Pewsitter Celebrates Crime Against God and Man

with a link to the annual conservative festivities in honor of Hiroshima/Nagasaki.

Not with a link to the actual teaching of the Catholic Church which says:

2312 The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. “The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties.”109

2313 Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely.

Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally bound to resist orders that command genocide.

2314 “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.”110 A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons – to commit such crimes.

Wearing a Precious Feet pin does not take away the sins of the world and wearing an American flag lapel pin does not make a crime against God and man into a virtue. It would be really great if a Catholic prolife news aggregator could follow the Church’s lead on such a fundamental question as crimes against God and man, meriting firm and unequivocal condemnation. Otherwise, it does look increasingly as if a great deal of politicized right wing Catholicism is, not prolife, but merely anti-abortion in those instances when the death of the innocent is not inconvenient to the chances of a Republican victory.

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  • Steve

    Most discussions I’ve had about the A-Bombings boil down to the “If We Invaded” vs “If We Bombed” dichotomy. Granted, an invasion may have produced far more violence and death. But I think what is forgotten is that there were more options than that. There may have been a more creative solution that didn’t involve invasion or nuking civilians.

    • Nate Winchester

      I’m genuinely curious what other options you think there were. Please, expound on that.

    • HornOrSilk

      Exactly. There were many options. Including the fact the Japanese were willing to surrender. No invasion was necessary.

      • Nate Winchester

        No they weren’t willing to surrender. Or else why didn’t they after the first bomb?

        One might think that compelling substantiation would be necessary to support such a monstrous charge, but the revisionists have been unable to provide a single example from Japanese sources. What they have done instead amounts to a variation on the old shell game. They state in their own prose that the Japanese were trying to surrender without citing any evidence and, to show that Truman was aware of their efforts, cite his diary entry of July 18 referring to a “telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace.” There it is! The smoking gun! But it is nothing of the sort. The message Truman cited did not refer to anything even remotely resembling surrender. It referred instead to the Japanese foreign office’s attempt (under the suspicious eyes of the military) to persuade the Soviet Union to broker a negotiated peace that would have permitted the Japanese to retain their prewar empire and their imperial system (not just the emperor) intact. No American president could have accepted such a settlement, as it would have meant abandoning the United States’ most basic war aims.

        • Ben

          They weren’t willing to surrender so nuking a civilian population was justified? No. Would it be justified in a hostage situation to take the hostage taker’s family out back and shoot them one by one until he gave up? That’s what we did, except it was a little more than one by one.

          • Nate Winchester

            Their unwillingness to surrender is not the only justification, just the one I was addressing since Horn brought it up. There were many, MANY factors in considering such a choice.

            • HornOrSilk

              They were willing to surrender. Our generals knew as much. However, we wanted more than mere surrender, but injustice, to utterly break them down with unconditional surrender — which transcends any justice.

              • The US had the recent experience of a major power surrendering with its army still holding territory outside its borders. The end of WW I was widely considered a disaster by the time (and rightly so) that teed up the world for WW II. With the atomic bomb becoming an inevitability in the next few decades following a negotiated surrender with an unreformed Empire of Japan, it would have been a crime and a travesty to set the world up for WW III with a nuclear armed Empire of Japan.

                The conduct of the Empire merited the requirement of surrender. If you want to defend the Empire of Japan’s conduct on Catholic grounds, well, good luck with that. It is utterly impossible in my view.

                • HornOrSilk

                  Unconditional surrender is an unjust demand. The end of WWI was a disaster because it went out like the demands against Japan: as a way of revenge, not justice. That is the whole point. You can’t use unconditional surrender as an excuse for war crimes. This is a double-injustice. The injustice of demanding unconditional surrender, and the injustice of the war crime.

                  • In what particular was the Potsdam Declaration unjust? You use a shorthand, “unconditional surrender” which does not accurately describe the actual position of the allies. Unless your beef is on point 13 that it is inherently unjust that the military forces of the empire of Japan must turn in all their weapons and/or not undergo any consequences for war crimes, I don’t see what your specific complaint is. Please expand on it so I may understand.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Just deal with this:

                      “We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional
                      surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and
                      adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative
                      for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.”

                      That’s what it said. Unconditional surrender.

                      That is completely and utterly outside of the just war tradition. It’s unjust.

                    • Nate Winchester

                      So you then also believe the surrender of Germany was unjust? That they should have been allowed to keep the concentration camps?

                    • chezami

                      This is cheap demagoguery, Nate.

                    • Nate Winchester

                      Inspired by you and HornOrSilk, Mark.

                      Of course, Germany DID issue an unconditional surrender as well, so if it was unjust for Japan, then it was unjust for Germany as well.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Unconditional surrender expectation is indeed unjust. There is no total evil, so there is nothing to entirely eradicate. Conditional surrender recognizes the good within the other, even if they have done a lot of evil. No matter how much evil they have done, they still have good within, and that must be recognized. This is basic Catholic morality.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      I suspect a Calvinistic “total evil” is behind support of “unconditional surrender.” The idea is if there is total evil (which of course, ontologically is absurd), then there is nothing good to be preserved, so there can be no conditions, because conditions promote what is good. Of course, it’s completely unCatholic and why this mentality is utterly abhorred by the Church. Unconditional surrender is rejected by the Church like total depravity. Conditional surrender recognizes there can be something good in the other to appeal to.

                    • Your understanding of what conditional and unconditional surrender meant in 1945 is legally defective and so you are attacking a straw man.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      No, not at all. Which is why GENERALS like IKE and MacArthur utterly rejected our “conditions.” It is not “legally defective.” Of course, you like to say it’s “the law as understood, so it’s ok.” Nice. So legally, abortion is acceptable, therefore, it’s a strawman to denounce it? Really? This is a discussion of morality!

                    • I like to say what? Quit making up stuff about what I say. Libel is not a Catholic value. I do not believe in abortion, for the record.

                      What I am saying is that your understanding of the military offer that was made is different than the understanding that both sides understood as well as what actually happened once the offer was accepted. Moral analysis of some situation you make up in your head is acceptable if you’re not trying to pass it off as an actual historical situation that didn’t exist. Then it becomes a species of lying.

                      Please stick to the facts.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Do you know the difference between “unconditional” and “conditional”?

                    • The question is, whether you do.

                    • Nate Winchester

                      Yeah, Germany had to uncondintionally surrender just as Japan had to.



                      hirty minutes after the fall of “Fortress Breslau” (Festung Breslau), General Alfred Jodl arrived in Reims and, following Dönitz’s instructions, offered to surrender all forces fighting the Western Allies. This was exactly the same negotiating position that von Friedeburg had initially made to Montgomery, and like Montgomery the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, threatened to break off all negotiations unless the Germans agreed to a complete unconditional surrender.[12] Eisenhower explicitly told Jodl that he would order western lines closed to German soldiers, thus forcing them to surrender to the Soviets.[12] Jodl sent a signal to Dönitz, who was in Flensburg, informing him of Eisenhower’s position. Shortly after midnight, Dönitz, accepting the inevitable, sent a signal to Jodl authorizing the complete and total surrender of all German forces. [8][12]

                      And as I linked before, Japan’s “conditions” for surrender would have been the equivalent of leaving the Nazi’s in power and occupying the territory they conquered during the war. If you want to be consistent, then it was as wrong to demand it of the Nazis as it was the Japanese.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      And that was wrong, too.

                    • It’s not quite what it says because there are more than two operative words going on. There’s an entire legal tradition and a network of treaties in operation too. The unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces has a different legal meaning than the unconditional surrender of Japan. Also unconditional surrender does not relieve the victor of their obligations under the rules and laws of war.

                      You have not established that the Potsdam Declaration was outside the just war tradition. I suspect that mostly because you cannot and are merely relying on emphatic repetition of assertion to carry you on this point.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      There is the demand of unconditional surrender and the threat of utter extermination. Both are unacceptable. The entire legal tradition and network of treaties never had “unconditional surrender.” It was never an acceptable possition or demand.

                    • What the network of treaties did was to impose conditions on the victor when unconditional surrender was provided or sought, permitting a sort of shorthand that is understood without saying in the profession but needs to be explicitly included in moral analysis with those outside the profession. The failure to do so is an almost guarantee of misunderstanding. I guess I should have started straight off with the expanded edition.

                      Unconditional surrender means your position is such that we’re offering the minimum necessary for moral treatment. Conditional surrender means that beyond the minimal, you also get other considerations that are negotiated between the parties and could mean the ability of officers to keep their personal weapons, or other concessions. In that framework, morally condemning unconditional surrender is basically saying that the Geneva Conventions are immoral. I don’t think that you meant to do that. Did you?

                • St. Augustine’s original three rules of Just War, from _City of God_:
                  1. Must be conducted on your own soil against an invading enemy.
                  2. Must not show revenge by invading another country’s territory.
                  3. Must show love for your enemy by using tactics as dangerous to your own side as to his side.

                  Please analyze your own statement by these rules, and let me know what you come up with.

                  • Nate Winchester

                    So in other words, another country can continue to “run out” and keep killing your citizens as long as they can run back home and scream “base!”?

                    No matter what, we can never invade another country? So… the Holocaust should have just be allowed to continue as long as it was within Germany’s borders? (not even mentioning what Japan was doing to its prisoners…)

                    • Letting your enemy force you to disobey Christ isn’t an option for some of us.

                    • Since you wish to secede from the US according to a past conversation on this site, I do wonder what you mean by “your enemy”.

                    • I might be persuaded to defend Oregon against invasion. I might be persuaded to defend Beaverton against invasion. I would certainly defend the Beaverton Central Neighborhood association against invasion.

                      But I see no purpose in any military action beyond that, and certainly not against a country willing to impose their rule by nuclear weapons.

                    • If somebody has gotten to the point of invading the Beaverton Central Neighborhood Association, it’s generally too late for military action.

                      You should look up Heinlein’s definition of bad luck. You seem to be up for creating a military corollary.

                    • Unlike Heinlein, I’m not a randroid.

                    • And if Ayn Rand said the sun rises in the east, you would argue against the proposition? I happen to disagree with a fair chunk of objectivism. That doesn’t mean that anything said by an objectivist is ipso facto wrong.

                      Here’s the quote:

                      Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

                      This is known as “bad luck.”

                    • And that quote in specific is a great example of why objectivism (or at least, the Randroid version, which is far more emotionalism than actually objective) is wrong: That extremely small minority can’t get anything done without a huge labor force behind them.

                    • That the relationship between the creative minority and those who execute those dreams is symbiotic is irrelevant to the accuracy of the quote. The claim is that those who create the inventions in process and new discoveries are resisted and often persecuted. Your response echoes President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” idiocy.

                      In fact, these days you can do quite well in innovating without a huge labor force behind you. Economic interventionists have pretty much narrowed to the point of uselessness all the other paths to innovation so you get a lot of creativity pushed into the virtual world and a lot of political class angst on how to control the last remaining wide open areas of innovation.

                      So now the cry is that the innovators aren’t taking the rest of the labor force up with them on the escalator to prosperity, when it isn’t insulting the innovators that they must use large labor pools to get anything done. It’s self-evidently not true.

                    • There is good reason for taboos. Those who ignore them, do so at their own peril.

                      We would have been better off staying an agrarian race, given the events of the last three centuries.

                    • And the death toll for all those malthusian population crashes you just condemned humanity to would be marked down to “bad luck”. You’ve just demonstrated what Heinlein was talking about.

                    • All we need to do to avoid THAT is to stop raising ornamentals and start raising food- even internal to urban centers. Use every square meter of sunlight possible to raise food. Use treated waste water as fertilizer and water.

                      There is no reason why urban centers can’t become major food producers.

                    • You have misunderstood Malthus. His concern was a mismatch in the slope of increase between demand and supply. That’s what he’s talking about with arithmetic and geometric increases. Your solution would not change the slope, merely the amount. The innovations that come from non-agrarian society have done that for centuries and kept us from slipping into malthusian population crashes.

                    • Change the amount, and you’ll find we’re so far from a Malthusian population crash that even doubling the population every year, would take us several centuries to reach one.

                    • The numbers don’t work. They never have.

