Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Remembering Nagasaki and Captain Moroni

Sixty years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed with atomic bombs, my family was blessed with the friendship of a wonderful Japanese woman who stayed with us for a few days before returning to the region of Kanonji, a sister city of Appleton, Wisconsin. She made a remarkable impression on us with her kindness and graciousness. Her heavy suitcase was loaded with gifts and amazing food for us - what a cook! And what a friend we found in her. We learned so much and hope to meet her again.

On this anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki in her native land, my recent delightful encounter with Japan makes me all the more pensive about the bombing. I cannot help but ponder the horror of wasting entire cities in warfare. I know the arguments for the bomb, the arguments about how it was needed, but I don't accept them. Surely there was another way. Surely if Captain Moroni had been around, things would have been different. Captain Moroni, that valiant general from Book of Mormon times who loved liberty and despised bloodshed, was a righteous man who found brilliant solutions to win battles without the need to slaughter opponents. Surely he would have been appalled at the suggestion of bombing entire cities.

Today, while trying to clean my basement office in preparation for an open house on Sunday (in honor of my son Daniel who departs soon on a mission to Nevada), I ran across an old magazine article my mother gave me a couple years ago about the bombing of Japan. It's an article from a very conservative magazine, be warned, but I think it raises some important points (about halfway down especially) that call into question the need to bomb a nation that was already offering to surrender. But whether that article is right or wrong, I cannot get over the horror of entire cities of people like my new friend from Japan, and people like my own family, being incinerated with nuclear weapons. Of course, whether it's 100,000 people all at once or 100,000 people one at a time in different parts of the world, each untimely death from war, crime, or other factors is worthy of sorrow and remembrance - each soul counts. Each crime or act of brutality makes this earth less than it should be.

How terrible the trauma that we inflict on one another! How much the world needs righteous leaders like Captain Moroni to resist war and bloodshed. The terror of modern warfare and the daily individual inhumanity of man would overwhelm us all with despair were it not for the true and living hope provided by the Hope of Israel, Jesus Christ, who has conquered death and will wipe away the tears of those who mourn and come unto Him. We must endure many sorrows now, but there will be victory, life, hope, and mighty reunions of joy thanks to Him and His infinite Atonement. Truly He is the Messiah. How much we need Him now.

May the horror of atomic warfare never be seen again on this earth - but that wish may be vain. Hundreds of millions have been slaughtered in the past century - whether it is done with bombs or machetes, it is terrible enough. We must mourn and seek to stand for the principles of life and charity embodied in Captain Moroni or, much more perfectly, in the true Captain of our souls, Jesus Christ.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

I followed one of your links to another Blog site and found this from your fellow Mormon blogger. "The debate rages on to this day whether it was the right decision. Those questioning Truman’s decision do it in absolute hindsight and will never be privy to the information he had at the time. They question the decision comfortably in their homes never having experienced the Hell that was World War 2. Would it have been better to lose a million people to not drop the bomb? I say defiantly not. It was the right decision. It was the only decision"
He also had a video of the bombing of and then the word 'Celebrate' at the end of the video. This was his response when someone asked him why we should "celebrate the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians? "
"I do not mean celebrate in a happy cheerful way, but a solemn celebration like we do the 4th of July or Veterans Day. The people who would have died if were forced to invade Japan are not theoretical. They are our grandfathers right now. You can sit on your easy chair like a typical liberal and pontificate about the evils of nuclear weapons, but at that one moment in time the bombs we dropped were indeed a blessing. Thank God they have not had to be used since."
Thanks for the link to his site.

Ken said...

Wow, I really wish that the person who posted the firt comment had of left his name and email. I would like to thank him for visiting and referring to my blog. I am glad he liked it. If "anonymous" returns to this site I hope he reads these words.

History Buff said...

Jeff, your compassion and your sorrow over the loss of life is admirable.

I've wondered if waiting 3 days before dropping the 2nd bomb at Nagasaki was long enough. But from what I've read, the Japanese did check out the city of Hiroshima after the bombing. The devastation was so far outside of what they could imagine from a bomb, or even many bombs, they just didn't believe we did it. In their (the gov't and military leaders) minds, there had to have been another explanation of what caused the destruction of Hiroshima. It had to have been an anomaly. It took the 2nd A-bomb dropped on Nagasaki to get the point across. (Fortunately they got the point, because we only had the 2 bombs, and it would have taken months to manufacture more.)

Of course, the Japanese citizens didn't deserve it. But the military leaders of Japan were bloodthirsty monsters who cared nothing of human life, as evidenced by their treatment of POW's, their treatment of the Chinese ("Rape of Nanking" plus more), their brutal treatment of the Filippinos, and their enslavement of Korean "comfort women" (sex slaves for Japanese soldiers).

What Japan did to China alone was worthy of the nuclear bombings.

If you want to keep score, the Japanese killed several times more civilians (Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, etc) than the number who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the nuclear bombs.

But since they had indicated they would fight to the last man rather than unconditionally surrender, we had to show that we were capable of annihilating them.

In your reference to Captain Moroni, you fail to mention that he (and other Nephite generals) _did_ end up slaughtering tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of their enemies because they refused to lay down their weapons. The Lamanites who laid down their weapons and covenanted not to fight again were a small minority.

You also didn't mention that Japan wanted a _negotiated_ surrender, and not an unconditional surrender. The costs, to the United States, to China, to the Philippines, and other island nations was too great to let Japan dictate terms or even ask for terms.

Post-war Japan had to be tightly controlled so that their militarism could not rise again. The rise of militarism in and the re-arming of Germany after WW I, was still fresh in the minds of military and political leaders in the free world. It could not be allowed to happen again.

Since the beginning of war and similar horrors, "the innocent suffer along with the wicked" has been a truism.

