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為什麼我會用原子彈炸日本

美空軍少將斯文尼(Charles Sweeney)

“曹長青網站”編者注:美國退役空軍少將查爾斯.斯文尼(Charles W. Sweeney)當年曾參與向日本廣島、長崎投擲兩顆原子彈,而且只有他一人兩次投擲行動都参加了。對于美國后來發生的對當年投擲原子彈的爭議(很多否定和譴責),查爾斯.斯文尼將軍于1995年5月11日參加了美國國會的一次特別聽證會,在演講中闡述了他作為當事人,對這件事情的看法。這篇演講的中文譯文(譯者不詳),被不少網絡轉載,但譯文並不完整,尤其结尾部分的譴責斯大林邪恶的部分被刪節,另外重要的結語也被省略沒譯。現刊出完整的譯文(補譯部份由“曹長青網站”編輯完成),並附上原英文(英文是從美國國會圖書館的存檔中找到的):

不能忘記和篡改歷史!
——美國退役空軍少將查爾斯.斯文尼(Charles W. Sweeney)在美國國會聽證會上的演講:

我是美國退役空軍少將查爾斯.斯文尼。我是唯一一位參加了兩次對日本原子轟炸的飛行員。在對廣島的轟炸中,擔任駕駛員蒂貝茨上校的右座領航員,在對長崎的轟炸中,任編隊指揮員。

作為唯一一個參與兩次對日本原子轟炸的飛行員,我將陳述本人親身經歷的往事。我要強調指出,我所陳述的都是無可爭辯的事實,而有些人就是無視這些明顯的事實,因為這些事實與他們頭腦中的偏見不符。

此刻,作為經歷了那段歷史的人們,我要陳述我的思考、觀察和結論。我相信杜魯門總統作出的對日本使用原子彈的決定不僅符合當時的情況,而且具有壓倒其他可能選擇的道義上的必要性。像我們這一代絕大多數人一樣,我最不希望發生的一件事就是戰爭。我們作為一個民族不是騎士,我們不渴望那種輝煌。當我國正在大蕭條中掙扎時,日本開始了對鄰國的征服--搞什麼“大東亞共榮圈”。法西斯總是打着漂亮的旗幟去掩飾最卑鄙的陰謀。

這種“共榮”是通過對中國進行殘酷的總體戰進行的。日本作為一個國家,認為自己命中注定要統治亞洲,並由此據有亞洲的自然資源和廣袤土地。未有絲毫的憐憫和猶豫,日本屠殺無辜的男人、女人和孩子。在慘絕人寰的南京大屠殺中,30萬手無寸鐵的平民被屠殺。這是犯罪。

這是事實!

日本認為美國是阻止其實現在亞洲的“神授”命運的唯一障礙。于是日本對駐扎于珍珠港的美國海軍太平洋艦隊進行了精心策劃的偷襲。偷襲時間定于一個星期天的早晨,因為此時行動可以最大限度地摧毀艦隊實力、消滅人員,給予美國海軍以致命的打擊。

數千名美國水兵的生命湮滅于仍然沉睡在珍珠港灣底的美海軍亞利桑那號軍艦裡。其中的许多士兵甚至不清楚為什麼受到突然襲擊。戰爭就這樣強加在美國的頭上。

科雷希多的陷落及隨后對盟軍戰俘的屠殺,驅散了對日軍獸性的最后一絲懷疑。即使是在戰時,日軍的殘暴也是令人發指的。巴甘省的死亡進軍充滿恐怖。

日本人認為投降是對自身、對家庭、對祖國、對天皇的污辱。他們對自身和對敵人都不手軟。7000名美軍和菲律賓戰俘慘遭毆打、槍殺、被刺刀捅死,或慘死于疾病和譏餓。

這都是事實隨着美國在廣闊的太平洋向日本緩慢、艱苦、一步一流血地進軍,日本顯示出自己是冷酷無情、桀驁不遜的殺人機器。無論戰事是多麼令人絕望,無論機會是多麼渺茫,無論結果是多麼確定,日本人都戰至最后一人。為了取得可能大的光榮,日軍全力以赴去殺死盡可能多的美國人。

