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This past week saw the anniversary of America’s demolition of the city of Hiroshima, then a major manufacturing hub of the Imperial Japanese Empire. As we are always reminded, this was the first and as yet only use of nuclear weapons in warfare.

I’ll let it be known where I stand on that episode without hesitation. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the coventrations of Tokyo and Kyoto before them, were not only justified actions (in a strategic sense) but represented an act of profound kindness to the peoples of Asia. Just as Germany had arrogantly sought to enslave the peoples of Europe against their will, so Japan – with its terrifying efficiency – was actively seeking to imprison the whole of East Asia under a Yamato herrenvolk.

Americans should rightly be proud of this stroke of moral and military genius. It saved many more lives than it took.

From their creation, nuclear weapons have always provided a philosophical as well as strategic dilemma for policy-makers. Does anyone really have the right to unleash the forces of hell on another country? Can the death of innocents ever be necessary?

As I’ve already suggested, the answer to both of these questions is ‘yes’.

There are many different kinds of war. It is not always a war between rational actors, or even between states. Sometimes a whole society is mobilised in a shared hysteria and must be dealt with accordingly. Both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan had thoroughly indoctrinated populations as well as governments. In Germany, the concept of a master-race was believed by judges and street-sweepers, government officials and housewives. Similarly, there is an ocean of evidence to suggest that millions of ordinary Japanese believed in the divinity of Hirohito and were ready to kill and die for him. The nuclear bombing of Japan was thus designed to avoid a lengthy (and bloody) confrontation with a whole nation. A US occupation (without prior surrender) would have been opposed by civilian suicide attacks too numerous to be humanely controlled. One word from the emperor could have mobilised a million men, women and children into crazed violence.

In 2007, the neuroscientist and irreligionist Sam Harris was quoted as having said the following: “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them”. He was broadly condemned for this (including bizarrely by Theodore Dalrymple), despite it being the active policy of the Western World in regard to armed jihadis in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Harris if correct of course, and Islam (his main concern) is a bigger threat than Japan could have ever mustered. If Islam cannot be dealt with by our conventional forces, we will eventually have to consider the use of a nuclear pacifier.

The objection to the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstance is (whilst moral in origin) energised largely by exaggeration. The use of nuclear weapons on Tehran, Riyadh and Ankara for example (and this would represent the most obvious opening salvo in a Western offensive against Islam) would not for certain lead to a ‘nuclear winter’. The environmental effects of nuclear explosions have been subject to significant pacifist hype. Since the Second World War, there have been over 2000 nuclear bomb blasts in many different environments. None have caused lasting environmental damage. This is considerably more than would be used in the situations we are talking about. And even if the objection is raised against me that nuclear tests do not actually burn structures and therefore don’t emit smoke into the atmosphere, we still have the examples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to draw from. About these very real test cases, Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning wrote the following:

“Hiroshima developed a firestorm… that peaked two to three hours after the explosion. Six hours after the explosion, nearly everything combustible within a one-and-a-half kilometer radius had been consumed, and the fire was almost completely out, leaving over 8 square kilometers destroyed… Photographs taken of Hiroshima over the next few days do not show any significant evidence of vast amounts of smoke.”

Other examples of nuclear over-hype are given in the article: I shall post the link in the comments section.

Of course, there are some circumstances in which nuclear weapons are too powerful to be safely deployed by a state. Israel for example could not use nuclear weapons on Jordan or Egypt without the threat of environmental risk to its own population. But in general, both Israel the West cannot permanently discount this kind of arsenal as a tool of resistance.

We have the moral right to defend our happiness and to preserve the possibility of happiness for mankind. When you compare our relaxed, macchiato lifestyle against the desert mutilations of Planet Sharia, ask yourself this: Isn’t the preservation of one from the other worth a nuclear explosion or two?

There is only one earth for humans to inhabit. What worth can human life have if freedom is abolished on it? When you’re fighting for reasons as big as that – heaven against hell, light against eternal darkness – all options must remain firmly on the table.