At The Federalist, I’ve got an essay on the difficulties of interpreting the history of the end of WWII.
Seventy years ago, the American military dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, obliterating the center of the city and killing about a hundred thousand people. The world had never seen this kind of destruction. America wanted to end the war quickly, but this time did the cure turn out to be more devastating than the disease?
So far no one has used an atomic bomb in combat since 1945, which makes the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki unique historical events. These are the kind of historical moments that humans want to find meaning in, but the meaning of historical events is notoriously difficult to pin down.
Twenty years ago, in commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing, the Smithsonian commissioned an exhibit about the Enola Gay that caused a firestorm of its own. The exhibit’s designers believed that the anniversary should be used to tell the history of nuclear weapons and their proliferation. The original script for the exhibit hailed the bomb as the beginning of a new, more precarious age for mankind, but many Americans wanted an experience that focused on the bomb being the necessary close of the Second World War. A power struggle ensued with two sides laying claim to the Enola Gay.
You can read the rest here.