The use of atom bombs to end war with Japan in 1945 was not only defensible, but actively good. The critics who ignore the historical record and embrace presentist analysis fail to deal in reality.
Around this time each year, the Internet is flooded with hot takes about how the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were indefensible, unnecessary, and downright evil. These critics label the bombings as one of the prime atrocities of American imperialism and use them as fodder for their argument that the United States is uniquely bad for the world. This year, the hot take machine has been supercharged by the release of director Christopher Nolan’s latest historical film, Oppenheimer. That movie, released on July 21, is a biopic following the career of nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the key scientists running the Manhattan Project and the man often called the father of the atomic bomb.
The film, which has received plaudits from reviewers and moviegoers, struck a nerve on Twitter, where it was accused of glorifying an act of devastating brutality. These critiques of the atomic bombings ranged from “it was unnecessary” and “Japan was already surrendering” to “Imperial Japan wasn’t that bad” and “the US was the real bad guy in the war.” And these indictments of the American actions in 1945 came from a true plethora of online communities: actual communists, anti-imperialist and anti-war activists (read: anti-American activists), Japanophiles and anime lovers, right-wing Catholics (for some reason), general contrarians, and assorted too-online weirdos.
The problem with this perpetual narrative is that it’s completely, unabashedly wrong. The use of nuclear weapons in Japan in 1945 was not only justifiable, it was at root correct. The decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved millions of lives, including an order of magnitude more Japanese lives than it took. This is proven by the historical record and is eminently easy to understand if one actually decides to do good history. With that, let’s engage in some good history, shall we?
Coming in just under the wire, here’s your Foreign Telegram for March 2023. In an extremely busy month for international affairs, four stories stood out. In the realm of political protest, France and Israel have been in constant uproar over controversial government plans. In France, President Macron has pushed a hike in the retirement age, while in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition seeks changes to the nation’s judiciary. The other overarching topic in March 2023 was diplomacy, particularly of Asian countries outside of Asia. China has had a busy month, brokering a surprise rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia – sidelining the US – and doubling down on its “no limits partnership” with Russia with a state visit to Moscow. Japan, China’s primary regional rival, also expanded its diplomatic reach this month, with visits to India and, more importantly, Ukraine. The blocs of the 21st century are forming as we speak.
Tune in for detailed analysis of all four of these key geopolitical events. Take a break from the hectic pace of domestic affairs with a Foreign Telegram.
Apparently, some members of the United States Senate need a refresher on why we have military presence in Japan.
Senator Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, was at one point a very serious man who cared more about doing his job than he did about his online reputation. His background is impressive: he’s a lawyer, a former clerk for the Supreme Court, and a member of the Senate for over a decade. Back in the halcyon days of 2016, he refused to support the candidacy of Donald Trump out of principle. His legal mind is quite astute, and he has been considered for the Supreme Court by many conservatives. Suffice it to say, Lee has earned a reputation for seriousness and mental acuity. Well, at least until recently.
Since the waning days of the Trump administration, Lee has become more of a Twitter troll and MAGA opportunist than a US Senator, tweeting under the handle @BasedMikeLee (for the uninitiated, ‘based’ is online right-wing lingo for cool/badass). Just last night, he put out a series of tweets that caught my attention. In the thread starting with the tweet below, Senator Lee questions the necessity and prudence of our military commitment to Japan.
We’ve made it all the way to the Quarterfinal round of our 2018 Geopolitical World Cup! If you’ve missed any of the action to this point, be sure to check out our Group Stage (Part I, Part II) and Knockout Stage (Part I, Part II) rundowns to catch up with the Quarterfinal nations.
Welcome back to the action-packed Geopolitical World Cup here at Rational Policy! In Part II of our Knockout Stage breakdown, we’ll be discussing the match-ups between Saudi Arabia & Spain, Argentina & Australia, Germany & Brazil, and Japan & Belgium.