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Thread: Hiroshima 75

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    Default Hiroshima 75

    I still say Japan should have been left to wither on the vine.

    This piece by George Will illustrates why if it were up to the military, many more places would have been nuked by now. Thank god for the fact that general public opinion is more humane than that of "soldiers".

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...dcc_story.html

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    I still say Japan should have been left to wither on the vine.

    This piece by George Will illustrates why if it were up to the military, many more places would have been nuked by now. Thank god for the fact that general public opinion is more humane than that of "soldiers".

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...dcc_story.html
    As a guy who thinks Sherman had the right idea, I disagree.
    Rattling the teacups.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    If it weren't for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I might not be here.

    In the spring of 1945, my father was 19, in the navy, on an aircraft carrier off Japan getting ready for the invasion. He said that when he heard the news, he was reasonably sure for the first time that he'd make it home alive. He did. Here I am. It's a weird world.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    I still say Japan should have been left to wither on the vine.
    You are looking at it wrong. the Second World War was the direct consequence of the First. The punitive actions against Germany put them so far under water that there was no chance of them ever seeing daylight again without another war. By rebuilding Germany and Japan, we insured that neither would need to return to a wartime footing to survive. It was an investment in peace.
    "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito"

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    If it weren't for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I might not be here.

    In the spring of 1945, my father was 19, in the navy, on an aircraft carrier off Japan getting ready for the invasion. He said that when he heard the news, he was reasonably sure for the first time that he'd make it home alive. He did. Here I am. It's a weird world.
    But that is a forced binary choice: invade or nuke. The third way would have been to blockade the home islands. Japan could not feed or fuel itself. In a short time it would be on its way back to the middle ages. Its Manchukuo Army would disintegrate for lack of supplies and reinforcements, its industry would halt almost completely, its people would start to starve, its military would be utterly unable to respond. They would end up hollering "nuff", especially if they could keep the Emperor.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    As George Santayana said : "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", often quoted as "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it" .. I was able to visit Hiroshima in 1970, and it had a profound effect on me - I recall part of a building which had the shadow of a pedestrian etched on the stone wall by the blast .




    Rick

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    But that is a forced binary choice: invade or nuke. The third way would have been to blockade the home islands. Japan could not feed or fuel itself. In a short time it would be on its way back to the middle ages. Its Manchukuo Army would disintegrate for lack of supplies and reinforcements, its industry would halt almost completely, its people would start to starve, its military would be utterly unable to respond. They would end up hollering "nuff", especially if they could keep the Emperor.
    No president could do that, at that time, and stay in office. You are disregarding the mood and feeling of the people of the USA and Britain.

    But don’t forget, no one really was sure the bombs would work. Or what destructive power they actually had. Until they were dropped in action, it was all theoretical — the test in N.M. was under controlled conditions.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Haberland has the right idea. Marshal is the largest hero of WW2 and the postwar years.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    But that is a forced binary choice: invade or nuke.
    Oh, quite true. But right or wrong, that's how almost everyone in the US saw it at the time.
    "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations,
    for nature cannot be fooled."

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hadfield View Post
    No president could do that, at that time, and stay in office.
    So Truman killed 200+ thousand people to help get re-elected? And we thought Trump was bad...



    You are disregarding the mood and feeling of the people of the USA and Britain.
    I believe the people of Britain just wanted the war to be over, and Churchill didn't "stay in office" because he had no nukes to drop. The people of the US, I understand, also wanted the boys back home, and would not have supported a long, bloody, and arguably needless invasion of Japan in 1946 when the main enemy, Germany, was gone and Japan itself could not possibly threaten anyone. Of course, if forced to choose between nuke and invasion, they would choose nuke. But they would be happy with a blockade and the troops coming home.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    The Japanese armies in Korea, China and what was then still Indo-China, plus Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Burma, were pretty big and would have continued to fight. Their officers had orders to execute all prisoners as soon as the invasion of Japan started.

    My father was getting ready to assault a beach in Burma.

    I think the atomic bomb had to be used but I think it might have been used over an uninhabited area first.

    Churchill had already lost power; the 1945 General Election was held on the 6th July.
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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    But that is a forced binary choice: invade or nuke. The third way would have been to blockade the home islands. Japan could not feed or fuel itself. In a short time it would be on its way back to the middle ages. Its Manchukuo Army would disintegrate for lack of supplies and reinforcements, its industry would halt almost completely, its people would start to starve, its military would be utterly unable to respond. They would end up hollering "nuff", especially if they could keep the Emperor.
    Yes, unfortunately that was not really an option. Stalin would not have permitted it. An invasion was going to occur. I do agree, in general, that the insistance of unconditional surrender when applied to the Japanese was not quite right, we did after all let them keep their emperor. But even that decision was hard to foresee as acceptable at the time. For sure a blockade would have been the most just solution and would have worked in a reasonable amount of time.

