By Scott Tibbs, August 10, 2005
Victor Davis Hanson has a very good column at National Review on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb. We have this debate every year, but it is more prominent this year because it is the 60th anniversary.
There's no doubt that the bombing of Hiroshima was a horrific event. But as Hanson points out, the bombing probably resulted in fewer dead (on the Japanese side alone, not counting American and Allied casualties) than an invasion of the Japanese mainland would have. If we had not used a nuke, we would likely be second guessing ourselves as we look back at the horrible death toll that invasion caused.
It is interesting that there is so much consternation, 60 years later, over the use of two nuclear bombs considering we killed many more people by firebombing Berlin and Tokyo. You do not hear nearly as much about all the civilians killed when we blasted the Axis powers with conventional bombs. I think to some extent this is a psychological effect that the destruction of Hiroshima was one by one bomb as opposed to thousands, but it does send the message that civilians killed by conventional bombs are less valuable than those killed by nuclear weapons.
Let's not forget Soviet imperialism in east Asia toward the end of the Second World War, as well as Soviet imperialism in eastern Europe. Beyond the military need for using the nuclear weapon, we needed to make a show of force against the "Evil Empire". Had Hiroshima not happened, would we have fought a third World War with the Soviets a decade later? Most likely, the horror of Hiroshima (and the lingering threat of nuclear annihilation) prevented World War III. Strange as it may sound, nuclear weapons have been the greatest force for peace since the end of World War II.