estimated size, and the obvious fact that cities contain citizens and population (read: people, persons, human beings; read, "including many elderly men, women, and children"), make it quite implausible (I think, virtually impossible) to maintain that those who ordered such a strike were targeting only military installations and not also people.
Moreover, terror bombing or carpet bombing of cities with known effects had already occurred (particularly in Dresden, Germany and in Tokyo). It is equally absurd to argue that those strikes were not intended to target populations as well as military production facilities, bases, etc. This being the case, and the immediate precedent, it is difficult to make an argument that somehow Hiroshima and Nagasaki were instances of a strike wholly different in nature and intent from Dresden and Tokyo.
If indeed only the military targets were in mind, then why drop these horrific weapons on the center of the city? Was that the way to take out the most military targets? I have read that the bulk of these targets were on the outer peripheries of the city, not in the center. If the goal was to minimize civilian casualties, is not the center of the city the very worst selection for this end? The intent was clearly to kill as many people as possible along with taking out whatever military targets were there. Of course, those who do such an evil thing will maximize the military significance and minimize the human cost, but the facts remain what they are and cannot, in my opinion, be gotten over.
To sum up, then:
1) Deliberately killing civilians in wartime is wrong.I think it is impossible and ludicrous to maintain that 200,000 deaths as a result of a bomb of mostly-known proportions and effects were not "willed," but merely "permitted". How can one drop such a weapon and claim to not know that such a result in human cost would happen? As I stated previously, one can't simply play word games and act as if the magic words "military target" wrap up all the difficulties of this cynical, downright malicious (from the standpoint of the victims) reasoning.
2) The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did that (to the tune of 200,000 + casualties).
3) It cannot plausibly be maintained that this was a non-intended effect of a moral good (taking out military installations) because of the nature of the weapon, where it was targeted, and immediate historical precedent.
4) Therefore, it was an evil act, since contrary to Catholic just war criteria, and inability of justification by this criterion of double effect.
5) Conclusion: the bombings violate double effect by being morally bad and not at all indifferent.
The second sentence is also quite applicable and damaging to the proponents' position, thought not fatal in and of itself, due to the nature of probabilistic or contingent or theoretical calculations of what would happen in the future. As many high military figures felt at the time (Eisenhower, MacArthur, Nimitz, Halsey, Carter Clarke: who was in charge of the radio intelligence summations; also former President Hoover, etc.), surrender could have been achieved by the end of 1945 without recourse to such horrible measures. There was certainly enough opinion and evidence along these lines for us to have at least more seriously considered such an option, in accord with this principle.
Or else, I suppose proponents could simply argue that all these military experts were ignorant, misguided, acting on emotions alone (as if the pro-bombing crowd did not have a large amount of emotions clouding their reasoning, too), or that they only reported their supposed feelings anachronistically, and after the fact (due to the Cold War, the second-guessing of hindsight, etc.). Some people seem to consider themselves able (as a non-military and non-academic persons), 60 years after the fact, to better make such judgments than folks like Eisenhower and MacArthur. Is that not exceptionally presumptuous?
If we grant that President Truman acted in good faith, with good motives (as I freely do), then we must also grant that those opposed to the decision at the time were equally in good faith, with roughly equal the information needed to make the decision one way or the other. This was not a unanimous consensus at the time, however one wishes to slant or spin it. In other words, many thought that we could achieve the good end without the bad effect of what the bomb in fact caused. it was a viable option; therefore it should have been seriously considered and (I say) chosen as the more moral option of the two.
The good end desired (the surrender and thus the end of the wanton slaughters of the Japanese army and suicides even of Japanese civilians) was promptly achieved. So far so good. The good effect was also produced by the action; yet it was also produced by the bad effect of the action (the mass killings convinced the Japanese of the futility of continuing). Thus, this would seem to suggest that Hiroshima and Nagasaki do not meet this particular just war criterion.
And thus we arrive at the crux of the matter: the previous state of affairs being true; therefore a good end was achieved by a bad means, and this is not allowed in Catholic moral theology. Therefore, the bombings are unjustifiable once again, on this separate and distinct ground. If, to speak theoretically, somehow we had had the technology then to wipe out 200,000 Japanese soldiers, and very few civilians as nonintended "collateral damage," then the act would have been quite acceptable by these standards. But since the dead were some 95% civilians, the rationale doesn't wash (as that is the very opposite ration of what should be for this to be a moral act). It was, therefore, an evil act. And one must not commit eveil, even for the achievement of a great good. Such is not Christian ethical thought. Period.
As in the previous example, it cannot be reasonably argued that the bombings were morally good or neutral acts themselves. The double effect principle itself rules out using a bad, evil, immoral act for the purpose of producing good effects, no matter how good the effects may be. A good effect indeed was produced (the surrender), but the means to achieve it were evil. Therefore, they are not justifiable. Evil effects were willed by means of inherently evil acts.
I freely grant the good intentions and good faith of those who disagree with me on this. But I cannot agree with their moral logic. In my opinion, it violates traditional just war criteria, the specific principle of double effect, and also the standards of the larger natural law, whereby it is instinctively known by virtually everyone that deliberate killing of women and children (in wartime as well as outside of it) is inherently wrong.
It's been argued that one might obliterate the civilian / soldier distinction in a militaristic society like wartime Japan, with its suicides and maniacal tendencies, etc. But how could a three-month-old baby be part of that, or a senile old woman, or a mentally ill man, etc.? Even if we were to grant that (which would take some doing), there would still be many exceptions to the rule. The bombings, therefore, would still have to be judged as immoral, since they involved the killing (and I am not averse to using the word "murder" after having established the ethical reasoning chain above) of many "innocents" in terms of the war.