    But in general, too many political factors were in play to permit any other answer. The terror bombing of cities was wrong, but it is also true that Japanese war industry was not well segregated in their cities from where people lived. If you were going to bomb factories (which is a just action in such a war) you were going to bomb cities.

    I have gone back and forth on this issue more times than I can count thoughout my adult life.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    I have never thought that dropping the bombs on Japan was wrong. Ever. For one later thing, by revealing the horrors of a nuclear explosion on cities, it has helped prevent further use of such weapons.

    140,000-odd Japanese died, helping save future millions.
    Gerard>
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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Wilson View Post
    Oh, quite true. But right or wrong, that's how almost everyone in the US saw it at the time.
    Few in the US at the time had any idea what nuclear weapons were including to a decent extent Harry S Truman.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    It seems to me I've read there was a calculus in place, regarding Russia and their own empire dreams, and that the 'bomb' was intended to get their attention, as well.
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Craig-Bennett View Post

    I think the atomic bomb had to be used but I think it might have been used over an uninhabited area first.
    .
    Along with an blockade, this likely would have saved one of the two cities. But its hard to say. We didn't even know the extent of problems that would result from a nuclear bomb. We had done just as much damage with some of our bombing raids prior to those attacks and the Japanese had not surrendered. I suspect that one bomb exploding in an uninhabited area would not have done the trick, and we would have had to hit another target anyways. And its not like we had a large arsenal of them. Actually, we only had 2. Tough to make a military decision to throw away one of two weapons.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by George Jung View Post
    It seems to me I've read there was a calculus in place, regarding Russia and their own empire dreams, and that the 'bomb' was intended to get their attention, as well.
    The desire was not to just get their attention, it was to keep them out of Japan. So the calculus was to get the war over quickly before they would invade. And also to keep them taking over the parts of China that were occupied by Japan.

    One can reasonable make the case that the Japanese people ended up better off due to the bombs being used, as horrible as that is to say. And invasion would have cost them more lives. Not to mention an occupation that was purely controlled by America as opposed to one such as the occupation of Germany.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Agreed; that's where 'get their attention' comes in.

    Also agree you can't 'demonstrate' half your arsenal, as suggested.
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    I still say Japan should have been left to wither on the vine.

    This piece by George Will illustrates why if it were up to the military, many more places would have been nuked by now. Thank god for the fact that general public opinion is more humane than that of "soldiers".

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...dcc_story.html
    I highly recommend the blog of Alex Wellerstein, a historian of nuclear secrecy and policy. In a recent entry he covers in brief many of the points that have been brought up in this thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Wellerstein
    It was never a question of “bomb or invade”

    Part of the “decision” narrative above is the idea that there were only two choices: use the atomic bombs, or have a bloody land-invasion of Japan. This is another one of those clever rhetorical traps created in the postwar to justify the atomic bombings, and if you accept its framing then you will have a hard time concluding that the atomic bombings were a good idea or not. And maybe that’s how you feel about the bombings — it’s certainly a position one can take — but let’s be clear: this framing is not how the planners at the time saw the issue.


    The plan was to bomb and to invade, and to have the Soviet invade, and to blockade, and so on. It was an “everything and the kitchen sink” approach to ending the war with Japan, though there were a few things missing from the “everything,” like modifying the unconditional surrender requirements that the Americans knew (through intercepted communications) were causing the Japanese considerable difficulty in accepting surrender.
    Quite a few of the ideas expressed here about the "calculus" that went into the use of the atomic bombs in 1945 are wrong, according to him.

    The rest here: http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2020/...omic-bombings/

    Much more context and discussion of these issues at his website:

    http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    And its not like we had a large arsenal of them. Actually, we only had 2. Tough to make a military decision to throw away one of two weapons.
    ...But components for a third were ready to be shipped out to Tinian at the moment of surrender, and Los Alamos was gearing up to be able to produce almost one a week, with the aim of a stockpile of around a dozen to be used alongside an invasion.

    I think Truman gets a bad rap, here: he's on record as being hesitant to use a third bomb over Japan, wanting the carnage to end.

    Andy
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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyG View Post
    I think Truman gets a bad rap, here: he's on record as being hesitant to use a third bomb over Japan, wanting the carnage to end.

