05 Aug

Brighter than a thousand suns

“And Jesus was transfigured before them; and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” – (St Matthew 17:2)

“The atomic bomb – brighter than a thousand suns”  – Robert Jungk

Is it only a fearful coincidence that the feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord and the dropping of the atomic bomb are on the same day, 6th August? C.G. Jung thought not. With the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, Jung developed a theory: Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle. This was meant to throw light on parallel events, neither caused by the other, yet they seem to relate to each other.

I don’t know what to make of this as a theory, but there’s no denying that some coincidences are very striking and this leads people such as Jung and Pauli – men of utterly different temperaments and inclinations – to suggest that they are somehow meaningful

Of course, back on the ground on the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb, we are regaled in all the usual quarters with remonstrations about the horror of war. As if we didn’t know that war is horrible. But what war, when, where and how?

In the Potsdam Declaration of 26th July 1945, the US told the Japanese government that the alternative to unconditional surrender would be “prompt and utter destruction.”

The Japs knew they were bound to be defeated – not just by the massive naval and air forces deployed against them by the Americans, but by the imminent invasion of one and a half million Soviet soldiers.

Consider: if the Americans had been obliged to fight the Japs island by island, it is estimated that it would have cost them more than half a million lives

What rational and humane president – such as Truman certainly was – would elect for a policy that meant he had to write letters of condolence to 500,000 mothers and widows?  

Consider the blame that would naturally have been attached to him if he had not used every means and every weapon in his armoury to end the war as quickly as possible.

The Japs were told straight that their refusal to surrender would mean “…the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.”

And, by the way, it was the Japs who started it all: the USA was always fighting a defensive war after the attack on Pearl Harbour. Moreover, the Japs fought in an especially cruel style: their treatment of prisoners of war was despicable and their sadism infamous.

I do not need to be told that war is terrible. I am not impressed by emotive arguments which amount to nothing more than looking again at the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima and being asked to hold up my hands in horror.

I know that waging war is a terrible thing to do. I also know that sometimes it is the right thing to do. And it was right in the Far East in 1945