美軍開進的距日本本土越近,日本人的行為就變得越瘋狂。

塞班島:美軍陣亡3000人,其中在最后幾小時就死了1500人。

硫黃島:美軍陣亡6000人,傷21000人。

衝繩島:美軍陣亡12000人,傷38000人。

這是沉重的事實,凱米卡茲--即“神風敢死隊”,駕駛裝載炸彈的飛機撞擊美國軍艦。

隊員認為這是天上人間至高的光榮,是向神之境界的升華。在衝繩海域,神風敢死隊的自殺性攻擊要了5000名美國海軍軍人的命。

日本用言語和行動表明,只要第一個美國人蹋上日本本土,他們就處決所有的盟軍戰俘。日本為大屠殺作准備,強迫盟軍戰俘為自己挖掘墳墓。即使在投降后,他們仍然處決了一些戰俘。
這是事實!

《波茨坦公告》要求日本無條件投降。日本人認為這是荒唐可笑而不屑考慮的。我們從截獲的密碼得知,日本打算拖延時間,爭取以可接受的條件經談判投降。

在8月6日之前的幾個月裡,美國飛機開始轟炸日本本土。一個個日本城市化為火海,成千上萬的日本人死去。但日軍發誓決不投降。他們准備犧牲自己的人民,以換取他們所理解的光榮和榮譽--不管死多少人。

他們拒絕救助平民,盡管我們的飛行員事先已就可能來臨的空襲投撒了傳單。

在一次為期10天的轟炸行動中,東京、名古屋、神戶、大阪的许多地方化為灰燼。

這是事實!

即使在用原子彈轟炸了廣島之后,日本軍部仍然認為美國只有一枚炸彈,日本可以繼續堅持。在8月6日之后,他們有3天的時間用于投降,但他們不。只有在長崎受到原子轟炸后,日本天皇才最后宣布投降。即使在這種情況下,軍方仍聲稱他們可以而且應該繼續戰鬥。一個陸軍軍官團體發起叛亂,試圖截獲並銷毀天皇向日本人宣布投降的詔書。

這是事實!

這些事實有助于說明我們所面臨的敵人的本質,有助于認清杜魯門總統在進行各種選擇時所要考慮的背景,有助于理解為什麼對日本進行原子轟炸是必要的。

像每一個男女軍人一樣,杜魯門總統理解這些事實。傷亡不是某種抽像的統計數字,而是慘痛的事實。

---原子彈是否結束了戰爭?
---是的。
---它們是必須的嗎?
---對此存在爭議。

50年過去了,在某些人看來日本成為受害者,美軍成為凶殘成性的征服者和報復者;原子彈的使用是核時代的不正義、不道德的起點。自然,為了支撐這種歪曲,他們必然要故意無視事實或者編造新的材料以證明這種論調。其中最令人吃驚的行徑之一,就是否認日軍曾進行過大屠殺。

事物怎麼會弄成這個樣子呢?

答案也许會從最近發生的一些事情中找到。

當前關于杜魯門總統為什麼要下達對日本進行原子轟炸的命令的爭論,在某些情況下已演變成數字游戲。史密斯策劃的“原子轟炸后果”展覽,顯示了卑劣的論調,這種論調使史學界引起軒然大波。

“原子轟炸后果”展覽傳遞出這樣的信息--日本是受害者,美國是罪惡的侵略者。想像一下如果你的孩子去看展覽,他們會留下什麼樣的印像?他們還會知道事實的真相嗎?

在一個全國性的電視辯論中,我聽到這樣一位所謂的傑出歷史學家聲稱,原子彈是沒有必要的,杜魯門總統是想用原子彈嚇唬俄國人,日本本來已經打算投降了。

有些人提出,艾森豪威爾將軍曾說過,日本已准備投降,沒有必要使用原子彈,然而,基于同樣的判斷,艾森豪威爾曾嚴重低估了德國繼續戰鬥的意志,在 1944年就下結論說德國已無力進行攻勢作戰。這是一個災難性的錯誤判斷,其結果即是阿登戰役的激戰。是役,數萬盟軍毫無必要地犧牲了,並冒着允许德國拖延戰爭和有條件投降的風險。

一個相當公正的結論是,根據太平洋戰爭的情況,可以合理地預期日本將是比德國更瘋狂的敵人。

最后,有一種理論認為,如果盟軍進攻日本本土,我們的傷亡不是100萬,而是只要死上46000人就夠了。只不過是46000!你能夠想像這種論調的冷酷嗎?

