The American nuclear bombing is argued over. It’s said by some that incinerating the few hundred thousand civilians involved was necessary, wise, and just; it’s said by others that it was a colossal crime, perhaps a genocide, perhaps comparable to the more famous atrocities of the Axis powers.
Now I’m not an expert on history, and I don’t have the time to become one. But I’d like to hold an opinion here. But it’s very easy to either 1) get drawn into the endless going-over of various details, estimates and counter-estimates, and so forth, or 2) avoid that simply by adopting an overall interpretation of all these events which fits with your other views, at the cost of making assumptions or judgements that others can simply reject.
So I want to see if there’s a way to reach a confident and well-supported view without being an expert, both for me and for any readers. My goal is that after reading this post it will be extremely hard for anyone of good faith not to condemn the bombings.
(I will note in passing that there’s actually something rather queasy about treating these two bombs in isolation – hundreds of thousands of civilians were deliberately killed with conventional bombs in Japan and in other countries. So if in doubt, assume that whatever I say here applies to those as well – but I shall not try so strenuously to prove this)
So my intention is basically to lay out, tentatively, a few things which, to the best of my very patchy knowledge, aren’t subject to dispute – which don’t depend on any contentious inferences, but just on obvious facts.