This is a far different scenario from a smart bomb taking out a munitions factory (the intent), with part of the shell skidding off to a house a mile away and burning it and its inhabitants (not the intent at all). That is tragic but justifiable. Dropping a nuclear bomb into the center of a heavily-populated city is not.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
The Nuclear Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Do They Meet Catholic Just War Standards of Morality? (Part I)
In an e-mail, I wrote (more or less "off the cuff"):
As for my $00.02 on this, I think the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was clearly immoral by just war standards, and cannot be morally justified. Pre-emption is a notion I have no trouble with, and I believe it can be synthesized with traditional just war standards, but killing 100,000 civilians, whether at Dresden or in Japan, cannot.
The decision may have been "complex" or "understandable" at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight we would fully expect to have a more informed, objective opinion on it 60 years later, than we did in the frenzy and passion of (justified) war.
In a second informal response, responding more directly to replies, I stated:
With all due respect, I think what you provided in that last letter doesn't even come close to justifying it or overcoming the weight of the Catholic just war criteria. I think it is a slam dunk. One can never deliberately do evil in order to prevent further evil. One must always use just means. I can understand "unintended consequences" and so forth, but when you are deliberately dropping a bomb like these were, you know what is going to happen, and many thousands of women and children who had nothing directly to do with the Japanese war effort were slaughtered. This is immoral and unjustifiable. Period. I think it is even in natural law, before you even get to Catholic moral theology, developed over 20 centuries.Is this blunt? Sure, as usually in my writings, for better or ill. I'm a straight shooter, and always will be. Overstated or "undiplomatic" or insufficiently nuanced and qualified? Perhaps; indeed quite possibly. All sides at least agree that it is tragic.
I do not suggest in the least that anyone who disagrees with my own position on this matter (whatever it is, or turns out to be) is any less of a good or orthodox or moral Catholic, or any less concerned with the seriousness of the ethical question and the larger question of just war and the tragic necessity of war at times, or some kind of simplistic, sheeplike, unthinking fool.
Many prominent Catholics, and many in the apologetics movement (of which I am a part) oppose the bombings as immoral and unjustifiable. For what it's worth (I'm not appealing to the ad populum fallacy; simply stating what I believe to be a fact), the pro-bombing position is a minority view among orthodox Catholics. That doesn't make it automatically wrong; it has to be discussed on its merits or demerits. I'm no expert on this, which is why I will be citing many others who are much more so, and better placed to authoritatively comment on this issue.
The Horrors of World War II and the Dangers of the Benefit of Hindsight
Dr. Art Sippo, a Catholic apologist, and friend of mine, wrote (and I completely agree with what he states):
Likewise, George Weigel describes some horrific details of Japanese resolve, citing William Manchester's book, Goodbye, Darkness:
In some cases more than one moral option may present itself so that there is no one "right" or "wrong" answer. The most despicable people imaginable are those who vilify the man who made a choice in good faith under fire. It is one thing to say that they disagreed with his choice but another thing entirely to say that he was a bad person for choosing what he chose. That is not necessarily so. Sometimes a man can only do his best and hope that later generations will appreciate how hard his decision was.
. . . Truman made a choice based on the cards he was dealt and he did what he thought was right. In light of the horrors of this terrible war, I can not blame him for trying to end it swiftly and decisively by making the aggressors who started it bear the brunt of the final assault.
"After the great banzai obliterated their army, depriving them of their protectors, they decided that they, too, must die. Most of them gathered on two heights now called Banzai Cliff, an eighty-foot bluff overlooking the water, and, just inland from there. Suicide Cliff, which soars one thousand feet above clumps of jagged rocks.Was Use of the A-Bomb Understood as Indiscriminate Killing to More or Less Extent?
"... Saito [the Japanese commander] had left a last message to his civilian
countrymen, too: "As it says in the Senjinkum [Ethics], 'I will never suffer the
disgrace of being taken alive,' and I will offer up the courage of my soul and calmly rejoice in living by the eternal principle." In a final, cruel twist of the knife he reminded mothers of the oyaku-shinju (the parents-children death pact). Mothers,
fathers, daughters, sons— all had to die. Therefore children were encouraged to form circles and toss live grenades from hand to hand until they exploded. Their parents dashed babies' brains out on limestone slabs and then, clutching the tiny corpses, shouted "Tenno! Haiki! Banzai!" (Long live the Emperor!) as they jumped off the brinks of the cliffs and soared downward. Below Banzai Cliff U.S. destroyers trying to rescue those who had survived the plunge found they could not steer among so many bodies; human flesh was jamming their screws. .. . But Suicide Cliff was worse. A brief strip of jerky newsreel footage, preserved in an island museum, shows a distraught mother, her baby in her arms, darting back and forth along the edge
of the precipice, trying to make up her mind. Finally she leaps, she and her child joining the ghastly carnage below. There were no survivors at the base of
. . . These deliberately sanguinary tactics help explain the carnage that ensued in
February 1945 on Iwo Jima, an island only 5 miles by 2.5 miles in size. There, out of a Japanese garrison of 20,000, only 200 were captured alive, at the cost of 6,000 American deaths and 25,000 wounded Marines. Then there was the invasion of Okinawa in April 1945, the last stepping-stone before the Japanese home islands: 100,000 Japanese soldiers died there, as did 150,000 Okinawan civilians, while the U.S. Marines and Army suffered 75,000 casualties before the island was secured in mid-June.