僅46000人,好像這些是無關緊要的美國人的生命。

在此時此刻,我要承認,我不清楚在對日本本土的部隊進攻中美軍將會傷亡多少人--也沒有任何人知道。

根據對日本戰時行為的判斷,我的確認為,一個公正合理的假設是對日本本土的進攻將是漫長而代價高昂的。根據我們所知道的情況,不是根據某些人的臆想,日本不打算無條件投降。

在對硫黃島--太平洋中一個8平方英裡的島礁--的進攻中, 6000名海軍陸戰隊官兵犧牲,傷亡總數達27000人。

但對那些認為我們的損失僅是46000人的人,我要問:是哪46000人?誰的父親?誰的兄弟?誰的丈夫?

是的,我只注意到了美國人的生命。但是,日本的命運掌握造日本人的手中,而美國不是。數以萬計的美軍部隊焦急地在大洋中等待着進攻--他們的命運取決于日本下一步怎麼走。日本可以選擇在任何時刻投降,但他們選擇了等待。

而就是日本“無所作為”的時候,隨着戰事的進行,美軍每天傷亡900多人。

我曾聽到另一種說法,稱我們應該與日本談判,達到一個日本可以接受的有條件投降。

我從來沒聽任何人提出過與法西斯德國談判投降。這是一個瘋狂的念頭,任何有理性的人都不會說出這樣的話。與這樣一個邪惡的法西斯魔鬼談判,就是承認其合法性,即使是已經在事實上打敗了它。這並不是那個時代空洞的哲學上的原則,而是人類的正義要求,必須徹底、干淨地鏟除法西斯惡魔的勢力,必須粉碎這些邪惡的力量。法西斯的領導者已經無情地打碎了外交的信譽。

為什麼太平洋戰爭的歷史這麼容易就被遺忘了呢?

也许原因就存在于目前正在進行着的對歷史的歪曲,對我們集體記憶的歪曲。

在戰敗50年后,日本領導人輕率地聲稱他們是受害者,廣島、長崎與南京大屠殺在實質上是一回事!

整整幾代日本人不知道他們的國家在第二次世界大戰中都干了些什麼。這可以理解為什麼他們不理解日本為什麼要道歉。

與德國認罪的姿態不同,日本堅持認為它沒干任何錯事,它的行為是受當時局勢的拖累。這種態度粉碎了任何真正彌合創傷的希望。

只有記憶才能帶來真正的原諒,而遺忘就可能冒重復歷史的危險。

通過精心策劃的政治和公關活動,日本現在建議使用“太平洋勝利日”來取代“對日本勝利日”這一術語。他們說,這一術語將會使太平洋戰爭的結束不那麼特別與日本有關。

有些人可能會提出,這些文字能說明什麼呢?對日本勝利--太平洋的勝利--讓我們慶祝一個事件,而不是一個勝利。

我要說,話語就是一切。

慶祝一個事件!類似于慶祝一個商場開業典禮,而不是歡慶戰爭的勝利。這將分裂整個地球。數以千萬計的死者、數以千萬計受到身心傷害的人和更多的人將會不知所措。

這種對語言的攻擊是顛倒歷史、混淆是非的工具。文字或話語可以像任何一種武器一樣具有毀滅性:上是下;奴役是自由;侵略是和平。

在某種程度上,通過抹除精確的描述文字而對我們語言所展開的攻擊,要比10年前日本對我們進行的真正的侵略更具有危害性,至少在真正的侵略中,敵人是清楚的,威脅是清楚的。

今天日本巧妙地打起種族主義這張牌,以此來宣示其行為的正義性。日本不是進行罪惡的侵略,而只是從白人帝??的,他們用屠殺“解放”了2000萬無辜的亞洲人。我堅信,這2000萬無辜的人,他們的家人,他們的后代,永遠也不會欣賞日本崇高的行為。

經常有人問我,用原子彈轟炸日本是否是出于報復,是否是蓄意毀滅一個古老而令人尊敬的文明。

對此,有如下事實:其一,在最初的轟炸目標清單上包括京都。雖然京都也是一個合法的目標,在先前的空襲中未曾予以轟炸,國務卿史迪文森把它從目標清單中去掉了,因為京都是日本的古都,也是日本的文化宗教中心。其二,在戰時我們受到命令的嚴格約束,在任何情況下,不得轟炸東京的皇宮--盡管我們很容易識別皇宮並炸死天皇。畢竟我們不是為了報復。我經常想如果日本有機會轟炸白宮,是否也會像美國這樣克制。我認為日本不會。

