Hiroshima, North Korea, and the End of Just War

By John Zmirak Published on August 10, 2017

The crisis over North Korea has deepened at a darkly fitting moment: in the week when we mark the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Just as Christians (more than most Americans I think) debate the rightness or wrongness of those U.S. bombings to end a war, such a choice might be repeated. North Korea is testing missiles that could strike American cities with nuclear weapons. We stand in very grave danger, as we haven’t since 1991 when the Soviet Empire folded. We face very similar stakes to those Harry Truman did in 1945. And the same deep questions arise. There are no easy answers.

Right now, President Trump is certainly weighing the possibility of massive, pre-emptive airstrikes against North Korea. In such an attack, some hundreds of thousands of North Korean civilians would likely die, simply because they are too close to our military targets. (Their tyrants arranged that on purpose.) Our attack would have to be incredibly rapid and overwhelmingly powerful. Nothing less would stop North Korea from incinerating the nearby capital of South Korea, Seoul, with massive artillery attacks aimed at civilians.

Fire and Fury

And we still might not succeed. Short of launching “city-buster” strategic nuclear weapons that simply wiped North Korea off the map, population and all, that is. President Trump surely knows this. He showed his typical bluntness when he said so to the White House Press corps. If North Korea attacks American Guam, as it recently threatened, he said: “They will be met with the fire and fury like the world has never seen.” That isn’t bluster. Nothing less might save South Korea from a brutal attack, and hundreds of thousands of American service people from perishing in a brutal conventional war.

The North Korean regime is as evil and anti-human as the Japanese we faced in 1945. That isolated, cult-like Communist party has shown the same contempt for civilian lives that the bushido-spouting warriors of Japan showed in China and the Philippines. The Japanese militarists armed housewives, old men, and children with wooden rifles. They ordered them, in case of a U.S. land invasion, to fight to the death. Most Japanese soldiers refused to surrender, even when battle was hopeless. Japanese airmen willingly conducted terrifying suicide bomb attacks — anticipating Islamists by decades.

Two U.S. atomic bomb drops obliterated hundreds of thousands of Japanese. Even then, most of that country’s war cabinet refused to surrender. It took Emperor Hirohito, breaking custom, to overrule them. He, at least, didn’t want to perish on an ash heap.

A Dead-End Regime

The North Korean Communists have equal contempt for the lives of their own countrymen. The regime has willingly sacrificed tens of thousands in artificial famines. Thousands more languish in concentration camps.

We’ve learned from defectors that Mao Zedong wanted to risk a nuclear war with the West during the first Korean War — telling Soviet leaders that China could afford to lose a “few” hundred million. If that was the price of destroying capitalism. We now know that Fidel Castro told Nikita Khrushchev that he could accept the obliteration of Cuba — again, if that meant that the West was also destroyed. The leaders of North Korea have made it clear that they will gladly make their people pay that price, rather than let go of power.  

It’s all too easy to look back from the comfort of our present peace and freedom and condemn those who waged old wars. Men like Harry Truman. We can and should think through the choices that they made and weigh them in the balance. But we should do so with grave respect for the gravity of the burdens that they carried.

Walking in Truman’s Moccasins

There are crucial moral questions that arose in 1945, which have popped up again today. I don’t have easy answers. The fact that we face them now reminds us of the tragic dimension of life. The fact that man is fallen, and evil walks the earth — in our own hearts as well as our enemies’.

First let’s stipulate the facts surrounding our last use of massive atomic firepower to end a war and preserve our soldiers. Most of these facts apply almost as well, alas, to the current situation in Korea.

  • The Japanese regime had zero concern for human life. On balance, it worried more about protecting its soldiers than its civilians.
  • A conventional invasion of the home islands would have likely cost at least 250,000 U.S. combat troops’ lives. Perhaps double that many.
  • The conventional bombing required to make that invasion successful, and the impact of massive combat, would likely have claimed far more civilian lives than we snuffed out in our two atomic attacks.
  • The use of the atomic bombs stunned and genuinely frightened our Soviet rivals. The only thing that in subsequent decades would stop them from using their massive conventional superiority to overrun Western Europe? The threat that the U.S. would obliterate its cities. As we’d shown we were perfectly willing to do.