                      Agrarian societies can’t get the food moving fast enough to avoid population crashes from bad weather, war, and natural disaster. The population crashes still happen with greater frequency in a predictable way.

                    • Food does not need to move. People need to move.

                    • You really need to talk to somebody who has experience on refugee movement or even logistics. When you have shelter and water and no food, you move the food because moving the people is going to break the shelter and water systems through overload all throughout the path between the starving and the food. Oh and it’s likely that you’ll still have excess casualties because information won’t move fast and accurately enough to prevent people moving in the wrong direction.

                      When you get down to the practical details, it quickly becomes clear that your idea kills people in significant numbers and on a regular basis.

                  • Since the Catholic Church seems to have moved beyond these original three rules, I should not because…

                    The muslims absolutely fouled themselves up by their “closing the gates of ijtihad” but that’s got nothing on you Ted Seeber. You’d toss later Catholic development beyond Augustine on a whim. So why does Augustine get a pass?

                    • I’m not familiar with ijtihad. I’ll have to look that up.

                      But the request was by any Catholic morality, not necessarily modern Catholic morality. Tradition is, after all, the democracy of the dead.

            • Ben

              My point is only that there was not and is not any justification for the mass murder of civilians.

              • Nate Winchester

                Understood, just clarifying my point.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            And this is different from Hamburg or Dresden or Tokyo — or Coventry — how?

            • Ben

              Where did I say that it was?

            • Ben

              If you want a distinction how about radiation sickness that resulted from the bomb and poisoned a generation and their children. Or how those who survived the bomb were treated as social outcasts from then on.

              • The social outcast status of Japanese citizens in Japan is not properly laid at the feet of the US. I’m all for holding the US to account for its actual sins. To be held to account for the sins of others is unjust.

                • Ben

                  The Japanese are not faultless in this, but the only reason this arose was because of the actions of the US.

                  • Sorry, this is unadulterated hogwash. The victor is not to blame in a fight when the loser has social issues with 3rd parties. That is entirely the choice and the responsibility of those shunning. This is no different than blaming the UK for the bad feelings of those who believed the “stab in the back” theory after Versailles.

            • chezami

              Not much. But Pewsitter didn’t link a piece celebrating the mass murder of the citizens of Dresden.

          • They weren’t willing to surrender so the argument that they were is invalid. The Empire of Japan was gearing up for death down to the last man, woman, and child in their military prep for invasion. They were militarizing the entire population for active combat duties. The “hostage taker’s family” scenario is inapt as they are assumed non-combatants.

        • Evan

          Horn is right; the Japanese WERE willing to surrender. They offered to surrender twice before the first bomb and once after it. They asked for one condition: don’t kill the emperor. The US wanted to humiliate Japan and terrify the Soviet Union, so the US said they would only accept an unconditional surrender, so they had an excuse to drop the A-bomb and scare the soviets.

          After the second bomb, Japan’s one condition for surrender still didn’t change; the US now accepted, because the soviets were frightened.
          But even if Japan had not offered to surrender, annihilating entire cities is never moral or permissible.

          • Nate Winchester

            I will repeat my link above.

            And quote this:
            “Japan was also willing to discuss terms of peace prior to December 7, 1941 -as President Truman reminded the Hiroshima city council in 1958- and we know what came about from those “terms of peace.””

          • The Potsdam declaration was the allies position on Japan’s surrender prior to the atomic bomb. Japan rejected it. What, exactly, was unjust about the Potsdam declaration?

            It is unreasonable for the allies to have known, prior to getting into Japan’s archives, whether the Emperor was personally responsible for the rapes, torture, or medical experimentation on prisoners for chemwar reasons. If he was, the emperor rightly should have faced justice. If he was not, he would not according to the declaration. For the allies to have given, a priori, impunity to the emperor no matter what his personal role in crimes was is something that I would have trouble justifying from a moral perspective. You are, of course, free to attempt it.

        • Joe

          Here’s my own link:

          Key quote:

          “The 1946 United States Strategic Bombing Survey, written by Paul Nitze, concluded the atomic bombs had been unnecessary to win the war.”

          Lest you not believe the quote, here’s a link to the actual survey:

          “Mr.” Maddox, does not seem to mention, nor address, the survey in his article. Why would any historian worth his salt ignore such an important primary source?

          • Nate Winchester

            Actually he does in his far larger, in depth book on the subject.

            Google to the rescue!

            Looks like Nitze’s survey got contaminated by some good ole fashioned politics.

            • Joe

              You’re right! Google to the rescue:


              Apparently, Maddox plays loose with the facts too!

              And I also raise you the references in the “Con” section on Wikipedia (including the section of the various key military leaders disagreeing with its use).

              Historians have been debating this for decades, so I think I’ll side with common decency and side with the Church.

              Also, I also disagree with one contention: that atomic bombs are hardly different than fire-bombing. At least the survivors don’t get radiation poisoning from fire-bombing.

          • The survey link you gave is dead and the wikipedia article is unreliable, in the most obvious particular that Paul Nitze was one of two vice-chairmen on a much larger committee, not likely the sole author of the report as represented at Wikipedia. Furthermore there were multiple reports. The actual survey text is available in full, in scanned form, in the Truman library. I’ve plowed through two relevant documents. After reading the source material, I do not think that your reliance on Wikipedia is warranted in this case.

            The relevant facts that I uncovered (and I have not gone beyond a quick 80 page read here, skipping over a lot of the technical bits) on the political situation was that the peace faction gained in strength but consistently feared military coups and assassinations. This fear was turned to reality with the abortive coup attempt that tried at the last moment to prevent the Emperor from reading out the capitulation address he gave.

            The war party position was largely carried forward in the later Suzuki government by war minister General Anami who was unavailable for interview because of suicide while other war party proponents were unavailable for interview due to their being tried for war crimes. The SBS thinks that it worked around the difficulty of the absence of major war party proponent interviewees but it reads pretty thin on the ground regarding the subject of why the war party did not capitulate until the very end and they do not speculate so far as I have seen on what effect the atomic bombing would have taken on the willingness of certain military personnel to not participate in the coup. A successful coup with an Anami government would likely have created a very different outcome in my opinion.

            One comment from Japanese government sources at the time seems apropos. “A quip was current in high government circles at this time that the atomic bomb was the real Kamikaze [divine wind: ed], since it saved Japan from further useless slaughter and destruction.

            The SBS committee concluded that the bombings speeded the resolution of the war and helped resolve the deadlock of the Japanese government in favor of accepting the Potsdam Declaration peace terms. Their speculation on when that deadlock would have broken absent the nuclear attacks is really where the report falls a bit because of those crucial missed perspectives of the pro-war party.

        • ” It referred instead to the Japanese foreign office’s attempt (under the suspicious eyes of the military) to persuade the Soviet Union to broker a negotiated peace that would have permitted the Japanese to retain their prewar empire and their imperial system (not just the emperor) intact.”

          Doesn’t that sound suspiciously like St. Augustine “Do not invade your enemy in revenge”?

      • Since the US did not want to tee the world up for WW III, the conditions that the Empire of Japan was willing to surrender under were quite important. In a meaningful sense, they were not willing to surrender prior to the second atomic bomb.

  • Robert

    First of all, let me say that regarding the morality or immorality of the bombing of Hiroshima, your argument is superior to that of the American Thinker article. But, how can you say “Pewsitter Celebrates Crime Against God and Man” when they linked to your post as well?

    • HornOrSilk

      They linked to this post AFTER the post was made. They couldn’t have linked to it when Mark actually wrote it. And Mark’s point remains: when they decided to do a link to an article, when they first did a link, did they link to the Vatican and what various Popes have said? No. To a spin-doctor for the culture of death.

      It’s also clear why they linked to Mark’s post after he criticized them. It has nothing to do with supporting his position, but to send people (like you?) over to lambast him.

      • chezami

        Exactamundo. They are demagogues for a very particular species in the ecosystem of the culture of death. And (as you can see) there is difference between their Links of Approval and their links of “Go My Prettiies, Destroy this Enemy of Real Red-Blooded American Conservative Catholic Faith!”

      • Robert

        I haven’t lambasted Mark – or anyone else.

    • chezami

      They linked to my post in order to send their flying monkey here to attack me for not being a red-blooded Real American Catholic. They do that a lot. If they were serious about things, they would not link me, they would take down the link to the Celebration of Slaughter and put up a link to the relevant Church teaching in the Catechism that I provided in my article. I need not be in the equation at all. But since they dissent from the Church’s teaching and are angry at me for calling them on that fact, they put up the link to me as a way of mustering the troops and sending them here.

  • Andy, Bad Person

    revisionist historians of the 1960s – and their disciples – are quite
    wrong to depict the decision to use the bombs as immoral. It would have
    been immoral if they had not been used.

    I can’t believe I just read that: it would have been immoral to not nuke the women and children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Woe to those who call good evil, and evil good.

    • Nate Winchester

      Here’s a video of a priest historian discussing the matter. One should always be wary of oversimplifying history & people.

      Also of note, the Japanese were hardly saints in the day.

      • HornOrSilk

        I always love this kind of argument. “The enemy is bad, therefore, we can do whatever we want.” I keep hearing this all the time with a certain kind of combox communicator. “Those evil Muslims, look at how they treat us, so let’s treat them the same way back, or worse! Wipe them out!” If what they do is so bad, then you can’t justify your own response to be the same or worse. When you say “let’s do the same or worse,” you approve the actions and then cannot say what the Muslims are doing are bad. The same applies here with Japan. Just because the Japanese committed war crimes does not mean we get a commit a war crime for free card in return. We do not. And the war leaders at the time knew we did not have to nuke anyone to get surrender: what we wanted was revenge (not justice), and unconditional surrender (not justice), and a warning shot to the rest of the world (not justice). It is a reprehensible act the United States did. Evil is evil. Intrinsic evil is intrinsic evil.

        • HornOrSilk

          No one ever said doing the good or right think is the easy route. It’s always the broad, easy route which is paved with death and leads to hell.

          • It is not a broad or easy argument to justify nuclear bomb use in WW II. But the tick tock of war meant that dithering had its own body count. Ordinary operations in the Pacific theater equaled thousands dead every week. And so you have to look at the alternatives that were actually on offer, invasion, blockade, or nuclear bomb. The blockade route is generally recognized as producing a higher civilian death toll. Invasion was a bloodier horror show than the nuclear option for both civilians and military. So those who argue the immorality of nuclear use have to pick a concrete option that would actually have accomplished their goal. Replacing one ugly military option with a different, uglier one, cannot be considered improvement.

        • Nate Winchester

          I made no such argument. The point I was leading up to was that other people were suffering under the Japanese (much like that little Holocaust thing on the other side of Asia) so any option taken must factor in the other sheep left to the wolves.

          And clearly you need to watch the video as it points out many Japanese leaders were not about to surrender, indeed several wanted to keep fighting even AFTER BOTH bombs. Only after the bombs did the emperor and peace faction have enough sway to successfully get the empire to stand down.

          You are using a grossly simplified version of history which the father linked to expressly railed against.

          • HornOrSilk

            What you mean is, “You don’t follow my simplistic we had to bomb them to submission.” The only over-simplified view is that “we had to bomb them.” Wrong. Generals were against it (even those who have no problem using the bomb!). They knew it was not needed. WE HAD WON. The fact that some would continue to fight after surrender doesn’t mean the surrender would not be real. The fact is, we won, the surrender would have been accepted, and there was no need for invasion. Only the culture of death encourages this ideology.

            • Nate Winchester

              What surrender are you talking about? And it’s more than just their ongoing fighting, there’s also the Allied and Asian prisoners the Japanese were keeping.

              Gideon Rose, the editor of the journal Foreign Affairs, has
              estimated that during every month of 1945 in which the war continued, Japanese forces were causing the deaths of between 100,000 and 250,000 noncombatants.

              So by “won” you mean… we would have just let that slaughter continue?

              • Ben

                It is not ever moral to drop nukes on a civilian population. There is no line of argumentation that could make this not true.