在此讓我澄清一個事實,糾正一個長期以來的偏見,那就是我們故意選擇人口密集的城市轟炸。我們要轟炸的每一個目標城市都有重要的軍事價值。廣島是日軍南方司令部所在地,並集結了實力可觀的防御部隊。長崎是工業中心,有兩個重要的兵工廠。在這兩個城市,日本都把兵工廠和部隊配置于市區中心。

像在任何一場戰爭中一樣,我們的目標--理所當然的目標--是勝利。這是一個不可動搖的目標。

我不想否認雙方死了许多人,不僅兩國,而且是世界。我不為戰爭的殘酷性而驕傲而歡樂,我不希望我國或敵國的人民受難。每一個生命都是寶貴的。但我的確認為:這樣一個問題應該去問日本戰犯,是他們以日本人民為代價追求自身的輝煌。他們發動了戰爭,並拒絕停止戰爭。難道他們不應為所有的苦難、為日本的災難負最終的責任嗎?

也许如果日本人真切地了解過去,認清他們國家在戰爭中的責任,他們將會看到是日本戰犯要負起戰爭的罪責。日本人民應該給遠東人民一個答復,是誰把災難強加給遠東各國,最后強加給日本自己。當然如果我們與日本人一道抹煞歷史的真相,那麼這一點是永遠也做不到的!

如果日本不追詢並接受真相,日本怎能安心地與自己相處,與亞洲鄰國、與美國相處?

我和我的部屬在執行原子轟炸任務時堅信,我們將結束戰爭。我們並沒有感到高興。而是一種責任感和使命感,而且我們想回到自己的家人身邊。

今天,我站在這裡作證,並不是慶祝原子彈的使用,而是相反。我希望我的使命是最后一次。我們作為一個民族應該對原子彈的存在感到恐懼。我就感到恐懼。

但這並不意味着回到1945年8月,在戰時情況下,在敵人頑固凶殘的條件下,杜魯門總統沒有義務使用所有可能的武器結束戰爭。我同意杜魯門總統的決定,當時以及現在。

戰后幾年,有人問杜魯門總統是否還有其他選擇,他響亮地說:沒有。接着他提醒提問者:記住,珍珠港的死難者也沒有其它選擇!

戰爭總是代價高昂的,正如羅伯特•李將軍所說:“戰爭如此殘酷是件好事,否則就會有人喜歡它。”

感謝上帝使我們擁有原子武器,而不是日本和德國。科學有其自身的邏輯,遲早會有人設計出原子彈。科學是沒法阻止的,它總是能找到自己的發展之路。

關于制造原子彈是否明智的問題,已被原子彈已被制造出來了這一事實所壓倒。當時蘇聯實際上已經在發展他們自己的原子彈了。我們不要忘記,斯大林的邪惡並不亞於東京(的戰犯)或他的前盟友希特勒。不說別的,斯大林至少屠殺了二千萬他自己的人民。

這個世界更好了,因為德國和日本法西斯沒有成gong地征服世界。日本和德國也成為美好之地,因為從我們的勝利中獲益。

日本和美國的年輕人不再相互殺戮,而是生長、成家立業,在和平中生活。作為10個孩子的父親和21個孩子的祖父,我可以表明,我很高興戰爭這樣結束。

我(在這裡)不是代表所有參與二戰的退役軍人講話。但是我相信,那種在第二次世界大戰中能夠服務自己國家的自豪感,是所有美國退役軍人共享的。這也是為什麼關于二戰的真實是必須尊重的。我們這些退役軍人不是畏首畏尾的人,我們的感覺將不會因為那些對于該不該使用原子彈的爭論和信息所粉碎。我們能應對這些。但我們將不會、也不能允许那些對美國大眾和世界隱瞞(二戰和向日本投擲原子彈的真實信息)的憑空胡猜式的辯論。

我對美國人民面對所有這些事實,以及對如何結束那場戰爭的信息判斷力和公正性充滿信心。

這是重要的辯論。我們國家的靈魂、本質、歷史等,正處于緊要關頭。


下面是Charles W. Sweeney在美國國會演講的英文:

Full text of Charles W. Sweeney’s Hearing Before the Committee:

I am Maj. Gen. Charles W. Sweeney, United States Air Force, Retired. I am the only pilot to have flown on both atomic missions. I flew the instrument plane on the right wing of General Paul Tibbets on the Hiroshima mission and 3 days later, on August 9, 1945, commanded the second atomic mission over Nagasaki. Six days after Nagasaki the Japanese military surrendered and the Second World War came to an end.

