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65 Years After Hiroshima: Truman’s Choices

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Posted on Aug 6, 2010
AP / U.S. Air Force

Two people walk a cleared path through Hiroshima in September 1945, weeks after the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Aug. 6.

By Stanley Kutler

“Stuff happens,” Donald Rumsfeld infamously said to explain why some of his plans in Iraq went awry. But it does not just happen by chance—rather, stuff happens because of conscious, deliberately executed decisions. And sometimes it happens when a decision is made by doing nothing.

The personalities, the interests and the considerations that propelled the United States’ decision to use the atomic bomb in August 1945 are parts of an interlocking puzzle. The historical reconstruction of events reveals a seemingly inexorable decision to use the weapon. We had made a bomb and successfully tested it in July, and the scientists, generals, politicians and civilians caught up in events readily supplied the accelerating momentum to a decision: “We must use it.” That inexorable force in fact found no resistance among civilian decision-makers anxious to justify the expenditures of unprecedented sums of money to develop a weapon designed to end the war.

The historical narrative of the decision to use the bomb largely derives from the recollections and rationales of President Harry Truman and his civilian and military advisers. For them, the stark choice came down to drop the bomb or sustain a “million” American casualties (with apparently no effort to consider and realize the potential for Japanese civilian casualties) if the planned invasion had been launched. A small number of scientists raised ethical and moral considerations, but their influence was of no immediate consequence. 

President Truman fashioned himself as a decisive man who easily and readily made the decision. “It isn’t polls or public opinion of the moment that counts,” he said in 1954. “It is right and wrong and leadership—men with fortitude, honesty, and a belief in the right that makes epochs in the history of the world.” So Truman described himself and conducted himself as president, and it is how he has generally been perceived.

Later, at his presidential library in Independence, Mo., the president conducted mock press conferences with tour groups, largely composed of schoolchildren, as long as his heath permitted. Invariably, visitors would ask, “Mr. President, what was your hardest decision?” With no hesitation, he barked back, “Korea.” “But Mr. President, what about the atomic bomb?” “Atomic bomb? I used it like I would have used any artillery piece.” Truman’s defensiveness was palpable.

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Were his options so simple, so limited, so stark, and as obvious as he said? Truman learned of the bomb when aides informed him of the successful atomic explosion at Alamogordo, N.M., on July 18. The president and Secretary of War Henry Stimson, who oversaw the wartime Manhattan Project, soon agreed that the bomb would be used against Japan.

Nevertheless, Truman recorded his doubts, his hesitation and his alternatives, at least before Alamogordo. One day earlier, he wrote in his diary: “I have to decide Japanese strategy—shall we invade Japan proper or shall we bomb and blockade? That is my hardest decision to date. But I’ll make it when I have all the facts.” The successful test raised a wholly new fact.

We now realize how effectively the aerial bombardment and naval blockade had thwarted the Japanese military capacity. But did—or could—Truman have all the statistical evidence compiled since the end of the war? The claims of triumphant American air and naval commanders offered some clear signs. So, what happened to the option Truman had in mind until Alamogordo? Did the successful test of that day erase the more complicated options he had laid out the day before? Apparently.

Gen. Curtis LeMay was well into his career of bombing civilians back to the Stone Age. The Air Force was not yet independent, but as the war neared its end, concepts of strategic bombing accelerated, resulting in the creation of the U.S. Strategic Air Force in the Pacific, with LeMay in command. B-29 firebombing raids, pushed by LeMay, decimated industrial production, with more than 60 cities largely destroyed. The infamous Tokyo fire raids in March killed more than 100,000 Japanese. Additionally, “Operation Starvation” laid down explosive mines in the inland waterways and coastal routes, effectively disrupting Japanese internal shipping.

Japan lost nearly all of the 117,000 troops defending Okinawa in June; after that, kamikaze attacks on American naval vessels abated. American submarines effectively halted all shipping of men and supplies from the remaining Japanese garrisons in Manchuria and Formosa. We had “collateral damage,” as thousands of American POWs were killed in the attacks on Japanese shipping. After the Battle of the Philippine Sea in 1944, the once-formidable Japanese fleet was no more, except for some vessels tethered in home ports. War planners realized the diminished Japanese military and industrial capacity they faced; yet, they persisted in a belief that Japanese civilians would fanatically resist and die for their emperor (“120 million hearts beating as one”), while we would suffer estimated casualties of 1 million. (John Ray Skates in his book “Invasion of Japan” details the invasion plans while recognizing the complete devastation of Japan.)

The aerial assault and the naval blockade kept the Pacific commanders busy, of course. But civilian and military planners simultaneously made final tweaks on the elaborate plans for “Operation Downfall,” the planned invasion of Japan. Those plans, of course, were put on hold, and ultimately shelved altogether.

Discussions of the dropping of the bomb rarely raise the effects and potential of the bombing and naval blockade. Were they sufficient? Would they have brought Japan to surrender? When? Did those advocating such alternatives have any voice in the bureaucratic policy considerations? Unfortunately, this is a typical kind of decision-making process that history usually ignores or obscures.

Determining the evaporation of the choice for maintaining the blockade and conventional bombing to break the Japanese will is an elusive problem. Today, it is common wisdom that Truman had only two simple, stark choices: to use the bomb or invade and suffer a “million” casualties. The options of naval blockade and “conventional” bombing quickly dissolved, and over time they have disappeared. Drift and inertia account in part for some of the flow of events as the decision to use the bomb took on a force of its own, with the tragic results of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Stanley Kutler is the author of the “Wars of Watergate” and other writings.


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By robert hand, August 25, 2010 at 5:12 am Link to this comment

Early Feb 1945, Walter Trohan was shown a memorandum drafted by MacArthur outlining a Japanese offer for surrender almost identical with the terms subsequently concluded by Truman. The single difference was the Japanese insistence then on retention of the emperor, which was not acceptable to the American strategists at the time, though it was ultimately allowed in the final peace terms.

Very odd that what was unacceptable earlier, no emperor, was perfectly acceptable on the actual surrender. The delay cost not just avoidable America WASTED deaths at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, but later the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War, the DEATHS in the Korean and Vietnam Wars? Just to test the BOMB?

Was it not the elephant in the room - Russia’s entry into the war and another Soviet wipeout and victory as in Europe - that was the main [hidden]
reason/purpose behind US strategy, if it could be
called that! Did the bomb stop Soviet occupation of half of Japan?!

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By ofersince72, August 14, 2010 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment

Scheer, you and your buddies helped create ARIZONA

who are you trying to kid???

Report this

By ofersince72, August 14, 2010 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

Up there in your Ivory Towers, watching and supporting

our government kill and murder all over the world for

finance overseers that really pull the strings all

around the world, that don’t really want to see any

peace anywhere, including a settlement for the Palistinians.
Bunch of phoney creeps with journalism degrees.
No it isn’t me that is the creep , asshole.

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By ofersince72, August 14, 2010 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

And that goes for you too Rachael Maddow and
Keith Olberman, your as bad as your FOX counterparts
ever were.

  OUR WHOLE INFORMATION SYSTEM HAS SUCKED AND LIED
AND DISTORTED, AND TURNED AMERICANS INTO BLITHERING
IDIOTS FOR FORTY YEARS.

Report this

By ofersince72, August 14, 2010 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

You mainstream journalists , the ones that DO have
access to the public, are a bunch of sick ass human
beings, with Ivy sheepskins, lofty manner, preserving
the power for ones that have stepped on, trounced, stolen,
puked on, taken rights away, trashed the constitution,
and turned this country into the laughing stock, killing
machine that it is.

Write your little stories that touch on nothing, just
enough to make the dumnass public believe you really care.

Report this

By grandpaw, August 11, 2010 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment

Conjecture?  Your entire post is an exercise in conjecture.

I think you have the GMC syndrome; just look at the short term.  If some nation today were to use a nuclear bomb, it would likely set off a nuclear arms race that would make the Indy 500 cars look like they were going backward. And it would make it quite easy for countries to justify using nuclear warfare against each other. We set off one nuclear bomb in Iraq and another in Afghanistan as you conjecture, the Muslim world would be quite justified in joining with Iran to become nuclear capable.  And I don’t think that the Afghans would think it was the right time to keep their nuclear arsenal in inactive status.

The world is not all of a sudden going to simply stop waging war.  But perhaps it is possible to slowly wean the world away from doing it quite so cavalierly as nations do now.  A good first stop is the one the people on the ground, as distinguished from those in fiction land, are trying to accomplish.  Discouraging that as you would do is the worst thing to do.

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By DaveZx3, August 11, 2010 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

By grandpaw, August 11 at 6:03 pm

“Would the Iraqi war and the Afghanistan war be worse if they involved the use of nuclear warfare?  I think few people would doubt that, although there seem to be two doubters here, Dave and GWH.

If conjecture is your bag, you can believe anything you want.  But regarding Iraq & Afghanistan, if one nuclear weapon was used, and it killed 50,000 people, but it stopped the hostilities forever, some would say that would be better than continuing to kill thousands per year forever, which seems to be the present situation.

Why can’t you see that the type of weapon used is not the measure of an atrocity, but the total number killed and the agony and pain they went through in dying.  A one day war with nukes is not automatically worse than a 10 year war without them. 

Your problem is that you are playing this game that infers that only nuclear weapons can cause extreme pain and agony and kill millions.  And your focus only on that particular method of war is really to focus on America’s development and use of these weapons as proof that America is the primary evil presence in the world.

