The bomb bombed morality

Hmmmm. I don't know in what conscience you sought out, paid for, and printed the opinion piece about the Enola Gay ["No apology: Japan deserved Enola Gay's visit," Essay, December 11, 2003].

Do you believe 120,000 Japanese civilians deserved to be cooked alive in a radioactive mushroom cloud? Or are you just trying to be controversial?

All morality aside, if you are under the popular delusion that only an atom bomb would have brought the Japanese to surrender, here's a bit of history (fact, not rhetoric) you and your readers should be aware of:

Time magazine publisher Henry Luce, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, New York Times military correspondent Hanson Baldwin, and David Lawrence, editor of U.S. News, who wrote in October 1945: "Competent testimony exists to prove that Japan was seeking to surrender many weeks before the atomic bomb came."

William D. Leahy, chief of staff to President Truman, wrote in his memoirs:

"It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender ... In being the first to use [the bomb], we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages."

General Eisenhower put it bluntly: "Japan was already defeated. ...It wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."

In his own private diary, President Truman writes that on July 18, 1945, he had read a "telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace." On August 3, 1945, Walter Brown, an aide to Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, noted in his diary that Truman and his aides "agreed Japs looking for peace."

So, by the consensus of this last document, if we knew the Japanese were planning to surrender, why did we nuke them three days later (August 6)? It is becoming clear to historians that the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima for political reasons. A) We wanted an unconditional surrender, not a conditional one. B) We didn't want the invading Russians to claim Japanese territory. C) We wanted to demonstrate to the Russians (and the rest of the world) that we had the bomb.

Truman's Secretary of State James F. Byrnes said that in his belief "the atomic bomb might as well put us in a position to dictate our own terms at the end of the war."

Did innocent Japanese civilians "deserve the Enola Gay?" No more than innocent American civilians deserved 9/11. Now, there's your controversy.

Brian Wimer