The Corner

The one and only.

Re: Stephens, the historical record


We had destroyed most of Japan’s significant military installations at great cost, the citizens still largely supported the war effort. We were fighting a world war on multiple fronts, and could not afford to leave Japan’s society in place (having learned something after World War I respecting Germany).  Moreover, estimates placed American and allied casualties at over 1 million, had we sought to occupy Japan.  When we speak of the moral choices, what are we speaking about?  The moral choice in killing “innocent” civilians versus one million allied casualties?  The moral choice of using atomic bombs versus foot soldiers?  The moral choice of leaving a fascist regime versus installing a democratic system?  What moral choice are we talking about?

My grandfather, like many, fought the Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima and Guam.  They were fierce soldiers who rarely surrendered and took prisoners (and when they did, they tortured them in various ways).  So, when attacked by an enemy like this, what kind of war do you fight?  When the society is so fully a part of the military effort, as it was in Japan, which targets are morally acceptable and which are not? 

As for waterboarding, count me with Deroy.  Whether the administration uses it enough or not I have no way of judging.  But if there is no physical or even mid-term psychological damage, as many who’ve experienced it in training have told me, then what exactly is the objection?  And if it’s torture, how so?  How do we define torture if a procedure that causes no physical or psychological damage is said to be torture? 

This post isn’t aimed at any particular person or post, but at the general subject-matter.


Sign up for free NR e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review