August the 6th, 1945

Written By: - Date published: 4:43 pm, August 6th, 2015 - 148 comments
Categories: history, Japan, war - Tags: , ,

Hannah McGill has written a lengthy, thought provoking piece on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US. ‘Seventy Years on from Hiroshima Devastation’ appeared in Saturday’s edition of The Scotsman. Two short excerpts are reproduced here.

“Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic,” wrote President Harry S Truman in his diary, “we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop that terrible bomb on the old capital [Kyoto] or the new [Tokyo]… The target will be a purely military one.” Nagasaki was selected for similar reasons. Needless to say, however, nuclear bombs – even ones with cute anthropomorphic nicknames like Little Boy and Fat Man – have a way of not distinguishing between military and non-military flesh.

– – –

These days, just as the CND symbol has been repurposed as a decorative frippery with only the vaguest connotations of “peace and love”, so Hiroshima and Nagasaki have seemed to drift away from our collective narrative. In an online discussion realm in which people habitually wave around casual references to Nazi atrocities, conspiracy theories about 9/11 and half-baked interpretations of the entire history of the Middle East, America’s history as a nuclear aggressor remains a relatively infrequent reference point.

 

148 comments on “August the 6th, 1945”

  1. Macro 1

    These atrocities should never ever be allowed to happen again. Yet the USA has more than 4800 nuclear warheads either deployed or in storage.

    According to the March 2015 New START declaration, the United States has 1,597 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 785 ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers [1]. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that the United States’ nondeployed strategic arsenal is approximately 2,800 warheads and the U.S. tactical nuclear arsenal numbers 500 warheads. In total, the U.S. has about 4,800 nuclear warheads [2], including tactical, strategic, and nondeployed weapons. Additional warheads are retired and await dismantlement.

    http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclearweaponswhohaswhat

    • maui 1.1

      Of course the States have to make sure no one else is a potential nuclear threat to their interests. Hence the eagle eye and clamps on what Iran does with nuclear weapons. Anyone who thinks the States are about freedom and democracy, well they need some re-education.

      • Colonial Rawshark 1.1.1

        I don’t think that’s it. Iran hasn’t had a nuclear programme going for the last 15 or so years. US neocons targeted Iran as one of the countries to take down (partly at Israel’s behest) because Iran was never going to capitulate to become a vassal state.

        Also, even if Iran developed a nuclear warhead it would have no way to test it without being blasted off the planet, and certainly no way to deliver it.

        The problem is nowadays is that the US appears more eager than ever to put military pressure on two countries which do have nuclear ICBM capabilities: Russia and China.

        That’s why Atomic Scientists have set the doomsday clock at 3 minutes to midnight.

  2. joe90 2

    Not to forget the lead up to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    The devastation wrought that first night was catastrophic: the raid incinerated more than 16 square miles of the city, killing 100,000 people. According to the official Air Force history of the Second World War, “No other air attack of the war, either in Japan or Europe, was so destructive of life and property.” For months LeMay’s bombers went out night after night, relentlessly keeping up their fire-bombing campaign, so that by the end of the war, flames had totally or partially consumed 63 Japanese cities, killing half a million people and leaving eight million homeless.

    Asked later about the morality of the campaign, LeMay replied:

    “Killing Japanese didn’t bother me very much at that time… I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal…. Every soldier thinks something of the moral aspects of what he is doing. But all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you’re not a good soldier.”

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bomb/peopleevents/pandeAMEX61.html

  3. Sanctuary 3

    The decison to use nuclear weapons on Japan in 1945 was the correct one, for the following reasons:

    1/ The Japanese government was effectively paralysed by 1945. The civilian authorities wanted to surrender, but the military did not – and the military was willing to summarily execute anyone who even mentioned the idea. The atomic bomb acted as a circuit breaker, giving the civilian authorities the power to surrender “without losing face”. Of course, the Americans didn’t know this, so it is a post facto justification – but it is an important consideration none the less.

    2/ The need to demonstrate to the Soviet Union the unprecedented power of the weapon the United States possessed in order to ensure Stalin did not exceed the agreed boundaries of the Yalta and Potsdam conferences.

    3/ The least considered, but probably most important, political consideration was US and Allied public opinion. After three and a half years of war against a fanatical Japanese opponent who had been dehumanised by propaganda and (even without propaganda) was loathed for conducting the most shocking war crimes against defenceless Allied POWs and civilians no one in the Allies was in the mood for mercy for Japan. If the Americans had have had 20 bombs instead of just two, public opinion in 1945 wouldn’t have minded using them all on Japan. The United States is a democracy, and in democracies the political leadership has to account to the voters for casualties. It would have been electoral suicide for any politician to have ordered the invasion of Japan in 1946, seen heavy losses, and then revealed to the public that all along you had a wonder weapon in the garage that their taxes had paid billions to develop yet you declined to use on the grounds it might be “wrong” to have done so. How would you explain that to grieving families and loved ones? You’d be rightly toast as soon as the next election rolled around.

    4/ On the matter of deaths. Japan was on it’s last legs in 1945. US airpower ranged far and wide over the country with almost total impunity. The US Navy had a total blockade of Japan. The food production of Japan was inadequate to feed the civilian population and what food there was was reserved for the military. Distribution networks were completely shattered. Mass starvation loomed in the second half of 1945 and into 1946. Across the Japanese held territories the US Naval blockade meant tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of Chinese and South East Asian civilians and allied POWs and internees were slowly starving to death or being subject to increasingly frequent mass executions by their Japanese overseers. The US predicted the an invasion of Japan could cost around 250,000 allied dead, and anything up to five million Japanese. It is indisputable that, by bringing the second world war to an abrupt close, the atomic bombs saved many times more lives than they took.

    5/ On the morality of the nuclear attacks. After almost six years of total war morality had become moot. Total war is just that – total. Morally, my view is the Axis powers had it coming, and everything they got they deserved. The Japanese were savages in their treatment of Allied civilians and soldiers and along with the Germans they had no right to demand any sort of mercy whatsover. History shows that both countries were subsequently treated with a mercy by their conquerors they had not extended to the victims of their conquests.

    • greywarshark 3.1

      Thanks Sanctuary for the good info. I have been compiling my piece for a time so in the meantime yours has gone up and could provide an answer to some at least of my list of questions. I will have to read later.

    • GregJ 3.2

      One thing to consider about the 70th anniversary is that although there is still a severe (if not, at present, imminent) threat from nuclear weapons and that a drastic reduction an/or elimination of all nuclear weapons would be desirable at least “we” have managed to get through 70 years without one being used. I’m thankful for that at least. Still much to be done.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1

        …at least “we” have managed to get through 70 years without one being used.

        Are you sure about that?

        In fact, I think a nuclear bomb as dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was probably cleaner.

    • Colonial Rawshark 3.3

      The United States is a democracy, and in democracies the political leadership has to account to the voters for casualties.

      You have some really strange and unreal ideas about the USA and “accountability.”

      Just remember that it is easy to be brutally hard nosed about “total war” when you are on the winning side.

    • Anne 3.4

      Thank-you Sanctuary. A very clear appraisal. As Heather Grimwood @ 5 notes below, there was an interesting consequence to the dropping of those bombs. The harrowing accounts – together with the photos that went with them – produced a generation of anti-nuclear activists. Many of us were not born when it happened (or were only babies) but it most certainly had a bearing on my horror of a nuclear weapons and my later involvement in the anti-nuclear movement.

      • the pigman 3.4.1

        I think you should re-read Heather’s post.

        • Anne 3.4.1.1

          Have done and it mirrors my youthful responses. Hence my own anti-war activities in the 70s and 80s.

          • the pigman 3.4.1.1.1

            If you really think it would have taken a human atrocity of this magnitude to imbue on you values of pacifism, that is very, very sad.

            It’s almost as if the Sanctuarys and BMs of this thread didn’t actually read the Scotsman article linked to:

            “Truman’s own chief of staff, Admiral William D Leahy, wrote in his autobiography that “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.”

            So let me borrow freedom’s wonderful advice from 10.2 below. Condense your beliefs about why the mass-slaughter of civilians bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was necessary into a paragraph or so (bullet points even better). Between now and when we next have this shitfight (365 days and counting, I think we’ve had it almost every year here) please visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki (September or October will be best because it will be slightly cooler than now..), with your summary to hand. Take in the museums and the hypocentres and read what you’ve written. Read it again after you’ve read the correspondence between Churchill and Truman, and watched the Allied eyewitnesses (such as POWs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki) give their first hand accounts of the atrocity.

            Then come back here in a year and see if you still agree with Sanctuary’s ‘very clear appraisal’.

            • Sanctuary 3.4.1.1.1.1

              You can’t have it both ways. It was impossible for the Americans to know that Japan was defeated and wanted to surrender. This is a ex post facto condemnation of the decision to drop the bombs. It was also impossible to know that the nuclear attacks acted as the circuit breaker that allowed the japanese to surrender. These are both 20/20 hindsight observations that were not clear in 1945.

              • the pigman

                Cut the mendacious crap. You’ve offered no reason as to why the bombs couldn’t have been dropped on unpopulated or sparsely populated areas. That these bombs would kill hundreds of thousands of civilians was already known and had been meticulously considered in their choice of targets – the US intended to unleash a “rain of ruin” on Japan (truman’s words).

                You’ve also ignored the fact that it was the Soviet unilateral abrogation of their non-aggression pact with Japan on 5 August 1945 (knowing that something big was coming from the US) and their invasion in Manchuria that was the decisive factor in Japan’s surrender because, until the Soviets did so, there remained the possibility (in the minds of the Japanese, at least) that they would mediate peace between the US and Japan.

                Also – refer to Macros post at 3.8.1 – hindsight my arse!

