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  •  You can justify any civlian massacre (0+ / 0-)

    (which is what it was) using the exact same language. Its American exceptionalism at its best. When we do it "we had no other choice". When they do it "monsters!"

    The cave, the Matrix, America.

    by Grassee on Wed Sep 22, 2010 at 07:33:14 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  So starving them was better? (0+ / 0-)

      Because that was the other option and part of the planning and the inevitable result of a delayed surrender.  Pick which way you want the enemy to be forced into submission.  Study the history of sieges sometime going back about 3,000 years.  Should be a real eye opener.

      You want to go off into some bullshit  about "American exceptionalism."  I'm not making such an argument at all, so your strawman is simply wrong.  Instead I'm weighing the decision that had to be made and in its historical context.

      I'm not saying we (or Truman) had no other choice.  I'm saying that the other choices appear even less attractive when put into historical perspective and considering broader circumstances.  

      The Japanese were militarily defeated by Summer 1945.  The Russians were similarly militarily defeated in 1941...yet they refused to accept it.  (Saddam was pretty well whipped in the 1st Gulf War...but left his regime intact with an ill-advised peace that led to further misery.)  The point isn't that the Japanese were going to rise from defeat to victory, it is that defeat had not yet been accepted.

      Such wartime decisions are ugly shades of gray rather than black and white.

      Note to Democratic leadership: I'm all out of carrots, but I still have my stick.

      by Celtic Pugilist on Wed Sep 22, 2010 at 08:06:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  American exceptionalism is EXACTLY what it is (0+ / 0-)

        All your arguments boil down to is using the bomb was the most expedient means of achieving our objective. Any warcrime can be defended in this manner. The difference is who wins the war and who gets to write the history.

        The cave, the Matrix, America.

        by Grassee on Wed Sep 22, 2010 at 10:10:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not in the least (0+ / 0-)

          You don't even seem to understand what the American exceptionalism term means, which is no surprise since you are working so hard to distort other terms as well.  It's a slippery slope you are on, before long you devalue all such labels.    

          If you measure what is most "expedient" in terms of lives saved:  civilian (enemy civilians), military, etc. then it was indeed expedient.  Might have saved lives in europe as well since ending sooner allowed more resources to shift to humanitarian needs.  

          So late in the war with the state of strategic warfare and siege such as it was, I will still argue that the A-bombs were the most humane way of ending the conflict, not that they would be at the start of a war or today.  They served their purpose as a one time demonstration.  That is not claiming that they aren't hideously destructive or that fire-bombing or such weren't horrendous either.  They were and still are the final tools of strategic warfare against other superpowers.  

          It's funny, I've debated Southern conservatives who were using your same tactics on various Union actions in the American Civil War.  The ironic part is that they would be screaming "war crimes!" about what was primarily property damage/property issues:  Sherman's march to the sea, Sheridan's burning of the Shenandoah, as well as the infamous Order No. 11.  

          They use the same line about winners writing the history, never mind that that Southerners wrote/revised much of the history of the ACW and have been much more vocal than their northern counterparts.  (See "it was about States Rights, not slavery" for an example of their bunk.)

          Note to Democratic leadership: I'm all out of carrots, but I still have my stick.

          by Celtic Pugilist on Wed Sep 22, 2010 at 11:38:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Genuinely hope you read this response (0+ / 0-)

            exceptionalism -

            "The perception that a country, society, institution, movement, or time period is "" (i.e., unusual or extraordinary) in some way and thus does not need to conform to normal rules or general principles. ..."

            For example, when one nation kills a shitload of civilians it is inhumane. But when an exceptional nature does it there was no other choice.

            expedience -

            * the quality of being suited to the end in view

            * opportunism: taking advantage of opportunities without regard for the consequences for others

            For example, if we drop this bomb on these people the damage will be so horrific that they will have no choice but to surrender and the war will end. That is the logic of any terrorist - use what tools you have, no matter the human cost, to achieve your ends.

            And mentioning Southern revisionists is particularly ironic of you. They are APOLOGISTS. Just as you are. Why don't you open and read a history book written anywhere OTHER than the US and see what they say about the dropping of the atom bomb.

            The cave, the Matrix, America.

            by Grassee on Wed Sep 22, 2010 at 04:59:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Revisionist history is what you peddle (0+ / 0-)

              ...and it's not worth any more than the Southern revisionist nonsense.  

