The Obama Narrative Goes to Hiroshima

Instead, Obama began his speech by conjuring a cosmos in which, out of a blue sky, the bomb dropped itself:

Seventy-one years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possesses the means to destroy itself.

The context of World War II, he dismissed as a distraction: "It is not the fact of war that sets Hiroshima apart." For Obama -- as he told us -- his visit to Hiroshima was about the weapon and its "capacity for unmatched destruction":

Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not so distant past.

As Obama frames the tale, Japan's Dec. 7, 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor disappears from the picture. So does the Rape of Nanking, the alliance with Nazi Germany, the Bataan Death March; so do the battles of Saipan, Leyte, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the hideous toll that would surely have come of a land invasion, had the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki not led within days to Japan's surrender. We are left to infer -- Obama invites all mankind to believe -- that none of these specifics are really relevant to Hiroshima.

In this alternate universe, we can forget Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, who led America to victory in a Second World War that America did not seek. Never mind that America dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and, three days later, on Nagasaki, not to start a war with Japan, but to end it.

On Obama's clock -- as he made clear at Hiroshima -- it is not Pearl Harbor, but August 6, 1945, the day the first bomb was dropped (by America), that is the real date which will live in infamy. Unless, of course (there is always a twist to Obama's rhetoric) the human race takes his advice to be inspired to moral perfection by the horror of Hiroshima.

Here, in considering what Obama went on to say, I must digress for a moment to talk about his art of the "narrative." Obama's speeches are slippery to summarize, because he often says a number of things with which one can agree (World War II brought terrible suffering; nuclear weapons could destroy us), but he mixes these together with false premises, groundless conclusions, oddly disembodied snippets of history and shyster prescriptions.