The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Bomb, PBS, and Left Wing Bias

Funnily enough, on the same day that the New York Times publishes a story about conservative concern over Left Wing bias on PBS, The American Experience airs Victory in the Pacific on PBS, a documentary that essentially defends the American use of the atomic bomb on Japan. It has become popular in Left Wing circles to argue that the use of this bomb was immoral, unnecessary, used only as a tool for the coming Cold War, and used only because Japanese were brown people despised by the mostly white US. So the argument goes, the Americans would never have used the bomb on Germany. (This argument ignores what English and American bombers did to the city of Dresden)

There is a scene towards the end of the English patient when the nurse's Indian sapper lover hears about the use of the bomb on Japan and he runs around moaning and tearing his hair out. The author's intimation is that the Indian knows that the Americans have only used the bomb because they felt they were dropping it on little brown people. My hunch is that if the bomb were ready, the Americans would have easily as dropped it on Germany.

The show makes a pretty convincing case that the use of the bomb was justified under the circumstances of that war. The producers and historians show how Japan had increased the number of divisions in the south (the invasion route from 3 in June to 13 in August). The Americans had only planned on using 9 divisions to invade the island of Kyushu. The leader of the Imperial Army was arguing that Japan (and the Emperor) should be defended until the very last person. Witnesses recount how as children they were being trained to participate in the fighting by blowing up tanks. Japan was still looking for a mediated settlement through the Soviet Union when American terms of unconditional surrender were clear. Even after the Russians had invaded Manchuria and opened a second front in the war, even after two atomic bombs had been detonated over Japan, there was still a fierce arguement in the war cabinet over surrender. When the Emperor intervened to side with the peace faction led by Togo, a Coup by the army erupted and only failed when it became evident that the leadership of the army was bowing to the Emperors will. Overall the case is pretty strong and seems historically rigorous. Rather convincing evidence to me that PBS's problem isn't its Left Wing bias but its historical rigor and attention to detail.

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