Dostoyevsky Brothers Karamazov

Op-Ed: Would Massive Benefits to Mankind Justify One Brutal Act?

Is it right to do one monstrous wrong in order to produce a world-changing positive impact on all deprived, desperate, deformed, diseased, and dying people of the world? The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky, in perhaps the world’s greatest novel The Brothers Karamazov, seeks to answer that question.

The character Ivan Karamazov, a flaming atheist, blames God for permitting the innocent to suffer (Don’t they all?). Then Ivan asks his brother Alyosha, a professed believer if he would do a bad act if it resulted in the eternal happiness of mankind. His required act would be to torture an innocent child, after which this eternal happiness would come into existence.

Ivan asks, “Would you consent to be the architect under those conditions? Tell me honestly!” “No, I wouldn’t agree,” said Alyosha quietly.

Neither would I. The basic premise doing evil that good may come of it is flawed.

It is tempting to do one act of cruelty that would give sight to every blind person, permit the crippled to walk, and eliminate all deadly diseases in the world. However, my refusal would not be a lack of concern for others, but because of personal honor, responsibility, and accountability. Every person on earth must give an account for his or her own actions.

I am not responsible for decisions made by world leaders; however, I must give a personal account for what I do and my motives for doing it. Even if doing wrong would result in much good, I cannot do it—no matter how strong my altruistic desires may be.

That now brings me to a very practical, personal, and problematic decision made in a time of war. What are my obligations before God for actions in the time of a national emergency?

I have often silently questioned the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (neither was a vital military target) to end WWII and restore relative peace, permanency, and prosperity to the world. After much thought, I would not have dropped those bombs nor done the bombings of Hamburg and Dresden!

It has been long recognized that bombing of enemy barracks, communication centers, railroads, airports, and fuel depots was acceptable, but never targeting civilians. Churchill changed that followed by Hitler’s nightly bombing of London.

No, I am not a pacifist. I believe in personal defense, and I believe a nation must defend itself. Japan attacked us; we had to respond. Roosevelt had cut off Japan’s oil supply, basically a death blow to an oil-starved nation, so the Japanese leaders retaliated; however, they did attack us. But was there justification for dropping the atomic bombs, killing 185,000 innocent civilians?

The experts told us that up to a million American lives would be lost if an invasion of Japan were launched. Moreover, the argument was made that in killing so many people in nuclear blasts, it would drive Japan to the negotiating table; however, Japan had been willing to surrender but not “unconditionally” as required by the Allied Powers. That is what continued the war.

If I had been a soldier during WWII, I suppose I would have been a pilot since I later became one and a plane owner. I would have had no problem being a fighter pilot since that is a one-on-one fight between two soldiers in defense of their nation’s objectives. However, if I had flown over Hamburg with a load of bombs knowing there were thousands of innocent people below that had nothing to do with the war, I could not have pushed a button and released the bombs on innocent people. From 42,000 to 45,000 people died in the destruction of Hamburg with more people dying in that bombing alone than in the entire German bombing campaign against England!

Many would call my refusal to bomb German civilians treason to my country, but I’m convinced it is faithfulness to God; however, this is one time I must not be too hard on my critics. I might be, notice I said, I might be wrong, but my Bible-based conscience says I’m right.

During the closing stages of the war in 1945, Churchill reveled in bombing the German populace and refugees as they tried to escape from Germany. He knew terror worked. Churchill revealed his desire to use terror bombing in a memorandum in November 1942 in which he declared that “all the industrial cities should be attacked in an intense fashion, every effort being made to terrorize and paralyze the population.” Yes, Churchill was a terrorist, but he was “our” terrorist, and President Roosevelt agreed with his decision to terrorize and kill civilians. Stalin was delighted.

Dresden was an old city with few military targets (and not one anti-aircraft gun) and was crowded with refugees from Breslau fleeing the Russian advance into Germany. Breslau had experienced a killing field that cost the lives of 170,000 civilians. The refuges and Dresden citizens, thinking they were relatively safe were shocked on the night of February 13, 1945, to see 800 RAF bombers dropped more than 1,400 tons of bombs and more than 1,100 tons of incendiaries over the city creating a massive firestorm that incinerated an estimated 25,000 to over 300,000 civilian deaths!

The Dresden bombing was the most controversial and tragic bombing of the war. Even a certified butcher would have difficulty defending it.

About six months later, President Truman decided to end the war by using the atomic bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki; but contrary to what most people think, it was not a universally approved decision. However, it was a popular decision in America at the time.

Under Secretary of the Navy Ralph Bird, General Curtis LeMay, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, former President Herbert Hoover, and President Truman’s chief of staff Admiral William Leahy had voiced protests about using the bomb, but their protests had no impact on Truman’s decision.