To get the attention of blood-thirsty monsters, and let them know you mean business, takes a heavy hand. After all, it is the side that is willing to be the "baddest" or worst or lowest that controls the level of confrontation. As the Japanese military leadership was willing to (and did) kill millions, we had to show that we were at least willing and able to do so too. The two bombs proved the point, and while killing many, killed no where near as many as they did.

I don't begrudge you mourning over the deaths (and the suffering of the survivors) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But politically correct hand-wringing just pushes my buttons.

Let's also mourn the millions of Japanese victims of WWII (Chinese, Korean, Filipinos,etc.)

Let's also mourn the 20 to 30 million of his own people killed by Mao Tse Dong after WW II. (20 million is the low end estimate generally agreed to by most historians.)

Let's also mourn the 15 to 20 million killed by Stalin after WW II. (15 million is again the generally agreed low end estimate.)

Either of those two, individually, easily doubled Hitler's tally of approximately 7 million. Yet, when "bloodthirsty monsters" of the 20th century are listed, usually only one name is given, Hitler.

After I read about the 2 million refugees from South Vietnam and the hundreds of of thousands of "boat people", I completely re-thought my opinions of US involvement in Southeast Asia.

After I read about the atrocities (both the volume and the grotesqueness) committed by the Japanese against the Chinese, the Koreans and the Filipinos, I rethought my opinions of the "unfairness" of bombing the civilians of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Mormanity said...

Yes, these are good points - but read the article I linked to and consider if they are still valid. I'm not sure.

Let me be perfectly clear that the evil of totalitarian governments has been the primary source of mass slaughter in recent history and throughout world history. The concentration of power in the hands of dictators typically leads to mass murder.

We must understand that totalitarian regimes have been the biggest killers in the history of the world. Nothing compares to the killing machines of governments like that of Hitler's Nazi regime, or the 20th century Communist regimes in Russia, and China. Tens of millions of people were murdered in those lands by their governments. This is "democide" and it's vital that we understand it. Fortunately, there is a tremendous online resource at the University of Hawaii: Dr. R.J. Rummel's site on Democide. Dr. Rummel shows that power kills, and that democracies help prevent war and mass murder. It is a powerful thesis with abundant documentation. His site even includes an online book about government and murder and what is needed to save lives. Brilliant and gripping stuff.

Those who want to destroy the national sovereignty of democractic nations and make them subjects of world government are clearly asking for a concentration of power unlike anything ever seen before - a result that will probably lead to one gruesome end: the eventual slaying of many millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of people. Power kills - it's a historical fact. How wise our Founding Fathers were to craft a Consitution that was all about limiting the power of government.

History Buff said...

The article points out some things that I wasn't aware of, but it hardly proves them. That bit about "fellow travellers" trying to prolong the war so Russia could get in on the war against Japan, thereby helping out the Chinese communists, seems possible, but I don't know how plausible, and certainly far from proven.

It's seems a very round-about way just for the Russians to get their hands on the Japanese munititions left in China. Russia could have helped the Chinese communists in that respect regardless of their entry into the war against Japan.

I'm not sure I entirely buy the "Japan wasn't _allowed_ to surrender until after the A-bombs." Japan could also have just surrendered instead of saying "let's talk about surrender". When your enemy is saying "let's talk", that is clearly a delay tactic so they can catch their breath.

As much as I like anti-communist diatribes, that article seemed to frame the history of the decision to bomb Japan entirely within the context of helping Russia.

I saw the points, but I did not agree with the way the article connected the dots. The analysis of the reasons and motivations seemed flawed to me.

While I agree that Roosevelt and his fellow-travellers screwed the free world by their wartime and post-war deals with Stalin, I'm not convinced that the atomic bombing of Japan falls within a conspiracy to favor Russia, communism, or to promote a world government. Granted, there were and are conspiracies to promote communism/statism and a world government, but the article didn't convince me of the connection to the atomic bombings.

Of much greater concern should be things like the stated, but rarely reported, wishes of those who promote the UN and 'one world government'. Things like reducing the world population by a large percentage, ie, negative population growth. Things like the false science of ozone holes and global warming as excuses to reduce standards of living and reduce the world's population.

Mike Parker said...

Great post, Jeff. And I'm troubled by the absolute moral certainty of your respondants.

Part of the problem was the U.S.'s insistence of unconditional surrender of the Japanese. Japan's military council had discussed surrender among themselves for much of 1945, but the majority were unwilling to give up the ideology of the emperor-god. That was really the only sticking point, and if the U.S. had allowed a conditional surrender, things might have ended much sooner.

The popular belief that an invasion of Japan would have cost the lives of 1 million U.S. troops is simply a myth. The Battle of Okinawa produced 18,900 American dead over 82 days. The Joint Chiefs of Staff calculated a 90-day Japan campaign with two points of invasion would produce 267,000 fatalities. General MacArthur's staff estimated even lower: 125,000 dead and wounded after 120 days, later revised down to 105,000. (See this Wikipedia article for further details, including the source of the 1 million count.)

Was the use of the atomic bombs immoral? I think so, but I have the benefit of hindsight. I don't know what was going on in the minds of Truman and his advisors. Maybe they believed it was the best possible option at the time. But the thought of instantly snuffing out the lives of 120,000 people -- most of them innocent civilians who had not participated in Japanese atrocities -- is horrifying.

Leo Szilard, the Manhattan Project scientist who played a major role in the development of the atomic bomb, once argued:

"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."

I tend to think he was right.

Anonymous said...

When you talk of not using the bomb----you should talk to my mother who had 4 brothers poised to take part in the invasion.

You also simply need to watch some of the old newsreels that would convey the feelings our parents and grandparents had toward the war.

It really is quite simple-----The bomb was absolutely the correct choice.

