11/2/07

Thank God for the Atom Bomb

Paul Tibbets, the pilot who dropped the first A-bomb on Japan in 1945, just died at the age of 92.

I agree that the dropping of the A-bombs was a proper and effective way to end WWII. The best defense I've read is Paul Fussell's "Thank God for the Atom Bomb."

A couple of random thoughts about Paul Tibbets.

1) His certainty is striking. It is now so hip to be a moderate or wishy-washy. The media in particular seems to enjoy stories about American soldiers torn over the need to obey orders to fight. Tibbets would be loved today if he had expressed anguish over what he had done. In today's climate, he might even be Time Magazine's Man of the Year if he dropped the bomb in an ocean rather than obeying orders to drop it on the enemy--except that the environmentalists might then protest glorifying such an environmental hater..

2) Soldiers who actually do their jobs—that is, eliminate the enemy—seem to play second fiddle to soldiers who get captured and must be rescued by other soldiers. A few years ago I suggested that the monument to the 21st century American soldier should be a statue of a female soldier holding her hands up with a gun pointed at her.


3) Tibbets was right that the A-bombs saved the lives of many people. More than 140,000 Japanese were killed by the two bombs. Two weeks before Tibbets dropped the bomb on Japan, 123,000 Japanese and American soldiers killed each other on Okinawa. Millions of people lived because Tibbets and his crew dropped the bomb on Japan. I guess we can blame Tibbets for the post-WWII baby boom in America and the coming implosion of the Social Security system. Many of those soldiers would have died fighting in Japan.

CJL

“Having found the bomb, we have used it . . . . We have used it to shorten the agony of young Americans."
--Harry S. Truman

2 comments:

Kyle said...

I think Tibbets was so certain precisely because if he hadn't convinced himself that he acted justly, he would never have been at peace internally afterwards. I mean, how could a man ever come to grips with the fact that he was directly responsible for over 100,000 deaths?

To conclude that mass murder (of civilians) is the solution to prevent mass murder (of soldiers in battle) seems a bit convoluted. Besides, Japan was a defeated nation before the bombs ever dropped, and would have surrendered by July if terms for surrender were open to negotiation (not 'unconditional). Seems like a much less bloody way to end the war.

Anonymous said...

Revisionist history says yes... primary source documents say no!