Does Jon Stewart Really Think Truman Was A War Criminal?

Update: Nevermind.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis First 100 Days

Unlike many conservatives, I love The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He’s a very funny man, backed by an outstanding research staff.  His views skew hard to the left, but he’s not an America-basher like Michael Moore.

The idea that he’s the primary source of information for legions of college students is a little scary… but anyone who watched the April 28 episode got to see a very spirited and substantive debate on the issue of interrogation techniques.

Because of careful preparation and home-field advantage, Stewart often runs circles around his guests.  But Cliff May of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies more than held his own, and in the process very effectively made the point that different people can honorably draw lines in different places.

In the heat of the debate, Stewart responded to May’s question by saying yes, President Truman was a war criminal because of the atomic bomb attacks.  As Michael Goldfarb points out on the Weekly Standard:

He’s certainly not the only American who would take that view, but it’s a useful reminder that the most vocal and popular criticism of the Bush administration’s war on terror policies comes from people who, if they were being as honest as Stewart, would also judge Lincoln (suspension of habeas), FDR (internment), and Truman (use of nuclear weapons) as war criminals or tyrants or worse.

Somehow I think Stewart would moderate his opinions about Truman if he took a little more time to think about it.  My take? Truman certainly wasn’t a war criminal. The Hiroshima bomb undeniably saved many American lives compared to an invasion, and may even have saved Japanese lives on a net basis.  I’m more troubled by Nagsaki just three days later.