    Andy
    As I understand the history, Truman's most significant involvement with the atomic bombings was to order them to stop on Aug 10th, 1945, and to order that no further atomic bombs were to be used without direct permission from the president.

    Truman didn't explicitly order the use of the first two bombs.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    My father also felt that the bombs likely saved his life. When the war ended, he was on a troop ship heading to the Philippines to be part of the invasion

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by pandelume View Post
    I highly recommend the blog of Alex Wellerstein, a historian of nuclear secrecy and policy. In a recent entry he covers in brief many of the points that have been brought up in this thread:



    Quite a few of the ideas expressed here about the "calculus" that went into the use of the atomic bombs in 1945 are wrong, according to him.

    The rest here: http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2020/...omic-bombings/

    Much more context and discussion of these issues at his website:

    http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/
    While true the actual decision was "bomb and invade", and it was going to be a "throw everything in the kitchen sink at them" and it is true that the assumption all along was that the bombs would be used, the arguments made in your article are overstated. There is no doubt that the military leaders and Truman had hopes that the bombing were going to make an invation unnecessary. It was one of the goals of the bomb the entire time of its production: a quick end to the war. So yes, the plan at the time was to bomb AND invade, the goal of the bombing part was to make the invasion part unnecessary. In that sense it was actually a bomb or invade decision, its just the decision was made as part of the war strategy a long time before the bombs ever became available or we were actually ready to invade.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by peb View Post
    While true the actual decision was "bomb and invade", and it was going to be a "throw everything in the kitchen sink at them" and it is true that the assumption all along was that the bombs would be used, the arguments made in your article are overstated. There is no doubt that the military leaders and Truman had hopes that the bombing were going to make an invation unnecessary. It was one of the goals of the bomb the entire time of its production: a quick end to the war. So yes, the plan at the time was to bomb AND invade, the goal of the bombing part was to make the invasion part unnecessary. In that sense it was actually a bomb or invade decision, its just the decision was made as part of the war strategy a long time before the bombs ever became available or we were actually ready to invade.
    Well, reasonable people can disagree. I think that the narrative of "the goal of the bombing part was to make the invasion part unnecessary" is largely a postwar justification, and is not well supported by the contemporaneous (i.e. prior to August 1945) documentation. But I'm not a historian, so make of that what you will.

    For that matter, Wellerstein is not the only historian on this subject; what I think makes him relevant to this discussion, and perhaps leads me to give him more weight than some of the other, older, sources I'm familiar with, is that he is actively researching in this area and has regular updates on his findings. I think his work is some of the most up-to-date that you will easily find and have access to.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by pandelume View Post
    Well, reasonable people can disagree. o.
    Yes they can, and let me say I only make the claim Wellerstein overstates his conclusions, the article seems to me to be largely accurate. I will go and review that section of John Keegan's history of WWII and see what he had to say about the decision. Will let you know what I find.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Seems like a blockade for five years or so would have done them in. Remember, the war was precipitated by an embargo of raw materials and energy.
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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    There was an extremely good article on the bombings perhaps three years ago, I'll post if I find it. Summary:

    - Based on the information the USA knew at the time, the author does not condemn the decision to do the bombings, and acknowledges the tens of thousands that would have died on each side in a conventional invasion. However...
    - By the time of Hiroshima, 95 of the 100 largest cities in Japan had been destroyed by conventional bombs. (And Kyoto(?) was intentionally spared given its historical significance and the destruction of art that would have accompanied its destruction.) Each conventional bombing would take an order of magnitude more bombers, but against cities of wood, conventional high explosive and incendiary bombs were quite effective.
    - When Pearl Harbor happened, the USA moved into action in HOURS. After Hiroshima, Japan did nothing for 3 DAYS. The destruction of the Hiroshima bombing itself was not more than other bombings, it just took only one bomb. Here is what happened:
    - By the time of Hiroshima, Japan knew it was defeated. But war crimes trials were already spooling up in Europe, and they feared the same fate. Japan hoped to negotiate with Russia to help terms of surrender, with Sakhalin Island as a bargaining chip. But then as the Nagasaki bomb was dropped, Russia invaded Sakhalin and then Japan had nothing to bargain with. They had no options to improve their situation. So they capitulated.
    - Why has this narrative not been in the history books? Because the conventional narrative served BOTH USA and Japanese interests; The USA could claim it was the big gorilla with an unstoppable weapon, and Japan could claim they were not defeated due to bad strategy, but rather, because the USA developed a weapon that could not have been foreseen.

    The upshot: To cause a surrender, it's not how much of the enemy or resources you have destroyed that matters, it's what options the enemy has remaining.