Dr. Art Sippo appears to at least partially affirm this (emphasis added):
No one anticipated that there would be radiation casualties. It was thought that anyone close enough to be radiated would be killed outright by the physical effects of the blast. Had we known this beforehand, would we have used the bombs? I suspect that we would have. We might have modified the target selection or the altitude from which the bombs were dropped . . .Sippo also admits:
I think that we should not have fire-bombed Dresden or Tokyo as we did.In my opinion, much of the present argument will hinge upon the necessity for the proponents to prove that there is a crucial moral / tactical distinction between Hiroshima and Nagasaki vs. Dresden and Tokyo, which even many of the proponents of the former acts condemn, along with those of us who decry all four instances as objectively immoral and inconsistent with time-honored Catholic moral-ethical principles.
Catholics Who Oppose the Bombings as Immoral
Karl Keating, in his e-letter of 3 August 2004, writes:
Many justify the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima by saying the abrupt end to the war saved as many as a million American lives that would have been lost had Japan been invaded. I don't know where the figure of one million came from. My understanding is that the War Department estimated a maximum of 46,000 casualties in an invasion. That was a worst-case scenario, meaning the likely number of casualties would have been far lower.The Catholic Answer Guide, Just War Doctrine (presumably agreeable to Karl Keating), expands this reasoning a bit:
Some commentators have argued that no invasion was needed at all, since Japan no longer had an air force or navy and had no domestic source of oil for its industries. A blockade would have resulted in the Japanese war machine and economy grinding to a halt. The war thus could have ended without an invasion, though the end probably would have come long after the summer of 1945.
Be that as it may, what concerns me is the attitude, so prevalent among political conservatives (most of whom are religious conservatives), that there are no limits in defensive warfare: If the other guys started the fight, they deserve whatever they get. In a defensive war it is not a matter of "My country right or wrong" but of "My country can do no wrong," which is an odd thing coming from conservatives who, on domestic matters, can be highly critical of their government's moral failings (as regards abortion or homosexuality, say).
To achieve a good, you may not perform a sin. To provide your family financial security, you may not rob a bank. To protect your wife's health, you may not abort the child she is carrying. And to defeat an enemy in war, you may not violate just war principles. But we did--and more than once, sad to say.
The atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, like the fire bombings of Dresden and other German cities, cannot be squared with Catholic moral principles because the bombings deliberately targeted non-combatants. The evil done by our enemies did not exonerate us from the moral law. Their evils did not provide us justification for evils of our own. Being a Christian in peacetime is difficult; it is more difficult, but even more necessary, in wartime.
Fat Man exploded directly above the Catholic cathedral in Nagasaki. The city was the historical center of Catholicism in Japan and contained about a tenth of the entire Catholic population. The cathedral was filled with worshipers who had gathered to pray for a speedy and just end to the war. It is said their prayers included a petition to offer themselves, if God so willed it, in reparation for the evils perpetrated by their country.
The treatment of non-hostile individuals in wartime is not the only consideration involved in the just prosecution of a war. The existence of weapons of mass destruction poses special moral challenges. In this regard the Catechism states:Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin also agrees:Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation. A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons - especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons - to commit such crimes (CCC 2314).
The U.S. has not always been committed to this principle. In the Civil War, World War I, and World War II the United States violated it. Grave violations during World War II included the firebombing of Dresden and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
These were not attacks designed to destroy targets of military value while sparing civilian populations. They were deliberate attempts to put pressure on enemy governments by attacking non-combatants. As a result, they were grave violations of God's law, according to which, "the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral" (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae 57).
It is important to recognize what this principle does and does not require. While it does require strenuous efforts to avoid harming innocents, it does not require the result of no innocents being harmed. Such a result is impossible to guarantee. Even
with the smartest of smart munitions, it is not possible to ensure that no
non-combatants will be harmed in wartime. As tragic as it is, collateral damage to innocents is an inescapable consequence of war. Catholic theology recognizes this. It applies to such situations a well-established principle known as the law of double-effect. According to this law it is permissible to undertake an action which has two effects, one good and one evil, provided that certain conditions are met.
Although these conditions can be formulated in different ways, they may be enumerated as follows: (1) the action itself must not be intrinsically evil; (2) the evil effect must not be an end in itself or a means to accomplishing the good effect (in other words, it must be a foreseen but undesired side-effect of the action); and
(3) the evil effect must not outweigh the good effect. If these three conditions are met, the action may be taken in spite of the foreseen damage it will do.
The law of double-effect would not have applied to the cases of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. In these situations though the act (dropping bombs) was not intrinsically evil and though it is arguable that in the long run more lives were saved than lost, the second condition was violated because the death of innocents was used as a means to achieve the good of the war's end.
Fortunately, despite these past, grave transgressions, the United States is now committed to the principle of sparing innocent life during military actions. It has repeatedly and sincerely expressed its intent to minimize civilian casualties and to serve as a liberator of captive populations in the War on Terrorism. The U.S. is
now committed to the principles of the just war.
