- - Thursday, August 7, 2014

This week marked the 69th anniversary of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States’ dropping of atomic bombs that ended the war against Japan. As the Greatest Generation passes away, we must listen increasingly to revisionist contrafactual analyses expounding about what a needless, tragic and profoundly immoral decision the United States made.

Customary rebuttals cite estimates of 48,000 American and 230,000 Japanese losses on Okinawa, extrapolated into 500,000 American and millions of Japanese casualties for mainland invasions. However, these studies precede the unfolding recognition of American experiences on Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Such estimates could have greatly understated casualties, because Kyushu and Honshu at 100,000 nonarable square miles mathematically enables at least 500 vast redoubts, complex fortifications that Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima constructed to inflict the most losses on Okinawa. This rapid increased killing efficiency extended to defense of major cities, just as the Germans did in Berlin. The American “island hopping” strategy had ended because the Japanese had determined the few regions within their mountainous country that could accommodate the huge armies and air forces needed to subdue the main islands.

The Greatest Generation and its parents would have been enraged to discover a cabal had ignored the nuclear option just to indulge some incestuous moral orthodoxy. If there was any alternative, Harry Truman, Henry Stimson and George Marshall would not have procured countless American casualties in repeated amphibious assaults and ground campaigns, casualties exceeding seven to 10 times those of D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.

NOLAN NELSON

Eugene, Ore.