Professor Richard Samuels of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Japan expert, told the New York Times on May 10th that "In Japan, I don't think there has been much real evolution, at least among the right wing and the amnesiacs who deny Japan's destructive war in Asia and insist they were the victims…For them, Obama's visit will be a chance to reiterate that they were right."
Hard for me to say if this visit encourages those in Japan who want to spread the notion that Japan was a victim in World War II.
What I will say is that I'd pay good money to hear presidential remarks like this at ground zero:
As I stand here in Hiroshima, at ground zero, I join all people in their sorrow for the great loss of innocent life here. The suffering breaks our hearts, even 70 years later.
But this loss of life and suffering at this place on that day in 1945 was at the end of a greater loss of life across the entire Asia and Pacific region that an evil imperial Japanese power inflicted on even more innocent lives for many years.
As I stand here, I remind those who would unleash evil on the world that America stands ready to use all elements of our national power to destroy that evil and end the death and destruction that such evil leaves in its wake when nobody stands up to evil aggressors.
And as I stand here, more than 70 years after the nuclear bombing that ended World War II for good, without further loss of life in brutal land combat, aerial bombardment, and wasting blockade, we can also share the joy of the new friendship between the people of America and Japan that developed since those dark days when we were bitter enemies, begun by the surprise Japanese attack on America at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
We built this friendship and prosperity despite the bitterness of that fight because Americans do not define "evil" in terms of entire nations and people.
America defeated the evil of the imperial Japanese regime that waged brutal wars of conquest and subjugation, and freed the people of Japan as much as we freed the people conquered by Japan.
We did not subject the people of Japan to new rulers who would use them for evil purposes. We set the Japanese free to achieve prosperity and freedom beyond imagination on the day we bombed Hiroshima.
So yes, America has shown that you can have no greater enemy than America. And we have shown that you can have no greater friend than America.
Japan's militarists believed America was weak and could not recover from a devastating blow against our military power on December 7, 1941, to oppose them.
Thankfully for many Asians who toiled under imperial Japan's rule, these militarist leaders of Japan were wrong. And thankfully for the Japanese today, the militarists were wrong, even though the people of Hiroshima, and then Nagasaki, paid the price for that aggression and gamble that America would not fight to defeat evil.
May future leaders of America continue this stance that has contributed to the Long Peace since 1945, which has brought unprecedented freedom and prosperity to the people of the world.
That would be a worthwhile message to deliver at Hiroshima.
To interpret the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as unnecessary acts, you must ignore the recent historiography on Japan’s end game, the American casualties that would have certainly resulted and the Chinese who were living through an unprecedented terror at Japanese hands. The dead would have been much higher without Hiroshima. Thus, I would argue that it was not only moral but imperative that the war be ended with the urgency that it was.
Don't think the Japanese hope of bloodying us into negotiations wouldn't have worked. We needed troops from Europe to invade Japan.
So morale of those American troops selected to go to the Pacific wasn't great, given that they'd won "their war" and now had to go fight Japan. How effective would they have been, really?
Those troops also had families in democratic America. Families who voted.
I'd also like to add that before their use and the horrifying nature of their destructive power was shown, atomic bombs were viewed as weapons and not as the world destroyers we see them as now.
Perhaps we should be grateful that they were used when they were small--and by America--before arsenals in America and the Soviet Union reached into the tens of thousands of warheads. What would have happened if these weapons had still been viewed as weapons in that environment?