Accuracy in Media

NowThis News produces a simplistic little piece on the use of the atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. It’s problem is that it glibly skates over all of the important points and produces a “Why is America so bad? ” narrative. The actual answer is that the use of the A bombs saved lives, not cost them. Here’s their text:

“It’s been 77 years since the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing tens of thousands of civilians and injuring tens of thousands more. But one question has always lingered. Why hasn’t the US ever apologized for acts that many have deemed war crimes. There are a few theories as to why the US has refused to offer a formal apology. First, it’s “either us or them” mentality. In 1996, President Clinton said no apology was needed because the bombs ended WWII. Agreeing with several of his predecessors who said the decision saved countless American lives. American textbooks have advanced the narrative that the bombs were dropped to end the war, and if they hadn’t been, US forces would have been forced to invade Japan, leading to many more American casualties. However, according to current affairs magazine, The Diplomat, the US had other options to secure Japanese surrender like formal negotiations or a continued economic blockade. Second reason? Possible demands for compensation. The Diplomat goes on to theorize that the US is also staying firm because apologizing could also prompt demands of compensation for individuals on the Marshall Islands, who are affected by contaminated land due to American nuclear bomb testing following the war. Third, we simply don’t deal in apologies. As Dartmouth College professor and author Jennifer Lind told the Washington Post, it’s just not our thing. But that doesn’t just go for the US, other countries are like that too, with two major exceptions being Japan itself as well as Germany.”

Many were killed by the A bombs, that’s true. But as Thomas Sowell is known to ask, “Compared to what?” The fire bombings of Tokyo killed around 100,000 people – using entirely conventional weapons. Yes, that’s more than the number killed by the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Similar conventional bombing of Dresden, Germany, killed an estimated 25,000 people a few months earlier.

If a land invasion of Japan had occurred, then many more conventional bombings would have been undertaken.  It’s not just the number of American lives saved – some estimates put it at 500,000 troops saved – but also the number of saved Japanese lives that needs to be counted.

NowThis News is a substantial part of the new media. The website might only gain 400,000 visits a month, but there are well over 2 million subscribers to its YouTube account. The problem is the shallowness of their stories, a shallowness leading to biased conclusions.

This story implies that the US almost used A bombs on Japan for the heck of it. There were other solutions, it seems to say.  Of course, people at the time thought differently, and they did have access to more information than we do.

The article also skips over another important matter: That some people say those bombings were a war crime isn’t proof of anything. One can call anything a war crime. What matters is whether the International Courts call something a war crime. And they haven’t. So, despite what “some people say,” there’s no reason for an apology.

 




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