. . . regardless of what one may think of particular instances in the U.S.'s record (which is not perfect; the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were wrong), it remains the case that the U.S. is (d) a stable nation (not likely to become a "failed state" like Somalia) that (c) has a large number of citizens today who will not tolerate leaders who use such weapons indiscriminately (as at Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and (b) will not pass them to terrorists or (a) proliferate them to unstable states.Fr. Jim Tucker provides further argumentation along these lines:
Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani wrote in 1947:
Today is not only the feast of Edith Stein, it is also the 60th anniversary of the atom bombing of Nagasaki. We patriotic Americans aren't supposed to question the morality of what our government did in that war, but we're going to do it anyway. When the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, tens of thousands of lives of men, women, and children were snuffed out in a single instant, and over a quarter of a million would eventually die of the effects. For centuries, Catholic morality has taught us that it is intrinsically evil to target a civilian population and to resort to indiscriminate killing and destruction, which is exactly what happened in both the atom bombings.
It's important for us to consider this and come to terms with it -- not because we should feel guilty. We shouldn't feel guilty about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, any more than today's Germans should feel guilty about the Holocaust. We didn't do it, but we are under a moral obligation to form our consciences so that this sort of thing will never happen again. And it's not just about atom bombs: the moral structure of this issue touches all sorts of other cases that abound in today's world. Our bedrock principle is this: we may never commit an intrinsically evil act, for whatever reason, however good that reason might be. So, even though it's good that the war ended quickly after the bombings, and it's good that our soldiers were spared a bloody invasion of Japan, those good ends can never excuse using immoral means to achieve that end.
Nagasaki is also connected to another of the saints of World War II, St Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Most people don't realize that Nagasaki was the one place in Japan that had a strong Christian presence. Nagasaki was one of the chief places that the crucifixions of the Japanese martyrs had taken place centuries before. It was also at Nagasaki that St Maximilian Kolbe went to build one of his "Cities of the Immaculata." So, when Harry Truman's atom bomb fell on Nagasaki sixty years ago today, many of the victims burned to ashes and melted away were not just fellow human beings, but fellow Roman Catholics.
The extent of the damage done to national assets by aerial warfare, and the dreadful weapons that have been introduced of late, is so great that it leaves both vanquished and victor the poorer for years after.Pat Buchanan ("Hiroshima, Nagasaki & Christian Morality") notes how the decision to engage in immoral, indiscriminate bombing had already been deliberately, self-consciously adopted in the bombing of Dresden:
Innocent people, too, are liable to great injury from the weapons in current use: hatred is on that account excited above measure; extremely harsh reprisals are provoked; wars result which flaunt every provision of the jus gentium, and are marked by a savagery greater than ever. And what of the period immediately after a war? Does not it also provide an obvious pointer to the enormous and irreparable damage which war, the breeding place of hate and hurt, must do to the morals and manners of nations?
These considerations, and many others which might be adduced besides, show that modern wars can never fulfil those conditions which (as we stated earlier on in this essay) govern - theoretically - a just and lawful war. Moreover, no conceivable cause could ever be sufficient justification for the evils, the slaughter, the destruction, the moral and religious upheavals which war today entails.
[I would argue that current-day technology with non-nuclear precision, "surgical" strikes, smart bombs, etc. make just war conditions far easier to fulfill than 60 years ago (indeed I believe that the criteria are fully met in the Iraqi War); but one cannot anachronistically project today's weapons back to 1945; the atomic bombings as they were carried out remain unjustifiable by catholic moral standards]
But if terrorism is the massacre of innocents to break the will of rulers, were not Hiroshima and Nagasaki terrorism on a colossal scale?Maclin Horton emphasizes the ethical absolute, which remains valid, even within a concrete situation of extreme complexity:
Churchill did not deny what the Allied air war was about. Before departing for Yalta, he ordered Operation Thunderclap, a campaign to "de-house" civilians to clog roads so German soldiers could not move to stop the offensive of the Red Army. British Air Marshal "Bomber" Harris put Dresden, a jewel of a city and haven for hundreds of thousands of terrified refugees, on the target list.
On the first night, 770 Lancasters arrived around 10:00. In two waves, 650,000
incendiary bombs rained down, along with 1,474 tons of high explosives. The next
morning, 500 B-17s arrived in two waves, with 300 fighter escorts to strafe fleeing survivors.
Estimates of the dead in the Dresden firestorm range from 35,000 to 250,000. Wrote the Associated Press, "Allied war chiefs have made the long-awaited decision to adopt deliberate terror bombing of German populated centers as a ruthless expedient to hasten Hitler's doom."
In a memo to his air chiefs, Churchill revealed what Dresden had been about, "It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed."
Yet, whatever the mindset of Japan's warlords in August 1945, the moral question remains. In a just war against an evil enemy, is the deliberate slaughter of his women and children in the thousands justified to break his will to fight? Traditionally, the Christian's answer has been no.
Truman's defenders argue that the number of U.S. dead in any invasion would have been not 46,000, as one military estimate predicted, but 500,000. Others contend the cities were military targets.
But with Japan naked to our B-29s, her surface navy at the bottom of the Pacific, the home islands blockaded, what was the need to invade at all? On his island-hopping campaign back to the Philippines, MacArthur routinely bypassed Japanese strongholds like Rabaul, cut them off and left them to "rot on the vine."
And if Truman considered Hiroshima and Nagasaki military targets, why, in the Cabinet meeting of Aug. 10, as historian Ralph Raico relates, did he explain his reluctance to drop a third bomb thus: "The thought of wiping out another 100,000 people was too horrible," he said. He didn't like the idea of killing "all those kids."
Of Truman's decision, his own chief of staff, Adm. William Leahy, wrote: "This use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make wars in that fashion ..."