                • Sanctuary

                  “…You’ve also ignored the fact that it was the Soviet unilateral abrogation of their non-aggression pact with Japan on 5 August 1945 (knowing that something big was coming from the US) and their invasion in Manchuria that was the decisive factor in Japan’s surrender because, until the Soviets did so, there remained the possibility (in the minds of the Japanese, at least) that they would mediate peace between the US and Japan…”

                  Dude, you are using 20/20 hindsight again. I’ll repeat: The Soviets knew about the bomb, because a) the west was riddled with Soviet spies, b) they had guessed anyway and c) Truman told Stalin he had unspecified “powerful new weapon” at Potsdam. Stalin had previously agreed in 1943 in Tehran to attack Japan, and to honour his commitment at Yalta Stalin had to attack Japan by August 9th 1945 – the very day the Soviet offensive began. In 1945 no one really understood the radioactive power of nuclear weapons. Stalin though it was just a very, very, very big bomb.

                  It was not the “decisive factor in Japan’s surrender” because as i have said, the Japanese political leadership was paralyzed. The bomb provided the excuse the Japanese needed to surrender.

              • Stuart Munro

                It was possible to know the bombs were superfluous. When has bombing ever precipitated a surrender? Guernica? London? Dresden? Fallujah? Never – and the reason is that the target, being neither military nor government lacks the means to surrender.

                The Japanese surrender was a response to the Russian entry to the Pacific war – not that Japan was more frightened of Russia than the US, but the high command had had no illusions about victory since Okinawa. They had instructed their Russian staff to attempt to secure a conditional surrender to Russia because their responsibility to the Emperor required that they exhaust all other avenues before unconditional surrender.

                The Russian attack made it clear that a conditional surrender was not available. The nukes were in casualty terms less destructive than the incendiary raids on Tokyo – which were also an atrocity – but did not precipitate a surrender either.

                The ‘nukes ended the war’ line is merely convenient to America.

            • Anne 3.4.1.1.1.2

              Dispassionate appraisal would have been a better description.

              To effectively imbue me with a lack of compassion is insulting the pigman. When discussing historical events there are always a number of different but equally valid aspects to take into account. Some of them are with the benefit of hindsight – as in Sanctuary’s case – others are poignant and immediate and can be horrifying in their visual content. I have respect for Sanctuary’s insightful comments including this one, but that doesn’t mean I view what the Americans did on that fateful day 70 years ago with approval because I don’t!!! Nor, I suspect in truth, do Sanctuary and Redlogix.

              • Macro

                Sanctuary’s analysis is seriously flawed because it is based upon the incorrect assumption that the Japanese were going to fight on. They were not – and the US knew this. Japan had made overtures via the Soviet Union as early as Jan 1945 for peace – on conditions along the lines finally accepted in Sept. The States knew that Japan was in no condition to fight on, the deployment of these two different weapons was for purely “interest sake” they had invested so much skin in their development they wanted to try them out and compare. They was no need for this despicable action whatsoever.

                • RedLogix

                  They were not – and the US knew this.

                  Pure hindsight.

                  The other way of looking at it – and this is how the hard men running the US military machine looked at it – if you are going to surrender, then do it. You don’t faff about trying to weasel ‘conditional terms’. Either you are beaten and you surrender – or you are still at war. There is no middle ground here.

                  Not when your soldiers are still dying on the fronts.

                  • the pigman

                    You said somewhere else on this thread that what bothered you about this commentary was self-righteousness. Well I couldn’t agree more. You are resolutely opposed to history being revisited because, well of course, its a concrete, immutable, black and white thing not the least bit amenable to reconsideration, right?

                    “and this is how the hard men running the US military machine looked at it – if you are going to surrender, then do it. You don’t faff about trying to weasel ‘conditional terms’.

                    Almost makes you wonder why the US didn’t nuke North Korea or North Vietnam, or why both those conflicts ended in stagnated quagmires, doesn’t it? According to your psychopathically cold logic, that surely would have been the way to get a result? No more of this faffing around with not unleashing atomic hell on civilians!

                    But don’t be shaken in your faith RL, go on believing the history your grandparents/parents died believing because, well, it would just be self-righteous to take a different view.

                    • RedLogix

                      Almost makes you wonder why the US didn’t nuke North Korea or North Vietnam

                      For the simple reason the nature and purpose of both of those wars was political – not existential. And in neither case would have that political purpose been served by nuclear weapons.

                      A psychopath is someone with no empathy. Well here you are telling Sanctuary to fuck off. Lack of empathy some?

                    • the pigman

                      Now, now. I’ve critiqued your TI(W?)NA attitude towards the use of atomic weapons against civilian centres. Let’s not get into the neener neener of who’s a psychopath and who’s not.

                      The point is, that it takes an enormous amount of bloody-mindedness (if not bloodthirstiness) to suggest 246k+ civilians lives were worth what the “hard men running the US military machine” wanted to achieve.

                      Here’s some bedtime reading: http://www.asahi.com/hibakusha/english/nagasaki/

                      A young girl kept crying day and night, pleading to die and to have someone end her life, in pain from her burns. Her eyes, nose, and mouth were melted shut from her burns so that she seemed to breathe with only her ears. She finally died.”

                      Sleep well.

                  • Macro

                    Having served in the military – and for a time as a member of the Top Management Committee for the RNZN – I can say catagorically that Military commanders are as much concerned for their men as they always have been. If there was the opportunity for a surrender (and the terms of the final surrender were almost the same as that offered by Japan in Jan 1945) then I believe they would have accepted that – had it not been for the fact that they had in their back pocket a weapon of horrendous destruction.
                    It has always been the case in war that when one side has a weapon untested and there is the opportunity to use it – it will be used whether or not that use is necessary or justified – from the mining by the Israelites of the Roman siege of Jerusalem to the deployment of drones against defenceless villages today.

    • RedLogix 3.5

      Again thank you for the clear appraisal Sanctuary. So often I read your contribution here with both a sense of recognition – and humility.

      In the context of the 63m or so total deaths from WW2 the two bombs were a relative pin prick. Having said that they were an especial horror and have provided a permanently vivid taste of what could happen if the major nuclear powers unleashed the thousands of war-heads they possess today.

      And perhaps that is the best motive be respectful of what happened 70 years ago today. Or what Anne said above.

    • the pigman 3.6

      Fuck off Sanctuary – that you hold these views repudiates my entire assessment of your character as a clever social democrat. Either of the bombs could have been dropped on unpopulated or sparsely populated areas and achieved all of those goals.

      Old people like to pat themselves on the back and repeat that the mass-murder was justified, I’m fairly sure that if you spent some time in Japan and visited the atomic bomb museums and hypocentres in Hiroshima and Nagasaki you would quit repeating this vile bullshit.

      • Ergo Robertina 3.6.1

        +1 I was revolted to read that apologist crap for psychopathy as well.

      • Sanctuary 3.6.2

        “…Either of the bombs could have been dropped on unpopulated or sparsely populated areas and achieved all of those goals…”

        Do you really think that this was a realistic option in 1945?

        “… I’m fairly sure that if you spent some time in Japan and visited the atomic bomb museums and hypocentres in Hiroshima and Nagasaki you would quit repeating this vile bullshit….”

        You know, the Japanese were in more ways than we’ll admit justified in their war with the United States and British Empire. But the base barbarity of their conduct of that war condemns them and will forever be a stain on Japan’s reputation, especially as they still refuse to take responsibility for their sadistic atrocities.

        I’ve read of the atrocities of the Japanese Empire. I’ve been to Auschwitz, the result of the genocidal program of Japan’s Axis partner. So while I feel sympathy for the innocent victims of war, I don’t for a moment resile from what was done in our name to defeat them.

        • the pigman 3.6.2.1

          the base barbarity of their conduct of that war condemns them and will forever be a stain on Japan’s reputation, especially as they still refuse to take responsibility for their sadistic atrocities.

          I’ve read of the atrocities of the Japanese Empire. I’ve been to Auschwitz, the result of the genocidal program of Japan’s Axis partner. So while I feel sympathy for the innocent victims of war, I don’t for a moment resile from what was done in our name to defeat them.

          You might as well have just started with the above, because it frames your entire distorted view on the atrocity.

          So you’ve been to Auschwitz. Then let me repeat freedom’s invitation.. if you can get over the “stained” Japanese, you really should visit a peace museum.

      • RedLogix 3.6.3

        I grew up believing the kind of tosh you are spouting pigman.

        I know that us oldies are all universally despised these days. But with luck you may get to be old too – and look back on the drivel you once accepted as gospel with embarrassment.

        In the meantime – fuck off yourself.

    • Bill 3.7

      1/ They rejected unconditional surrender, but they were ready and willing to surrender.

      2/ If the bombs were dropped to send a message to Stalin, then the dropping of the bombs were acts of terrorism.

      3/ All okay because domestic elections? Seriously!?

      4/ Arithmetic. Dunno about this ‘5 million Japanese deaths’. But if the US had accepted Japan’s offer of conditional surrender, then zero deaths.

      5/ The moral question can be sidestepped because special circumstances = no moral dimension. Wow!

      • mickysavage 3.7.1

        Conditional surrender involved nothing other than face saving which is a very normal human response.

      • the pigman 3.7.2

        +1000

        I’m not sure what’s more extraordinary: the fatuous mendacity of Sanctuary’s cold-hearted analysis on the 70th anniversary of the civilian atrocity, or the sheer number of car-backwindow-head-nodding-dog behaviour that follows.

        • Bill 3.7.2.1

          ‘Extra-ordinary’ wasn’t quite the expression that crossed my mind. But I know what you mean.

      • Molly 3.7.3

        I’m with you on this Bill.

