The Necessity of the A-Bomb by Richard Sale

Richardsale

We know that President Obama is going to visit Hiroshima, and there are remarks being made that he should apologize for the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My own view is that we have nothing to apologize for. War made bring out the best in the soldiers and Marines who fight it, but taken as a whole, wars are often barbaric lunacy.

In August of 1945, President Truman wrote a letter to Sen. Richard Russell Jr. in which he said, “I know that Japan is a terribly cruel and uncivilized nation in warfare, but I can’t bring myself to believe that, because they are beasts, we should ourselves act in the same manner. Using the A-Bomb was meant to save young American lives, but Truman added: “…I also have a feeling for the women and children of Japan.”

In 1945, the war with Japan was raging at its height. In January of 1944, Japanese studies had concluded the war was lost. Japan had been defeated long before Harry Truman became President. Yet the Japanese fought on, its soldiers bent on dying to the last man. American casualties in the Pacific war spiked to new heights. There are several excellent books on the battle of Okinawa. With the Old Breed, by Eugene Sledge is one I read again and again. It is the best personal account of the war and is a memoir of the first distinction. There is Robert Leckie’s excellent book, and there is Gerald Astor’s Operation Iceberg which is superb. The horrible U.S. casualties in that battle made the use of the atomic bomb imperative

The three months since Truman took office in April, American battle casualties in the Pacific were half the total of U.S. casualties during the whole Pacific War.

Said a U.S. caption of Military Intelligence at the time, “We had only abundant evidence in those days that surrender was excluded from the Japanese ethos.” He added, “Thousands of Marines and (Army) soldiers had died rooting out Japanese from their fox holes and bunkers when they were perfectly aware that their situation was hopeless.”

He said that even if the Japanese were beaten, “Japan’s soldiers would hold on fighting for months.” The Japanese government wanted to hold on as long as possible to avoid a complete defeat, hoping that they would gain a better bargaining position when defeat came.

According to several books about Truman, the one written by David McCulloch is among the best. According to him, Japan had 2.5 million regular troops in the home island, plus every male between fifteen and forty-five was being drafted while every female between seventeen and forty-five was being conscripted and armed with everything from bamboo spears, brass cannons plus they were taught to how to be suicide bombers, strapping explosives to their bodies in order to throw themselves under advancing American tanks.

In one several accounts I read, a young woman was equipped with a carpenter's awl and was told to stab at the enemy soldiers’ abdomen. The instructor said, "You must aim at the abdomen. Understand the abdomen.” Plus America would face thousands of kamikaze suicide planes.

The senior American military detected no evidence that Japan would quit. U.S. and Australian combat reporters predicted that the war would not end until June 1946, a view held by many.

When Truman saw the plans for the U.S. invasion of the home islands, he knew would mean “”unprecedented carnage.” Yet the estimates of between 20,000 to 250,000 US military dead were not the top issue. Already many cities of Japan were aflame, thanks to B-29’s who daily dropped incendiaries on the Japan people. What was needed now was a blow that so devastating that would administer a vast shock that would bring the Japanese government to its knees.

The means was at hand. The Manhattan Project, which had produced the first atomic bombs in history, and the country’s military and political leadership was eager to use them. As the Secretary of war, Henry Stimson said, “The Japanese were the despised enemy, perpetrators of the treacherous attack at Pearl Harbor (in the midst of peace talks,) perpetrators of the bombing of Manila and the Bataan Death March which had only become known to the American public in Feb. 1945. (Stimson’s memoirs are worth reading.)

Stimson went on, “They were the murderers of American prisoners of war, the fanatics who ordered the seemingly insane kamikaze attacks on the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Other atrocities included the Palawan Massacre, which took place on the Philippines island of Palawan, where the Japanese lured 140 American prisoners of war into air raid trenches, then doused them with gasoline and burned them alive.” What he didn’t add was that the percentage of Allied prisoners who died in the hands of the Japanese was seven times higher than Allied prisoners held by the Germans.

A few days after the German surrender the American newspaper printed a photo of a blindfolded American flyer, down on his knees, about to be beheaded by a Japanese officer whose sword was already raised above the American’s head.

The key question that loomed over President’s Truman’s mind was, why spent the lives of the flower of American manhood in a bloody invasion of the home islands, when America already had a weapon of unsurpassed might that perhaps would end the war. The political repercussions of not using it would be immense.

Of course, they were other options. Continued fire bombing could halt the Japanese or Japan could be choked into submission by a naval blockade. The dilemma of strategy came to a head when American leaders considered the phrase, “unconditional surrender.” The U.S. military and political leadership noted that Roosevelt had concentrated American power to destroy the enemy above all else, rather than laboring to create what others thought to be favorable postwar circumstances, a sure sign that he lacked sound knowledge of other cultures. This is not to say that that U.S. military felt an iota of pity for Japanese. They were eager to use the weapon to stop the war and save the lives of American soldiers. The Japanese stopped at nothing, and now America would stop at nothing. George Marshall, Roosevelt’s chief of staff of the U.S. Army, had been so stunned by the American casualties at Iwo Jima that he considered using poison gas in Okinawa.

In Astor’s book, there is a sickening description of a banzai charge. “About 150 of them stormed up the hill towards our guys, and they said that it was just like shooting ducks. You had to look, or you would step on them. They are scattered all over the place, so much abandoned equipment , these men with beards, no heavier than mine, some with quarter-sized holes in their heads while others had their bodies blown away. One GI stopped to bend over one, and jammed a cigarette into the dead Jap’s mouth. ‘Have a cigarette, you yellow son of a bitch. Sorry I don’t have time to light it for you.’”

Then the cigarette bestowing GI saw his first dead GI. “The color that these men turn just after they die is the most horrible part of the scene. The closest approximation is to say it’s the same color that appears on some men’s fingers if they have smoke a great deal.” Astor is very skilled at using anecdotes like these. “I pulled up short, after hearing a piecing scream; a Marine standing in the middle of the street, holding his crotch with his left hand, his rifle in the other, blood had formed a puddle the seat and legs of his trousers changing from mottled green to red.”

Apparently, there was little variety in the bodies of violently murdered. A few were scattered like rag dolls. In others, death had caused muscular spasms that drew up the legs and arms in a fetal position, their dead hands clenched like boxers’ fists. In a few places there was the detritus of entrails and or dried strings of brains, along with plus splinted bones or mangled flash, all clotted with flies.

One GI explained how fast decomposition occurred in this tropical heat. Within a few hours, the bodies would start to swell. He said they had seen one case where a rotted body had finally burst through its clothes, the entrails spilling out, the penis stuck up in one violent, final erection. He added that it was not uncommon to see a human body where clear bubbles could be seen moving underneath its skin. The body would finally burst, releasing a foul, sick stench that would be smelled for miles.

