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Cannot justify ending war by targeting non-combatants Print
Letters to the editor
Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010 -- 12:00 AM

To the editor:

In response to Don Skarda’s article, “Dropping bombs was seen as necessary” (Catholic Herald, September 16, 2010), I think it is important to point out other elements that ought to be examined in an argument for or against military actions.

Sometimes, with regard to the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan, two arguments seem to arise. One is the argument that American lives were saved. The second argument is the one posited by Mr. Skarda in his article. It usually begins with the equivalent of “they started it.”

The first argument used to permit the atomic bombs on Japan, saving American lives, has a fallacy at its roots. One of the principles that moral men and women are called to live by states: The end does not justify the means.

We cannot justify ending a war by targeting non-combatants. This is exactly what the atomic bombs did. They wiped out hundreds of thousands of Japanese non-combatants.

In short, the American means was immoral. Also worth noting is that soldiers know what their business includes. They know they may die on a battlefield. This is why they train first.

Citizens in their homes and places of business should not be part of the theater of war, if possible. Yet this is another consequence of the Japan bombings. It took the battle away from the trained soldiers and made citizens into the target of a war.

The second argument for the atomic bombs, “They started it,” also includes moral components worth examining. Again, as a nation under God, we must not lower our standards of acting to the denominator of those who affront us. War, if it must come, needs to be directed by persons of moral character.

In the end, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a military action against a military site. The atomic bombs on Japan were not.

I respect our military, but they must find moral means to achieve their ends.

James Tumpach, Cottage Grove