We must face, and take responsibility for, the simple fact that what we did at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was wrong. I call this a "simple" fact fully aware that not everyone grants its status as fact, much less that it is simple. The simplicity to which I refer is not that of the historical decision, which was indeed complex, but of the abstract ethical principle: it is wrong to target noncombatants in war. It is wrong to incinerate non-combatants in their hundreds of thousands at a swoop. It is wrong, and, what perhaps most needs saying in our present ethical climate, even if you have powerful reasons for doing it, it is still wrong. And if it is not wrong, then our argument with, say, Osama bin-Laden becomes a question of who struck first and who had the greater provocation; that is, we have no principled argument against his methods.George Weigel readily concedes the objective immorality of the bombings, and their clash with just war theory, while noting the limitations of the options of that terrible time (as opposed to maintaining that the actions nwere just because of the complexities of the ethics and military strategy):
I am not saying that the circumstances surrounding the decision to use the atomic bomb were such that the right decision should have been easy.
In these circumstances, which were the real world circumstances of the time, the use of atomic weapons seems far less a deliberate atrocity than a tragic necessity.United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: Statement of 6 August 2004:
This is not to suggest that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was, or is, easily justifiable under the moral criteria of the classic just war tradition. But the moral barrier had been breached long before August 6 and August 8, 1945. So-called strategic bombing, aimed at the destruction of civilian populations, had been going on for five years; none of it met the just war in bello criteria of proportionality and
discrimination. Indeed, if one measures the violation of non-combatant immunity
statistically, the fire-bombing of Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Nagoya, and other Japanese cities was a greater breach of the just war tradition than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
That the Germans had destroyed Rotterdam, the British, Hamburg, and the British and Americans, Dresden, does not "justify" the American destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But certain moral distinctions can and should be drawn between the bombing of cities for purposes of sheer terror (Rotterdam) or revenge (Dresden), and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which, on the best available evidence, was undertaken with a legitimate strategic purpose in mind. That purpose was summarized succinctly by Truman biographer David McCullough: "If you want one explanation as to why Truman dropped the bomb: 'Okinawa.' It was done to stop the killing."
The greater legitimacy of an end does not, of course, justify any possible means.
But recognizing the legitimacy of the end does enable us to enter imaginatively and even sympathetically into the moral struggle over means faced by a responsible political leader confronting a brace of bad choices.
It sometimes happens, these days, that a parallel is drawn between Auschwitz and
Hiroshima, as two embodiments of the evil of the Second World War. But this seems wrong. What Harry Truman did in August 1945 was, strictly speaking, unjustifiable in classic moral terms. But it was understandable, and it was forgivable. What was done at Auschwitz was unjustifiable, maniacal, and, in this world's terms, unforgivable. That is a considerable moral difference.
At my parish church on the morning of August 6, 1995, we prayed God to grant "that no nuclear weapons will ever again be used." It was a petition to which all could respond with a heartfelt, "Lord, hear our prayer." Only by facing squarely the unavoidable moral dilemma confronted by President Truman will we gain a measure of the wisdom that might help us avoid similar dilemmas in the future. By reducing the decision to use atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki to crudely political, even ideological, categories, the revisionists do a disservice not only to history but to the future, and to the cause of peace.
World War II, which liberated many and defeated tyranny but which left as a shameful legacy instances of combat, was conducted without distinction betweenWhat Actually Happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Who Died, and Who Was "Targeted"?
civilian and soldier. In the decades since the bombing, some have advanced the
argument that despite the horrendous magnitude of civilian suffering, these actions can be justified by the efficient end of combat it affected. But secular ethicists and moral theologians alike echo the words of the Second Vatican Council: ‘Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.' The Church has a long tradition of condemning acts of war that bring ‘widespread, unspeakable suffering and destruction.' At a time when much of the world is gripped by fear of terrorism and a few voices hint that the time may again come when the U.S. should call upon its nuclear arsenal to make "quick work" of frightening threats, it is fitting to reassert our commitment to disarmament and the conduct of limited war only as a last resort.
Ralph Raico, a scholar at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, provides some much-needed factual information:
Lowell Ponte, after chronicling the Christian history of Nagasaki, describes the grim reality of the bombing:
Probably around two hundred thousand persons were killed in the attacks and through radiation poisoning; the vast majority were civilians, including several thousand Korean workers. Twelve U.S. Navy fliers incarcerated in a Hiroshima
jail were also among the dead.
On August 9, 1945, he [Truman] stated: "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."
This, however, is absurd. Pearl Harbor was a military base. Hiroshima was a city, inhabited by some three hundred thousand people, which contained military elements. In any case, since the harbor was mined and the U.S. Navy and Air Force were in control of the waters around Japan, whatever troops were stationed in Hiroshima had been effectively neutralized.
On other occasions, Truman claimed that Hiroshima was bombed because it was
an industrial center. But, as noted in the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, "all
major factories in Hiroshima were on the periphery of the city – and escaped
serious damage." The target was the center of the city.
Moreover, the notion that Hiroshima was a major military or industrial center is implausible on the face of it. The city had remained untouched through years of devastating air attacks on the Japanese home islands, and never figured in Bomber Command’s list of the 33 primary targets.
Thus, the rationale for the atomic bombings has come to rest on a single colossal fabrication, which has gained surprising currency: that they were necessary in order to save a half-million or more American lives. These, supposedly, are the lives that would have been lost in the planned invasion of Kyushu in December, then in the all-out invasion of Honshu the next year, if that was needed. But the worst-case scenario for a full-scale invasion of the Japanese home islands was forty-six thousand American lives lost. The ridiculously inflated figure of a half-million for the potential death toll - nearly twice the total of U.S. dead in all theaters in the Second World War- is now routinely repeated in high-school and college textbooks and bandied about by ignorant commentators.