        Sometimes, the issues of human rights and humane behaviour seem to get lost in analysis.

        I can’t think of Hiroshima in any kind of positive light. It was actually quite difficult to read the justifications given above.

        • BM 3.7.3.1

          I can’t think of anything in WW2 in any kind of positive light, It was slaughter on an industrial scale.

          The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were just one part of a very large and bloody act.

      • Sanctuary 3.7.4

        1/ Try reading some history. It’ll help.

        2/ I never said I fully agreed with this as a reason, but it was a reason – and at the end of the day, the USSR honoured it’s side of the deal. This is a morally ambiguous point.

        3/ The point of this is that Truman and rest of administration were human beings living in the here and now and accountable to the voters of the United States. The human element in the decision to drop the bomb is often forgotten by history, yet it is usually the most important thing. Domestic considerations made the atomic attacks inevitable, and the need to minimise our losses as opposed to our enemies made in morally justifiable.

        4/ There was no offer of surrender, conditional or otherwise, from the Japanese for the US to accept before the nuclear attacks. The nuclear attacks provided the excuse to surrender unconditionally with conditions, which the US accepted as unconditional, with conditions. Such is mental gymnastics as to how humans dodge the sticky questions.

        5/ Do you know why we adopted area bombing against Germany in WWII? We did so because:
        a) we were so weak that bombing was the only way to hit back at the Nazi regime that had firebombed London and crushed our armies from France to Greece, and we could do it at a time when a morale boost was really, really needed.
        b) then, when we analysed our bombing we realised that expecting frightened 21 year olds to hit specific targets like a factory after flying for six hours in pitch black through hostile airspace was cloud cuckoo land, but they could hit a city that was 10km wide.
        c) Once we started, it was the only way a declining world power like the British Empire could still conduct an independent strategic campaign under it’s own command against the Nazis, thus retaining the fig leaf of great power status.
        d) so, by 1944-45 we had built up at enormous cost in money and heartbreaking cost in blood (the finest young men went to bomber command) a strategic bomber force of awesome power that we unleashed in it’s full majesty against a largely prostrate Germany, wiping out entire cities in single, vengeful attacks.

        The point is no one particularly sat down and had an academic discussion about the morality of area bombing. It evolved from expediency, necessity, and the remorseless logic of total war. When it was finally available to be used as logic dictated it should it was used because we could against an enemy we had long ago given up caring about.

        In total war against a monstrous enemy morality is a luxury for peacetime. And that is one of the REAL lessons of WW2 that we never hear on ANZAC day or otherwise, but we should heed – because it points to how awful and corrupting war really is.

        • RedLogix 3.7.4.1

          One of the things that most annoys me is retrospective self-righteousness. Sitting in a comfortable, safe chair typing about events that happened 70 years ago and moralising about it just makes me puke.

          War itself is the total failure of politics, humanity and all decency. It is as you say corrupting at every level; from the policy of nations, to the men who were given flame-throwers to flush out bunkers … and were often driven mad by intimate horrors of what they did.

          In total war there are only very dark shades of grey.

        • Stuart Munro 3.7.4.2

          We can give Truman some credit – MacArthur wanted to roll right on into China, nuking all before him before they could develop the bomb. Truman wasn’t keen. But arguments of false necessity are easy to make in wartime – whatever else Japan was contained by the time the nukes were dropped – so necessity in their case is not an especially strong argument.

    • Macro 3.8

      They were unnecessary – Japan was about to capitulate – the USA who were by that stage reading Japanese signal traffic knew it – but had so much skin invested in these weapons they went ahead anyway. DESPICABLE. I do not agree with Sanctuary’s analysis on this, because it is based on the incorrect assumption that the destruction of these two cities was necessary – it was not.

      • Macro 3.8.1

        Further to the above:

        From the Institute for Historical Review

        A Secret Memorandum

        It was only after the war that the American public learned about Japan’s efforts to bring the conflict to an end. Chicago Tribune reporter Walter Trohan, for example, was obliged by wartime censorship to withhold for seven months one of the most important stories of the war.

        In an article that finally appeared August 19, 1945, on the front pages of the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Times-Herald, Trohan revealed that on January 20, 1945, two days prior to his departure for the Yalta meeting with Stalin and Churchill, President Roosevelt received a 40-page memorandum from General Douglas MacArthur outlining five separate surrender overtures from high-level Japanese officials. (The complete text of Trohan’s article is in the Winter 1985-86 Journal, pp. 508-512.)

        This memo showed that the Japanese were offering surrender terms virtually identical to the ones ultimately accepted by the Americans at the formal surrender ceremony on September 2 — that is, complete surrender of everything but the person of the Emperor. Specifically, the terms of these peace overtures included:

        Complete surrender of all Japanese forces and arms, at home, on island possessions, and in occupied countries.
        Occupation of Japan and its possessions by Allied troops under American direction.
        Japanese relinquishment of all territory seized during the war, as well as Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan.
        Regulation of Japanese industry to halt production of any weapons and other tools of war.
        Release of all prisoners of war and internees.
        Surrender of designated war criminals.

        Is this memorandum authentic? It was supposedly leaked to Trohan by Admiral William D. Leahy, presidential Chief of Staff. (See: M. Rothbard in A. Goddard, ed., Harry Elmer Barnes: Learned Crusader [1968], pp. 327f.) Historian Harry Elmer Barnes has related (in “Hiroshima: Assault on a Beaten Foe,” National Review, May 10, 1958):

        The authenticity of the Trohan article was never challenged by the White House or the State Department, and for very good reason. After General MacArthur returned from Korea in 1951, his neighbor in the Waldorf Towers, former President Herbert Hoover, took the Trohan article to General MacArthur and the latter confirmed its accuracy in every detail and without qualification.

        http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v16/v16n3p-4_Weber.html

          • Macro 3.8.1.1.1

            Yes. If the far right can hold the view that these atrocities were avoidable and have the evidence to back up their argument, then I think those of us on the left who hold the same view, can be confident that we are are on firm ground.

        • Sanctuary 3.8.1.2

          There is no doubt the Japanese were ready to surrender. But it should be remembered that in democracies don’t conduct such negotiations via their military commanders. McArthur was later sacked by Truman in Korea for just such a cross-over offense by demanding the use of nuclear weapons when it was clear the political leadership did not want to start a nuclear war with the USSR.

          Secondly, any Japanese attempt to surrender prior to the nuclear attacks would have simply led to a military coup by hardliners. The Japanese civil authorities definitely wanted to surrender before the bombs, and the Americans definitely knew this. But before the nuclear attacks, it wasn’t the civilian authorities who were ultimately calling the shots, and the Americans could not be sure how legitimate or representative the surrender offers were. Therefore, the Allies proceeded with total war until they could be sure they Japanese spoke with one voice – a unity of voice provided by the bomb.

          PS The US ability to read Japanese signals was limited to radio traffic. The USSR, which could read Japanese diplomatic cable traffic right up until it’s declaration of war in 1945, didn’t share what it knew. Therefore the signal traffic the Americans could intercept and read was limited to radio and was largely of a military nature, and the inner workings of the Japanese government remained hidden. The mis-assumption that because the Enigma secret gave the the Allies the ability to decrypt Axis signals all Axis messages were available for interception is a common one, but in fact Enigma/Purple could only be applied to radio traffic, which is why it was so important in anti-submarine operations.

          • Macro 3.8.1.2.1

            “Secondly, any Japanese attempt to surrender prior to the nuclear attacks would have simply led to a military coup by hardliners.”
            Nonsense. The military was almost extinct. They had no airforce , the navy was practically non-existent, and the army was scattered over hundreds of isolated islands and could not be returned to the mainland. The Emperor called the shots and the only condition that the army were fighting for was the Emperor. His position was preserved. The only reason they dropped those weapons was for the “joy” of testing them to see what happened.

            • Sanctuary 3.8.1.2.1.1

              “…Nonsense. The military was almost extinct. They had no airforce , the navy was practically non-existent, and the army was scattered over hundreds of isolated islands and could not be returned to the mainland…”

              Since the Imperial Palace in Tokyo was neither defended by the US Marine Corps or guarded by the US Navy it was still pretty easy for 4-5 officers to turn up at the imperial palace and kill people with Samurai swords to try and stop the surrender, which is exactly what happened. A coup doesn’t require a huge military effort, you ninny.

              • the pigman

                Good idea, Sanctuary. Glad you’ve come around. So if I’m reading you correctly, the US could have sent 4 spies with samurai swords to run through the Emperor, rather than burning 246, 000 men, women and children alive.

              • millsy

                Probably worth mentioning that I read somewhere (please dont ask me where, I cannot remember), that a rougue squadron of Japananese military pilots were going to launch a huge kamikaze attack on the surrender ceremony, but were talked out of it by a senior member of the royal family.

            • RedLogix 3.8.1.2.1.2

              The military was nonetheless way more powerful than the civilian government.

              It is easy to retrospectively unpick all the complex scenarios and motivations that were in play when that decision was made. I used to do that myself all the time. But surely there are two things no-one here can say:

              1. That after five years of brutal losses in a vicious, depraved war – that you would have given your enemy any consideration whatsoever. Unless you had lived through it all you have no right to say anything about this at all.

              2. That you would willingly trade places with Truman and take personal responsibility for the terrible decision he faced – on the day he had to make it – not at the safe, comfortable remove of 70 years.

            • dukeofurl 3.8.1.2.1.3

              The military wasnt extinct.