The soul of a nation, its essence, is its history. It is that collective memory which defines what each generation thinks and believes about itself and its country.

In a free society, such as ours, there is always an ongoing debate about who we are and what we stand for. This open debate is in fact essential to our freedom. But to have such a debate we as a society must have the courage to consider all of the facts available to us. We must have the courage to stand up and demand that before any conclusions are reached, those facts which are beyond question are accepted as part of the debate.

As the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki missions approaches, now is an appropriate time to consider the reasons for Harry Truman’s order that these missions be flown. We may disagree on the conclusion, but let us at least be honest enough to agree on basic facts of the time, the facts that President Truman had to consider in making a difficult and momentous decision.

As the only pilot to have flown both missions, and having commanded the Nagasaki mission, I bring to this debate my own eyewitness account of the times. I underscore what I believe are irrefutable facts, with full knowledge that some opinion makers may cavalierly dismiss them because they are so obvious - because they interfere with their preconceived version of the truth, and the meaning which they strive to impose on the missions.

This evening, I want to offer my thoughts, observations, and conclusions as someone who lived this history, and who believes that President Truman’s decision was not only justified by the circumstances of his time, but was a moral imperative that precluded any other option.

Like the overwhelming majority of my generation the last thing I wanted was a war. We as a nation are not warriors. We are not hell-bent on glory. There is no warrior class - no Samurai - no master race.

This is true today, and it was true 50 years ago.

While our country was struggling through the great depression, the Japanese were embarking on the conquest of its neighbors - the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. It seems fascism always seeks some innocuous slogan to cover the most hideous plans.
This Co-Prosperity was achieved by waging total and merciless war against China and Manchuria. The Japanese, as a nation, saw itself as destined to rule Asia and thereby possess its natural resources and open lands. Without the slightest remorse or hesitation, the Japanese Army slaughtered innocent men, women and children. In the infamous Rape of Nanking up to 300,000 unarmed civilians were butchered. These were criminal acts.

THESE ARE FACTS.

In order to fulfill its divine destiny in Asia, Japan determined that the only real impediment to this goal was the United States. It launched a carefully conceived sneak attack on our Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor. Timed for a Sunday morning it was intended to deal a death blow to the fleet by inflicting the maximum loss of ships and human life.
1,700 sailors are still entombed in the hull of the U.S.S. Arizona that sits on the bottom of Pearl Harbor. Many if not all, died without ever knowing why. Thus was the war thrust upon us.

The fall of Corregidor and the resulting treatment of Allied prisoners of war dispelled any remaining doubt about the inhumanness of the Japanese Army, even in the context of war. The Bataan Death March was horror in its fullest dimension. The Japanese considered surrender to be dishonorable to oneself, one’s family, one’s country and one’s god. They showed no mercy. Seven thousand American and Filipino POW’s were beaten, shot, bayoneted or left to die of disease or exhaustion.

THESE ARE FACTS.

As the United States made its slow, arduous, and costly march across the vast expanse of the Pacific, the Japanese proved to be ruthless and intractable killing machine. No matter how futile, no matter how hopeless the odds, no matter how certain the outcome, the Japanese fought to the death. And to achieve a greater glory, the strove to kill as many Americans as possible.

The closer the United States came to the Japanese mainland, the more fanatical their actions became.

Saipan - 3,100 Americans killed, 1,500 in the first few hours of the invasion Iwa Jima - 6,700 Americans killed, 25,000 wounded

Okinawa - 12,500 Americans killed, total casualties, 35,000

These are facts reported by simple white grave markets.

Kamikazes. The literal translation is DIVINE WIND. To willingly dive a plane loaded with bombs into an American ship was a glorious transformation to godliness - there was no higher honor on heaven or earth. The suicidal assaults of the Kamikazes took 5,000 American Navy men to their deaths.

The Japanese vowed that, with the first American to step foot on the mainland, they would execute every Allied prisoner. In preparation they forced the POW’s to dig their own graves in the event of mass executions. Even after their surrender, they executed some American POW’s.