The Decision

Truman claimed credit for the decision to drop the A-Bomb, but most U.S. leaders felt there was no decision. The war had made it imperative, not Truman. A Truman advisor, George Eisley, said “Truman “could no more stop it than a train moving down a track.”

At the Potsdam Conference, Truman wrote, the phrase “unconditional surrender” appeared only once. It specified the surrender of Japanese armed forces, not the surrender of the Japanese people. If the armed forces didn’t surrender they faced “prompt and utter destruction, “but the document didn’t define what that phrase meant. The fate of the Emperor was ambiguous. He wasn’t even mentioned.

But savagery was the mood of the day. Truman boasted that after approving the Oder to bomb, he went to bed and slept like a baby.” But advisors present a different account. He had stopped at Babelsburg, after Potsdam, and that he had a strange night mare, and slept very poorly.

Dropping the Big One

 

“We have discovered the most terrible bomb in the history of the world,” President Truman wrote in his diary, and while he insisted it would he use only against military targets, he that was only partly true. There was a Japanese Army at Hiroshima. (The Second?)

When the crew of the B-29 named Enola Gay, a plane part of the 509 Composite Group, was told that the bomb they were about to drop was the equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT, they looked sick and stricken. Captain William F. Parsons, was the only man aboard who thoroughly knew the technical side of the new weapon, made the decision before they took off, that if he ended up in the enemy’s hands, he would have to kill himself to keep the secret. He borrowed a pistol from a young intelligence officer nearby.

Captain Robert A. Lewis, the co-pilot of Co. Paul W. Tibbits, Jr., was passing the time writing a letter home to his parents. “I think everyone will feel relieved after we have left our bomb with the Japs and are half-way home. Or better still, all the way home.” When daybreak came at 5 o'clock, he waited an hour and wrote. “Near six o’clock, I think we will have clear sailing for a long spell.”

When the plane entered Honshu, Lewis’ handwriting got cramped and jagged. “We are now loaded,” he wrote.

Now the plane had a straight four-mile run to the target. Tension rose. At 9:15, the bombardier pressed a singe toggle switch, releasing a single missile. It descended in less than sixty seconds, a time recorded on the wristwatches of the severed arms of Japanese who were the targets of the bomb. Captain Lewis had just written , “There will be a short intermission while we bomb our target,” but then he scrawled wildly, “My God!”

The crew were wearing welders’ goggles, and the first ting they saw was “a tiny point of purplish light. Within milliseconds, it had “expanded to a purple fire ball a half-mile wide. The whole monstrous seething mass of red and purples fire rose, accompanied by vast gray smoke rings encircling the column of flames until, at thousand feet, the seething mass roiled outward to form the first mushroom.” At 50,000 ft. the second mushroom appeared. It was flashing every color in the spectrum.

At 9:14 a.m., Hiroshima had been an energetic city of 344,000 people; by 9:16, it lost 60,175 people who were dead or missing. The bomb vaporized and incinerated four square miles. Truman said that America had spent $2 billon dollars on the biggest gambler scientific gamble in history – and we won.” Many thought that speaking of the A Bomb as a gamble was in questionable taste.

Even the U.S. military political leadership was unable to take in what they had done. Four tenths of a weight of a dime could lift a million-ton load to the crest of a mountain six feet high. It was incomprehensible, it was too difficult to grasp.

The strike order to bomb Nakasaki was issued on Aug. 8, 1945. On the morning of Aug. 9, a plutonium bomb hit the city. A total of 39,000–80,000 were killed or wounded; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison, as we said earlier.

Victims

 

It pays to view and study the photos of the Japanese burn victims. Some faces had their lips burned off on one side, leaving their teeth exposed. Others had their fingers permanently deformed. I saw the back of a Japanese woman who had her skin burnt off, leaving nothing but red, peeling raw tissue. One man I saw had his eyes burned out. Many were so badly burned they looked like creatures out of a horror movie. Another one, who had one eye penetrated by the first flash said, “It felt like an arrow in my eye.” Many thousands died of radiation sickness.

But the atomic bomb explosions were not the worst that Japanese civilians had suffered. The worst came on the evening of March 9 when the B-29s came over Tokyo flying very low. Said General Power, “It was the greatest military disaster incurred an enemy in military history.” There was a key eyewitness there, one Father Gustav Bitter, German-born rector of Sophia University. “It was like a silver curtain falling,” he said. It reminded him of the tinsel that hung from German Christmas trees. “Everywhere the silver streams touched the earth, red fires would spring up.” He described how the one central fire set started other fires radiating out from it like the ribs of a fan.

He went on,”…the fire in the center sent up a column of air which drew in towards the center the outer circle of flame, and a hot swift wind began to blow towards the center, a twisting wind which spread the flames between the ribs of the fan very quickly. Thus, everywhere the people ran there was fire, in front of them and in back of them, closing in on them from all sides. So that there were only a few who escaped.”

According to the superb historian Eric Larrabee, “Tokyo’s fire chief reported that within thirty minutes the fire was out of control; it consumed 95 fire engines and killed 125 firemen. The destruction of light buildings was total…The police records indicate that 267,171 buildings were destroyed, about a quarter of Tokyo, and over a million were made homeless.. Removing the dead from the ruins took twenty-five days.”

Worse was to come. Many had died in the panic of trying to find safety and shelter in order to flee the fire and wind by jumping into rivers or canals which was fatal since the water in some of the canals reached the boiling point. The official toll was 83,793 dead and 10,40,918 wounded. No other attack in the war, either in Europe or Japan was so destructive of life and property.

I love the Yeats’ poem, the Second Coming. I have read and reread it.At one point it says,

   Surely some revelation is at hand;     Surely the Second Coming is at hand.     The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out     When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi     Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;     A shape with lion body and the head of a man,     A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,     Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it     Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

    The darkness drops again but now I know     That twenty centuries of stony sleep     Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,     And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,     Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

I used to think the imagery foretold Hitler and other barbarians, but perhaps he was writing about all of us.

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66 Responses to The Necessity of the A-Bomb by Richard Sale

  1. Avatar turcopolier says:

    All
    Occasionally someone says the we used the A-bomb on the Japs (pejorative – deliberate). IMO that is not true. We showed the germans no mercy at all in strategic bombing. IMO the Germans were lucky that the war ended just when it did. With regard to the Japs, they reaped what they had sown. pl

  2. Avatar BabelFish says:

    Amen on all that both Richard and Pat have stated. I am probably not the only SST member who might not have been here had it been necessary to invade the Japanese home islands.

