Sorry. There’s simply no way to square that circle. There’s no way to say it’s okay to intentionally kill tens of thousands of civilians because of ____. You just can’t finish that sentence in harmony with Catholic morality. At all. We are not talking about the accidental deaths of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They were intentional.
The best attempt, and it still fails, is that the bombing prevented the deaths of a quarter million American troops. To me, that isn’t simply an academic debate. One of those troops could easily have been my own grandfather, John Ohmann, who served in the South Pacific on the U.S.S. Jenkins. If Truman hadn’t drop the bombs, John might not be 89 today and still living in Minnesota. Heck, I might not exist!
And yet, that doesn’t make it right.
How could I say, “Boy, I’m glad we vaporized a city of full of innocent people so that my grandfather might not have been killed and I could be born!”
Ruthless evil (like Imperial Japan) has the tendency to corrupt even its combatants. We’ve seen that this past decade with Al Queda. What happened at Abu Ghraib was considered unthinkable by Americans. But it once it came to light, there were Americans who justified or at least rationalized it.
We should stop this temptation. We should stop the justifications and the rationalizations. Catholics should look back at the atomic bombings of Japan like slavery, as an immoral action and a black mark on a country which has otherwise largely been a force for great good.