                • Nate Winchester

                  How are you defining civilian? To quote from here:

                  “To start with, the lions share of the population (basically everyone between roughly fifteen and forty-five) were conscripted. Furthermore, even those not falling under this classification were trained to attack soldiers with anything they can get their hands on. Even small children were taught to strap bombs on themselves and roll under tanks. This is why I insisted at the outset on the distinction between “combatants” and “non-combatants” and thus be properly viewed as unlawful combatants and not “civilians” in the proper sense of the latter term.”

                  If an entire population is being mobilized to fight, who are civilian?

                  • Ben

                    Ah so people trained to defend their homeland should be classified as military targets. This includes infants.

                  • chezami

                    The old “everybody is complicit in the system” argument used by Bin Laden to justify nuking that hub of the military industrial complex known as the World Trade Center. Good one. I would say the children sleeping in their beds and in the mother’s wombs were, and I know this is controversial for some, innocent civilians.

                  • In fairness, the institutionalized mentally ill, babes in arms, and those too wounded to be combatants under any circumstances still count as civilians even in an “everybody fights” military regime that was preparing to let everybody die and leave Japan without a population.

                    I agree with you regarding the exaggerated numbers of civilians, but that does not relieve us of the moral problems of those civilians that remain after moving over the irregulars to their proper categorization.

                    • Nate Winchester

                      Very true, TMLutas, and that’s why I’m grateful the US has made effort to make more “smart” weapons that can separate out these civilians vs irregulars since that day. (including even the drones that Mark hates so much – I admit my opinion of them was shaken when I read that civilian deaths have actually decreased since drones have been used) I’m sure had such technology existed, Truman would have much preferred it.

                • Ah, the a priori I win gambit. Stop arguing, stop considering, just SHUT UP and admit that you’re wrong and I’m right.

                  Did that even work in elementary school for you?

                  • HornOrSilk

                    So you think there is nothing like intrinsic evil which can never be done?

                    • I think that one must actually establish that something is intrinsic evil and define it properly and actually go through the process of seriously grappling with the issues.

                      The first problem with Ben’s comment is its relevance to the discussion at hand, the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Is that what the US did? Or did the US drop a bomb on a population that was mixed civilian/military? Does that matter?

                      God destroyed Sodom after telling its just to flee. We know that not all the just made it (Lot’s wife). Was God unjust? So I think that there is a discussion worth having because I don’t think that God was unjust.

                    • But as I understand it, our lives belong to God, and He has the authority and right to kill innocents if He wants. We do not have that authority. We can’t look to Sodom as justification for our destroying a city.

                    • At that point, we were playing for the lives of millions who would have died in an invasion. Japan’s use of praisworthy or glorious mass suicide, shudan jiketsu, on Okinawa and elsewhere is not something that we can ignore. Japan was turning itself into a death cult and steeling itself for its own voluntary genocide. This is not normal or common but a very special case historically. They still fight about it in the textbooks in Japan. Shocking them out of this state is very necessary and moral. Two atomic bombs barely did it (the psychological shock) as the military coup to try to prevent Emperor Hirohito from surrendering demonstrates.

                    • But none of that ultimately matters, because we used an intrinsically evil method of “shocking them out of this state.” Whether they were going to surrender, whether our demands were reasonable, whether more people would have died if we had not bombed the cities to smithereens, all of that is a red herring because we cannot use evil means no matter how good or noble or well-intentioned or necessary our ends are.

                    • At what point is a bomb too big/nasty that it becomes an evil means? You’re assuming that these two bombs qualify without bothering to lay out your rationale. You can’t just assume something is an evil means because you have no more right to do that than I have to just declare that it’s not.

                    • It’s not the kind of bomb that makes it intrinsically evil. What was evil was our indiscriminate targeting of an entire city, filled with innocent life. Please read what others have written here, and in particular section 2314 from the Catechism which Mark quotes in his post.

                    • We did not indiscriminately target.

                      What the US understands as indiscriminate targeting seems to be at variance with your assertion. Why is that definition of indiscriminate targeting wrong (other than it being mostly based on post WW II sources)?

                    • I don’t care what the U.S. government’s definition is. The Catechism clearly states that “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of
                      whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God
                      and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” We dropped two nuclear bombs on two cities, destroying those two cities. How is that not “the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities”? If you want to argue that I should not have used the phrase “indiscriminately target,” fine. The bombings were still wrong, per section 2314 of the Catechism.

                    • You’re hitting the right target. It’s the strongest point that your side has in my opinion. But if you just dismiss with a “I don’t care” two words that appear in 2314, you’ve done a disservice to your own side. If you don’t care what the US’ definition is of those two words enough to refute it, at least share what is the Church’s because the definition of those two words is not in the Catechism as far as I know.

                      As an aside, the aim point for the Hiroshima bomb was the Aioi bridge, picked for its distinctive shape so that there would not be a mistake in positioning the bomb’s effects. In other words, not indiscriminate targeting, at least by some definitions.

                    • By all means, please explain to me what “discriminate destruction of whole cities” is. I think the sentence in the Catechism is crystal clear, and to try to justify the bombings by arguing that the Church hasn’t defined “indiscriminate destruction” strikes me as akin to arguing that the Church hasn’t defined “torture” or “abortion” with enough specificity either.

                      My point wasn’t to dismiss the actual two words, it was to dismiss the U.S. government’s moral reasoning because the only moral reasoning I follow is the Church’s (*especially* in light of the acts the U.S. government has committed recently). And like I said, I think section 2314 is perfectly clear.

                    • I did not make the argument that the Church has not defined the term. I have made, and continued to make the argument that hand waving just doesn’t cut it as a justification to condemn or accept the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

                      Looking it up myself, I’m finding references to the concept that nuclear weapons are inherently indiscriminate in a way that conventional munitions are not. Since we keep upping the limits of conventional munitions (44 tons for Russia’s FOAB) I expect that eventually the Church is going to have to revisit this but that’s a discussion for another thread and possibly another century.

                      The idea seems to be that a legitimate military target big enough to justify nukes doesn’t exist and therefore they are out of bounds entirely. That may be in error as a military matter.

                    • I guess I don’t see what hand-waving I’ve done; given what the Catechism says and given what actually happened to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, it seems cut and dried to me. And note, as I have said elsewhere, I am condemning the act, not the people responsible for it. God alone can fully judge them based on what they knew and what they truly believed.

                      As for the idea that there may not be a legitimate target big enough to justify nukes, I find that interesting. If I were to argue that nukes themselves are morally off-limits, I would focus on the radioactive fallout, which cannot be controlled or contained and which poisons everybody and everything in its path. In that sense, certainly, nukes are inherently indiscriminate.

                      I keep thinking how Nick Fury, at least, understands this. “I recognize the council has made a decision, but given that it’s a stupid-ass decision, I’ve elected to ignore it.”

                    • Radioactive fallout is a complex topic that depends on both design and where the bomb actually goes off. An orbital explosion, which would create no fallout on earth (the atmosphere deflects it), would seem to not be a problem under your reasoning and is possibly the best use of limited North Korean nuclear capability, blinding US satellites in case of war so no, that’s not a theoretical scenario but probably something that the US has war plans for (or should). What would the Church’s position be?

                      If I remember correctly, Nick Fury was talking about the council decision to nuke NYC to head off alien invasion and global armageddon. Since you’re the one who brought it up, Iron Man popped the nuke through the portal in the Avengers movie and caused untold, indiscriminate alien deaths. Was that act problematic under your interpretation of 2413? Stark’s personal culpability is probably low if I understand your interpretation right but would the act be condemned?

                      btw: my hat’s off to you for bringing in Marvel into the usually horrific atomic bomb explosion anniversary discussion.

                    • My offhand analysis of Tony Stark’s actions are that they were not evil. For one thing, given that his suit was losing power and he was losing oxygen and consciousness, it is debatable whether he was really aiming for the big mother ship, or whether he was just releasing the missile out of Earth’s harm’s way, and got lucky that its momentum took it in the “right” direction. In the latter case, certainly, his actions would be fine. Second, the bomb hit … an army, specifically the commanding ship. Not their home planet, not a civilian ship bringing humanitarian aid, not any kind of civilian target (could there have been civilian aliens on the ship? Sure, but they were not targeted specifically by Stark, and I believe the Church acknowledges that when military targets are, uh, targeted, some civilians may die, but that is not morally the same as targeting civilian targets). And certainly in space, fallout was not a concern.

                    • Tossing a nuke without carefully aiming it is the very heart of indiscriminate. That was my point. The relief you felt that NYC was saved is *exactly* the relief that everybody felt that Operation Downfall did not get underway and for likely the same reasons.

                      The bomb hit… something, which included an army. It also might have hit a lot of civilians. We don’t know because the film doesn’t cover and the Marvel universe doesn’t flesh out the Chitauri targets of this bomb. We’re something in a shrodinger’s cat situation where we don’t know the civilian casualties until the Chitauri backstory is filled in by somebody. Depending on Chitauri numbers and their travel habits and whether they even have a home planet, Iron Man might just have committed genocide.

                    • Tossing a nuke without carefully aiming it is indiscriminate. Letting go of the nuke because you are passing out from lack of oxygen is not, and that was how I interpreted the scene.

                      Given what we saw of the ships and the army leaders, I am confident that it was a military target. But if you want me to concede that, given more backstory, it might turn out that there were civilian targets we could have and should have avoided, then sure. (But a mitigating factor in the moral culpability is that Stark didn’t know those civilians were there, and may not have had reason to know. Truman et al. did know the cities were full of civilians.) (It was not a genocide; one of the post-credit scenes showed a commander of the fleet complaining that humans weren’t as easy to conquer as he was told. It was a short scene, but neither his lines nor his demeanor indicated that a entire race had been wiped out.)

                    • Ok, going to have to rewatch the Avengers now. I usually never go post credit. A technical matter on genocide, the armenians were not wiped out by their genocide and neither were the jews. The question remains open (pending that rewatch) and more problematic for your side than mine in this argument.

                      I don’t think that Stark passed out from lack of oxygen. It doesn’t fit the characteristics of the suit. His PTSD like symptoms in Iron Man 3 says he had a psych episode there.

                    • Ai. Rewatch it, because it’s a fun movie despite the destruction (which they do a better job of minimizing than in the recent Superman movie). But I am by no means committed to the proposition that Stark’s actions were totally licit under Catholic Just War doctrine; it’s just my quick-and-dirty impression of a fictional scenario with incomplete information. I mentioned Nick Fury’s line because I got a kick out of it and it was sort of on topic.

                    • In a way the fictional scenario brings into stark relief the whole issue of consequentialism. Instead of the known conventional invasion meatgrinder vs the less bloody bombing, you’ve got the same weapon launched that will kill your own city or do you toss it into the unknown and kill the other guys, thus morally involving yourself.

                      I’m cheering for Iron Man. But what’s the moral justification for your side to do so?

                    • chezami

                      The Nagasaki nuke was carefully aimed at the Urikami Cathedral. This whole line of argument is surreal.

                    • When you’re bringing up Nick Fury in an argument about nuclear weapons, yea, it’s going to get a little strange. I was just taking a lemon and seeing if there was some worthwhile lemonade to be had.

                      Mostly what I got out of it was that Catholic film reviewers have a tough job.

                    • I don’t know what happened to my comment. Disqus might have eaten it. Then again, it does that temporarily occasionally so if you see a double response, that’s why. I’ll try to put a different spin so if both comments appear, they won’t be too repetitive.

                      My general approach is where the Church has put in a modifier, always ask what the border conditions are. That’s full stop, irrespective of the subject or my opinion on any subject. Thus when the ban on abortion talks about direct abortion, the automatic question I have is what is the point of the use of the word direct and what does that tell us about the shape and contour of what is banned. Does that give us insight as to what is problematic? And the answer is that it does and knowing the distinction has made it possible to correct pro-choice misinformation in several instances in my personal experience.

                      In this case, I don’t know the answer to the question but I assume somebody does, and absent an answer why a bunch of very smart people writing the Catechism put in the word indiscriminate, both sides in this combox debate here are fighting at least partially blind because we do not have an appropriate understanding of the actual position of the Church. We’re guessing and playing “you know” games and this is not a subject where that sort of imprecision is an acceptable short cut.