THESE ARE FACTS.

The Potsdam Declaration had called for unconditional surrender of the Japanese Armed Forces. The Japanese termed it ridiculous and not worthy of consideration. We know from our intercepts of their coded messages, that they wanted to stall for time to force a negotiated surrender on terms acceptable to them.

For months prior to August 6, American aircraft began dropping fire bombs upon the Japanese mainland. The wind created by the firestorm from the bombs incinerated whole cities. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese died. Still the Japanese military vowed never to surrender. They were prepared to sacrifice their own people to achieve their visions of glory and honor - no matter how many more people died.

They refused to evacuate civilians ever though our pilots dropped leaflets warning of the possible bombings. In one 3-day period, 34 square miles of Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka were reduced to rubble.

THESE ARE FACTS.

And even after the bombing of Hiroshima, Tojo, his successor Suzuki, and the military clique in control believed the United States had but one bomb, and that Japan could go on. They had 3 days to surrender after August 6, but they did not surrender. The debate in their cabinet at times became violent.

Only after the Nagasaki drop did the Emperor finally demand surrender.

And even then, the military argued they could and should fight on. A group of Army officers staged a coup and tried to seize and destroy the Emperor’s recorded message to his people announcing the surrender.

THESE ARE FACTS.

These facts help illuminate the nature of the enemy we faced. They help put into context the process by which Truman considered the options available to him. And they help to add meaning to why the missions were necessary.

President Truman understood these facts as did every service man and woman. Casualties were not some abstraction, but a sobering reality.

Did the atomic missions end the war? Yes...they...did.

Were they necessary? Well that’s where the rub comes.

With the fog of 50 years drifting over the memory of our country, to some, the Japanese are now the victims. America was the insatiable, vindictive aggressor seeking revenge and conquest. Our use of these weapons was the unjustified and immoral starting point for the nuclear age with all of its horrors. Of course, to support such distortion, one must conveniently ignore the real facts of fabricate new realities to fit the theories. It is no less egregious than those who today deny the Holocaust occurred.

How could this have happened?

The answer may lie in examining some recent events.

The current debate about why President Truman ordered these missions, in some cases, has devolved to a numbers game. The Smithsonian in its proposed exhibit of the Enola Gay revealed the creeping revisionism which seems the rage in certain historical circles.
That exhibit wanted to memorialize the fiction that the Japanese were the victims - we the evil aggressor. Imagine taking your children and grandchildren to this exhibit.

What message would they have left with?

What truth would they retain?

What would they think their country stood for?

And all of this would have occurred in an American institution whose very name and charter are supposed to stand for the impartial preservation of significant American artifacts.

By canceling the proposed exhibit and simply displaying the Enola Gay, has truth won out?

Maybe not.

In one nationally televised discussion, I heard a so-called prominent historian argue that the bombs were nor necessary. That President Truman was intent on intimidating the Russians. That the Japanese were ready to surrender.

The Japanese were ready to surrender? Based on what?

Some point to statements by General Eisenhower years after the war that Japan was about to fall. Well, based on that same outlook Eisenhower seriously underestimated Germany’s will to fight on and concluded in December, 1944 that Germany no longer had the capability to wage offensive war.

That was a tragic miscalculation. The result was the Battle of the Bulge, which resulted in tens of thousands of needless Allied casualties and potentially allowed Germany to prolong the war and force negotiations.

Thus the assessment that Japan was vanquished may have the benefit of hindsight rather than foresight.

It is certainly fair to conclude that the Japanese could have been reasonably expected to be even more fanatical than the Germans base on the history of the war in the Pacific.
And, finally, a present-day theory making the rounds espouses that even if an invasion had taken place, our casualties would not have been a million, as many believed, but realistically only 46,000 dead.

ONLY 46,000!

Can you imagine the callousness of this line of argument? ONLY 46,000- as if this were some insignificant number of American lives.

Perhaps these so-called historians want to sell books.

Perhaps they really believe it. Or perhaps it reflects some self-loathing occasioned by the fact that we won the war.

Whatever the reason, the argument is flawed. It dissects and recalculates events ideologically, grasping at selective straws.

Let me admit right here, today, that I don’t know how many more Americans would have died in an invasion - AND NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE!

