UCSB history professor Tsuyoshi Hasegawa will deliver the 55th annual Faculty Research Lecture today at 3:30 p.m. in the McCune Conference Room, 6020 Humanities and Social Sciences Building.
An expert on the Cold War and modern Russian and Soviet history, as well as co-founder of the Center for Cold War Studies, Hasegawa’s talk, “Lessons of Hiroshima: Past and Present,” will center on the use of atomic bombs in World War II, relating the event to contemporary issues. Although elements from his award-winning book, Racing with the Enemy: Truman, Stalin, and the Surrender of Japan, went into the preparation of his lecture, Hasegawa will additionally pursue questions of the ethical and moral issues of bombing.
Hasegawa said that he will discuss the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the context of 9/11 and today’s War on Terror.
“After Pearl Harbor, Americans basically accepted that bombing civilians from the air was justified, and eventually justified the atomic bomb on that basis,” Hasegawa said. “I think that in combating the War on Terror, we often think that any means to win the War on Terror can be justified.”
Hasegawa said he hopes his historical research will better inform future decision.
“We have a great deal to learn from the experience of the use of the atomic bomb,” Hasegawa said. “As long as we do not think about the morality of the atomic bomb, we are bound to continue the same mistakes.”
Professor Henning Bohn, Divisional Chair of the Academic Senate, said that the Faculty Research Lecture is the highest honor the UCSB Academic Senate can give to a faculty member.
“He was chosen by a committee consisting of previous recipients of the award,” Bohn said. “The committee selects someone who is highly recognized, a real star in any discipline, in any field on the campus.”
Hasegawa said he was honored to have been singled out.
“It is really wonderful because we have many, many deserving faculty members, particularly in science and engineering,” Hasegawa said. “So for me to receive this is a very great honor for those of us who work in the humanities, particularly in history.”
Marshall Lincoln, a second-year economics major, said he was interested in hearing Hasegawa’s take on the bombing of Japanese cities and that he thinks the government may have had ulterior motives.
“I believe that we were not justified in dropping atomic bombs,” Lincoln said. “This is both because using these weapons sets a dangerous precedent that nuclear warfare is okay in certain situations and secondly because, upon closer scrutiny, it is fairly obvious that our government dropped the bomb not to save lives, but to end the war quickly to stop the Soviet Union from overrunning Japanese-controlled territory in Manchuria.”