                    • This may be a remnant of my legal training, but I tend to go with a plain English approach to interpreting provisions. In this case, given that “discriminate destruction” doesn’t make a lot of sense, I would argue that the use of “indiscriminate” was not to create a contrast, but simply an adjective to add color, to emphasize what the Church was getting at.

                      Moreover, given the moral and physical stakes involved, I’d also be inclined to interpret the passage more strictly, rather than looking for a verbal technicality that “allows” me to destroy entire cities.

                      Finally, I really don’t see the imprecision you apparently do.

                  • Ben

                    Please then. Lay out an argument using Catholic Morality that doesn’t boil down to consequentialism. I know it’s hard not to be insulting, but give it your best shot.

                    • There were no good options at the time. The main issue is in wrongly asserting that there were better options or outright supporting worse options as if they were better.

                      We did not (and still do not) have weapons that can sufficiently discriminate between the just and the unjust to avoid all civilian casualties. If we do not fight at all, it is our own subjugation and genocide that we accede to.

                      Unless all fighting is held to be immoral, something that is not generally held as a Catholic position, a war that starts with a sneak attack on your own country is about as justified as you get.

                      The brutal conduct of the war led to a deterioration of morals on all sides and deplorable incidents aplenty and a decline in military discipline. Japan’s Ketsugo strategy of universal militarization and desperate measures to psychologically force the American people to demand a negotiated surrender clarifies the issue. They were quite serious about voluntarily going down, as a people. They were willing to do this on the home islands as they had already proven willing to do in previous campaigns.

                      We responded by trying to psychologically force the leadership to see reality and to give in while reducing the overall casualties, primarily ours but certainly theirs if it could be managed. This is a reasonable and moral goal to have.

                      Out of all the flawed and ugly potential solutions actually available, this one was picked and it worked. To pick a more flawed and uglier solution would be immoral. And it’s here that the anti-nuclear option forces stray morally because when push comes to shove, falsehoods are deployed to try to make those worse options look better. They often attempt to avoid it by not giving an opinion at all about alternatives but the question does beg for an answer. If not the bomb, then what? And the honest among the anti-nuclear bomb group do not have an answer to that question.

              • HornOrSilk

                What surrender? See, you don’t even know history. The Japanese were already ready to surrender. That we know. The mechanism to get it to happen was there. It’s funny to see people talking about “simplistic view of history” show they know nothing of history

                “…in [July] 1945… Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. …the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.

                “During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face’. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude…”

                – Dwight Eisenhower, Mandate For Change, pg. 380

                (Chief of Staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman)

                “It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.

                “The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are
                frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”

                – William Leahy, I Was There, pg. 441.


                MacArthur biographer William Manchester has described MacArthur’s reaction to the issuance by the Allies of the Potsdam Proclamation to Japan: “…the Potsdam declaration in July, demand[ed] that Japan surrender unconditionally or face ‘prompt and utter destruction.’
                MacArthur was appalled. He knew that the Japanese would never renounce their emperor, and that without him an orderly transition to peace would be impossible anyhow, because his people would never submit to Allied
                occupation unless he ordered it. Ironically, when the surrender did come, it was conditional, and the condition was a continuation of the imperial reign. Had the General’s advice been followed, the resort to atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have been unnecessary.”

                William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, pg. 512.

                • HornOrSilk

                  Anyone notice how these experts and their declarations are ignored? Funny that. “Here, go read my repetition of the war-mongers saying we can cut off a head to end head-aches, let’s ignore what was actually said and known at the time of the strikes themselves.”

                • The future President Eisenhower was in Germany and had heavy responsibilities running a good chunk of Europe. Was he shooting from the hip or had he been undergoing regular briefings on the Pacific theater so he was giving an informed opinion? I don’t know. I wish I did.

                  Chief of staff Leahy’s objection is not consistent with the historical record in that Japan did not surrender after the first bomb and suffered an attempted coup to prevent its surrender after the second atomic bomb.

                  As for MacArthur, his position was supported by the british and taken into account by the nuanced text of point 13 which led to the resolution of matters with the continuation of the Emperor as head of the Japanese system. I am concerned about this biographer who says “when the surrender did come, it was conditional”. Emperor Hirohito’s speech is available and does not look conditional to me. This makes me distrust the rest of the text.

            • Only by completely shutting your eyes to how Versailles played out could you possibly hold that position. Again, Potsdam was a just document. It was turned down. The Japanese wanted better and got worse.

          • Andy, Bad Person

            The point I was leading up to was that other people were suffering
            under the Japanese (much like that little Holocaust thing on the other
            side of Asia) so any option taken must factor in the other sheep left to
            the wolves.

            In other words, consequentialism. Intrinsic evil is off the table as an option no matter what the bad guys are doing, so no, other sheep left to the wolves are not a factor.

        • Dave G.

          HornOrSilk, you need to brush up on the last 20 years of development in this area. The rise of China and other Asian countries, and the somewhat diminished stature of Japan, as well as the rise of reformers within that nation, have cast serious doubts on the original narrative. That narrative has always had problems, not the least of which was the rather well known fact that the high command refused to surrender after the first, and initially the second, bombing. If Japan was so ready to surrender, what was it waiting for?

          Much has come to light in recent decades suggesting that while there was a group calling for surrender, there was actually a strong contingent pushing for continued war and death before surrender. Plus, we’ve had much confirmed about why the atrocities of Okinawa and Saipan occurred (and both weighed heavily on the minds of the general staff as well as the presidents), because of what the Japanese had been told about Americans. To die nobly vs. being tortured, raped and murdered by our troops was something that many were prepared for.

          On top of it all, seeing the occupation and continued atrocities from the POV of the subject Asian nations rather than a Westerncentric viewpoint puts a new light on the old ‘Japan was just ready to crumble.’ Not according to those still brutalized by Japan. That’s the danger of building ‘it was wrong because Japan was just itching for John Lennon songs’, because by all accounts, that version is no longer held the way it was, and in some circles is no longer held at all. And yet, we still say the bombings were wrong.

  • Ben

    I used to think the same way as the American thinker article. Then I realized that Jesus probably would be against vaporizing children . I don’t know why this is so hard.

    • Maggie Sullivan

      Would Jesus have been for the estimated 1 million lives being lost if an invasion of Japan took place?

      • That’s consequentialist thinking. You cannot do something evil even to save a billion lives.

        And, to answer your question, no, Jesus would not have been in favor of that. But He would have held responsible the people who actually killed those one million, not the people who didn’t stop the killing with more killing.

        • Maggie Sullivan

          It was an act of self defence to invade Japan and or drop the bomb. We were attacked first at peral harbor – Japan was also slaughtering people from china to Burma.

          It is not evil to protect and defend lives when you are attacked.

          • HornOrSilk

            Self-defense is not an excuse. It doesn’t give you a right to commit abortion, for example, does it? But nuking the city caused abortions to happen. So you now say abortion is not an intrinsic evil? It’s ok to cause abortions (all the pregnant women and babies killed) in self-defense? Is that it? Abortion is ok? This is where the culture of death line of thinking begins. Anyone notice it was after WWII and the consequential thinking in justification of such death that more death (abortion) became supported by the government?

            Moral rules for self-defense are always in place, including issues of proportional response and actual just end. What you pointed out is not self-defense, but revenge. “They attacked us” is not just cause to do anything we want back.

            And, as per the quotes I gave (and ignored), key generals and advisers (like Ike) all suggested that Japan’s war efforts were over. Again, it is no longer self-defense.

            • Maggie Sullivan

              Well,yes self defense would be a reason for an abortion if the baby in the womb jumped into a Zero and started dropping bombs on you.

              What your saying is we should not have fought Japan and let them take over our country……that is wrong.

              Its a joke to think the Japanese were anywhere near giving up – remember
              The Japanese fought to the last man…their were many in the Japanese after the two atomic bombs were dropped who still wanted to fight to the last man.

              • chezami

                The innocent men, women, and children (and unborn children) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not dropping bombs on anybody. You can never deliberately kill innocent human beings. That’s called “murder”. It’s wrong even when Red-Blooded Real American Catholics at Pewsitter say it’s okay.

                • Nate Winchester

                  You sure about that, Mark?

                  How were these things made?

                  Made by housewives and school children from paper, cloth and rope, these unlikely weapons were intended to be transported by high altitude jet streams – 200 mph winds travelling at 30,000 ft – which would theoretically carry them to their target in three to four days.

                  If you scroll down the wikipedia article:

                  On May 5, 1945, a pregnant woman and five children were killed when they discovered a balloon bomb that had landed in the forest of Gearhart Mountain in Southern Oregon. Pastor Archie Mitchell and his pregnant wife Elsie drove up to Gearhart Mountain with five of their Sunday school students (aged 11–14) to have a picnic, and Elsie and the children got out of the car at Bly, Oregon, while Archie drove on to find a parking spot. As Elsie and the children looked for a good picnic spot, they saw a strange balloon lying on the ground. As the group approached the balloon, a bomb attached to it exploded and Elsie and all five children were killed.

                  So… yes actually, their women and children were attacking our women and children.

                  • chezami

                    So you are seriously suggesting that women and children had it coming? And this was preferable to entertaining the surrender feelers of the Japanese. Wow. I look forward to your defense of 9/11.

                    • Nate Winchester

                      So Pastor Mitchell’s dead wife and children mean nothing to you then? I guess they had it coming?

                    • Ben

                      Well if the american civilians were saving metal to be used for machines of war, and the women were building missiles then by your logic they did have it coming. That was easy.

                    • Nate Winchester

                      Quite true, Ben, which is why I think they call it the “total war” scenario.

          • The women, children, and babies who were killed by the bombs were not the ones who attacked us; it was not “self-defense” to kill them, it was murder. The Church has made it clear time and time again — no indiscriminate killing of civilians. Yet that is exactly what we did by targeting a city with schools, hospitals, churches, and so on.

          • Stu


            As a military man, I say that nothing would compel me to attack innocent civilians (women and children). I would much rather put my life at risk attack other men at arms than carrying out violence on the innocent.

            • HornOrSilk

              Stu — and this, even if I disagree with you on other things, I respect about you. Unwillingness to attack innocents, even if it required self-sacrifice. Good!

              • Stu

                I think you should also reflect upon the burden of command as well. Military leaders often way a multitude of complex factors in making a decision. Many of these factors, those in the ranks are never aware of.

                • HornOrSilk

                  I know the burden of command, but I also know the rules of just war already answered the question long before WWII. The “they didn’t know, this was different” can be used for pure relativism because every action is in a different context. But again, while we will disagree in part, again, I want to affirm where we do agree.

          • Andy, Bad Person

            It was an act of self defence to invade Japan and or drop the bomb.

            This would be laughable if you weren’t deadly serious. Japan’s navy and air force was shattered, and we were settling in for a long siege against the island. When you tie someone’s hands, you can’t claim self defense. It’s disgusting.

            • Maggie Sullivan

              Hi Andy,
              It would be very interesting to see the Kamikaze and the soliders like those who defended Sipan (who fought to the last man) just lay down their arms an go meekly away just because the war was not going well.
              These were men who fought and died for their country and the would have all fought to the last man to defend Japan if they had any chance….the bomb ended that chance and saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
              We can debate it all we want but those who had first hand knowledg and experience fighting japan knew what they were up against. Our military at the time had seen hundreds of thousands of dead Americans…….they didn’t want to hundreds of thousands more dead Americans.

              • Andy, Bad Person

                You do realize that repeatedly regurgitating consequentialism doesn’t magically transform it into a moral good, right?

  • Dave G.

    I don’t think the arguing should be ‘the decision to drop the bombs was wrong because we could have done X instead and it would have turned out just fine.’ That suggests that if there were no other options, then the bombs would be justified. Plus, it might lead us to ignore developments in our knowledge of events that suggest X really wouldn’t have worked after all. No. The argument has to be that it’s wrong is wrong is wrong. And if endless billions would have died otherwise, then so be it. That seems to be what the Church is saying, that it matters not the consequences, there are some things you just don’t do. And if greater suffering results, then that’s the way the ball bounces.

    • Nate Winchester

      Touche, Dave, you rightly point out that is consequentialist arguing.

