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 (1939-1945) WWII
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vpatrick
MA MA USA
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Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 6:15:11 PM
Im reading two conflicting narratives (well reading one and listening to an audible book) concerning the atomic bombing of Japan. I spent two hours carefully setting this up but went to post and it was gone. So Ill make it brief. Oliver Stones book "The Untold History of the United States" does not necessarily set the U.S. as the bad guy in every case but just resists the historical narrative that the US is a benevolent country that thinks itself spreading peace and democracy throughout the world. The benevolence of the US was the historical narrative I was taught many years ago but I doubt its being taught now. I think Oliver Stone is just trying to show another side of US history and its assumed benevolence that can lead to malevolence possibly unintentionally but possibly intentionally by the US elite. According to Oliver Stone the atomic bombing of Japan in 1945 was the fault of Truman because he was a back water simple unprepared corrupt politician and it would never of happened if Roosevelt's former Vice president Wallace was kept and Truman stayed in the senate. Wallace was a much more educated man with the foresight to see the future ramifications of using such a weapon on civilians and what it would mean down the road. Wallace was a progressive and a thinker and at the time the democrat partry was needing more of a centrist meat and potatoes vice president hence Truman. The assertion is if Wallace became President after FDR died the Atom bomb would never have been used on Japan.

The other book Im actually reading "The Accidental President" by AJ Baime casts Truman in a more sympathetic light on Truman as someone who was neither prepared for the presidency or wanted it and did the best he could. He was faced with a decision that was based on evidence of what was seen at the time. I haven't have reached Baime's conclusion yet but Im scratching my head just the same so ill end it there.

I have always thought that dropping the bomb on Japan while horrific was needed it was total war and Im sure if the Japanese or the Germans had one they would not hesitate to use it if they had one. No Japanese General when defeated had surrendered or handed over his sword and side arm or had his Emperors troops stack rifles when defeated all fought to the death. Okinawa was an eye opener that even at this stage of the war the Japanese were going to fight to the death. How would the invasion of the Japanese main Islands be any different than Okinawa and were the mothers of America ready to sacrifice more sons for an invasion that could be averted by using two terrible weapons? Many American GIs thanked god for not having to go and fight on the main Japanese Islands. The big difference I noted between the two books was that according to Stone the Japanese sent messages to Moscow about a possible surrender but were adamant that the emperor had to keep his throne, they were ignored because the US was adamant about dropping the bombs to scare the Russians who were encroaching all over central Europe. The assertion was that the Japanese would accept defeat but were concerned about Roosevelts unconditional surrender he layed upon the Germans and might accept a surrender but a conditional one without losing the emperor. The Baime assertion is that the peace feelers by the Japanese were not serious and should have been discounted and if the Japanese were serious should have been directed at the US not Moscow who they felt were just trying to delay Russia's involvement in the war.

After reading both Im not 100% sure of my life long belief that the atomic bombing of Japan was justified but I will say its easy to arm chair general 1945 in 2020, its a very complex tragic subject in history. I think we demand perfection in history sometimes and in hindsight forget that humans are extremely imperfect both in history and especially today in which we have learned nothing it seems. Thoughts?

vpatrick

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kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2961
Joined: 2010
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 8:25:44 PM
Good thoughts Vin, both on the atomic bombing of Japan and the US role in history.
Some initial thoughts from me,I hope they make any sense as it is fairly late here when I write.

I must admit that I have at times been surprised at the world view of some Americans I have come across, for instance when they have been genuinely surprised that US soldiers were not greeted as heroes in Iraq or Afghanistan,or find out that Europeans enjoy prettymuch exact the same freedoms as Americans inmost cases....
However, I also think that the US generally has had to carry a lot more blame for situations (for instance the Middle East) than is fair. I am not a big fan of Oliver Stone as such, especially after his propaganda film for Putin about the annexation of Crimea, but at the same time he is a smart man and does make some good points at times.
The US, for better or worse, was more or less forced into the role as world policeman after ww2, and most of the other countries, my own included, have benefited greatly from that. Yes, of course there have been a number of ill conceived US interventions that have generally just caused a bad situation to go even worse,but at the same time one must always remember that the alternative was never peaceful, democratic outcomes. The role the US took/was given is also the reason why many allies today find it distasteful when Trump talks about leaving NATO or decides to leave organisations like the WHO or WTO. The entire world structure, post ww2 was designed to benefit the US, and many nations have stretched far to stay on the good side of the US, including taking part in wars that they had no self interest in taking part in. Personally, I must admit I am quite happy that Trump has put the squeeze on other NATO countries, not because he is right that they owe anything to the US, but because it highlights that Europe must take responsibility for its own defence and security. The US role as world policeman is slowly coming to an end, and I am not sure that is an entirely good thing if there are no other cops on the beat,so to speak. I am not too keen on either Russia or China in that role...