              Let's shoot it down one at a time:

              1.  U.S. behaviour at the time did "conform to normal rules and general principles."  That was the sad state of the world in the wake of a long war with unparalleled destruction.  Yes it was far from ideal and from various pre-war conventions, but there was no "exceptionalism" about it--quite the opposite.  If you can't see that after studying the rest of WWII then there is something wrong with your basic reasoning.  Dropping the bombs did result in a re-evaluation by nearly all parties.  New tech often does that...the inaccuracy of strategic bombing and evolving "cottage industry" for war materiel had done so by mid-war.
              1.  Expedience--I already covered that as measured in lives.  The action taken can easily be argued to have been the most expedient with regards to lives of ours, our allies, and even our enemy.  Even if one disagrees with portions or all of that, it would be hard to argue that Truman and the military leadership did not regard it as such at the time the decision was made.
              1.  Since "regard for the consequences for others" does indeed support dropping the bomb vs. starving the whole country, congrats on proving my point.

              I'm not apologizing for anything.  There is no need to apologize for those who lived because allied (as well as Japanese) lives weren't instead wasted on a fool's errand.  

              If it were my choice, I would have done the same as Truman.  Why? Because I have read accounts from Japanese and other sources about the mindset of Japan, Russia, etc. at the time.  Want to change that?  Go back in time and alter the timeline and history of what the Japanese did, what they were saying, and what they were doing.  (This is the same point I have to make in ACW discussions...folks are arguing against the timeline and actual context, using revisionist reconstruction of them by today's standards.)

              Furthermore, I see no reason to incur large numbers of friendly casualties because a beaten nation refuses to surrender.  Nor would I want large numbers of American soldiers unnecessarily employed in an ugly guerrilla war against hostile Japanese civilians.  This would harden men in ways that nobody could want.  This afterall was integral to Japan's home defense plan.  There is nothing humane about such an ending.    

              Our citizen soldiers have lives too and I would rather ours survive over the enemy's.  (If the enemy values their own people's lives so little, that is their problem.)  I find the cognitive disconnect in your and some europeans' reasoning with regards to war very disturbing.  In fact, this myth of the expendable, non-human, automaton soldier whose life has no value encourages the sort of false humanity you claim. You dehumanize our folks' lives then claim moral superiority?  

              There is plenty in American history that appalls me as being barbaric, wrong, or unnecessary, the dropping of those bombs is not one of those things.  

              As Harry Truman said, he could not envision how he would explain to some grieving family why he had not used those weapons if they had lost family members as a result.

              Note to Democratic leadership: I'm all out of carrots, but I still have my stick.

              by Celtic Pugilist on Wed Sep 22, 2010 at 07:38:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  McNamara on war crimes, proportionality and (0+ / 0-)

                history.

                http://www.youtube.com/...

                And "revisionist history" is the funniest and most telling comment you have said. America doesn't own history or historical analysis. Read a history book on the bombings NOT written by a US historian.

                As Harry Truman said, he could not envision how he would explain to some grieving family why he had not used those weapons if they had lost family members as a result.

                And this statement, like much of your apologist defense, could be used to justify ANY action by ay nation at any time. Only exceptionalist blinders makes it somehow right, true and noble because a US president said it.

                The cave, the Matrix, America.

                by Grassee on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 04:56:04 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You mistake propaganda/emotion for history (0+ / 0-)

                  There is a big difference.  I've already demolished your exceptionalist and apologist nonsense  (with your help), but no surprise you continue with your made up revisionist propaganda.  It's a pretty weak argument you have that relies on namecalling.  

                  Who said anything about it being "right, true, and noble" because a president said it?  Nobody but you.  It matters because he was the one making the decision, not because the president is inherently right/wrong or good/evil.  That is the deep trap you have fallen into.  You can't even come close to taking a dispassionate look at the decision.  That's because you aren't using your head and the history/facts/timeline available, and are instead attempting to use emotion and distortion to make your case.  

                  This good/evil thought trap is something I've seen repeatedly from revisionist Southern historians.  Instead of focusing on understanding the historical context based on the words and actions of their subjects, they attempt to frame them in a modern context and lose the reasoning of the time.  They have a preconceived notion of who was right/wrong and seek to reframe/revise the argument that way.   Like you, they focus on passing judgement in our current context rather than understanding the historical one.  

                  Note to Democratic leadership: I'm all out of carrots, but I still have my stick.

                  by Celtic Pugilist on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 06:57:27 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And you are dispassionate? Please (0+ / 0-)

                    Certainly my argument is a moral one, the wanton slaughter of civilians is immoral to me. That's the whole BASIS of this discussion. We are both applying a value judgment to the act of bombings.