      Though that is going to be a very hard to sell to non-Catholics.

    • HornOrSilk

      Two points. I agree, even if they were not willing to surrender, and it was going to be a long and difficult, and torturous path to victory, the easy, immoral way out is not the answer. However, when an easy, moral way out WAS available on top of it, this adds to the shame of the bombing.

      • Dave G.

        The easy moral way is up for grabs. Developments in our knowledge of Japan’s intentions over the last 20 years have cast new light on just how willing Japan was to go to the peace table. Starting with the heroic Korean women in the early 90s, and gaining steam as other Asian countries jumped on board, and as Japanese reformers wanting Japan to come clean also got into the act, the traditional narrative that Japan was a bunch of peace loving milquetoasts by August, 1945 is seriously in doubt. And that’s the point. We can’t hang ‘it was wrong’ based on one particular version (all Japan was saying was, give peace a chance), because it suggests that if there were no other options, then bomb away. Nor does it seem that’s what the Church is saying. The Church seems to be saying that we never do something that is evil, no matter how many innocents may die as a result.

        • Nate Winchester

          Well, put Dave. Though then there is the consideration, how do you deal with such in a mixed society?

          Will Catholics all fill in the ranks of the military to invade/blockade/whatever the enemy? Because the atheist, muslim, protestant, scientologist, whoever might have a harder time being sold that they and their fathers/brothers/husbands all have to die just to satisfy the Vatican.

          Life is filled with many very hard choices. We should not be so quick to condemn those that had to make them. Instead let us thank God that such never rested on our shoulders

          • ” We should not be so quick to condemn those that had to make them.”

            That alludes to an important distinction. When many of us condemn the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, we are condemning the act, not the people who committed the act. Most of us understand that people are more than just the bad acts they commit, that those who made the decision may have sincerely thought that they were doing the right thing, and that they may not have understood the moral consequences as well as they could have. But none of that excuses the act itself — good intentions do not make an intrinsically evil act good.

            • Dave G.

              Actually, if you read, you’ll find there are those who make it clear it’s the people too. For me, it’s probably that the decision was understood, but they hadn’t come to the point where we are today, that it’s better that the good and innocent perish than to do evil to save them. That’s a tough one. Personally, I’d like it better if first the Church told everyone to sell all they have, give everything to the poor, and devote themselves to Jesus. If we wouldn’t sell everything to give to the poor, but would allow the good and innocent to die rather than do evil to save them, I’m not sure that paves the right way for Catholics in the future.

      • Nate Winchester

        I recommend Rerum Novarum’s post here as an examination of the willingness to surrender.

        There were a lot of politics involved in Japan and it’s not quite clear they were going to. (Considering that they had previously lobbied for peace – and then bombed america after the accords were signed certainly puts a damper on any willingness to take their word for it.)

  • Maggie Sullivan

    This has to be one of the most absoultly foolis articles I have ever seen. Pew Sitter provides links to articles of interest. I have seen them link MANY time to stories from the Nation Catholc Register……does this mean Pew Sitter is liberal.

    Pew Sitter had links to a few stories on the Boston bomer….does this mean they support terror.

    Mark just doesen’t like Pew Sitter because thy have naied him a few times for writing silly things.

  • Stu

    Linking to something = Celebrating it.

    (That’s going to comeback like a boomerang.)

    • chezami

      Linking a celebration of the bombing–while pointedly ignoring the Church’s actual teaching–is most certainly celebrating it. They sure as hell wouldn’t link Pelosi musings on ensoulment without either an editorial headline (OUTRAGE! Pelosi Uses Aquinas to Justify Abortion!) or else a link to something correcting Pelosi’s twaddle. Here, it’s presented as what healthy red-blooded Real Catholics[TM] all agree is the *real* moral position. It’s one of the many editorial moments where Pewsitter suggests to it audience that they can just go ahead and blow off the Church’s teaching in favor of the wisdom of Talk Radio.

      • Stu

        Not compelling.

        And if they bother you so much, don’t go there. You know, ignore them like you do commercials.

        • chezami

          I don’t go there. But I have readers who do and are scandalized and ask what I think. In this case, I think their behavior was scandalous enough to warrant comment. And I mean “scandal” in the technical sense: deliberately leading Catholics away from actual Church teaching and urging them to celebrate a crime against God and man meriting firm and unequivocal condemnation. It’s wrong when Pelosi does it and it’s wrong when a hugely trafficked Catholics aggregator does it.

          • Stu

            If people are getting their understanding of Catholic teaching from a non-Church website like Pewsitter, then you should just tell those who ask you that it doesn’t represent the Church but instead is a collection of links that simply represents the interests of the page owner. That’s where the baseline education should come.

            Pewsitter routinely links to articles from the National Catholic Reporter with no commentary embedded in the link. Am I to assume that every position in those articles is in line with Catholic teaching?

            But I know one surefire way to get more people to go to PewSitter.

            • chezami

              “you should just tell those who ask you that it doesn’t represent the Church”

              Yes. That’s what I’m doing.

              • Stu

                No, you aren’t.

                You are overreaching in your conclusion and intentionally setting up a situation of conflict with another entity on the web.

                Much easier and more productive to simply tell people who are scandalized by links they find on Pewsitter to simply avoid it and that it doesn’t represent the Church. Further, I wouldn’t be surprised if some who present such links to you are actually themselves looking for the conflict.

                But it does drive web traffic for both you and PewSitter.

                • If Mark can’t be Mark while he does what he does, then I’m going to stop reading this blog.

                • chezami

                  The people being truly scandalized by Pewsitter are not the ones who are shocked by their endorsement of mass murder and dissent from the clear and unquivocal teaching of the Church. It is the ones who take that endorsement and dissent for granted as “real” Catholic belief vs. the candy-ass wussified teaching of the Magisterium. They don’t write me. And they are the ones that need to be warned that they are being deceived. So hell yeah I provoke a conflict. The gospel does not come to bring peace but a sword. Pewsitter is a public scandal with this link and deserves public rebuke. I’m not looking to make nice here. I’m looking to challenge people who want to be serious about the *whole* of the Church’s teaching to make a clear choice: Pewsitter’s whittled-down and politicized All American Jesus or the actual Jesus of the Church.

                  • Stu


                    If having a link on your page is scandalous, then your association with Patheos, which has all manner of scandalous advertising in your margins is similarly an issue. You can post a disclaimer all you want on that, but fact remains it generates income. So either having a link to something equates with “celebrating” it or it doesn’t.

                    As to those who may see PewSitter as a some magisterial source, your style isn’t going to change their minds. Quite the opposite actually. Tactics matters.

                  • Nate Winchester

                    So hell yeah I provoke a conflict. The gospel does not come to bring
                    peace but a sword. Pewsitter is a public scandal with this link and
                    deserves public rebuke. I’m not looking to make nice here.

                    So, you’re deliberately seeking out to be bitter…

                    Is it worth it?

  • Stu

    Allow me to offer another perspective on the bombing itself.

    First, I don’t believe the use of nuclear arms on Japan was justifiable by any stretch. Further, I don’t believe the direct targeting of civilians is ever justified in warfare to include the firebombing that the Allies used against both Germany and Japan.

    But at the same time, I believe we should take into account that during WWII, Air Warfare was young in development and people were still sorting out the morality of certain actions to include the question of whether or not targeting civilian workers in war factories was a legitimate target. Indeed, we are in a position now where we can think this through much better than those with danger knocking at their door. Hopefully we will never be in such a position again.

    • Dave G.

      That’s one of the more original insights I’ve read in quite a while. It’s easy to look back at times past and see what we should have done differently. For instance, we learned that the strategic bombing campaigns were’t as precise as we thought they would be. The intention wasn’t, initially, to just bomb cities, but to hit industry and military targets. It was only later that we realized that bombing wasn’t as accurate as initially imagined. I wonder what major goofs we’re in the middle of today that future generations will so openly criticize and condemn us for.

      • Stu

        It’s not that we didn’t realize that the bombing wasn’t accurate. We knew that. Thus the bombing strategies that relies on multiple bombers dropping “sicks” of bombs in a manner to ensure destruction of the target. My comment is more to the infancy of air warfare and the norms for employing.

        One of the early air power advocates was an Italian General named Giulio Douhet (Like our Billy Mitchell). Douhet believed that the use of air power effectively would make land armies obsolete and wars much shorter. Under his thinking, air power should be employed to fly over the standing armies and attack centers of strength in terms of military, government and industry. In doing so, the civilian population would suffer losses to such an extent that they would push their government to end the war, ostensibly quicker and ultimately saving lives. Flawed reasoning to be sure (though there are still elements of his thinking in air power strategy types today though not with desire to bring the civilian population to its knees), but it shows how early military minds saw and had to come to grips with this technology.

        One of our Generals, Curtis Lemay, was a follower of Douhet.

        • Dave G.

          I meant the early days leading into the first bombing runs. Not the later. Initially, the targets were the industrial targets. The effectiveness of those is still disputed. There was also the use of terror bombing that actually went back (in terms of air power) to the first world war. By WWII, both Japan and Germany had used it. And England and America were not slow to pick up on the possibilities. But there was also much faith in the legendary Norden bombsight that we could conduct such strategic bombing campaigns with few if any civilian casualties. Such thinking dominated early strategy sessions. That idea, sadly, turned out to be more optimism than reality. A lesson for putting too much faith in the latest technology.

  • Lee Johnson

    There is no doubt in my mind at least that more destruction would have been caused by not using The Bomb. In a purely utilitarian calculation, more lives would have been lost through an invasion and suppression of Japan, with no guarantee of success, than were lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Additionally, with the Soviet Union entering the war, that might have increased Soviet influence even further, and might have resulted in a divided Japan, similar to North and South Koreas, today, or a divided Germany. Under communist control, far greater crimes and loss of life would have occurred, and probably would still be occurring, as they are in North Korea.

    The Japanese were not going to surrender. They may have sought favorable terms (no doubt), but they were in no particular hurry. Without a highly cooperative Japan, the Cold War may have lasted longer, and involved even more bloodshed.

    Nonetheless, as Catholics, we don’t get to use utilitarian arguments. The bombs, as well as the firebombing of Tokyo and Dresden, were immoral.

    • HornOrSilk

      This supposed need for invasion was not there. Japan was ready to surrender. Truman didn’t care.

      • Stu

        “Truman didn’t care.”
        I don’t think we can say this. I don’t think we can know. I disagree with his decision but see no reason to question his motives and thank God that I will never be burdened with such a choice.

        • HornOrSilk

          When we see his advisers and what they said, and Truman’s own comments after the fact, I think we can say he at least gave the image that he didn’t care.

          • Stu

            And you have the privilege of looking at such things through the lens of history. Quite different when you are living it.

            • HornOrSilk

              Again, Truman also looked at it AFTER and also commented in support of his decision, especially when generals before and after pointed out their disagreement. They were also living it. But their voices are ignored. I know you don’t support the loss of innocents, but I think you give too much credit to Truman and ignore his own after the facts justification for the bomb.

              • Stu

                Disagreement by generals does not equate into “Truman didn’t care.” It also doesn’t mean they were ignored. At the end of the day, it was the call of one man. Yes, I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he was trying to do the right thing. Just as I believe those who counseled him against were trying to do the right thing. But this was new territory in terms of warfare.

                • HornOrSilk

                  Truman’s self-justification after the fact, and his ignoring of actual peace overtures shows he didn’t care. He made it clear he wanted to make a brutal sign, not just for Japan. His own self-justification again shows he didn’t care.

                  “I have no regrets and, under the same circumstances, I would do it again — and this letter is not confidential.” Truman, Letter Aug 5, 1963.

                  Someone who cared would have said, “I have regrets, but I thought it was necessary at the time.” He had NO regrets. That shows clearly the image he presented.

                  • Stu

                    Having no regrets, does not equate into “not caring.” In his mind, he believed it saved lives. Flawed reasoning? Yes. But does not equate into him not caring.

                    You have overstepped here. That’s all.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Here I will disagree with you. If I cared about something, but thought I did a harsh deed which caused great evil, for the sake of stopping some greater evil, I would still have regret for doing it.

