Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Hypocrisy of War Crimes


The only war criminal?



Well Saddam is finally having his day in court...almost. In watching Saddam now stand trail for his crimes against humanity I begin to see how war crimes are very subjective. Who determines what a war crime is? Who prosecutes war criminals? It is always the victor who determines the definition of a war crime. The victor always prosecutes the war criminal. Never is the victor accused of war crimes. It's true that Saddam is a war criminal, but is he the only guilty one? Is America capable of committing war crimes? Has America already committed war crimes? Or because we are always the victors does the idea of American war crimes seem impossible?

From the genocide of the Indians to Abu Grab prison, there are plenty of American war crimes to choose from. For the sake of time I have chosen to mention just one. Those who lived and fought in WW II have become known as "the greatest generation". The liberation of Europe and the Jews are noble accomplishments, but it is the end of the war in Japan that taints the greatest generation. Some of the greatest generation helped to produce the greatest war crime in the dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

My intention is not to be offensive, but in regards to Hiroshima and Nagasaki it is time to call a spade a spade. First, the whole idea that the atomic bomb spared 1 million U.S. troops from dying in an invasion of Japan is pure fiction. As a history major I've come to learn about the fire bombing campaign that preceded Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fire bombing of Tokyo killed over 100,000 people in one night. Japan was not a supreme force in August of 1945, but a nation engulfed in flames. Japan's back was already broken before Hiroshima and Nagasaki were subjected to the intense nuclear heat of the atomic bomb.

Second, what was the purpose of the atomic bomb? It was used to bring about the unconditional surrender of Japan. Few realize that not even this goal was accomplished. Yes, Japan did surrender to the U.S. shortly after the bombs were dropped, but only on the condition that they could keep their emperor in power. The U.S. agreed thus negating the whole concept of unconditional surrender. If the bombs didn't achieve unconditional surrender, then why use them in the first place?

Third, where were the bombs dropped? Yes, Hiroshima and Nagasaki did have military installations, but the majority of the cities were made up of civilians. The bombs were not dropped on some airport runway, but right in the heart of the metropolitan area. Imagine mothers taking their kids to and from school. Fathers going to and from work. Children outside playing. Then in an instant whole families are not only killed, but vaporized. Does the cost of civilian life in Hiroshima and Nagasaki really seem worth the price of using the atomic bomb?

Fourth, what does an atomic bomb do? For those who are interested I suggest taking a refresher course in physics. The atomic bomb is able to split atoms that result in a release of extreme heat. It is basically releasing the surface of the sun on its intended target. People aren't just killed by an atomic bomb, they are vaporized. I am still haunted by seeing pictures of a person's silhouette being burned into the concrete. The atomic bomb also releases intense radiation which can lead to all kinds of cancer. This is not a weapon of war, but a weapon the worst kind of evil.

Fifth, if one atomic bomb does horrific damage, then why use two? Did one bomb not cause enough damage? The worst part of the end of WWII is that we dropped two atomic bombs on a nation already on fire. Was the second bomb just for good measure? A just-in- case bomb? Even if you believe that one atomic bomb isn't a war crime, then the U.S. is convicted on the account of the second bomb. If the defeat of Hitler is our greatest moment, the second atomic bomb is our worst.

Sorry for the downer post, but it is time for America to look in the mirror when it prosecutes guilty war criminals like Saddam. Also, we can expect nations like Iran to give up nuclear weapons if we hold on to our nukes. We can't change the past so I'm not suggesting we prosecute war criminals for a crime that is 60yrs old, but an apology would be nice. An asking for forgiveness would help. An end to production of nuclear weapons would be a step in the right direction. Again, the purpose of this post was not to offend. The purpose was to show the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a war crime. The purpose was to make people realize the only reason why Americans weren't prosecuted as war criminals against Japan was because America won the war. In the end the purpose of this post was to make people realize the hypocrisy of war crimes.



CJE


Coming Next Week: Can You Spare Some Change?

1 comments:

ace,  6:30 PM  

Very well written, and respectful considering the sensitive nature of your position. The detail in the defense of your opinion is impressive no matter what side you come down on. Caused me to think about this more deeply than I ever have before.

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