What I do know is that based on the Japanese conduct during the war, it is fair and reasonable to assume that an invasion of the mainland would have been a prolonged and bloody affair. Based on what we know - not what someone surmises - the Japanese were not about to unconditionally surrender.

In taking Iwo Jima, a tiny 8 square mile lump of rock in the ocean, 6,700 marines died - total casualties over 30,000.

But even assuming that those who now KNOW our casualties would have been ONLY 46,000 I ask -

Which 46,000 were to die?

Whose father?

Whose brother?

Whose husband?

And, yes, I am focusing on American lives.

The Japanese had their fate in their own hands, we did not. Hundreds of thousands of American troops anxiously waited at staging areas in the Pacific dreading the coming invasion, their fate resting on what Japanese would do next. The Japanese could have ended it at any time. They chose to wait.

And while the Japanese stalled, an average of 900 more Americans were killed or wounded each day the war continued.

I’ve heard another line of argument that we should have accepted a negotiated peace with the Japanese on terms they would have found acceptable. I have never heard anyone suggest that we should have negotiated a peace with Nazi Germany. Such an idea is so outrageous, that no rational human being would utter the words. To negotiate with such evil fascism was to allow it even in defeat a measure of legitimacy. This is not just some empty philosophical principal of the time - it was essential that these forces of evil be clearly and irrevocably defeated - their demise unequivocal. Their leadership had forfeited any expectation of diplomatic niceties. How it is, then, the history of the war in the Pacific can be so soon forgotten?

The reason may lie in the advancing erosion of our history, of our collective memory.
Fifty years after their defeat, Japanese officials have the temerity to claim they were the victims. That Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the equivalent of the Holocaust.

And, believe it or not, there are actually some American academics who support this analogy, thus aiding and giving comfort to a 50-year attempt by the Japanese to rewrite their own history, and ours in the process.

There is an entire generation of Japanese who do not know the full extent of their country’s conduct during World War II.

This explains why they do not comprehend why they must apologize- for the Korean comfort women? for the Medical experimentation on POW’s which match the horror of those conducted by the Nazi’s ? for the plane to use biological weapons against the United States by infecting civilian populations on the West Coast ?for the methodical slaughter of civilians? and for much more.

In a perverse inversion, by forgetting our own history, we contribute to the Japanese amnesia, to the detriment of both our nations.

Unlike the Germans who acknowledged their guilt, the Japanese persist in the fiction that they did nothing wrong, that they were trapped by circumstances. This only forecloses any genuine prospect that the deep wounds suffered by both nations can be closed and healed.

One can only forgive by remembering. And to forget, is to risk repeating history.

The Japanese in a well orchestrated political and public relations campaign have now proposed that the use of the term "V-J Day" be replaced by the more benign "Victory in the Pacific Day". How convenient.

This they claim will make the commemoration of the end of the war in the Pacific less "Japan specific".

An op-ed piece written by Dorothy Rabinowitz appearing in the April 5 Wall Street Journal accurately sums up this outrage:

The reason it appears, is that some Japanese find the reference disturbing - and one can see why. The term, especially the "J" part, does serve to remind the world of the identity of the nation whose defeat millions celebrated in August 1945. in further deference to Japanese sensitivities, a U.S. official (who wisely chose to remain unidentified) also announced, with reference to the planned ceremonies, that "our whole effort in this thing is to commemorate an event, not celebrate a victory."

Some might argue so what’s in a word - Victory over Japan, Victory in the Pacific - Let’s celebrate an event, not a victory.

A say everything is in a word. Celebrate an EVENT!

Kind of like celebrating th opening of a shopping mall rather than the end of a war that engulfed the entire Earth - which left countless millions dead and countless millions more physically or mentally wounded and countless more millions displaced.

This assault on the use of language is Orwellian and is the tool by which history and memory are blurred. Words can be just as destructive as any weapon.

Up is down.

Slavery is freedom.

Aggression is peace.

In some ways this assault on our language and history by the elimination of accurate and descriptive words is far more insidious than the actual aggression carried out by the Japanese 50 years ago. At least then the threat was clear, the enemy well defined.

Today the Japanese justify their conduct by artfully playing the race card. They were not engaged in a criminal enterprise of aggression. No, Japan was simply liberating the oppressed masses of Asia from WHITE Imperialism.

Liberation!! Yes, they liberated over 20 million innocent Asians by killing them. I’m sure those 20 million, their families and the generations never to be, appreciate the noble effort of the Japanese.