If people, like Ofersince72 want to criticize the absurdities of war, they have to do it equally.  Bringing up the 15 year old boy imprisoned by America while not bringing up the eight year old boy executed by the Taliban for being a spy, is a disingenous method of blaming America for everything.

I don’t defend war or those who wage it.  But I am not going to be ignorant enough to blame it all on one culture, one religion, one nation, when the fact is that history shows us that atrocities of war have always been with us.  It is a condition of man that he must murder his fellow man, and so he does it regularly. 

And you want me to pick and choose a few to criticize, as though what?  What purpose does it serve to categorize and grade weapons and atrocities?  Does it make man get over his murderous condition?  It hasn’t yet.  The progressives have been on the case for decades, yet nothing has progressed regarding this condition.

We just keep on killing each other by any means possible.  But there are some, who for political reasons, like to categorize and judge the killing methods.

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By ofersince72, August 11, 2010 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

Here,  65 years later,  what it is…...

The Government of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

is taking a person to a MILITARY TRIBUNAL COURT,

that was 15 years old when they picked him up,  took

him to that torture chamber at the BIG HUGE airbase in

AFGHANISTAN ,  gagged him and tortured him into a

confession he has now idea of,  then trasferred him to

the other torture chamber at Guantanomo Bay , Cuba

where he has been a prisoner ever since.

and all the boy was trying to do is protect his mother
and his family for barbarian, foriegn aggressors.
THATS HOW FAR WE HAVE COME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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By grandpaw, August 11, 2010 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

Would the Iraqi war and the Afghanistan war be worse if they involved the use of nuclear warfare?  I think few people would doubt that, although there seem to be two doubters here, Dave and GWH.

From the Department of Energy:

“No one will ever know for certain how many died as a result of the attack on Hiroshima.  Some 70,000 people probably died as a result of initial blast, heat, and radiation effects.  This included about twenty American airmen being held as prisoners in the city.  By the end of 1945, because of the lingering effects of radioactive fallout and other after effects, the Hiroshima death toll was probably over 100,000.  The five-year death total may have reached or even exceeded 200,000, as cancer and other long-term effects took hold.”

“As with the estimates of deaths at Hiroshima, it will never be known for certain how many people died as a result of the atomic attack on Nagasaki.  The best estimate is 40,000 people died initially, with 60,000 more injured.  By January 1946, the number of deaths probably approached 70,000, with perhaps ultimately twice that number dead total within five years.  For those areas of Nagasaki affected by the explosion, the death rate was comparable to that at Hiroshima.”

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By grandpaw, August 11, 2010 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

Dave:  “I am trying to desperately understand why the Japanese massacres of 20 million Chinese in the 1930’s and 1940’s never received much criticism from folks like yourself.”

Dave, I have desperately scearched for criticism by you of the massacres in China, or in the Soviet Union.  I haven’t found a single one. 

Of course, your use of the word “desperate” is poppycock. 

Nor have I read any criticism by you of the murders that regularly take place in the United States and everywhere else.  Does that mean that you approve of them, or that you have no concern for such deaths?

Of course not.  To try to infer that is simply to be dishonest, just as it is dishonest for you to try to infer that I am not critical of the Chinese massacres.

For God’s sake, man, let’s hear it from you about the Chinese, Soviet Union, Rwandan, Armenian and other massacres, least someone like you take the absence of criticism from you as meaning you tacitly approve of them. 

In other words, you are being quite irrational and a bit hysterical.

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By DaveZx3, August 11, 2010 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

By grandpaw, August 10 at 10:27 pm

“Dave, I guess what you are saying is that it is just as bad to drop a bomb that kills a hundred people as it is to drop one that kills a hundred thousand people.  I doubt that the extra 99,900 people would agree with you, nor would their families.”

No, what I am saying is that is is just as evil to kill 100 people per day for 1000 days with a terrible death as it is to kill 100,000 people in one night with a terrible death.

I am trying to desperately understand why the Japanese massacres of 20 million Chinese in the 1930’s and 1940’s never received much criticism from folks like yourself. 

I am starting to believe it is because they did not kill them fast enough.  Apparently, if you take a break from your killing every couple of weeks, then the overall total of killing does not rise to the level of severe atrocity, compared to lets say that someone kills 1/10th that amount in just two weeks.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, August 11, 2010 at 9:50 am Link to this comment

By grandpaw, August 10 at 10:27 pm

“Dave, I guess what you are saying is that it is just as bad to drop a bomb that kills a hundred people as it is to drop one that kills a hundred thousand people.”


That’s just plain stupid.  Of course that’s not what he’s saying.  What he IS saying is that dropping a bomb that kills a hundred thousand people is no worse than killing a hundred thousand people by shoving them out a window.

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By grandpaw, August 10, 2010 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment

Dave, I guess what you are saying is that it is just as bad to drop a bomb that kills a hundred people as it is to drop one that kills a hundred thousand people.  I doubt that the extra 99,900 people would agree with you, nor would their families. 

It would be great to get rid of war altogether, but to pretend that it is a black or white matter with nothing in between is looney.  What that kind of approach leads to is nothing.  We can’t just look at this from an ivory tower.  We have to realize we are dealing with human nature and human nature most often changes quite slowly.

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By DaveZx3, August 10, 2010 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment

By grandpaw, August 9 at 10:53 pm

“If one keeps up with current events, he will know that just about all of the world considers nuclear warfare to be much worse than conventional warfare and something to be avoided at all costs”

Just about all of the world considers a lot of things, and most of them are wrong, and always have been.  If the world was trying to avoid war, they sure go about it in a weird way. 

To the observer, a nuclear weapon is really scary, but to the victim who is dead the next day, whether he was vaporized by a nuke or stabbed with a sword, it may or may not be a long painful death.  And once dead, the method seems pretty much a moot point. 

Armies have been able to kill tens of millions during revolutions and “convential” wars, it just takes a little longer.  But it is no less bloody, traumatic and atrocious.  Possibly even more so.

It is loony to categorize methods of destroying populations, as though some ways are more acceptable or less evil than others.  IF this is what the world thinks, then the world is loony.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, August 10, 2010 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

Grandpaw,

Thy name is obtuse.

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By grandpaw, August 9, 2010 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment

I think that very few people, including those engaged in combat, think that the rules of engagement should be left in the hands of individual soldiers who are engaged in the heat of battle.  A decision to kill a couple hundred thousand civilians, including women and children, should not be made in heat of combat or by a person whose buddy has just been killed.  It should not be made based on the emotions of the moment.

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By gerard, August 9, 2010 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

Dave Zx3:  I think “painting America as the most evil government ever to have existed and at fault for every bad thing which ever happened” occurs because Americans generally insist upon remaining unaware and unapologetic about their nation’s crimes.  This is part of American “exceptionalism” which has proven to be extremely annoying to foreigners.  At least that’s my take.

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By grandpaw, August 9, 2010 at 6:53 pm Link to this comment

If one keeps up with current events, he will know that just about all of the world considers nuclear warfare to be much worse than conventional warfare and something to be avoided at all costs. 

The reason is obvious and simple.  They don’t make landmines or any other conventional weapons that will kill hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people, with a single blow.  Nor to they make any conventional weapons the killing power of which goes on for many, many years.

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By gerard, August 9, 2010 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

Speaking of “those fighting in that campaign,” I can’t let this site go down without reminding people of the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team of Japanese-American soldiers in WWII who volunteered and fought in Europe to rescue the Los Battalion in 1944. Out of 3000, 200 were killed and 800 wounded.  They received 5 Presidential Citations.
  All this while fighting from tree to tree through fog and rain for days. Meantime, their family members back in the States were forced to live in isolated campsites, their homes and most of their land, and personal possessions stolen, given away or guarded by a few Anglo-Americans who had the courage to befriend them. They were American citizens.
  Outcast by this concentration-camp-like experience, many of these family members were deeply traumatized.  Years later the US government recognized its “mistake” by awarding them some small “compensation”—as I remember, $20,000—and that under noisy protest from some resentful whites..  Germans did not receive this outrageous ostracism at the time.  Many people still wonder why.  It appears to have been racial discrimination more than anythng else.
  So much for the sad woes of war hysteria.

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By DaveZx3, August 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment

I don’t understand the comments from those who believe that using the A bombs were so much more of an atrocity than other weapons.  I don’t find this differentiation of weaponry to be a very rational debate.

Is dying from the blast of an atomic weapon worse than dying from taking a direct hit with a conventional weapon?  Are the burns from an atomic weapon worse than the burns from napalm?  Is losing everything from the waist down from a landmine worse than the effects of radiataion sickness? Or how about being smashed against 50 bunji stakes, or being decapitated or buried alive.  Who is stupid enough to assign an atrocity factor to the ways you can die from war? 

Is it an atrocity when a civilian who works in the bomb factory gets killed, but not an atrocity when the young mad who gets drafted into the military gets killed?  Who assigns the atrocity factors to the various levels of civilian participation in the war effort?  Are the people who build the bombs for money and don’t wear a uniform innocent, but the ones who drop the bomb for money a with uniform on guilty?  Maybe the term “innocent civilians” is a little overused, because civilians who are not actively resisting the war are really not innocent. 

I think the nuclear weapon is objectionable mostly because it kills so fast, and also has a spectacular visual effect.  But again, is killing 20 million individuals over a period of a few years inherently less evil than killing 1/4 million in a few days?  Why is there not equal outcry against the Japanese atrocities against the Chinese? 