Those who may still be troubled by such a grisly exercise in cost-benefit analysis - innocent Japanese lives balanced against the lives of Allied servicemen - might reflect on the judgment of the Catholic philosopher G.E.M. Anscombe, who insisted on the supremacy of moral rules. When, in June 1956, Truman was awarded an honorary degree by her university, Oxford, Anscombe protested. Truman was a war criminal, she contended, for what is the difference between the U.S. government massacring civilians from the air, as at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Nazis wiping out the inhabitants of some Czech or Polish village?
Anscombe’s point is worth following up. Suppose that, when we invaded Germany in early 1945, our leaders had believed that executing all the inhabitants of Aachen, or Trier, or some other Rhineland city would finally break the will of the Germans and lead them to surrender. In this way, the war might have ended quickly, saving the lives of many Allied soldiers. Would that then have justified shooting tens of thousands of German civilians, including women and children? Yet how is that different from the atomic bombings?
By early summer 1945, the Japanese fully realized that they were beaten. Why did they nonetheless fight on? As Anscombe wrote: "It was the insistence on nconditional surrender that was the root of all evil."
. . . as Major General J.F.C. Fuller, one of the century’s great military historians, wrote in connection with the atomic bombings:
"Though to save life is laudable, it in no way justifies the employment of means which run counter to every precept of humanity and the customs of war. Should it do so, then, on the pretext of shortening a war and of saving lives, every imaginable atrocity can be justified."
While the mass media parroted the government line in praising the atomic incinerations, prominent conservatives denounced them as unspeakable war crimes.
Felix Morley, constitutional scholar and one of the founders of Human Events, drew attention to the horror of Hiroshima, including the "thousands of children trapped in the thirty-three schools that were destroyed." He called on his compatriots to atone for what had been done in their name, and proposed that groups of Americans be sent to Hiroshima, as Germans were sent to witness what had been done in the Nazi camps. The Paulist priest, Father James Gillis, editor of The Catholic World and another stalwart of the Old Right, castigated the bombings as "the most powerful blow ever delivered against Christian civilization and the moral law." David Lawrence, conservative owner of U.S. News and World Report, continued to denounce them for years. The distinguished conservative philosopher Richard Weaver was revolted by
"the spectacle of young boys fresh out of Kansas and Texas turning nonmilitary Dresden into a holocaust . . . pulverizing ancient shrines like Monte Cassino and Nuremberg, and bringing atomic annihilation to Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
Weaver considered such atrocities as deeply "inimical to the foundations on which civilization is built."
Today, self-styled conservatives slander as "anti-American" anyone who is in the least troubled by Truman’s massacre of so many tens of thousands of Japanese innocents from the air. This shows as well as anything the difference between today’s "conservatives" and those who once deserved the name.
Leo Szilard was the world-renowned physicist who drafted the original letter to Roosevelt that Einstein signed, instigating the Manhattan Project. In 1960, shortly before his death, Szilard stated another obvious truth:
"If the Germans had dropped atomic bombs on cities instead of us, we would have defined the dropping of atomic bombs on cities as a war crime, and we would have sentenced the Germans who were guilty of this crime to death at Nuremberg and hanged them."
Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin, Co-chairs of the Historians' Committee for Open Debate on Hiroshima, wrote to the Smithsonian Institute concerning the Enola Gay Exhibit, in 1995:
The plutonium bomb called "Fat Man" dropped from the B-29’s bomb bay at 11:02
A.M. . . .
The man-made sun, brighter than a million Rising Sun Japanese flags, ignited about 1,600 feet above Ground Zero. Its wind shockwave moving at 1,400 miles per hour pulverized the crowded homes below like a giant fist. Its energy flash burned flesh from bone, then vaporized both before a scream could reach melting human lips.
Scarcely a fifth of a mile from Ground Zero, the Urakami Cathedral, its lovingly-crafted stained glass, and the worshippers inside were smashed into dust and goo and flash-broiled. Heavy carved statues of Jesus and Mary were scorched black in an instant.
The bomb, bigger than Hiroshima's, with the explosive force of 21,000 tons of TNT, destroyed essentially everything and everyone within 1.2 miles of Ground Zero. Thousands of close-clustered wooden homes and their residents vanished in the glow of a rising mushroom cloud.
In that moment, an estimated 73,884 people died - at least one in 10 of them Christians. Another 75,000 were blinded, had skin burned off, or were injured by the blast or engulfing firestorms or collapsing buildings for miles around. Thousands more would die from radiation or injury over days or months.
As one writer about the Cathedral put it, through this atom bomb blast the Truman Administration was "ironically killing more Christians than had ever been killed in Japan during centuries of persecution."
Military and Political Figures Who Dissented From the Terrible Decision
Unfortunately, the Enola Gay exhibit contains a text which goes far beyond the facts. The critical label at the heart of the exhibit makes the following assertions:
* The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki "destroyed much of the two cities and caused many tens of thousands of deaths." This substantially understates the widely accepted figure that at least 200,000 men, women and children were killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Official Japanese records calculate a figure of more than 200,000 deaths - the vast majority of victims being women, children and elderly men.)
