On his recent visit to Japan, Barack Obama was asked the same question every American president is asked when they go to Japan. “President Obama, you are a proponent of a nuclear free world, and you’ve stated first of all that you would like to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki while in office. Do you have this desire, and what is your understanding of the historical meaning of the A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Do you think it was the right decision?” The reporter followed this immediately with a question about North Korea.
The answer is really pretty simple. “The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an unfortunate, but necessary, action. It brought a brutal war to a swift conclusion and saved millions of lives, both American and Japanese, that would have been lost in an invasion of the Japanese homeland.”
But that would be asking too much from the Groveler-in-Chief. Here’s how he answered:
With respect to nuclear weapons and the issues of non-proliferation, this is an area where Prime Minister Hatoyama and I have discussed repeatedly in our meetings. We share, I think, a vision of a world without nuclear weapons. We recognize, though, that this is a distant goal, and we have to take specific steps in the interim to meet this goal. It will take time. It will not be reached probably even in our own lifetimes. But in seeking this goal we can stop the spread of nuclear weapons; we can secure loose nuclear weapons; we can strengthen the non-proliferation regime.
As long as nuclear weapons exist, we will retain our deterrent for our people and our allies, but we are already taking steps to bring down our nuclear stockpiles and — in cooperation with the Russian government — and we want to continue to work on the non-proliferation issues.
Now, obviously Japan has unique perspective on the issue of nuclear weapons as a consequence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And that I’m sure helps to motivate the Prime Minister’s deep interest in this issue. I certainly would be honored, it would be meaningful for me to visit those two cities in the future. I don’t have immediate travel plans, but it’s something that would be meaningful to me.
Okay, and your answer would be…?
The Japanese reporter then repeated the question, asking if it “was right” for the U.S. to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Maybe there will be an answer this time.
No, there were three sets of questions, right? You asked about North Korea?
No answer for you! Obama then went on to talk about North Korea.
I can only hazard a guess as to why this hanging curve ball was ignored by the President. My guess, and it is just that, is that an honest answer from Obama would have been yet another apology, this time to the people of Japan. But unlike his mealy-mouthed whimperings to the Arab world, an American apology for Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been big news. Maybe even MSNBC would have covered it. Worse, it would have been very bad news for a President that’s looking more and more like an ineffectual weakling on the world stage. It’s one thing for Obama to go before our enemies and apologize for American arrogance (always in the past, never in B.O.’s America). It’s another thing entirely to apologize for something the vast majority of Americans are glad we did.
My guess is that Obama’s no student of history, that his knowledge of America’s past comes straight out of Howard Zinn’s America-bashing A People’s History of the United States, with a bit of Noam Chomsky thrown in for good measure. He probably feels that the bombing of the Japanese cities was somehow a great moral error because his gut instinct is to be “opposed” to nuclear weapons and to believe that America is usually in the wrong (at least, up until January 20th, 2009). He’s politcally savvy enough to know that his views aren’t shared by the proles who voted him into office, however, so he artlessly dodged the question twice.
One can only wonder what “Give ’em Hell” Harry Truman would say about such an obsequious poseur in the White House.