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Subject: Return to Hiroshima
Hi, Bart

I was hoping you would post my long reply to the defence of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. I've not seen it.

    Regarding the atom bombs dropped on civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I think you and Geezer are presenting your case based on a lot of hypotheticals and hyperbole. Here in Europe, it's conventional wisdom that Japan were on the brink of surrender even before the bombs were dropped. Despite the fact that most of us love America for being an ally of Sane Europe and helping to rebuild, those bombings of japan are condemned by many as an atrocity. Maybe you can ask some Japanese what they think about it?

    And your assumption that one million Americans would have died in a continued war is unfounded. We must keep in mind that such issues are propagandized no matter where you are in the world, and especially during war. I don't trust the US war propaganda to give a truthful view of that situation, not then and not now. Propaganda is part of the war effort in itself, -an integral part of the process of winning without having to e.g. kill ALL Germans. If you are a liberal and believe in truth and objectivity, you have another reason right there why war should never be glorified. Every power protects itself with subjective reports, half truths and sometimes even lies, so what you hear in the US over the last 70 years is not the same story as over here, which again is different from what they hear in Japan.

        How many of YOUR sons would you be willing to sacrifice to save those civilians?

        Would you personally sacrifice YOUR life to save some civilians who had the bad luck to live in a country that sneak-attacked a sleeping giant?

    As much as I want to live, I think I would sacrifice myself so that half a million could live. But I would never ask another person to do so. That's why I'm not a military commander, I guess.

    Still; sacrificing yourself for half a million other individuals is a lot different than asking half a million innocent people to die for, even with your unfounded figure, one million soldiers. No, I don't think the goals justify the means like that, and especially not based on hypotheticals. That leads to very dangerous thinking, similar to that of terrorists and sociopaths like bin Laden, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Kissinger. They never "waste" time exploring other options, simply because human life is cheap to them. It's just another resource, kinda like a currency. The options normal people automatically stear away from are the ones who come most natural to them. I guess it's part of their "strategic genius"? So many regimes throughout human history have been infested with such individuals, or our history would have looked much different.

    Killing civilians is never ok, even if it's inevitable in the worst situations. In a CIVILIZED and MORAL society, those who do can expect to have to answer for it. The soldiers of your opponent are the legal enemy in war according to international law. In your arguments; how can you equate killing 500 000 civilians with self defence? Individual citizens are not guilty of the crimes of their leaders.  

    Every time we lend our support to actions that go against the laws of the good men who have given us civilization (all of them were liberals), we make it that much harder on ourselves when we need to resist the enemies of civilizations (none of them are liberals) in the next round. You fight them every day on your blog, and there really is no middle of the road on those issues, -it's either all in or all out.

    Since I can't resist: you are wrong on bin Laden too. America would radiate confidence and self respect if they captured him like the unarmed combatant he was, put him on trial and showed the entire world that America doesn't let terrorists define them, that the system that people like bin Laden despised are truly superior, and that it is strong enough to hear the truth and thereafter punish the guilty appropriately. An open trial would of course unravel the entire criminal network that lead to 9/11 and the war on terror, and it would surely strech out far beyond Al Quaeda.

    I am waiting for the happy day when the USA will open up, but even guys like you defend the negative spiral, so the world has to wait awhile longer. An America that opened up and told the truth would reverse much of the transfer of world domination that is going to China, even though they might have the numbers on their side. Because the best way to lead is to lead by example. It's not just an empty phrase from presidential speeches. Your country has really become much like its old enemies and will probably suffer the same fate. I hope not, but the disease seem spread too far and too thick.

        You're saying racing to develope the bomb was a bad thing?
        That'd mean you're OK with Hitler getting it first.

        Are you sure you want to own that position?

    You misunderstood my sentence about first developing the bomb, then actually using it, and you took it in the worst possible manner. Me OK with Hitler getting the bomb? My country was occupied by the Nazis and my grandfather were one of the few survivors after years in their concentration camps. Norwegian resistance efforts in sabotaging the Nazi heavy water production and transportation were vital in delaying Hitlers development of the bomb in the first place. Fuck anyone claiming that I have no real sense of history. Two generations ago, most Norwegians experienced that history more closely than most Americans ever did.

    My meaning wasn't that racing to develop the bomb was sociopathic in the heat of world war. Sociopathic behaviour would be using it in a situation when there were other optons, and it probably was overkill in forcing Japan to surrender. The definition of a sociopath is having no feeling of remorse, shame or sense that others exist. Smart ones often gain positions of power, and people like Hitler, Pol Pot, Cheney as well as the aforementioned are clear examples. Truman? I can't answer, but the scale has several nuances. To assume that Truman had no other option on the table is quite an authoritarian bit of belief. I know you don't believe everything your government tells you, so why start now?

