Should the US apologize to Hiroshima survivors when President Obama visits next week?

Owatonna, MN Correspondent– “War is hell.” Famous words from General William T. Sherman during the Civil War. People die and are injured by acts of war. Innocent people in many cases. All because their leaders’ egos get in the way of peaceful coexistence.

In the case of the Hiroshima survivors, why must they be singled out for apologies other than the fact that the president of the country responsible for their fates happens to drop by for a visit? Do world leaders apologize to every group of people their country has wronged wherever the leaders’ travels take them?

And even if an apology is justified and given to every civilian who has ever been harmed by an act of war, what benefit does that apology bring to the wronged person? Talk is cheap. Is the apology sincere? Is it possible for the apology to be sincere since the apologizer usually comes along years or decades later, long after the real perpetrators are out of office or even dead?

Then there is the question of whether an apology is appropriate. Acts of war by nature are brutal and unfair, as well as deliberate. If the U.S. didn’t really mean to kill 100,000 civilians with one atomic bomb in Hiroshima, do they claim it was an accident? Why didn’t President Truman stop the attack, or not authorize it in the first place? The overwhelming reason is he ordered the bombing in a sincere effort to save multiples of lives more than were lost in Hiroshima. Especially valid was his reasoning that fewer American lives would be lost if the war ended quickly. And is it proper to apologize for an action that probably saved more lives than were lost?

Apology or not, it matters little to most survivors since the apology would be so far removed from the time of the bombing. And even if the apology is appropriate and sincere, will it offer any substantive healing to the victims, most of whom are too old to benefit much from a few words of regret. Still, regrets over the taking of innocent lives are preferable to glorifying war and death. Obama should apologize even if his words are only calculated political lip service intended to put a positive spin on America’s imperious foreign policy.

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent– Do we really comprehend the effects of war and what it does to those directly and indirectly involved? I think not! In my opinion, Obama is an outstanding President for what he’s trying to accomplish with a visit to Japan where the tragedy took place approximately 71 years ago. Should Obama be made to apologize to those survivors? Yes, I do believe so. Why? Many people might pose such a questionable question, but I believe he should apologize for two pertinent reasons.

1. We all know President Obama was not the one responsible for the nuclear weapon released on that very sad day. In fact, the man was not even conceived at that time. Why then, should he apologize for something he had no part in? Simply, Obama is the President of the United States of America. Irrespective of whether he was born or not, he’s the one who governs the affairs of the country and should be made to apologize on their behalf.
2. Another reason why he should apologize, sheds light on morality and justice – what is wrong and what is right. We all know what occurred in Hiroshima was wrong. In fact, no apology was given for shortening so many lives. In fact, I cannot recall a President of America visiting subsequent to the nuclear release on the area. Should Obama blatantly pay Hiroshima a visit, only to pretend that nothing of that sort happened? Apologizing shows good faith and grievance over what had happened. Those survivors need that form of closure. Obama should give that apology. If not, he’s just another man, nothing exemplary about him.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent– The United States should not apologize to Hiroshima survivors when Obama visits Japan, and he has publicly stated that he would not apologize for the bombs dropped at either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Obviously, he appears to understand that you can’t explain away the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March, Kamikaze attacks, and the torture, atrocities and deaths of thousands of Americans and others in forced labor camps throughout the war years.

His decision to not make the bombings an issue was a wise one, and he apparently recognizes that bringing up negative aspects concerning the end of the War in the Pacific should remain in the past. As he said in a statement, “I think that it’s important to recognize that in the midst of war, leaders make all kinds of decisions.” He also stated that he felt there were positives in the situation following World War II with the coming together of former enemies that became strong allies in the months and years that followed. Whether he believes in the statements he made is questionable, as political correctness rules the day with this president, and it is difficult to understand the underlying reasons for any of his decisions.

The survivors of Hiroshima feel differently about the apology and believe it is warranted and would still like to receive it, but are fearful that it would not be a productive move on their part. They have stood strong in their beliefs that the initial attack was horrific for them in more ways than one, particularly with the aftermath in their personal lives. Many have suffered work discrimination, physical abnormalities, and an inability to lead normal lives. They believe that there was no forthcoming apology from the president because of the difficulty it would present in expanding current relations and future diplomatic exchanges with their country and America.

The problem with an apology is that it has never been warranted and should not be expected. There are always casualties of war on all sides, and that is the nature of war. It is inhuman, but it would have been a direct affront to those who lost so much fighting against what Japan represented at the time to issue apologies. Those damaged by the bombs physically and personally should be provided for by their communities and government with secure jobs along with proper and technologically advanced medical treatments.
With America’s support of Japan from 1945-1952 through an occupation force led by General MacArthur, the island nation was transformed militarily, politically, economically and socially. The citizens of Japan need to realize that they were not abandoned in their war misery from the atomic bomb attacks, other bombings and the downfall of their country. America made good in its efforts to rescue, preserve and transform Japan to what it is today.

Had Japan been allowed to continue its imperial and destructive reign at the end of the war, it would have vanquished and destroyed its own country, islands and other nations in the region. The numbers of lives saved because of the dropping of the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki far outweighed the continuation of the war that would have brought on the loss of millions of lives. An invasion of the Japanese homeland was proposed but that decision was thwarted and the bombs were dropped. Previous to that, the Japanese had refused to surrender through the Potsdam Declaration/ Ultimatum. Their war machine, though winding down, had to be stopped or the loss of lives would escalate beyond the bombings of Tokyo and the atomic bomb drops. The terror of the bombings stopped the Japanese in their tracks, and when they realized more bombs could be on the way, they surrendered.

Even today, Japan must be made to understand the reprieves they have received since the end of World War II. No apologies are necessary.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent– I am no one’s idea of a warmonger. As the father of young sons who will one day be of draft age, I breathe a sigh of relief every time a peaceful solution is negotiated that avoids American boots on the ground in a foreign land.

That said, you will not find someone more supportive of our military and its personnel than me. We have the finest military in the world, and when we decide that it’s time to go to war, the force of our wrath is terrible. That was never more true than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the atomic bombs we dropped killed thousands and forever changed the face of warfare.

Should we apologize for Hiroshima? Why is this even a question? Our forces had driven the Japanese from almost every inch of territory they’d taken over the course of the war and occupied the island of Okinawa. The Japanese military, in thrall to its emperor, was prepared to defend the Japanese homeland to last man. Had we staged a land assault, the death toll on both sides would have been catastrophic, likely much higher than the number of dead from both bombs.

I have heard it said that we should apologize because the death caused by the bombs was one-sided. How’s that again? We come up with a weapon that wins us the war and doesn’t cost a single American life and we’re supposed to be sorry? That doesn’t wash. Does a boxer apologize for a knockout punch? (Yes, I know that’s oversimplifying, but the people making these arguments are fairly simple-minded.)

Any U.S. president who apologizes for Hiroshima is dishonoring the Americans who died over the course of war, and sullying the memory of their sacrifice.

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