Thursday, August 6, 2009

Remembering Hiroshima Rightly

One of the hottest historical debates surrounding the nuclear issue is Hiroshima (and subsequently, Nagasaki). It was here in August 1945 that the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese people and effectively ended World War II in the Pacific theater. Over 200,000 lives were lost and millions more were effected. Some historians argue that dropping the bomb was necessary to save the many more human lives--specifically, American lives--that would have been lost. Others argue that it was not necessary, and that dropping a weapon of mass destruction on innocent civilians is immoral.

Providing an interesting perspective on this issue is Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, a good friend of mine with the Two Futures Project. Today, he has published a guest column with Christianity Today online entitled, "Remembering Hiroshima Rightly." I encourage you to read it and leave comments here if you would like to share your opinion.


Luke Hudson said...

It would be a wonderful world if nuclear weapons could be abolished.

Who's going to do it first?

The problem is that there is no way to ensure that all nations who have nuclear weapons would disarm. The world is not a place of honorable people. Leaders and nations lie routinely. Radical nations such as Iran and North Korea totally ignore international agreements and will never disarm on their own.

The first country to disarm, will be seriously jeopardizing its national security. It's definitely not a WWII world. It's much more dangerous. That's exactly why the US should not reduce its nuclear arsenal and why any country with strong and thoughtful leadership wouldn't consider it.

One only need compare the Carter years with the Reagan years to realize the difference in a weak national defense and a strong one.

Try it this way: if you're a robber and you meet two guys on the street - both have a pocketful of money but one is 6'5", 300 lbs and the other is 5'2" and 110 lbs - which one are you going after?

Tyler said...

Thanks for sharing my article, JM. I would reinforce to your readers that the CT piece isn't itself trying to make the case for multilateral disarmament -- it's just saying that even if you think Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought a swift end to WWII, they don't give us reasons not to disarm today.

Luke, your questions are understandable, but I assure you that the two-thirds of former secretaries of state, defense, and national security advisors who support the abolition of nuclear weapons -- including Shultz, who advocates the Reaganesque defense you laud -- have thought of them, too. Nuclear weapon abolition isn't a weak defense -- it's the only one that will work. And nobody's talking about anyone going first. It's all together or nothing.

If you're willing to give 18 minutes to learn why people are making this counterintuitive assertion, I argue the case at

Luke Hudson said...

Tyler, thanks for your comments. I'll try to make time to watch your video later today.

What sane person wouldn't support the abolition of nuclear weapons? But I think you've passed over my point about honorable negotiations.

Imagine that some agreement does take place and every nation in the world says, "OK no more nukes". How easy would it be for countries like an Iraq or a North Korea to hide a few hundred or even a few dozen nukes in their countries? There is no way to verify compliance with an agreement like this.

So everyone disarms, but a nut like Kim Jong Il says, "oh yeah, we just found some nuclear missiles that we forgot to mention" Can you imagine the seismic change in the balance of power?

Mutually Assured Destruction has worked well over the years. MAD has kept the balance of power. It's definitely not the ideal solution. But, considering human nature, how else will we avoid nuclear war?

Anonymous said...

First of all, JM...not that it matters or makes any difference...but it was an atomic bomb...not nuclear.

While it is true - dropping a weapon of mass destruction on innocent civilians is immoral....I just find it meaningless and for anyone to argue if the actions were happened, and the damage is done - regardless if it was necessary or not makes no difference.

I guess, in my opinion - if it was necessary or not (at the time) makes no difference becuase we as America need to stand up and live up to the decision...even if we disagree with it. I will not support it - but I will do what I am able to make amends.

If our current government decides to do something as such - I will disagree - but it will not change my prayerful support....

(not sure if that makes sense - I find my views don't make sense to a lot of people on both sides of the "arguments")

Jonathan Merritt said...


I need you to check on your first point. My understanding is that a "nuclear" bomb is a bomb that derives its force from a nuclear reaction. There are all kinds of nuclear weapons, which would include both of the bombs used in WWII--"Little Boy" and "Fat Man."

Your second paragraph is the idea addressed by Tyler's article in CT. The rest of your comment is addressed in his Q talk. Check it out and let me know what you think.


Anonymous said...

I will check out Tyler's article and get back to you sometime...I try to avoid CT magazine as much as possible. ;) But for you - I'll check it out this one time.

Regarding the are correct (semantically). Atomic and Nuclear bombs are basically synonymous....However, there are two types — those that depend on fission, like atomic bombs, and those that depend on fusion, the hydrogen bomb.

In a fission bomb, the explosive energy is derived from the splitting of atoms (uranium or plutonium), which takes place automatically.

Hydrogen bombs, AKA thermonuclear bombs, depend upon the fusing together of atoms, like the sun, to release much vaster quantities of energy than atomic bombs. The fusing requires very high temperatures, therefore atomic bombs are generally used as triggers for hydrogen bombs.

Essentially, every atomic bomb is a nuclear bomb, but every nuclear bomb is not an atomic bomb.

Again - however, not that it matters. ;)

Anonymous said...

I like that he says we'd do well to let our historical disagreements stay historical.

But, I do question his statement in regard to the debate at the beginning of that paragraph stating that it is a debate that historians can and should continue. Why? Why should they? To what benefit is it to anyone?

Bill Beahan said...

Tylr's article represents an idealistic and extremely naive view that young chritians often hold. they assume that the people they know are representative of people world wide and view the world through the lens of the American Christian culture. Japan in WWII had a culture they these kids can not understand. The Japanese were ready to fight to the last person both military AND civilian as they already had on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The bombing reduced Japanese deaths by hundreds of thousands if not millions. There is no doubt among serious, honest historians that the bombings forced the Japanese to surrender because it showed them that the allies could win without an invasion. Tyler needs to grow up and learn some serious history.

As for today, just realize that China has 4 times the population as we do, 10 times the number of troops we do, and are Communist. Some put a pretty face on it but they still hevily persecute Chritians and have tens of millins in slave labor camps. The only thing that keeps them at bay are nuclear weapons. France has nukes, Great Britain has nukes and India has nukes. These are all democracies about which I have never lost a second of sleep concerning their nukes. Pakstan, iran, north Korea, RedChina on the other hand are a serious problem. Wehn you get to my age which is just a few months younger than your Dad and have children and grandchildren you think a lot more about the future and have had a chance to learn a lot more. I admire your wanting to make everything write but just like Jesus sayig the poor will always be with us, evil will be in the world until Jesus returns and we must be wise as serpents. In Christ, Bill

Anonymous said...

Good Word Bill...Nicely put.

China - interesting....we just had a team back from China. China inhabits about 25% of the worlds population...and some estimates suggest that there are approximately 30,000 people coming to know Christ every day in the underground church in China.

We had a Chinese diplomat speak at our church (he could not be named for security reasons)...but he is in the Chinese communist government and is a Born-Again believer in Christ. He thought that he would have to step down from his position after becoming a believer, but they (his superiors) told him no - becuase "you're one of the best men we have"....

Christ is doing a work in China - I wish I had more space to write...