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons I love this blog is that many of your commenters talk in moral absolutes. Your most recent poster said "It really is quite simple-----The bomb was absolutely the correct choice."
This one from Ken, "Would it have been better to lose a million people to not drop the bomb? I say defiantly not. It was the right decision. It was the only decision"
History Buff said "What Japan did to China alone was worthy of the nuclear bombings." "But the military leaders of Japan were bloodthirsty monsters who cared nothing of human life, as evidenced by their treatment of POW's"
Always portray the enemy as monsters, it helps get public support. Make sure to mention that God is on your side and not on theirs, that helps get support for the killing of your enemy as well.
Great read today.

Anonymous said...

One of the myths still perpetuated is that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were purely civilian targets. That was not true. See:
http://archive.tri-cityherald.com/BOMB/bomb16.html

Hiroshima was a major staging area for Japan's army and navy, and had several industrial plants.

Nagasaki contained two arms factories, a steel works, and the massive Mitsubishi shipyards.

Those cities (along with other alternates) had not been bombed much, so that the nuclear bombs' effectiveness could be better measured.

Mike Parker said...

One of the myths still perpetuated is that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were purely civilian targets.

I don't think anyone is arguing that; certainly not here. But while there were military targets in both cities, the atomic bombs destroyed much more than those, including tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Precision drops of conventional bombs (made possible by the Norton bomb sight) would have been morally justifiable; dropping a single massive bomb with significant collateral damage was not (IMO).

Those cities (along with other alternates) had not been bombed much, so that the nuclear bombs' effectiveness could be better measured.

I don't know how can you write something like that without feeling sick to your stomach. As if instantly killing 60- to 80,000 people is a science experiment.

I want to throw up.

Mike Parker said...

Something for Latter-day Saints to ponder:

"...As the crowning savagery of [World War II], we Americans wiped out hundreds of thousands of the civilian population with the atom bomb in Japan, few if any of the ordinary civilians being any more responsible for the war than we.... [Some] are saying that the bomb was a mistake. It was more than that; it was a world tragedy..... And the worst of this atomic bomb tragedy is that not only did the people of the U.S. not rise up in protest against this savagery, not only did it not shock us to read of this wholesale destruction of men, women, children and cripples, but that it actually drew from the nation at large a general approval of this fiendish butchery."

—President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., 1945, with approval of and in public meetings sponsored by the First Presidency, including General Conference.

"Sometime our children will have it [the atomic bomb] turned against them..... When that time comes they will have no moral weapon against it...[neither] physical weapon to combat it...for we...will have cursed humanity by its first use....”

—President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., 1945, draft of editorial for Deseret News, written two days after Hiroshima; published version changed the will to can.

(Before serving in the First Presidency for about 25 years, Clark was a highly respected legal scholar with expertise in international relations and who served the U.S. Government as Undersecretary of State, Ambassador to Mexico, and Solicitor General.)

Curtis said...

From J Reuben Clark Oct. 1946 General Conference:

Now do not forget that all of the nations had prepared before World War II to use aircraft; they
had already used submarines in World War I; and we in this area know we were prepared to use poison
gases. Then as the crowning savagery of the war, we Americans wiped out hundreds of thousands of
civilian population with the atom bomb in Japan, few if any of the ordinary civilians being any more
responsible for the war than were we, and perhaps most of them no more aiding Japan in the war than we
were aiding America. Military men are now saying that the atom bomb was a mistake. It was more than
that: it was a world tragedy. Thus we have lost all that we gained during the years from Grotius (1625) to
1912. And the worst of this atomic bomb tragedy is not that not only did the people of the United States not
rise up in protest against this savagery, not only did it not shock us to read of this wholesale destruction of
men, women, and children, and cripples, but that it actually drew from the nation at large a general
approval of this fiendish butchery.
Thus we in America are now deliberately searching out and developing the most savage,
murderous means of exterminating peoples that Satan can plant in our minds. We do it not only
shamelessly, but with a boast. God will not forgive us for this.
If we are to avoid extermination, if the world is not to be wiped out, we must find some way to
curb the fiendish ingenuity of men who have apparently no fear of God, man, or the devil, and who are
willing to plot and plan and invent instrumentalities that will wipe out all the flesh of the earth. And, as one
American citizen of one hundred thirty millions, as one in one billion population of the world, I protest
with all of the energy I possess against this fiendish activity, and as an American citizen, I call upon our
government and its agencies to see that these unholy experimentations are stopped, and that somehow we
get into the minds of our war-minded general staff and its satellites, and into the general staffs of all the
world, a proper respect for human life.

Anonymous said...

And the purpose of this self-flagellation blame-America-first is what?

To not trust the military generals and let politicians micro-manage wars? That thinking got us the stalemate of Vietnam and resulted in the deaths of 50,000 Americans and millions of Southeast Asians.

George HW Bush reining in the military after 100 hours of Gulf War I, letting Saddam stay in power, led to the deaths of over 100,000 Kurds (by poison gas, a weapon of mass destruction, which most of the libs seem to have forgotten).

The thesis of the New American article on the atomic bombings was that Communist sympathizers were influencing Roosevelt's and Truman's decisions in prolonging the war with Japan and to use the atomic bombs. Is the point here to not trust Democrats?

Is the point that we should have sacrified the lives of 100,000 American soldiers to get the Japanese to surrender so we wouldn't have to kill 200,000 Japanese civilians?

I'm just sick of people painting the Japan of World War II as a victim nation. I'm sick of people automatically assuming the U.S. is always the bad guy. Hell, we rebuilt that nation after the war. We rebuilt Britain and Europe and even West Germany, while Russia carted off everything in East Germany that wasn't nailed down, as war reparations.

