This Friday President Obama will be the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima, the site where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb in act of war. They dropped a second one a few days later over Nagasaki.
A lot of Republicans will carry on the talking point that this is Obama’s continuation of his “Apology Tour.” That is a lie. You can fact check this if you want, but Obama has never apologized for the United States.
The visit by a U.S. president is a good thing. We should send a message that nuclear weapons should never be used again. While we lecture the rest of the world on nuclear weapons, we are still the only nation to ever use them on another nation.
There was a massive bombing campaign in World War II. It didn’t just target military complexes. Bombs were intentionally dropped on civilians. There were no innocent parties from the major nations in that war. We made Japan a nation of ember before we even dropped the first atomic bomb.
Ever since the end of that war there has been debate whether or not the bomb was necessary. Many people say it ended the war. Many also say it saved lives over a U.S. invasion, which could have killed millions of Americans and Japanese.
If you compare it to an invasion, yes dropping the atomic bomb cost fewer lives. But I don’t think we needed an invasion, or the bomb. Japan was blockaded. They had very few resources. At the time of their surrender they still had soldiers in Indonesia, Southeast Asia, China, Taiwan, Korea, and the Philippines, not to mention several islands we skipped over in the Pacific. Japan’s military complex was obliterated and they didn’t have the means to supply those troops. Their people at home were starving. They were basically going to defend their nation from an invasion by arming civilians, women and children, with pointy sticks. They were done and a surrender was imminent. Japan wanted to negotiate the terms, and we did not.
There’s a lot of disagreement on this but Japan surrendered, not because we dropped two bombs on them, but because the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and destroyed their army in Manchuria and Korea.
We are taught in American history that we won the war. Most people in Europe believe the Soviets won the war against Germany, not us. I know we’re taught we are the greatest nation on earth, but other nations have considerable influence also.
We didn’t lose the war, and we didn’t start it either, but we started the nuclear arms race. While the greatest generation sacrificed and won World War II, they also gave us decades of fear and school children conducting drills of hiding under their school desks. I grew up being told constantly that we had to worry about being nuked and I’d eventually see the Apocalypse. My son, born the year after the Soviet Union collapsed, never experienced that. Instead he had to worry about shoe bombs on planes and a gun nut warmed with an AK47 walking into his school. He also had to live through the Barney cartoon and NSync, but maybe that was more brutal to me than to him.
Japan has it written into their constitution that there will be never be nuclear weapons on their soil again. They are a nation with the capability to arm themselves with nukes but refuse. That’s a great example for the rest of the world.
Maybe Obama’s visit to the site of a nuclear nightmare can be a promise that it will never happen again. And maybe the next Republican president will actually be capable of pronouncing the word “nuclear.”
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