As for the atomic bombs in Japan, I agree it is very easy sit now and look at decisions made in 1945 with new eyes. I do believe the decision to drop the bombs was correct, given the circumstances, but no doubt it was a horrendous decision to make and clearly was a war crime. All in all it did save lives though, and I also believe it actually prevented WW3 as the results of a nuclear blast was no longer theoretical and more visual for politicians that were making the decisions (on both sides).

Anyway, interesting topic(s), I am looking forward to reading other thoughts on it as well.

Stay safe my friend, and Go Bruins!

K
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“My dear boy, as long as you don’t invade Afghanistan you’ll be absolutely fine.” - Harold Macmillan to Alec Douglas-Home upon the latter taking over as PM.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 9:05:33 PM
There is the school of thought, dismissed by some as revisionist history, that says that the Japanese were already defeated before the bombs were dropped. Japanese cities had already been destroyed by conventional bombing. The islands were blockaded.

Quote:
“the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.… In being the first to use it, we…adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”
. source: Admiral William Leahy, Chief of Staff for Pres. Truman. Written in his memoirs.

When asked on Aug. 17 by a reporter whether the atomic bombs had caused Japan to surrender, Gen. "Hap" Arnold, commander of US Army Air Forces, replied:

Quote:
“the Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell, because the Japanese had lost control of their own air.”
.

Quote:
“the atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan.”

source: Chester Nimitz, C in C of Pacific fleet, 2 months after the bombings.

Quote:
“the first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment…. It was a mistake to ever drop it…. [The scientists] had this toy, and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it…”
. source: Admiral Wm. "Bull" Halsey, commander of US 3rd fleet.

Quote:
“voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.”
. Source: Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in his memoirs.

Quote:
“the atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.”
. source: Maj. Gen Curtis Lemay, head of 21st Bomber Command

So we have all of these distinguished military men who pour water on the narrative that those bombs forced the Japanese to quit.

Did they all have an axe to grind? Were the comments taken out of context or do they truly reflect the views of these men?

We do know that thousands of civilians including many women and children were killed by the two atomic weapons. I have read that the Japanese military was not greatly impacted by either bomb. If true, then is there another reason that the Japanese sued for peace?

They waited until the Russians had declared war against them before surrendering. May we entertain the possibility that they feared that the homeland would be overrun by the Red Army with the complete destruction of their military? Who knows what indignities the Japanese citizens would suffer at the hands of the Russians?

So was the decision to use atomic bombs taken out of the hands of the military and if the US military was opposed, then why did the politicians order the bombs to be used?

Cheers,

George
morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 2952
Joined: 2007
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 9:20:36 PM
Vince, the real reason Wallace was replaced was because just the people`s common sense told them that Roosevelt was dying, and most likely would not live long into his fourth term, and Wallace was damn near a Stalinist....his Progressive Party had strong ties to communists. Conservative Democrats ( yeah, there used to be some) did not trust Wallace to become President. That is why Oliver Stone thought Wallace to be " more intelligent"...Stone being a big time leftist himself.

While I still think his film "Platoon" to be one of the best films....and excellent telling of two Sergeants fighting for the souls of their men....a stand-in for what was actually taking place in America at the time....but JFK was a paranoid schizophrenic`s conspiracy theory on bloody steroids...... a jaunt, not just around the May pole, but around the outside of the galaxy in order to blame that assassination on America, the military, the US government....every thing and everyone except the Marxist dweeb that actually did the deed. And in the process Stone made a hero of James Garrison, a lying, deceitful and calculating despot who chose to use his office to prosecute an innocent man.

The bomb was a right call by Truman. Was it a war crime? I guess so...hard to tell with all the war crimes everyone else was pulling off! The Japanese were kings of war crimes. From the rape of China, to the actual cannibalism of American fly boys at places like Chichi Jima.
When the Enola Gay took off on it`s mission from Tinian, spectators of all the photogs and commotion were Japanese soldiers who had hidden away and not surrendered for months. On Iwo Jima when the ammunition gave out they held grenades to their chests and pulled the pin rather than surrender. The cost of trying to invade mainland Japan was incalculable.