Weigh against this, though, the moral price we paid when wiped out enemy cities — not just in Japan, but in Europe, during our indiscriminate bombings of cities such as Dresden. We flouted a central principle of Christian just war morals: that you should never target civilians instead of soldiers in a war. We said that it was acceptable, sometimes, to intentionally kill large numbers of innocents, to attain the greater good. Archbishop Fulton Sheen later said that when we used the atomic bomb, we guaranteed that we would someday legalize abortion. We showed that we would cross any line at all, if we thought the outcome was important enough.

A New Pagan Ethic

It took centuries of Christian culture in Europe for us to gradually start living up to the standards that St. Augustine had set back in the fourth century.

It’s not really natural to worry in time of war about the women and children among the enemy. Chimpanzees don’t, and pagans rarely do. Our fallen nature goads us to bloodlust, to summon ruthlessness that suppresses our secret fear. Ancient cultures frequently waged wars of extermination or enslavement. It took centuries of Christian culture in Europe for us to gradually start living up to the standards that St. Augustine had set back in the fourth century. That’s when he codified Just War teaching. Europe only really started living up to those standards, however, in the 17th century, as Caleb Carr documented in The Lessons of Terror. Before that, cities that had resisted a siege for longer than was customary were considered “fair game” for rape and pillage.

As Carr notes, in the 1920s, generals appalled by the slaughter of their soldiers in World War I developed the theory of strategic bombing. Instead of sacrificing our soldiers in frontal attack, we would strike the soft underbelly of our enemies: their cities and citizens. That would provoke collapse, and end wars sooner. The strategy didn’t really pay off for most of World War II: the Blitz didn’t convince the British to surrender. Allied bombs didn’t cause the Nazi government to collapse.

But at the very end it did: The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki did end the war with Japan. They saved countless U.S. soldiers, and even Japanese civilians. Most importantly, they deterred a Communist conquest of Europe. The price? We lived for generations on the knife-edge of mutual assured nuclear destruction. And our Culture of Death advanced. Since we paid for our freedom in coin of nuclear blackmail, could we really have stopped it?

I have no glib answers for today’s dreadful showdown. I fear that the best likely outcome will still be completely appalling. Great evil may happen to millions of innocents north and south of the border in Korea. It may be unavoidable. We shouldn’t forget that these evils emerge first of all from the wicked system of socialism, which starves and slaves the North and covets the South. It would take a devastating war to reduce South Korea to the level that the North “enjoys” in peacetime. That’s because socialism itself is a kind of war, waged against human nature itself, without any boundaries or limits.

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  • Nobody Specific

    Great article but please review the history around Dresden. That bombing was not “indiscriminate” That city was targeted because if the Nazi’s had decided to keep up the fight it would have become a major transportation and supply hub. Destroying that city likely saved the lives of countless allied soldiers and helped ensure that D-day really would result in capitulation. Had the total destruction of Dresden not occurred the the land war might well have continued. It really was the same consideration/decision as using the nuclear bombs in Japan. The only really difference was method.

    • Mensa Member

      I generally agree with your point but isn’t “indiscriminate” a valid description of the bombing of Dresden? The Allies bombed everybody and everything indiscriminately.

      I remember reading that the US was against the indiscriminate bombing but after the Blitz, the British were insistent that civilians be killed. (sorry, I don’t have a link for that.)

    • Zmirak

      You’ve just described strategic bombing, which considers any target of any use at all a military one. By that standard, you could literally bomb every square inch of a country, including children’s hospitals, and claim that you were targeting the war effort–since those kids could grow up to be workers or soldiers.

