MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell discussed President Obama’s speech at Hiroshima, where he said, “death fell from the sky,” and where he hoped for a nuclear-free world. It was the first time a sitting president had visited the city, which we decimated in one of two atomic bombings during World War II that ended with Japan surrendering to the United States, ending humanity’s most destructive war.
Mitchell referenced the work of former U.S. Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Sam Nunn (D-GA) for their work in trying to curb the spread of nuclear material, where Brian Williams added that we used nuclear weapons against Japan “in anger” (via NewsBusters):
ANDREA MITCHELL: And Brian, just a word to two men that you knew very well, Dick Lugar and Sam Nunn, the fact that they had this nuclear threat initiative and that they controlled through a bipartisan act of Congress, controlled the spread of nuclear materials, non-state actors and materials even in this age of terror, all these decades after the end of the Cold War is just remarkable and I don't think they get enough credit for it.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: It is and that is still the threat that people worry about that this material will fall into the wrong hands. If people have found the U.S. to be preachy in the years since Hiroshima and Nagasaki about the use of weapons, it’s because we’re the only nation to have used them in anger. Sometimes, I am amazed that the world has been without these weapons all the years since, but it is a point of, a great pride by the people who have seen to it.
Mitchell then thanked Williams, and NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss, for “helping us understanding the context better.” Beschloss had compared Obama’s speech to John F. Kennedy’s 1963 address at American University. Both the United States and the then-Soviet Union were discussing whether to implement a nuclear test ban treaty.
Yet, the notion that anger was seemingly the primary motivating factor in dropping atomic bombs is nonsense. We did it to end the war. Period. Williams previously stated on the broadcast that between 300,000 to 1 million Japanese were killed in the serial and incessant bombing campaigns we conducted throughout the country prior to dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One could make the argument, like the late Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, that proportionality should have been considered prior to the use of nuclear weapons. Of course, I disagree. I’ve already written about the outrageous casualty projections made at the time by the Joint War Plans Committee for our planned ground invasion (Operation Downfall) of the island nation, which would have soared into the hundreds of thousands for our forces—and into the millions for the Japanese. The atomic bombings were conducted to save lives and end a horrible war. It was a moral act. Given that Obama’s visit has somewhat rehashed the debate as to whether nuking Japan was necessary, are liberals more disconcerted about the method in which we decided to end 262,000 Japanese lives, or is it the death toll itself?
Again, if liberals and historical revisionists are aghast at the death toll from just the atomic bombings, they seem to forget the 300,000 to a million that were killed prior to Hiroshima and Nagasaki through our sustained air campaigns. At least 100,000 men, women, and children were killed when we firebombed Tokyo in March of 1945—where’s the outrage over that act? When you take a look at the casualty estimates for the ground invasion, the very conservative ones show that over 1.2 million Japanese and American lives were saved through the atomic bombings. How is that immoral? It is not.
We should never be apologetic, hesitant, or ashamed, at using weapons at our disposal that bring wars to a swift end.