It’s been called the “elephant in the room.”
Barack Obama is about to become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, Japan. The question of the day: Will he apologize for a decision one of his predecessors made to order the dropping of a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city? A corollary question: Should he apologize?
The late-May visit so far doesn’t include remarks from the president that amount to an apology.
Here’s some unsolicited advice, Mr. President: Don’t do it. There is no compelling need to apologize for a decision that President Truman made as a way to end the bloodiest conflict in human history.
The president said early in his time in office that he wanted to visit Hiroshima, which was targeted on Aug. 6, 1945 as the place where the United States would drop this then-secret weapon.
Many thousands of civilians died in that horrific blast. Are there regrets today for what happened then? Yes.
Let’s set this in some context.
Nazi Germany had surrendered in May 1945 to advancing Soviet, American, British and Allied troops. The war in the Pacific Theater was still raging, although Japan had retreated from all the territory it had claimed. The U.S.-led onslaught had brought the war to Japan’s homeland.
President Roosevelt died in April 1945 and the new president, Harry Truman, was briefed immediately about a project of which he knew next to nothing during the brief period he served as vice president.
He made the decision to use the weapon to persuade Japan that its continuing the fight would be futile.
Knowing what he knew at the moment, President Truman made the correct call.
My hope is that the current president, 71 years later, will recognize that his predecessor did what he believed at the time he had to do, which was to use the weaponry at his disposal to end the world’s bloodiest conflict.
Let me be clear about one more point …
I have a direct interest in President Truman’s decision. My father, who saw intense combat while serving in the Navy in the Mediterranean theater of operations from 1942 through 1944, had arrived in The Philippines in early 1945 and quite likely would have taken part in the effort to invade and conquer Japan.
I cannot prove this, but there’s a decent probability that the president’s decision to drop The Bomb on Hiroshima and later, on Nagasaki, might have saved my dad’s life.
For that reason, I say: God bless President Truman.