Are there categories of evil related to different weaponry when it comes to blasting people out of existence?  Would you feel better informing the surviving loved ones that their father or mother died from a 44 magnum shell to the head which splattered their brains for 10 yards, or that they were totally vaporized by the atomic blast?

If the allies had killed 500 a day for a year “conventionally”, would that have been less of an atrocity?  Or if China had used the A bomb on the Japanese to end the 200,000 a month deaths they were receiving at the hands of the Japanese, would that have been an atrocity?  Or if the US had used the A bomb on Germany to stop the Germans from annihilating the Jews, would that be an atrocity?  Who gets to determine what is atrocity and what is not atrocity? 

In my mind, all war and all deaths by war, each individual one, is its own atrocity.  But to discuss levels of atrocity, as though to die one way is inherently different or more evil than to die another way, is ridiculous. 

And to go on and on about who was for the bombing and who was against it, and why this general wanted to do this and that admiral wanted to do that, it is all ridiculous. 

Be honest, if Israel put a bomb into Iraq and killed 200,000 to end the threat of being destroyed themselves, it would be an atrocity to the left and a victory to the right.  If Iran put a bomb on Israel and killed the same amount for Israel’s past atrocities (so called) against the Palestinians, it would be a victory to the left and an atrocity to the right. 

So I think atrocity is in the eyes of the beholder, mostly the victim, but certainly the political bloggers who like to debate it forever, if only so as to be able to continue to attach blame to their political enemies. 

Which is another level of atrocity, if only observing the spectacle. Especially the constant efforts of the left to paint America as the most evil government ever to have existed and at fault for every bad thing which ever happened.

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By call me roy, August 9, 2010 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment

With all due respect Mr. Kutler, I understand your questions dealing with this famous moment in history. The only answer to your questions that I can give you is this: maybe the best answers would come from those Americans who were fighting at that time and in those places.
My father flew in the European campaign and then with Gen. Curtis LeMay in the Pacific campaign. Only one out of ten men lived to go to the Pacific campaign from those B-17’s. When asked if dropping the atomic bomb was the right thing to do, he didn’t need to express himself as an intellectual. He said: War is hell, they attacted us. Those thousands of American lives that lost their lives at Pearl Harbor didn’t give a damn if Hawaii was a stste. War is hell. It’s them against us. I vote for us. Anymore questions?

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By felicity, August 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment

grandpaw - Unless we have access to all that was said
in the discussions leading up to Hiroshima, we have no
way of knowing whether Marshall said (what I recently
read he did say.)

That said, and not referring to grandpaw’s post, can we
stop with the ad hominems already?  They only serve to
gum up the banter, take up space and lend an
unattractive puerilism to what’s been a fairly reasoned
and informative discussion.

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By pabbott, August 9, 2010 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

GW Hitler

The attack on Pearl Harbour is generally presented, in popular culture, as an unprovoked attack on the US that came completely out of the clear blue sky (forgive the pun).  As I’m sure you must be aware, it was far from that.  In fact, it wasn’t really, properly speaking, an attack on the US at all.  Hawaii, at the time, was basically a colony of the US, important as a military outpost - along with Midway, Guam, the Phillipines etc. - for strategic control of the Pacific (think of the string of US Army forts protecting commercial and civilian traffic along the Bozeman Trail, through Sioux Country, in the late 19th Century).  Japan, as an emerging imperial power, believed that the Western Pacific more properly belonged within its sphere of influence.  The attack on Pearl Harbour was Japan’s poorly thought-out final step in a diplomatic pressure game between the two countries over control of access to resources in this area.  American statesmen were well aware of the possiblilty of war, and were willing to risk it (and the lives of US citizens) for control of this area.  My basic point here is that in relation to the Western Pacific, Japan was no more and no less an imperial power than the US - both countries had an equal (that is to say non-existent) right to the area, and both were prepared to commit atrocities to impose their will.  Therefore, your attempt to draw a solid line between their evil and your good is as laughable and pathetic as your namesake’s (GW Bush that is) “either you’re with us or you’re against us” rhetoric. 

Furthermore, even if Japan was entirely to blame for the war with the US (and I agree that Japan’s leadership must take the lion’s share of the responsiblity) your analogy comparing the citizens of Japan to members of a criminal gang is flawed.  In terms of relative culpability for the actions of their leadership, the vast majority of the citizens of Japan stood in a qualitatively different position than the members of a criminal gang (as I’m sure you would be willing to admit regarding the victims of 9/11).  However, I’m not even sure what purpose it would serve to kill, say, all 100 members of a gang for a decision that was taken and carried out by a handful of them.

Your point about the role that emotion plays in these decisions is well-taken, though.  I would respond, however, that decisions taken in moments of grief and rage are generally poor ones.  For example, the decision to invade Iraq, while perhaps understandable, was stupid, and criminal.  Using your logic, the Bush administration and most of the US media portrayed the people of Iraq as members of the same criminal gang as the 19 hijackers, marking them for a justifiable death.  By (very) consevative estimates 120,000 Iraqi civilians have been murdered as a result. 

Does that make you feel better?

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By grandpaw, August 9, 2010 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

With respect to felicity’s post:

General Marshall did not argue in favor of using the atomic bomb.  He said it was up to the policy makers, and not the military, to decide that.

General Marshall never made a statement about the Japanese defending themselves to the last man standing.

After the policy decision was made to drop the bomb, General Marshall advised that it should be used as a tactical weapon rather than a strategic one as it was used.

General Marshall said that the decision to use the bomb should take into consideration what effect that would have on the future.

“The Secretary expressed the view, a view shared by General Marshall, that this project should not be considered simply in terms of military weapons, but as a new relationship of man to the universe. This discovery might be compared to the discoveries of the Copernican theory and of the laws of gravity, but far more important than these in its effect on the lives of men. While the advances in the field to date had been fostered by the needs of war, it was important to realize that the implications of the project went far beyond the needs of the present war. It must be controlled if possible to make it an assurance of future peace rather than a menace to civilization.”

“He asked Marshall about how the U.S.
might use the newly invented atomic bomb to end the war with Japan. Marshall felt that
whether or not to use the bomb was a political decision, not a military one and he felt that
the President, not a general, should decide.”

“But Marshall had been thinking about the atomic bomb. He didn’t press his ideas, probably because he felt this was more of a political matter than a military matter. Here are some of Marshall’s ideas, documented at the time:

  * The minutes from a May 29, 1945 meeting of Marshall with Sec. of War Stimson and Assistant Sec. of War McCloy note that “General Marshall said he thought these weapons [atomic bombs] might first be used against straight military objectives such as a large naval installation and then if no complete result was derived from the effect of that, he thought we ought to designate a number of large manufacturing areas from which the people would be warned to leave - telling the Japanese that we intended to destroy such centers. There would be no individual designations so that the Japs [sic] would not know exactly where we were to hit - a number should be named and the hit should follow shortly after. Every effort should be made to keep our record of warning clear. We must offset by such warning methods the opprobrium which might follow from an ill considered employment of such force.” (RG 107, Formerly Top Secret Correspondence of Sec. of War Stimson (“Safe File”) 7/40 - 9/45, S-1 folder, Memorandum of Conversation With General Marshall, May 29, 1945 - 11:45 a.m., National Archives).

  * At a May 31, 1945 Interim Committee discussion of the atomic bomb, scientist and Manhattan Project administrator Arthur Compton was present. He recalled, “General Marshall stated that from the point of view of the postwar safety of the nation he would have to argue against the use of the bomb in World War II, at least if its existence could be kept secret. Such use, he said, would show our hand. We would be in a stronger position with regard to future military action if we did not show the power we held.” (Arthur Holly Compton, Atomic Quest, pg. 237). Scientists at the meeting then explained that the scientific knowledge was already too widely known to keep the a-bomb a secret. (Microfilm 1108, RG 77, Harrison-Bundy Files, file 100, Notes of the Interim Committee Meeting, Thursday, 31 May 1945, National Archives).

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By ejreed, August 9, 2010 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

Thousands of people have gathered in Nagasaki, Japan, on Monday to mark 65 years since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city during World War 2. Nagasaki was bombed three days after the city of Hiroshima, hastening the end to the war.
http://www.newslook.com/videos/237836-nagasaki-mourns-victims-of-atomic-bombing?autoplay=true

What also hastened the end of the War was Russia declaring war on Japan. If we hadn’t gotten there first there might be over 60,000 Russian Troops in japan rather then our American Troops.
hence, lets not wait to drop the bomb.  that was a political decision on the part of Truman.

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By felicity, August 9, 2010 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

randyjet - You’re right in that Marshall was for
dropping the bomb. He argued that based on his belief
that a democracy couldn’t survive more than four years
of a war and his belief that Japan would not surrender
until the “last man was standing,” dropping the bomb
was the ‘final’ solution.

TheHandyman - You’ve noticed!  Very thoughtful post. 
You (and I) would find these billboards dotting the
Panhandle landscape to be ‘old’ news:  “GOD, GUNS, GUTS
MADE AMERICA FREE.”

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By grandpaw, August 9, 2010 at 6:46 am Link to this comment

I have to wonder if randy is really serious when he infers that we did not know that the atom bomb would do horrible damage before it was dropped.  Certainly the many scientists who opposed using the bomb except as a demonstration knew what to expect.

randy says that the people who did not know about the bomb did not object to its use.  That makes sense.  But when they became aware of it, almost all of the military leaders said it should not have been used.

But of course a number of people, and not just a very large group of scientists, opposed the way Truman proposed using the bomb.

