President Obama gave a speech in Hiroshima, Japan, laying a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial where the first atomic bomb was dropped in 1945.
Obama did not apologize for the event, nor did he try to justify it. However it was clear from the content of the speech, our President does not know what it is like to experience an “existential” threat.
By “existential” I mean a threat so grave that you may die, your family may die, your whole way of life and culture may be wiped off the earth. We would no longer exist.
As a former intelligence officer, I can tell you when your life is in danger, you are prepared to do everything you can to survive. The uncertainty of the moment, the possibility that this may be the end, rules your every movement, its very instinctual. You become very focused (perhaps after a period of panic!).
On a mass scale, countries and cultures feel this even more intensely, since its not just a personal death, its the death of all future generations. All instincts are in play. If your very existent is at stake, you don’t have the luxury of making military decisions based on Obama’s philosophy of enlightenment and “progress.”
Obama said,”Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us.”
President Obama has never experienced a situation where America was in any danger of being defeated. He has never personally fought for anything where there was a possibility of losing his life.
He does not seem to understand that in World War II, we were facing that existential threat. If we had lost that war, we would have suffered brutal oppression under the radical forces of the Japanese and Germans who would have destroyed us and enslaved us. The defeat of the Axis powers came at great and desperate costs. The atomic bomb finished that threat for good.
Obama assumes that America at that time needed “progress” to be as enlightened as he is now. It is easy to criticize our past leaders from the comfort of an historical perspective. This is a shallow and naive president.
I’d say America at that point was pretty enlightened. After all, despite the existential threat to America and millions killed and slaughtered in concentration camps, the Japanese, German and Italian cultures still live on.