As far as I know, we not only took NO reparations from Japan and Germany, we did NOT require them to pay for the rebuilding. PLUS, we forgave the war debt of all Allied nations.

And to an even larger degree we are rebuilding Iraq to a condition much BETTER than they had under Saddam, dipping into our own pocket to build schools, hospitals, roads, electric plants, and water plants, instead of letting them pay for it with their valuable and plentiful oil.

And just for the sake of discussion, supposing for a moment that the atomic bombings were not needed, why beat a dead horse? Why not give equal air time to the GREATER loss of life in the slaughter committed by Japan upon the Chinese and Koreans, and the German slaughter of the Jews and Gypsies, and Stalin's slaughter of the Ukrainians, and Mao's slaughter of up to 30 million of his citizens? If you're going to mourn, mourn those people, and require the present day Japanese and Germans to continue flagellate themselves over it too.

One may be able to document the facts and words of the past. But it is nigh impossible to prove the internal reasoning of the decision-makers.

I seriously doubt the intention of Roosevelt and Truman to prolong the war, at the cost of American lives in the island-hopping campaign, just for the opportunity to get Russia in to the war with Japan and to use the nuclear bombs.

That just smells too much like the conspiracy theory that Roosevelt knew about and allowed the attack on Pearl Harbor to get the US into the war. Technically that could be true too. But if you really buy into either or both of those conspiracy theories, then the blame lies on the Democratic Party's coziness to communism, and not on the American people, nor our military, nor our form of government, nor our way of life.

Mike Parker said...

The immediately preceding anonymous comment reflects, unfortunately, the thinking of many American Latter-day Saints. We have become so patriotic that we often fail to read or heed the warnings in our own scriptures about militarism and blood-thirst.

I love America, but I love it for what it stands for (or should stand for), not for what any particular administration or political party does. I love it for the principles of truth, justice, and the rule of law upon which it is founded. These things come from God. When my government fails to uphold them, my allegiance is to God and godly principles, not to any particular set of politicians.

In the June 1976 Ensign — only a month before the U.S. Bicentennial — President Kimball warned of the fanatical militarism gripping our nation:

"And so it often seems to be with people, having such a firm grasp on things of the world — that which is telestial — that no amount of urging and no degree of emergency can persuade them to let go in favor of that which is celestial. Satan gets them in his grip easily. If we insist on spending all our time and resources building up for ourselves a worldly kingdom, that is exactly what we will inherit.

"In spite of our delight in defining ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had — in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people — a condition most repugnant to the Lord.

"We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel — ships, planes, missiles, fortifications — and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan's counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:

"'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.' (Matt. 5:44–45.)

"We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us — and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Ne. 1:7) — he will fight our battles for us (Ex. 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do, for as he said at the time of his betrayal, 'Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?' (Matt. 26:53.) We can imagine what fearsome soldiers they would be. King Jehoshaphat and his people were delivered by such a troop (see 2 Chr. 20), and when Elisha's life was threatened, he comforted his servant by saying, 'Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them' (2 Kgs. 6:16). The Lord then opened the eyes of the servant, 'And he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.' (2 Kgs. 6:17.)

"Enoch, too, was a man of great faith who would not be distracted from his duties by the enemy: 'And so great was the faith of Enoch, that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch.' (Moses 7:13.)

"What are we to fear when the Lord is with us? Can we not take the Lord at his word and exercise a particle of faith in him? Our assignment is affirmative: to forsake the things of the world as ends in themselves; to leave off idolatry and press forward in faith; to carry the gospel to our enemies, that they might no longer be our enemies.

"We must leave off the worship of modern-day idols and a reliance on the 'arm of flesh,' for the Lord has said to all the world in our day, 'I will not spare any that remain in Babylon.' (D&C 64:24.)"


("The False Gods We Worship.")

Oh, that we could heed the words of the prophets instead of following the vain philosophies of the world.

Charles said...

Throughout WW2 there were atrocities on all sides. The eventual use of such a massive weapon was a question of when and where not if. This does not excuse its use.

The loss of life in any manner is a terrible loss that can never be repaid. Civillian and innocent life even moreso.

I wonder if we could have done without it. I don't think so. I had never heard that Japan was on the edge of surrendering. I'm not sure if that would make any difference. America was in need of a psychological victory over the ones who bombed Pearl Harbor.

Using the bomb in Germany might have seemed more logical, but if we knew about fallout and radiation winds, bombing Germany would have scarred western Europe. Japan was geographically isolated enough to make them a target.

The worst tragedy as I see is the method of war from that era. During WW2, war took the fight to the populated cities. People unable to evacuate in time were killed in air raids and invasions. They were no less soldiers than the people of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

What I am grateful is that when war is needed we at least make a sincere effort in limiting combat to military targets and not targeting civillians.

If Moroni were our captain today, I think he would be proud of our attempts to avoid war in general and more impressed with our handling of war now then in the past.

Mike Parker said...

America was in need of a psychological victory over the ones who bombed Pearl Harbor.

I hope you re-read this and understand how repugnant it is that someone would claim that Americans' psychological needs come before the lives of 120,000 innocent Japanese civilians.

The worst tragedy as I see is the method of war from that era. During WW2, war took the fight to the populated cities. People unable to evacuate in time were killed in air raids and invasions.

This would include the German bombing of London, as well as the Allied fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo. (The latter event took place on 9–10 March 1945, and killed over 100,000 people, nearly as many as the two atomic drops in August.)

If Moroni were our captain today, I think he would be proud of our attempts to avoid war in general and more impressed with our handling of war now then in the past.

Having watched the poor justification and deception in the run-up to the Iraq war, sadly, I cannot agree with you.

Geoff said...

