America Owes No Apologies to Japan

There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.” ~ President George Washington, 1793, Fifth Annual Message

It appears that Barack Obama wants to end his time in office in much the same way he began; by touring the world, highlighting and apologizing for America’s supposed sins, and minimizing or ignoring all the good we have done in the world.

He began his first term with an apology tour. On April 3, 2009, in Strasbourg, France, Obama declared “In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world…there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” Three days later, in a speech to the Turkish Parliament, Obama doubled down, saying that “The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history…Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.” These would be just two of many apologies Obama would make for America in the years to come.

This month, Obama becomes the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima, Japan, since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on it seventy years ago in a bid to bring World War II, the most deadly war in world history, to an end.

Though the White House says that Obama will not be issuing a formal apology, and the Japanese Prime Minister will not be asking for one, the fact that Obama will be visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum, and calling for an end to nuclear weapons, certainly gives the feel of an unspoken mea culpa.

And while all good and decent people should mourn the unnecessary loss of life anywhere and at any time, it is important to put the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in their proper perspective. First of all, Japan initiated hostilities against the United States, a neutral nation, on December 7, 1941, when waves of bombers decimated the U.S. Pacific Fleet with a surprise attack on our base at Pearl Harbor, costing us thousands of lives and billions in ships and equipment.

The U.S. would then enter the war on the side of the Allied powers, and over the course of the next three years, almost half a million of our young men would lose their lives in the defense of liberty against the forces of Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito.

Over the course of five weeks in February-March 1945, the U.S. would sustain nearly 7,000 casualties and more than 19,000 wounded in the Battle of Iwo Jima, a tiny but heavily fortified island held by the Japanese, with three airfields being used to attack U.S. Pacific Fleet forces. The Americans sought to take the island and use it as a staging area for an attack on the Japanese mainland, as well as denying the island to the Japanese as a launching point for attacks on American forces. This Battle of Iwo Jima was followed shortly after by the Battle of Okinawa, in which more than 20,000 Americans died, and more than 55,000 Americans were wounded. In the same battle, and an estimated 110,000 Japanese were killed.

As historian Victor Davis Hanson explains, following these bloody battles, the Americans heavily bombed mainland Japan, while also dropping 60 million leaflets warning civilians to flee the area and to call on their government to surrender. In response, Japan unleashed wave after wave of Kamikaze (“divine wind”) attacks, killing thousands of U.S. sailors and damaging or destroying our ships. In short, it was clear that the Japanese were willing to fight until the last man, woman, and child were dead.

Hanson offers further clarity, noting that, prior to the dropping of the atomic bombs, Allied bombers were scheduled to saturate Japan with napalm, at the cost of countless lives. We were also facing the prospect of invading mainland Japan, where more than a million Japanese soldiers and perhaps four million dug-in, well-prepared defenders would be awaiting our arrival. How many more lives would have been lost?

Between the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, approximately 210,000 Japanese were killed. Yet despite those deaths, the defeated nations of WWII (Germany, Italy, and Japan) would suffer far fewer casualties than the victors, even though they were the aggressors who sought the subjugation of their neighbors. Following the war, America, as we have done repeatedly, poured vast amounts of our national treasure into rebuilding the nations of our former enemies.

So before Obama offers any apologies for the U.S.’s past actions, be those apologies explicit or implicit, he ought to be reminded that no nation in history has done more, and asked less in return, to defend the free nations of the world from those who would conquer us. The U.S. has borne a disproportionate share of the loss of blood and treasure needed to secure freedom, and whatever our shortcomings, we owe an apology to no one.

And if Obama truly wanted to rid the world of nuclear weapons, he should never have given more than $100 billion in released funds to Iran, the world’s premier sponsor of global terrorism, and a nation which is in open pursuit of nuclear weapons capabilities. His foolish give-away to Iran has stoked fear in other Middle East nations at the thought of a nuclear Iran hegemon, and they are now pursuing their own nuclear weapons.

However warm and fuzzy the thoughts of a nuclear weapon-free world would be, it is not reality, and we would be fools to disarm even as our most dangerous enemies pursue these weapons.

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