                    • Stu

                      You assume that later in life he changed his mind and thought it wrong. Based upon the information he had at the time and his judgment of the war, he made the call he thought was best for all involved.

                    • Stu

                      And the want and desire to put the Japanese down, again while not necessarily just, needs to be understood in the context of the war. My great-uncle, also an aviator, hated the Japanese till the day he died. Was that rational? No. But given what he saw in the Pacific to include friends being part of the Bataan Death March, I understand it. Such a fierce war can cause a white-hot hate for the enemy.

      • Lee Johnson

        Simply not true. Revisionist nonsense.

        Japan had elements that were ready to negotiate. Who knows long they would have argued about the shape of the table?

        • HornOrSilk

          Revisionist nonsense from MacArthur, Ike, and others who were there?

          • Lee Johnson

            As I said, simply not true.

            • HornOrSilk

              Well, thanks for saying that. You convinced me! MacArthur must have been some liberal revisionist.

              • Lee Johnson

                Just not going to respond endlessly to a borderline troll.

                • chezami

                  Translation: Don’t confuse me with fact. I had a good slogan about them damn revisionist libruls and you messed it up!

                  • Lee Johnson

                    LOL. Not really, Mark.

          • Dave G.

            HornOrSilk, you do know that MacArthur would not be seen as a fair and accurate source of criticism of Truman (sort of like saying “Fox says Obama is wrong, it must be true!”), and much written was written years after the fact.

      • c matt

        I have to agree iwth others that I don’t think we can say Truman didn’t care, in the sense that he did not take the destruction the bombs would unleash seriously into consideration. He erred in thinking that such destruction, in particular, targeting of a civilian population to intimidate (what we would call today “terrorism”), was justified.

  • HornOrSilk
    • Nate Winchester

      Really, then what about the attempted military coup to forestall surrender AFTER the 2nd atom bomb?

      • HornOrSilk

        So? The fact that some might not surrender, in any surrender, doesn’t make it so we shall just kill everyone. All wars have the potential of some stray people trying to keep the fight on after the end of the war, doesn’t mean the war is not over. This attitude just goes to show how unChristian your worldview is.

        • Nate Winchester

          So by your logic, that some might surrender means we can’t ever fight back against anyone? Remember: in war, the enemy gets a vote.

          Of course, since this was the heads of military power, (and, again, WAS A MILITARY COUP), we’re talking about a lot more than just “some stray people”. Had the coup been successful, there would have been no surrender.

          • HornOrSilk

            It’s not the “some might surrender.” It is the LEADERS are ready to surrender. Come on, you have no Christian morality, but just a follower of the path of death.

            • Nate Winchester

              Right, MANY of the Japanese LEADERS were NOT ready to surrender. See link and many others.

              If recognizing the truth of history makes me a follower of “death” then so be it, but I’m not committed to pretty lies.

              • HornOrSilk

                They would have followed the Emperor, and the population would have too. Again you are just finding excuse for vengeance nothing else. Typical of the culture of death, not of the Christian

                • Nate Winchester

                  Yes, that’s why the Supreme War Council was deadlocked for so long, because they all wanted to serve the emperor. /sarc

                  Actually Asada, a Japanese scholar who published “The Shock of the Atomic Bomb and Japan’s Decision to Surrender – A Reconsideration” in the Pacific Historical Review, November 1998 issue, notes that as for guaranteeing the emperor was not the sole sticking point, that the Japanese military demanded also no occupation, no war crimes trials, and no forcible disarmament. Asada is clear that only after the Nagasaki bomb, proving that the atom was not a one-shot weapon, did the emperor prevail over Minister of War Anami and secure agreement to surrender.

        • Stu

          He didn’t imply that. What he has showed is that the notion that Japan was “on its knees” isn’t necessarily correct. There is a lot of uncertainty in such things and often commanders are forced to make decisions without all of the information or even erroneous information.

          • HornOrSilk

            Japan was ready to surrender as a nation. The fact that some might not follow the nation and will fight afterward again does not invalidate the truth known at the time (but hidden from the public). Again, we can just make this as an excuse to not end the Civil War, if we want.

            • Stu

              That is an opinion of which people will argue about for the rest of time. It’s a rabbit hole.

            • The populace of Japan was surprised by the surrender. They were not, in fact, ready to surrender. They were ready to turn on a dime where their emperor led them.

              The very documents you refer to elsewhere made that clear. The populace was surprised by Hirohito’s actions.

  • Guest

    I understand why Mr. Shea questions the licitness of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet, I find his effort to apply Catholic teaching here, as in similar situations about priests lying to SS soldiers to save Jews, a simplistic and legalistic application of sound principles. It is easy to arm chair analyze the decisions others make while operating in the hot furnace. C.S. Lewis noted how he resented folks who had never seen combat lecturing him and others who had for this very reason.

    Let’s take the bombings. I will not ultimately defend them, but I must first reveal that but for them, I might not be here to give my views at all. My father was a 19-year-old conscript into the 1st Cavalry Division, already a combat veteran from fighting in Leyte and Luzon, helping to liberate internees at Santo Tomas and then liberating the rest of the city of Manila. In the summer of 1945, he was training for the amphibious invasion of Japan. As I grew up and this topic arose, my father would always say he was grateful to Truman because had Japan not surrendered, there is a good chance that he would have died on a beach on the home island. As I was born well after the war, had he died in 1945, I wouldn’t be here. That, of course, does not justify the bombings, but I wanted to be upfront about my prejudice on the matter.

    The fact is that war against civilians is as old as war itself. If you take the bible as being accurate (and I do), God commanded war against civilians throughout the Old Testament and, in fact, the failure of Israel to obey that command at times caused it considerable grief. Anyone who studies the Scottish War of Independence will note that Edward I made war on the people of Scotland and William Wallace and Robert the Bruce made war on the people of northern England. And, yes, Sherman made war on the people of Georgia and the Carolinas. In the latter cases, that doesn’t make it right, but it is a fact of war.

    Truman didn’t have access to all the intelligence used today to criticize and defend his decision, but he did know from the intelligence he did have that a lot of American young men (many like my father, who were still teenagers) would die if Japan dug in and fought to the last man, as he believed it would. He also knew that a lot more Japanese soldiers and civilians would die in the invasion and that a lot of civilians and P.O.W.s throughout Asia would die while the war dragged on, likely into at least 1947. Millions more would have died, including many more civilians than died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    As with the priests lying to save Jews, I’ve yet to see Mr. Shea disclose what he would have done, but only criticize what other did do. I don’t celebrate the bombings. I don’t know anyone who does. I do celebrate the fact that Japan surrendered and that likely millions of lives were saved, including a 19-year-old cavalry trooper from Missouri, with a worried father, mother, sister and brother back home, and two other brothers in the war, who 16 years later became my father.

    Pewsitter indeed.

    • HornOrSilk

      Again, Truman was hiding the fact Japan was ready to surrender. Read what I posted. And yes, Truman DID have access to that fact. As did his generals who told him such. As did MacArthur who was working for that peace!

      • Guest

        I’ve read those kinds of posts for years and I’ve read other posts which refute it. Truman wanted unconditional surrender and he wanted it for a purpose. I’ll not sit in front of computer screen and condemn the man who may very well have saved my father’s life.

        • HornOrSilk

          “Unconditional surrender” is not a just end. We cannot seek “unconditional surrender” and say “they won’t give it” to justify war crimes. Unconditional surrender expectation is condemned in just war doctrine.

          So, let me ask you, are you pro-abortion? For you know, you won’t condemn the man who “may” (no proof!) have saved your father’s life. And what he had done was mass abortion in Japan (among other things). So, you think it is fine to commit abortion and won’t condemn it?

          • Guest

            No, I’m not pro-abortion. I’m very much pro-life. I don’t celebrate the death at Hiroshima and Nagasaki any more than I celebrate the deaths of my father’s comrades at Leyte and Luzon, or the internees who died at Santo Tomas before the 1st Cavalry liberated the internment camp. I just don’t accept the after-the-fact postulations you post as having any bearing on all of what Truman knew in August 1945. And there were good reasons for why he wanted unconditional surrender. You may have forgotten that the sainted Stalin was anxious to get into the war in the Pacific and see how many Asians he could “liberate” from democracy as he had Eastern Europeans.

            Do you condemn God for commanding the armies of Israel to kill every man, woman and child in the cities that He ordered them to attack? Or do you deny the accuracy of Scripture when it describes His doing so?

            Simplistic and legalistic drivel.

            • HornOrSilk

              So abortion is ok at times! Got it! And nice you bring God into it — God promotes abortion too, nice, I hear atheists bring that one up all the time. However, like the Church Fathers, I see those texts are not literal, but represent the battle within, where we are to kill our own evil thoughts as they arise. Oh yeah, talk about simplistic legalistic drivel!

              You support abortion and bring God out as one who demands it!

              • Guest

                “So abortion is ok at times!” I didn’t say that. You are so wedded to Mr. Shea’s interpretation of Catholic teaching that you won’t hesitate to twist other’s words to make your point. I said, “No, I’m not pro-abortion. I’m very much pro-life.” How does your response dovetail with Mr. Shea’s argument that lying is never licit?

                Truman didn’t commit abortion; he committed acts of war, tragic acts, but acts which he decided, based on ALL the intelligence he had available, were the best course of action and which would save millions of lives and end the war before Stalin could capture more lands and enslave more people.

                • HornOrSilk

                  Actually, you did just say so. Abortions happened with the bombing. And then you brought out the typical pro-abort and atheist section from the Old Testament and said, “See, sometimes God requires it.” So you gave a defense for abortion.

                  Pregnant woman and child killed in bomb=abortion. That is an abortion. Truman had it happen. Again, you said it is fine, because God also orders, at times, such death. Again, showing misunderstanding of the Old Testament and how to read it, but that’s fine. You are just trying to find a way to say “I didn’t support abortion” all the while giving the typical pro-abortion presentation of the Old Testament to justify abortions which happened with the A-Bomb.

                  • Guest

                    Whatever. You’ll twist what I say to score points. I stopped wasting time with such posters a long, long time ago. Good day, sir.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      If taking what you say and showing what it means is “twisting it,” then I am sure the math teacher who gives the question of 1+1 is twisting the equation to say the answer is 2.

                      Seriously. this is not about “scoring points.” It’s about taking what you say, and what comes from it. Many people do not like the hidden implications of their words. But moral theology always is concerned about that.

              • Guest

                As to how the Fathers interpreted Scripture, they did so in a fourfold sense: tropological, allegorical, anagogical, and . . . historical. In making the application to the war within, they didn’t deny the historicity of Scripture.

                • HornOrSilk

                  Actually the four-fold sense was a medieval idea, not the Patristics. And you will find many Fathers point out that the literal (historical) is not always real. St Maximus points this out, among others. But you are upset when I point out you are trying to give the pro-abort argument of Scripture to justify abortions in Japan. Nothing else.

                  • Guest

                    No, I’m upset with you because you conflate the unfortunate acts of war with the unnecessary acts of abortion-on-demand. You suffer from the same wooden, myopic application of Christian principles to complex situations as does Mr. Shea.

                    I admire him a lot, I just find his armchair criticism of priests who lied to save Jews and wartime leaders to be simplistic and legalistic. It must be nice to live in a world in which you face no hard choices, when you’d prefer having another option besides the ones you’ve got. I wouldn’t know about that.

                    • chezami

                      Could you document for me one single place I criticized priests who lied to save Jews? Just one.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      You continue to give the pro-abortion response to abortion. Wow. “I’m against abortion on demand” but then find support for some demands of abortion! And you say the application is difficult. True enough. But one thing is the good often requires self-sacrifice, not the sacrifice of others. Jesus showed us what following the good means: the cross. Anything else is the Satanic attempt to avoid the cross with excuses, similar to how the devil tempted Jesus with the kingdoms of the world.

            • c matt

              Some Catholic doctrines are rather simple, others not. The Doctrine of the Trinity, for example, is not very simple. However, the prohibition against consequentialism is really rather simple. Ends do not justfy means. That is not to say it is “easy” to carry out, or that there are never situations where we will be tempted to ignore this simple principle. But, nevertheless, the principle remains what it is, whether or not we succumb to the pressure to ignore it.
              That Truman was under great pressure, that we oursleves may have succumbed to that pressure, that it saved an ancestor’s life making our existence possible – none of these things change the principle. If they did, it would not be much of a principle to begin with.

