Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Anniversary: Nagasaki

Today's anniversary of note is NAGASAKI.

It's been quite a while since I've done an anniversary-of-event-at-place post. This being number 2, I think these anniversary posts will focus on events and places significant in the context of nuclear physics, or the use of nuclear radiation by humans.

This post was prompted mainly by an interesting discussion happening at Pharyngula, which itself was apparently prompted by a post at the Slacktivist. Both threads contain long, generally well-written responses, and surprisingly few ad hominems, given the controversial nature of the subject.

I don't have a strong feeling of what the "right" course of action by the various historical players should have been. Was Truman justified in dropping a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima? Was he justified in the second bomb, on Nagasaki? What of the actions taken or not taken by the Japanese High Command, Emperor Hirohito, the Soviet Union, and others? This subject, to me at least, seems too complicated, and too blurred by the passage of 61 years and all that has transpired since, for any easy, simple answers to emerge. Some may cling to absolute dictums, like "never target civilians" or "sow the wind, reap the whirlwind" or what have you. I choose to ignore those reductions.

Both other discussions (and probably many others on the web and elsewhere) include words like "evil" and "atrocity". I don't have good, well-bounded working definitions for these words, at least not for a historical discussion, so I'm not going to comment in that way. These words tend to invoke strong emotional responses in readers, which I think hinders objective discussion.

I think this is not a subject that can be reduced to a single sentence.


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

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