By Jacob G. Hornberger
August 06, 2021"Information
Clearing House" - "FFF"
This month marks the 75h anniversary of the
U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
While proponents of the bombings have long justified
them on the basis that they shortened World War II,
the fact is that they were war crimes. The only
reason why President Truman and the pilots who
dropped the bombs were not prosecuted as war
criminals is because the United States ended up
winning the war.
It has long been pointed out that
Japan had expressed a willingness to surrender. The
only condition was that the Japanese emperor not be
abused or executed.
President Truman refused to agree to
that condition. Like his predecessor Franklin
Roosevelt, Truman demanded ďunconditional
That was why Japan continued fighting.
Japanese officials naturally assumed that U.S.
officials were going to do some very bad things to
their emperor, including torture and execution. In
the minds of Japanese officials, why else would the
United States not be willing to agree to that one
condition, especially given that it would have meant
the end of the war?
The dark irony is that Truman ended up
accepting the condition anyway, only after he
pulverized the people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki with
No Advertising - No Government Grants - This Is
In an excellent op-ed in the Los
Angeles Times today entitled ďU.S. Leaders Knew
We Didnít Have to Drop Atomic Bombs on Japan to Win
the War. We Did It AnywayĒ the authors point out:
Seven of the United Statesí eight
five-star Army and Navy officers in 1945 agreed
with the Navyís vitriolic assessment. Generals
Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur and Henry
ďHapĒ Arnold and Admirals William Leahy, Chester
Nimitz, Ernest King, and William Halsey are on
record stating that the atomic bombs were either
militarily unnecessary, morally reprehensible,
Keep in mind that there is nothing in
the principles of warfare that required Truman and
Roosevelt to demand the unconditional surrender of
Japan (or Germany). Wars can be ó and often are ó
ended with terms of surrender. Both presidents were
willing to sacrifice countless people on both sides
of the conflict to attain their demand for
But Trumanís unconditional surrender
demand is not why his action constituted a war
crime. This bombings constituted war crimes because
they targeted non-combatants, including children,
women, and seniors with death as a way to bring
about an unconditional surrender of the Japanese
It has long been considered a rule of
warfare that armies fight armies in war. They donít
target non-combatants. The intentional killing of
non-combatants is considered a war crime.
A good example of this principle
involved the case of Lt. William Calley in the
Vietnam War. Calley and his men shot and killed
numerous non-combatants in a South Vietnamese
village. The victims included women and children.
The U.S military prosecuted Calley as
a war criminal ó and rightly so. While the deaths of
non-combatants oftentimes occurs incidentally to
wartime operations, it is a war crime to
specifically target them for death.
Truman justified his action by arguing
that the bombings shortened the war and, therefore,
saved the lives of thousands of American soldiers
and Japanese people if an invasion had become
necessary. It is a justification that has been
repeated ever since by proponents of the bombings.
There are two big problems with that
First, an invasion would not have been
necessary. All that Truman had to do was to accept
Japanís only condition for surrender, and that would
have meant the end of the war, without the deaths
that would have come with an invasion and that did
come with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
More important, the fact that lives of
American soldiers would have been saved is not a
moral or legal justification for targeting
non-combatants. If Calley had maintained at his
trial that his actions were intended to shorten the
Vietnam War, his defense would have been rejected.
He would have still be convicted for war crimes.
Soldiers die in war. That is the
nature of war. To kill women, children, and seniors
in the hopes of saving the lives of soldiers by
shortening the war is not only a war crime, it is
also an act of extreme cowardice. If an invasion of
Japan would have become necessary to win the war,
thereby resulting in the deaths of thousands of U.S.
soldiers, then thatís just the way that war works.
Itís also worth pointing out that
Japan never had any intention of invading and
conquering the United States. The only reason that
Japan bombed Pearl Harbor was in the hope of
knocking out the U.S. Pacific fleet, not as a
prelude to invading Hawaii or the continental United
States but simply to prevent the U.S. from
interfering with Japanís efforts to secure oil in
the Dutch East Indies.
And why was Japan so desperate for oil
as to initiate war against the United States?
Because President Franklin Roosevelt had imposed a
highly effective oil embargo on Japan as a way to
maneuver the Japanese into attacking the United
FDRís plan, of course, succeeded,
which ended up costing the lives of hundreds of
thousands of American soldiers and millions of
Japanese citizens, including those at Hiroshima and
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president
of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and
raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in
economics from Virginia Military Institute and his
law degree from the University of Texas. He was a
trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also
was an adjunct professor at the University of
Dallas, where he taught law and economics
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