              The surrender included over 5 million soldiers, most of whom were in the home islands

              “Cook gives the total number of Japanese servicemen as 4,335,500 in Japan on the day of the surrender
              Cook, Haruko Taya; Theodore F. Cook (1992). Japan at War: An Oral History. New Press.
              Wikipedia

              • Macro

                You obviously have never had military training, an army without the support of air power cannot survive. The Allies had many aircraft carriers that were not under threat because the Japanese Navy had ceased to exist. Had the Japanese army continued to fight, against orders, they would have been slaughtered from the air. Those in command knew Japan could not withstand the might of the Allies – that is why they were attempting to sue for peace. This “rationale” of a hardcore resistance – is simply that – an attempt to rationalise an immoral act. Humans do it all the time.

                • dukeofurl

                  Your comments seem to ignore the fights to the finish on Okinawa and Iwo Jima. The japanese army no air support there either that was useful, the islands were cut off as well. Your comments are beyond ridiculous

                  Your argument falls over even if we consider other military considerations. Military resistance under possibility of imminent defeat almost never makes sense (afterwards)

                  I have looked at the messages to Moscow, even the Russians thought they were vague and lacked substance.

                  The Japanese themselves knew the American position on unconditional surrender had some flexibility but they had to surrender first

                  “A United States spokesman stated that : “As a rule, for the sake of formality, the Allies will hold fast to unconditional surrender until the end. However, should the Imperial Japanese Government surrender immediately, the Allies are actually prepared to modify the terms.”

                  This was before the bomb was dropped, and in a roundabout way the US kept the Emperor ( but nothing else)

                  http://nuclearfiles.org/menu/library/correspondence/togo-sato/corr_togo-sato.htm

                  • Macro

                    I do not discount those episodes at all! And yes these were pockets of continuing resistance. But that does not refute the fact that had there been an approach back from the Allies to the Japanese Government (rather than leaflet drops and broadcasts to which – as in all warring countries- people were forbidden to listen) the surrender would have been achieved much earlier and without the needless destruction of two cities, and around 200,000 lives. (I’m counting the total loss of life here, not just the immediate casualties.)
                    The same goes in Italy following the surrender of the Italian Government – some areas of continuing resistance – and many soldiers gleefully walking home.

                    • dukeofurl

                      Ive looked into the ‘approaches to the allies’ and its more nonsense.
                      The allies were US, UK and China. Japan didnt approach any of them, but worked through their embassy in Moscow to the then neutral USSR. The USSR mostly ignored the japanese, mostly because the telegrams show they had NO CONCRETE PEACE proposlas.

                      How could the actual fighting allies negotiate over something they had NO KNOWLEDGE at the time?

                      peace feelers to the russians are not worth talking about in the context of stopping the US .

                      Actual fighting by Japan when they had no hope took 1000s of US and many thousands of Japanese lives. THese are actual numbers lost at Iwo Jima. 20,000 Japanese, 6800 US dead.

                      Okinawa: As of 2010, the monument lists 240,931 names, including 149,193 Okinawan civilians, 77,166 Imperial Japanese soldiers, 14,009 U.S. soldiers,

                      To compare with ITaly is a load of nonsense. You have really gone into the absurd here. Italy changed sides but it cahnged nothing as the Germans continued fighting.

                      Please use real figures and actual situations to back up your opinions.

                      HIroshima and Nagasaki were terrible things but saved millions of lives.
                      Peace feelers were talking to the wrong people (USSR) and were seen as nothing serious. |You can read the translated telegrams

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      dukeofurl – Japan knew the war was over the moment Stalin marched his forces into Manchuria.

                      Also your argument that the destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were decisive in the Japanese decision to surrender are bullshit.

                      Far bigger Japanese cities and far more Japanese civilians had been burned out in the months leading to August, than at Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

                    • Macro

                      You may shout all you like duke – but the fact remains that the Allies were well aware of the Japanese overtures for surrender, and there is ample evidence to support that. I have listed some of it elsewhere in this thread. Furthermore – as your own figures show – while there were horrendous losses by Japanese forces in the misguided continued resistance the Allied forced had significantly fewer losses, owing to far superior air power and weaponry.
                      The Allied powers never communicated directly with the Japanese government before the bombings even though they were readily reading the Japanese signal traffic, and were fully aware of the Japanese desire to surrender.
                      My position is not off left and out of field – there are many respected military analysts and commentators who hold similar views to mine, and as I showed previously even those on the extreme right of the political spectrum also consider that the bombings were unnecessary.
                      Now I have had enough argy bargy on this topic and am going to leave it there.

                    • dukeofurl

                      Macro you dont seem to have reasonable sources to back your views up.

                      You were wrong about the military numbers left in Japan,
                      You were wrong about the fanatical resistance in Okinawa and Iwo Jima ( somehow you suggested it would be like Italy) without aircover.

    • swordfish 3.9

      Fundamentally disagree with Sanc.

      But concur on 2 things:

      (1) The Japanese military did indeed inflict “..the most shocking war crimes against defenceless Allied POWs and civilians.” Outrageous cruelty towards POWs and, of course, towards the civilian population of China, Korea and South-East Asia – most notably, the Rape of Nanking.

      Doesn’t even remotely, in my opinion, justify Hiroshima or Nagasaki, but shouldn’t be forgotten and does help to explain public opinion in the Allied nations.

      (2) US public opinion was certainly favourable towards dropping nuclear bombs on Japan. It’s not widely known but Gallup regularly polled representative samples of Americans during WWII on various war issues (presumably under the auspices of the US Dept of War). Immediately after the Hiroshima / Nagasaki bombing (August 10-15 1945) Gallup conducted a poll that found 85% of Americans Approved, 10% Disapproved, with 5% having No Opinion.

      One month later, in September 1945, a National Opinion Research Center poll asked Americans: “If you had been the one to decide whether or not to use the atomic bomb against Japan, which one of these things do you think you would have done ?”
      WIPED OUT CITIES 23%
      BOMBED ONE CITY AT A TIME 44%
      BOMBED WHERE THERE WERE NO PEOPLE 26%
      REFUSED TO USE 4%
      DON”T KNOW 2%
      (although, this overwhelming support decreased over the following years as Americans learnt more about the magnitude and consequences of the destruction). A recent poll (2015) suggested around 56% of Americans retrospectively approve (and 14% of Japanese approve – down from 29% in 1991).

  4. greywarshark 4

    What do war historians say would have happened next in WW2 if the bombs had not been dropped. Were the allies played out and desperate? Were Hitler’s scientists advancing their nuclear bombs and the war had to be brought to an abrupt close? Were Japanese forces just getting too strong a hold in the Pacific and along with knowledge of their atrocities, the killing of large numbers was not unthinkable? Was that attitude increased by the knowledge that their armaments manufacturing was so scattered – some in most city neighbourhoods? Tokyo had already been fire bombed, was there a precedent for massive attack? Was the bombing of Pearl Harbour the last straw?

    Questions:
    When would the war have finished if the atomic bombs hadn’t been dropped?
    Which powers would have been the winners?
    Would the powers, if there hadn’t been an outright win, divided the world up between them?
    Who would have got us and Australia?

    I think by 1945 the extent and brutality of WW2 must have blunted any ethical control on deployment of weaponry if its use could halt the conflict. The USA had kept war from its borders, Japan made a mistake in scheduling the attack on Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. Where would China, Japan’s neighbour, be today I wondered?

    http://www.history.co.uk/study-topics/history-of-ww2/sino-japanese-war
    In the 1930s, China was a divided country. In 1927 Chiang Kai-Shek had formed a Nationalist Government – the Kuomintang (the KMT), but his dictatorial regime was opposed by Mao Tse Tung’s Communists (CCP). Civil war between the Communists and Nationalists erupted in 1930 – the period of Mao’s legendary ‘Long March’.

    In 1931, Japan, eager for the vast natural resources to be found in China and seeing her obvious weakness, invaded and occupied Manchuria. It was turned into a nominally independent state called Manchukuo, but the Chinese Emperor who ruled it was a puppet of the Japanese. When China appealed to the League of Nations to intervene, the League published the Lytton Report which condemned Japanese aggression. The only real consequence of this was that an outraged Japanese delegation stormed out of the League of Nations, never to return.

    In the 1930’s the Chinese suffered continued territorial encroachment from the Japanese, using their Manchurian base. The whole north of the country was gradually taken over. The official strategy of the KMT* was to secure control of China by defeating her internal enemies first (Communists and various warlords), and only then turning attention to the defence of the frontier. This meant the Japanese encountered virtually no resistance, apart from some popular uprisings by Chinese peasants which were brutally suppressed.

    And Wikipedia –
    The Battle of Shanghai was the first of the twenty-two major engagements fought between the National Revolutionary Army (NRA) of the Republic of China (ROC) and the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) of the Empire of Japan during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

    Explaining the Battle of Shanghai, ” It was one of the largest and bloodiest battles of the entire war, described by Peter Harmsen as Stalingrad on the Yangtze.”
    Dogged Chinese resistance at Shanghai was aimed at stalling the rapid Japanese advance, giving much needed time for the Chinese government to move vital industries to the interior, while at the same time attempting to bring sympathetic Western Powers to China’s side. During the fierce three-month battle, Chinese and Japanese troops fought in downtown Shanghai, in the outlying towns, and on the beaches of the Yangtze and the Hangzhou Bay, where the Japanese had made amphibious landings.

