Obama, Hiroshima, and the Politics of War Crimes

05/21/20168 Comments

When it comes to American war crimes, there are no shortage of examples to choose from. For every well-known My Lai massacre there are a thousand lesser-known No Gun Ri massacres. For every Abu Ghraib that enters the lexicon there’s a thousand Azizabads that barely made the news. For every Wounded Knee there’s a thousand Camp Sumters.

There are always reasons. “They did it first.” “They started it.” “They deserved it.” But the reasons are always just excuses. A war crime is a war crime is a war crime.

And then there’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Or should that be Fat Man and Little Boy? It has long been impossible to discuss the reality of these bombings, if it ever really were possible. It’s not just that the US government censored newspapers, silenced individuals and covered up medical reports to keep the public from learning the full truth about what happened in August of 1945; that much is understandable. It’s that when the Smithsonian tried to put those bombings in their context fifty years later there was such a public backlash against the idea that the museum officials scrapped the exhibit, saying they “made a basic error.” The public couldn’t handle the truth.

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  1. WAYNED says:

    It’s that when the Smithsonian tried to put those bombings in their context fifty years later there was such a public backlash against the idea that the museum scrapped the exhibit, saying they “made a basic error.”

    This is ignoring a very strong possibility that we are being fed the line that we don’t want to know. I know of no public debate, this is kept out of the public, so this was not the “public” saying “don’t look closer”, this was the means to achieve the end of keeping things under wraps.

    I believe the media and mouthpieces are essential to play this role and we must attempt to fully understand it.

  2. spoonful says:

    I did not learn in high school that that “the bombings were indisputably essential to ending the war in the Pacific and saved the death of 500 gorillion Allied soldiers.” I had to pay good money and go to college to learn that . . . as well as that funny one by the renowned Professor Robert Dallek about what a great President Lyndon Johnson was.

  3. rltmlt says:

    Too easy to blame the military for these ongoing conflicts, lest we forget, two hundred and forty years ago we decided to ratify a civilian run government with an all volunteer military totally reliant on taxpayer funding ! With the exception of George Bush Senior twenty four years ago, we haven’t had a president who served in the military during wartime since Ike Eisenhower and John Kennedy. Forty three years since the end of the military draft in this country and our current all volunteer military is comprised of those citizens who almost exclusively come from the lowest economic class and private contractors that are living the high life on the tax payer’s dime. You want to end war, stop electing civilian supporters of this barbaric activity to serve in Washington !
    As a side note, this ongoing Liberal inspired attack on Lyndon Johnson for his support of the Vietnam War is a travesty, I don’t doubt that any of these gutless wonders would have made the same decision to continue the march toward war if their predecessor had been shot dead in the street for attempting to end the questionable role of the CIA and bring an end to the march to war in Southeast Asia. Johnson had good reason to fear for his life to the point of abandoning his second run for president and his long time government service in 1968 !

    • spoonful says:

      The attack on Lyndon Johnson was because of his well accepted involvement with the shots that killed the President. Johnson didn’t fear for his life after Kennedy was shot. He knew where the shots came from, and he knew they would not be aimed at him.

    • VoltaicDude says:

      That’s a funny way of looking at it – I never thought to see it in that light – considering what happened to JFK, wouldn’t Johnson fear for his life if he pursued an end to the military invasion of Vietnam?

      I suppose that would be in order, but in putting it that way – as an excuse for Johnson’s actions – that obfuscates the fact that Johnson was complicit with the assassination of JFK! What kind of an excuse can rest on that fact? Bush Sr. by the way, was much more central to the assassination:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1Qt6a-vaNM
      (1:16:00 to 1:17:04; and 2:40:00 to 2:42:20)

      Bill Moyers once aired tape of Johnson talking on the phone in the oval office about how he had been speaking with a “New York banker” about how the Vietnamese deserved the same chances we (the U.S.A.) had to live in a democracy and to be free. This is of course tragically humorous as the U.S.A. had taken over the brutal colonialist role that France had given up in Vietnam. It’s an example of how deeply one can lie to oneself in order to excuse atrocities.

      But Johnson in D.C., amongst the nation’s establishment, was relatively speaking, not the same top-notch honcho he was in Texas, where he had ruled high.

      But to get back to the point – yes, the military-industrial complex is a racket – a money racket – a racket run by our richest elitist civilians, and they get the lion’s share of the money from that racket.

      And remember, at least 57% of the U.S. budget (tax payer money – and the “big guys” generally get to evade paying taxes), is allocated to the military industrial complex!

      “War itself is a crime.”

  4. Mishelle says:

    “War itself is a crime.” I knew this as a child! Yet the older I get the more the folks around me and in power excuse and justify and fabricate to try to make us lose site of this fact. Once I saw the Left surrender its illusions of peace to “the system” I realized no party will ever be able to hold out against the temptations of that level of power over populations, Libertarians included. Unfortunately, it is the people of the US who will pay the most dearly for these lies and crimes of our government, in the near and well into the future, as well as all the countries with the furthest to fall. We can only brace ourselves and fight against these follies of grandeur, greed and self-righteousness.

  5. Joe Plummer says:

    Excellent article, James. Regarding the atomic bomb, Quigley offers the following:

    Tragedy and Hope, page 862
    “Some people, like General Groves, wanted it to be used to justify the $2 billion they had spent. A large group sided with him because the Democratic leaders in Congress had authorized these expenditures outside proper congressional procedures and had cooperated in keeping them from almost all members of both houses by concealing them under misleading appropriation headings. Majority Leader John W. McCormack (later Speaker) once told me, half joking, that if the bomb had not worked he expected to face penal charges….Jack Madigan said: ‘If the project succeeds, there won’t be any investigation. If it doesn’t, they won’t investigate anything else.’ Moreover, some air-force officers were eager to protect the relative position of their service in the postwar demobilization and drastic reduction of financial appropriations by using a successful A-bomb drop as an argument that Japan had been defeated by air power rather than by naval or ground forces.

    “…Director of Military Intelligence for the Pacific Theater of War Alfred McCormack, who was probably in as good position as anyone for judging the situation, felt that the Japanese surrender could have been obtained in a few weeks by blockade alone: ‘The Japanese had no longer enough food in stock, and their fuel reserves were practically exhausted. We had begun a secret process of mining all their harbors, which was steadily isolating them from the rest of the world. If we had brought this project to its logical conclusion, the destruction of Japan’s cities with incendiary and other bombs would have been quite unnecessary. But General Norstad declared at Washington that this blockading action was a cowardly proceeding unworthy of the Air Force. It was therefore discontinued.’”

    So, in case anyone missed that last point: Winning the war without causing unnecessary civilian suffering, that’s cowardly. However, incinerating hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, and causing unimaginable suffering among hundreds of thousands more; that’s the “brave” thing to do.

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