“We do know, however, that top civilian officials in the military departments, including Undersecretary of the Navy Ralph Bard and Assistant Secretary for War John McCloy, opposed the policy of use without warning.”

“PAUL NITZE
(Vice Chairman, U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey)
“While I was working on the new plan of air attack… [I] concluded that even without the atomic bomb, Japan was likely to surrender in a matter of months. My own view was that Japan would capitulate by November 1945”

“LEWIS STRAUSS
(Special Assistant to the Sec. of the Navy)
Strauss recalled a recommendation he gave to Sec. of the Navy James Forrestal before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima:
“I proposed to Secretary Forrestal that the weapon should be demonstrated before it was used. Primarily it was because it was clear to a number of people, myself among them, that the war was very nearly over. The Japanese were nearly ready to capitulate… My proposal to the Secretary was that the weapon should be demonstrated over some area accessible to Japanese observers and where its effects would be dramatic.” 

randy once again delves into fiction when he claims that “nor did any of the others voice doubts about invading Japan”.  The military leaders, almost to the man, said that the invasion was unnecessary.

randy:  “Of course if you go to a real web site”.  Strangely, or maybe not so strangely, randy is afraid to provide us with the url of that supposed website, which I don’t think exists and that randy knows it does not exist. 

randy: “there were plenty of other military leaders who you did not mention”.  Goodness, if you know of military leaders that have not been mentioned who favored dropping the bomb, the obvious question is, how come you haven’t mentioned them? 

About General Marshall:  “Marshall’s main task in 1945 was to prepare for a possible invasion of mainland Japan, scheduled to begin that year on Nov. 1st. He felt the decision to use the atomic bomb - to introduce a new and more dangerous level of warfare to the world - was a political rather than military decision. Assistant Sec. of War John McCloy recalled:

    “[Marshall’s] insistence to me that whether we should drop an atomic bomb on Japan was a matter for the President to decide, not the Chief of Staff since it was not a military question… the question of whether we should drop this new bomb on Japan, in his judgment, involved such imponderable considerations as to remove it from the field of a military decision.” (quoted in Gar Alperovitz, The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb, pg. 364).

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By Ouroborus, August 9, 2010 at 2:48 am Link to this comment

felicity, August 8 at 3:31 pm
ouroborus - We ‘pushed’ Japan into war?  Not quite. 
Japan’s plan of empire, with the subjugation of China
at its core, was Japanese rule stretching from
Manchuria, through the Philippines, Netherlands
Indies, Malaya, Siam, Burma to Australia, New Zealand
and India.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Yes, I’m aware of this. I spoke poorly in trying to
make my point.
Which is; Japan attacked us (we didn’t drive them to
war) because we had cut off their supply of oil among
many other things in their march to empire. As with
9/11; we were guilty of meddling in the affairs of
countries far outside of our own
“geography/hemisphere”, so to speak.
But more importantly, we committed war crimes and the
biggest one of all time was the use of atomic weapons
in a situation rational people of the time knew was
unjustified and criminal. If we had lost that war,
our leaders would have been the ones who dangled at
the end of those many ropes.

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By IGELLE ELIAS TERHEMEN, August 9, 2010 at 12:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The decision of the US adminstration to use atomic bomb some 65 years ago is still the same if given the opportunity today.The decision for some Americans to stand against the health plan of President Obama show that most Americans still donot consider the need for general good but for who is stronger..Such Senators are potential users of the atomic bomb if given aplace in the White House.

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By ofersince72, August 8, 2010 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment

When the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and their
little criminal ally ISRAEL,  attack IRAN

  Who is going to be the “good guy”  and who is
going to be the “bad guy”  in this war…..

just askin , since we like so much to put that
  WHITE HAT ON

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By ofersince72, August 8, 2010 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment

With “textbook” history you have to do all your own
interpretations.

  One thing that I do agree with “Textbook” history on…
I believe it was Jr. High School that they taught….

It was the BARBARIANS from EUROPE that saced Rome.

I often wonder how many “progressives actually read
Zinn’s history book….and of those that did,
really got the overall messege that Zinn was trying
to deliver…..or
Just read it to say they read it

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By blackbear, August 8, 2010 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Speculation: Apparently the “scientists” approval of
the use of an atomic device on a military targets was a
split decision. One can only wonder what their reaction
would have been if they had known that Hiroshima, a
city without military significance, was to be targeted.

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By TheHandyman, August 8, 2010 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment

The discussions here keep reminding me of a discussion my brother and I had many years ago. Each of had noticed that there seemed to be two distinct groups of people, those that held very strong beliefs and opinions but which did not seem to be grounded in any facts or data or even experiences and those that seemed to have arrived at opinions based on very clear and concise facts and data and by truly thinking about them and arriving at a conclusion that also matched their experiences. We noticed that these people who held strong opinions not based in fact also had other characteristics. They claimed to be religious but didn’t actually do any of the things their religion said they should. They seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time telling other people what they should and should not do all the while never noticing that they didn’t follow their own cautions or they found immediately rational reasons why they were exempt from the prohibitions they preached. And these people unfailingly find reasons and excuses to go to war, especially if the people do not look like them selves. Except for WWI and WWII, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, all of our wars have been against people of other races. I have always wondered what would have happened if the US had perfected the A Bomb before Italy and Germany had surrendered? Would we have used it on whites, on our own relatives, our former friends? I have very little doubt that Truman would have found many reasons not to drop it in Europe when he could save it for those nasty slant-eyed yellow people. Germans remained free in the US during the War but no so the Japanese.

Over the years I have noticed a polarization unlike any other time in my lifetime between these two groups. My brother and I use the ancient Greek names for these two groups, Barbarians and Civilized Humans. In many ways at first glance in any crisis they are virtually indistinguishable from each other. When attacked they both want to lash out against their attacker and do to them everything that was done to themselves and even worse. But one group realizes that that would only make things worse and lead to continued hostilities. They try to understand and look for a better solution. The other group, they lash out and then later make up good reasons for their bad behavior and the poor outcomes. They will find endless excuses to condone their inhumanity and will actually be proud of it and the rest of the bleeding heart Librals be damned! They see themselves as the solution of the world’s problems, not the cause of its constant warring and pettiness!

When one adds up the deaths of the people in these two atomic bomb attacks which were totally unnecessary no matter what the barbarians say, along with Dresden, Tokyo and the myriad other atrocities it becomes the greatest example of Man’s inhumanity to man since the Holocaust!

So as I scrolled down the page seeking enlightenment and reflection on a despicable deed I counted the barbarians justifying that which cannot be justified! There were, as usual, far too many of them.

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By randyjet, August 8, 2010 at 7:15 pm Link to this comment

end notification please

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By ofersince72, August 8, 2010 at 7:15 pm Link to this comment

in the 1930s Germany was short of Capitol for the
people, yet was able to find the money to put together
an enourmous military machine leaving little money for
the welfare of a needy public, you might say
Germany’s own MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX..
Then found every lie they could to display and show off
this nice new shiney hardware,  while other powerful
nations back and made meaningless treaties, broke them,
made them again, broke them again, all preparing for
what was coming.

DOESN’T   THIS SOUND AN AWFUL LIKENESS TO ANOTHER NATION
WE KNOW OF TODAY?

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By ofersince72, August 8, 2010 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

Gosh,  all this was at least T E N wars ago and

hashed and hashed and hashed every year since.

I only hope as much time and effort is spent trying to
stop the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and her little partner
in crime ISRAEL from attacking IRAN.

If the Europeans and those of European decent
ever get over the
  A Z T E C   S Y N D O M E
it will be a miracle and bring much peace to the world.

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By randyjet, August 8, 2010 at 6:42 pm Link to this comment

ITW once again you see no inconsistency in saying that the Japanese were ready to surrender, yet they would fight to the death, but the US casualties would be light! Sorry, but such statements and positions are a bit incompatible.

It was Marshall who gave the casualty figures for the invasion which WAS going to happen if the bomb had not foreshortened the war. So Truman could watch as the horrendous US casualties mounted, and not used the bomb. I seriously doubt he would have survived such a thing. He would have been run out of office on a rail if he were lucky when it would be discovered he had the weapon and had not used it.

Truman was not led astray at all since he got the best information he could possibly get. I think Stimson, and the interim committee and the scientists were quite sufficient, unlike Bush relying on just a few people. Of course, you will have to call Gen. Marshall a fool like Rumsfeld because Truman DID rely on his advice as did FDR. Fortunately for us, FDR did not take Leahy’s advice as much since he was wrong on so many fronts. I really loved his statement that the bomb would never work, and he knew because he was an expert on explosives too!

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By Inherit The Wind, August 8, 2010 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment

Randyjet:
You can accuse me of being wrong. You can accuse me of having my facts wrong.  But don’t accuse me of lying.  That’s childish and indicative of your close-minded opinions.  BTW, they are Japanese, not “Japs”, which is as derogatory as N***** for Blacks.

I’ve read Speer’s book more than once.  Have you read Mee or Alperovitz? I have. Have you even read Wohlstetter? 

There is no inconsistency.  A people can be beaten down by war, starving and looking for an end.  Then you start mercilessly indiscriminately bombing them and and all of a sudden, they are ready to fight back….It’s been shown again and again.

I find the estimates of the invasion of Japan spurious.  After all, until the surrender of Germany, 80% of our war effort went to Europe, and 20% was devoted to fighting Japan.  Being able to increase your war effort by a factor of 5 changes the WHOLE picture. 

