"My God, what have we done?" ~ Robert Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola Gay
Americans love anniversaries, and especially of horrific events. Every year at this time we are reminded that the atomic bombs the United States dropped on Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945 ("Little Boy"), and on Nagasaki on Thursday, August 9 ("Fat Man") ended World War II (or began the Cold War, depending on how you look at it).
Since the 9/11 attacks, we have heard a lot of talk about Iraq, Iran, or some terrorist group having weapons of mass destruction; that is, nuclear weapons. Yet, when it is pointed out that the United States is the only country that has actually used these weapons of mass destruction – against civilians no less – we are told that it was necessary to incinerate 200,000 people – civilians – to save the lives of "thousands and thousands" (Harry Truman’s original number) or "millions" (George H. W. Bush’s figure) of American soldiers who might die invading Japan.
So, according to the American myth that is trotted out every year, the atomic bombing of Japan was not only justified and necessary, but sane and moral. After all, the U.S. Army Air Force had already killed 100,000 Japanese civilians when it firebombed Tokyo on the night of March 9, 1945, with seventeen hundred tons of bombs. "War is hell." "All’s fair in love and war." "Remember Pearl Harbor."