Respects, Morris
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"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2086
Joined: 2020
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 9:45:54 PM
Morris

Read Stones book its not the gospel but it gives you perspective. Im trying to read about the other side to understand them, not out of hatred but because they are family members that dont get me.

vpatrick
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vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2086
Joined: 2020
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 9:59:01 PM
George

Would Canadian and US Moms be ok with the extension of the war when we had a bomb to end it and not use it? in 1945, All those soldiers ready to go might be dead who knows where history's timeline is?

vpatrick
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vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2086
Joined: 2020
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 10:07:14 PM
Hi Moriss,

Yeah Wallace was a progressive in 1945 and hes pretty much forgotten about in 2020 but how do you think history would go if he became president instead of Truman?

No bombs droped or at least a discussion before, Wallace was the guy to listen too
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kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2961
Joined: 2010
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 10:12:05 PM
Quote:


While I still think his film "Platoon" to be one of the best films....and excellent telling of two Sergeants fighting for the souls of their men....a stand-in for what was actually taking place in America at the time....but JFK was a paranoid schizophrenic`s conspiracy theory on bloody steroids...... a jaunt, not just around the May pole, but around the outside of the galaxy in order to blame that assassination on America, the military, the US government....every thing and everyone except the Marxist dweeb that actually did the deed. And in the process Stone made a hero of James Garrison, a lying, deceitful and calculating despot who chose to use his office to prosecute an innocent man.

I agree, Platoon is one of the better movies of all time, certainly one of the best Vietnam movies I know. Similarly, JFK was perhaps an entertaining movie as such, but created an entire generation of conspiracy theorists that took everything for facts.

Quote:

Was it a war crime? I guess so...hard to tell with all the war crimes everyone else was pulling off! The Japanese were kings of war crimes. From the rape of China, to the actual cannibalism of American fly boys at places like Chichi Jima. Respects, Morris


Again, agree mostly, but would hasten to point out that a war crime is absolute, not relative. It does not matter what Japan or Germany (or for that matter, Taliban or Saddam Hussein) did, any action by US or allied troops must be judged on its own merits, and I think there is little doubt the deliberate targeting of an entire city with a nuclear device was a war crime. Much like the fire bombing of Dresden or Hamburg, although "we" usually don't like to hear about war crimes committed by our side in ww2.

Having said that, as Vince also pointed out, it is always easier to sit years later and point out what was a crime and not. The people on the ground had to make their decisions in 1945, after six years of the most brutal conflict in the history of the world. There is no doubt that will colour the judgement in any situation. I can say with a high degree of certainty that I might well have committed some war crimes myself, had I come across unarmed SS guards in a concentration camp in 1945.

Personally I tend to agree with your judgement that dropping the bombs was the right call in the circumstances.

K
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“My dear boy, as long as you don’t invade Afghanistan you’ll be absolutely fine.” - Harold Macmillan to Alec Douglas-Home upon the latter taking over as PM.
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2086
Joined: 2020
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 10:18:10 PM
Kaii

Im pissed at your Viking shit you owe me money.
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kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2961
Joined: 2010
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 10:18:39 PM
Quote:

George

Would Canadian and US Moms be ok with the extension of the war when we had a bomb to end it and not use it? in 1945, All those soldiers ready to go might be dead who knows where history's timeline is?

vpatrick


There was actually an interesting article in a Norwegian newspaper just a few days back (written for the anniversary of the bombings) about how the nukes also saved Norwegian lives. At the end of the war in Europe, a number of Norwegian merchant ships were slated to head for the Pacific to carry supplies for an invasion on Japan. It is quite likely many of those ships would have been lost (they were mostly oil tankers so a torpedo hit would pretty much ensure the death of everyone onboard.)
By chance I found out today that a cousin of my grandfather was onboard one of the ships and was already on the way with a large aviation fuel load when the bombs hit. In his diary he expresses nothing but joy and hope that the war might end before the invasion of mainland Japan starts.

A lot of allied soldiers lives were spared by not having to invade mainland Japan. Were they worth more than the civilian Japanese lives lost in the bombs? Now that is a question philosophers can argue for years about, I am sure.

K
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“My dear boy, as long as you don’t invade Afghanistan you’ll be absolutely fine.” - Harold Macmillan to Alec Douglas-Home upon the latter taking over as PM.
kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2961
Joined: 2010
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 10:20:08 PM
Quote:
Kaii

Im pissed at your Viking shit you owe me money.