Truman was a strong-willed man but he was manipulated by his advisers since he was unskilled an ignorant—just like George W. Bush.  It’s not that Bush was incapable of strength and decision (as long as it wasn’t an on-the-spot decision), it’s that he didn’t know what the fuck he was doing and, apparently, knew it, therefore trusting the Rumsfeld-Cheney-Rove axis.  As he realized they played him he got rid of them.  Cheney, of course, couldn’t be fired but he was marginalized for the last 18 months.

Calling me and everyone who disagrees with you a liar, Randyjet, is flatly out of line.

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By randyjet, August 8, 2010 at 5:48 pm Link to this comment

In a Jun 45 meeting with Truman the entire Joint Chiefs led by Marshall recommended the MILITARY necessity of INVADING Japan. Thus the invasion plans went forward. Only much later did King and Leahy stated they had changed their minds. Arnold was in FULL accord with the need to invade Japan. There was NO other real military option to bring Japan to end the war.  While it is true that Truman did not ask for the military opinion about the use of the bomb other than through the chain of command and the people most familiar with the bomb, to say that the military as a whole thought its use was superflous is not borne out by their actions. McArthur was of the opinion that the invasion was an absolute necessity.

The majority of the scientists were NOT opposed to the use of the bomb. Even Franks and Szlizard were still in favor of a demonstration of it, THEN its possible use, but this option had been discussed by people far more qualified than those 70 scientists who were a minority who signed the petition.

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By gerard, August 8, 2010 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

There will always be “reasons” for doing what you know is wrong.  It was not “necessary” in anyone’s terms that so many had to suffer such agonies for so long in order to “win” a war that was already “lost.”
Obviously, we can’t go through discussion after discussion about the details of the history of that time, but I personally saw the effects of the “run-up” as well as of the aftermath and knew what was to be known about what went on in between (though not in full horrible details till afterward). 

We need to keep the peace here in these discussions as well as in the larger sense, and I know you agree with me that the world cannot “afford” endless warring and advancing weapons technology.  Just by itself, the results of WWII, while tens of thousands died as a result, are stilll, after 65 years, baring deep unhealed wounds.The whole “unconditional surrender” thing is befogged with misunderstandings. 
  You make a pitiable case for Truman.  That’s not my point, of course.  My point is simply that the US was and is the only nation to have used the A-bomb, not once, but twice, on helpless defeated masses of men, women and children, burned tens of thousands alive and left tens of thousands more sick with painful diseases for which there is no cure. That was a terrible error in judgment, and if we don’t admit it we are quite apt to permit it to happen again. We owe it to the world to do everything we can to prevent a recurrence—and we are not even half trying.  Instead we (and a few other nations we have permitted to obtain atomic weapons) are lording it over the entire world, using them as an unspoken threat, meantime endangering everyone with the possibility of a fluke atttack from God only knows what madman.
  You call that justifiable?  I call it stupid and mean and ignorant—all three.

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By grandpaw, August 8, 2010 at 5:02 pm Link to this comment

randyjet:  “I take ALL of those opinions as being FAR more persuasive than the minority of a few military figures”.

As randyjet acknowledges, there were many scientists who opposed the use of the bomb.  The Scientific Advisory Panel did not, as randy claims, say that most scientists were for it use.

What that Scientific Advisory Panel, which was composed of four scientists who had been deeply involved in producing the atom bomb, namely, A. H. Compton, E. O. Lawrence, J. R. Oppenheimer, and E. Fermi, said in part:

“The opinions of our scientific colleagues on the initial use of these weapons are not unanimous: they range from the proposal of a purely technical demonstration to that of the military application best designed to induce surrender. Those who advocate a purely technical demonstration would wish to outlaw the use of atomic weapons, and have feared that if we use the weapons now our position in future negotiations will be prejudiced. Others emphasize the opportunity of saving American lives by immediate military use, and believe that such use will improve the international prospects, in that they are more concerned with the prevention of war than with the elimination of this specific weapon. We find ourselves closer to these latter views; we can propose no technical demonstration likely to bring an end to the war; we see no acceptable alternative to direct military use.

“With regard to these general aspects of the use of atomic energy, it is clear that we, as scientific men, have no proprietary rights. It is true that we are among the few citizens who have had occasion to give thoughtful consideration to these problems during the past few years. We have, however, no claim to special competence in solving the political, social, and military problems which are presented by the advent of atomic power.”

The Franz Report, by another group of scientists who were also deeply involved in the atom bomb project, concluded:

“We believe that these considerations make the use of nuclear bombs for an early, unannounced attack against Japan inadvisable. If the United States would be the first to release this new means of indiscriminate destruction upon mankind, she would sacrifice public support throughout the world, precipitate the race of armaments, and prejudice the possibility of reaching an international agreement on the future control of such weapons.

Much more favorable conditions for the eventual achievement of such an agreement could be created if nuclear bombs were first revealed to the world by a demonstration in an appropriately selected uninhabited area.”

Its members were James Franck (Chairman), Donald J. Hughes, J. Nickson, Eugene Rabinowitch, Glenn, T. Seaborg, J. C. Stearns and Leo Szilard.

The Szilard Petition, signed by some seventy scientists, asked President Truman consider using the bomb only if there was given “assurance to the Japanese that they could look forward to a life devoted to peaceful pursuits in their homeland”,and then only if the moral and future results of its use were fully considered. If the bomb is used, “our moral position would be weakened in the eyes of the world and in our own eyes. It would then be more difficult for us to live up to our responsibility of bringing the unloosened forces of destruction under control.”

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By randyjet, August 8, 2010 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment

All those comments by those leaders were made AFTER the fact and when the horror of the bomb was made clear. The only ones who had prior legitimate knowledge and were against it were Eisenhower who was not in theater, and Leahy. McArthur was not even informed of its existence until the last minute and was more upset about his not having a say in it. Neither Arnold nor McArthur, nor any of the others had any objection to the invasion of Japan and did not voice such objections. Even the Joint Chiefs did not all know about the bomb it was such a closely held secret until the end of the war.

LeMay only thought that his slaughter of MORE Japs had done the job than the A bombs which he had no control over. I also cannot forget his advocacy of pre emptive nuclear strikes against the Soviet Union and his sending of bombers in penetration flights into that country, WITHOUT the approval of higher authority. So you can judge the sincerity of these statements by the people making them. Strauss is even funnier since he became one of the most vicious hawks and personally got rid of Oppenheimer and railroaded him out and revoked his security clearance.

Marshall was the military leader who did not renounce the decision, nor did any of the others voice doubts about invading Japan. In order to be credible, they would have to both be against the invasion and the use of the bomb to have military credibility. Simply saying after the fact that they were opposed cuts NO mustard, especially given some of their later careers.

By the way, there were plenty of other military leaders who you did not mention such as Adm Spruance, Doolittle, and many other figures who are NOT mentioned. I went to the propoganda site you used and they selectively use the ones and statements that push your view.

Of course if you go to a real web site it points out that the Army intelligence reports on the unwillingness of the Japanese to surrender at the time of the bombings was right on the mark. Also, if you have been in the military, you would know of the intense rivalry that goes on. The Navy thought it won the war, the Army thought it did, and the Air Force thought it could and did win it. Thus it is hardly surprising that some of the leaders of each branch would claim it made the bombs unnecessary. If Truman had left it in the hands of the military, instead of himself, there would have been less after the fact grousing.

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By Spooky-43, August 8, 2010 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

A few points that many posters seem to ignore.

Truman was committed to the unconditional surrender of Japan by the allied agreement at Casablanca in 1943 in which it was declared that unlike WWI, a negotiated surrender would not be accepted, and a total unconditional surrender was mandatory regarding Germany, Italy and Japan.  This was later reconfirmed at Potsdam in July of 1945 with the agreement of Britain, China and the USA in the Potsdam Declaration, that nothing short of unconditional surrender would be accepted in the case of Japan.  The unconditional surrender and post-war occupations were considered very important to make it much more difficult for these countries to reestablish their military powers after the war, as was the case with Germany after WWI..  These decisions were not made unilaterally by the US, and were binding upon the US.

Japan was butchering approx 200,000 Chinese and other Asians per month in their “Total War”  against China. Chiang Kai Shek was very dependent upon the allies to end this situation, and obviously communicated this at Potsdam. 

Japan’s war against China, and everyone else, for that matter, was established as “Total War”,  a distinct category of warfare in which the whole of a nation, including all civilians, military and economic resources are conscripted for the war effort.  The whole of the nation becomes a literal military machine.  Within this definition, there is no distinction between categories of people and property.  There is no such thing as collateral damage.  This is the type of warfare that was waged in Europe and in the Far East. by all parties, as evidenced by the constant bombing raids against civilians in London, Berline, Dresden, Chongging, etc, etc.  The purpose of “Total War” is to completely annihilate the enemy by whatever means possible. 

The USA has lost its understanding of “Total War”, because it has really not been waged since WWII.  It has been replaced mostly by guerilla warfare and terrorism, in which the combatants fight for very short periods and then take long breaks where they go back to work or home.  And the civilian population is off limits, as they are considered non-combatants, which is really totally bogus, because as in Vietnam, I learned that they only went home and changed their clothes. 

Now, it should be clear that the USA, Britain, and Russia had to end the war as quickly as possible and extract total unconditional surrender.  That was the name of the game leading up to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I am sorry to have to inform all the liberals here, but the idea that there was going to be thousands of civilian casualties was not even a significant consideration.  No more so than those who planned the attack on the World Trade Center considered it. significant.  Don’t be so naive as to think that those who wish to kill you have some kind of morals.  Laws and locks are only for honest people.  The evil ones just ignore everything and go for the throat.