  3. Avatar no one says:

    Nice Piece, Richard. Maybe it should be mentioned that the battle for Okinawa was not only horrible for the combatants, but also the civilians. Some estimates have the number of Okinawan civilians killed to be equal to the number killed by the A-bomb at Nagasaki. So civilians were doomed either way.
    Also, the Japanese had something like a million POWs and other prisoners (including Chinese) that were dying terrible deaths at an increasing rate from disease, starvation and other maltreatment (including executions). Those lives had to be considered as well in bringing a quick end to the war.

  4. Avatar turcopolier says:

    All
    Old soldier man brooding – Murder? No. We meet each other hand to hand. That is not murder. I have seen many men killed in battle or recently killed in battle. The details of their mutilations are unimportant. Two American POW’s died in the attack on Hiroshima. They were there because the Japanese were busy trying to work and starve them to death. Spare me the tender hearted bullshit. pl

  5. Avatar b says:

    @Richard
    – Listening all the cruelties the Japanese had done as somewhat justification for the A-bomb sounds highly hypocritical. The Japs did no better or worse than what the U.S. did in the Philippines and other places. Bombing Tokyo was a war crime of a higher degree than most the stuff the Japanese had done during the second world war.
    – The bombs did nothing to move Japan to surrender. Some 30 cities were already totally lost due to bombing – the additional two did not mean anything. The move to surrender came a few days later after Russia, as promised by Stalin, declared war on Japan and annihilated the famed Kwantung army within a few days. The Japanese hope that some peace status that would avoid occupation and losing the emperor could be agreed upon through Russia was gone.
    – The real reason to use the A-bombs was to deter Stalin through a demonstration of the new weapons. This was to mostly push for a more U.S. favorable position in Europe. Stalin, who had just lost some 25 million Russians to fighting the fascists, wasn’t impressed at all. The hoped for advantage was not achieved.

  6. Avatar Richard Sale says:

    You are perfectly correct. Okinawan civilians suffered horribly, The Japanese thought them an inferior people and inflicted torture and starvation on them. U.S. Marines and GI were surprise by the early surrender of them.
    But another great tragedy occurred when the Marines and GIs, on alert for the habitual night attacks of the Japanese, shot down civilians who were using the dark to try to escape. The slaughter was terrible, and the men who watched the aftermath were heartbroken.
    Richard Sa;e
    The

  7. Avatar Richard Sale says:

    I agree with Pat. The Japanese were merciless. What choice did we have? But, like President Truman, I feel for the civilians.
    Richard Sale

  8. Avatar Richard Sale says:

    With all due respect, your figures are wrong.
    Richard

  9. Avatar Old Microbiologist says:

    This can and will be debated for years. For example, tin can be argued it was unnecessary and that Russia’s imminent arrival into the Pacific theater was the true reason Japan capitulated. It can also be argued it saved (American)lives. What is definite is we are the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons against another nation. Whatever the reasons this remains the fact and serves to give pause to those who are not convinced the US can and will do whatever is necessary if it believes it is justified.

  10. Avatar A Pols says:

    I knew a grand old lady in Charlottesville (Passed away in 2011 I believe). She had been married to Admiral Kimmel’s son, Manning, a submariner, who had been captured by the Japanese and was held prisoner.
    After being starved and abused , he was murdered by guards who, angered at losses in American bombing raids, doused the younger Kimmel and some other prisoners with gasoline and ignited it.
    These things were so routine it’s no wonder nobody had any real compunctions about employing the bomb as soon as it became operational.
    It’s easy for those who were not yet born, or were babies at the time, to second guess the decision, but the Japanese were simply dreadful in the sort of “wilding” type of barbarism now exhibited by folks like Daesh.

  11. Avatar turcopolier says:

    b
    That is untrue.. The UU sought to avoid civilian casualties in Manila until it was clear that Intramuros could only be taken with massive artillery support . The Japanese Army deliberately killed 100,000 Filipino civilians. pl

  12. Avatar no one says:

    Richard, Wrong? Could be depending on the source. Anywhere from 42,000 to 150,000 civilian killed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Okinawa
    Some of the best military history I’ve read has the figure at 80,000.
    Estimates of the Nagasaki A-bomb deaths are 39,000 – 80,000
    As for prisoners, I included Chinese to suggest that more than Allied POWs and American/British/Australian civilians were part of the equation. Chinese under the most stringent Japanese occupation sectors were, de facto, prisoners.
    My father fought on Okinawa with the 6th Marines. Once every few years something would get into him and he’d tell me some things about the combat there. Awful.

  13. Avatar M.H. says:

    My father is turning 90-years old this weekend. We plan a big birthday bash for him in Maryland this weekend. I talk with him every day and he’s as sharp as ever. He and my mother will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this year. He and she still faithfully attend their local Catholic church. He raised five good children. He was in the U.S. Army 77th Division in the Battle of Okinawa and has some incredible stories to tell. Some pretty funny. He said while on the ship traveling over, they were all given a pamphlet on all of the poisonous snakes of Okinawa. He said that when he got done reading it he was hoping a Japaness bullet would take him out the first day, before encountering one of these snakes. He talks about the thick mud and rain. He said a Japanese soldier came running over the hill and threw a hand grenade right into his foxhole. He braced and prepared for the worst but in the thick mud the Japanese grenade just let out a thud and caused no damage. He talks about hearing a constant whizzing sound (bullets). He said there were always rumors of the U.S. working on a super bomb. One day while a colonel was going over instructions for the invasion, a private ran up and handed the colonel a note. The colonel read the note and put it in his breast pocket and continued going over tactics, the use of the bangalore torpedo, etc. After he was done the colonel said, “And one last thing boys… the war is over.”

  14. Avatar tim s says:

    All’s fair in love and war, and war is hell. Anyone who believes otherwise lives in some sort of Disneyland.
    Moralizing after the fact against the inhumanity of the victor, particularly by those remote from the events, is pissantness of a high order.

  15. Avatar Amir says:

    Are telling me that the “Japs” behaves like in Abu Garib?

  16. Avatar no one says:

    typo correction – 6th Marine div (not regiment).

  17. Avatar VietnamVet says:

    The use of atomic bombs stopped Russia in its tracks in Asia. It is dubious that the Japanese militants would have surrendered without invasions of Japan’s main islands. Their use provided the Japanese with a face saving way to surrender and avoid dishonor. It would have been a political and military nightmare to ship 3 million combat tested troops from Europe to Asia to invade Japan when the USA had super bombs armed and ready to be used in its arsenal since August of 1945. The mid-20th century elite were well aware of the people’s potential to use their power against them. They provided the returning troops a generous GI Bill to go to college to avoid any potential unrest.

