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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

Liberty Update

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Atomic Bombing Criticisms Are Morally and Logically Unsustainable Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, August 03 2023
President Truman’s primary duty was to end the war as quickly as possible and reduce the overall loss of life, especially American lives. Prolonging the conflict would have resulted in even more lives lost.

"I’m proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did.  I sleep clearly every night."  

That expression of clear conscience came from Paul Tibbets, pilot of the B-29 Enola Gay that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945.  

As a matter of both morality and logic, Tibbets was right to maintain that equanimity.  

As the anniversary of that date approaches and the film “Oppenheimer” maintains high critical and public acclaim, however, popular debate over the atomic bombings has understandably returned to the fore.  Even some pundits on the political right, pontificating from the safety and comfort of eight intervening decades, question President Harry Truman’s decision to use the new weapons to end the war with Japan.  

Under their facile logic, it was immoral to take innocent civilian lives absent some transcendental certainty that no alternative existed.  

Applying their own moral parameter of Japanese lives lost, however, the vast preponderance of evidence renders their criticisms untenable.  

As an initial matter, the common suggestion that a demonstration detonation in the open seas to Japanese observers might have prompted surrender borders on the preposterous.  

How do we know that?  A simple recitation of the timeline and actual events makes that clear.  Namely, we bombed and obliterated Hiroshima on August 6, which qualifies as a demonstration of the bomb’s power.  Yet despite that obvious and immediate reckoning of the new weapon’s significance, the Japanese refused to surrender.  Three days later on August 9, we dropped a second and even more powerful atomic bomb on Nagasaki.  Even then, the Japanese did not immediately capitulate.  Japanese cabinet debate remained contentious and closely balanced, with no instant consensus toward surrender.  

Accordingly, to suggest that some sort of sterile exhibition explosion, even accepting for the sake of argument its feasibility, would have driven Japanese leaders to surrender when even Hiroshima’s destruction failed to trigger surrender is unsustainable.  

As for other alternatives, it’s beyond reasonable debate that simply continuing to conduct the war as we had to date while holding the atomic bombs in reserve would have cost even more Japanese lives than were lost in Hiroshima (an estimated 140,000) and Nagasaki (an estimated 74,000).  

As just one illustration, even by conservative estimates at least 100,000 Tokyo residents were killed in a single night of conventional bombing on March 10, 1945.  According to the official United States Strategic Bombing Survey, approximately 900,000 Japanese were killed by our broader conventional bombing campaign.  

How many hundreds of thousands more Japanese would have been killed through conventional bombing alone during whatever period it took to drive Japan to surrender by continuing that method of warfare?  The simple historical numbers make clear that the tally would’ve exceeded the estimated 214,000 killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  

The most likely alternative, as memorialized in the U.S. Army’s own Center of Military History, was a full-scale invasion of Japan known as “Operation Downfall” planned for November 1945 and into 1946:  

“Downfall,” the grand plan for the invasion of Japan, contemplated a gargantuan blow against the islands of Kyushu and Honshu, using the entire available combined resources of the army, navy, and air forces…  

The concept of “Downfall” visualized attainment of Japan’s surrender by two successive operations:  the first, to advance Allied land-based air forces into southern Kyushu in order to develop air support for the second, a “knockout blow to the enemy’s heart in the Tokyo area.”  These operations would be expanded and continued until all organized resistance in the Japanese home islands could be brought to an end.  

Military officials at the time estimated up to 500,000 American casualties in the event of an invasion, with inestimable millions of Japanese military and civilian dead.  Illustrating that certainty, even the relatively small Japanese island of Okinawa, the last significant battle of the war, cost over 12,000 American dead and an estimated 240,000 Japanese deaths.  

If invading the small island of Okinawa alone cost more lives than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined, the untold millions of Japanese dead from an invasion of the home islands would have made the atomic bombing casualties a rounding error by comparison.  

Meanwhile, none of the preceding casualty estimates factor in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of other lives that would have been lost had the atomic bombs not abruptly ended the war.  

For instance, twenty million Chinese were slaughtered under barbaric Japanese occupation, and many more would have perished during the additional months and years required to conquer Japan through conventional means.  Millions of others in the Philippines and across Southeast Asia also remained under Japanese occupation when the war ended following the atomic bombings.  How many of them would have perished?  

And what about American and other Allied prisoners of war, who perished at high rates under unspeakably brutal Japanese captivity conditions?  How many of them should have been forced to wait or die while Japan was gradually brought to its knees through grinding conventional warfare?  

President Truman’s primary duty was to end the war as quickly as possible and reduce the overall loss of life, especially American lives.  Prolonging the conflict would have resulted in even more lives lost.  To carelessly and sanctimoniously suggest otherwise dishonors the historical record and the sacred sacrifices of those who served.

Notable Quote   
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Liberty Poll   

Which would be the most useful for voters: a televised presidential debate that only includes Trump and Biden or one that adds Kennedy?