Sunday, May 28, 2006

bush and truman

tho this blog's gone quiet the past week, like i told rod, it's only a matter of time before bush says something stupid...

of course at his press conference with tony blair earlier in the week, bush displayed his politically expedient newfound admission of policy mistakes in iraq -- one wonders, will he be held accountable in any way for these mistakes?

yesterday at a commencement speech at west point, bush compared himself favorably with harry truman. "By the actions he took, the institutions he built, the alliances he forged and the doctrines he set down, President Truman laid the foundations for America's victory in the cold war."

those actions include the most heinous single acts of carnage this world has ever seen, namely the atomic bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki. the justification at the time was that those lives had to be expended so that more lives would be saved, but it's quite possible that no lives had to be lost at all. japan was in bad shape at the time and may have been ready to surrender. our government knew this because we had broken their code, but we insisted on unconditional surrender. we also knew that the russians were going to enter the war ninety days after the end of fighting in europe. the atomic bombings were, from this vantage point, a pure and simple assertion of U.S. military primacy over the world.

truman had to have known the amount of destruction the bomb would cause. so when he stated in his august 9 radio speech, "The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians," he has to have known that what he "wished" and what resulted were not commensurate.

obviously bush would like to be compared with truman, a guy who made a tough but necessary decision, but it's really an inaccurate comparison. iraq was far and away a way of choice waged under false pretenses and with insufficient planning. and if truman was not an outright liar, he was at the very least duped and probably not duped by his advisors but by himself. such is the best to which our president can aspire, but reality will thwart his aspirations.

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