I am often asked was the bomb dropped for vengeance, as was suggested by one draft of the Smithsonian exhibit. That we sought to destroy an ancient and honorable culture.
Here are some more inconvenient facts.

One, on the original target list for the atomic missions Kyoto was included. Although this would have been a legitimate target, one that had not been bombed previously, Secretary of State Henry Stimson removed it from the list because it was the ancient capital of Japan and was also the religious center of Japanese culture.

Two, we were under strict orders during the war that under no circumstances were we to ever bomb the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, even though we could have easily leveled it and possibly killed the Emperor. So much for vengeance.

I often wonder if Japan would have been shown such restraint if they had the opportunity to bomb the White House. I think not.

At this point let me dispel one of many longstanding myths that our targets were intended to be civilian populations. Each target for the missions had significant military importance - Hiroshima was the headquarters for the southern command responsible for the defense of Honshu in the event of an invasion and it garrisoned seasoned troops who would mount the initial defense.

Nagasaki was an industrial center with the two large Mitsubishi armaments factories. In both Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Japanese had integrated these industries and troops right in the heart of each city.

As in any war our goal was, as it should be, to win. The stakes were too high to equivocate.

I am often asked if I ever think of the Japanese who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
I do not revel in the idea that so many on both sides died, not only at those two places but around the world in that horrible conflict. I take no pride or pleasure in the brutality of war whether suffered by my people or those of another nation. Every life is precious.
But it does seem to me such a question is more appropriately directed to the Japanese war lords who so willingly offered up their people to achieve their visions of greatness. They who started the war and then stubbornly refused to stop it must be called to account. Don’t they have the ultimate responsibility for all the deaths of their countrymen?

Perhaps if the Japanese came to grips with their past and their true part in the war they would hold those Japanese military leaders accountable. The Japanese people deserve an answer from those that brought such misery to the nations of the Far East and ultimately to their own people. Of course this can never happen of we collaborate with the Japanese in wiping away the truth.

How can Japan ever reconcile with itself and the United States if they do not demand and accept the truth?

My crew and I flew these missions with the belief that they would bring the war to an end. There was no sense of joy. There was a sense of duty and commitment that we wanted to get back to our families and loved ones.

Today millions of people in America an in southeast Asia are alive because the war ended when it did.

I do not stand here celebrating the use of nuclear weapons. Quite the contrary.

I hope that my mission is the last such mission ever flown.

We as a nation can abhor the existence of nuclear weapons.

I certainly do.

But that does not then mean that, back in August of 1945, given the events of the war and the recalcitrance of our enemy, President Truman was not obliged to use all the weapons at his disposal to end the war.

I agreed with Harry Truman then, and I still do today.

Years after the war Truman was asked if he had any second thoughts. He said emphatically, "No." He then asked the questioner to remember the men who died at Pearl Harbor who did not have the benefit of second thoughts.

In war the stakes are high. As Robert E. Lee said, "it is good that war is so horrible, or we might grow to like it."

I thank God that it was we who had this weapon and not the Japanese or the Germans. The science was there. Eventually someone would have developed this weapon. Science can never be denied. It finds a way to self-fulfillment.

The question of whether it was wise to develop such a weapon would have eventually been overcome by the fact that it could be done. The Soviets would have certainly proceeded to develop their own bomb. Let us not forget that Joseph Stalin was no less evil than Tokyo or his former ally Adolf Hitler. At last count, Stalin committed genocide on at least 20 million of his own citizens.

The world is a better place because German and Japanese fascism failed to conquer the world.

Japan and Germany are better places because we were benevolent in our victory.

The youth of Japan and the United States, spared from further needless slaughter, went on to live and have families and grow old.

As the father of ten children and the grandfather of 21, I can state that I am certainly grateful that the war ended when it did.

I do not speak for all veterans of that war. But I believe that my sense of pride in having served my country in that great conflict is shared by all veterans. This is why the truth about that war must be preserved. We veterans are not shrinking violets. Our sensibilities will not be shattered in intelligent and controversial debate. We can handle ourselves.
But we will not, we cannot allow armchair second guessers to frame the debate by hiding facts from the American public and the world.

I have great faith in the good sense and fairness of the American people to consider all of the facts and make an informed judgment about the war’s end.

This is an important debate. The soul of our nation, its essence, its history, is at stake.

2013-09-08

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