The President, no doubt thinking it was the wise decision, ordered the Japanese cities to be bombed in August of 1945. In 1946, Truman ordered U.S. Bombing Survey to be done a few months after the two Japanese cities were bombed, and it decided, “Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

The use of nuclear bombs killing 185,000 innocent people within a few days and injuring 135,000 more was unnecessary; furthermore, the nuclear genie was released from the bottle.

It was discovered years later that many famous, powerful American officials disagreed with the decision to use the Bomb.

Norman Cousins, a famous author, editor, and aide to General MacArthur, asked the general about dropping the bomb, and “He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor.”

General Eisenhower confessed, “The Japanese were ready to surrender, and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing” (Newsweek, 11/11/63).

Soon after the bombing of Japan, Admiral William F. Halsey, commander of the Third Fleet, was publicly quoted as stating that the atomic bomb was used because the scientists had a “toy and they wanted to try it out …The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment…It was a mistake to ever drop it.”

Concerning the war in Europe, Hitler said, “Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death.” The definition of terrorism is “the targeting of innocent civilians to achieve a political goal.” Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin used terror against a German terrorist with a bad haircut and funny mustache who had grandiose military ambitions.

The Allies, ostensibly taking the high ground in all matters, decided to become temporary terrorists!

Only God requires and deserves unqualified obedience. However, to quote Alyosha, the youngest of the Karamazov brothers, “If God is dead, everything is permitted.” But God is not dead. He’s not even sick. And it is He to whom each person is responsible.

The dropping of atomic bombs on Japan and the unnecessary bombing of civilians was wrong, but then only a fool or fanatic says military leaders always make the right decisions.

There is nothing wrong with resisting an authority to obey a higher authority though unpleasant human consequences may follow.

See original post article link and more articles from Don Boys, Ph.D.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of thIs publication.

 RWR original article syndication source.

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Written by Don Boys

Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives who ran a large Christian school in Indianapolis and wrote columns for USA Today for 8 years. Boys authored 18 books, the most recent Muslim Invasion: The Fuse is Burning!  eBook is available with the printed edition (and other titles) at www.cstnews.com. Follow him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/don.boysphd), and visit his blog. Send a request to DBoysphd@aol.com for a free subscription to his articles, and here (http://donboys.cstnews.com/) to support his work with a donation.

4 Comments

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  1. You should read Saburo Sakai’s autobiography.

    Sakai, was Japan’s greatest ace of the war, and was forever immortalized in Baa baa Blacksheep as ‘Riceball’.
    Sakai’s account of the level of propaganda aimed at his countrymen directly contradicts your assertion that Japan was ready to surrender.
    That is lie, a blatant, bold and dastardly lie easily disapproved.

    Just months before Americans had witnessed young women jump to their death rather than surrender. Time and time again Japanese soldiers, though roundly defeated and surround would have to be flushed from their foxholes with flamethrowers, so fanatical were these soldiers.

    Japanese people despite their heavy losses were completely in the dark about the war situation. Sakai and others wrote that these people were waiting for the final victory to come even as the Enola Gay approached. In fact the very reason that a second bomb was dropped was that a disbelieving civilian population could not bring itself to understand the gravity of their situation, so thoroughly had they been duped by their leaders into believing they were winning the war.

    I could go on, but I wont. Your selective rage at America for defending itself irritates me. You mention Dresden but you have no courage to point the perpetrators of many of the German civilian casualties.

    Well it was Britain’s fault, every bit of it! Americans flew in broad daylight without fighter escort much of the time and under extremely hazardous conditions to execute precision daylight bombings in order to minimize civilian casualties. But the British had no such courage! They flew in the dead of night to avoid enemy fighters, indiscriminately dropping bombs on civilians and enemy combatants alike. It was this cowardice that lit Dresden alight, yet I don’t see you pointing any fingers at any one other than America!

    Defending your self and those whose lives are in your charge by any means necessary is not and act of terrorism, it is an act of courage in the face of extreme danger. And just because the leaders at the time looked back in regret does not make their actions wrong, it only makes them humble and ultimately human.

    All in all, I’m glad our leader at the time was not a self- loathing, individual like you, but someone who had the courage to do what needed to be done. We did not attack the Japanese, they attacked us, and their civilians lives were not more important than those of our own service men!

    • Posted by the Admin on behalf of Don Boys, Ph.D.:

      Thanks for a very interesting email; however, you turned on your computer before your brain.

      You made a judgment without providing any support. You assumed I lied. Had you been rational, you might have said I was wrong–then supported your argument.

      You said Japan was not willing to surrender; however, they were willing to negotiate surrender. The major hurdle was Emperor Hirohito and keeping the emperor system. The U.S. insisted on “unconditional surrender.” After much wrangling, the Emperor went on the radio and announced surrender and the rest is history.