  18. Avatar Medicine Man says:

    Haunting writing, Mr. Sale. Thank you for sharing this.

  19. Avatar doug says:

    One of the more interesting aspects of WWII is that both the Germans, and Japanese (initially w/o the knowledge of the Germans) were working on developing an A bomb as well. The fundamental physics of it came out of the German discovery of uranium fission in the 30’s. Rather nice of them that the academic community published this before it’s implications were fully appreciated. As the war progressed Japan was working on two methods of separating U235/238 and they even had some estimates of our ability to manufacture them based on the physics involved at the time of the Hiroshima. I sometimes wonder if we didn’t hope for a Japanese attack as a means of entry. At the time the US population was pretty opposed to getting involved in the European war but I have to believe FDR and the military were highly concerned that such a device might be developed and what that would mean to us should Germany perfect such a weapon. The Manhattan Project was quite nascent but had started initial investigations by the summer of 41. The potential power of such a weapon was known. The engineering effort involved wasn’t. Initially. But that rapidly changed and the war kicked it into high gear.

  20. Avatar James Loughton says:

    From Mr. Sale: “Captain William F. Parsons, was the only man aboard who thoroughly knew the technical side of the new weapon, made the decision before they took off, that if he ended up in the enemy’s hands, he would have to kill himself to keep the secret. He borrowed a pistol from a young intelligence officer nearby.”
    This actually became Air Force policy during the early days of the Cold War. I learned this from my father who had been a B-36 pilot in the early fifties. Dad was also the “weaponeer” aboard his crew. In those days the physics package was not fully assembled until the aircraft was in the air to the target. In order to do that job, the weaponeer had to have considerable knowledge of the bombs’ design. Because some of this information was highly classified, dad carried a 38 in a shoulder rig at all times. In the event the aircraft was shot down or abandoned over enemy territory and he survived, he was expected to commit suicide in the event of imminent capture. In case he did not do so, another crew member whose identity was unknown to my father was assigned to kill him. I never knew this until dad mentioned it to me when he was in his late seventies, although I do recall seeing the shoulder rig as a young child.

  21. Avatar Cieran says:

    b:
    With all due respect, your “real reason” as quoted is inaccurate. To your credit, most public discussions involving nuclear weapons technology suffer from an information vacuum caused by the “born classified” aspect of this line of work within the NNSA complex, so that “those who know cannot talk and those who talk cannot know”.
    But thankfully, those who know about the end of WWII have recently been able to write about why the U.S. needed to drop two atomic bombs on Japan, and the information that has been declassified has been vetted, validated, and demonstrated as accurate by historical, military, and other accounts.
    Unfortunately for those who like to wring their hands and insist that Americans should be found guilty for the bombings of Japan (both conventional and nuclear), the accurate story of why we dropped two bombs on Japan leads to some realizations that many anti-nuclear pundits find unpleasant enough to ignore, even though those truths explain perfectly the question of why two atomic weapons were used.
    I would particularly recommend Reed and Stillman’s highly-readable and equally highly-informative “The Nuclear Express”, but plenty of other fine references on nuclear weapons technology, and the problems it creates for the modern world, can be found in virtually any local library.
    The summary version is this: Japan, like many industrialized countries during WWII, had an advanced program to design and build an atomic weapon. That program had many moving parts, but its center of intellectual gravity was found in the N Project (after Nishina), whose separation technology was destroyed in the Tokyo firebombings that categorically ended the Japanese version of the Manhattan Project. The Japanese project was staffed with brilliant scientists and engineers, and history would indicate that had Japan succeeded in developing nuclear weapons first, they would have in all likelihood been deployed on Allied targets. So the notion that the U.S. invoked some kind of nuclear version of original sin by developing the atomic bomb is complete b.s.
    The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was a gun-type assembly weapon, which is an inefficient use of special nuclear materials, but so simple that it didn’t need testing in the New Mexico desert. But the production of such a weapon (because of certain characteristics that distinguish relevant isotopes of Uranium and Plutonium) is incredibly difficult, so when leading Japanese weapons physicists were summoned to examine weapons effects at Hiroshima, they advised the Japanese leadership that Little Boy was a one-off weapon, i.e., the likelihood that the U.S. had any more was negligibly small.
    Those Japanese scientists were absolutely correct: Little Boy was a one-of-a-kind dead-end for an advanced industrial nation, so the Japanese government did not sue for peace. And then we dropped a completely different kind of weapons on Nagasaki, one that could be more-or-less mass-produced. Japanese scientists realized that the U.S. could possess many other Fat Man-style bombs in its arsenal, and advised their government to sue for peace, which they eventually did (in all likelihood because soon after Nagasaki, we began to carry out the kind of aerial operations that had preceded the other bombings, and that kind of thing tends to concentrate the attention of governments).
    So this was not about impressing the Russians: had we wanted to do that, it would have been easy to do so, without nuclear weapons being deployed on even one Japanese city. We dropped two because one wasn’t enough, thanks to the incredibly brilliant Japanese weapons physicists. They were right, but to bad effect for subsequent victims. But at least by being right on the second pass, they saved the Japanese nation from more weapons that would surely have preceded an invasion of the mainland.
    Of course, knowing the physics helps a lot towards resolving the “why use two weapons?” story, but it also points out the fact that like the U.S., Japan was trying to build nuclear weapons that could be used in WWII. And once you realize that fact, the whole notion of guilt for the U.S. deployment of those weapons simply vanishes. Would anyone have preferred that the Japanese military gotten there first?
    There is a great unclassified literature on nuclear weapons technology (e.g., anything by Richard Rhodes), on nuclear non-proliferation, and on the history of nuclear weapons programs in various countries. I strongly recommend that anyone interested in learning without prejudice the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki read this literature before making assertions that cast guilt on the U.S. for its role in ending WWII. I’m not normally a fan of moral equivalence arguments, but given the history of the Japanese role in the Pacific theater, those arguments seem perfectly obvious here.
    –Cieran

  22. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    Kurchatov & his team were already working on atomic weapons East of the Urals at that time.

  23. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    My Arab acquaintances always tried to reassure me that Saddam Hussein would never have dropped atomic bombs on Iranian cities had he possessed them.
    I remain unconvinced.