When wars occur, the best way to ensure future peace is to win unconditionaly. Germany and Japan are far better nations for being subdued. Their citizens are free and prosperous. Their leaders no longer agitate for invading their neighbors. They contribute wonderful things to the field of science and culture.
This would not have been the case if they had been allowed to negotiate a surrender. The cultural frameworks that defined Japan, namely a militaristic and racist viewpoint with a death-cult adherence to the Emperor, would probably have led to further conflicts, even with a U.S. occupation. The use of nuclear weapons killed that viewpoint.
Yes, Germany wasn't nuked. But plenty of Germans were killed without nuclear weapons, as were Japanese. 100,000 were killed on March 9th from regular bombs. How many more were killed in these bombing raids? Even more Japanese would have been killed in a land invasion than were killed with these 2 bombs.
I subscribe to the General Sherman theory of war. A hard war makes for a good peace. I think WWII, and the latest Iraq war, proved this notion.
Another 'benefit' of using nuclear weapons against Japan was to let us know the horific nature of these weapons. They contributed to the deterence in the Cold War. If we didn't know what they did to Japan, we may not have been as reluctant to use them.
And, to underline the position of the Japanese, U.S. soldiers continued to die after Nagasaki. U.S. POWs were executed, the submarine Bonefish was sunk (crew with her), and 2 destroyers, the Callaghan and Underhill were also sunk. An unconditional surrender was not assured, and if the nuclear bombs were not used, plenty more U.S. soliders would have died. And even more Japanese soldiers, and civilians, would also have died. Not just from weapons, but from cholera, dysentery, starvation and all of the other side effects of war.
Best to get it over with quickly.

Shadow Spawn said...

I have to disagree. I don't know if Moroni would have dropped a bomb on the Lamanites, but I get the impression he was pretty angry when you read his epistle to What's his name. . .Ammoron? Or his brother, where he threatens to arm Nephite women and children if need be and march into the Lamanite lands and utterly destroy them. What if Moroni had a nuke? I think you are incorrect also when you state that Moroni "who found brilliant solutions to win battles without the need to slaughter opponents." I think he was willing to do what it took to preserve his people. Yes, you are right he didn't delight in bloodshed, but was still willing to do it, if that was what needed doing.

As far as us nuking japan in WWII. I am not a hitory expert, but I do know that Japan was bracing for invasion and was preparing to fight to the death. Our boys would have met women and children armed with pitch forks on the shores of Japan, and would have been forced to slaughter them. In an ironic way nuking Japan saved more Japanese lives than Allied lives. As others have put it, look at Japan's resolve. It took two atomic bombs for crying out loud to get them to wake up. Millions of lives were saved by dropping the A-bombs.

Mike Parker said...

Geoff: I subscribe to the General Sherman theory of war. A hard war makes for a good peace. I think WWII, and the latest Iraq war, proved this notion.

Personally I subscribe to the Lord's theory of war:

"Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children....
"And again I say unto you, if ye observe to do whatsoever I command you, I, the Lord, will turn away all wrath and indignation from you, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against you....
"And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them. And if any nation, tongue, or people should proclaim war against them, they should first lift a standard of peace unto that people, nation, or tongue; And if that people did not accept the offering of peace, neither the second nor the third time, they should bring these testimonies before the Lord; Then I, the Lord, would give unto them a commandment, and justify them in going out to battle against that nation, tongue, or people. And I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children’s battles, and their children’s children’s, until they had avenged themselves on all their enemies, to the third and fourth generation. Behold, this is an ensample unto all people, saith the Lord your God, for justification before me."
—D&C 98:16, 22, 33–38 (emphasis added)

"We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us."
—Spencer W. Kimball

"And from that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among [the people of the earth]; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness."
—Moses 7:16

Mike Parker said...

I'm fascinated by how many comments have been made here that appeal to political, historical, or philosophical theories for justifying the incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But I have yet to see one post where the mass extinction of 120,000 lives can be justified by a scripture or quote from a living prophet.

In fact, I've brought up numerous scriptures and prophetic quotes condemning war in general and the atomic bombing of Japan specifically, but no one opposing my arguments seems to be willing to interact with them.

So, I ask: How exactly do our actions in Iraq square with the commandments in D&C 98? And how exactly can Latter-day Saints justify the atomic bombing of Japan after the First Presidency condemned it publicly in 1945?

Mormanity said...

Great questions, Mike.

Geoff said...

Mike,

No war is a wonderful idea, but in when a nation attacks you, the best thing to do is to win that war unconditionally. I'm very confident that a conventional invasion of Japan would have resulted in more Japanese deaths, both from fighting and from disease. How dying from a grenade is better than from a nuclear bomb, I don't know.
What I do know is that, just a Captain Moroni fought his enemies until they agreed to his terms, the end of WWII resulted in a Germany and Japan that are far better nations than they were before the war. If bombing them were a sin, the reconstruction plans more than paid any debt we would have owed those nations.
As far as Elder Clarke's statement, I respectfully disagree with him. He can be wrong and still be called of the Lord. I have studied this out, weighed the "what-ifs" and, yes, prayed on it. I cannot see the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as worse than the alternative. We could not leave the leadership in place, and Japan would have been a far harder nation to rebuild if the Emperor did not tell his nation to surrender.

Shadow Spawn said...

"But I have yet to see one post where the mass extinction of 120,000 lives can be justified by a scripture or quote from a living prophet."

Alma 48: 14

Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary;

Read the Old Testament, and how the Lord commanded the Israelites to slaughter entire cities, and peoples in their conquest of the "promised land."

As far as bombing Japan goes, I don't think the condemnation lies in the destruction of those cities, but rather in the introduction of such a devastating weopon to the world, that in the end will be used against us in some way most likely.

In war bloodshed is unavoidable, even if you are Moroni. Moroni never compromised with his enemies. He defeated them utterly, and forced them into HIS terms of surrender, as stated in an above post. We did no differently in Japan.