              • Guest

                Or maybe it would be a principle that has had its flaws exposed.

                • chezami

                  So you are saying that Paul is in error to condemn the proposition “Let us do evil that good may come of it” in Romans 3:8. Well, you’re not the first American to make clear his rejection of this fundamental Catholic moral principle for the sake of political expediency.

                  • Guest

                    I appreciate your charity toward those with whom you find disagreement.

                    • chezami

                      It has nothing to do with uncharity. You are arguing for the rejection of an absolute bedrock principle of Catholic morality dating back to Romans. Take responsibility for that or back down from your argument.

          • Vicq Ruiz

            Unconditional surrender was achieved at the end of the Civil War. America has been a united, albeit sometimes flawed, nation ever since.

            Unconditional surrender was achieved at the end of World War II. Both Germany and Japan have been peaceful, prosperous nations for the last seven decades.

            Unconditional surrender was not achieved at the end of World War I, the Korean War, or our latest quasi-wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

            Given the historical track record, unconditional surrender appears to have something going for it.

            • chezami

              And Sherman was a war criminal.

        • Dan Li

          Who saved your father’s life (and many others) and ended a multitude of other father’s. I say this as a close relative to survivors (and those less fortunate) of the Bataan Death March and the cruel treatment of Filipinos during the occupation.

  • Don Schenk

    As usual, it’s liberal Catholics who are more liberal than Catholic, and don’t allow for what then-cardinal Ratzinger called the ‘legitimate diversity’ allowed among Catholics.

    • chezami

      As usual, “prudential judgment” is invoked a sleight of hand for blowing off the “clear and unequivocal” teaching of Holy Church.

    • Ben

      Why is legitimate diversity only invoked when it involves the killing of non-american non-white people?

      • Guest

        I thought we were talking about a war against a nation which initiated it. If you think such actions are limited to non-whites, I suggest you look at photographs of Dresden and if you think it is limited to non-Americans, I suggest you read accounts of Sherman’s March to the Sea.

        We are talking about war and what a president believed was necessary to end it and stop the killing of even more people. Maybe he was wrong, but he was not nearly as “clear[ly] and unequivocal[ly]” wrong as Mr. Shea would like to make it appear as he sits in a comfortable chair in front of a computer in the peaceful Pacific Northwest.

        • Ben

          I was referring to arguments today supporting “legitimate Catholic diversity of opinion” concerning torture and drone strikes etc. We did not drop nuclear bombs on Dresden did we? If you’d like to talk about Dresden go right ahead, but I don’t see many people running around publishing articles about how the mass murder that occurred there (dresden) was justified like they do hiroshima.

          The president can believe what he likes. He was wrong.

          • Stu


            I can assure you that in military circles, especially aviation, the topic of the morality of fire bombing Dresden is a topic of discussion. The Bomb simply overshadows that discussion. Fact remains, the bomb wasn’t ready to use on the Germans but I see no reason to believe that it would not have been in a similar situation.

            Let’s leave the racism talk to people like Sharpton and Jackson. I don’t think it is applicable here.

            • Ben

              I’m not claiming that racism was the only factor in the determination of whether or not to drop the bomb. Or even a major one.
              However, the otherness of the Japanese was a tool used in promotion of war support, and probably made it easier to drop the bomb. Ever heard the term yellow monkey? Take a look at the images in this link:

              • Stu

                And there were epithets towards the “hun” as well.

                Fact remains, the Japanese conduct during the war created much more animosity from rank and file Americans starting from the attack on Pearl Harbor and other atrocities.

                • Ben


          • Guest

            No, we didn’t, but we leveled the city into a pile of rubble, undoubtedly causing great carnage in the process. I am glad that you weren’t president in 1945. I don’t think you’d have the stomach for it. Neither would I. I’m glad we had someone who did.

    • Guest

      My problem with Mr. Shea is not that he is liberal or conservative. He tries really hard to be neither. And I commend him for that. My problem is that he sits at a computer and criticizes priests who faced down SS officers and a president who was in command during the most bloody war in human history based on a rote application of Catholic principles. I really wonder if St. Thomas would reach the same conclusions Mr. Shea does or whether his agile mind might understand that not every action is made clear by plugging the facts into a prescribed formula.

      I find the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki troubling as well, as I do the bombings of Tokyo and Dresden. I just don’t find them so easy to unquestionably condemn as Mr. Shea. “War is hell”, Sherman said, but that takes what he said out of context. Here’s what he said, which I think puts a very different light on what Sherman thought.

      “I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here.
      Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!”

      Does that sound like a man who gloried in the hellishness of war? Or does that sound like a man who hated war and hoped to never see war again? Sherman did what he thought had to be done to end the bloodiest war on the North American continent and the war in which more Americans died than any other. And Truman did what he thought had to be done to end the bloodiest war in world history.

      Does Mr. Shea really believe that they gloried in what they concluded was the proper course of action? Can he not recognize that sometimes the real world doesn’t fit well into prescribed formulas? Would St. Thomas really be that wooden in his thinking? I’m not so sure.

      • chezami

        Again. Please document for me one single place I ever criticized priests who faced down the SS. Just one.

        • Guest

          I addressed this on your Facebook site.

          I don’t begrudge you your opinion, I do begrudge your accusing those with whom you disagree as being “pewsitters”, when, in fact, while you and I sit in our chairs 68 years later, it was my then 19-year-old father whose life was at stake had Japan not surrendered. Those of us who respectfully disagree with you are no more (nor less) pewsitters than you are, sir. We all are armchair presidents and generals in this discussion, you no less than me.

          The sad point is that I agree with most of what you write, including much of what you have written against G.W. Bush and unrestrained capitalist excesses, but on the assertions made here and on your posts about lying NEVER being justified, I must respectfully demure, not only as to your position (which, again, I don’t begrudge you), but with the pontifical assurance with which you state your certainty which can suffer no disagreement, as demonstrated by the pejorative use of the term “pewsitter”.

          • Stu

            Mark is referring to a website called “Pewsitter” which is like Drudge Report in presentation. His stated point is to make sure you know that this website does not speak for the Church in choosing which links to present.

            Since you apparently are not familiar with the site in question, you might want to now go look for yourself to see how scandalous it is. But you have been warned.

            • James Kohn

              at this is fair, Pewsitter does not speak for the Church, but then again neither does Mr. Shea for that matter. Whether or not the action taken can be justified isnt a matter of Catholic dogma. There is room to talk about it, just as whether or not the American revolution was a just war

              • chezami

                Pewsitter does indeed speak for the Church, as do all Catholics. And it endorses shameful lies and encourages its readers to view themselves as a beseiged minority of Truly Faithful Catholics in a sea of CINOs. So their lies are particularly poisonous.

                • Stu

                  You give that website far too much credit. Most Catholics haven’t even heard of it Heck, the overwhelming majority of Catholics don’t know much about the Catholic blogosphere in general.

                  I think your bringing up the greater issue is awesome and it does need to be revisited. But doing so in the context of an online Hatfield/McCoy tribalistic feud does nothing but muddy the waters and cause more barriers to go up.

                  • James Kohn

                    that I would agree to

                • James Kohn

                  “Pewsitter does indeed speak for the Church, as do all Catholics.”
                  – Since when did Pewsitter obtain authority to speak for the church on anything? Its a news site, you dont like the stories then dont read them. Dont like whats there what is that to you? All Catholics do not speak for the Church, this smells of protestantism, hopefully you mean in a colloquial sense. I as a Catholic have zero authority to declare anything, and must observe the teachings of Holy Mother Church as given, not declaring things that are not authoritative to be so.
                  “And it endorses shameful lies and encourages its readers to view themselves as a beseiged minority of Truly Faithful Catholics in a sea of CINOs.”
                  – “Shameful lies? like? I do believe you are bearing false witness here. I would agree that they give you plenty of rope to hang yourself with endorsing your own work here on their site for all to see. Second any Catholic out there that doesn’t wear rose colored glasses knows the Church is in trouble right now because of a catecatical nightmare and the madness that ensued following the council (notice I didnt say because of it, though Cardinal Kasper would be forthcoming on this point). It is a true statement that there is a small remnant of Catholics that remain faithful. You can play the numbers game if you wish and say there are a billion, but how many go to mass, how many profess to hold all the doctrines of the faith. I would assume you yourself hold all of these, but where we part is that you create dogma out of thin air arguing the matter of whether or not it was just to drop an atomic bomb on the two cities is settled. Catholics can disagree on the matter because its not settled. What happened happened, and no one wants to ever see it happen again, but lets not pretend its a matter of faith, and thats what the link from Pewsitter was getting at.
                  “So their lies are particularly poisonous.”

                  – So is character, or in this case site assassination

                  • chezami


                  • ivan_the_mad

                    ” I would assume you yourself hold all of these, but where we part is that you create dogma out of thin air arguing the matter of whether or not it was just to drop an atomic bomb on the two cities is settled.”

                    You lament the “catecatical [sic] nightmare” but are ignorant of the Catechism, even though the relevant article, 2314, is quoted at the top of this page. In case you forget, the Catechism has a nihil obstat – the Church certifies that it is free of moral and doctrinal error. The matter is settled. Dropping the bomb on a city is always wrong.

                    Perhaps you should spend less time spewing forth ignorance in a combox and more time correcting the “catecatical [sic] nightmare” evidenced in yourself.

                    • James Kohn

                      because you claim im ignorant of the matter i will delve into the statement: “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” If we take this literally nearly all bombing and warefare from WWI on would in fact violate this because you have urban warfare which often doesnt discriminate. I dont think anyone here or in the article is justifying it being a good thing that it happened. Second we are talking about a specific situation that shouldnt be approached by generalizations. My guess is that you live in the US and would support its soverienty yet was the revolution a just war? Its the same thing here its not a black and white situation, bombs of any kind create a degree of indifference because of the indirect casulaties as compared to the casualties it was directed at. Therefore it is not settled. The catecism provide ground work that should be taken into account and frankly I agree that it should not have been dropped for similar reason you defend it by, but to create a dogma out of the use of atomic weapons in any theatre of war over steps what the catechism puts forth. Third, perhaps if you were a little more competant in the matter of nihil obstats and imprimaturs you would know that such things dont guarentee with divine faith anything. In fact both can be withdrawn on further notice. Another dogma you want to make up?

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      What a risible mess. I’ll not deign to treat further with you.

                    • James Kohn

                      very well, God bless you 0-{]:-D

                    • Stu

                      James, the difference is in targeting. Targeting a valid military target that results in civilian casualties is not immoral. Civilians, in of themselves, are not valid military targets and therefore cannot be directly attacked.

                    • James Kohn

                      and there in lies the question, the Japanese placed key targets right in cities to create problems for anyone with morals. You see I dont disagree that it was wrong to make or drop the bomb to begin with, I just think we need to calm down a little proposing that its a de fide matter thats all. We are creating divisions among orthodox Catholics where such things dont really rise to such a level of importance.

                    • James Kohn

                      So too here is another thing to chew on in the matter, besides correcting the “catecatical [sic] nightmare” evidenced in myself. Have we forgotten that the Japanese were prepared to go to the last man to defend the island? Such things need to be taken into account, for this would blur the line of civilian/military. Of course children not of age for warfare would still be an issue that would create problems for justification. But knowing that you are the final authority on interpreting the catechism I would surely like to hear you take 😛

                • Nate Winchester

                  If all Catholics speak for the church, one would think you’d watch your tongue more, Mr Shea.

      • Dan Li

        One of the interesting things about the Natural Law Theory St. Thomas supported in his moral theory is that, yes, in fact you can plug something into the “equation” and come up with an objective judgement of whether an act is good or evil. If you deliberately interfere with the teleological end of another human being… you commit sin. I do not know what side he’d come out on, but it’s likely that the civilian deaths would likely lead him to dismiss the act outright.

