Thursday, October 15, 2015


Thoughtful Phronesis reader Jim Dubbs sent me an email in which he expressed disagreement with arguments I made in my The Legacy of the Hiroshima Myth posting.  Critical responses, like this one from Jim, are what Chuck and I hoped to receive when we launched Phronesis.  Dubbs’ main point is well taken; I did “put a lot of consequential eggs in my Hiroshima basket.” I knew I was reaching a bit far. In doing so, I hoped to elicit critical responses from readers who disagreed with my arguments. In the case of Mr. Dubbs, it appears to have worked, though I must admit it doesn’t take much stretching of a point to fire up Jim’s inquisitive mind. For me, he has long served as a “proof reader.”

This said, I still stand by my contention that America’s failure to confront the truth about Hiroshima has had a monumental impact on the formulation and conduct of U.S. national security policy; I leave it to our readers to probe the question further and decide if I overstated the Hiroshima legacy.

As to the truth about why President Truman used the bomb and why Japan surrendered, I believe that newly uncovered documents (especially American and Japanese war diaries) affirm what had previously been the informed hunches of revisionist historians: Truman’s main motive in using the bomb had more to do with Moscow than the driving desire to prevent an invasion and thus save lives, and Tokyo seemed more concerned about a Russian invasion than about the promised reign of ruin. On these points, academic historians are by no means in agreement. My hope in writing the piece was not to convince readers of my historical interpretation, but to simply open minds about the possibility of a counter-Hiroshima narrative. Hopefully, the various critical reflections that have greeted the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings will motivate Americans to revisit the Hiroshima truth. There’s a great deal riding on this.
Below is Jim Dubbs’ critique followed by some personal reflections on US nuclear strategy.