Mike Parker said...

Read the Old Testament, and how the Lord commanded the Israelites to slaughter entire cities, and peoples in their conquest of the "promised land."

Good analysis, Shadow Spawn. Now my follow-up:

When and where did the Lord command Harry Truman to slaughter entire cities of innocent civilians?

I'm with you on the Alma 48 quote -- the Lord allows us to defend ourselves when attacked -- but the Hiroshima and Nagasaki events go way (way) beyond that. I think the quotes from President Clark, above, demonstrate that was the feeling of the brethren.

Shadow Spawn said...

well, I wouldn't suppose to know more of it morally than Pres. Clark. But, to me his comment seems awfully pacifist.

Is it wrong? No it's not wrong in its essence of meaning.

I would have liked to ask Pres. Clark; what would you have us do then? What would the Lord have preferred us do? Kill millions more innocent civilians by invading Japan? Japan was arming its women and children with wooden pikes in preparation for our invasion.

Unfortunately, we didn't have a prophet leading the nation at the time, or a president able to recieve revaltion on what to do. I think they did what they thought was necessary at the time. It's all too easy to armchair quaterback fifty years later. We could start another topic. Would it have been better if we'd have sent a secret team of assasins to murder Hitler back in 1936?

Mike Parker said...

To me [President Clark's] comment seems awfully pacifist.

It saddens me that you would use the term "pacifist" pejoratively. The Lord's command to "renounce war and proclaim peace" makes pacifism a noble trait.

I would have liked to ask Pres. Clark; what would you have us do then? What would the Lord have preferred us do? Kill millions more innocent civilians by invading Japan? Japan was arming its women and children with wooden pikes in preparation for our invasion.

If you'll read the information and links I posted above, you'll see that the projections of one million dead in an invasion of Japan were exaggerations. And it wasn't an either-or scenario (drop the bomb or invade); there were other options available to the U.S., such as a blockade or a negotiated surrender.

Unfortunately, we didn't have a prophet leading the nation at the time, or a president able to recieve revaltion on what to do.

I agree that was unfortunate.

I think they did what they thought was necessary at the time. It's all too easy to armchair quaterback fifty years later.

Admittedly, yes. But President Clark's condemnation came within weeks of the bombing.

Shadow Spawn said...

well, first off I want to clarify, that I didn't intend to cast being a pacifist in a negative light. The point I was making was simply to say that in view of attack, sometimes the peacefull routes aren't always possible.

Anyway, I did some digging, and here are a couple of quotes from living prophets dealing with Japan that just might help reconcile you to the bombing of Nagasaki, and Hiroshima. My button to use italics doesn't work, so I will use caps for my quotes.

Parley P. Pratt - POLITICALLY SPEAKING, SOME BARRIERS YET REMAIN TO BE REMOVED, AND SOME CONQUESTS TO BE ACHIEVED, SUCH AS THE SUBJUGATION OF JAPAN, AND THE TRIUMPH OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY AMONG CERTAIN NATIONS WHERE MIND, AND THOUGHT, AND RELIGION ARE STILL PRESCRIBED BY LAW.

Elder Harlod B. Lee, in the October, 1954 General Conference of the Church, quoted the above statement and commented: SUBJUGATION MEANS CONQUERING BY FORCE. I WANT TO SAY TO YOU THAT ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT THINGS THAT I HAVE SEEN IN THE FAR EAST IS THE FULLFILLMENT OF WHAT ELDER PARLEY P. PRATT TESTIFIED WOULD BE ONE OF THE SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS NECESSARY TO THE CONSUMMATION OF GOD'S PURPOSES, "THE SUBJUGATION OF JAPAN AND THE TRIUMPH OF CONSTITUTIONAL LIBERTY AMONG CERTAIN NATIONS WHERE MIND AND THOUGHT AND RELIGION ARE STILL PRESCRIBED BY LAW."

He then elaborated on how WW II had opened up the way for effective missionary work in that nation.

I think these two quotes shed a great deal of light on the topic of debate of this thread. It would appear that the Lord used WW II as a means to open the doors of Japan - and other nations - to the preaching of the Gospel.

What do you suppose the chances would have been of missionaries going into Japan had the Japanese been given the chance to negotiate terms of thier surrender? The Japanese were extremely proud and stubborn, and were ready to defend thier nation to the last man, woman, and child. Look how they defended the island of Iwo Jima, and how in Okinawa women and children threw themselves from cliffs. Had we invaded there might not have been any nation of Japan left to convert to the Gospel! I think it took the Atomic bombs to humble the people and the government sufficiently to surrender and leave thier people and nation intact, and to prepare the way for the preaching of the Gospel. It just might have been the Lord's plan after all.

Mike Parker said...

I think it took the Atomic bombs to humble the people and the government sufficiently to surrender and leave thier people and nation intact, and to prepare the way for the preaching of the Gospel. It just might have been the Lord's plan after all.

Well, if the end justifies the means, then perhaps then we should nuke Tehran or Medina. It might open the door to missionaries into the Muslim world.

Shadow Spawn said...

"Well, if the end justifies the means, then perhaps then we should nuke Tehran or Medina. It might open the door to missionaries into the Muslim world."

Mike,

I realize you meant to be sarcastic, and were attempting to illustrate what you might consider the "absurdity" of my last post, but in your attempt to be sarcastic I don't think you are too far from what is actually taking place over there.

