With the exception of my column replying to Libertarian Harry Browne’s attack on my plea for unity between the Libertarian and Constitution parties, I have never felt the need to spar with other columnists or their views, no matter how much I disagreed with them. Until today.
Yesterday, Aug. 8, 2001, a day that will live in obscurity, Justin Raimondo posted a column at Antiwar.com decrying the evils of barbarous Americans dropping atomic bombs on Japan. If his intention was to push people’s buttons, he surely succeeded in that endeavor with me. I regard what he wrote as a thoughtless, warped rant – a pile of pacifistic pap with little redeeming value. Let me explain why.
First, Raimondo acknowledges that those he draws upon for support are historical revisionists. If they had hard facts to substantiate their allegations, that would be one thing. But these people can only guess and second-guess at what might or might not have happened if Truman had not used the atomic bomb. Moreover, none of them bore the weight of responsibility for that decision. Truly, the buck did stop with Harry Truman.
Second, Raimondo asserts that there were other options but later contradicts himself by pointing out how entrenched the Japanese really were.
“There were a lot of alternatives,” he states. “Truman could have demonstrated the power of the bomb without wiping out several hundred thousand civilians. He could have altered the Rooseveltian insistence on unconditional surrender.”
Sure, and if pigs had wings …
But later, Raimondo mistakenly tries to reinforce his assertion by pointing out:
Another argument against the “military necessity” rationale is that even after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Japanese refused to surrender. Nagasaki was still burning as the Japanese Cabinet met to consider the question: the vote was 12 in favor of surrender, with 3 against and 1 undecided. Since unanimity was required, the war was not stopped until Emperor Hirohito personally intervened.
The obvious question one must ask, then, is if the Japanese were still bent on continuing their nasty war – even after two atomic bombs were dropped in their back yard (and the threat of Tokyo soon to follow) – what possible rationale could one reasonably suggest to support the efficacy of those lesser “alternatives” which Raimondo is apparently enamored with?
He asserts – correctly, I think – that leaving the emperor system intact was what convinced the last holdouts to surrender after the bombs had been dropped. But there is no evidence to support the notion that this would have also been the case had lesser options been used. Indeed, Raimondo knows this because he points out that even Truman’s advisers warned that “the Japanese considered their emperor to be a god, and could never permit his demise or that of his dynasty.” The inescapable conclusion one must then come to is that it was only the harsh probability of total extinction that finally brought the Japanese to their senses. Keeping the emperor sealed the deal, but by no means made surrender acceptable all on its own.
Third and last, Raimondo’s Pollyannaish, sophomoric screed bombs with a sickening thud at the end when he eulogizes about how lovely the United States would now be if the Japanese had won:
JUST IMAGINE: The great horror is that this heinous deed was committed against Japan, a civilization as far removed from our own as the streets of New York are from the African savannas. It’s at times like these that I tend to believe the wrong side won the war in the Pacific. Just think: if we all woke up one day living in some alternate history, as in Phillip K. Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle,” our cultural malaise would disappear overnight. Instead of listening to the latest loutish lyrics of Eminem, American teenagers would be contemplating the subtle beauty of the Japanese tea ceremony. If contemporary Japan is any clue, the crime rate would be cut by 95 percent, and the literacy rate would skyrocket. Certainly everyone’s manners would improve. All in all, life would be far more civilized, imbued with a gentility that would make the New York Post an impossibility.
No doubt, they would have also eliminated Justin and Antiwar.com along with the Post. Raimondo apparently forgot about the heinous Bataan death march where some 70,000 U.S. and Filipino prisoners of war were starved, beaten and bayoneted while being forced to march roughly 63 miles in the tropical squalor of the Philippines. Numbers vary, but some 7,000 to 10,000 of those men – who all likely had families at home who loved them very much – died during this pleasant little Japanese version of a day hike.
Too, Kamikaze attacks and the vicious bloodbath at Pearl Harbor must have also slipped his mind while he was daydreaming about the United States of Japan. The Japanese made all sorts of choices during the war and they were ugly and violent ones for the most part. You’ve just got to wonder what is in his tap water that would delude him enough to concoct this drippy fantasy.
All that said, it is also fair to ask: Was the United States completely righteous in all of this? Most definitely not. The forced internment of tens of thousands of U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry was an abomination – an affront to our Constitution. Over 110,000 U.S. citizens and immigrants of Japanese descent were imprisoned at gunpoint against their will – and with no regard for their constitutional rights – at Manzanar, Heart Mountain and eight other camps due to little more than hysterical fear. Additionally, there is strong evidence that the United States acted in a way that helped lead to the Japanese decision to draw first blood. To his credit, Raimondo previously got this part of the story right.
America did make some major mistakes – inexcusable mistakes – but dropping the atomic bomb on Japan was not one of them. The Japanese alone must shoulder the responsibility for their choice to initiate a bloody war with the United States rather than looking for one of those other “alternatives” that Justin is so fond of when he points his finger at the United States. That the United States then used every means at its disposal to put an end to the war is absolutely justifiable even though Justin Raimondo would like you to believe otherwise.
And it must be noted that as awful as those two bomb blasts were, they ultimately saved many lives. Indeed, they inadvertently continue to save lives to this very day. How so? Because having seen the horrible devastation wrought by those two ghastly events, political leaders everywhere have so far refrained from actually using the even more powerful, more devastating weapons they have built. Let the revisionists say what they want to, but the fact remains the war ended because of those two bombs and millions more Japanese and Americans alike were spared further anguish.
To Justin Raimondo, I conclude with this: Wake up. There are stupid, yucky, evil people in this world and no matter how much you and I wish they didn’t exist, the fact is they do exist. Yes, there are often other alternatives than war. Yes, most of the time we can choose not to fight and, much too often, we don’t exercise that choice when we should. But while not many things are worth fighting over, freedom – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – most definitely is worth fighting for because the alternative is completely unacceptable. Had we failed to decisively win World War II, our pacifism could very likely have cost us that precious gift.
Look, I am not a warmonger. I don’t enjoy fighting. Recently, a person – who I have always admired and respected – in a fit of self-righteous, knuckle-dragging indignation disliked something I did and declared it as (gasp!) “cowardly.” I didn’t then dignify it with a response and I won’t now either. But the point is, I took the high road – I chose not to fight even though I would have been well within my rights for doing so and even though I would have prevailed. It just wasn’t worth the expense of effort. Sticks and stones, don’t you know.
On the other hand, my father fought in World War II and I am enormously proud of him for doing so. Among other places he served, he was in the third wave of troops who landed on Iwo Jima. But, it cost him dearly. He lost a lot of good friends in that war. And to this day, he has never fully recovered from the horrors of seeing some of those friends shredded into pieces in front of his eyes. I know well of the pain he has endured, and I would not wish it on even my worst enemy.
As life goes on, I truly hope we all will “get along” as Rodney King has pleaded. I dearly love my wife and children – God knows that I don’t want to see them or anyone else hurt. Not now, not ever. But as long as evil men insist upon initiating a war by butchering people, as long as selfish men strive to steal the freedom endowed by God to all people, there will be those who will have no reasonable option but to put a stop to it. War, in all of its horrible forms, is indeed dirty and ugly. But, sometimes, it is also unavoidable.