    The Chinese soldiers had to rely primarily on small-caliber weapons in their defense of Shanghai, against an overwhelming onslaught of air, naval, and armored striking power from Japan.[3] In the end, Shanghai fell, and China lost a significant portion of its best troops, while also failing to elicit any international intervention.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Shanghai

    • In Vino 4.1

      Briefly, the allies rushed to make the first atomic bomb because Hitler spoke vaguely about secret super-weapons (the V2 rocket was impressive) and the allies knew that Germany was capable of making an atomic bomb. They also knew that Japan had no chance of making one. But Germany was defeated before the bomb was ready, and the allies later established that Hitler had not been fully informed about the potential of such a bomb, and that the Germans were not rushing to build one anyway. This left the allies (ie, the USA) with one huge weapon that they knew the Japanese could never produce. So at the point the bomb was dropped, Germany was already conquered by the Russians, who absorbed and overcame 80% of Germany’s war effort. (Yes – our huge win against Hitler was against only 20% of Hitler’s war effort. It is Russia that deserves credit for the defeat of Germany. Basically, we fought the Germans off until Russia beat them, then we helped Russia finish them off. Heroic, but not a great win for democracy. It was Russia that won in Europe, and Russia ended up in control of much of Europe.

      • In Vino 4.1.1

        Continuing (posted prematurely above) – When Russia could turn its attention to Japan, it also looked as if Russia would easily be able to swallow up a lot of territory (Manchuria, disputed parts of China, Japan itself?
        If the bombs had not been dropped, this would certainly have happened. So the bombs forestalled any move by Stalin to grab any territory in the East, and that may well have been the prime American motive: they had just realised what Russia had achieved in Europe.
        Without the dropping of the 2 bombs, the same sides would have won, but Russia would have taken vast areas in the East.
        We were taught to believe that the Russians and Chinese were one: both Communist. Not true – they have always been bitter rivals, and even during the Cold War, did not do a lot to help each other.

        • Colonial Rawshark 4.1.1.1

          If the bombs had not been dropped, this would certainly have happened. So the bombs forestalled any move by Stalin to grab any territory in the East, and that may well have been the prime American motive: they had just realised what Russia had achieved in Europe.
          Without the dropping of the 2 bombs, the same sides would have won, but Russia would have taken vast areas in the East.

          THIS

  5. Marvellous Bearded Git 5

    My dad walked around Hiroshima not long after the bomb. He often talked about it-almost as though the image never left him. He died earlier this year. Soon there will be hardly any first-hand witnesses to this event.

    • Jenny Kirk 5.1

      That’s really interesting – MBGit. You are lucky your dad lasted as long as he did. When I was working as an electorate agent in 1985 I came across a number of ageing soldiers (or navy people) who’d witnessed the blast and who then had the most horrendous cancerous sores (which they eventually died of) and for which they’d never received any compensation other than the usual public health care.

      An unknown story is how many NZers were also adversely affected by those blasts because they were in the vicinity of them, or they went to Hiroshima afterwards as part of what? a cleanup crew or something ?

      And WHY has the NZ MSM not recorded this anniversary ? I couldn’t find anything in The Herald or Stuff online .

      • Marvellous Bearded Git 5.1.1

        @Jenny
        He was there a few months after the blast. They played an interview on RNZ this AM with a Japanese lady who was 3 k’s from the the blast and 17 at the time. She said she was knocked out by the blast but came round in time to see the mushroom cloud. She was still going strong at 87.

        On the other hand I heard on the BBC that the Americans estimate that the blast killed 70,000, but another approximately 130,000 died later from radiation (and perhaps other) effects.

        • the pigman 5.1.1.1

          Jenny – I’m not sure about New Zealanders, but there were 24 Australian POWs at a Nagasaki POW camp, all of whom survived. If you visit the Nagasaki museum, there is an interview with an Australian POW giving his eyewitness account of the blast and its aftermath both immediately and over days. It is utterly compelling.

          • dukeofurl 5.1.1.1.1

            Thats seems about right, the NZ ers were part of the occupation forces in the Hiroshima area after the war ended.

  6. Heather Grimwood 6

    Still feel the sadness with which we pondered the horrendous toll that day of first bomb…a gorgeous winter’s day and we’d been told the news in class just before an interval…think morning break…..made me in later years continually an anti-nuclear activist.
    Childhood nightmares had been of Japanese parachutists landing in out pear trees,( maybe because we knew of earlier parachutists in Mediteranean ) but I think now of the hordes of children presently suffering nightmares in their present warzone lives.
    Incidentally, a wise male schoolteacher had said to us when hearing racial comments on day of ‘Pearl Harbour’ ” just remember, an army is an army is an army”.
    Maybe that’s why I became also and have remained a vehement antiwar activist.

  7. Bastables 7

    I like to think Japan did great evil in starting the war and conduct within and great good in shattering the various Colonial empires grip in Asia and the Pacific.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalibata_Heroes_Cemetery

    Such things have resulted in self determination to a limited degree out side of the evils of colonialism. Resulting in the multilayered artefacts of a Independence day celebration in Indonesia conducted by A Japanese girl group franchise filled with Indonesian and Japanese School girls.

    Not everyone was happy being forced to speak English/Dutch/French/Japanese in their own countries. Do the Japanese deserve to have a museum displaying children school uniforms caked in blood and melted flesh, do they deserve to have nuclear weapons used on them? No in the same ethical path that leads one to point out that death penalties by the state are unjustifiable.

    • Colonial Rawshark 7.1

      I like to think Japan did great evil in starting the war and conduct within and great good in shattering the various Colonial empires grip in Asia and the Pacific.

      The Americans had set major energy embargoes against Japan, and must have known that it would empower the leverage of the pro-war elite in Japan.

      • Bill 7.1.1

        That energy embargo was a reasonable basis for building an empire so that energy supplies were secure. But. Japanese people aren’t white people, and so that simply couldn’t be allowed. (As an aside – people do know that Japan was an ally in WW1, yes?)

        Anyway. Post WW2, who profited from securing an energy supply for Japan? The UK and the US, who were facing mounting anti-nuclear power protests at home.
        Given the shit that’s flooding into the Pacific at present, that one’s obviously worked out well.

        And if those bombs were dropped for the benefit of ‘Uncle Joe’, then it was a political decision divorced from military considerations (the heads of all three armed services in the US spoke out against their use btw). And that makes it the biggest act of terrorism ever visited on the world.

      • greywarshark 7.1.2

        In Harold L. Ickes diaries of when, “He served as United States Secretary of the Interior for 13 years, from 1933 to 1946,” (Wikipedia) there are discussions of contact with Japan.

        In November 1941 there was an agreement being hammered out with Japan that USA would send them cotton, plus other items and gasoline, said to be for civilians which all knew wasn’t used much by them, In return the ‘Japanese were not to press any further north in Asia. They were to withdraw at least some of their troops from Thailand and they would be obligated not to attempt to cut the Burma Road…It developed subsequently that all of the time that these negotiations were on, the Japanese were preparing to extend their conquests in Indochina and were pressing harder against the Burma Road,”

        Some in the American administration were preparing to consider the original deal, but objections were raised that it should be put before Churchill who was strongly opposed…..General Chiang Kai-shek made a strong protest… to the effect that to do this would destroy the morale of the Chinese.

        There was disagreement with the State Department “and its policy of appeasement” with Japan….Then paper carried the headlines “announcing that Japan has solemnly declared her determination “‘o purge American and British influence from East Asia for the honor and pride of mankind.’ ”

        The President and rest of the administration when Pearl Harbour occurred were according to the diaries, shocked and it was said to be unexpected.

        The belligerence of the Japanese and their apparent determination to press forward with their expansionist plans, while conducting talks to allay suspicion, seem to have turned the tide of USA feeling firmly against them.

  8. Heather Grimwood 8

    Sorry…please read ‘our’ for ‘out’ in my earlier comment.

  9. Colonial Rawshark 9

    Just note that the US used two very different nuclear warhead technologies on Japan. One plutonium bomb and one uranium bomb. You can’t help but think that they saw a great opportunity to advance their weapons technology via a live fire exercise. Much like Israel uses attacks on Palestine as R&D for their arms industry.

    • half crown 9.1

      Well said there Colonial, I have always thought that the dropping of the TWO different bombs were a great experiment as the yanks wanted to see the different results on a civilian population. I think the planners planing the the invasion of Japan rightly so were fearful of the number of allied casualty’s this would have caused. This gave Trueman the out to carry out the “experiment” on a civilian population.

    • Macro 9.2

      You can’t help but think that they saw a great opportunity to advance their weapons technology via a live fire exercise.

      That’s exactly what it was all about – nothing more nor less.

    • swordfish 9.3

      “Much like Israel uses attacks on Palestine as R&D for their arms industry.”

      Precisely my thoughts.

      • Sanctuary 9.3.1

        I reject that Truman would have for a moment entertained such a reason.

        • Macro 9.3.1.1

          The US, Canada and UK had invested in today’s term Billions of dollars in the Manhattan Project. They had begun planning for the deployment of these weapons as early as Nov 1943 modifying aircraft to carry these weapons. They were never going to stop.

    • millsy 9.4

      ..and also to show the Russians what would happen to Moscow if ‘tried anything funny’.

    • dukeofurl 9.5

      The plutonium bomb was tested in New Mexico- that was the live fire exercise.
      You have forgotten that Hiroshima wasnt the first detonation. It was clear that the explosion would be massive and be a city buster.

      The uranium bomb was produced because they used many different technologies at the time, because success wasnt guaranteed.
      Compared to the plutonium bomb it was technically inefficient use of uranium and their were producing the amounts of plutonium required from different factories.