Please consider another quote by Orson Pratt in 1875

AT THE PRESENT TIME THERE ARE SOME NATIONS WHO WILL NOT PERMIT ANY RELIGION TO BE PROCLAIMED WITHIN THEIR BORDERS EXCEPT THAT WHICH IS ESTABLISHED BY LAW. WHEN GOD SHALL CAST DOWN THRONES, WHICH HE WILL SOON DO; WHEN HE SHALL OVERTURN KINDGOMS AND EMPIRES, WHICH TIME IS VERY NEAR AT HAND, THEN LIBERTY, AND THE MISSIONARIES OF THIS CHURCH WILL VISIT THOSE NATIONS. . . . AND SO WE MIGHT ENUMERATE WHAT GOD IS DOING AMONG THESE DESPOTIC POWERS, OVERTURNING AND CHANGING LONG ESTABLISHED USAGES AND INSTITUTIONS, THAT HIS SERVANTS MAY GO BY HIS OWN COMMAND; TO DELIVER THE GREAT AND LAST MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL TO THE INAHBITANTS OF THE EARTH, PREPARATORY TO THE COMING OF HIS SON.

Whether you agree with the politics involved or not, I beleive God's hand is very evident in what is taking place in the Mid-East right now. I believe that soon you will see the missionaries in places like Iraq, and Afghanistan. We are living in a time some Church scholars refer to as the "Preparatory Wars" In which God uses warefare as a tool to open up areas and prepare them to recieve his message.

It's been going on since WW II. Heck I see it just in my own family. You can imagine my surprise to be called to serve a mission to Eastern Europe shortly after the collapse of the USSR. And my younger brother who currently serves in the newly opened Jakarta, Indonesia mission where he labors to find converts in a 90% Muslim population.

You can condemn the bombing of Japan all you want, but in light of prophecies, and the knowledge we have of how God is moving the nations to meet his purposes, I don't think it is wrong to consider that it was all according to his purposes.

You have the quote from Pres. Clark, but that could have been his personel opinion - it was an editorial after all -, not the exact stance of the Brethren, even if they didn't seem to have a problem with him sharing that opinion. I think General Authorities are allowed to give personal opinion as long as they don't contradict the teachings of the Gospel. I think the quotes I've provided however cannot be questioned as to their worthiness in being considered prophetic, and modern day scripture.

Anonymous said...

Thomas Sowell's column on Hiroshima/Nagasaki:

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/ts20050809.shtml

Anonymous said...

The US would never have used nuclear weapons against Germany as they 'were like us'. The Japanese 'godless monkey men' were not like us and were used as an experiment with a new weapon.
The US has no moral claim in any sense, having used nuclear bombs and then protecting and failing to prosecute General Shiro Ishii and Unit 731 for their biological experiments on live American Soldiers as POW's. We took his info, paid him retirement pay and prosecuted no one for these atrocities.

The US is as guilty as the Japanese, Germans and all the rest. J Reuben Clark was right to head a Conscientious Objector and pacifism call during WWII.

The Jehovah Witnesses were severely persecuted in Hitlers Germany. They did not compromise and their numbers grew even as they were killed and put into camps. The Mormons compromised. Germany saw their racist teachings as in line with his beliefs and their genealogy records were used for tracing 'pure aryans' for the Reich... with the blessing of local and regional leadership.

One LDS member was prosecuted for Anti-Hitler and Anti-Reich activities.

Where was the First Presidency in denouncing Hitler as a major tool of Satan during this time? Nowhere to be heard. That was up to the Jehovah Witnesses.

Any claim of moral superiority by those who allowed the murders to go on by the Japanese and Germans has as much validitiy as pissing in the ocean.

anirb said...

My view with regard to Hiroshima & Nagasaki always has & always will be that if th U.S. wanted to show Japan the atom bomb's strength, then there were many places in Japan where the atom bomb could've been dropped with fewer civilians killed & wounded, such as 1,500 to 3,000 as a result of collateral damage rather than the 150,000+ killed in Hiroshima & Nagasaki.

The main topic here isn't the atom bomb, but bombing raids where the intent is to kill civilians. Whether it's London, Coventry, Shanghai, Dresden, Pforzeim, etc. it's wrong to bomb civilians. But sadly during WW2, both sides had the policy to bomb civilians with the hope that the other side would surrender.

If Japan & Germany had had the atom bomb, they would've used them. Most Japanese survivors of Hiroshima & Nagasaki have said that they don't blame President Harry S. Truman for his decision to use the atom bomb, because he did what he believed would end the war. Regardless of 1's view on the atom bomb, what must not be overlooked is that the kids killed in wars are innocent victims.

The small kids killed in Hiroshima, Nagasaki & Dresden, etc. are innocent war victims who did nothing wrong. Even if their relatives took part in the Bataan Massacre or the Rape of Nanking, they are innocent. Wars are sadly out of the ordinary understanding.

Anirban (Anirb) Bhattacharya said...

My view with regard to Hiroshima & Nagasaki always has & always will be that if th U.S. wanted to show Japan the atom bomb's strength, then there were many places in Japan where the atom bomb could've been dropped with fewer civilians killed & wounded, such as 1,500 to 3,000 as a result of collateral damage rather than the 150,000+ killed in Hiroshima & Nagasaki.

The main topic here isn't the atom bomb, but bombing raids where the intent is to kill civilians. Whether it's London, Coventry, Shanghai, Dresden, Pforzeim, etc. it's wrong to bomb civilians. But sadly during WW2, both sides had the policy to bomb civilians with the hope that the other side would surrender.

If Japan & Germany had had the atom bomb, they would've used them. Most Japanese survivors of Hiroshima & Nagasaki have said that they don't blame President Harry S. Truman for his decision to use the atom bomb, because he did what he believed would end the war. President Harry S. Truman's intent of ending the war is good. Yes, there were many other places in Japan where the atomic bomb(s) could've & should've been dropped with fewer civilian deaths but Preisdent Harry S. Truman's motives are good in that he wanted to end the war, though I differ with him in how he did it.

