During World War II something like 45 million people lost their lives, and many of them were civilians. The Nazis exterminated millions, but, in spite of Hitler's genius, his "1000 year Reich" lasted a scant 12 years, while the will of the Japanese to fight disappeared when America unleashed upon their cities a devastatingly grewsome new weapon of mass destruction that killed 80,000 to 200,000 in Hiroshima alone. The atomic bomb was the product of the combined imaginations of scientists from all over the free world, working together at Los Alamos.
It is ironic that the Germans had been the first to detect nuclear fission, but it would have been even more ironic had nuclear weapons been used to defeat the Germans. I tend to think that such an eventuality was very unlikely, for Germans were afterall Caucasians, and German Americans were treated with respect throughout the war years, while Japanese Americans were despised, their property confiscated, and their families collected in concentration camps. The atomic bomb could be used only on Japs! Let us hope that one day we shall be able to put such racism behind us.
In spite of all the atrocities that were committed by both sides during World War II, America sought neither retribution nor restitution from the defeated Germans and Japanese. Instead, it rejected the imperialist model, and rebuilt both countries, bringing to them democracy as they never experienced it before.
Everyone knows of the Marshall plan for Europe. Americans tend to be less familiar with how Japan was rebuilt. The conquering Americans were very careful to preserve the civil structure of the country and to preserve law and order, just removing the top leaders from power. A western style constitution was forced upon Japan, and the effect of this was truly remarkable. The United States can feel justifiably proud of its actions during the postwar years.
Until it lost its way in Viet Nam, our country really was creating a "New World Order." In the meanwhile, bouyed by Soviet-American rivalry, technological development thrived, culminating in the placing of men on Earth's moon, and safely returning them home. I remember the 1960's with the greatest fondness, and only regret that Pres. Kennedy was not allowed to see the achievement of the moon landing.