                    Your argument, that Truman took the right course of action is based on a moralistic argument as well. Its called "utilitarianism". At its core it is that the willful killing of 100,000 civilians is justified because the alternative would have been worse. In the post before this you also added that "this was the way war was fought" hence everybody was doing it, (which is by the way a classical Southern apologist argument for the slave South).

                    Thing is, as I've said several times which you keep ignoring, ANYONE can use a utilitarian argument to justify any action. The Taliban could say, in fact they do say, we have no means of getting the US to leave Afghanistan other than huge displays of terrorism targetting civilians. Its the expedient thing to do.

                    The only thing that creates a difference in the merit of that argument and your argument is the subjective value you place on the people making the argument. THAT is what I mean about American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism wasn't carrying out the bombings. I'm quite sure the germans or the Japanese would have done the same thing. Exceptionalism is the JUDGMENT people make about the bombings. If acts of mass civilian killing are unjustifiable by one side then they are unjustifiable by ALL sides, unless something makes your side "exceptional".

                    Did you watch the clip from "Fog of War"? This was a documentary interview with Robert McNamara, the co-architect of the firebombing campaign. He wasn't responsible for the atom bombs but he was speaking collectively of the bombing Japanese and he said it.

                    They were committing war crimes. And they knew it, not after the fact, as they were doing it.

                    Now if you are a universal utilitarian I might disagree with you but at least I can see the consistency in your argument. If the object of war is to win with the lowest casualties on your side then anything is fair game, nukes, gas, ethnic cleansing, etc, etc. If you believe that these things are wrong and STILL say Truman did the right thing then you are inconsistent and an apologist.

                    One last thing, I am all for debate, btu don't start off comparing me to Southern revisionists (I'm black by the way) and then be upset about name-calling. I'll be as civil as you are.    

                    The cave, the Matrix, America.

                    by Grassee on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 07:58:21 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Logical fallacies throughout (0+ / 0-)

                      First of all, civilians die in war, direct or indirect, collateral or not (siege, starvation, exposure, disease, denial of services).  Weighing the human cost of various actions is indeed part of war.  Trying to apply a strict moral code to a fundamentally immoral thing (war) results in a theater of the absurd.  War is by nature coercion through violence, or threat thereof, and coercion through violence is a key component of terrorism.

                      One of the major problems that arises is that "civilians" are actually part of the war machine and in many cases culpable for an aggressor's actions.  (The war machine part applied to "contrabands"/slaves during the ACW, which is one reason the Emancipation Proclamation was such a master stroke.)  That was the realization that came with the strategic bombing campaigns against war industry.  It would have been preferred to do pin point bombing against infrastructure and manufacturing, but this proved impossible, at least on a wide scale, and manufacturing was actually becoming dispersed into homes/residential areas.  Firebombing and nukes make the damaged zone wider and wider so that accuracy and effectiveness are no longer major concerns.  

                      Trying to equate this with terrorism as you have done is a foolish mistake.  Terrorism by nature does not have clearly defined military aims, nor does it even weigh preserving lives of the enemy (or even friendlies in many cases.)  Before long you've watered down the definition sufficiently that any military action is a war crime and is applied to every thing.  

                      I didn't go down the path of what each nation would consider a war crime from their perspective at the time.  Why?  Because that sort of subjective/emotional approach doesn't answer the question about whether the action was the best choice of various unpleasant alternatives.  

                      A key distinction in evaluating such things is not how one weighs the death of the enemy civilians/combatants when they are still in regions of enemy control.  It is how one treats them after they are under your zone of control.  Most of the historical war crime trials revolve around that.  The examples you gave "gas, ethnic cleansing" have been examples of that.  No, you cannot justify "anything" in the manner you claim.  In thinking about the war crime trials, few if any could be exonerated by the criteria you proposed.  Once again you help prove my point.

                      A point you make is that whether or not something constitutes a war crime is who is judging it.  (You use this as a basis for "American exceptionalism" but I don't see how it wouldn't apply to any other nation.)  If the winners decide, then they aren't war crimes.  That is the problem with relying on such a subjective and relativistic moral argument.    

                      It isn't hard to make an adequate defense of the bombings as having saved lives/avoided a worse fate.  And it isn't hard to make the argument that they saved allied lives--which pretty much destroys the case for them being unnecessary "massacres" or slaughters.  Right to survival is fundamental to war and defense and it doesn't require 1:1 proportionality.