Put yourself in Truman’s position.  You had Chiang Kai Shek demanding the instant total annihilation of Japan, you had all these treaties to live up to, FDR had only been dead a few months, Winston Churchill had just been voted out of power, Stalin was cooking deals all over the place and you could not trust him.  Your commission recommended the bomb, but your generals didn’t, and you were facing another massive mobilization equal to D-Day if Japan were to be invaded.  Now go ahead—second guess him.

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By balkas, August 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment

Gerard, with respect!

Ignorance, to me, is effect-cause-effect; it is first imposed by miseducators: media, army-cia-fbi echelons, ‘educators’ politicians, plutocrats, judicary, WH on [take any asocialistic [classful] land or empire] by, say, onepercent of the people or even fewer.

And the FIRST CAUSE for ignorance is their imposition of poverty and false knowledge on the rest of us [yes, poverty-ignorance-warfare is waged].

I hyphenate these aspects of one reality because one cannot wage war unless 89% of people do not know what’s going on and without at least 30% of people being young enough and much poorer than the rest of the population. tnx

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By Teep1, August 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

For what it’s worth, the Peace Museum in Hiroshima, Japan, has an account of the decision prominently displayed on a wall.  It apparently represents Japanese conventional wisdom.  That is, that Truman decided nine months before to drop the bombs when they became available, for simple strategic reasons: to send a message to Russia that would deter their ambitions after the war.

One bomb would not have been enough for that purpose.  One bomb can be dismissed as a mysterious anomaly.  But to explain two of them is not so easy, without explaining purpose, intent, and motive.

9/11 taught us that again.

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By grandpaw, August 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

randyjet: “Grandpaw is lying when he says that the military leaders were against the use of the bomb and thought it unnecessary.

Really? Randy is not lying; he is simply ill informed and inclined to make statements without taking the time to find out if they are true.

Part 2 of 2:

Admiral “Bull” Halsey: “The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment…...It was a mistake ever to drop it…...(the scientists) had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it…...It killed a lot of Japs, but the Japs had put out a lot of peace feelers through Russia long before.”

Admiral Byrd:  “Especially it is good to see the truth told about the last days of the war with Japan…..I was with the Fleet during that period; and every officer in the Fleet knew that Japan would eventually capitulate from…the tight blockade. “I, too, felt strongly that it was a mistake to drop the atom bombs, especially without warning.”

Admiral Strauss: “[The atomic bomb] was not necessary to bring the war to a successful conclusion…..it was clear to a number of people…that the war was very nearly over. The Japanese were nearly ready to capitulate…..it was a sin - to use a good word - (a word that) should be used more often - to kill non-combatants….”

Henry H. “Hap” Arnold:  “it was not necessary to use it in order to conquer the Japanese without the necessity of a land invasion.  The Japanese wanted peace. There were political implications in the decision.”

General Kenney:  “No! I think we had the Japs licked anyhow. I think they would have quit probably within a week or so of when they did quit.”

W. Averall Harriman: “General Spaatz felt Japan would surrender without use of the bomb, and did not know why a second bomb was used.”

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By gerard, August 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

The FIRST CAUSE?  (note capital letters)
and POSTULATE?  and POSIT? 
Must be something IMPORTANT, like what?
According to a previous post by this FIRST CAUSE postulator, it’s the “creme de la creme” that are to blame (whoever they are).
So we have all been wasting our time here, talking about the U.S. not only “inventing” nuclear bombs, but carrying out an experiment using several hundred thousand (presumably inferior) human beings as laboratory animals—to shorten the war, of course, and to save American lives.
  You all didn’t ask me, but I’ll tell you what I think this FIRST CAUSE is, making no bones about it:  It’s human ignorance and a stubborn resistance to acknowledging the logical connections between cause and effect.
  Cause - rage, fear, anger, greed, ignorance
  Effect—drop bombs, invent weapons of mass destruction, and deny that they are counterproductive.  Instead, insist that, though WMDs kill people, that’s okay because some people deserve to be killed by others who are “better,” richer, have lighter skins. speak English and have bigger bombs.  Besides, they shorten wars and save American lives.
  Just in case someone here doesn’t “get” the sarcasm and irony of the above, well—bombs are all bad, and nuclear bombs are the worst—especially up close and personal.  And people who use them are bad, too. Period.
  It’s a human problem, and humans can fix it. The only question is, will we?  Will you?  Will I?  Together and separately?  Now or never?

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By grandpaw, August 8, 2010 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment

randyjet: “Grandpaw is lying when he says that the military leaders were against the use of the bomb and thought it unnecessary.

Really? Randy is not lying; he is simply ill informed and inclined to make statements without taking the time to find out if they are true.

Part 1 of 2:

“General Eisenhower: “I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.”
Admiral Leahy: “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.”

General MacArthur: “I had been conscious of depression and so I voiced to (Sec. Of War Stimson) my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at this very moment, seeking a way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face.’”

General LeMay: “The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war.”

Admiral Nimitz: “...I felt that it was an unnecessary loss of civilian life…...We had them beaten. They hadn’t enough food, they couldn’t do anything.”

Admiral Leahy: “The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were of no material assistance in our war against Japan.  In being the first to use it, we had adopted the ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.
The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. ”

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By bpawk, August 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm Link to this comment

To Tony Wicher:

Those weren’t just civilians - they were future soldiers or soldier-makers who would take out an American in one heartbeat! It’s true they needed to test out their technology - who better to test it on than the enemy of yours!

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By Tony Wicher, August 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

Like I said before, we “woulda used the bomb on the Japs” even if they had tried to surrender first. I am sure the top brass wanted to see what it would do by dropping it on a real city. They would not be likely to pass up an opportunity like that, which would not only give them a lot of valuable knowledge, but would impress the entire world with our power. So what if it involved killing a few hundred thousand civilians?

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By bpawk, August 8, 2010 at 2:48 pm Link to this comment

Shoulda coulda woulda ...

Survival is the name of the game when it comes to war and you will do whatever it takes to kill someone before they kill you - that’s in our evolutionary genetic material. Japan shoulda surrendered which woulda saved everyone a lot of grief but they refused - it’s easy to say what shoulda been done long after the event when you know the outcome. America did the right thing at that time!

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By randyjet, August 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

Grandpaw is lying when he says that the military leaders were against the use of the bomb and thought it unnecessary. The only military leader I know of who was appraised of the bomb and knew more about the situation was Adm. Leahy who was FDR and Truman’s chief of staff. All of the others such as Gen. Marshall were FOR its use. Also the Interim Committee which examined the various alternatives to its use were nearly unanimous in using it. As was the Scientific Advisory Panel which voiced the fact that many, but not most of the scientists were not for its use. Their panel advised the Committee that its military use was the most feasible course. THAT was unanimous from them which had the leaders Lawrence, Fermi, Oppenheimer, on it.

I take ALL of those opinions as being FAR more persuasive than the minority of a few military figures on the periphery such as Eisenhower. McArthur had NO problem with the decision, except for the fact that they did NOT give HIM the authority to drop it.

At least I am glad to see that you validate the FACT that the US did NOT agree to keep the Emperor and that the decision not to prosecute and HANG him was made AFTER the surrender. THAT should end the stupid false idea that the US granted the Japanese request to keep the Emperor as part of the surrender.

You are indeed entitled to your own opinion, but NOT your own FACTS! Let’s be truthful and tell the WHOLE truth, not just the part or facts that butress your opinion.

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By balkas, August 8, 2010 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

All of the posts i have read thus far posit sensation sans causation about the destruction of hiroshima and nagasaki.

They are not able or are unwilling to EVEN POSTULATE let alone posit the FIRST CAUSE for warfare, exploitation, oppression, use of WMD, etc.

They skip this step and then resonate with an endlesss number of reasons why hiroshima should have or should have not been a-bombed.

Such discourse could go on forever with no one any wiser for it! And the argumnet always leads to acrimony, anger, frustration, angst, etc.

The fact appears that there is no truth-justice. There is tho an indefinate number of truths-justices; in principle one for each human that ever lived or will live.

So, resonating or postulating zillions of ‘truths’ and an equal number of rationalizations cannot ever produce an elucidation nor indicate a way out of waging warfare or using WMD.

Not so if we start our evaluating from the actual FIRST CAUSE or even a postulated cause for warfare and other ills that befall us. 

So let’s stop postulating or positing reasons solely for why we wage wars or use WMD.
If any piece or post omits the first step to sanity: positing or postulating cause[s]for any event whatever, i immediately stop reading such writings.