    • dv 9.6

      I understand that Hiroshima and Nagasaki where not bombed conventionally so the US could test the effectiveness of the new bombs,

      • Stuart Munro 9.6.1

        There were a few small raids but no concerted attacks. I have this from a Korean gentleman who was in Hiroshima in 1945:

        Until April of 1945 Hiroshima was spared from air raids despite the city having important military facilities and munitions factories, and we all wondered why. In January of 1945 the first air raid took place, but it was not the dreaded B-29 bombers but carrier based P-1 fighter planes. The machine gunning was so terrifying and I was told that there was no way to escape from the strafing fighter planes. There was some shooting by anti-aircraft guns. But they looked so feeble and almost useless, even to us, uninformed civilians. Not a single Japanese fighter plane was seen intercepting enemy planes. The Entire air space over the city of Hiroshima was under the complete control of American planes for half an hour. About 15 minutes after the American planes left, a Japanese plane flew up, circling the sky. We were assembled in the schoolyard at the time, drilling. The captain, the military drilling instructor at the school was almost crying in front of us. We could hear the groaning out of despair from the students at the drilling exercise. Nobody would dare to say anything. Japan already had no aircraft left to intercept enemy planes, and more seriously, due to a severe shortage of fuel for flying planes.
        When we were high school students we were mobilized to collect pine resin and pine trees to extract fuel for military planes. The fuel so obtained was so short that it was only supplied to Kamikaze suicide planes to attack enemy warships or munitions supply depots. Japanese classmates of mine knew the desperate situation of the Japanese military perfectly well, none would dare to talk about it.

  10. BM 10

    The Japanese back then were no different in their fanaticism. to what ISIS is today.

    When a mass of individuals want nothing more than to die in the duty of their god or emperor then extreme measures are required to clear the heads of the people who are so keen to sacrifice their lives.

    In this case a couple of nukes served that purpose.

    • Colonial Rawshark 10.1

      You throw away tens of thousands of civilian lives too easily.

    • freedom 10.2

      Just cannot help yourself can you BM

      All I will say is I recommend that one day you make a trip to the Hiroshima Peace Museum.
      On that trip I suggest you take with you a small card.
      On that card have the words you just wrote, printed clearly.

      Read them to yourself as you walk around the exhibits.
      I say read them to yourself because I can assure you, as you stand there, you will be unable to read them aloud to anyone else.

      Stand in front of the bones, the photos, the broken stone and read your words.

      • the pigman 10.2.1

        What wonderful advice – perhaps it could be applied to everyone in this thread.

        The ability of otherwise compassionate people above to coldly rationalize a civilian atrocity, a genocidal act of mass-murder, is absolutely fucking chilling.

      • Thinkerr 10.2.2

        I wondered if there would be someone else who’d visited the Hiroshima museum making comment here. It sure is as sobering a place as you describe, Freedom, although it isn’t ‘angry’ or ‘depressive’ in the way it presents things. Just factual.

        The biggest impact for me was a piece of concrete (road?) with the shadow of a civilian human being. The blast created intense light, so as it vaporized the person, whose only war crime was to have been standing on that road, at that time, it left a permanent memorial to them in the form of their shadow on the concrete. You can find similar pictures on the internet, but seeing it for yourself is something different.

        That said, the bombing of places like Hamburg, where the whole town became a giant furnace, wouldn’t have been any less catastrophic, despite the use of ‘old technology’.

        The Hiroshima museum certainly had its intended effect on me, which is to emphasise the horror of war and the true value of peace. The bombs they dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are nothing compared to the devastation that today’s technology could wreak.

        • freedom 10.2.2.1

          “You can find similar pictures on the internet, but seeing it for yourself is something different.”
          It is such a simple and familiar phrase Thinkerr, but securely embodies the truth of the matter.

          I will never forget how the intimacy of the space disarms you before being exposed to the magnitude of its impact. The unspoken emotional communion between strangers was a deafening chorus binding us all together. The simple need by almost all who were walking through the spaces, to take moments of solitude outside, before re-entering. To once again confront another exhibit and build a memory that will never slip away. Photographs on the internet just can’t recreate that. I wish they could.

          The day I visited, was an experience intensified by the tens of thousands of weeping people filling the courtyard outside.
          The day I visited, was on the 40th Anniversary of the destruction of Hiroshima.
          The day I visited, I saw for the first time in my life, selfless respect for the fallen of war.

          • Thinkerr 10.2.2.1.1

            I read in Wikipedia that they did a comprehensive upgrade of the museum in the early 90s.

            I went in 2007, so our experiences would be somewhat different.

            From memory, when I went, you go into the first hall and see relics of the devastation. Then you go into a second hall, which is largely made-up models and dioramas showing the aftermath. Despite what you might think, this was the most shocking of the two halls (for me). Especially two semi-identical tables, one being a model of the city a second before the bomb, the other being a flattened, literally scorched-earth landscape an instant after the bomb dropped. People who survived the blast (inside its ‘zone’) suffered lack of food and water, death from radiation at varying rates, depending on one’s exposure – or watching loved ones dying around them – and the river was full of people trying to stop the burning (compare it to a scaled-up intense sunburn, all over).

            Soon after the bomb, things like broken gas and water mains created secondary crises that lasted for ages.

            When you come out of a museum thinking that the people who were vaporized may have been spared the worst of the suffering, it leaves you with a different mindset.

            What I liked about Hiroshima, though, is how they rebuilt the city. Trams, for example, run on tracks that are bound by a path built from the rubble. They did a very good job of rebuilding in a way that serves to remind anyone who visits of what happened there, without being ‘in your face’ about it.

    • Bill 10.3

      Going to repeat a snippet from above.

      If the bombs were a message to Moscow, then the bombs were an act of terrorism. -end-

      • BM 10.3.1

        That wasn’t the main reason though.

        The main reason was to show the Japanese that they had no other option but surrender.

        • mickysavage 10.3.1.1

          But they had no option but to surrender. Do you think the loss of all those innocent lives was justified?

          • BM 10.3.1.1.1

            The only way the Japanese would have surrendered is if the Americans invaded Japan and beat them on home soil.

            Going on what I’ve read and seen that would have been an utter blood bath for both sides.

            • In Vino 10.3.1.1.1.1

              The Allies could have simply starved Japan out: they had total air superiority, and Japan could not produce enough food for itself. But then there was the prospect of the huge Red Army of Russia arriving…

              • dukeofurl

                This has worked where ?

                Didnt work for Siege of Leningrad

                • In Vino

                  Leningrad had hope because Russia was not defeated. The Russians relieved Leningrad before the siege issue was settled. Had the Nazis forced the surrender of the Red Army, would Leningrad still have held out? In 1945 that is the position Japan as a country was in – no possible hope of relief. Sieges have successfully forced surrender on many occasions. But since you ask – Singapore.
                  The Russian encroachment was the other factor: the longer the war was prolonged, the more territory the Russians would have legitimately devoured – maybe Japan itself. I think I remember reading that the Russians would have been ready to launch an invasion of Japan long before the Americans would have managed via the seas. Stalin was ruthless, and the Red Army were by now probably the toughest (if not the best equipped) in the world.
                  So the USA had double good reasons for wanting the war ended quickly. I personally think that the Hiroshima bomb should have been exploded at an unpopulated site visible to both Japan and Russia. The Nagasaki bomb may well still have had to be used on a city- but who knows? I agree with those who say that it is very easy to moralise with 20-20 hindsight.

            • Macro 10.3.1.1.1.2

              No it wasn’t – Japan had already made overtures to surrender in Jan 1945 – with much the same terms as were finally agreed.
              The whole debacle could have been ended much earlier if the States had wished it.

              • dukeofurl

                That would be interesting if it was true.

                We all know that Hilter was interested in peace early on with Britain – after most of Europe was under his thumb and allow him a free hand with Soviet Union.
                However it was correct to reject that even when the path to victory for Britain wasnt obvious or even certain.

                This review of what Japan was saying to Soviet Union and what they were saying amongst themselves is interesting

                http://www.quora.com/Did-the-Japanese-government-offer-to-surrender-before-an-atomic-bomb-was-dropped-on-them-in-WWII

                “It is a striking illustration of the self-delusion of the Japanese leaders and how far they were from pursuing peace.”

        • Bill 10.3.1.2

          While publicly stating their intent to fight on to the bitter end, Japan’s leaders (the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War, also known as the “Big Six”) were privately making entreaties to the neutral Soviet Union to mediate peace on terms more favorable to the Japanese.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrender_of_Japan

          So. Conditional surrender. It was right there.

          • dukeofurl 10.3.1.2.1

            Not really, same sort of ‘peace feelers’ were being talked about in Hitler’s inner circle. Goebbels certainly raised it with Hitler but only a ‘peace’ with western allies not Soviet Union.

            Italy did sign an armistice ( after deposing Mussolini) but it was a lot more than just internal discussions.

            • Stuart Munro 10.3.1.2.1.1

              Japan wasn’t quite a master of European style diplomacy – the indirectness that marks politeness in Asian culture would have easily been misunderstood by non-Asian diplomats.

          • dukeofurl 10.3.1.2.2

            Just found the translated telegrams between Foreign Ministry in Tokyo and Ambassador in Moscow.

            The comments given are :
            “It is a striking illustration of the self-delusion of the Japanese leaders and how far they were from pursuing peace.”

            http://nuclearfiles.org/menu/library/correspondence/togo-sato/corr_togo-sato.htm

            In fact the Russians made it clear:
            “”By order of the Government of the USSR, I have the honor to call your attention to the fact that the Imperial views stated in the message of the Emperor of Japan are general in form and contain no concrete proposal. The mission of Prince Konoye, special envoy, is also not clear to the Government of the USSR”

            The japanese ambassador in Moscow seems pretty clear how hopeless the situation is ( he would getting his military information from the Russians)

            • the pigman 10.3.1.2.2.1

              Stuart has made the same point above, but the fact that the Russians were left confused is evidence of nothing.

              I work at a large Japanese company in Tokyo, and decision-making/internal approval processes are invariably vague, take a very long time, and occur by committee. While people understand Japan to be deeply hierarchical, the irony is that most decisions and initiative is usually drawn out from below, rather than coming from above.