                      Strategic nuclear targeting today already acknowledges the overall problem as I understand it.  Civilians aren't targeted directly, but the roads, infrastructure, manufacturing, communication, etc. are.  In effect all major civilian centers are blanketed--just as Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the firebombings that preceded them.  And the threat to civilians serves as a mighty deterrent to war.  Contrast that with the untenable "harm no civilians" or-it-is-a-war-crime morality basis--which actually encourages aggressors in many cases.  

                      As for the Southern revisionism comparisons, it doesn't matter what color you are, your approach has had the same flaws.  I've spent enough time debating that subject that the parallels are easy to see.

                      Note to Democratic leadership: I'm all out of carrots, but I still have my stick.

                      by Celtic Pugilist on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 09:46:25 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Did you watch the video? (0+ / 0-)

                        Quote: "LeMay said if we'd lost the war we'd all of been prosecuted as war criminals. And I think he's right. He and I'd say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. Well what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?"

                        Trying to equate this with terrorism as you have done is a foolish mistake.  Terrorism by nature does not have clearly defined military aims, nor does it even weigh preserving lives of the enemy (or even friendlies in many cases.)  Before long you've watered down the definition sufficiently that any military action is a war crime and is applied to every thing.

                        That's your subjective understanding of "terrorism". "Terrorism" often has quite EXPLICIT aims. Most often it is resistance to occupation.
                        Of course "terrorists" weigh the cost of preserving civilian life. Terrorism is a tool of expediency, least cost for most reward - just as firebombing was and just as using the atomic bomb was.

                        Your third statement has no basis in reality. I'm not talking about ANY action. I'm talking actions that specifically targets civilians and kills them in the tens of thousands. I didn't invent the concept of proportionality in my "subjective/emotional" brain. Its a moral concept that civilized societies allegedly agree upon in the prosecution of war.

                        A key distinction in evaluating such things is not how one weighs the death of the enemy civilians/combatants when they are still in regions of enemy control.  It is how one treats them after they are under your zone of control.  Most of the historical war crime trials revolve around that.

                        What could be more subjective/emotional than deciding on your own "key distinctions" of what determines a war crime?

                        From wikipedia:

                        War crimes are "violations of the laws or customs of war"; including "murder, the ill-treatment or deportation of civilian residents of an occupied territory to slave labor camps", "the murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war", the killing of hostages, "the wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages, and any devastation not justified by military, or civilian necessity".[

                        As I opened this post, the ARCHITECTS of the Japan bombing policy knew them to be war crimes WHILE they were undertaking that policy.

                        And the threat to civilians serves as a mighty deterrent to war.  Contrast that with the untenable "harm no civilians" or-it-is-a-war-crime morality basis--which actually encourages aggressors in many cases.

                        Nice but irrelevent point. We aren't taking about the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons. We are taking about their USE.

                        You have a really toxic blend of arrogance, condescension and exceptionalist blindness that I suppose typifies the character. You actually believe that you are being unemotional and non-subjective? Hilarious! And you can use as many justifications like starving them would have been worse or a protracted land battle would have meant more casuatly. Those are ALL expediency arguments. They all say the same thing.

                        And because American historians say Truman had no choice my argument is revisionist? There is an enormous, internationalist  body of work on the bombings that say exactly what I am saying.

                        There are many more British history books that talk about how they fought the slavetrade than about how they dominated it. I wonder why?  

                        The cave, the Matrix, America.

                        by Grassee on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 10:27:43 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Nonsense, nothing to discuss. (0+ / 0-)

                          The fallacies in your positions are so enormous that there is no real basis for further "discussion."  

                          You have a really toxic blend of arrogance, condescension and exceptionalist blindness that I suppose typifies the character

                          All of your namecalling and insult only makes you look small and intellectually dishonest.  I find it hilarious that you would use the "exceptionalism" argument with me.  It's pretty much the opposite of my view, but I do weigh the consequences as well.  You pre-suppose that if another nation applied the same logic in the same situation, I would assume a different position.  You are mistaken.

                          Your terrorism definition is FUBAR.  Resistance to occupation does not require terrorism.  "Freedom fighter"/resistance fighter does not = terrorist...although it certainly can.  The aims of actual terrorism (vs. resistance) are to terrify the population.  You seem to be the one with "exceptionalism" problem, you just inverted it.

