Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ken Burns Affirms Truman’s Judgment and Humanity

Former President Harry Truman has received much opprobrium from left-wing circles in the U.S. and elsewhere for his decision to substitute two atomic bombs in place of a D-Day type invasion of Japan in 1945. It was interesting to me to observe during Ken Burn’s current documentary, “War”, that Burns reported that credible estimates of the human cost of such an invasion were in the neighborhood of 500,000 dead Americans and 6,000,000 dead Japanese.

These estimates were based on the experience that was gained by the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in particular where Japanese soldiers in the 100’s of thousands were killed, fighting to the last man, and 100,000 civilians also lost their lives – and by the tremendous onslaught of suicidal Kamikaze attacks carried out by the Japanese. It was also known that several million Japanese soldiers and practically every Japanese civilian were preparing to fight to the death to defend their homeland.

The number of Japanese casualties from the use of these bombs at Nagasaki and Hiroshima was 105,000 dead and 94,000 injured. Estimates of deaths from residual effects of these weapons vary widely with as many as 100,000 additional deaths accepted as possible. The decision to use the bombs and stop the war immediately instead of a two-year campaign leaving millions dead was obviously a wise one.

Ken Burns is widely recognized for his dedication to excellence and accuracy in his documentaries. He has won many awards for his previous series on “Baseball” and “The Civil War”.


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