The Washington Post, Aug. 7,1945

The Haunted Wood

If the imagination was numbed by the story of the German rocket bombs, it is utterly paralyzed by President Truman's revelations concerning the new "atomic bomb." It is probably correct to say that most Americans received this news not with exultation but with a kind of bewildered awe. It must have intensified that somnambulistic sensation which the progressive shocks of the past half dozen years have induced. It is still impossible for most of us to believe that the grotesque dream world of the Sunday supplement editors, of the hacks who rattle out yarns for pulp magazines, of the artists who fill the so-called comic pages with fantasies about space ships, paralysis-ray pistols and interplanetary wars, of the men and women who fled in wild panic over the New Jersey countryside because they heard that the Martians were invading the earth, has at last become the world of actuality. Out of the wreck of the rational universe, we seem, indeed, to have created "the thing we contemplate."

. . . Perhaps this will frighten the surviving Japanese into accepting the terms of the Potsdam ultimatum. If not, says the President, "they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth." We believe him, even without the information that new and more powerful atomic bombs are already in development.

With characteristic American optimism the President foresees "a new era in man's understanding of nature's forces," when it will be possible for atomic energy to supplement or perhaps even replace the power now derived from coal, oil and hydroelectric dams. However, what we seem really to need at this moment is a new era in the understanding of the nature of man, and whether it is really the kind of nature that makes it desirable for him to play with such toys as atomic energy. . . . Aug. 9, 1945

War Without Quarter

Whenever a new and more awful weapon of destruction is developed, voices are raised in denunciation of its unrestricted use against an enemy. The idea persists that in warfare there is a dividing line between the permitted and the forbidden that must not be overstepped, even though restraint may mean indefinite prolongation of hostilities or ultimate defeat. Yet in our hearts we know that wars on which the fate of nations depend are fought with no holds barred. However much we deplore the necessity, a struggle to the death commits all combatants to inflicting a maximum amount of destruction on the enemy within the shortest span of time.

Since modern warfare by its character converts civilians and armed forces alike into combatants, it is impossible to direct attacks solely against the combatants . . .

It is only unfamiliarity with the new type of destructive weapon -- the atomic bomb -- that evokes expressions of regret and horror from Americans who long ago ceased to cry out against large scale bombing of industrial cities with less deadly missiles. We hope that that feeling of horror will persist, but believe that sober second thoughts will bring a new perspective to bear on the problems raised by our unleashing of this dreadful weapon on a populous Japanese city. We only need to consider a few facts in order to be unreservedly glad that science put this new weapon at our disposal before the end of the war. For there is no doubting that the atom bomb will hasten victory. . . . Moreover, if fear of atom bombs brings suicidal Japanese resistance to an early end, thousands of Japanese lives will be saved even though a single bomb is capable of destroying whole cities.