08/05/2014 02:36 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2014

Conservatives Ban the Bomb?

"Ban the bomb" is seen today as a leftist cause, with conservatives tending to resist any attempt to reduce the size of our nuclear arsenal or otherwise change our dependence on these weapons of mass destruction. Thus, Stanford Prof. Barton Bernstein's op-ed in yesterday's San Jose Mercury News is likely to come as a surprise when it quotes former Pres. Herbert Hoover as saying just three days after Hiroshima that, "The use of the atomic bomb, with its indiscriminate killing of women and children, revolts my soul."

Hiroshima After the Bomb

Bernstein goes on to quote similar objections from other notable conservatives, and notes:

Yet today, this history of early anti-A-bomb dissent by conservatives is largely unknown. In about the past 20 years, various American conservatives have even assailed A-bomb dissent as typically leftist and anti-American, and as having begun in the tumultuous 1960s. Such a view of postwar American history is remarkably incorrect.

For more details, please see his op-ed. I'll add that in my personal interactions with Prof. Bernstein, I have found him to be scrupulously honest in seeking out the historical truth, rather than trying to buttress his own pre-existing beliefs. To paraphrase the old EF Hutton ad, "When Bart Bernstein speaks, the world should listen."