Why did Fussel "thank god for the atom bomb?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Essentially, Fussell argues that the atomic bomb was worthy of thanks to God because of the lives it saved.  Fussell makes this point in different ways in his article.  The initial presupposition is that the war was something rather savage to envision:

The experience I'm talking about is having to come to grips, face to face, with an enemy who designs your death....Their mission was... to close with the enemy and destroy him.  Destroy, notice: not hurt, frighten, drive away, or capture.

In this basic idea, Fussell argues the Sherman idea that "War is hell."  The sheer brutality and kill count of the war, Fussell suggests, was so large and so intense that any potential means to ending it quickly, such as dropping the atomic bomb, was welcome news to the soldiers who were certain to die:  "The Japanese pre- invasion patriotic song 'One Hundred Million Souls for the Emperor'... meant just that."  For Fussell, the military and civilian death count was bound to rise in a conventional war where both sides were driven to eliminate the other.  The use of the bomb, thus, saved lives in how it decisively ended the war.  In Fussell's mind, the true horror of war is such a condition that a soldier would be thankful for anything to end it.  In the dropping of the atomic bomb, such thanks was merited.  Fussell argues that those who fought in war and understand its true horror can recognize this truth and in doing so, "give thanks to God for the atomic bomb."


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