Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

America’s Most Controversial Decision Was Right

When I graduated from Washington University/St. Louis many years ago, the Commencement speaker was General George Marshall, a man who was then much admired. That was before we knew about the George Marshall plan for winning World War II. It was to land our troops on Japan's beaches where they would fight the Japanese island by island. That invasion would have been a slaughter because the Japanese were prepared to defend their homeland with kamikaze planes and 2 million troops, all sworn to fight to the death.

Today is the 65th anniversary of our dropping the first atom bomb on Hiroshima, and every August, the debate erupts again about whether President Harry Truman was right or wrong to order that attack. We now know that Truman's decision saved the lives of tens of thousands of young Americans who would have died in full-assault on Japan. Dropping the atom bomb meant those fine young American men could come home, grow up to live normal lives, and marry and raise families, instead of dying a tortured death 5,000 miles away.

As sanctimonious people sound off on the anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, we challenge them to stop condemning Truman until they can specify another course of action that would have ended the war with fewer casualties. It's practically impossible to do that. At the time, Americans wondered why the bomb wasn't dropped earlier to avoid the thousands of battle deaths we suffered that spring on Okinawa. Japan's chief cabinet secretary in 1945, said later: "The atomic bomb was a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war." In war there are usually no good alternatives, and leaders must select between a very bad decision and an even worse choice. Any other scenario would have caused more fatalities than the Hiroshima bomb.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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