Atomic Anniversary

August 7, 2017

Is America Guilty on Atomic Anniversary?

Institute on Religion and Democracy Press Release
August 7, 2017
Contact: Jeff Walton office: 202-682-4131, cell: 202-413-5639, e-mail:

“Every step Truman could have taken seems likely to have led to the deaths of innocents. In light of the options, he chose the greatest possible good.”
-Marc LiVecche, IRD Scholar on Christian Ethics, War and Peace.

Washington, DC—This week marks the anniversaries of the atomic strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II. The strikes killed 150-250,000, and the war killed 50-60 million, about a third of whom were killed by imperialist Japan’s aggression in the Pacific.

The strikes were terrible acts with terrible consequences. But were they wrong?

IRD President Mark Tooley and Providence Managing Editor Marc LiVecche are available for Christian comment on 72nd anniversary of atomic strikes.

Marc LiVecche, IRD Scholar on Christian Ethics, War and Peace commented:

“Some insist the unleashing of the atomic bombs over Japan was a clear-cut case of mass murder – the intentional slaughter of the innocent.

“The most common rebuttal to the idea that the atomic bombings were immoral is that they, in fact, saved lives, even civilian lives.

“It matters, surely, that it was Japanese militarism that chose to launch its grasping aggression across the Pacific in the first place. America, with her citizen soldiers, was roused to repel unjust attacks, to take back what was wrongly taken, and to punish evil. The cancellation of Operation Downfall, the invasion, quite obviously saved allied lives.

“Every step Truman could have taken seems likely to have led to the deaths of innocents. In light of the options, he chose to obtain the greatest good he could given the options available.

“Choices between a little death or a lot or between combatant deaths or noncombatant deaths do not seem the choices that were available.

“Under the auspices of the just war tradition grief is always in play: lament, reluctance, and a fervent desire that another way could have been found always attend the use of force. But grief is not equivalent to guilt.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

“This week is an appropriate time to recall both the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and, even more so, the exponentially larger horrors of war and atrocities that the U.S. atomic strikes ended.

“The Second World War was facilitated partly by Utopian and pacifist religious voices of the 1930s that dreamily denied the horrific reality of Nazism and Japanese aggression, while still advocating disarmament and endless accommodation of aggression by the West.

“Beating swords into plowshares is the hope for all believers in the Scriptures and the messianic promises. But in orthodox faith these promises of complete peace and absence of aggression are fulfilled only when God’s Kingdom is consummated, not through human exertions, which only can attain an approximate peace, at least for a season.”

2 Responses to Is America Guilty on Atomic Anniversary?

  1. Noel Elias says:

    War never solves anything but continues and festers the animosity and tensions that exist. To respect and understand each other and adopt compromise as the tool to solve differences will always be my choice rather than the barbaric acts of war.

  2. CKG says:

    The defense of the bombings as having ultimately saved both Allied and Japanese civilian lives by shortening the war and convincing the Imperial High Command that to continue the war was futile and indeed suicidal, is familiar, and even compelling, as far as it goes. . .

    But nevertheless, the bombings deliberately targeted tens of thousands of civilians, which cannot be squared with Just War Theory in any form. For that reason, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, at the very best, morally ambiguous.

    And, as Christians, we ought to mourn the fact that Nagasaki contained the largest population of Japanese Christians at that time. . .

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