      Japan was permitted to keep Emperor Hirohito after he renounced his divinity and agreed to Japan’s new constitution. He did and was not tried as a war criminal.

      Gen. Curtis LeMay had dropped incendiary bombs on Tokyo a few months earlier burning much of Tokyo. He later admitted that would have been considered a war crime if the U.S. had lost the war. Note, that was not atomic bombs.

      Your main support for your position was a quote from a Japanese soldier! You refused to note the many American military leaders who agree with my position! General MacArthur admitted, “that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb.” General Eisenhower agreed. But you disagree with the two military leaders who were the main prosecutors of that war!

      I have no idea what you meant by, “Your selective rage at America for defending itself irritates me. You mention Dresden but you have no courage to point the perpetrators of many of the German civilian casualties.” First, it wasn’t rage: I question the wisdom of using the Bomb as did many experts. Of course, I did not suggest that America was wrong to defend itself. I question targeting civilians to terrorize them into putting pressure on their military leaders to end the war. You put yourself on the wrong side of history and military philosophy when you defend the use of terror upon civilians.

      Moreover, I did not blame America for bombing Dresden. I clearly wrote, “Churchill reveled in bombing the German populace and refugees as they tried to escape from Germany.” Churchill was not an American.

      But I was even clearer by writing, “The refugees and Dresden citizens, thinking they were relatively safe were shocked on the night of February 13, 1945, to see 800 RAF bombers dropped more than 1,400 tons of bombs….” RAF means Royal Air Force–British.

      You opined, “Well it was Britain’s fault, every bit of it!” No, Britain led the way but our bombers followed. There was no defense in killing many thousands of innocent people. Naked children ran into the streets on fire and were caught in the melted pavement with their feet burned off. And even if you and others were able to defend such crimes, the point of my article was, I could not and would not do so.

      Evidently, you would.

      You made another judgment without knowing me: I am “self-loathing” because I take the millennia-old principle that civilians should never be the target in war. Maybe you will defend that further, and by the way, put your name on your reply so everyone can identify who you are.

      You wrote, “We did not attack the Japanese, they attacked us, and their civilians lives were not more important than those of our own servicemen!” You are correct in that they attacked us and there is no defense for that; however, there is an explanation: Roosevelt had cut off Japan’s oil supply for the very purpose of goading them into the war. No oil, the nation literally dies, so Japan started the war exactly as Roosevelt wanted.

      You dragged a red herring across the trail trying to skew the argument when you said, “their civilian lives were not more important than those or our own servicemen.” Of course, in a choice between an enemy civilian and our own soldiers’ lives, we must go with our own men; however, that is not a valid comparison. You are trying to muddy the water. The issue is, “Do we ever justify terror and killing of civilians to attain a military victory?”

      Religious scholars and philosophers from Aristotle to Augustine, to Isadora of Seville to Thomas Aquinas to scholars of our day all advocated a “just war”; a war being fought as the last resort and fought with the protection of civilians. You have taken a stand against the ethicists, philosophers, religious leaders and historians of thousands of years.

      It’s kinda lonesome out there on that limb, isn’t it? I’ve handed you a saw; now use it.
      Don Boys, Ph.D.

      • So I said my piece and your boy e-mailed me his answer, but for some strange reason admin here seems to be spoiling for a public argument.

        Pretty strange behavior for a mod, most admin try to cool heated discussions, but not you huh?

        Fine, you want my final thoughts here they are.

        The author seems confused that I chose a Japanese soldier’s account of his own country over a G.I.?! Really whose account of life in Japan should I believe, a person that lived there or someone who had at that point never stepped foot in the place? See, Sakai as a soldier knew the war was lost, but when he went home he found no one else believed it. That is what intelligent people would see as directly addressing your assertion that Japan was ready to surrender by offering proof as provided by one who was actually there.

        You then go on to talk about philosophy, high minded ideals of academia who have scarcely shown the courage to fight themselves and commanders miles away from the battlefield. Well I could care less about elitists, dropping the bomb was not about saving their butts. Of course you have the luxury of second guessing these men, because the men on the ground whose lives we actually saved earned that right for you.

        Down the street here is a man who still after all this time has nightmares from burning the stubborn Japanese out of their foxholes. I have known many more working at Veteran’s outreach who would tell you in a New York minute that dropping the bomb has left them no regrets. Why? Because it was not your feelings they were saving it was their brothers in arms, their friends, and themselves.

        I find it sad that you think you have the right to second guess these men as if you or I are better than they. Well we are not. Neither one of us are fit to tie their boots. These men fought for our freedom and deserve our support. They do not deserve your doubt and second-guessing, which does nothing to alter the past but serves only to ease your conscience at the expense of their honor.

        Now I am done.

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