  • Stu
  • Pavel Chichikov

    War is an evil, even war justified. Evil things happen, and once war is entered into, evil is inevitable. Soldiers kill people, one way or another, and often people they have nothing against personally.

    Many people had died and more were going to die, Hiroshima or no Hiroshima.


    This is the day of

    The bomb still

    The shadow growing

    Rising to meet

    At a thousand yards

    Another bomb becomes
    a pillar

    Each through time

    A reproductive

    Printed seal

    Pressed on a page

    That prints again

    Will never wear

    What shall we do

    With wandering

    Their hands hang
    down like moistened gloves

    God’s memory

    Will never end

    And we return

    Over and over

    The spreading shadow

    On the dome at the


    Who can wake from

    Where is God?

    Listen then

    Without His pity

    We sleep forever

    Only God

    Who is the dawn

    Can wake the sleeper


    6, 2013

    • HornOrSilk

      War is evil and evil happens in war, even in just war. However, that does not mean “So we can just do any evil we want.” That is the lie of Satan.

      • Stu

        I don’t believe he implied that.

        • HornOrSilk

          He most certainly did. The “war is hell” argument is a common argument to justify war crimes. And he gave it.

          • Stu

            So war isn’t “hell”?

            Have you been in combat?

            • HornOrSilk

              War is hell. It’s why it should be avoided. But once it is required for a just war reason, the just war requirements remain in effect. That is the point. Just because it is hell doesn’t mean we are now free to follow the devil.

              • Stu

                Again, no one implied that.

                • HornOrSilk

                  Yes, he did. Especially when you look at his other comment, which says we can’t have objective standards to judge actions.

                  • Stu

                    He said nothing of the such.

                    I think you confuse “explanations” with “excuses.” Not the same.

      • Pavel Chichikov

        I didn’t say that. You did.

        I’ve sat up in bed, yelling, from a sleep, in my own home, because I had dreamed I was still there.

        • HornOrSilk

          You are giving every kind of justification for evil. Just look at your OTHER post. It’s the same kind of response people give for abortion. “How can you condemn the woman, you weren’t there.”

      • Guest

        Have you ever had to make a gut-wrenching decision in your life, one in which lives were at stake no matter what you decided?

  • Pavel Chichikov

    Officers carry sidearms for a reason.

    Someone who was an officer on a patrol boat during Vietnam and was in charge of a gun told me that a large group of Vietnamese civilians was seen proceeding along the shore.

    The Marine colonel standing behind him said: Take those people under fire.

    But sir, those are civilians.

    I said, take them under fire, said the colonel.

    He was a Marine Colonel, said Joe, and I had to do what he said, and I saw those bodies flying up into the air.

    Nightmares and bitterness after, that went on and on. Extreme mental pain. What could he do? What would you have done? Can you say, if you weren’t there?

    • HornOrSilk

      Nice to see situation ethics and “you can’t condemn evil acts, you weren’t there” comments.

      • Pavel Chichikov

        You’re arguing with yourself.

        I agree with the retired special forces Colonel, who had a distinguished combat record going back decades, who told me: Anyone who starts a war ought to be put on trial.

  • Pavel Chichikov

    You have the option of conscientious objection. The moment you participate in a war you are involved in an evil, even a just war. War is a matter of kill or be killed. If you don’t like it, don’t be part of it.

    • Stu

      Here we part ways. Taking part in a just war does not make you involved in evil.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Argh. It’s intrinsically wrong, so I don’t even see the point in arguing about whether or not the alternatives were feasible, since, as has been repeated much more than I should think necessary, we may not do evil that good may come of it. But I am a conservative, and I agree with Kirk, writing of these terrible things done to civilians in 1945: “There are circumstances under which it is not only more honorable to lose than to win, but quite truly less harmful, in the ultimate providence of God.”

    He writes further: “And now a few words concerning power among the nations. It is ours already; and we have done with it what men always have done with pure power: we have employed it abominably. I do not say that the Nazis or
    the Japanese militarists would have employed it to better advantage, or that the Communists would use it mercifully; on the contrary, I am certain that, to the best of their ability, they would have striven to accomplish still greater mischief. But that does not excuse us. The learning of physical science, and the perfection of technology, instead of being put to the improvement of Reason, have been applied by modern man to achieve mastery over nature and humanity; and that mastery has been brutal. We Americans happened to be first in the race for the acquisition of the tools of mass slaughter, and we used those tools as the Roman used his sword and his catapult against Carthage.”

    A Program for Conservatives, 1954

    • entonces_99

      Why does Kirk hate America?

      • ivan_the_mad

        Because he’s smelly librul.

    • Stu

      That’s exactly what people should stick to in discussing this. The debate on whether it would save lives is not only a false calculus but it’s based upon subjective opinion at the time. Whether or not Japan was ready to capitulate is an uncertainty as there are too many factors to consider. But factors that don’t need to be considered when discussing this issue.

      However, I would not have taken issue with the Bomb being used on a Japanese Flotilla out at sea as a demonstration of force. Though such a “flotilla” would have been hard to muster up at that point.

      • HornOrSilk

        As I have said, the issue that Japan was ready to surrender before just ADDS to the shame. It means the justification used for the crime against humanity was also false. Indeed, people say “but they wouldn’t have unconditional surrender!” But again, even that is not justification, for just war does not know unconditional surrender as a requirement.

        The objective reality is: the nuke is evil. The fact that the attempted justification for it is a lie only adds to the cries which call out to God.

        • Stu

          There is no consensus that Japan was ready to surrender. And there certainly wasn’t at the time. That’s an opinion that was further wrapped up in the fog of war. It’s a foolish thing to debate.

  • im4truth4all

    Since when is saving lives wrong – as Hillaire Belloc one stated “It is a nice question whether stupidity or ignorance play the greater role in human affairs.”.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Sigh. Since when is saving lives wrong?

      When you commit intrinsic evil to do it. That’s not a new theology.

  • Beefy Levinson

    “The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was wrong.”
    “What would you have had Truman do instead?”

    That’s an interesting question but it has no bearing whatsoever on the statement to which it is a putative response. It is never permissible to do evil that good may come of it, not ever. The consequences of not doing something intrinsically evil must always be accepted, no exceptions. Refusing to do evil can, no doubt, make one feel like one’s hands are tied. Or maybe nailed to a tree.

    • Maggie Sullivan

      Then beefy America would have to just give up and turn the country over to Japan and the Nazis……..because any defense would result in at lest some innocent peope being killed.

      Defending your country in NOT intrinsically evil…….droping the bomb ended the war and save thousands of lives.

      • Stu

        The “saved thousands of lives” is speculation.

        • Maggie Sullivan

          Yes, it is speculation based one the best possible information the people had who made the decision to use the bomb.

          • Stu

            But still speculation. It’s not definitive. And while I agree that it was the best possible thought at that time and people used that information in good faith, ultimately such calculus is faulty.

            Directly targeting civilians is always wrong. Always. The outcome doesn’t matter.

            • Maggie Sullivan

              Good point about targeting civilians. Were either of the two cities industrial or military center?
              Could the U.S. have droped the bomb in a less polulated region to show the power of the bomb then demand surrender?

              • Dave G.

                First, cities weren’t civilian or military or industrial. They were all. We can’t forget that entire nations mobilized for war. Which is why it is so tough finding a good 1943 Ford. In addition, key targets were often placed in civilian centers in order to diminish the chances of being hit. The basic belief of the Axis powers was that the Western Democracies didn’t have the stomach for sustained warfare. Many strategies were based on that assumption. That assumption turned out to be right, but ended up with different consequences than planners imagined. Also, it doesn’t matter. Wrong is wrong, right is right.

                As for the oft mentioned idea that we could have just bombed some strip of land? The fact, and not really a disputed fact, is that the military command wasn’t even going to surrender after Nagasaki. Only when Hirohito intervened after the second bomb did they realize they were lost, because the emperor was the emperor. But if it took the wholesale mass slaughter of tens of thousands in two cities twice to even cause the gridlock to be broken, it’s unlikely that bombing a faraway desolate strip would have made an impression.

              • GodsGadfly

                They were actually secondary targets. Nagasaki had been the base of Catholicism in Japan since the 1500s. St. Maximilian Kolbe served there for many years.
                As I recall, a Catholic church was one of the few buildings to survive, which makes another parallel to Sherman’s tactics that the original columnist references: a Catholic church in Atlanta, now the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, was the only buliding to survive the burning of Atlanta. When a wing of Sherman’s troops came through Sumter, SC (not to be confused with “Ft. Sumter”, a group of nuns–who had fled to Sumter from Charleston to begin with–met the troops in the street and begged them to spare the town, and they complied.

          • GodsGadfly

            That’s what supporters of abortion also argue.

            • Maggie Sullivan

              I don’t understand what you mean?
              ALL and we know it is ALL the information we have on the life of a person in the womb prove beyond any doubt a person in the womb is fully human.
              The pro-aborts just say it’s OK to kill.

      • Andy, Bad Person

        We need some definitions here. “Offense” is not the same thing as “defense.” In no sane world is bombing the shit out of another country the same thing as “defending your country.”

  • “festivities”? Isn’t that a bit far? I don’t know anybody who celebrates this event with a festival. Memorial yes, festival no.

  • Harry

    BTW, in case there’s any doubt that Pewsitter are merely linking to an opinion piece on the bombings, they’ve also linked to this defense of it by a Catholic priest –

    It does a bang-up job of presenting an air-tight consequentialist case for the bombings. Also, the same priest wrote an article defending Truman’s actions as the “least evil option” –

    The man is obviously intelligent and dedicated, which is why it’s so disturbing to see him argue that sometimes following the “least evil” option is the right thing to do. From this I think it’s clear that consequentialism is not just a minor problem, nor is Mark overreacting to the support of it from otherwise sound Catholics.

    • Stu

      They have also linked to Mark Shea’s criticism.

      You (and Mark) are missing the obvious here. Web traffic is a business. More hits=more$. Pewsitter is a news aggregator and gets people coming back by posting provocative stuff. Anyone else use that business model?

  • Maggie Sullivan
    • Stu

      “It’s difficult to estimate the millions of lives those bombs saved…”

      Yup. It’s actually not possible. Alternate histories are like that. Too many variables.

  • Vicq Ruiz

    A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons – to commit such crimes.

    Was this guidance available to Harry Truman in August 1945?

    • chezami

      You shall not murder was available in1945 and his generals were aware of it. Excuses. Excuses.

  • Vicq Ruiz

    Not only in 1945, but all through the cold war years following, and probably even today, America has had nuclear weapons on board missiles pre-targeted against civilian population centers of our nuclear adversaries.

    The fact that the catechism contains a passage condemning this weighs lightly on one side of the scales. The fact that the Church has never, to my knowledge, withheld communion or absolution to one single person who directed or participated in this activity, weighs rather more heavily on the other side.

    Ditto for abortion and torture. Why does the Church not publicly cast out every single individual who knowingly and unrepentantly persists in advocacy and support of these crimes??

    Talk is, as they say, cheap. But if you want to avoid open confrontation with the secular power, it’s usually all you can afford.

  • Guest

    A consequentialist view of the end of WWII in the Pacific can be seen here:

    I really doubt that politics was the primary motivation for their celebration. The fact that their fathers and mothers wouldn’t be burying them, however, may have been.

    Maybe Truman was wrong or maybe he was right, but it is simplistic and legalistic to condemn his acts out of hand. He had a duty to young men conscripted to serve, many of them still in their teens, and to their families, to preserve their lives. He had a duty to POWs and civilian internees being held by the Japanese in horrific conditions. He had a duty to the subjugated people of Asia, including in South Korea, where this date is still celebrated as liberation day. And he even had a duty to the many innocent Japanese who would have died had a conventional war dragged on for months or years longer. He didn’t have the luxury of being an armchair theologian.

    I really have very little use for anyone who condemns as a war criminal the man who brought about V-J Day, exactly 68 years ago today. My view on that has nothing to do with the politics of 2013; it has everything to do with the lives he saved in 1945. I doubt very many folks celebrate the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but everyone should celebrate the surrender which followed and ended the bloodiest war in human history.

    Question his decision if you wish, but labeling Truman a war criminal is beneath contempt.