Sorry about that....will you take a cheque :-)

K
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“My dear boy, as long as you don’t invade Afghanistan you’ll be absolutely fine.” - Harold Macmillan to Alec Douglas-Home upon the latter taking over as PM.
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2086
Joined: 2020
t
8/14/2020 10:22:41 PM
Iw
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vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2086
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e?
8/14/2020 10:24:18 PM
b
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vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2086
Joined: 2020
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 10:28:49 PM
Norwegians probably saved the world because of thier knowledge of heavy water.

vpatrick
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kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2961
Joined: 2010
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/14/2020 10:36:08 PM
Quote:
im Irish you raided my villages I need reparations


They were just kids blowing off some steam. They didn't mean any harm.
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“My dear boy, as long as you don’t invade Afghanistan you’ll be absolutely fine.” - Harold Macmillan to Alec Douglas-Home upon the latter taking over as PM.
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3882
Joined: 2004
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 12:27:51 AM
VP, did you know there was a brief discussion of this topic starting on Aug 6 in the “This Day in History” thread? IMHO, it is just about an unanswerable question.

I hold no brief for Mr Truman. If he was kept as uninformed of the Manhattan Project as many suggest, I think he was faced with an incredibly steep learning curve when FDR died. Four months is all the time he had from FDR’s death to deciding to drop the bomb. As a framework, that’s a month less than we’ve been locked-down, and there was the small issue of dealing with the collapse of Nazi Germany in the middle. But at the same time, it was Harry S. who said “The Buck Stops Here”. This was his decision to make.

I would argue the following points:
• IMHO, the word “fault” should not be applied to the argument. IIRC, Truman had three options: drop the bomb; continue current military policy; provide a demonstration of the A-bomb’s power. For reasons of security and intelligence, there was no “Other”.
• The extrapolation of US troop losses was based on a very poor model, and is a weak argument in defense of the bomb’s use. Both Iwo and Okinawa were admitted horror shows, but past experience provided models suggesting such projections as the million casualty rate were more based on a combination of fear and propaganda than accurate actuarial projections.
• There were a host of political muscle-flexing games going on at the time. FDR was dead, replaced by a relatively unknown HST; a month later WSC was voted out of office, replaced by Clement Attlee, a man WSC described as “a modest man, with much to be modest about”. Josef Stalin held Berlin, and many nations in Eastern Europe, which used to be under the aegis of Britain and France. The US was attempting to assume leadership of the Free World, and had a weapon they thought nobody else did. Happiness is demonstrating a big stick: think about what Sputnik and Gagarin did to US egos! So it may be that this was a political decision.
• The war against Japan was not a US war, though US forces were the major forces in the field. And Russia had agreed (at Yalta? Potsdam? Elsewhere?) to enter the war against Japan in the near future. To release the power of the A-bomb twice, without preparing your principal allies (Britain, France, USSR), suggests this was not a military but a political decision.
• I do not know how good Japanese intelligence was, but if I knew a major military power (the USSR), which had inflicted a defeat on me in 1939, was about to turn its attention on me again, I might talk with them about possible avenues to peace.

I’m not sure if this would be an item on my list of points, but General Curtis LeMay and his group were doing a pretty good job of destroying Japan with utterly devastating conventional bombing techniques. In fact, that was probably a major factor in Japan’s exploration of surrender with Russians or any other ally that would talk about it. The US had the tools. It had the ordnance. It had control of the air. And it was systematically destroying every major Japanese centre by fire. Personally, I’m not sure the unannounced use of a novel WMD hastened Japan’s collapse much more quickly than the overpowering use of conventional WMDs.

There is one ugly issue that I believe has to be considered, if not discussed. I believe the US (and the British, for that matter) saw the Japanese in a different light than they did Germans. And it’s not because of current issues that I say it was probably an issue of race as much as culture. White folks were not supposed to lose battles against coloured, non-European folks.

The battle against Germany was, by some arguments, a battle against a regime rather than a nation. The Nazis were the enemy; the Germans would be punished for adopting Nazism, but the aim was to destroy the Nazi regime. I don’t think the same attitude was held against the Japanese. There was a true hatred concerning “Japs”. They fought ferociously; they treated prisoners terrifyingly; they didn’t see surrender as logical; they didn’t seem to value their own lives. They became not just the enemy but “the other”. Halsey’s statement at the entrance to his flag territory captured the US attitude: “ Kill Japs! KILL JAPS! KILL MORE JAPS!

I think that attitude informed the allies. Blanket German-American or Italian-American internment facilities did not exist. So when the issue of assaulting an enemy with a new weapon arose, the fact that the target was Japanese probably made any decision earlier. Halsey may have been less than effective as an Admiral, but he sure captured the nation’s spirit when it came to slogans..

I raise this because – had the A-bomb been ready for use while Germany was still a belligerent – I doubt the bomb would have been dropped.

Germany, remember, was also being bombed into the Stone Age, from the Summer of 1944. They too were facing the “unconditional surrender” demands: the galgenhumor ran: “Enjoy the war! The peace will be terrible!” Their society was also collapsing. They had also sent out feelers about surrender with some conditions.

