Here’s my take. And an e-mail:
Just reading your piece now, and it makes me think of something that’s been bothering me since the weekend:
To my mind, Obama’s reference to our “moral responsibility” because we used nuclear weapons is – I am not kidding – the most shocking thing I have ever heard him say. I’m amazed that VDH and the Derb are not going ballistic (no pun intended) in the Corner. The President has essentially called into question our use of nuclear weapons against Japan to end WWII, and done so in a casual manner in front of a foreign audience. It’s not Holocaust denial or 9/11 Conspiracy Theory, but it’s much, much worse than his casual mentions of the treatment of Native Americans and slavery, or calling the U.S. arrogant or blaming everything on Bush.
There is of course a serious scholarly debate to be had on the NECESSITY of using the Bomb (though the preponderance of thought is, yes, it was necessary). But to say that we bear a “moral responsibility” to prevent the use of nuclear weapons because we are the only ones who used them? Wow.
Take it a step further and this seems to mean that the use of nukes is never permissible. If it wasn’t justified against Japan (after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, kamikazes, no surrender in the islands, 400K US deaths at the hands of Japan and her allies, an estimated 500K to 1,000,000 US casualties if we invaded), then it’s never justified. Follow that logic: those who dropped the bombs are bad guys, as are the scientists who developed the Bomb. Did they have a moral obligation to refuse orders and not develop or drop the bombs? What should the US military do TODAY if President Obama orders the use of nuclear weapons? Are they morally obligated to refuse orders? Which brings up a final question: if the use of nuclear weapons against Japan leaves us with a “moral responsibility” to prohibit their use today, is President Obama saying he would never order the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances? Someone (Jake Tapper?) should ask him that.
The WSJ, in a bracing editorial today, hit on this point:
The President went even further in Prague, noting that “as a nuclear power — as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon — the United States has a moral responsibility to act.” That barely concealed apology for Hiroshima is an insult to the memory of Harry Truman, who saved a million lives by ending World War II without a bloody invasion of Japan. As for the persuasive power of “moral authority,” we should have learned long ago that the concept has no meaning in Pyongyang or Tehran, much less in the rocky hideouts of al Qaeda.
The truth is that Mr. Obama’s nuclear vision has reality exactly backward. To the extent that the U.S. has maintained a large and credible nuclear arsenal, it has prevented war, defeated the Soviet Union, shored up our alliances and created an umbrella that persuaded other nations that they don’t need a bomb to defend themselves.