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MONDAY, AUGUST 8, 2005
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EDITORIAL

A-bomb debate helps little; focus on what we can learn

Defenders of the United States' atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 60 years ago say it undoubtedly saved more lives than it took. Critics say it set a terrible precedent and nuclear weapons should never be used again. Both are right.

We see no way to settle the issue of whether President Truman made the right decision in following through on the scientific research and strategic war planning that was intended to, and did, end World War II.

War is hell. Hellish decisions have to be made. Truman was the man in charge, and he had to make them.

We never want to see that sort of death and destruction again, and that's where Hiroshima and Nagasaki can be most useful. They show how terrible nuclear weapons can be, in terms of both immediate destruction and the long-range effects of radiation. In a broader sense, they show the need to avoid the destructive use of both existing and future technology.

The fact that more nations are developing nuclear capabilities and the fear that terrorists are doing so make it urgent to resist this proliferation, seek peaceful solutions to conflicts, and stop those who use violence.

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