      • Nobody Specific

        Thanks for the reply. On one level that is true, on another I am not sure I quite agree. Certainly a children’s hospital is off limits those are non combatants and we don’t know if they will be our enemies in the future or not.

        On the other hand I think its legitimate to bomb say a tire factory or an engine plant. Those workers know they are actively producing materials that will be used in the war effort. Just because they don’t have a uniform on does not absolve them of responsibility. Dresden was major rail-way depot, and its true that perhaps it could have been more effectively targeted.

        I think we owe it to the men and women who saved our freedom the benefit of the doubt. WWII era bombing was extremely inaccurate in terms of targeting effort, something like 45% or weapons fell on target. Even if you did have the intelligence to reliably even identify what should be targets, no guarantees.

        • AdamBGraham

          I’m sorry but this way of thinking conflates the people with the state. They are never the same. It is very clear in America that the actions of the state do not represent the desires of the people and there is no reason to think that any other example is any different. I bear no moral responsibility for what someone does with something that I create, especially in the case at such a level of abstraction as a tire.

          And please do not repeat the trope that veterans of 20th century foreign wars were “fighting for our freedom.” This was never the intention of those who actually waged war to begin with and those who participated, while brave in their respective circumstances, were deceived. This is patriotic correctness. Though I empathize with those who were put in the position, I do not owe those military leaders any benefit of my doubt.

      • Paul

        Deut. 20.16-18 and 1 Sam 15:2-3 come to mind.

  • AdamBGraham

    I appreciate the author’s relative restraint and attempt to recognize the difficulty of the situation but there are far too many half truths and distortions in the history. For instance, the Japanese reluctance to surrender had less to do with their stubbornness or barbarism and more to do with the insistence on unconditional surrender by the US. As well, no one seems to consider the obvious third option between land invasion and nuclear weapons: no action at all. Germany was out of the war, Japan was already limping after the firebombing of Tokyo. Why not call it off and spare the lives of both sides? The worst part is that without supporting the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and their participation in the Pacific theater, there would be no present day North Korean split in the first place that is precipitating these current day conflicts.

    • Mensa Member

      Thanks for the facts. You clearly know way more than I do o this subject.

      But I did live in Japan and spoke with more than a few Japanese about the war.

      It’s inconceivable to me that the war could have been called it off at that point. One woman told me that she was part of a children’s army prepared to attack the landing soldiers with sharpened bamboo poles. This was after the fire bombing!

      Do I think the ware was preventable? Yes! But not at that point.

    • Zmirak

      We could have imposed a starvation blockade, and waited them out, yes. Would have been closer to the letter (if not the spirit) of Just War teaching. Would likely have killed more. The part of the surrender the Japanese resisted was the removal of their militarist regime. Imagine cutting a deal that left Hitler or Goering in charge of a ruined Germany. We drew the lesson from World War I that leaving a hostile military caste with realy power (as Versailles did) was very dangerous. Also, they were war criminals on an epic scale and needed to hang.

      • AdamBGraham

        It would have been an option, sure. Another option would be to decide we didn’t want any more death or destruction of any kind and to pack up and leave them in disarray.

        Regarding surrender, indeed they were reticent to have their emperor dethroned. But this wasn’t even the US position! Taken from Ralph Raico:

        “To the Japanese, this meant that the emperor – regarded by them to be divine, the direct descendent of the goddess of the sun – would certainly be dethroned and probably put on trial as a war criminal and hanged, perhaps in front of his palace.103 It was not, in fact, the U.S. intention to dethrone or punish the emperor. But this implicit modification of unconditional surrender was never communicated to the Japanese. In the end, after Nagasaki, Washington acceded to the Japanese desire to keep the dynasty and even to retain Hirohito as emperor.

