President Barack Obama will soon make a visit to Hiroshima, Japan, and even if he doesn’t explicitly apologize for the atomic bomb that America once dropped on that unfortunate city his mere presence there will unmistakably imply it. This strikes us as not only an outrageously mistaken reading of history and an egregious diplomatic blunder, but also an unforced political mistake that hands a generous gift to presumptive Republican nominee Donald J. Trump.
Although we’re quite sure that Obama had no intention of helping Trump, and calculated that a lofty speech about the dangers of nuclear proliferation set against such a dramatic backdrop would contrast nicely with his would-be successor’s sometimes-bellicose and sometimes-isolationist and sometimes-entirely-incoherent ramblings on foreign policy, we think that he’s still not quite so adept at this reality television business as his would-be successor. Aside from the historical facts that the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed fewer people than the Second World War’s conventional bombings on the rest of the country and fewer people than the Japanese Imperialists had slaughtered in the “East Asian Co-Prosperity Zone” they had declared, and most certainly spared millions of Japanese and hundreds of thousands of Americans from the far greater carnage that would have resulted from an unavoidable invasion, or that the remade-in-America Japan which resulted has lately been a most stalwart ally that would prefer not to have any of this brought up, the political miscalculation is probably the most stunning failure.
Even such lone and still clinging to desperate straws conservatives as ourselves will freely acknowledge that Trump would never make any such even implied apologies for any of America’s past actions, except for that “Bush lied, peopled died” thing that by now even Obama and everyone else agrees with, apparently except for ourselves and his would-be-Democratic successor who voted for the war, but we’re admittedly confident Trump wouldn’t be apologizing for such an easily defensible action as dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Trump isn’t much for apologies, even after mocking the handicapped and bragging about his penis size and making menstruation jokes and dissing American prisoners of war and a year’s worth of similar incidents that would have demanded an apology for anyone less confident in his rightness, even, we dare say, Obama himself, so he’ll no doubt ramp up his rhetoric about those inscrutable Japanese and their wily ways and remind everyone once again that he is by our own admission the unabashedly pro-American of the major party candidates. Apparently Obama doesn’t think this will still sell after seven-and–half years of his strong man rule, but we believe that during that time he’s lost touch with the country’s mood. Few of us have any familiarity with the Second World War these days, but even fewer of us are bothered that we dropped that atomic bomb on Hiroshima all those years ago, and Trump’s more pro-American position will surely tick up a few points in the polls.
Stepping aside from the reality show and trying to ascertain the actual reality, however, we find it all too dismal. That anti-nuclear-proliferation and Noble Peace Prize-winning president who’s been hung up on nuclear proliferation since his dope-smoking college days swung that awful deal with the Iranians that will likely spark a nuclear arms race in the guano-crazy Middle East, the would-be Republican successor he’s just handed such a gift to has openly talked about withdrawing the nuclear umbrella from South Korea and Japan and suggested they’ll have to nuke up on their own and start a nuclear arms race in the slightly-less crazy Far East, because that’s the best deal, believe him, and the would-be Democratic successor has an equally awful record of her own that accounts for four of the past seven-and-a-half-years of Obama’s awful foreign policy, and at this point there really aren’t any straws left to grasp at. We’ll concede that Trump’s unapologetically “America First” stand is appealing, but we wonder if he knows that was the slogan of the isolationists who would have allowed the rest of the world to be dominated by the Axis powers, and we note that his “convention manager” was a longtime lobbyist for some of the world’s worst dictators and one of those “best guys” he brought in as a top foreign policy advisor is a business partner and longtime confidant of the similarly unapologetic Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, and we note he veers from Code Pink anti-neo-con talk to “take their oil” on a dime, and there’s that worrisome talk about getting rid of our longtime Asian commitment thing along with that North Atlantic Treaty Organization deal that’s been so awful, so we harbor doubts if he has any well considered notions of what there is in that stubborn reality is in the best interests of America. We’ll acknowledge that his predecessor and would-be successor don’t trouble themselves such questions at all, but that’s hardly consoling.
We’re sorry to end on such a glum note, but that’s where we seem to find ourselves at the moment.
— Bud Norman