I find that pacifists tend to view the A-bomb dilemma with a narrow view.
It's always focused on the magnitude of the destruction of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. In terms of deaths and destruction of property, these awful
events are comparable to any number of campaigns during WWII.
Tokyo suffered comparable numbers in a single raid when US bombers dropped
"conventional" incendiary bombs that literally incinerated the city. Fire
storms leveled Hamburg, and the only reason the damage and death toll
wasn't greater is that the British preferred to bomb at night. Late in the
war, the US turned the city of Dresden into a pile of rubble.
War is an ugly business, with plenty of atrocity to go around. If we're
going to start handing out retroactive war crime writs, I don't know where
The two A-bombs were awesomely destructive -- there's no disagreement on
that account. But what made them particularly terrible was not the numbers
of dead or the havoc created by a nuclear blast. It was the ease with which
the destruction occurred. One plane, one crew, one bomb, one mission, one
decimated city. Fifty-five years after the fact, I still find that to be a
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