Personally, I think the dropping of the two A-bombs was militarily unnecessary. I think it was a geopolitical decision based on weak to non-existent data on at least two fronts. HST was flexing US muscle lest Stalin think he could call the shots in Japan as he could in the Eastern European states his armies had conquored. And as C-in-C, HST was acting to save an estimated million lives.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2086
Joined: 2020
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 1:06:51 AM
Quote:
Quote:
im Irish you raided my villages I need reparations


They were just kids blowing off some steam. They didn't mean any harm.


as im doing now, hope all is well Kaii, hit the beers hard after my initial post my apologies


great discussion thanks all
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Emanon
Gibsonia PA USA
Posts: 36
Joined: 2014
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 2:10:59 AM
A truly excellent set of primary source material on this topic is available online. It's a series of decrypted and declassified secret communications on the subject of the atomic program during and just after WWII.

https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/nuclear-vault/2020-08-04/atomic-bomb-end-world-war-ii

One truly horrifying message is number 87. An aide to General Marshall, Chief of Staff of the US Army, asked an aide to General Groves, the military head of the atomic bomb project, how long it would take the USA to manufacture additional atomic weapons after August, 1945. A third bomb was ready to be dropped as early as August 19 if the President gave the order.

https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/documents/atomic-bomb-end-world-war-ii/087.pdf

The answer was "Every ten days."

The invasion of Kyushu was scheduled for November 1, 1945. The invasion of the beaches near Tokyo was scheduled for March 1, 1946. That would mean seven more A-bombs ready by November 1, and twelve more by March 1.

Would they have been used? Well, if this article is accurate, the invasions would have been very difficult and required every weapon the US had available to be used to its fullest extent: https://www.historynet.com/trumans-nightmare-u-s-invasion-japan-1945-46.htm

Imagine if the US dropped 21 A-bombs instead of two.

The historical facts of the willingness of the Japanese to surrender are that the eight officials advising the emperor were deadlocked 4-4 AFTER the two atomic bombs were dropped and the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. The emperor broke the deadlock. There was then an attempt at a military coup, and rebel troops briefly seized the Imperial Palace and tried to find and destroy the recording of the speech that the emperor made to tell the people of Japan to surrender.

The actual surrender was far from a sure thing, historically. The coup could have succeeded, and Japan would have continued to fight as long as the coup plotters controlled the emperor, much as medieval shoguns used emperors as puppets.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 6:20:47 AM
It was a disgusting, barbaric and horrific thing to unleash on civilians.
Having visited Hiroshima , and seen what’s on display in the museum there, I can honestly say that it’s one of the most upsetting things imaginable .

That said, I cannot escape the conclusion that the option of launching an invasion of mainland Japan was bound to have cost hundreds of thousands of US and British Commonwealth casualties, and several million Japanese deaths.

So my view is that the use of the weapon was justified at the time.

Anyone with a grain of decency is bound to feel revulsion .

There were a quarter of a million innocent victims.

There were fifty million other ones, too.

There would have been millions more had it not been for Hiroshima.

Not so sure about Nagasaki.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 8:36:40 AM
I mentioned on another thread that my Dad, a buck private, had volunteered for duty in the Pacific. I recall having a discussion with him about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and presented my youthful view of the immorality of it all. He would have none of it and said that if the bombs saved one allied life, then he was happy that with the decision.

Not that my father reflected the views of every soldier but I understand his perspective now. Then, as a young man, I just thought that he hadn't given it enough thought. Certainly, I had not, in his view.

So having said that, why was it not possible to maintain an allied blockade of the Japanese islands and to continue to bomb military and/or civilian sites at will and just wait for a cultural implosion. If US intelligence knew that the military was wavering and had been looking for a way to stop the war, then why not just wait them out?

The popular narrative is that the bombs forced them to capitulate and that is speculative. So why is it so far fetched to speculate that, in time, the Japanese would have had to come to the table? As for their concern that the Emperor be permitted to retain his position, that is what happened anyway. That condition of surrender was accepted. It could have been accepted without the use of the atomic weapons.

Cheers,

George

kaii
Oslo  
Posts: 2961
Joined: 2010
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 8:51:58 AM
Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
im Irish you raided my villages I need reparations


They were just kids blowing off some steam. They didn't mean any harm.


as im doing now, hope all is well Kaii, hit the beers hard after my initial post my apologies


great discussion thanks all


No worries,I figured :-).
truth be told,I was knee deep in a bottle of Lagavulin myself :-)

K
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“My dear boy, as long as you don’t invade Afghanistan you’ll be absolutely fine.” - Harold Macmillan to Alec Douglas-Home upon the latter taking over as PM.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 9:38:10 AM
Quote:
I mentioned on another thread that my Dad, a buck private, had volunteered for duty in the Pacific. I recall having a discussion with him about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and presented my youthful view of the immorality of it all. He would have none of it and said that if the bombs saved one allied life, then he was happy that with the decision.