  24. Avatar Babak Makkinejad says:

    I heard that the Japanese soldiers hid behind the civilians and herded them towards US lines in Okinawa…

  25. Avatar Booby says:

    To All:
    I had an uncle who was an Army 1st Sgt in a weapons repair unit in WWII. Short of manpower, he was assigned a group of German POW’s as labor. He found that the senior POW was a German senior SNCO. He treated the German SNCO with respect & made him a supervisor with an office next door to his own. The relationship worked well. After Germany’s surrender the unit was notified that it would be redeploying to the Pacific Theater. The German SNCO presented my uncle with a letter signed by all of the POW’s requesting that they be allowed to join the US Army & deploy to the Pacific.
    After Japan’s surrender my uncle’s unit was moved to Yokohama & given a large bombed out warehouse to work in. Japanese POW’s were provided as laborers to clear the rubble. Once again my uncle found the senior Japanese SNCO to assist him. One day a bull dozer arrived to help move rubble. The Japanese POW’s paniced. They assumed that the bull dozer was there to dig a mass grave for them. Over time my uncle & the Japanese SNCO became friends. One day the Japanese thanked my uncle for America dropping the atomic bombs & ending the war. The Japanese SNCO explained that he had two daughters, 9 &10, who had been trained to attack invading Americans with sharpened bamboo spears. Ending the war had saved his daughters’ lives.
    We can be glad that we had a US Army combat veteran making the decision to drop the bombs.

  26. Avatar no one says:

    Babak, I don’t think that is generally true. Most died because 1. They were trapped on an Island where two large forces were throwing everything they had at each other. Bullets, bombs and artillery fires covered the island for months. Civilians were simply caught in that crossfire. 2. Like at Saipan, civilians had been convinced by the Japs that Americans would rape, kill (even cannibalize) them. So rather than come over to US troops and be placed into camps in secured areas, many civilians tried to hide out on the island. Many sought refuge in caves. As the Japanese defense fell apart the soldiers took cover in the same caves. US troops blasted the caves and everyone inside dies.

  27. Avatar turcopolier says:

    Amir
    Ah, another expression of angst and hyperbole from the Great Arabian Dream Machine. Yes the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib was a bad thing but at least they were not transgendered Redskins! Seriously, you need to get outside your own skin sometime and learn some history. Ever heard of the Rape of Nanking by the Japanese Army? Ever heard of the 100,000 Filipino civilians killed deliberately by the Japanese Army in Manila as an act of frustration and revenge? Yes, war is hell. I think I knew that. pl

  28. Avatar Degringolade says:

    Colonel:
    As you well know, us enlisted types prefer low humor, the blacker the better.
    I will understand completely should you choose not to publish this link to duffelblog.
    http://www.duffelblog.com/2016/05/obama-hiroshima/

  29. Avatar Jim says:

    Paul Fussell and Eugene Sledge were enough to convince me of the A-Bomb’s necessity to end the war. To paraphrase Fussell: “Why continue the slaughter for even one day, when there was a means at hand to end the war quickly?” By the way, I live in Japan, married to a Japanese, and love this country and the people, but I believe the right decision was made at the time.

  30. Avatar Neil R says:

    “Amir said in reply to A Pols…
    Are telling me that the “Japs” behaves like in Abu Garib?”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/japanese-troops-ate-flesh-of-enemies-and-civilians-1539816.html
    And there are warehouses worth of documentation on Japanese atrocities all over Asia.
    The younger generation in Japan have become more curious about the period as they no doubt notice the different historical treatment of their history from 1935 to 1945 once they travel outside Japan. However among the older generation (by this I mean people who were born in the postwar reconstruction period) their ability to deny historical facts amaze me even today. People reveal plenty when they assume you don’t understand their language.

  31. Avatar Richard Sale says:

    Thank you.
    Richard

  32. Avatar ToivoS says:

    The US conquest of the Phillipines after the Spanish American war resulted in the deaths of 10% of the native population. Those people wanted their independence and the US wanted the country as a colony. Nothing would stop us. The Japanese did not have a monopoly on inhuman violence.

  33. Avatar turcopolier says:

    Toivo S
    10% of the native population? I challenge your number. What is the evidence for that? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine%E2%80%93American_War This wiki gives the number of Filipino deaths as something between 10 and 20 thousand. Was that 10% of the population? BTW, I think it was a profound policy error on the part of the US to deny the Filipinos independence after Spain ceded the US the islands. pl

  34. Avatar ToivoS says:

    It is odd that no one has mentioned that Japan was ready to surrender in August of 1945. They had signaled that they would accept a conditional surrender (i.e. preservation of the monarchy) not the unconditional one demanded by the West. As it it turns out the US accepted that one condition.
    Academic historians are in nearly unanimous agreement on this point. Of course, the millions of American troops under arms then knew nothing of this and hence the widespread belief today that the US had to use the bomb to save US lives.

  35. Avatar Malachy says:

    The acts of the Japanese were some of the most inhuman and evil I have ever read about. The dropping of the atomic bomb was also inhuman and evil though it probably saved many more lives than it took.
    There was a man present in Hiroshima on 6-Aug 1945 that is an example of the best of humanity during the worst act of inhumanity. Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. was stationed with 8 other Jesuits in their community in Hiroshima. Fr. Arrupe had trained in medicine and had a doctorate in medical ethics. After the blast he put his medical skills to use and tended to the injured.
    On my wedding day my wife and I were given this framed quote of Fr. Arrupe by our priest, a military chaplain:
    Nothing is more practical than
    finding God, than
    falling in Love
    in a quite absolute, final way.
    What you are in love with,
    what seizes your imagination,
    will affect everything.
    It will decide
    what will get you out of bed in the morning,
    what you do with your evenings,
    how you spend your weekends,
    what you read,
    whom you know,
    what breaks your heart,
    and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
    Fall in Love,
    stay in love,
    and it will decide everything.
    Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. (1907–1991)

  36. Avatar turcopolier says:

    Toivo S
    Your Japan claim is also incorrect. The Japanese were repeatedly summoned to surrender and did not even after Hiroshima. “Academic historians are in nearly unanimous agreement on this point.” Citations? Your point is that the US and Japan were morally equivalent in WW2? pl

  37. Avatar Peter says:

    It doesn’t matter that the Japanese at one point were trying to develop nuclear weapons – you literally just admitted that capability was destroyed in the Tokyo fire bombings…
    You can’t use a capability that the enemy no longer possesses as justification to then use that capability on them. “Well they were trying to build a nuke and we stopped them, so now it’s justified for us to nuke them”
    The Japanese had already been trying to negotiate a surrender before the nukes were dropped.