              • dukeofurl

                That the russians did nothing about the peace feelers from Japan , changes everything.
                Obviously they had their own military designs in the area – some of the northern islands, korea etc so they werent acting as true neutral party like Sweden would have.

                I dont think you understand the result of working through a non interested third party. There are no negotiations fullstop.

                How could the allies fighting Japan ( Russia was neutral) even know of any peace feelers from Japan.

                What we know now is NOT what they knew then.

    • Bastables 10.4

      Right-winger (BM) exhibits racism and hatred during a topic discussing the mass killing of civilians, how sadly, horrifically, trite, and expected.

      • Heather Grimwood 10.4.1

        I too have been saddened, …shocked really…at some racist comments above ( albeit in context in what was towards a previous ‘enemy’), and before you dismiss me as a wimp, I was as a child reared in a schoolroom whose world map had pins stuck in to show where NZ troops ( some brothers of classmates) were in action, but a home where we had shortwave propaganda broadcasts from Italy etc explained to us as were the driving reasons behind WW2 both in west and east.
        As well , there was considerable mourning and also concern for POW’s.
        There is no excuse for fighting but in defence. To arm beyond that need, indicates underlying aggressiveness and mistrust.
        What happened in Japan seventy years ago is certainly not to be celebrated but remembered sombrely.

    • Macro 10.5

      If what you say BM wasn’t such a load of bullshit, it would be offensive.

    • Stuart Munro 10.6

      They were not fanatics.

      There was an attempted coup by a group that didn’t want to surrender – they were talked out of it.

      Fanatics are not persuadable.

  11. joe90 11

    This.


    Rank:Warrant Officer

    Service No:*******
    Date of Death:09/06/1945
    Age:25

    Regiment/Service:Royal New Zealand Air Force

    Grave Reference:

    5. **.

    Cemetery:

    BOURAIL NEW ZEALAND WAR CEMETERY

    Additional Information:Son of Benjamin and Ruth Amy ********, of *********, ********, New Zealand.

    • RedLogix 11.1

      War has compelling stories from all sides joe.

      Afterwards we can see madness and horror. But in the middle of it – we see only sacrifice, heroism, brutal necessity and grief.

      Of course the atrocities were avoidable. Just as war itself is the most avoidable of all horrors.

  12. Dont worry. Be happy 12

    This thread has so much inhumanity it will be a long long time until I return if ever.

    • greywarshark 12.1

      Don’t ….
      Your comment does not match your pseudonym. We are worrying, unlike yourself. There is an attempt here to discuss what went on in a fitting way, asking questions from which answers might come as to how to stop it happening again. This is how humans learn, to be curious, research, discuss and hopefully avoid a repeat.

  13. Dale 13

    If it didn’t happen then and happened 10 or 20 year’s later we wouldn’t be here now. Climate change is nothing compared to nuclear weapons.

  14. Molly 14

    Gar Alperovitz has a good article on the bombing of Hiroshima: The war was won before Hiroshima – and the Generals who dropped the bomb knew it.

    It is followed by an excerpt from the Susan Southard book: Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War.

    A reminder that most civilians are people involuntarily swept up in war.

    Not the stripped of humanity and consideration numerical values that the terms “collateral damage” and “preemptive strikes” make them out to be.

    • dukeofurl 14.1

      That is speculation. For those that say the war was won, they could point to Italy who deposed Mussolini and signed an armistice.
      While those who said it wasnt could point to Germany and Hitler who required the fighting to continue until the capital was occupied and the leader dead.

      Goebbels and others wanted to put out peace feelers to the western allies only, but that these peace initiatives were considered ( but not really taken to a high level like Italy did) doesnt mean they would have meant peace.

      • Molly 14.1.1

        I have a perspective that most of looking back is revisionist.

        However, Gar Alpervotiz does quote some contemporary military leaders of the time, and puts necessary questions in place. But we do have a narrative from the war that has been given to us in the 70 years since, and it is difficult to sort out the truth after all this time.

        Even our current involvement in Iraq has no clear intent or purpose, and we live in a technological age of supposed information overload.

        Involvement in any kind of action that results in the death of so many civilians – whether “justified” or not, should result in a national discussion on how a repeat can be avoided. Victors never have that discussion, the only consideration perhaps is: should we have dropped it sooner?

    • greywarshark 14.2

      I googled the question – Who gave orders to use atomic bombs on Japan and this link shows the signed copy which had been approved by President Truman and Secretary of War Stimson , drafted by General Groves and sent out by Acting Chief of Staff General Handy.
      http://www.dannen.com/decision/handy.html

      This article has extensive extracts about prominent forces leaders and political as well and what they thought about dropping the bombs.
      http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-real-reason-america-used-nuclear-weapons-against-japan-it-was-not-to-end-the-war-or-save-lives/5308192

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_War#World_War_II
      The USA defence force was not cohesively managed “the whole Department of War poorly geared toward directing the Army in a global war….President Roosevelt brought in Henry L. Stimson as secretary of war; after Pearl Harbor,,, under the War Powers Act of 1941 [he consulted with Chief of Staff General Marshall and] divided the Army of the United States into three autonomous components to conduct the operations of the War Department:…By 1942, the Army Air Forces gained virtual independence in every way from the rest of the Army.” This may have been negative to effective strategic decision making.

      This article by The Atlantic appears to be comprehensive in reporting the discussions, meetings and decisions leading up to the dropping of bombs.
      http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/08/hiroshima-nagasaki-atomic-bomb-anniversary/400448/
      There were two committees, one the Target Committee which was very science based and objective about the target cities to be chosen, the outcomes, the destruction, the body count.
      Then a second one, the Interim Committee. “Another high-powered group ran in parallel with the Target Committee: the Interim Committee of top officials convened by Secretary of War Henry Stimson to advise the president on the future of nuclear power for military and civilian use.”

      The decision-making was fragmented. All people were not at all the meetings. Some were afraid of the outcomes but didn’t strongly reject the considerations. Others saw the matter in a visionary, new move to the future, others pragmatically, others as adding to their political mana.

      The summary of the discussions and the participants:
      With the exception of Stimson [Secretary of War] on Kyoto—which was essentially an aesthetic objection—not one of the committee men raised the ethical, moral, or religious case against the use of an atomic bomb without warning on an undefended city. The businesslike tone, the strict adherence to form, the cool pragmatism, did not admit humanitarian arguments, however vibrantly they lived in the minds and diaries of several of the men present.

      Total war had debased everyone involved. While older men, such as [General] Marshall and Stimson, shared a fading nostalgia for a bygone age of moral clarity, when soldiers fought soldiers in open combat and spared civilians, they now faced “a newer [morality] that stressed virtually total war,” observed the historian Barton J. Bernstein. …
      [Stimson:] America, he believed, was losing its moral compass just as it might be about to claim military supremacy over the world. The dawn of the atomic era called for a deeper human response, he believed, energized by a spirit of cooperation and compassion. He did not act on his compulsion, but dwelt long on the atomic question—and the question in Stimson’s troubled mind was not “Will this weapon kill civilians?” but rather, if we continue on this course, “Will any civilians remain?”
      He poured much of his anxiety into his diary.
      Officially, Stimson seemed contradictory and muddled.

      • dukeofurl 14.2.1

        Lets be real about the ‘undefended city, Nagasaki’

        “Inside the Mitsubishi Ohashi weapons factory, Do-oh had been wiping perspiration from her face and concentrating on her work when PAAAAAHT TO! — an enormous blue-white flash of light burst into the building, followed by an earsplitting explosion. Thinking a torpedo had detonated inside the Mitsubishi plant, Do-oh threw herself onto the ground and covered her head with her arms just as the factory came crashing down on top of her.”

        “Nagano was standing inside the school gymnasium-turned-airplane-parts factory, protected to some degree by distance and the wooded mountains that stood between her and the bomb. “A light flashed — pi-KAAAAH!” she remembered. Nagano, too, thought a bomb had hit her building. She fell to the ground, covering her ears and eyes with her thumbs and fingers according to her training as windows crashed in all around her. She could hear pieces of tin and broken roof tiles swirling and colliding in the air outside.”

        Susan Southard’s first book, Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War (Viking Books)
        http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176032/

  15. Jack 15

    My grandfather was killed 70 years ago fighting Hitler. My grandmother lost her young husband and my mother lost her father.

    Today you judge the actions of the Allies with the benefit of hindsight. The Allies did not have the luxury of seeing into the future. The Allies did the best they could to survive and save our people. Without those Americans (that you love to hate so much) fighting the Japanese Army in the Pacific the Japanese would have made their way to NZ and brutally attacked New Zealand. After six years of war the Allies were exhausted, Europe was in ruins, its population starving, diseased and homeless. One enemy only wanted to fight on and continue this destruction. To defeat this enemy the Allies would have lost even more of our men (fathers, husbands, sons and brothers). The war had to be stopped.

    My great uncles fought the Japanese in the Pacific. The WW11 Japanese soldier bears no resemblance to the peaceful modern Japanese citizen today. One great uncle passed through a village right after the Japanese came through. The villagers had been mutilated beyond all recognition – children included.

    While what the Allies did to stop the Japanese may be brutal by today’s standards it was done to save more losses from the Allied population in the quickest way possible.

    So when you judge the past from your comfortable chair you are judging people that did the best they could at a truly terrible and destructive time in history. You insult every old Allied soldier who fought and died to save us. Without those hated Americans many of you would not be here today to make these judgements.

    To you pacifists out there I am interested in one question. What does a pacifist do when their country is invaded? Do you resist to try to save your family? Or do you surrender and let the invaders murder/rape your children, partners or parents because you don’t believe in war? Because in WWII that is exactly what the enemy did, rape and murder.