Let’s give this knowledge to the person on street for s/he unable to come to such vital knowledge.
I had been like that. But am eternally grateful to people who led me to this knowledge.
It is butiful, exhilerating; offers us hope to finally put a stop to the greatest crimninal minds.tnx

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By Ralph Kramden, August 8, 2010 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The dropping of the bombs were two of the most despicable war crimes ever. Truman had a really mean streak about him. He was one of those midwesterners ingrained with a nasty version of Christianity, the old-testament type. The word nigger was often and liberally used by Mr. Harry, his family had been slave owners and his mom hated Lincoln. Truman was itching to go to war with the Soviet Union even after the Red Army had saved the USA’s tuckus. He dropped the bomb to impress Stalin. There is the clinical aspect to the dropping of the bombs that is chilling: 1) Hiroshima and Nagasaki were kept unmarked and untouched because the USA wanted to measure precisely the damage done by the bombs. 2) Two different kinds of bombs were used, an uranium bomb and a plutonium bomb, suggesting an experiment. This type of evil was what Hollywood kept telling us was only done by the Japanese and the Germans with their scientific experiments on prisoners. It has always amused me how we in the USA are so quick to notice barbarism in others but never our evil and our war crimes. We even erect Holocaust memorials but have yet to erect memorials for slavery or the genocide commited against the natives. Why erect Holocaust memorials when we had nothing to do with it? To spite the Germans? Truman could have staged an atomic explosion on a deserted island. The whole argument that this was not possible because the bomb might not work is a bogus argument. The bomb had been tested. Moreover, when the Soviets invaded Manchuria the war was over. Japan had started peace talks and Truman knew this. History will judge the US and Truman harshly on this.
There is an argument that states:“since they would have done it to us, it’s OK we did it to them” With that kind of argument, all pretense to any Christian belief is gone and any claim to a higher morality is surrendered. We as a nation sink to the morality of the jailhouse.
Eisenhower, McArthur and Leahy all agreed that the dropping of the bombs was unnecessary. So Hiroshima and Nagasaki join the carpet bombing of German cities, the fire-bombing of Dresden and Tokio as allied war crimes. Oh, we all know about how horrid the Japanese and the Germans were. Let’s show some humility and examine our barbarism and perhaps we won’t be so proud of emulating the worse in human behavior. But of course, behavior that was once thought as peculiar to the Nazis and the Japanese fascist are now our standards: torture, disapperances, death squads, extra-judicial assasinations, puppet governments, suspension of habeas corpus.

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By gerard, August 8, 2010 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

Apparently there are some dimwits out there who don’t see that justifying Hiroshima and Nagasaki works to justify another “well-thought-out decision” or “strategy to end the war quickly” somewhere else sometime sooner or later.

Illusions speak louder than facts, and that’s why we are bombing the “Taliban” and they are shooting Christian medical workers and anyone else who comes near. If facts mattered, we’d understand why they don’t like us and they’d understand why we don’t like them, and that would prevent some dimwit somewhere deciding to drop another self-righteous A-bomb someplace else,  which will kill 200,ooo or so and make hundreds of people sick for another 65 years who wish they were dead instead.

Happy Patriotism, all you DWMDers!

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By grandpaw, August 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

I agree with Spooky that the atom bombs on Japan have deterred the use of such bombs.  I believe that our scientists were absolutely surprised at how much damage the bombs did.  I also believe that pigs really can fly.  The military men who said in advance that it was a bad idea apparently were better informed than the politicians.   

It would have been an equal deterrence to have dropped the bombs where there were no civilians or at least to have not dropped it intentionally on an area highly populated with innocent people.  What it did for the world is make it clear that the U.S. was not above dropping the bomb on civilians.  We are now reaping some of the results of that in our attempt at nonproliferation, that is, do as I say, not as I do.

If the scientists, and the politicians, were not convinced that the bomb would do just about what it did, it would not have been dropped.  There was no need to see what it would do; we already knew that.  And the rest of the world would also know that when they went about building their bombs to defend themselves against us. 

What the bomb did encourage was for other nations to develop such a bomb as fast as possible.

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By felicity, August 8, 2010 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

ouroborus - We ‘pushed’ Japan into war?  Not quite. 
Japan’s plan of empire, with the subjugation of China
at its core, was Japanese rule stretching from
Manchuria, through the Philippines, Netherlands
Indies, Malaya, Siam, Burma to Australia, New Zealand
and India. 

To move the forces necessary for this enterprise,
access was essential to iron, oil, rubber, rice and
other raw materials far beyond her own possession.

Strategy demanded that in order to seize the Indies
and transport its raw materials to Japan, it was
necessary to protect the Japanese flank from any
threat of US naval action in the Southwest Pacific. 
Knocking out the American fleet harbored at Pearl
would, according to their reasoning, be a “fatal
blow.” Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of the Pearl
strike, proposed that Japan should “fiercely attack
and destroy the US main fleet at the outset of the
war so that the morale of the US Navy and her people
would sink to an extent that it could not be
recovered.” 

Who was pushing whom?

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Spooky-43's avatar

By Spooky-43, August 8, 2010 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

Gerard,

Your assertion does not make sense.  Surely there have been ample opportunities to use nuclear weapons in the past 65 years, and the fact that none have been used is probably the best evidence that you are incorrect.

I agree with Oketa that Hiroshima/Nagasaki have been a good deterrent over the past 65 years.  I also agree that it was a very well thought out decision, and was probably the best that could have been made under the circumstances.  As DaveZx3 says, it must also be taken within the context of the times and circumstances.  Today, the same circumstances would probably not result in the same decision, because a certain cultural stigma has been established with regards to nuclear weapons which tends to act as a part of the strong deterent previously mentioned, in addition to the prospect of mutually assured destruction, of course, neither of which was an issue in 1945.

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By grandpaw, August 8, 2010 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

Certainly, randyjet is entitled to his opinion that the Japanese would not have surrendered without an invasion, absent the dropping of the atom bombs. 

So too are all of the high ranking military people who just about unanimously were of the opinion that Japan would have surrendered without an invasion and without dropping the atom bombs.

The question is, who was in the better position to judge, randyjet of today or the military leaders of that time?

randyjet posts that the decision not to try the emperor for war crimes was MacArthur’s.  That is incorrect.  It is true that a number of people contended that Hirohito should be tried as a war criminal, primarily those who suffered the most from the war.  But the decision not to try Hirohito was one made in Washington, MacArthur and others having convinced Washington that not trying Hirohito was the better thing to do. 

From http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-158156472.html:

“Seeking to maintain Japanese political and social stability, Truman decided that punishing the emperor would be so unpopular in Japan as to jeopardize the success of the occupation. In June 1946, U.S. officials in Tokyo quietly announced that Hirohito would be exempt from prosecution as a war criminal. Joseph Keenan, the chief U.S. war crimes prosecutor, went into little detail on the decision, saying only that the choice had ultimately been made at “high political levels.”

(HighBeam is a highly regarded outfit that provides academic research on a wide variety of issues:  see http://www.highbeam.com/ )

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By grandpaw, August 8, 2010 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

The Japanese were on the verge of surrender precisely because of their lack of just such things as food.  People who are starving and see a way out of starving normally take the way out rather than continue starving.  When the bomb was dropped, there was no alternative to dying. 

It’s quite strange and unfortunate that posters 45 years later think they know better than the military and naval leaders there on the ground, who just about unanimously were of the opinion that the bomb should not have been dropped and that the war would have ended without the need for an invasion.  The need for fictitious and speculative justification for the bomb is disappointing and reflects how little regard and how much fear many people have for admitting the errors we have made.

One thing that makes one wonder is the fact that the folks back in Washington failed to see the long term consequences of introducing the atom bomb as a legitimate means of warfare, whereas the military people in the middle of the war were much more prescient.

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By gerard, August 8, 2010 at 9:49 am Link to this comment

Do people here justifying the use of the A-bomb (not once, but twice) on Japan realize they are justifying the use of the A-bomb again, anywhere, anytime, for any “reasons” cooked up by any military “authorities” anywhere?

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By oketa, August 8, 2010 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

Mr. Kutler’s implied suggestion that we should have used conventional bombing and used a naval blockade instead of using nuclear weapons strikes me as rather naive.  That option would have been the worst choice since it was important to end the war as quickly as possible.  A blockade would have resulted in large numbers of Japanese starving to death.  There were also American prisoners in Japan that needed to be freed.  Any delay in ending the war would have increased the number of American and Japanese fatalities.  By using nuclear weapons the war was ended more quickly than any other option, reduced the total number of deaths on both sides, and therefore was the best choice.

The other significant issue that gets ignored in this discussion is that the effects of the use of nuclear weapons is so shocking that it has acted as a deterrent to the use of nuclear weapons ever since.  Had Japan not been bombed we almost certainly would have used nuclear weapons during the Korean War.

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By bogi666, August 8, 2010 at 9:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ofrsince72, you’re right about all the Posts, although I’m only banned from Huffpo. Arianna Huffington is a total nut case. Her Husband was running for Governor of California in the 90’s and narrowly lost. During the campaign she was a howling shill fascist. He lost,divorced Arianna for his gay lover.

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By randyjet, August 8, 2010 at 9:03 am Link to this comment

To Inherit TW, I used to have the same position as you on this, until I actually started reading real scholarship on the subject. THAT is the reason your views on this have been ignored. Your points are internally contradictory. For example, your contention that Japan was ready to surrender, yet you state that the bombing the Brits did made the Germans even MORE determined. So why did the US bombing result in the Japanese, who were FAR more fanatical than the Germans, be ready to surrender?

I read Speer’s book, and while it is true that the German war machine was close to collapse at some points, it did NOT mean that Germany would surrender. It would only go out of existence given unconditional surrender, and THAT required boots on the ground in Berlin and all of Germany. We got that with Japan so that we did NOT have to fight to establish our troops in Japan as we did in Germany. That was mainly thanks to the A bombs.

To say that Truman was a simple man who only wanted simple answers is simply a slander and false. He established the commission to decide on whether and how to use the bomb. He got the report and acted on its recommendations and did not look back.

As for the A bomb being the reason Stalin withdrew from Greece, Iran, and Austria it is absurd and is the product of ignorance. I suggest you read Churchill’s book Triumph and Tragedy in which he praises Stalin for living up to all his agreements that were reached at Yalta and Moscow. Stalin knew how many bombs the US had too by the way and the vulnerability of US bombers to Soviet air defenses. The Soviets had their own bomb in 1949. So much for that theory!