  38. Avatar Neil R says:

    “Toivo S
    It is odd that no one has mentioned that Japan was ready to surrender in August of 1945. They had signaled that they would accept a conditional surrender (i.e. preservation of the monarchy) not the unconditional one demanded by the West. As it it turns out the US accepted that one condition.
    Academic historians are in nearly unanimous agreement on this point.”
    That is far from the case. Revisionists like Gar Alperovitz didn’t read Japanese and took Butow’s footnotes out of context. At this point I do realize that there are some people who will not change their views on this regardless of evidence presented. We will never know what Truman had in mind when he attended Potsdam with Byrnes. But it’s gross oversimplification to posit that the Japanese state was ready to capitulate even if the United States had allowed the retention of the emperor (More specifically the obvious immunity from war crimes proceedings). Besides this had little to do with actual historical research and analysis. Alperovitz isn’t a trained historian. This was all about Cold War polemics. The sad truth of this is that had Alperovitz stuck to what happened after 1945, he would’ve found plenty of documentary evidence to support his worldview.
    In Japan the revisionist history is a cottage industry. A brave handful like Ienaga Saburo paid heavy price for their intellectual integrity.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mokusatsu
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ky%C5%ABj%C5%8D_incident

  39. I don’t plan to do it on SST but IMO an effective argument can be made that all the Boomer President’s have conducted military ops and FP as if no enemy of the U.S. sworn or unsworn has nuclear weapons. Suggest the 1999 book FIRE IN THE EAST by Yale Prof Paul Bracken.

  40. Avatar Cieran says:

    Peter:
    I believe that the extent of damage to Japan’s nuclear weapons program was only fully known after the war ended, and it is notoriously difficult to plan effective military campaigns using information that will only be available in the distant future.
    I have often heard the assertion that Japan was trying to negotiate a surrender before August 1945, so if you could provide some links or other forms of documentary evidence that such negotiations were in place, that all relevant Japanese political and military leaders were in agreement with them, and that they were on terms acceptable to the U.S., that would be most helpful.
    It is known that we were routinely decrypting Japanese military communications late in the war, and that the idea of surrender on terms acceptable to the U.S. government was not a consensus within the highest ranks of the Japanese government. If you have validated information available in the open literature that such a consensus for surrender existed in August 1945, and on terms acceptable to the U.S. government, I for one would certainly enjoy reviewing it.
    –Cieran

  41. Avatar Croesus says:

    Isn’t the elementary point of accurate history to understand what happened in the past in order to avoid the same mistakes and patterns of behavior in the future?
    If so, and if Japan was A- bombed, and Germany would have been A-bombed also (except that by the time the Allies finished firebombing Germany there was not that much left to destroy), because they were developing nuclear technology that could have been used to ill effect.
    Israel has developed nuclear weapons and has used its possession of those weapons to coerce others to do its bidding, which involves, among other things, dispossessing and abusing Palestinians with impunity, contrary to international sanctions and even US policy.
    Yet the USA funnels money and weaponry by the boatload to Israel, which cannot be a US treaty-ally unless and until it gets its nuclear weapons under the NPT umbrella.
    Shouldn’t we be bombing Israel to enforce our superior moral will, or at least sanctioning Israel, or at very least not enabling them to continue on their wayward path?
    The USA has no qualms about attempting to economically cripple Iran on the (false) charge of developing-, or seeking to develop-, or intending to develop- nuclear weapons, even though Iran has never used nuclear weapons even as a form of deterrence or coercion; has foresworn development of nuclear weapons on religious grounds; and is a signatory to the NPT.

  42. Avatar Croesus says:

    damn those Japs.
    retaliating for the firebombing of Japanese civilians by killing American soldiers.
    simply dreadful.

  43. Avatar Bill Herschel says:

    The bomb was a red herring. The Japanese chose to surrender to the United States rather than Russia. A very, very wise decision.

  44. Avatar turcopolier says:

    Croesus
    You, too, need to learn some history. Germany was not bombed into surrender. The Strategic Bombing Survey after WW2 made that clear. Germany was defeated when her armies were destroyed and her territory overrun by the allies including the Soviets of course. The US decision to use nukes to force Japanese surrender was not revenge. It was a terrible necessity. If you claim that it was revenge you are probably just another troll. pl

  45. Avatar ked says:

    what’s the wisdom of Japan’s own historians on the question?
    I am not surprised that “presentism” is all the rage when discussing the Decision.
    It isn’t just that something might have been known or knowable at the time… but, did it matter at the time – could it / should it have influenced decision-making? how ’bout the nature of momentum in long-duration policy-making & their execution (on both sides)? Then there is the mode of thought (popular these days) that the “real truth” of every important event in history is obscured (often by clever unseen powers, natch) until a tidy alternative narrative is subsequently crafted.
    I find it ironic that the US should have believed Japan wanted peace (whatever that meant to them at the time) in mid ’45 after its experience in late ’41.

  46. Avatar walrus says:

    my father was a war crimes investIgator in Tokyo after the war. while he succeeded in prosecuting many, some of whom were hanged, the full scale of Japanese misbehaviour was never investigated in detail as we suddenly discovered in 1947 that the Russians were a bigger enemy then the Japanese. there was great pressure to gloss over events and resurrect Japan and Germany as bulwarks against communism.

  47. Avatar Jim says:

    I read somewhere that in the three days between the bombing of Hiroshima and the bombing of Nagasaki, 900 US soldiers lost their lives in the Pacific theater, including a dozen captured US airmen who were beheaded in a forest outside Fukuoka city. The sooner the war ended, the better.

  48. Avatar C Webb says:

    I was wondering about the why 2 question. Thanks, your explanation makes a lot of sense.
    WRT the Japanese codes and consensus for surrender:
    The Emperor’s Codes: Bletchley Park’s role in breaking Japan’s secret cyphers by Michael Smith 2010
    from review..
    “….shows that the Allies knew very well that many in the Japanese Cabinet were ready for talks leading to surrender at least a month before the first A-bomb on Hiroshima. ”
    http://www.historytoday.com/john-crossland/emperors-codes-role-bletchley-park-breaking-japan%E2%80%99s-secret-ciphers