        For months before, Truman had been pressed to clarify the U.S. position by many high officials within the administration, and outside of it, as well. In May 1945, at the president’s request, Herbert Hoover prepared a memorandum stressing the urgent need to end the war as soon as possible. The Japanese should be informed that we would in no way interfere with the emperor or their chosen form of government. He even raised the possibility that, as part of the terms, Japan might be allowed to hold on to Formosa (Taiwan) and Korea.”

        So after positing unconditional terms and dropping bombs on civilians, Hirohito, untried, unhanged, and the empire stays until 1989. That doesn’t sound like noble statesmen attempting to ensure justice is had. That sounds like political bargaining of the spoils of war at the expense of the people.

        I’m not quite sure what conclusions you draw from WWI but I believe it is pretty well accepted that were it not for the punitive measure of Versailles there would be no Hitler to begin with.

        • Zmirak

          Look, I wish that Germany and Austria had WON World War I. But given that they lost, there should have been EITHER a fair peace–not politically possible–OR something much more Carthaginian, like splitting Germany up again, with Bavaria and Rhineland allied to France (a live proposal among the French negotiators). The Entente managed the worst of both worlds: to enrage the Germans, but leave them united enough to seek payback.

          • Zmirak

            They also let the German military class remain in place, and let the Germans draft a fairly illiberal constitution with room for emergency dictatorial powers.

          • AdamBGraham

            Unfortunately the same sort of thing that we give our executive nowadays. Thanks for the engagement. I don’t want to get too far off track from the article topic.

          • Mensa Member

            Zimirak and Adam,

            I’m impressed with how smart you guys are about the war. I have question:

            Why did WWI happen?

            I read a long book on this specific question (I forget the title) but didn’t get a clear answer.

            My unsatisfactory take-away was that a game-changing realignment of Europe was inevitable in the 20th Century and countries were willing to fight over their place in the future.

            It’s not a very neat answer but nothing seems to neatly explain WWI.

          • Mensa Member

            I remembered the book. It was “The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914” by Christopher Clark. Years ago I also read famous Tuchman book.

          • AdamBGraham

            Wow, that’s very off topic but obviously a very interesting topic 🙂

            I would recommend Jim Powell on issues of WWI. I don’t believe the Stream likes links in the comments so I would search for Jim Powell’s “A Libertarian View of the Worst Catastrophe”. Seems to provide quite the backstory to the conflict. As well, Dan Carlin has a series on WWI as part of his Hardcore History podcast.

          • Robert Hightower

            The Paris Treaty of 1919 established the foundation of the majority of conflicts. Including the middle east. Man is not infallible and we always see everything in hindsight.

      • John King

        The fact that both Eisenhower and MacArthur, as well as literally all of our greatest heroes of WWII were against dropping the bombs is highly persuasive to me. Ike believed Japan was already preparing to surrender, and MacArthur believed that they definitely would if the Allies would allow them to keep the Emperor. Leahy, Nimitz, Halsey, etc. all said the dropping of the bombs was unnecessary to get Japan to surrender.

        Also, the USSR declared war against Japan between the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. This was a huge surprise to Japan, and I believe most scholars now say this was a greater influence on their surrender than the bombs. The reason being: they saw the USSR’s neutrality toward them as their one chance to bargain with the Allies for a “conditional” surrender (i.e. keeping the emperor). The Soviet declaration against them obviously crushed that hope.

        So in the end, why did the Allies bomb Nagasaki after the Soviet declaration? Why did they insist on unconditional surrender before the end of the war, but ultimately allow Japan to keep the emperor (which MacArthur wisely saw as necessary)? I fully agree that we should give some benefit of the doubt to historical figures carrying unbelievable burdens through a fog of war, but if I were asked to trust the collective opinion of our greatest military heroes or Harry Truman, I would probably choose the heroes.

        • AdamBGraham

          Hear, hear.

        • Dean Bruckner

          Yeah, MacArthur, the guy who wanted to nuke the Chinese when they invaded Korea, and arrogantly undermined Truman after Truman told him no. That hero.