* "However," claims the Smithsonian, "the use of the bombs led to the immediate surrender of Japan and made unnecessary the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands." Presented as fact, this sentence is actually a highly contentious interpretation. For example, an April 30, 1946 study by the War Department's Military Intelligence Division concluded, "The war would almost certainly have terminated when Russia entered the war against Japan." (The Soviet entry into the war on August 8th is not even mentioned in the exhibit as a major factor in the Japanese surrender.) And it is also a fact that even after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed, the Japanese still insisted that Emperor Hirohito be allowed to remain emperor as a condition of surrender. Only when that assurance was given did the Japanese agree to surrender. This was precisely the clarification of surrender terms that many of Truman's own top advisors had urged on him in the months prior to Hiroshima. This, too, is a widely known fact.
* The Smithsonian's label also takes the highly partisan view that, "It was thought highly unlikely that Japan, while in a very weakened military condition, would have surrendered unconditionally without such an invasion." Nowhere in the exhibit is this interpretation balanced by other views. Visitors to the exhibit will not learn that many U.S. leaders--including Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Admiral William D. Leahy, War Secretary Henry L. Stimson, Acting Secretary of State Joseph C. Grew and Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy - thought it highly probable that the Japanese would surrender well before the earliest possible invasion, scheduled for November 1945. It is spurious to assert as fact that obliterating Hiroshima in August was needed to obviate an invasion in November. This is interpretation--the very thing you said would be banned from the exhibit.
* In yet another label, the Smithsonian asserts as fact that "Special leaflets were then dropped on Japanese cities three days before a bombing raid to warn civilians to evacuate." The very next sentence refers to the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, implying that the civilian inhabitants of Hiroshima were given a warning. In fact, no evidence has ever been uncovered that leaflets warning of atomic attack were dropped on Hiroshima. Indeed, the decision of the Interim Committee was "that we could not give the Japanese any warning."
* In a 16 minute video film in which the crew of the Enola Gay are allowed to speak at length about why they believe the atomic bombings were justified, pilot Col. Paul Tibbits asserts that Hiroshima was "definitely a military objective." Nowhere in the exhibit is this false assertion balanced by contrary information. Hiroshima was chosen as a target precisely because it had been very low on the previous spring's campaign of conventional bombing, and therefore was a pristine target on which to measure the destructive powers of the atomic bomb. Defining Hiroshima as a "military" target is analogous to calling San Francisco a "military" target because it has a port and contains the Presidio. James Conant, a member of the Interim Committee that advised President Truman, defined the target for the bomb as a "vital war plant employing a large number of workers and closely surrounded by workers' houses." There were indeed military factories in Hiroshima, but they lay on the outskirts of the city. Nevertheless, the Enola Gay bombardier's instructions were to target the bomb on the center of this civilian city.
The few words in the exhibit that attempt to provide some historical context for viewing the Enola Gay amount to a highly unbalanced and one-sided presentation of a largely discredited post-war justification of the atomic bombings.
Such errors of fact and such tendentious interpretation in the exhibit are no doubt partly the result of your decision earlier this year to take this exhibit out of the hands of professional curators and your own board of historical advisors. Accepting your stated concerns for accuracy, we trust that you will therefore adjust the exhibit, either to eliminate the highly contentious interpretations, or at the very least, balance them with other interpretations that can be easily drawn from the
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
"...in [July] 1945... Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. ...the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.
"During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude..."
(Mandate For Change, p. 380)
"...the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."
Admiral William D. Leahy
(Chief of Staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman)
"It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.
"The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children."
(I Was There, p. 441)
President Herbert Hoover
On May 28, 1945, Hoover visited President Truman and suggested a way to end the Pacific war quickly: "I am convinced that if you, as President, will make a shortwave broadcast to the people of Japan - tell them they can have their Emperor if they surrender, that it will not mean unconditional surrender except for the militarists - you'll get a peace in Japan - you'll have both wars over."
(Richard Norton Smith, An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover, p. 347)
On August 8, 1945, after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Hoover wrote to Army and Navy Journal publisher Colonel John Callan O'Laughlin, "The use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children, revolts my soul."
(in Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, p. 635)
"...the Japanese were prepared to negotiate all the way from February 1945...up to and before the time the atomic bombs were dropped; ...if such leads had been followed up, there would have been no occasion to drop the [atomic] bombs."
(cited by Barton Bernstein in Philip Nobile, ed., Judgment at the Smithsonian, p. 142)
In early May of 1946 Hoover met with General Douglas MacArthur. Hoover recorded in his diary, "I told MacArthur of my memorandum of mid-May 1945 to Truman, that peace could be had with Japan by which our major objectives would be accomplished. MacArthur said that was correct and that we would have avoided all of the losses, the Atomic bomb, and the entry of Russia into Manchuria."
(Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, pp. 350-351)
General Douglas MacArthur
MacArthur biographer William Manchester has described MacArthur's reaction to the issuance by the Allies of the Potsdam Proclamation to Japan: "...the Potsdam declaration in July, demand[ed] that Japan surrender unconditionally or face 'prompt and utter destruction.' MacArthur was appalled. He knew that the Japanese would never renounce their emperor, and that without him an orderly transition to peace would be impossible anyhow, because his people would never submit to Allied occupation unless he ordered it. Ironically, when the surrender did come, it was conditional, and the condition was a continuation of the imperial reign. Had the General's advice been followed, the resort to atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have been unnecessary."
(William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, p. 512)
Norman Cousins was a consultant to General MacArthur during the American occupation of Japan. Cousins writes of his conversations with MacArthur, "MacArthur's views about the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were starkly different from what the general public supposed." He continues, "When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor."