  49. Avatar optimax says:

    The United States fought a total war that was forced upon it. Both Japan and Germany would have used the Atom bomb had they developed it first. I’ve just finished a book about the last two years of WWII Pacific Theater, RETRIBUTION, by Max Hastings. I’ve always thought the Atom Bomb was necessary to end the war quickly based on my parent’s generation’s relief they didn’t have to continue fighting and dying after defeating Germany. They called the fight with Germany the civilized war; the fight with Japan the uncivilized war. Prisoners of Japanese died 7 times the rate they did in Germany. Hastings’s book deepened my understanding of why the bomb hastened war’s end.
    The barbarity and savagery of the Japanese military has been mentioned here but thousands were dying every day in Manchuria under occupation until the last days of the war. The Russians were savage in their own way, raping women and dismantling industrial plants in conquered territory to send to Russia. Captured Japanese worked as slave laborers up to 10 years in Siberia after the end of the war. Stalin wanted as much territory as he could capture, including as much of Japan as he could claim, and Truman did not want what happened in Europe to happen to Japan. Stalin moved up his planned invasion of Manchuria from August 11 to the 8th because he knew the atom bomb would soon end the war.
    By 1944 the Japanese military knew they couldn’t win but kept fighting for better terms than unconditional surrender. Signals intercepted the conditions the Japanese sent to Moscow: no occupation, no international war crimes trials of their military or political leaders, certain conquered territories were to be kept and the imperial system was to be maintained. Only after the Atom Bombs were dropped did they drop every condition but keeping the emperor. This was as unacceptable as Germany demanding Hitler stay on as der Fuhrer after surrender. It was unknown what part Hirohito played in the war until MacArthur had his role investigated that Japan was allowed to keep the Emperor. This may have been too generous but contributed to a successful peace.
    The Japanese militarists cared nothing for the Japanese civilians or soldiers but only for their own honor and institutions. Even after the surrender was announced signals intelligence picked up field commanders demanding troops fight to the death. Hirohito grilled Kido about the effects of the atom bombs, showing it had a profound influence on accepting unconditional surrender. He was impressed that the Potsdam Declaration allowed the Japanese people to choose their form of government. Hirohito recorded his acceptance of surrender to be played the next day. A group of hardcore militarist attempted a palace coup, a couple of them searched for the two copies in order to destroy them and block the surrender. The Japanese people hated the military for their years of suffering to the extent that US occupying soldiers had to protect Japanese soldiers from angry mobs.
    From RETRIBUTION: “…The Japanese retained large armies with which to defend their home islands. They were induced to quit by fuel starvation, the collapse of industry caused by blockade and in lesser degree aerial bombardment, together with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and the atomic bombs.”

  50. Avatar optimax says:

    US bomber crew shot down over Japan were dissected while ALIVE in horrific WW2 experiments: Japanese university acknowledges full details of atrocity 70 years on.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3028694/U-S-POWs-shot-Japan-70-years-ago-dissected-ALIVE-macabre-experiments-controversial-new-exhibition-shows.html
    There is no moral equivalence. You don’t show mercy to the merciless until they surrender.

  51. Avatar readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    I don’t know that I qualify as a ‘member’, but I am an SST reader.
    Which means that there are at least two of us who might not be here if the US infantry had been sent to fight in Japan.
    My father was in the Philippines, near Tacloban (recently destroyed by hurricane) preparing to be transported to Japan when he heard the news of a strange, terrifying weapon. At the end of the war, he was sent to help clean up Yokohama and his descriptions are… stark.
    He never second-guessed Truman’s decision on the bombs, nor on sacking MacArthur; he was the only one among his original group of combat engineers to return from the war alive.

  52. Avatar no one says:

    Malachy,
    The world is a better place for having people like Fr. Arrupe in it.
    However, someone has to make the hard decisions. There is little evidence to suggest that mortal enemies or evil people will be won over with love. Be kind to your enemies/be cruel to yourself.

  53. Avatar Les says:

    Re: Max Hastings
    I too have read his large book on the end of the war.
    Hastings brings up an important point in his history:
    “Most of the participants changed their stories after the war”.
    It’s a messy piece of history: Who wants too be the first (& thankfully only) to say they gave to go-ahead on the atomic bomb?
    In Washington, the US administration wanted to ‘Smack Stalin’, among other motivations; Further reading is John Dower’s “War Without Mercy”, there was blood lust in the voting public & it was reciprocated by the Japanese military. At the cabinet level, you don’t carry out policies for one reason alone…
    In Japan, the Emperor & his confidents could not move too fast, or they would be taken out by a coup of military officers…
    The science & production of the bombs was the largest project in history at that point in time. At Alamogordo, several scientists were betting whether the nuclear reaction would ignite the air!…
    Hastings went on to say that the nuclear bombs convinced the Japanese Navy to surrender and the Red Army’s furious offensive into Manchuria convinced the Army to surrender.
    Hastings may not be the last word, but he is recent…
    If it had come to an invasion, the Red Army would have been there first, but on the top & empty end of Honshu. Allied (American) plans were highly advanced; Troops were on-loading in europe & heading for the ports in the US. The US invasion would have gone in on the southern beaches & been met a maximum (leftovers) effort of Japan to stop the invasion on the beach. The post-war figuring was that Japanese resistance would have collapsed quickly & there was nothing very organized behind… The million casualties were not going to happen.
    Skates, J.R, 1994. The Invasion of Japan: An Alternative to the Bomb
    It is awkward to impose our morality on what our forefathers were going through in 1944 & 1945: In 1944 a big dozen Canadians were captured by the SS Division opposing them in Normandy. They were put up against a wall & shot. For the rest of the war it was known in the SS that you could not surrender to Canadians; they would put you up against a wall & shoot you.
    The Japanese could be bastards; Ask the Chinese about the “Ichigo Go” offensives of of ’44-45. R
    esulting famines killed millions. But the Japanese were not the most ‘bloody-minded;
    In Bosnia the Ustashi Croations (Nazi sponsored) erected a series of concentration/extermination camps for Serbs: One camp was dedicated to the liquidation of Serb children; One third were to be murdered, one third starved & the last third converted to Catholicism (Ustashi brand). They did it too.
    Do you wonder why Serbs seem so bloody minded sometimes?

