First, the Enola Gay exhibit? Nothing wrong with that. A museum's role is put important artifacts and items on display. You want details, read a book. ----- My feeling about Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Morally unjustifiable but I have the benefit of hindsight, Truman didn't. Also, though unrelated to the ethical argument over Japan, the unconditional surrender of Japan--ensured by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki--was good for its future. It allowed Americans to rebuild Japan in a very fundamental way which would have been impossible under the military government, had it survived. We're facing the same problem in Iraq. If we had a completely free hand and complete control as we did in Germany and Japan after WWII, we'd do a better, more thoroughgoing job for Iraqis which will benefit them in the long run. But, the issue of sovereignty is greater now than ever before, and Americans, especially after the Vietnam fiasco, is careful not to appear the arrogant aggressor. Yet, why do I think Hiroshima/Nagasaki--or Hirosaki--bombings were unjustified? 1. One argument says invading Japan would have led to casualties upward of 5 million lives, that as horrible as the bombings were, on balance they saved lives by ending the war more quickly. The problem with this argument is it's taking estimates as fact. Estimates are often wrong, often very wrong. By Hitler's estimates, Nazis would have conquered Russia in less than a year. By McCarthur's estimates during the early stages of Korean War, Chinese wouldn't dare send troops and if they did would be helpless against American military. According to respectable estimates of American casualties prior to the Gulf War, we were led to expect numbers ranging from 20,000 to 50,000 in a war lasting several years. All wrong, scandalously wrong. It's possible that casualties would have been high had Americans pressed forward with conventional means against Japan but to say that the bombing of Hirosaki saved millions of lives is simply an estimate, not a sound basis for objective argument. 2. Another issue concerns unconditional surrender as the ONLY option. Did United States really need Japan to surrender unconditionally? Did United States need Japan to surrender at all? If invasion of Japan would have cost over a million American casualties or if it entailed the used of nuclear bombs, would it not have been more sensible to negotiate a conditional surrender? Or, a cease- fire with a Japan already virtually isolated and destroyed? Why was unconditional surrender so important? Was it revenge? After all, Japan started the war and bombed Pearl Harbor. But, if revenge is the issue, United States avenged itself 10,000 fold prior to Hirosaki bombing. If you look at the casualty ratio among American/Japanese soldiers, it was comparable to cowboys and Indians. We really kicked their ass in every way. Also, how many died at Pearl Harbor? Besides, it was a military target. Now, how many Japanese died as a result of American bombing of cities like Tokyo? We are talking in the 100,000s. We are talking of leveling entire cities, incinerating entire populations of children, women, gramps, etc. If revenge was the factor, we got an oceanful of it. And, what was left of the Japanese navy, it's most prized military asset? What had happened to its airforce or airfarce? It's like some scrawny kid sneaking up and kicking the behind of a powerfully built muscleman and then getting beat up until his nose is busted, his eyes black and blue, all his teeth missing, his ribs crushed, his ears bitten off, etc. Does the strong man then have to pull out a gun and shoot the bloody pulp unless he calls the big guy 'uncle'? If not for revenge, how about to ensure longterm safety in the region by bringing Japan to its knees? This is not a bad argument but did it justify nuclear bombs? Also, was Japan really a future threat in the region even without surrendering? Historical facts show otherwise. If anything, American victory and the rebuilding of Japanese economy and military ensured a more prominent role for Japan in region(thus far for the good but who knows in the future?) than had Americans not pressed for unconditional surrender and simply isolated Japan from the rest of the world. If so, Japan would today be a backward, poor nation run by authoritarian overlords but no threat to anyone. Japan, near the end of the war, had no viable navy or airforce. Its soldiers, streteched from Siberia to Southeast Asia were on their last legs. 90% of transport ships carrying supplies were routinely sunk by US planes. Japanese soldiers were exhausted and demoralized. They were on the defensive and retreat in China where the Nationalists and Communists were regaining major territories. Japanese had been terribly mauled by vastly superior Soviet troops in Manchuria. Japan was a goner whether it surrendered or not. Had Japan not surrendered, it would have had no means to rebuild its economy, its military, or its empire. Japan has little in terms of natural resources. Cars in Japan near the end of the war were running on charcoal. Also, no Asian nation, which suffered greatly under the Japanese, would have supplied Japan with raw materials. Neither would have Soviets, certainly not US or Western Europeans nations. So, what kind of threat would Japan have been? It would have been militarily weak, economically desperate, diplomatically isolated from both West and East it had once preyed upon. Americans had done such a total job of destroying the Japanese military that the idea of the Japanese Empire was simply a ghost of a shell on the Asian mainland. Indeed, even before Pearl Harbor, Japanese had gotten mired in China in a stalemate. For all its talk of a great empire, Japan didn't have the material, the men, or stamina to sustain their imperial ambitions. So, it seems irrefutable that Japan would have served as no future threat if United States had simply set up a naval blockade around Japan and focused its attention on China, mainly to keep communists at bay. Instead what happened? Americans devoted most of its energy and talent to rebuilding Japan during which time neglected China fell to the communists. 