          • John King

            The use of “heroes” is admittedly an unhelpful subjective judgment. Better to use “top American military figures of WWII,” nearly all of whom felt the bomb was strategically unnecssary.”

            MacArthur’s supposed plans to use the bomb in Korea are still debated. But either way, you cant judge the MacArthur (or Truman) of 1945 in light of later statements or actions. Well you could, but it wouldn’t be persuasive on this issue.

            My only point was that our military leaders were nearly all against using the bomb.

        • Craig Roberts

          Had we not ended the war the way we did, Japan might have ended up a soviet satellite like so many other eastern European allies.

          • John King

            Maybe yes, maybe no, but either way, does that mere possibility (made more sure by our post-hoc vantage point) justify obliterating mass amounts innocent civilians? What about the use of the second bomb?

          • Craig Roberts

            You’re right. We should have saved the second bomb for Moscow.

      • Craig Roberts

        HANG THEM??? But that’s …that’s ….CAPITAL PUNISHMENT! Shame on you. You want to rip apart the Catholic seamless garment.

        No but, for realsies, the ‘seamless garment’ theory is just as impractical and impossible as ‘just war theory’. It is sheer moral and intellectual vanity to think man can wage war in a ‘just’ fashion. Hiroshima and Nagasaki prove it.

      • Howard

        And yet, very few of those Japanese actually did hang. If Hirohito had gone to the gallows, you might have a point, but the US (and the other allies who mostly followed the US lead) were much, much gentler on the Japanese than on the Germans.

  • Mensa Member

    I pray that Trump won’t bluster us into another needless war.

    There are no easy answers but containment is immeasurably easier than nuclear war.

    And I hope that Americans understand that dropping a bomb won’t end it. The worst case scenario is actually a likely one; it triggers a war with China. The least-worst-case scenario isn’t great — America has to spend another trillion dollars cleaning up it’s mess.

    • Paul

      Yes because containment and ‘stategic patience’ has worked so well thus far.

      • AdamBGraham

        Exactly when was it tried thus far?

        • Paul

          That’s partly my point, it’s politician talk for do little and kick the can that I’ve been hearing for well over a decade. There’s been sanctions of some sort or another for many years to what effect?

          True containment would be siege warfare, is it better to starve them to death or bomb them to death?

          • AdamBGraham

            Pretty sure neither is better. The South Koreans want reunification, as I believe they always have. That can’t happen as long as we are present occupying South Korea, subsidizing their defense and feeding fuel to the Kim dynasty propaganda machine.

            But if you’re saying that diplomacy has not worked thus far, I would again ask what exactly has been tried and failed? Sanctions are acts of aggression and war and do a lot more damage to the people than to the regime. So I’d like to ensure that you’re not just parroting a talking point you’ve heard and know the actual history of our relationship with North Korea.

          • Paul

            Are you proposing the US simply leave?

          • AdamBGraham

            Does that seem preposterous to you? If so, I would ask why? Do you honestly believe that American military presence is a stabilizing force…anywhere in the world? At least long term?

          • Paul

            I don’t mind discussing it, how do you think it would result in the Korean peninsula if there was no US presence in the overall region?

          • AdamBGraham

            Well, North Korea seems to enjoy keeping to themselves in the sense that they have not attempted to meddle in the politics of surrounding countries. China and Russia have pretty good reasons for not wanting a humanitarian crisis with refugees pouring over their borders and are far more geographically incentivized to be involved in diplomacy with them. And South Korea now has a government which is actively calling for peace talks and I know that many south Koreans are still estranged from family and fellow people there. So I certainly could see things working slowly and steadily toward reunification. But that would most likely happen if tensions were not high and sanctions were not in place meaning that goods and people would be more freely exchanged.

          • Paul

            Personally I don’t think it would be too long before China dominated the Korean peninsula.