Not that my father reflected the views of every soldier but I understand his perspective now. Then, as a young man, I just thought that he hadn't given it enough thought. Certainly, I had not, in his view.

So having said that, why was it not possible to maintain an allied blockade of the Japanese islands and to continue to bomb military and/or civilian sites at will and just wait for a cultural implosion. If US intelligence knew that the military was wavering and had been looking for a way to stop the war, then why not just wait them out?

The popular narrative is that the bombs forced them to capitulate and that is speculative. So why is it so far fetched to speculate that, in time, the Japanese would have had to come to the table? As for their concern that the Emperor be permitted to retain his position, that is what happened anyway. That condition of surrender was accepted. It could have been accepted without the use of the atomic weapons.

Cheers,

George



George,

Death by a thousand cuts, or by the fall of the axe ?

Continued bombing and blockade implied immense suffering : how many deaths in the firestorm that engulfed Tokyo ?

Your dad said it all. So did mine, and my mum, too.

Judging by the way Japanese people were willing and able to fight in extremis, what kind of attrition did a prolonged war of exhaustion entail ?

Surely it’s a valid argument that the bombs were not necessary to defeat Japan. The question is, were the alternatives even more hideous ?

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Michigan Dave
Muskegon MI USA
Posts: 6651
Joined: 2006
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 3:26:44 PM
Guys,

From what I’ve viewed, and read, even after the surrender documents were signed on the USS Missouri and occupation began, that the Japanese militant military hierchy, still threatened to forcefully cause a continuation of the war!
All indications indicate that unfortunately the bombs had to be dropped! It also was a necessary point that the Japanese Emporer remain as the head of the country, for he was considered close to a deity, & helped avoid utter chaos during the occupation!?

What say you?
MD

In the recent movie, “The Emporer”, this also was brought out!
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DT509er
Santa Rosa CA USA
Posts: 987
Joined: 2005
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 5:15:06 PM
"“To the non-combatants and those on the periphery of action, the war meant only boredom or occasional excitement, but to those who entered the meat grinder itself the war was a netherworld of horror from which escape seemed less and less likely as casualties mounted and the fighting dragged on and on. Time had no meaning, life had no meaning. The fierce struggle for survival in the abyss of Peleliu had eroded the veneer of civilization and made savages of us all.”

― Eugene B. Sledge, With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa"


I have always held the view that the A-bombs were another weapon of war to be used on an enemy who had rampaged across many countries and started a war with the US. Granted, there are many factors of what brought war to the Pacific/Asian region, and these two weapons helped end the war.

Justified, absolutely.
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Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 643
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Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 5:57:22 PM
Some really good points of view being expressed here.

At the time of dropping, it would be hard to find any Australian who would vote no against using the bomb. Not after all the stories of barbarity and deprivation they had heard being inflicted on Australian POWs.

I think even today, with hindsight and a fair amount of revisionism, you would be hard to find many that would still say no. The hurt goes that deep here in many circumstances.
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 6:29:22 PM
This is a map showing the Japanese cities that were bombed by US planes and the percentage of the city destroyed. In the brackets are the names of equivalently sized US cities.

[Read More]

The 1945 rice harvest was predicted to be bad. US planes were also targeting rail lines and all forms of transportation. Japan was in trouble and would have been in greater trouble as the bombing continued and the people began to starve.

If the justification for dropping these weapons is retribution, then I can understand the acceptance by some that dropping A-bombs if fine.

But I am still not convinced that the A-bombs were necessary to defeat Japan. I presented comments from several distinguished US military people who said the same.

As well, I don't think that we should ever accept that these bombs are just another weapon in the arsenal. We have come too close to nuclear annihilation on a number of occasions since WW2. If we become inured to the damage that these weapons cause, then we will see them employed again.

Cheers,

George
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2086
Joined: 2020
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 7:19:14 PM
Hi George,

Thanks for your comments(and all), I also find it head scratching that Curtis LeMay was able to basically wage his own war on Japan, the indiscriminate fire bombing of Japanese cities was his baby and in one of the books Im reading indicates Roosevelt just let this dog off the leash. Truman seemed to shrug his shoulders concerning LeMay and let him be. One thing US politicians of the time that were against such actions as Fire and Atomic bombing were concerned that the US would lose its moral superiority over the Axis by using such tactics (and might be accused of war crimes if they lost was a thought) but I would guess that it became par for the course after what was done to Germany ...Dresden. One thing I have not been able to figure out yet, were the Japanese warned and if not why not? There was some talk about demonstrating the A bomb to the Japanese in a harmless area probably haven't hit that chapter yet. The Russians seemed to play a bigger role in the Japanese surrender as you suggest and in alot of history books I have read the Russians are viewed as opportunists by attacking an already defeated country, alot there and more to the story.

