It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were almost defeated and ready to surrender…. [I]n being the first to use it, we … adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.”
Are these the words of a “rank revisionist,” as George Bush recently complained about those who wanted an American apology for Hiroshima, where nearly 100,000 Japanese were killed 47 years ago this month? On the contrary, they are the publicly stated judgment of the eminent conservative admiral who chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff during World War II, William D. Leahy.
The public has forgotten, but such military figures as Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Fleet Adm. William Halsey, and Gen. Curtis LeMay also felt, as Ike put it, that it wasn’t necessary “to hit them with that awful thing.”
The fate of Hiroshima remains a powerful – and contentious – symbol of the dawning of the American century. And yet probably on no other issue are the views of most experts who study this question in depth further afield from the public’s perception of what happened.