Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Nagasaki Principle

Today is the 61st anniversary of the bombing of the second Japanese city, Nagasaki. "Historians debate the justification of the Hiroshima attack, but there is consensus that Nagasaki, coming less than three days later, was tragically unnecessary," writes columnist James Carroll in the Boston Globe, August 7th.

The order to bomb was given on July 25th, by President Harry Truman to bomb four Japanese cities. Hiroshima got it first on August 6th, and the devastating effects became immediately evident. Why was no order given to stop the unnecessary second bombing of Nagasaki? James Carroll says, that's because of the Nagasaki Principle.

"War creates momentum that barrels through normally restraining barriers of moral and practical choice. Decision makers begin wars, whether aggressively or defensively, in contexts that are well understood, and with purposes that seem proportionate and able to be accomplished. When destruction and hurt follow the outbreak of violence, however, and then when that destruction and hurt become extreme, the context within which war is begun changes radically. First assumptions no longer apply, and original purposes can become impossible. When that happens, what began as destruction for a goal becomes destruction for its own sake. War generates its own force in which everyone loses. This might be called the Nagasaki principle."

How does the Nagasaki Principle apply in the war in Iraq and the Israeli war against Hizbullah? Click here for the entire article


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