Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Pandora's Box

For anyone who has ever heard of Gar Alperovitz, author of 'The Decision to Use the Bomb,' Tony Norman's article about the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki in today's PG probably looks familiar. Cruel men, whose ambitions clouded their judgement, opened pandora's box, declares Norman from his judgement throne at the PG. Alperovitz, in some 850 pages of text, lays out a very similar, equally specious argument regarding the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. "The Decision to Use the Bomb," has become a favorite of anti-nuclear advocates and historic revisionists worldwide. It contends that the US used the bomb to ward off the Soviets, paying no heed to the human cost or future-altering effect. Alonzo Hamby, no-name historian from U Ohio, argues against Alperovitz point for point that we should judge the use of the bomb in contexts of its times. He argues it was moral, popular, and the right thing to do.

I'm a bit more Machivellian. I think that Alperovitz's assertion that the Soviets were going to overrun Manchuria (and eventually Europe) is true; however, unlike Alperovitz, I believe it is a substantive enough reason to threaten them vis a vis Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Those who believe statecraft is the pervue of the moral need to reflect on what moral means in the last days of the deadliest decade since the black plague. By 1945, there was no such thing as moral... there was only necessity.

Unfortunately, people use a similar logic to justify Gitmo. "We need this to win the war on terror," the assertion goes. Not really... we're firmly in the driver's seat, and really don't need to sully our 'moral' reputation by blatantly sidestepping international law designed to protect OUR troops. But in 1945, there were two equal powers vying for first place in a chaotic world: one a Democracy and one a bloodied Dictatorship. Alperovitz and Norman, like it or not, owe much to unparelled human cruelty and evil. Then again, thus is the course of history.

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