  54. Avatar Les says:

    Re: Max Hastings
    I too have read his large book on the end of the war.
    Hastings brings up an important point in his history:
    “Most of the participants changed their stories after the war”.
    It’s a messy piece of history: Who wants too be the first (& thankfully only) to say they gave to go-ahead on the atomic bomb?
    In Washington, the US administration wanted to ‘Smack Stalin’, among other motivations; Further reading is John Dower’s “War Without Mercy”, there was blood lust in the voting public & it was reciprocated by the Japanese military. At the cabinet level, you don’t carry out policies for one reason alone…
    In Japan, the Emperor & his confidents could not move too fast, or they would be taken out by a coup of military officers…
    The science & production of the bombs was the largest project in history at that point in time. At Alamogordo, several scientists were betting whether the nuclear reaction would ignite the air!…
    Hastings went on to say that the nuclear bombs convinced the Japanese Navy to surrender and the Red Army’s furious offensive into Manchuria convinced the Army to surrender.
    Hastings may not be the last word, but he is recent…
    If it had come to an invasion, the Red Army would have been there first, but on the top & empty end of Honshu. Allied (American) plans were highly advanced; Troops were on-loading in europe & heading for the ports in the US. The US invasion would have gone in on the southern beaches & been met a maximum (leftovers) effort of Japan to stop the invasion on the beach. The post-war figuring was that Japanese resistance would have collapsed quickly & there was nothing very organized behind… The million casualties were not going to happen.
    Skates, J.R, 1994. The Invasion of Japan: An Alternative to the Bomb
    It is awkward to impose our morality on what our forefathers were going through in 1944 & 1945: In 1944 a big dozen Canadians were captured by the SS Division opposing them in Normandy. They were put up against a wall & shot. For the rest of the war it was known in the SS that you could not surrender to Canadians; they would put you up against a wall & shoot you.
    The Japanese could be bastards; Ask the Chinese about the “Ichigo Go” offensives of of ’44-45. Resulting famines killed millions. But the Japanese were not the most ‘bloody-minded;
    In Bosnia the Ustashi Croations (Nazi sponsored) erected a series of concentration/extermination camps for Serbs: One camp was dedicated to the liquidation of Serb children; One third were to be murdered, one third starved & the last third converted to Catholicism (Ustashi brand). They did it too.
    Do you wonder why Serbs seem so bloody minded sometimes?

  55. Avatar optimax says:

    Les
    I’ve read Dower. He brings up the distinction between the humane treatment of prisoners by the Japanese in their war with Russia (1911?) and their savage treatment of prisoners in WWII. For some reason officers treated their own soldiers like Michael Vick treated his dogs. Can’t remember what Dower thought had changed.

  56. Avatar Jov says:

    A very nice piece from Mr Sale.
    One moment hasn’t been stressed in this piece, although the very interesting view on Japanese scientist in Cieran’s comment could stress that matter –
    my father always told me that he read somewhere that there were suggestions in the US army before using the A-bomb, that representatives from the US and Imperial Japanese army should be taken near a deserted island, and that an A-bomb would be thrown on that island, so that the Japanese could get a first hand impression of the devastating consequences of this new weapon and decide about an unconditional surrender. This could have been the ”most elegant” way, but in war there is no big place for elegance, and also who knows would it have given the desired effect.
    I beg to differ from Colonel Lang’s view on the opinion using nukes wasn’t revenge but terrible necessity. In my opinion using nukes had a portion of revenge in it. And desire for revenge was, given all the circumstances, natural consequence of events. Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor without a declaration of war, their treatment of POW’s was often on war crime level, and the war crimes they committed on occupied territories, mostly in China, was often on Nazi level (they had a unit for experimenting in people), etc.
    It seems to me, having read common literature, that US Americans are very sensitive on the topic of, how someone in the comments has stressed it,”we are the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons against another nation” But in a way it is the burden of the nation who had to make a choice. Was it the right choice, it will be debated for a long time, but some other facts are:
    1) if the Germans or the Japanese first developed some kind of nuclear weapon, we wouldn’t be alive to use this forum.
    2) the US had nuclear weapons, the Cold war started, and the US didn’t use it against the Soviets. And when General MacArthur later on demanded using nukes during the Korean war, he was removed from command, as far as I know.
    3) although the two A bombs used in WWII took many lives, they were very weak compared to later developed nuclear weapons. As such the effects of these bombs helped create the rule of mutual annihilation, very probable if nuclear weapons were to be used ever again.
    Last but not least, every day of war continuing didn’t mean just deaths of soldiers, but of civilians as well. As Les said, in Bosnia but also in today’s Croatia, then puppet state Independent state of Croatia formed by Nazis and Italians, as well as parts of today’s Serbia occupied by Croat Ustashas, a terrible genocide on Serbs was taking part.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jasenovac_concentration_camp
    Just as such genocide was taking part in every death and concentration camp across Europe where Jews, Gypsies, Russians, Polish and many other people and nations were being killed by hundreds and thousands every day.

  57. Avatar Jim says:

    I believe the bombing of Hiroshima occured an hour earlier than stated:at 8:14 AM rather than 9:14. Pedantic? Yes, sorry.

  58. Avatar Peter Reichard says:

    Nippon sowed war winds
    Nanking! ‘Till Nagasaki
    Did reap the whirlwind

  59. Avatar A.I.Schmelzer says:

    I believe that the realpolitik reasons for dropping the bombs were, from the US pov. as follows:
    1: Insure that Japan surrenders to the USA, and that only the USA takes control of post war Japan, and that it does so with lowest possible cost in terms of American lives, and quickly. There is nothing amoral about that.
    2: Prevent the establishment “Democratic people republic of Japan” aka. “North Japan”. Here one should add that the Japanese have comitted massive war crimes against China, and against the western allies. In general, war crimes comitted by the vanquished are repaid to them with interest (WW2 being one of the rare exceptions), and the Japanese could have tried to play of the USSR against the USA.
    3: Show to “our Soviet partners” that “unconventional solutions” exist.
    As far as maneuvering between equal allies about who gets what spoils goes, this was not historically unusual.
    As for their effects, they ended the war, on terms very much favorable to the USA (although the speed of the RKKA crushing victory over the Kwantung army was still impressive), and allowed the USA to take control over, with the exception of North Korea, many of the most “juicy” parts of the Japanese Empire. From a Machiavellian pov. it worked pretty well. From a moral pov:
    Not nuking would likely mean a Democratic Peoples Republic of North Japan. As well as an additonal period of warfare until this is achieved. I do not neccesarily believe the “Japanese are Klingons and would have fought on” thing. Being attacked by the Red army as well would have made defeat obvious, and the question would quickly become “to whom do we surrender?”.
    I cannot accurately guess the bodycount that “North Japan” would accrue, or the body count of a possible Korean war equivalent “Japanese war” between North and South Japan. Had there been no Japanese war, and had the Japanese Peoples Republic been like the GDR or Yugoslavia, no nuke would have imho clearly been better (GDRs total bodycount was pretty low, and living there was quite tolerable). Had it turned out like North Korea, with a bloody “Japanese war”, a case for nukes being less bad could be made.
    I would rate odds for “North Japan” becoming “North Korea but more so” as higher then North Japan becoming “GDR but more so”. Reason being that the Soviets could use German communists to rule the GDR, and I dont see much in the way of Japanese cadres they could have used in Japan.

  60. Avatar Richard Sale says:

    Pat is dead on
    Richard Sale

  61. Avatar Richard Sale says:

    No group does.
    Richard

  62. Avatar Richard Sale says:

    I totally agree.
    Richard Sale

  63. Avatar The Beaver says:

    Mr Sale,
    OT : However, wanted to draw your attention to this article:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36431160

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