I would just say that World War two was the second show to nations how terrible modern warfare between nations had become. The first show twenty something years before didn't do the trick the second world war showed the world it would not survive a third and I tend to think it had to be that terrible to finally make that impression even at the expense of Allied moral high ground. I only hope the lesson is still learned.



vpatrick
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nuts
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2086
Joined: 2020
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/15/2020 9:14:30 PM
Quote:
Some really good points of view being expressed here.

At the time of dropping, it would be hard to find any Australian who would vote no against using the bomb. Not after all the stories of barbarity and deprivation they had heard being inflicted on Australian POWs.

I think even today, with hindsight and a fair amount of revisionism, you would be hard to find many that would still say no. The hurt goes that deep here in many circumstances.


I cant imagine how scared Australians were during WW2 with the Japanese breathing down their necks Im surprised the Japanese never invaded,... a good discussion for another thread. I have heard alot of stories how friendly and hospitable Australians were to American troops during WW2 from primary sources. I cant say the same about the British.

vpatrick
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nuts
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre PA USA
Posts: 1158
Joined: 2004
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/17/2020 1:26:54 PM
VPat,

Has anybody brought up that the Japanese tried to get the Russian to be a go between to start surrender negotiations but Stalin had Molitov avoid the Japanese official until they attacked.
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vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2086
Joined: 2020
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/17/2020 4:54:04 PM
Hi John,

It was mentioned, the one theory put forth was that the Japanese efforts through Moscow was just an attempt to prevent a Russian attack that they knew was coming to regain lost Russian territories ceded in the 1905 Russo-Japanese war and why the seriousness of these efforts were dismissed by the Americans as unserious. I think if the Japanese were seriously interested in tapping out they would made a larger effort just a thought hard to figure out.

vpatrick
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nuts
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre PA USA
Posts: 1158
Joined: 2004
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/17/2020 9:46:34 PM
VPat,

Why would that stop Stalin from attacking? And the US never knew of these efforts from Stalin because Stalin never let Molitov meet with the delegate, it was either a Prince or Baron.
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2086
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Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/17/2020 9:58:14 PM
Hi John

I would just guess it was out of Japanese desperation. I dunno
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nuts
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre PA USA
Posts: 1158
Joined: 2004
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/18/2020 8:51:54 PM
VPat,

Or maybe the paint the US in the worst possible light crowd throwin some more bull?
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
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Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/19/2020 8:39:28 AM
Vin, this is not on topic but a few posts back, on this thread, you mentioned that the Australians were hospitable to the US but you said something about the British being less so. What did you mean by that? Were you talking about the US experience in the UK while waiting for the invasion?

Cheers,

George
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre PA USA
Posts: 1158
Joined: 2004
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/19/2020 1:21:46 PM
VPat,

Now you get to hear it was our fault for being "over-paid. over-sexed and over-there."
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11876
Joined: 2009
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/19/2020 2:47:14 PM
Hopefully, we should get to hear what Vin meant by his comment suggesting that the Americans weren't treated well by the British.

Some Tips for American Servicemen in Britain. This was produced by Americans for American soldiers.

[Read More]


And a movie produced by the US for its soldiers in 1943 on how to behave in Britain.

[Read More]

So it seems that the US was concerned about the behaviour of its troops while training in the UK. This seems like wise strategy for any army of any size that will be living in a foreign country.

I hadn't heard that the Americans were snubbed or disliked greatly by Britons. I have read that they could not understand the segregation policy of the US forces and did not resent black troops. As well, there was some jealousy and anger on the part of some British men because the GI's were flashing money and treating British women much better than they could themselves. British soldiers received much less pay than his American counterpart.

So let's hear it from Vin. What did he mean by his comment?

If this topic has legs, perhaps we can create a new thread so as not to divert from the original topic.

Cheers,

George
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5186
Joined: 2004
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/19/2020 3:57:27 PM
A large number of British servicemen were POWs and were understandably anxious about the fidelity of their wives and girlfriends.

Bitter humour developed .... Have you heard about the new utility knickers ? One yank and their off ! etc etc. German propaganda surely exploited this.

OTOH, there was a good deal of friendship and affection.

I like to think so, anyway !