                          could be used to justify ANY action by ay nation at any time

                          You repeated several times that ANY action would apply as justification.  I disproved that easily.  Try a little intellectual honesty.  It could go a long way.

                          I didn't say Truman had no choice.  What I am saying is that when the choices are weighed the decision becomes obvious.  It has made the world a better, safer place, and saved countless lives both in 1945 and going forward.  Expediency measured in lives saved, I'll take it!  

                          You apparently live in some other world where if a govt. won't surrender, one is not allowed to complete prosecution of the war if it will endanger any civilians.  That's the corner you painted yourself into by neglecting to consider the whole picture.  

                          Regardless of what you believe, those various "internationalist" strategic nuclear arsenals are targeted in a way that refutes your/their war crimes basis.  They won't spare civilians to hit military/infrastructure targets.

                          But, hey, go on ranting and namecalling, I won't bother responding to more of this bunk.

                          Note to Democratic leadership: I'm all out of carrots, but I still have my stick.

                          by Celtic Pugilist on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 11:37:23 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Still no acknowledgment of Mcnamara? (0+ / 0-)

                            I understand why.

                            Your terrorism definition is FUBAR.  Resistance to occupation does not require terrorism.  "Freedom fighter"/resistance fighter does not = terrorist...although it certainly can.  The aims of actual terrorism (vs. resistance) are to terrify the population.  You seem to be the one with "exceptionalism" problem, you just inverted it.

                            You are confusing the act of terrorism with its goal. Yes "terrorists" use terror to scare a population but to achieve what end? A scared population? Let me guess, they hate us for our freedoms. Understand I am in no way saying the reasons for what terrorists do what they do justifies acts of terrorism. They don't. I was responding to your emotion-based statement that terrorists have no objectives. I'm saying that terrorists use atrocious acts to achieve their goals because they are EXPEDIENT. Just like the US Government did when it bombed Japan.

                            I'm not the one applying subjective merit to one sides act over another's because I identify with that side. You are.

                            You repeated several times that ANY action would apply as justification.  I disproved that easily.  Try a little intellectual honesty.  It could go a long way.

                            Your proof amounts to terrorists are evil!

                            I didn't say Truman had no choice.  What I am saying is that when the choices are weighed the decision becomes obvious.  It has made the world a better, safer place, and saved countless lives both in 1945 and going forward.  Expediency measured in lives saved, I'll take it!

                            Thus do the victors write the history.

                            You apparently live in some other world where if a govt. won't surrender, one is not allowed to complete prosecution of the war if it will endanger any civilians.  That's the corner you painted yourself into by neglecting to consider the whole picture.

                            Sigh, I suppose this is the kind of strawman argument that DKos pukes up all the time at people. There's a difference between "endangering some civilians" and willfully killing 100,000 of them in one stroke. But you know that.

                            Regardless of what you believe, those various "internationalist" strategic nuclear arsenals are targeted in a way that refutes your/their war crimes basis.  They won't spare civilians to hit military/infrastructure targets.

                            Historians have nuclear arsenals? I know you don't get it because you are in the midst of patriotic fervor right now but sometimes people judge situations on universal moral principles, NOT the actors involved in the situation.

                            But, hey, go on ranting and namecalling, I won't bother responding to more of this bunk.

                            Made you think a little bit haven't I? Its uncomfortable. One more note on revisionist history. I'm actually a student of history. Just because somebody says something first and most loudly doesn't mean they are right. When I was growing up the American school system taught me that the Indians slaughtered the buffalo. It taught me to revere the founding fathers - leaving out the part about them being slaveowners (and George Washington being the King Daddy of slaveowners).

                            History is used and manipulated for propaganda reasons all the time. Sometimes revision is necessary.

                            The cave, the Matrix, America.

                            by Grassee on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 04:10:40 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

    •  Japan was looking to surrender at the time. (0+ / 0-)

      At least that's what has been reported.  And Truman could have dropped the bomb in the ocean or desert of someplace like that, and then give Japan a day or two to surrender.  He didn't even try it, and Einstein was so upset by this that he started a drive against the bomb.  Some historians believe that the bomb was dropped to end the war before the Soviets could expand in the Pacific, and maybe to frighten them more than a little.  Truman was a good President, but he didn't know how to deal with the Soviets, and he made lots of mistakes with them that led to the stupid and expensive Cold War.  FDR knew how to handle just about everyone, even the Soviet Union and its leaders.  We could not have won that war without Soviet help and cooperation, and he knew it.

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