Recently, President Obama has come under a lot of criticism for his recent trip to the site of the WWII bombings in Hiroshima, Japan. Many believe that he went to apologize on behalf of the United States having used nuclear weapons during the war, but they had been misled by sensationalized reports of his speech. While many media outlets have already debunked this rumor (and you can read the speech here if you still aren’t convinced), many conservatives had already taken to patriotically censuring Obama for his visit. Of course, after the yellow journalism had been exposed, some critics had begun to accuse conservatives of hypocrisy:
“In 1959—a decade-and-a-half after the use of the atom bomb—National Review editorialized that, ‘The indefensibility of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima is becoming a part of the national conservative creed.’ So America’s premier conservative journal was essentially saying that abhorring U.S. use of the atom bomb was conservatism proper.”
While the National Review is undeniably one of the most well-established conservative papers, their review of the bombings did not reflect the views of the majority of conservatives at the time.Gallup recently released statistics from August of 1945—after the bombing of Hiroshima—which shows that, “69 percent of Americans felt positively about the development of the atomic bomb, saying it ‘was a good thing.’ Just 17 percent called it a ‘bad thing.”
This statistic proves that the majority of Americans—not just conservatives—agreed with using the nuclear weapons. In a later study conducted in 1998, however, the public opinion was nearly the opposite with only 36 percent of Americans believing they were “a good thing,” and 61 percent of Americans saying they were a “bad thing.” Again I note that these statistics are on Americans, and not specifically liberals or conservatives. Evidently, your political ideology does not necessarily affect your views on nuclear weapons.
I would further postulate that conservative values would not necessarily make you more or less accepting of war. While I would assume most people do not favor warlike policy, most people could be roused to support war if given a strong emotional or logical justification. For instance, two years after the 9/11 attacks, 72 percent of Americans still supported the war in Iraq, according to a 2003 Gallup poll. As conservatives, our beliefs can be summarized in the phrases: personal responsibility, free enterprise and individual liberty. Nothing about these values blatantly suggest that conservatives should be more or less hawkish.
Breitbart recently published an article entitled, “If you don’t want to get nuked, don’t bomb Pearl Harbor”, and some critics have misconstrued the conservative publication’s article as an indication that conservatives are war hawks. I would argue, however, that Breitbart’s validation of the bombings is indicative of an inherent conservative respect for American life. Moreover, most Americans, regardless of their political affiliations, desired retribution after the attacks on 9/11. By stereotyping today’s conservatives as hawkish, these critics are perpetuating a double standard that when conservatives support war, they are eager to do so because of some underlying aggressiveness in our values, whereas liberals can support war without criticism. If that were true, then the liberals in all their pacifistic glory who also supported the invasion of Iraq, appear to be the real hypocrites.
Re-posted from https://www.theodysseyonline.com/are-conservatives-inherently-war-hawks