(Norman Cousins, The Pathology of Power, pp. 65, 70-71)
Brigadier General Carter Clarke (The military intelligence officer in charge of preparing intercepted Japanese cables - the MAGIC summaries - for Truman and his advisors)
"...when we didn't need to do it, and we knew we didn't need to do it, and they knew that we knew we didn't need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs."
(quoted in Gar Alperovitz, The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb, p. 359)
Other dissidents cited in this survey include:
Joseph Grew (Under Secretary of State)
John McCloy (Assistant Secretary of War)
Ralph Bard (Under Sec. of the Navy)
Lewis Strauss (Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy)
Paul Nitze (Vice Chairman, U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey)
Ellis Zacharias (Deputy Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence) "Zacharias, long a student of Japan's people and culture, believed the Japan would soon be ripe for surrender if the proper approach were taken. For him, that approach was not as simple as bludgeoning Japanese cities . . ."
General Carl "Tooey" Spaatz (In charge of Air Force operations in the Pacific)
Columnist Victor Davis Hanson has also mentioned General Hap Arnold, General Curtis LeMay, and Admiral William Halsey.
Summary of Further Catholic Condemnations of the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as Immoral
Pope John Paul II (9-11-99, to the Japanese ambassador Toru Iwanami): [Hiroshima and Nagasaki should remind the world of] “the crimes committed against civilian populations during World War II . . . true genocides [are] still being committed in several parts of the world.”
Pope Paul VI (Peace Day: 1-1-76): ". . . butchery of untold magnitude, as at Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 . . ."
Cardinal James Francis Stafford: ". . . the total warfare that was seen in Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Dresden … that is the wholesale disregard for the civilian populations."
Archbishop Fulton Sheen: "When, I wonder, did we in America ever get into this idea that freedom means having no boundaries and no limits? I think it began on the 6th of August 1945 at 8:15 am when we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima."
Monsignor Ronald Knox: ". . . men fighting for a good case have taken, at one particular moment of decision, the easier, not the nobler path".
Dr. Warren Carroll (Founder of Christendom College and renowned orthodox Catholic historian): "I don't agree with the use of the atom bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You don't use a weapon in a way that you know is going to kill primarily women and children. It's a basic principle of moral philosophy that the end does not justify the means."
Fr. Michael Scanlan (formerly head of the Franciscan University of Steubenville , 1983): ". . . the sinful atrocities of the contemporary world. Whether it be the ovens of Auschwitz and Dachau, the charred bodies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the ravages of saturation bombing, . . .
John Courtney Murray (prominent thinker on church-state issues): "atrocities, . . . savage . . . paroxysms of violence."
Evelyn Waugh (famous convert and author): "To the practical warrior the atom bomb presented no particular moral or spiritual problem. We were engaged in destroying the enemy, civilians and combatants alike. We always assumed that destruction was roughly proportionate to the labour and material expended. Whether it was more convenient to destroy a city with one bomb or a hundred thousand depended on the relative costs of production."
Joseph Sobran (conservative columnist and author): ". . . mass murder is not an option . . . a complete violation of all principles of civilized warfare. And the development of the atomic bomb was only a cold-blooded extension of this monstrous policy. The whole idea of rules of warfare is to rule out certain atrocities, whether or not they achieve their goals . . . The rule against attacking civilians means that it is forbidden even if it's the only way to win a war. Why is this so hard to grasp?"
Also, note the immensely popular and influential Anglican apologist C.S. Lewis's opinion: "The victory of vivisection marks a great advance in the triumph of ruthless, non-moral utilitarianism over the old world of ethical law; a triumph in which we, as well as animals, are already the victims, and of which Dachau and Hiroshima mark the more recent achievements . . ."
I conclude that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which are defended, as they often are, on mistaken utilitarian calculations which are contrary to both fact and probable fact (as exposited by the highest level military commanders), and with apparent ignorance regarding the facts concerning the nature of the target and the number of innocent civilians killed (which could scarcely have been otherwise, given the target of the center of the city, etc.), and without due regard for Catholic ethical principles, were immoral and unjustifiable.
That's not to say that this view is a settled dogma in the Catholic Church (I have approached this matter as an ethical one, not a dogmatic one, which is a different level of discussion altogether). Readers are urged to always remember the many qualifying statements from opponents of the bombings, that I have cited. I agree with all of them.
In particular, the justification of "double effect" cannot, I think, be reasonably, plausibly maintained with regard to these bombings. There were simply too many civilian casualties. The scale of death and destruction does not allow it. It is hopelessly naive and muddleheaded and a denial of concrete reality to suggest that these were only peripheral, and non-intentional, while military targets were primary intentions.
Moreover, given the informed opinions of so many that the bombings were not necessary to force surrender or save 500,000 (or whatever the figure) Allied lives (Eisenhower and MacArthur were militarily uninformed, we ought to believe???!!!!), and the nature of the targets, such a view cannot hold water, and must be rejected. From what I have learned, the facts do not justify it. I can certainly be more educated on the subject (time-permitting), but at this point, my prior far less informed opinion has not changed, and has only been greatly strengthened by what I have learned in my studies.
My interest all along has been concordance of the bombings with just war theory, not with calculations of projected future casualties, or how soon the Japanese might have surrendered without the Bomb. I haven't delved into those issues, by deliberate design, because I wanted to deal with prior premises and preliminary moral considerations first.
President Harry Truman stated:
. . . the Atomic Bomb. It is far worse than gas and biological warfare because it affects the civilian population and murders them by the wholesale.
This was written on January 19, 1953, just before Truman left the Presidency. I included a photograph of the original typewritten document in one of my other papers. So Truman himself thought it was "murder".