"Libertarians and even many non-libertarians believe that individuals have rights that are separate from the actions and crimes of their governments."
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
The Moral Hazard of Hiroshima & Nagasaki
"Government is force, and politics is the process of deciding who gets to use it on whom. This is not the best way to solve problems." – Richard Grant
Every year at this time the world recognizes the horror of the nuclear destruction of the inhabited cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Time will not heal this wound. As time wears on the political costs of burning 140,000 non-combatants will continue to pile up - irrespective of the fact that 140,000 people are killed every 44 months or so on U.S. highways in car accidents, or per month smoking cigarettes. The only reason more people were not killed had to do with population density - it could have easily been millions.
The justification is ALWAYS the same:
"By nuking these cities LIVES were saved. American lives." (Of course, if my son were on a ship about to invade a place like imperial Japan I might be willing to nuke a hundred cities to bring him home alive... but we are speaking objectively here). It then follows that any nation-state - China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Japan, Israel... - may use nuclear weapons to murder countless non-combatants by detonating a nuclear device over a city IF it will force the hand of the opposing government to the desired policy - especially if it will save the lives of the nuclear initiating nation-state's military personnel. Do I have that reasoning right?
Think about that for a minute. That means that Israel is justified in nuking Tehran at any moment, doesn't it? China can nuke Taiwan. Russia can nuke Washington, D.C., New York, and L.A. I mean, come on... how close did the Soviet Union and the U.S. come to blowing each other up during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Am I the only person to connect this incident with Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Do you really think the Russians didn't look over at the smoldering ruins of Hiroshima when dealing with their counterparts in the U.S.? You really don't think that that made them much more likely to launch a first strike in a dispute like that? REALLY??!!
Truman left the U.S. in the cross hairs for a subsequent nuclear strike by claiming the use of these weapons against cities was a legitimate tactic to gain a desired policy response. A threat we shall live under forever more. Harry Truman as Tony Soprano.
Truman should have been hanged as a war criminal (just making a point; I reject the death penalty) here in the U.S. By not doing so, and showing the rest of the world that international murderers will not be tolerated, the U.S. has left itself permanently at risk for nuclear attack. Did Truman really save American lives? Tim will tell.
Oh, there were other justifications:
"The Japanese would never have surrendered. They thought their emperor was G-d for pity's sake!!" You mean to tell me that the Shinto Japanese believe a mortal man is the living G-d? And Christian's don't? (On another note... I am pretty sure that if Jesus of Nazareth was on hand, he would take a very, very dim view of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.) Oh, and by the way.... over 1/3 of the Japanese population is Buddhist... and they do not believe the emperor was a god, nor were they persecuted for this by emperor or his minions.... in fact, the Japanese marry across this religious line with great ease.
"The Japanese had it coming. They pilloried China and Korea for years... and bombed Pearl Harbor. They murdered prisoners of war. They were a warlike culture and needed to be pacified." All true, and the perpetrators should have been punished. What does that have to do with a 3 year old girl and a five year old boy playing in front of their house in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945?
Regular commentator "Publius" had this to say in my second post on this subject:
Let us use a recent incident... The U.S. government does something horrible (horrible is in the eye of the beholder) to a family, village, ethnic group, country... you get the idea. That group then flies 747's into the Trade Towers on 9/11 in retaliation, murdering nearly 3,000 people.
We were outraged - and rightfully so! The victims of 9/11 had nothing to do with policies implemented by the U.S. government. In fact, nearly half of them might have voted against the proponents of any particular policy that motivated the attackers. These were innocent, non-combatants, murdered while going about their business and trying to provide for their families... as were the young mothers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
If you see a difference, read my forthcoming book.
I will be posting chapter 2 of my book here on the AEC Blog this week.