In the days that followed Sept. 11, 2001, most people agreed that the United States had been the victim of a “terrorist” attack; after all, 3,000 innocent civilians had been targeted and murdered for political objectives.

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, and three days later dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki, causing the deaths of 120,000 people, mostly innocent civilians. Today, few Americans would label the two bombings “terrorist” attacks.

Pat Buchanan disagrees. “Truman’s defenders argue that by using the bomb, he saved more lives than were lost in those cities. Only the atom bombs, they contend, could have shocked Japan’s warlords into surrender,” Buchanan says. “But if terrorism is the massacre of innocents to break the will of rulers, were not Hiroshima and Nagasaki terrorism on a colossal scale?”

Buchanan raises a valid question: What is the definition of terrorism?

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