Columnist righteous from a distance

Tony Magliano (CR, Aug. 5) questions the morality of the mass killing of so many in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is a moral question in killing so many civilians; can that be resolved outside the context of what was happening at that time?

The U.S. military had already lost over 400,000 men killed in action. Okinawa had finally been taken at the end of June after three months of invasion and difficult battle. Suicide planes had sunk 37 American ships and had badly damaged about ten times that number during the battle.

The next objective after Okinawa would be the home islands of Japan, starting with Kyushu. A sizable Japanese army remained there, and the Japanese population including women had been told to defend their homeland at all costs.

Magliano dismisses President Truman’s justification of the use of the atomic bombs, i.e, that the use of the bombs had saved the lives of 1 million Americans. It’s difficult to have a factual basis for something that hasn’t yet happened, but at that time that number was the best estimate of the American military leaders.

We who were in the service at that time had no problem with the president’s decision. I guess it’s not hard to be righteous, when you can make the decision 65 years after it had to be made.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.