Regardless of 1's view on the atom bomb, what must not be overlooked is that the kids killed in wars are innocent victims.

The small kids killed in Hiroshima, Nagasaki & Dresden, etc. are innocent war victims who did nothing wrong. Even if their relatives took part in the Bataan Massacre or the Rape of Nanking, they are innocent. Wars are sadly out of the ordinary understanding. Most Japanese people are nice & have done nice things for science & humanity.

Anirban (Anirb) Bhattacharya said...

My view with regard to Hiroshima & Nagasaki always has & always will be that if th U.S. wanted to show Japan the atom bomb's strength, then there were many places in Japan where the atom bomb could've been dropped with fewer civilians killed & wounded, such as 1,500 to 3,000 as a result of collateral damage rather than the 150,000+ killed in Hiroshima & Nagasaki.

The main topic here isn't the atom bomb, but bombing raids where the intent is to kill civilians. Whether it's London, Coventry, Shanghai, Dresden, Pforzeim, etc. it's wrong to bomb civilians. But sadly during WW2, both sides had the policy to bomb civilians with the hope that the other side would surrender.

If Japan & Germany had had the atom bomb, they would've used them. Most Japanese survivors of Hiroshima & Nagasaki have said that they don't blame President Harry S. Truman for his decision to use the atom bomb, because he did what he believed would end the war. President Harry S. Truman's intent of ending the war is good. Yes, there were many other places in Japan where the atomic bomb(s) could've & should've been dropped with fewer civilian deaths but Preisdent Harry S. Truman's motives are good in that he wanted to end the war, though I differ with him in how he did it & I believe that President Harry S. Truman should've dropped the atom bomb(s) somehwre else in Japan with fewer civilian deaths .

Regardless of 1's view on the atom bomb, what must not be overlooked is that the kids killed in wars are innocent victims.

The small kids killed in Hiroshima, Nagasaki & Dresden, etc. are innocent war victims who did nothing wrong. Even if their relatives took part in the Bataan Massacre or the Rape of Nanking, they are innocent. Wars are sadly out of the ordinary understanding. Most Japanese people are nice & have done nice things for science & humanity.

Anirban (Anirb) Bhattacharya said...

Let me say that while I believe that President Harry S. Truman should have dropped the atom bomb(s) somewhere else in Japan with fewer civilians killed & wounded as a result of collateral damage rather than the 150,000 + killed & wounded in Hiroshima & Nagasaki, I believe that President Harry S. Truman is a good man & not a war criminal.

To accuse President Harry S. Truman of war crimes is wrong. Yes, the victims of Hiroshima & Nagasaki are innocent victims. President Harry S. Truman after the bombings expressed concerns over the Japanese children who were killed by the atom bomb(s).

But most Japanese people who survived Hiroshima & Nagasaki have said that they don't personally blame President Harry S. Truman for dropping the atom bombs because they understand that it was nothing against them personally but rather President Harry S. Truman did what he believed would end the war.

Personally, it's wrong IMO to deliberately target civilians but wars are out of the ordinary. President Harry S. Truman continued what his predecessor FDR & PM Winston Churchill were doing when it came to bombing German & Japanese cities. Hiroshima & Nagasaki were the deadliest, but before this, Dresden, Pforzeim, Tokyo, etc. were bombed & thousands were killed.

Those killed in Hiroshima & Nagasaki are again innocent war victims. The atom bombs should have been dropped somewhere else in Japan with fewer civilian deaths such as 1,500 to 3,000 civilians killed & wounded, but the motives of President Harry S. Truman of wanting peace are honorable.

The Germans & Japanese have done nice things for science & humanity. German & Japanese cars are the best. We must have no animosity towards the Hiroshima & Nagasaki victims because they did nothing wrong. The Japanese children didn't take part in the Nanking & Bataan massacres. The Japanese children didn't attack us on Pearl Harbor.

A ground war would've been bloody & the Japanese were prepared to use women & children in combat. Kamikaze attacks & if Germany & Japan had had the atom bomb, they would've used it against us. Again, I always have & always will believe that the atom bomb(s) should've been dropped somewhere else in Japan with fewer civilian deaths but I also will say that the reason why President Harry S. Truman dropped the atom bombs was to end the war & save American lives.

Anirban (Anirb) Bhattacharya said...

Refining my earlier post & sorry for so many posts on my part. While I don't know if President Harry S. Truman was a great man, what I will say is that President Harry S. Truman is NOT a war criminal in that he did what he believed would end the war. Most Japanese people who have survived Hiroshima & Nagasaki don't personally blame President Harry S. Truman for dropping the atomic bombs because they understand his motives & President Harry S. Truman's motives of ending the war are indeed good.

Again, I would have as mentioned several times by me, dropped the atom bomb(s) somewhere else in Japan where there would've been 1,500 to 3,000 civilians killed & wounded as a result of collateral damage rather than the 150,000 killed in Hiroshima & Nagasaki. In fact, I'm against bombing raids where the intent is to kill civilians because the Japanese children killed in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo, etc. are innocents.

At the same time, I do understand why President Harry S. Truman did what he did. Most Japanese survivors of Hiroshima & Nagasaki understand why President Harry S. Truman did what he did & don't personally blame him for dropping the atomic bombs though they believe that the atom bomb should've been dropped somehwere else in Japan with fewer civilians killed.

Anirban Bhattacharya said...

I was hoping that more would comment on my posts on Hiroshima & Nagasaki. If you don't know my view then to reiterate. President Harry S. Truman's motive to end the war is good & his decision by dropping the atom bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki ended the war.

Yes, President Harry S. Truman should've IMO dropped the atom bomb(s) elsewhere in Japan with fewer civilian deaths but President Harry S. Truman's a good man though he should've dropped the atom bomb(s) elsewhere in Japan with fewer civilians killed.