          • AdamBGraham

            I suppose it’s possible. I haven’t seen a case made for it or why it would succeed long term. But if they’d like to try, far be it for us to stop them from making mistakes.

          • Paul

            If we weren’t there all along I’m pretty sure it would be a unified Communist puppet state.

          • AdamBGraham

            Well, I’m not sure who it would be a puppet of. Whether it would be Communist or not is certainly a point of contention. It’s not as though the South wasn’t a puppet dictatorship throughout much of history after WWII so as far as that goes it doesn’t fare amazingly better. But since it’s not in the nature of national defense to prevent states from choosing to implode into Communism, if that’s what they settled on, then so be it. I wouldn’t be happy about it but the alternative is military welfare and government by force.

          • Paul

            “But since it’s not in the nature of national defense to prevent states from choosing to implode into Communism…”

            IMO hindering Communism was a worthy goal. Many mistakes made along the way though.

            “… if that’s what they settled on, then so be it. I wouldn’t be happy
            about it but the alternative is military welfare and government by
            force.

            There’s other alternatives, like democratic forms of govt and allies.

          • AdamBGraham

            I appreciate your even temper. Hindering communism may very well be a noble goal. But using force and subversion to achieve that in another sovereign nation is never noble. As well, I would put no stock in the stated goals of Cold War era actions by the US. These were not noble government actors trying to give people freedom. These were government actors trying to gain prestige and power on a global scale. Ask yourself, if stopping Communism was really that important to us, why support Stalin during WWII, the…third?…most murderous regime in history? Why agree to give him Manchuria, Korea, and eastern Europe from Berlin to their border? Why not stop China and Cambodia with military force? If the ends justify the means, why stop with Korean armistice and small South American countries?

            Sorry, that turned into a bit of a rant 🙂

            And of course there are other alternative forms of government. But again, there are plenty of countries that don’t want it and won’t have it. So to not allow them their own self-determination is to deny a central American principle. We don’t get to dictate what is best for another group of people. We don’t even get to dictate what’s best for us for another group of people, which is routinely what occurred in practice.

          • Paul

            But using force and subversion to achieve that in another sovereign nation is never noble.

            What is or isn’t noble isn’t always black and white, but during the cold war I’d suggest it was necessary at times.

            Ask yourself, if stopping Communism was really that important to us, why support Stalin during WWII, the…third?…most murderous regime in history?

            War can make for odd bedfellows for a time to vanquish a common adversary.

            Why agree to give him Manchuria, Korea, and eastern Europe from Berlin to their border?

            Because no one would listen to Patton (bad mistake) and the fight in the Pacific had to be finished.

          • AdamBGraham

            All I see here are assertions without grounding so I will thank you for the conversation. I hope it’s been profitable for everyone.

          • Paul

            Have a good evening, I’ve enjoyed the conversation.

          • Dean Bruckner

            Your ideas are those of a blind fool.

          • Mensa Member

            >> True containment would be siege warfare

            Oh, goodness, please no!

            Sieges, occupations and long wars are empire enders.

          • Paul

            Wait, earlier you were calling for containment but now are saying ‘please no!’

            Sounds like you just want more of the same that got us here and using this news cycle to jab Trump.

      • Mensa Member

        >> Yes because containment and ‘stategic patience’ has worked so well thus far.

        Why do you think every president before Trump, both Democrat and Republican, has done that?

        Because it’s kept us out of a nuclear war!

        North Korea has been bragging and shooting missiles for decades They now have 1950s technology, at best. Even passably smart presidents know that containment and patience is the least-worst strategy.

        Would an analogy help? North Korea and America are like a drunken twerp challenging Muhammad Ali to a fight a bar. Yes, Ali could probably kill him with one hit. But that’s a loss for Ali. The trouble for Ali only gets worse after that.

        Better is for Ali to whisper in someone’s ear and get the twerp thrown out and then to just laugh at the pathetic threats coming from the alley behind the bar.

        But not Trump! His ego is too fragile and his judgment too bad. .

