'The most difficult decision of any leader in history'

Once again it is early August and we are subjected to expressions of collective guilt over the atomic bombings of 1945. Many of those who denounce these bombings do so out of well-meaning idealism, altruism and empathy. But for others, this annual event is merely another opportunity to display an unrealistic and seemingly neurotic hatred for our leaders, economic system, culture and history — in short, our country. Some of these rants are so foolish that I enjoy them even more than my daily dose of Dilbert and Doonesbury. But when we are endlessly doused with this gloomy and angry rhetoric it ceases to be funny.

The latest edition — "Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 64 Years Later" (see Aug. 6 guest opinion) — is not a cogent argument, but rather only a raving, referring to our leaders as "drunk with power" and "rulers of darkness," and calling the decision to use atomic weapons a "war crime," thus, presumably, indicting President Harry Truman. Truman had seen warfare and death personally during World War I. He, along with the rest of the world, had just been exposed to the discovery of the horrors of the Holocaust "¦ horrors committed by Japan's ally. He had just counted the death toll in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. To him, the estimates of a million casualties for a planned invasion of Japan were entirely realistic (especially if Japanese losses were included).

In the book "Japan's Longest Day" — a history of the interactions of the Japanese leaders leading up to the Aug. 15, 1945 capitulation — the zeal of the Japanese Army to continue the war despite the bombings (along with credible resources to do so) is well documented. The ultimate surrender was largely made possible by the officers and men of the Japanese army accepting the ritual of seppuku (ritual suicide) by the Minister of War, Gen. Korechika Anami, as serving for them all, thus fulfilling their obligations under the code of the samurai. This book was written by 14 Japanese historians writing under the name of the Pacific War Research Society. I recommend it to all and any who would better understand those critical days and decisions of the war.

The deaths and sufferings of the atomic victims are unimaginable, but their sacrifice saved the lives of countless others. Truman was called upon to make arguably the most difficult decision of any leader in history. It serves no rational purpose now to call him a war criminal.

As for the Cold War beginning with these bombings, I suspect that Truman, after his review of the Yalta conference in February 1945, and after participating face-to-face with Stalin at Potsdam in July 1945, would find that assertion so foolish as to be ludicrous. Actually, the Cold War — the political, economic, cultural and sometimes military struggle between International Communism and Western Democracy — had begun in the mid '30s, with Stalin's manipulation of "popular fronts" and Soviet intervention in the Spanish Civil War (see "The Fifty Year War: Conflict and Strategy in the Cold War" by Norman Friedman).

George Mozingo is a retired FBI agent who specialized in Soviet counterintelligence and bank fraud. He has lived in Ashland for two years.

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