Fallows on Fire

Well, "on fire" is a relative term for the excessively thoughtful Fallows. He writes, in reference to the OPR report on the torture memos:

Through American history, there have been episodes of brutality and abuse that, in hindsight, span a very wide range of moral acceptability. There is no way to "understand" lynchings that makes them other than abominations. But -- to use the extreme case -- America's use of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki will always be the subject of first-order moral debate, about whether any "larger good" (forcing an end to the war) could justify the immediate suffering, the decades-long aftereffects, and the crossing of the "first use" frontier that this decision represented.

My point now is not to go through the A-bomb debate. It is to say that anyone who is serious in endorsing the A-bomb decision has to have fully faced the consequences. This is why John Hersey's Hiroshima was requisite basic knowledge for anyone arguing for or against the use of the bomb. The OPR report is essentially this era's Hiroshima. As Hersey's book does, it makes us confront what was done in our name -- "our" meaning the citizens of the United States.

For what it's worth, I think Hiroshima is a complicated issue when compared to torture. The bomb did, in fact, bring about the end of the War in the Pacific, and, of course, if Harry Truman hadn't used the bomb, he would have been impeached when the public learned that he refused to deploy a weapon that would have brought down Japan. Torture, on the other hand, has only made the current war -- and unlike Jim, I do think it's a war -- longer and more bitter. Torture is so obviously wrong and immoral in all cases that I have a difficult time understanding its defenders. I don't doubt their patriotism. Only their sanity.