Compare & Contrast 3 Essays

Doug Lee

The three essays, "Thank God For The Atom Bomb" by Paul Fussel, "Democracy" by Carl Becker, and "Chief Seattle: Letter to President Pierce, 1855" are three different rhetorical modes of writing that exposits theoretical, personal reasoning on the realities of certain controversial historical topics. The main focus of the essays are in proving a steadfast view of an ambiguous subject through sarcastic criticism of opposing ideas and by applying clever use of irony; the authors? sentiments vary from imperialistic to anti-imperialistic, and from attesting to detesting a past event.

"Thank God For The Atom Bomb" is a straightforward imperialistic literature which analyzes cause and effect to justify the use of the Atomic bomb during World War 2. The author continuously criticizes the evil of the Japanese in an attempt to convince the reader why the "Japs" deserved what they got. He sites a Japanese pilot saying, "All Japanese must become soldiers and die for the Emperor" to prove his point that the general mentality of the enemy was just that ?"implacable, treacherous, barbaric"(p460), and savage. He consistently acknowledges his up-close experience with the war to inform the reader that he has sufficient basis for his analysis. But to reinforce his authenticity that his view is not just possessed by himself, he borrows many statements and examples used by others who share his ideas. The U.S. war committee already drew out plans for a full-scale coastal assault and that was about to take action anytime; if the bomb was not to be dropped, an armed invasion on the mainland would call for a hellish massacre of unpredictable proportions on both the American and Japanese side. He noted a British observer saying "But for the atomic bombs, ... they would have annihilated the lot of us"(p457). Just preventing an anticipated one million American casualties was sufficient cause for the Nagasaki bomb that "led to peace"(p459).

The effect of the bomb should be obvious that "the killing was all going to be over, and peace was actually going to be the state of things"(p462). Though not a very compassionate statement, it is true to the fact that the war was over and the killing has come to an end; the reason being that the Japanese has already been killed. "We were going to grow to adulthood after all"(p462) and instantly, it seems that this explosive miracle has brought "relief and joy"(p462) to the world, or at least to the author?s side of the world. The cause and effect of the A-bomb is therefore justified; the cause was to cease further bloodshed and the effect was the carnage ended. The positive effects does not only pertain to the Americans, but for the Japanese also, for the postwar Japan, an economic powerhouse "hustling"(p460) successfully in today?s markets is the pay-off for it being "destroyed and then being humiliated, tamed, and constitutionalized by the West."(p460) ? obviously an imperialistic point of view.

"Thank God For The Atom Bomb" ironically can be viewed by some as anti-imperialistic as some view it imperialistic for it attacks Japanese imperialism and the Japanese psychology of the pre-war era which believed themselves to possess "invincible superiority"(p459) thus having jurisdiction to treat another people they see fit, and that includes "gleeful use of bayonets on civilians, on nurses and the wounded, in Hong Kong and Singapore."(p460). And it was Japan who decided to conquer the world and to deploy their diabolic armies of destruction across the globe. It must not be forgotten that the episode started by the incident at Pearl Harbor and ended by the incident at Nagasaki.

The author?s voice throughout the whole essay is filled with sarcastic contempt for the people who question the moral of the bomb?s usage. He repeatedly attacks those critics by emphasizing their obscurity to the horrific realities of the battlefield for they lack firsthand experience confronting the enemy in combat. He scorns John Kenneth Gallbraith, a detester of the bomb, for being so ignorant and na?ve as to say "the war was ending anyway"(p456) with or without blowing up civilian cities into smithereens. Being a frontline soldier, the author recognizes the universal Japanese ethos "One Hundred Million Souls for the Emperor"(p455); Japan was far from ready to surrender. He rebuked Gallbraith?s notion by saying "I don?t demand that he experience having his ass shot off. I merely note that he didn?t"(p456). Historian