    What other motifs could there possibly be? Well, here are some:

        * Revenge. E.g. for being humiliated in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
        * To assert power. Pure shock and awe! "Forget The Third Reich and listen up, Soviet. We are the boss now!"
        * To test the bomb, -not in some test detonation in a desert or on a coral reef, but, really test it in the environment it was built for. And thus create an optimal case for studying its, until then, theorized effects and accelerate the learning process.
        * A simple human urge to use it after the humongous investment in it.

    You guessed:

        I'm guessing YOU have never had your life threatened by another nation.

    Silly thing to assume when, in the grand perspective; if my grandfather had died like so many around him, I would never have been born. That counts in my book. In the even bigger perspective, haven't all of our lives been under threat ever since the start of the atomic age? The technology is more lethal than anything else in our history.

    But: To bring the atom bomb into the world was probably inevitable, and it WAS better that America won the race instead of Nazi Germany or Japan.

    You wrote:

        If a masked buglar breaks into your home at night,
        are you going to turn the lights on and try to reason with him?

        If you ask 100 liberals that question, 99 will say, "Well, how often does that happen?"
        Well gee, how often does Japan bomb Pearl Harbor?

        If a masked man breaks into my home, I'm going to go all "blood thirsty" on his ass
        and live to see another sunrise.  That might make me a sociopath but I'll still have
        my life and my wife - and a clear conscience.

        I guess, in your view, that might make me a "cowboy" just like Cheney.
        I guess I'll just have to "live" with that.

        But seriously, when it comes to defending your family or country,
        do you fight or do you surrender?

    I have allready talked about sociopathology, but I can say that protecting yourself is not a sign of it. However, since I guess you can literally tear someone apart with your bare hands, a sign of it would surely be to not be bothered the slightest by doing so. I'm not atalking about in your macho fantasy, but in the actual situation as you feel their flesh, bones and organs being ripped apart and you hear their screaming and gurgling, see their people driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women. (Conan reference there.) Normal people get scars from bloody hell and conflict, even if it's in self defence or serving justice. Luckily for you, I think you overstate it abit to make a point. I get that you like to talk macho, and most of the time it's hard hitting and well directed, but this argument is a straw man (now with lots of hammers in it). Also, in your attempt at defending the bombings of Japan, you are on the verge of glorifing it, and it sounds a lot like the empty macho talk you hear from chickenhawk Republicans. Just a friendly "watch out".

    I don't think there are as many liberal pacifists as you would like to believe when it comes down to it. You can always test how good a philosophy is by challenging it with an extreme case. I guess you did. Seems to me that most liberals and intellectuals think violence sometimes is justified and that it's possible to wage war without totally losing ones humanity, but then the criteria is to act in self defence and only as the last resort.

    The wisdom of liberal philosophy is tried and tested, and full pacifism is not a part of it. Pacifism is for people who hold no real values, denies reality or are too naive about the moral struggle in our universe, -none of which can by definition be part of true liberalism. Liberalism is defined by its VALUES and that means per definition that there are lots of things worth fighting for, including your home and family.

    I have read a lot of what you have written earlier, and I get your argument and agree regarding liberals often being too polite, kind, naive and blind when dealing with predators. We have a couple of words for it in Norwegian: "dumsnill" ("dumbkind") and "snillisme" ("kindism") and it's typical of the baby boomer and X generations who havn't really experienced enough evil to understand it. A typical notion is the naive old, "liberal" viewpoint of the past decades, that serial killers etc. simply had something bad happen during their childhood that made them the way they are. That anyone can be rehabilitated with the right understanding and a little bit of love. They actually believe all the sociopaths who lie with a straight face and make new stories up as they go along, for sympathy and manipulation. They overlook the scientific facts that even IF the parents gave them a horrible environment, they also gave them the genes. You can't teach a person empathy if they are born without that sense. It's a mental retardation, either inherited or from damage to the brain. The upbringing can only shape what is allready there.

    Us liberals often have slightly overactive and/or offset conscience, so we often put too much blame on ourselves. We might avoid conflict until we are 100% guilt free ourselves and know that we are 100% fair in our actions, -something we will of course never happen considering our sensibility. Anger tends to be directed inwards against one self. These weaknesses are something to overcome, and I think most would do so instantly when hard reality really come knocking.

    It should be noted that the struggle for civilization and progress more often than not have been pushed forward by peaceful, but FORCEFUL activism. Violence has a way of infecting the system, causing harm in ways one cannot stop once the creature is let out of the box. America is a violent place, and what do you think about Americas collective "karma" these days? It's sad to see your nation, which I have always been a fan of, having misspent so much of the capital it had won after WW2, and now become the victim of the same predatory forces it stood against in the myths, -both from the inside and outside. The fascists and tyrants who met defeat in the past never really went away, did they?

    Finally, I want to say: if we avoid glorifying the bad calls of the past, maybe we can avoid making similar ones in the futre, -even when faced with the next horrible death dealing situation. We learn from doing don't we?

    Øyvind Steensen

PS. Thanks for the radio shows!



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