The Weekly Standard has a facsinating article on the intelligence Pres. Truman used in determining whether or not to use the atomic bomb on Japan. As you likely know, there has been a debate raging for years whehter our use of the atomic bomb was justified or not.
This is an especially pertinent question for Catholics in that we need to reconcile our position with Church teaching on 'just war'. Moreover, this is not just an academic or historical question because we need to be well-informed on this subject because we our country is currently engaged in two (related) conflicts and could well be involved in other conflicts in the not too distant future.
It would be beneficial to consult the Catechism on this topic:
Paragraph 2309: The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
- there must be serious prospects of success;
- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.
The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the "just war" doctrine.
The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.