May 6, 2008
These appalling pictures were taken by an unidentified Japanese photographer in the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. A U.S. serviceman found them among rolls of undeveloped film in a cave outside the city.
I reproduce a couple of the images here, not because I think the bombing was unjustified — I have yet to hear a persuasive argument against the decision to drop the Bomb — but because all the photographs I’ve seen before this were creepy, surrealistic pictures of melted objects and distorted buildings that worked as art objects rather than documents of war and disaster. Looking at them, one might think the blast simply scoured away all the people, leaving sun-baked rubble and eerie spaces. These pictures convey the true enormity of what happened in Hiroshima.
Reading the various arguments about the Iraq invasion, it becomes clear that we have a view of war that’s entirely too sanitized. It produces degenerate thinking along the lines produced by Jonah Goldberg, articulating what he styled the Michael Ledeen doctrine: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small, crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business.”
These pictures are the product of what people like to think of as the “good war.” All wars, good or bad, produces horrors like this. Internalize that knowledge, all you strutting rumpus room warriors, and temper your rhetoric accordingly. You don’t unleash this kind of thing just to show “some small crappy little country” that we mean business. Find some other way to deal with your masculinity issues.