    A superb article, in my opinion. Very well researched and logical conclusions.
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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    I had a very good friend and mentor who was one of the four hundred or so prisoners of war used as labourers in the Nagasaki shipyards in August 1945. His opinion was quite clear.
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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    And why drop the second bomb only 3 days later? It took almost that long for the Japanese leadership to even understand what had just happened. If the goal was to make them surrender without an invasion, why not give them time to consider this?

    OTOH, each city was destroyed by a different type of bomb. So maybe Nagasaki was part test, part to scare the Soviets. Too bad for the people living there.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    And why drop the second bomb only 3 days later? It took almost that long for the Japanese leadership to even understand what had just happened. If the goal was to make them surrender without an invasion, why not give them time to consider this?

    OTOH, each city was destroyed by a different type of bomb. So maybe Nagasaki was part test, part to scare the Soviets. Too bad for the people living there.
    According to the article I read, noted above, based on very detailed historical research in Japan, it's not that the Japanese had no time to react. It's that they did not react AT ALL because the level of destruction was actually not more than with conventional bombs (radiation notwithstanding, the effects of which would be known later). They had already had 95 of the 100 largest cities destroyed via conventional bombing. They were stalling to try to work a deal with the Soviets with Sakhalin Island to avoid war crimes trials. When the Soviets invaded Sakhalin Island at about the same time as the Nagasaki bombing, Japan knew they had no leverage to negotiate anything, and they then moved *extremely quickly* to react and surrender.

    I'll agree that scaring the Soviets may have been part of the calculus, but not exclusively. And yes, it also indicates, *in retrospect*, that the bombs themselves were not the reason for surrender. But that is only known in retrospect, not at the time of the bombings.
    Last edited by Bob (oh, THAT Bob); 08-06-2020 at 02:24 PM.
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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Another point to consider: the Soviets could not have invaded Japan proper because they had no navy. They attacked Manchuria and South Sakhalin by land. Unless the point of the bombings was to keep the Reds out of China, they cannot be explained in terms of getting a surrender before the Soviets got involved.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by George. View Post
    And why drop the second bomb only 3 days later? It took almost that long for the Japanese leadership to even understand what had just happened. If the goal was to make them surrender without an invasion, why not give them time to consider this?

    OTOH, each city was destroyed by a different type of bomb. So maybe Nagasaki was part test, part to scare the Soviets. Too bad for the people living there.
    I recommend these entries in the aforementioned blog, which discuss aspects of this:

    http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2013/...onsensus-view/
    http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2013/08/09/why-nagasaki/
    http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2014/...misconception/
    http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2018/...litary-target/

    In a nutshell, It seems likely that the first two bombs were used in rapid succession because they were both available and weather over the target cities permitted their use. Most of the evidence points to the idea that none of the military planners or those involved in bomb production thought that there would only be two bombings - it appears that they were prepared to drop, as they became available, as many bombs as necessary. Until Truman ordered them to stop.

    It also appears that Truman was somewhat taken aback by the civilian casualties at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Wellerstein has pieced together documentation for a theory that Truman was confused on the nature of the targets, and that he thought them to be primarily military in nature. The civilian casualties may have been what prompted Truman to (at least temporarily) stop the use of additional atomic bombs.

    What I take away from all this is that the framing of this debate is somewhat artificial (not to cast any aspersions on the WBF members participating) - particularly the distinction being made between the US strategic bombing efforts up until the atomic bombs were used and the use of the atomic bombs themselves. I don't think an ethical framework existed in military or government at the time to separate them. Even now, there's a fairly thin distinction between obliterating a city with conventional vs nuclear weapons. Much thinner than, say, between obliterating a city and not obliterating it at all.

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy W View Post
    My father also felt that the bombs likely saved his life. When the war ended, he was on a troop ship heading to the Philippines to be part of the invasion
    Agreed........so was my dad.
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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    Has anyone ever estimated how many Japanese lives were saved by the two atomic bombs?

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    Default Re: Hiroshima 75

    From Wikipedia:

    Over the next two to four months, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. Large numbers of people continued to die for months afterward from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison.
    The Bombing of Tokyo (東京大空襲, Tōkyōdaikūshū) was a series of firebombing air raids by the United States Army Air Forces during the Pacific campaigns of World War II. Operation Meetinghouse, which was conducted on the night of 9–10 March 1945, is the single most destructive bombing raid in human history. Of central Tokyo 16 square miles (41 km2; 10,000 acres) were destroyed, leaving an estimated 100,000 civilians dead and over one million homeless.

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