Hiroshima 1945: Truman got it right

We remember the 70th anniversary of one of the most consequential days of the 20th century.

On Thursday, millions sat down to watch two debates, sort of like the B and A movies of yesteryear.  Our parents and grandparents used to go to the theater and watch two movies plus a newsreel in between.  

Seventy years ago, many people heard about Hiroshima on the radio or perhaps saw the scenes on one of those newsreels.

In the summer of 1945, President Truman was confronted with one of those decisions that only a president faces.  He looked at the horrible options and made the right call, as my friend Bill Katz explained.  The bomb stopped the war and the killing:

Of course we regret the lives that were lost, as we always regret death and destruction in war, but guilt is not required.  In what is sometimes called the bloody arithmetic of war, the nuclear bombs reduced the ultimate death toll of World War II dramatically.  And as the late historian Paul Fussell, a soldier in the Pacific at the time of Hiroshima later wrote, recalling his thoughts when he learned of the atomic bomb's use, "We were going to live.  We were going to grow to adulthood after all."  For that we can be grateful.

We will probably hear the usual criticism of President Truman's decision, specially from those who were not alive back then nor have taken the time to study the real options on his desk.  In other words, President Truman was choosing between not war and peace, but rather war and more war.  He also knew that there would be huge casualties on both sides if he decided to invade Japan.

Yesterday's anniversary also reminds us that the presidency is for serious people, like President Truman.  Our electoral process seems to be too focused on personality or someone's hair.  The presidency is for serious people, as we are painfully learning with President Obama's lack of seriousness on the threats we face.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

We remember the 70th anniversary of one of the most consequential days of the 20th century.

On Thursday, millions sat down to watch two debates, sort of like the B and A movies of yesteryear.  Our parents and grandparents used to go to the theater and watch two movies plus a newsreel in between.  

Seventy years ago, many people heard about Hiroshima on the radio or perhaps saw the scenes on one of those newsreels.

In the summer of 1945, President Truman was confronted with one of those decisions that only a president faces.  He looked at the horrible options and made the right call, as my friend Bill Katz explained.  The bomb stopped the war and the killing:

Of course we regret the lives that were lost, as we always regret death and destruction in war, but guilt is not required.  In what is sometimes called the bloody arithmetic of war, the nuclear bombs reduced the ultimate death toll of World War II dramatically.  And as the late historian Paul Fussell, a soldier in the Pacific at the time of Hiroshima later wrote, recalling his thoughts when he learned of the atomic bomb's use, "We were going to live.  We were going to grow to adulthood after all."  For that we can be grateful.

We will probably hear the usual criticism of President Truman's decision, specially from those who were not alive back then nor have taken the time to study the real options on his desk.  In other words, President Truman was choosing between not war and peace, but rather war and more war.  He also knew that there would be huge casualties on both sides if he decided to invade Japan.

Yesterday's anniversary also reminds us that the presidency is for serious people, like President Truman.  Our electoral process seems to be too focused on personality or someone's hair.  The presidency is for serious people, as we are painfully learning with President Obama's lack of seriousness on the threats we face.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.