        • ncsugrant

          You are dangerously naive.
          “whisper in someone’s ear and get the twerp thrown out”?
          Which entity do you suggest we whisper this message to?
          As for past presidents’ perceived success with “strategic patience”, it would seem that showing off ICBM capability along with credible claims of being able to arm them with nuclear warheads would 1) challenge the notion that past efforts were successful at all, and 2) put the US on a completely different footing as to how to respond to continued threats.
          The crazy fat kid is not a potential threat for some future President, he is a real threat right now.

          • AdamBGraham

            They have nuclear weapons because we broke promises and drove them to them. I would say it’s precisely past president’s failures that things are as bad as they are, present president included.

          • Paul

            I’m curious which broken promises and by whom you’re referring to.

          • AdamBGraham

            Absolutely. Are you aware that North Korea was previously a member of the non-proliferation treaty? That they were participating in talks with Clinton to reach an agreement to dismantling any nuclear program that they had? And that Bush 42 effectively sabotaged the deal by declaring them part of an axis of evil and supporter of terrorism? That they waited for the US to fulfill their portion of agreements for a decade or so, I believe?

          • Paul

            They were talking with Clinton because they had already broken their non-proliferation agreement and were trying to leverage their technology for a nice payout. That makes it Bush’s fault?

          • AdamBGraham

            Well, let’s see. 1994, the agreement is made for non-proliferation and IAEA inspection. Things go relatively well through 2000 with more talks scheduled. The Bush administration then announces they don’t plan on continuing those talks. Then calls them part of an axis of evil along with Middle Eastern countries. Then invades one of them for shoddy reasons. Then they pull out completely.

            I’d say he’s partly responsible for making relations worse.

          • Paul

            Actually North Korea agreed to non proliferation in the 80’s and they were suspected of cheating and refused tighter inspections.

            You think things went well in the 90’s? You mean the period of time when the CIA now thinks NK has actually developed nukes that they weren’t suposed to be making in the first place and they kept advancing their missile technology including sending one over Japan and sharing with Iran. That’s progress? Bush sees the obvious that NK isn’t abiding by their agreements and he’s to blame? Obviously we see things quite differently.

          • AdamBGraham

            Relations that don’t involve back and forth shows of force and threats? Yeah, I’d say that’s better than what we have now. Any time you mention reactions of one power without mentioning the actions of another we always come up looking the hero. But why should I view any of our provocations or threats as good natured and others not? Do you trust presidential judgments? Not one president for decades has had any clue about foreign policy and has more or less been a puppet of established think tanks and lobbyists. I hope you don’t trust anything being said today about Syria, Iran, Russia, Iraq, or any of the other scapegoats of the past couple of decades. Trust the CIA? The agency whose job it is to deceive anyone necessary in order to orchestrate their desired order? Yes, I’d say that if that does describe you, we indeed do see things quite differently.

          • Paul

            You do realize you laid blame for all this on the US with particular emphasis on Bush without mentioning all the violations by North Korea that predated his Presidency. And yet when I point them out I’m somehow being one sided? I don’t claim Bush is a saint, but your lopsided assertions were shown to be exactly that. Clinton didn’t take care of business in North Korea and neither did Bush or Obama and now we’re here with this mess. Now it’s conspiracies about the establishment, lobbyists and CIA? Whatever.

          • AdamBGraham

            That may be a warranted observation, I agree, and I apologize if I made it seem like that possibility was exclusive to you. I would like to think that my own emphasis on US violations to the exclusion of any corresponding NK violations was due to those violations either being overblown, fabricated, or simply not deserving the type of response that followed. But I’m sure that both of us are at the limit of what we deeply know on the subject so that is mostly my impression based on accounts I’ve read, not something I’m fully studied on. Thanks again. I’ll give you any last word you’d like.

