Christopher Nolan's magisterial film "Oppenheimer" renews debate on the use of nuclear weapons to end World War II, as a deterrent to future use, and the nature of moral conflicts
Back in college a prof overheard some of us debating the morality of atomic bombs and he interjected - The real debate should be over the morality of killing civilians, and not over what particular weapon is employed.
If I seriously wanted to find out what the government knows, I would not bother asking them. I would assume they would lie and if asked too many times, the file would go in the shredder.
I would tap the phones of a suspected military base, overfly it with drones equiped with infrared cameras, bug the confessionals of churches in the area, flood off-base bars in the area with attractive young women trained in getting information from lonely young servicemen, and kidnap base personel and interogate then under truth drugs before dumping their bodies in ways that would look like they died in an accident.
THAT is how to find out classified information. Mere asking via Freedom Of Information Act is useless.
The end result of the development of the A-bomb to end that minor and not very important war was the existence of an arsenal of such weapons aimed at the whole planet now by the American / Russian / Chinese / Israeli / Indian / Pakistani / Korean / British / French / Etc. / etc. ruling clique .
The predictable certainty of that result should have detered the whole project. The fools who went ahead with it will be remembered, if there is anyone left to do the remembering, as the most evil criminals who ever lived, far worse than their Japanese and German enemies in that relatively minor and unimportant war between rivcal empires.
Any nation posessing a nuclear arsenal is an enemy of the planet earth. By comparison, the petty disagreements between nation-states are of no importance.
Excellent article. Just what I wanted after watching the movie. I’m sorry I missed you at FreedomFest, I got pictures with lots of the people I wanted to but didn’t get the opportunity to get one with you.
I think they should have been harder on communists, actually. Right now someone like him who was right-wing would have been pushed out of academia and not given the opportunity to lead the project at all.
The implicit premise in the logic of dropping the atomic bomb was that Japan had to be forced to unconditionally surrender and the home islands occupied one way or another. I don't think we should accept that premise without argument. The Japanese had already at that point been stripped of all their colonies and their offensive military power reduced to the point where they were no longer a realistic threat to the Allied powers. Yes, there would have been risks to a negotiated peace that left the militarists in power in the home islands. But did those risks really justify the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians?
I've not much to add. Michael pretty much covers whatever I would have said, had I thought this deeply. As a LANL scientist who has spent many years in the weapons side of the house, I appreciate the nuance Michael brings to the discussion.
Wonderful article Michael.
The only part I take exception to is the statement that “[Christopher] Nolan has emerged as the most brilliant and creative filmmaker of our time.”
He has made some good films but I can think of dozens of directors who are better.
Really good piece. However, I can't help but object to using the term "ethnic cleansing". I cringe every time I hear or see that term. It's a horrible euphemism for ethic annihilation. Why use a term that makes something appalling sound like a spring cleaning?