3. Another argument is simply ends justify the means. Let's assume that invasion by conventional means would have led to exceedingly high casualties. Therefore, whatever it took to lower that casualty is justified. This sounds morally untenable. While it's true that extraordinary means are often taken to achieve certain ends, there are certain rules, even in war. What was the Geneva convention about? Why the law forbidding the use of poison gas? Even in war, there has to be a modicum of rules, such as not bombing hospitals, etc. And, what does it say about American fighting men that they would prefer an entire city be indiscrimately slaughtered so they themselves could live? What soldiers go thru is horrible, and we must value the life of every soldier but soldiers are meant to fight and die. If casualty estimates are too high, then you don't send soldiers to useless, pointless slaughter. However, if it's a matter of gaining military objectives, it must remain war between soldiers. Indiscrimate massacre of everyone to save soldiers' lives is never justifiable. Pictures from Sep 11 is horrible enough. Hirosaki was countless times that. We are talking of everyone getting incinerated or vaporized or left mangled in the worst way, everyone from mother in a hospital giving birth to elder gasping his last breath. We're talking of 100,000s of lives, from kindergarten to seniors. It's not just a matter of numbers but of higher decency. I'd say two armies fighting one another with 10,000 casualties is less indecent than indiscriminate massacre of 1,000 civilians. If US could have used the nuclear bombs to target mainly soldiers, it would have been justified. But, dropping a bomb in the middle of a city and killing that many civilians can't in any way be justified. And, I speak not only of Hirosaki but Dresden and Tokyo. And, of course Hitler's V1 and V2 bombings of London but then Hitler was a subhuman as*hole. Still, I would say Churchill's bombing raids against Germany were more justified out of simple revenge because of Hitler's bombing against British civilians. United States doesn't have this claim against Japan. This isn't to say Japanese were nice(they certainly bombed civilians in Shanghai)nor that Japan would not have used the nuke if they had it. It's to say United States got revenge 1000x over and would have obtained its objectives in the Pacific sphere even without Japan's surrender. Even without Japan's surrender, US owned the Pacific and Japanese empire was in shambles, on its last legs, destroyed. 4. The implication of defending Hirosaki bombing is we could and should do it again if a similar situation arises. Suppose a nation attacks US out of the blue, causing military casualties in the 1000s. US wages war and breaks the back of that nation but the nation will not unconditionally surrender. Pentagon estimates that US casualties will be high so we decide to bomb two civilian targets. If one defends Hirosaki, he would have to defend this scenario. I think it's crazy. Or, suppose US goverment had been overrun by belligerent military government and we attack some nation out of the blue. We are engaged at war and that nation gains the upperhand but we won't surrender. So does that give that nation the right to nuke Chicago and Miami? I think this is crazy. 5. ... which brings us to the subject of when should use of atomic weapons be justified? If nukes were used simply because one nation attacked another nation, the world would today be awash in nuclear wars. United States isn't the only nation that was attacked unprovoked in the 20th century. If US actions were justified, it would imply that in the case of every nation that was attacked by another nation, use of nuclear weapons would have been a viable option. And, these nations would have had more of a justification since they were far more vulnerable to and helpless against enemy aggression than US to Japan's. Take Israel for instance. Beleagured and vulnerable, surrounded by hostile nations, constantly under terrorist attacks against its civilian populations. If Afghanistan had nukes, it would have been justified when Soviet tanks came rolling in. Some would say Iraq, though nasty nation, had the right to use nuclear nations to defend its sovereignty against the invading American force if indeed Iraq had such weapons. Nevetheless, we are glad that nukes were not used even in those scenarios where the fate of the nation was of far more drastic concern. Yet, US used nukes on a nation that was defacto destroyed. It used nukes against its civilian populations. Nukes might be justified just barely to defend a nation from being engulfed by an overwhelming hostile force(if Arab nations blitzkrieged Israel). But, to use nukes on a nation defacto destroyed and bleeding to death is overkill.