          • Pat andDerry

            Putin announced the already had working nukes in 2001 when he met Kim Jong Il

  • Sarah Pierzchala

    The “never target civilians” argument rarely acknowledges that Evil, knowing Good’s restraints, often has no problem with using civilians as human shields around military installations, or in placing military equipment around hospitals and schools…

    • Mensa Member

      True. ISIS uses civilians as shields. Clearly a war crime.

      But it’s also a war crime if we don’t minimize civilian deaths.

    • AdamBGraham

      Seems like a gulf of difference between attacking military targets with controllable weapons and having civilian deaths and using a nuclear weapon on a city on purpose with the intent of incurring civilian casualties.

      • Mensa Member

        “Seems like” is an understatement.

        Trump’s nuclear braggadocio is horrendous.

        • AdamBGraham

          Indeed, understatement for rhetorical effect 🙂

        • Dean Bruckner

          What is atrocious is your braggadocio about approving things that God has condemned. What is atrocious is the way the Clinton and Obama administrations fled in smug, self-justifying cowardice and committed treason and grave dereliction of duty. What is atrocious is the way your u cozy up to evil and treat the good, true and beautiful as garbage. That is what is atrocious.

        • Howard

          Let’s be fair: Trump invented none of this. America has based its power on nuclear weapons since 1945, and having more nuclear weapons than anyone else is the main reason the US has been a “superpower” that whole time: a nation is a superpower not on the basis of what it can create, but what it can destroy. Also, every time you have heard a president say, “I’m not ruling anything out, and I’m not ruling anything in,” what he is refusing to rule out is a nuclear strike against a civilian population. That’s what he means, and everyone knows it, but the threat is considered more polite because it is more vague.

        • I guess even ” Mensa members” can be very ignorant of the truth. The ONLY thing thugs understand is strength. President Reagans quote was “peace through strength” and the god forsaken Berlin Wall came down. Please become teachable for your own sake.

  • It’s fascinating in seeing the comments so far on this post that the debates over Hiroshima, Nagasaki and similar situations continue to this day. And that is a good thing. The day we stop debating about them or asking ourselves these questions are the day we lose our humanity.

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    I could be wrong, but if this Kim fellas history means anything as well as the track record of his two predecessors then suicide is likely not the objective. Prior administrations placated these guys to some extent, throwing money & questionable sanctions at them. A containment of sorts was the result. Dubious at best this containment was in actuality merely a pass, contributing the time & dollars the DPRK have since demonstrated to be potentially fatal to at least a few million innocents somewhere in the civilized world. I don’t think this Kim fella shares the idealogical convictions of either a Castro or a Mao. His primary interest is the perpetuation of his families criminal reign. Sure if destroying more of the North Korean population is required to secure his aims, then not a problem for him. That however is not the situation . Any provocation other than more verbiage will silence him forever. Trump is speaking in terms this guy can understand. Unless survival is absent from the Kim agenda, then it’s unlikely that any demonstration of nuclear might is on the evening menu. I mean just how “crazy” is he really? Crazy as a fox is more likely the case. Now that nukes are in the equation, thanks in part to the good folks in China, Iran, Russia & a couple of prior USA administrations, the time for appeasement is over. The DPRK must now be looked at as a virus that needs to be eradicated. A very sick patient in need of healing. So is there a cure ? A just war ? No war is fully just. It’s just the lessor of two or more evils. Presently the lessor of those evils for Kim is to avoid suicide, the inevitable result of any engagement w/this administration. The more superficial side of me would relish the chance for us to show off just how much of a hyper power we are.
    The more thoughtful side prefers otherwise. I hope the thoughtful side is vindicated in the days ahead.

  • Kent Van Cleave

    It isn’t socialism. It is communism, coupled with totalitarianism.

  • Obviously great amounts of prophecy is being fulfilled daily. The little butter ball from hell is one of the Kings of the East. Yes he will fall hard and many of his pitiful people with him.

    • Pat andDerry

      Surely he is a Kim of the East.

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