Armchair Quarterback Theories

Yesterday Breitbart posted an article about a recent comment by Pope Francis about the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima that essentially ended World War II.

The article reports:

“I will soon visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where I will offer prayers for the victims of the catastrophic bombing of these two cities, and echo your own prophetic calls for nuclear disarmament,” the pope told an assembly of the nation’s bishops in Tokyo Saturday evening, shortly after his arrival in the country.

“I wish to meet those who still bear the wounds of this tragic episode in human history, as well as the victims of the triple disaster,” he said. “Their continued sufferings are an eloquent reminder of our human and Christian duty to assist those who are troubled in body and spirit, and to offer to all the Gospel message of hope, healing and reconciliation.”

“Evil has no preferences; it does not care about people’s background or identity,” he continued. “It simply bursts in with its destructive force, as was the case recently with the devastating typhoon that caused so many casualties and material damage.”

This past week, Francis sent a video message to the people of Japan, denouncing the use of nuclear weapons as “immoral” just prior to his departure for a six-day visit to Asia, including Thailand and Japan.

“Your country is very aware of the suffering caused by war,” said the pope in reference to the U.S. bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in August 1945. “Together with you, I pray that the destructive power of nuclear weapons will never be unleashed again in human history.”

“Using nuclear weapons is immoral,” he said, speaking in his native Spanish.

The only part of that statement I agree with is his prayer that nuclear weapons will never be unleashed again. Unfortunately nuclear weapons are a scientific fact in our world. Unfortunately not everyone in our world cares about the human toll involved in using one.

I went to a website called Quora to find the other side of the story:

The Japanese Army effectively was the civilian government of Japan. They intended to make the war as costly as possible so that at some level they would remain in power after the war, if in a chastened, more peaceful form. They were probably right, as the US population and military was very war-weary and may have settled for a negotiated peace at some point.

The Allies, quite reasonably, thought that scenario would lead to a later war and an eventual return to conquest as Japanese foreign policy. It certainly would not have led to a free, democratic society.

This doesn’t really answer the question however. The war would definitely have been prolonged. By August 1945 the Japanese population was already on minimal rations, every harbor they had was mined and/or patrolled by submarines and larger ships. They had no real way to import oil, rubber, and the other necessities of war. They had dozens of divisions on the Asian mainland that would slowly wither away. Without the bomb, the Japanese would likely have tried to hold out longer, look for more favorable terms, and the starving Japanese population would have suffered even more greatly from privation, firebombing of all the major and most medium sized cities, and the US invasion in Operation Downfall, along with a Northern front of invading Soviet forces. If the US invasion failed, they would have maintained the bombing and blockade for a long time.

By the end of WW2 all sides had so dehumanized the enemy that it’s hard to say where the bottom was, but it would have been very bad and almost certainly worse for all sides than the state of affairs after the surrender.

World peace is a wonderful idea as is a world without nuclear weapons, but neither idea is rooted in reality. Reality is that there are those among us who want unlimited power and are not necessarily concerned about how they get it. Throughout history we have seen examples of that–Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, etc. Until human nature changes (which it won’t), the good guys need the best weapons to protect the world from tyranny.