Regards, Phil

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scoucer
Berlin  Germany
Posts: 2905
Joined: 2010
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/19/2020 6:26:06 PM
Quote:
A large number of British servicemen were POWs and were understandably anxious about the fidelity of their wives and girlfriends.

Bitter humour developed .... Have you heard about the new utility knickers ? One yank and their off ! etc etc. German propaganda surely exploited this.

OTOH, there was a good deal of friendship and affection.

I like to think so, anyway !

Regards, Phil



I remember reading a fascinating article many years ago, I think it was Margeret Meade, which used GI and British women´s interaction to explore how the really complex cultural differences in courting steps and rituals can come to problems. A quote from it.

During World War II, thousands of lonely GI's stationed in Great Britain took advantage of the situation to court equally lonely British women. Paradoxically, both the American soldiers and the British women soon were accusing each other of being brash and aggressive. As it turned out, the problem rested not in the young people's behavior, but in the way courtship rituals were culturally defined.

Researchers determined that, from first eye contact to ultimate consummation, courtship in both cultures went through approximately thirty steps. But the sequence of steps differed greatly. Kissing, for example, appeared early in the American pattern, around step five, while for the British, kissing came very late in the sequence, at about step twenty-five. Thus an American GI's harmless kiss was interpreted by his British date as a highly erotic signal, indicating that things were very serious and about to become even more so. The young woman felt rushed, cheated out of twenty steps in the usual pattern. She felt that she had to make an important decision quickly and under pressure: either break off the relationship because things were moving too fast, or agree to sexual intercourse. "If she chooses the latter," wrote Paul Watzlawick in How Real Is Real, "the soldier was confronted with behavior that according to his cultural rules could only be called shameless at the early stage of the relationship."As this example makes clear, a kiss is not just a kiss, regardless of what the song says. It is an act that occupies a critical position in the order and meaning of courtship.


Trevor
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`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3882
Joined: 2004
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/19/2020 7:39:14 PM
DT, E.B. Sledge often says it all. Thanks for raising his name.Quote:
“To the non-combatants and those on the periphery of action, the war meant only boredom or occasional excitement, but to those who entered the meat grinder itself the war was a netherworld of horror from which escape seemed less and less likely as casualties mounted and the fighting dragged on and on. Time had no meaning, life had no meaning. The fierce struggle for survival in the abyss of Peleliu had eroded the veneer of civilization and made savages of us all.”

Sledge is one of a number of authors who have focused on the USMC’s Pacific war. I also enjoyed Semper Fi, Mac, Henry Berry’s collection of memoirs from Vets, and of course William Manchester’s rather demanding personal memoir, Goodbye, Darkness. Each of those works echo in some way Sledge’s assessment that that war “eroded the veneer of civilization and made savages of us all”. I think it is Manchester who tells the tale of the young navy man who sent “Jap” skulls home to his girlfriend, e.g. And I seem to recall that Eleanor Roosevelt – neither squirmish nor uninformed – discussed whether US Marines who fought in the Pacific may have to go through a program of re-civilizing before being demobbed. I don’t think I’ve ever read of similar concerns about GIs coming home after VE Day.

You go on to say this: Quote:
I have always held the view that the A-bombs were another weapon of war to be used on an enemy who had rampaged across many countries and started a war with the US. Granted, there are many factors of what brought war to the Pacific/Asian region, and these two weapons helped end the war.

Justified, absolutely.

From one point of view, they were just that: merely another weapon of war. In other ways, they were about the most unique weapon ever devised, unlike any other weapon of war to date. And I’m not sure that, even in an ugly, degrading, dehumanizing event like WW2, the ends justify the means. I would argue that the Allies lost moral clarity as they increased their attempt to depopulate both Germany and Japan, and that perhaps they were deliberately obfuscating values when the denounced V-1s and V-2’s as terror-weapons hitting GB and Antwerp and other targets.

So many sides to this issue, and no correct answers!

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3882
Joined: 2004
Was the Nuclear attack on Japan the right thing to do at the time?
8/19/2020 7:56:44 PM
John R, have you ever heard of leading a witness? Get off VP’s case!

Just in case you haven’t yet figured it out, Japan didn’t drop the bombs on Hiroshima. Nor did China, Germany, GB, Oz or the USSR. Sorry, but the US president at the time, one Harry Truman, was forced to make a decision: use it; demonstrate it; keep it a secret for the future. The decision was based on some kind of combination of military, geopolitical, and US political issues. The various results are, IIUC, still being discussed. Gotta try to explain to you (don’t know why you haven’t yet picked this up) that even with some latitude this remains a discussion about the use of nuclear arms, rather than the GI pay scale.

Cheers, all. And stay safe.
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
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