    • greywarshark 15.1

      Jack
      It is so simplistic to put the USA on a pedestal as angels. At all times in WW2 they were making decisions that would be best for USA interests. It is just fortunate that they were in line with ours at that time. Try reading some of the items and links we have amassed here to refresh your memory and learn the facts of the past, as I have just done.

      And my father died fighting Hitler too, he is buried, or bits of him, in France. At least he died fighting, an honourable death. Some of the guys working for the Japanese drowned themselves in the latrines. Some of the concentration camp workers for the Germans also did so, or ran at the electric fence and shocked themselves to death. We sure don’t want it to happen again. By that I mean, the viciousness of humans unleashed in war. But it has. And war has been started by the USA but they can’t finish it peacefully. Best to be wary of all armies and weapons users.

    • dukeofurl 15.2

      Exactly , the hindsight bus seems to never run out of room for new passengers.

      Some people say what was done to Japan was horrible but they would have been far worse if Japan ( or Germany) had won.

      The unconditional surrender conditions were confirmed at Potsdam by the countries fighting Japan. America, UK(+ Commonwealth) AND CHINA.

      But the Japanese knew the unconditional surrender was unmovable but they the Americans had said if they surrendered FIRST the follow on situation was more flexible – and indeed happened with retaining the Emperor ( Im baffled they didnt depose him in favour of his son, (b 1933) but I suppose he made a good impression with McArthur)

    • Macro 15.3

      If you have not seen this film I strongly recommend you do:
      “The Railwayman” A true story. “A former British Army officer, who was tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labor camp during World War II, discovers that the man responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and sets out to confront him.”
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2058107/

    • Ad 15.4

      Anyone can write a history when they were victorious.

      None of your logic would work if it was the US and UK in the dock at Neurenburg.

      Why not address the post of nuclear weapons being used, rather than a light straw man of pacifism?

    • Thinkerr 15.5

      Jack,

      Not everyone sees the world in terms of Hawks and Doves, Warmongers and Pacifists.

      Many lives were lost in wars. By and large, though, those who serve and return are passionate about not ever wanting to see another war, or for their descendants to have to.

      That’s what the best of the comments here are saying. Not that those who served shouldn’t be respected for their honour and bravery, of course they should, but far better for all of us to keep in mind that war itself is a terrible thing and not to be held up on a pedestal in its own right.

      At home, we have a diary transcript from one of our family, now deceased, who served in the islands during ww2. We also have a copy of a translated transcript of a diary taken from a Japanese soldier from the same battle. It’s sobering to see that both didn’t really want to be there, both shared similar fears. No doubt, both would have preferred to have been doing other things with their lives than risking them in battle.

      And that’s what we need to remember on days like Hiroshima Day.

  16. ropata 16

    Salon.com: The indefensible Hiroshima revisionism that haunts America to this day
    Seventy years ago this week we vaporized 250,000 civilians, and yet still view the bombings as an act of mercy

    Here we are, 70 years after the nuclear obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I’m wondering if we’ve come even one step closer to a moral reckoning with our status as the world’s only country to use atomic weapons to slaughter human beings. Will an American president ever offer a formal apology? Will our country ever regret the dropping of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” those two bombs that burned hotter than the sun? Will it absorb the way they instantly vaporized thousands of victims, incinerated tens of thousands more, and created unimaginably powerful shockwaves and firestorms that ravaged everything for miles beyond ground zero? Will it finally come to grips with the “black rain” that spread radiation and killed even more people — slowly and painfully — leading in the end to a death toll for the two cities conservatively estimated at more than 250,000?

    Given the last seven decades of perpetual militarization and nuclear “modernization” in this country, the answer may seem like an obvious no.

    some of America’s best-known World War II military commanders opposed using atomic weaponry. In fact, six of the seven five-star generals and admirals of that time believed that there was no reason to use them, that the Japanese were already defeated, knew it, and were likely to surrender before any American invasion could be launched. Several, like Admiral William Leahy and General Dwight Eisenhower, also had moral objections to the weapon. Leahy considered the atomic bombing of Japan “barbarous” and a violation of “every Christian ethic I have ever heard of and all of the known laws of war.”

    Truman did not seriously consult with military commanders who had objections to using the bomb.

    Merciful? Consider just this: the number of civilians killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone was more than twice the number of American troops killed during the entire Pacific war.

    • the pigman 16.1

      Great article, Ropata.

      My sense, and it seems to have been vindicated in this thread, is that the stalwarts of the American military orthodoxy are predominantly older, and cling to Japanese war crimes and treatment of POWs (probably not a criticism NZers can make since a) the massacre of Japanese POWs at the Featherston internment camp in Aotearoa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Featherston_prisoner_of_war_camp) and b) the fact that the Japanese didn’t have the food to feed their own people, let alone POWs) to justify treating Japanese civilians with the barbarism of atomic inferno.

      Either way, people seem to have difficulty separating the Japanese military establishment from civilians: men, women and children that the Allies deliberately disintegrated on 6 and 9 August.

    • greywarshark 16.2

      Thanks for adding to my comment ropata. It is timely to look closer at what happened on August 6th in Japan and good to put more details into the post. I didn’t know much about the background so have had my eyes opened. It makes me feel like crying, useless tears, because everywhere the civilians, the people, are virtually held hostage by the decisions of their leaders and have to bear the brunt of retaliation or invading attack once actions commence.

      And somewhere in the discussion about the nuclear bombing which I think is in my links is the vital point – that the bombings in Japan were recognised as an immediate threat to Russia, and constituted the start of the Cold War. They felt it necessary to develop their own nuclear bombs, and quite reasonably when looking at the insanity of using them in Japan. They must have considered they were facing a belligerent mad country in the USA that knew no limits.

      My link to The Atlantic report shows the absence of thorough discussion about this matter. People on the Interim Committee lacked the strength of will and vision and judgment to see the deadly destructive outcomes beyond the original one clearly. Yet it was not beyond the bounds of intelligence to see the inevitable effects on the world and particularly that it carried a message to the politically sensitive Russians and their European neighbours. It has led to Israel gaining one and setting itself up as a democratic military dictatorship creating an unstable hostile hot spot in the Middle East.

      And given Tom Lehrer a savagely ironic song about World War Three, I think he sings we will all go together when we go.

      • ropata 16.2.1

        +1
        I was shit scared of nukes when i learned about them in school in 1980, the doomsday clock is still close to midnight.

        • greywarshark 16.2.1.1

          @Ropata
          Raymond Briggs Where the Wind Blows is very poignant. I learned about him from this blog. He drew graphic comics that illustrated the likely nuclear experience of a mild-mannered couple who are believers in the Brit government and that the high-ups will always help and can fix the problems.

          The book follows the story of the Bloggses, characters previously seen in the book Gentleman Jim. One afternoon the couple hears a message on the radio about an “outbreak of hostilities” in three days’ time. Jim immediately starts construction of a fallout shelter (according to a protect and survive brochure), while the two reminisce about the Second World War.

          Their reminiscences are used both for comic effect and to show how the geopolitical situation has changed, but also how nostalgia has blotted out the horrors of war. A constant theme is Jim’s optimistic outlook and his unshakeable belief that the government knows what’s best and that it has the situation under full control, coupled with Hilda’s attempts to carry on life as normal.

    • dukeofurl 16.3

      The number of Japanese civilians who died on Okinawa ( which the US had to invade the old fashioned way) was nearly 150,000, so we can make a very good assumption that it could be millions who would have died if Japan home islands were invaded. On top of that there were over 4 million Japanese soldiers on the home islands and maybe 1 million dead if an invasion went ahead.

      For a comparison with Hiroshima and Nagasaki , total deaths on Okinawa were around 250,000. This includes mass suicides of locals rather than surrender.

      This was the reality of a possible invasion. War kills a lot of people, shortening it saves lives.

      The real problem of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the wrong lesson was learned. The nuclear arms race that followed and the testing and production of bombs from the massive scale down to ones that could be fired from a jeep indicated the military thought that a WAR WAS WINNABLE with nuclear weapons.
      The lesson of Hiroshima is that it isnt winnable, but the particular circumstances at the time did mean the war was ended ‘early’

    • dukeofurl 16.4

      So we ignore the millions killed in China due to the Japanese war ?

      AS for the top Generals and Admirals, some didnt even think the atomic bomb would work ( King)

      Its not necessary to include the top commanders, since Japan wasnt Eisenhower’s job, so in a sense he wouldnt have any say.

      Nimitiz, Halsey, McArthur and Arnold with Le May were the people who should be consulted

      MacArthur seems to be on the fence, and later refers to the retention of the Emperor which of course he decided after the surrender.

      The Emperor decided on the surrender, a failed military coup tried to prevent the pre-recorded message being broadcast. Without the bomb I cant see the deadlock in Japan being broken until after an invasion.

      The practicalities of the US military machine meant that Japan had to surrender to stop it in ists tracks. Talking about a ‘peace’ with the Russians who wen’t interested anyway wasnt going to do it.

      Waiting for a collapse was just hindsight and in light of the German situation where the fighting continued right up to the bunker in Berlin, meant this too is wishful thinking.
      So was starving the Japanese out to be more humane ?

      Even with two atomic bombs, they could have continued if the military coup succeeded-

  17. Stuart Munro 17

    One of the problems of not condemning the bombs is that broadly speaking the use of any bombs on any civilian populations is improper. Picasso got it with Guernica, these are not the enlightened modern societal norms we are looking for.

    Bombs are the ultimate corporate product – sold en masse to governments with limited competition – failure happens at a great enough distance to be hard to measure, and the working life of a bomb is a whole lot shorter than that of a car or washing machine. So sales. This is the reason for their ubiquity, not their military value.

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