Reason to use nuclear weapons
President Harry S. Truman convened a meeting with Henry L. Stimson, the secretary of war, General George C. Marshall, the U.S. Army chief of staff, and James F. Byrnes, the secretary of state, in the Oval Office.
The President asked Stimson about the need for using the atomic bomb against Japan. ``The successful test of the bomb gave the United States an important addition to its arsenal for achieving both diplomatic and military objectives,” Stimson pointed out and went on to recommend that the bomb be used against Japan in order to end the war as soon as possible and avoid the huge numbers of American casualties that an invasion would incur.
Truman asked Marshal for his opinion. He agreed with the views that Stimson expressed. He was skeptical that attacking Japanese cities with conventional weapons would end the war. Truman turned next to Byrnes. The secretary of state reached the same conclusion and said, ``The bomb was needed to spare the lives of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers, and by shortening the war, it would save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Japanese boys and millions more of the Japanese people.” Truman agreed with his advisers. He found no compelling reason to avoid using it.
The meeting described above never took place. The quotations are authentic but the context is not. Americans regarded the Japanese with a hatred of singular intensity. One reason was the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, a surprise attack that not only enraged Americans but humiliated them as well.
Another reason that Americans detested the Japanese with special ferocity was a series of hideous atrocities that the Imperial Army had committed, in addition to their racial stereotypes and animosities. For their part, the Japanese viewed Americans with equal hatred based on similarly warped stereotypes. They considered themselves racially superior not only to Westerners but also to other Asians. Hatred and animosities triggered the dropping of two atomic bombs.
In his palace in Pyongyang, new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un convened a meeting for the National Defense Commission (NDC). The NDC Secretary Jang Seong-thaek, Vice Marshal and Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Kim Yong-chun, and Army Gen. O Kuk-ryol attended.
``My dear father gave us this thing called a nuclear weapon. Are we going to use it, and if so to whom should it be aimed at?” the young leader asked Kim Yong-chun. Young Kim III didn’t like this old man’s Sphinx like countenance. The vice marshal always hides his feelings behind the decorative medals and overly sized army cap. But he was one of the loyalists of his grandfather. ``My dear comrade, it’s always aimed at Seoul, and we’re ready to fire at anytime upon your authorization,” the old soldier declared. ``Yes, your comrade, it is so,” Gen. O intervened.
Kim III next turned to his uncle, Jang. ``Hold on, general. What would we gain by shooting this horrible weapon into South Korea? The whole world is pressing us to abandon it. We can’t get food aid from the South and America until we do something about this monstrous arsenal. If we use it, Americans will do the same against us,” Jang emphasized.
``Aren’t the people in the South Korean? They didn’t invade us and are rather flattering and trying to please us all the time. I’m afraid I find no reason to hate, and have no animosities against South Koreans; I find no compelling reasons to create a holocaust in the South,” mumbled the Swiss educated young leader. The silence filled the meeting room.
The meeting described above hasn’t taken place yet. But the conversation and the context could happen.
The writer is a retired architect-specifications writer, who shuttles back and forth between Seoul and New Jersey. E-mail him at email@example.com.