‘Walk That Back’

May 6, 2009

I told him I was against [the atomic bomb] on two counts. First, the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing. Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon.
— Dwight Eisenhower, July, 1945

History has shown Harry Truman to be an asshole hard-head.
From Time magazine in September 1960:

1) The Japanese wanted to come to terms at least one month before the war’s end,
2) Truman was well aware of Japanese peace overtures, and
3) He rebuffed them.

(Illustration of Hiroshima mother and child four months later found here).

Time trip to last week: Jon Stewart had on his Daily Show program, Cliff May,  a warmonger-pusherman located extreme-right of Dick Cheney — he would most-likely waterboard your mother.
Naturally, he and Stewart snipped-and-snapped with right/left words on torture, who’s to blame, etc., until May moved the conversation onto a more historical level:

Stewart: I try and draw the line where our country has drawn it for 200 years.
May: Do you think in World War II we did not inflict pain and suffering on suspects in the war in Japan?
Stewart: I would hope we didn’t waterboard people. I would hope we didn’t…
May: We did do Hiroshima. Do you think, do you think Truman is a war criminal for that?
Stewart: Yeah.
May: You do?
Stewart: Yeah.
May: Okay. This is a, this is a…
Stewart: Here’s what I think of the atom bombs. I think if you dropped an atom bomb fifteen miles offshore and you said, “The next one’s coming and hitting you,” then I would think it’s okay.
To drop it on a city, and kill a hundred thousand people.
Yeah. I think that’s criminal.

I’d not known about the above episode until this morning.
Due to some mysterious, irritating weirdness with my laptop, there’s no sound, and although I’d kept up with Stewart on a daily basis (hahaha) before the strange hit my computer, (I like Stewart, enjoyed the Cramer ‘series’ — read my take here), the past few weeks I tended to ignored anything to do with the Daily Show clips spread daily (hahaha) across the blogosphere because I couldn’t enjoy them — no freakin’ sound.
Until this morning when I spied an opinion-column title mentioning a Stewart waffle, walk back.
Not-so-funny, and more than a bit shameful, when the grovel-shoe-in-the-ass is on the left foot.
Via HuffPost:

“The other night we had on Cliff May.
He was on, we were discussing torture, back and forth, very spirited discussion, very enjoyable. And I may have mentioned during the discussion we were having that Harry Truman was a war criminal.
And right after saying it, I thought to myself that was dumb.
And it was dumb. Stupid in fact.
So I shouldn’t have said that, and I did.
So I say right now, no, I don’t believe that to be the case.
The atomic bomb, a very complicated decision in the context of a horrific war, and I walk that back because it was in my estimation a stupid thing to say.
Which, by the way, as it was coming out of your mouth, you ever do that, where you’re saying something, and as it’s coming out you’re like, ‘What the f**k, nyah?’
And it just sat in there for a couple of days, just sitting going, ‘No, no, he wasn’t, and you should really say that out loud on the show.’ So I am, right now, and, man, ew.
Sorry. And, Warren G. Harding was a [bleeped, unintelligible].”

What a damn shame — Stewart performed like a corporate noodle — what a let down.
And he even tried to toss off a shit, un-funny joke at the end.

Truman knew what he was doing.
He even went so far as to holier-than-thou proclaim it was no big deal okaying the mass killing of civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki — telling students at Columbia University in 1959, “The atom bomb was no ‘great decision.’ It was merely another powerful weapon in the arsenal of righteousness.”
Real history tells the tale.

Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic has posted a couple of good views of the Truman war-criminal question here and here.
And from libertarian-bent Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com an agreeable view of war crimes, torture, and why Stewart’s walk back was so showing in how the US narrative is so biased.
The title of Raimondo’s commentary, ‘Jon Stewart: Moral Coward‘ posted on antiwar.com‘s homepage this morning was my original prick-point on the subject.

Eight years ago, the fairly-prestigious and realiable History News Network held an online mock trial of Truman on charges he violated Nuremberg war-conduct standards — “the wanton destruction of cities, towns, and villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.”
Interesting debate — read about it starting here.

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