Another View on the Hiroshima Speech

Richard Fernandez analyzes the speech in a different way from others, but one that I think is insightful.
In his view war is old. It was the Atomic Bomb which was new and therefore destabilizing. Those who brought this unregulated thing into the world thus assumed a huge responsibility. It's an interesting formulation, for at a stroke the great moral issues of World War 2 are reduced to a narrative in which everyone -- including militaristic Japan, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Soviet Russia -- were alike victims of age old human passions enabled by revolutionary weaponry. No one is guilty. We are all just victims. But facts have to be faced Obama argued that since a "moral revolution" cannot be effected the great religions which falsely promise a pathway to love while offering only a license to kill then man is irredeemable without government.
Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill. ... But those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different.

Science allows us to communicate across the seas and fly above the clouds, to cure disease and understand the cosmos, but those same discoveries can be turned into ever more efficient killing machines.

The wars of the modern age teach us this truth. Hiroshima teaches this truth. Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well.
So more government we will have up to any extent necessary to make safety mandatory. The moral drama of WW2 vanishes, leaving the Hiroshima speech as an unvarnished plea for an arms-control bureaucracy; the demand for a global safe space; a call for gun control on a planet-wide scale.
It's worth reading in full.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

It is a remarkable insight, and I think it does provide a window into Obama's moral reasoning and many of those who support him. There are moral distinctions that do not readily occur to them, because other things push them out.

raven said...

Imagine how the Chinese would "feel" about a US president apologizing for bombing Japan. Probably the one thing they think we got right.

BTW, an excellent and unusual book on Japan during the war-

"Japan at War, an oral history." 1992 Haruko and Theodore Cook.

There are very few books in english written about the Japanese side of the war. The Cooks lived in Japan and went around and interviewed Japanese about their experiences during the war, soldiers ,nurses, housewives, germ warfare researchers, the lot- The interviews were difficult to arrange, obviously many were extremely reluctant to speak, many of them doing so under secrecy.

The stories are vivid and interesting. The change from the Taisho era of the twenties, when Japan was being heavily influenced by the west in culture, with western clothing, music, etc., to the Showa era when the Kempotai were going around enforcing traditional Japanese culture, was startling. Sort of like looking at pictures of Afghanistan in the sixties or Iran under the Shah, as opposed to the present day.

Grim said...

My students in China weren't really aware that anyone participated in the war except for Japan and Mao. Well, and the traitors who fled to Taiwan.

ColoComment said...

And another perspective:

Ymar Sakar said...

What the Chinese oligarchy intentionally fail to teach is that it was Mao who betrayed the nation, by intentionally allowing Kai shek's forces to be bled dry, while Mao withheld the bulk of his firepower, and then used it to crush the nationalists after the nationalists had driven the Japanese off. Almost Hillary and Hussein like in their deviousness.

The good thing about language barriers is that viruses like the Leftist WMD can't easily get across the blood-brain barrier. The bad thing is that the immune system becomes rather weak and crippled.

Mao succeeded in not only destroying traditional and alternative written records, but he also indoctrinated the next generation of Chinese in simplified Chinese. Essentially, they could no longer read records that aren't written in simplified Chinese, without the aid of a computer or translator. And the State controlled what was printed in simplified Chinese. Simplified in the EngSoc, fashion, that is.

Texan99 said...

Amazing: he discovers original sin as if for the first time, and concludes that the solution is . . . government? Everything he says about the mixed dangers and blessings of technology could be said with equal fairness about government, or indeed about any human capacity for effectiveness or power.