Truman's Crimes

Julian Sanchez brilliantly dismantles the sadistic partisanship of Michael Goldfarb:

I realize it’s probably not a position taken often at the offices of the Weekly Standard, but the suggestion that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were war crimes is not, in fact, crazy or rare.  A Japanese legal review concluded as much two decades after the fact, Albert Einstein claimed before the fact (in a letter to Roosevelt) that the use of an atomic bomb would be a war crime, and indeed, the Wikipedia article devoted to the debate serious people have been having for 60 years contains a lengthy section titled “the bombings as war crimes.” To the extent it’s a controversial claim, it’s controversial because we don’t like calling U.S. presidents war criminals, not because it’s a difficult question whether obliterating entire areas inhabited by large civilian populations with the flimsiest of military targets as a pretext should now be regarded as a war crime.

Reporters, of course, were not allowed to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the wake of the atomic drop.

The grainy mushroom cloud pictures – abstract black and white photos akin to snapshots of volcanic ash – showed nothing of the violence below; these pictures were taken by the military and released to the press. Unflattering stories on the bombings were censored. The true horror of the atomic blasts wasn't recognized until much later and never made it into the American public's imagination the way Abu Ghraib did.  Will vents:

Aside from how little Goldbfarb’s “Truman was a war criminal, too!” argument makes sense, I’m totally baffled by people who defer to past atrocities for some sort of ethical guidance. Shouldn’t a just and decent society seek to improve its moral record? Shouldn’t we want to reevaluate past mistakes? Shouldn’t we be trying to make better moral judgments than our predecessors? One might assume that Americans would be interested in at least some introspection...