As for Dresden, we NOW know that was specifically requested by the Soviets to forestall a division from going through the city to the Eastern Front. It succeeded quite well in stopping that division.

The US did NOT accept the conditional surrender of the Japanese. The FACT is that the US said that Hirohito would simply be another Japanese citizen, subject to McArthur orders. He was also being considered for a war crimes trial, until McArthur stopped it. It was NOT the decision of the US prior to the surrender. That he remained as a form of Emperor was again, McArthur’s decision. To then state that what happened was the result of conditional surrender is simply a lie. That decision was made AFTER the FACT of surrender.

There is also the good point that the US would certainly NOT accept any surrender from Germany that kept Hitler as head of state either and exempting him from war crimes trials. We did NOT do that with Japan either.

These are some of the reasons I changed my opinion from your position.

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By ofersince72, August 8, 2010 at 7:55 am Link to this comment

The Obama presidency has opened the eyes of everyone
that is at least of average intelligence that the office
and Capitol Hill are no more than managers that have
little to do with the decision making and there only
to disperse funds and carry out the policy of the
financial giants that really make the decisions.
They are elected by the media as Obama’s campaign
proved and the marketing prize that his campaign one.

Everyone knows that the MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
runs foreign policy, employment, the economy , and by
having this power, our country.
Or as many have put it Obama, or anyone who is president
under these circumstances is a PUPPET whose strings
are pulled by the puppeteers of the financial giants

Germany , during the 1930s had a huge miliary emploment
machine run by the INT IVESTORS.,,
Hitler, was just another puppet.

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By DaveZx3, August 8, 2010 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

Sorry for the double post. I thought the first was lost, so I tried to recall the points from memory.  I got fairly close, but guess I wasted my time.  I always start out thinking I am going to write a couple of sentences, then end up writing a term paper.  I have to learn to always draft in word.

Elroy,  your point is well taken.  And I understand all sides to this issue.  But my points are my points, and they are still valid, IMO.

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By DaveZx3, August 8, 2010 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

By C.Curtis.Dillon, August 8 at 6:23 am

“So dropping atomic bombs on cities mainly populated by old people, women and children is OK because their soldiers committed atrocities against ... old people, women and children?”

No one is saying that any killing is ok.  And no one is dehumanizing the Japanese or being racist.  A people dehumanize themselves by their behavior towards one another, no matter their color.  They don’t need me to dehumanize them. 

America was not exceptional (or Godly, if you will).  If America were exceptional, she would have followed the example of Christ and turned the other cheek, or something like that.

America was just another player, no more, no less.  She had acquired great technology, and had a very willing and hard-working population, all aided by the apparent incarnation of pure evil called Adolf Hitler.  But any of of the players would have dropped that bomb, given the chance.  We just got there first. 

The whole thing needs to be put into the context of the time and circumstances.  It was all evil, and it is useless to judge the relative evil of each individual death or category of death, and it is wrong to categorize atrocity.  An atom bomb is no more inherently evil than an army weilding bayonets against unarmed civilians. 

It is all in the eyes of the victim.  Personally, I would rather go quickly than kneel around for half a day watching others being decapitated waiting my turn.  But that’s just me.  Granted, some suffered longer, and some still suffer, but that is not unique to the Japanese.

No one is picking on the Japanese, nor is anyone condoning any killing of them.  I am just questioning their free pass.

As it is probably useless to have hatred 70 years after the fact, I do not hate Germany or Japan. But if you must hate and attach blame, it is totally wrong to hate and blame America unilaterally without giving equal treatment to all the other nations at the dance

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By Elroy, August 8, 2010 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

To DaveZx3, August 8 at 6:47 am

Your argument is not with me but with the United States
Strategic Bombing Survey, published in 1946 and, as I
noted (Elroy, August 8 at 4:13 am), available through the
Government Printing Office in Washington. It’s a deep
study and should not be so easily dismissed - although
dismissed it has been for the past half-century.

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By Inherit The Wind, August 8, 2010 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

Has nobody other than R. Snyder actually READ any of the scholarly work on Truman’s decision, or has the last 50 years of scholarship been lost?

Gar Alperovitz hypothesized in the 60’s that Truman used the Bomb to impress Stalin and argued that the USSR’s withdrawal from Iran, Austria and Greece were due in large part to that.  Mee argued that Stalin showed no sign of surprise at Potsdam because he spies had already reported it.  Did Truman ACTUALLY figure out that Stalin knew after he hinted at the US’s “secret weapon”?  Somethings I think Truman may just well have been dense about.

As for Japan, I surmise that Truman, being a simple man who liked simple choices (Kinda like GWB) convinced himself there was no other alternative. 

But I have not accepted that and doubted it even as teen when Truman was still alive—that was only 25 years after Hiroshima, not 65.  I think Truman didn’t want to deal with the complexity.  Why bomb Hiroshima?  It wasn’t strategically important?  Why firebomb Dresden? It wasn’t strategically important either. 

WW II was FILLED with atrocities on both sides, especially when it came to military attacks on civilian centers. Dresden was a total failure of what had, till then, been the operating policy of the US—strategic pin-point bombing. 

Britain was big on general carpet bombing to “demoralize the enemy”, failing to realize that the air war over Britain had the OPPOSITE effect on the British people: It strengthened their resolve, as it did the German people.  Throughout WWII military leaders adopted this Genghis Khan strategy: If you surrender today, I let you live. If you wait till tomorrow, I’ll kill all the men.  If you wait one more day, I’ll slaughter everybody! (And he did, once wiping out a city of 160,000).

It didn’t work on Britain. It didn’t work on Germany. It wasn’t working on Japan.

HOWEVER, after the War, Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer, told the US forces that the successful destruction of a major ball-bearing factory nearly ended the German war effort and had there been a few more successes like that, Germany would have been FORCED to surrender.

Why would Japan have been different?  And why was “Unconditional Surrender” so non-negotiable?  After all, it wasn’t—Hirohito was able to retain his position as Emperor, and was never forced to abdicate.  THAT was negotiated too, as part of the “Unconditional Surrender”.

Perhaps the ONLY argument in favor of the Bomb was that it gave the Emperor sufficient reason to push for surrender without getting ousted…but I’m not convinced of that.

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By DaveZx3, August 8, 2010 at 6:18 am Link to this comment

By C.Curtis.Dillon, August 8 at 7:19 am

No one is dehumanizing the Japanese or bringing race into the picture.  A people are dehumanized by their own actions, no matter their color, they do not need me to do it for them.

Atrocity is atrocity, whether by bomb or by bayonet.  Do not attempt to categorize atrocity by your own values.  It is really in the eye of the victim.  I personally would rather have an instant death than kneeling on the ground waiting to be decapitated, but that’s just me. 

And yes, some still suffer, but that is not unique to the Japanese either. 

America is not exceptional.  If America was exceptional or Godly, if you will, she would not have participated or defended herself, for the example of Christ is to turn the other cheek.

Why does Japan get a free pass?  Is it because the Germans were white, the English were white and the Americans were white, so they are all to blame; but a non-white culture can never be to blame?  Is that the current wisdom? 

I just ask why it is that Japan’s absolute brutality against the Chinese is not at least an equal subject for criticism? 

This is not to condone anything, but just to put everything into context.  America is only another one of the players, no more, no less.  There was no exceptionalism here, we were just at the peak of our empire, had acquired great technology, and were richer than hell, no more, no less.  Any of our enemies or allies would have dropped that bomb, given the chance.

I don’t hate the Japanese, but I don’t hate America either.

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By Dennis, August 8, 2010 at 5:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Remember, Truman said he didn’t miss a moments sleep after he dropped the bomb. Such a statement tells me that he was a social psychopath. To kill 140,000 in Hiroshima and feel nothing confirms that Truman was what he always must have been-banal.

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By bpawk, August 8, 2010 at 4:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Coulda shoulda woulda ...

In times of war, it’s us versus them with survival and winning being the objective. If you have to decimate someone so they don’t kill you so be it. Welcome to the jungle!

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, August 8, 2010 at 3:19 am Link to this comment

Sorry about that last comment ... couldn’t help my self.  Just a simple example of the propaganda used to dehumanize the Japanese.  We used their obvious differences to make them easier to kill and slaughter.  Perhaps it was this view, that they were evil and somehow less than human, that made dropping the bombs easier.

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By DaveZx3, August 8, 2010 at 2:47 am Link to this comment

By Elroy, August 8 at 4:13 am

The one condition was that the Japanese emperor, a holy figure to the Japanese, would not be
dishonored.”

“Japan was at that very moment seeking some way to
surrender with minimum loss of ‘face’. It wasn’t
necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”

Elroy, 

I consider the actions and atrocities of the Japanese to be equally horrendous to the Germans in the same period. 

I wonder what the reaction would have been if the Germans had requested to surrender without losing face and not dishonoring their leader.

I don’t see how this condition could be honored, from the perspective of the memories of all the innocent civilians butchered by the Japanese. 

You must have a realistic connection to these atrocities to understand how it would be so hard to grant effective immunity to those involved, including the emperor.  (BTW, you don’t have to capitalize the word emperor, he was not holy, by any stretch) 

Regarding the commenter who stated Truman had no idea what he would find in China, that is false.  The Chinese holocaust was very well documented, much more so than the Jewish holocaust.  There were few surprises there. 

If the Japanese had acted with sincerity, and ceased fighting, perhaps things could have proceded differently.  But they did not, and their demands for “honor” could not be respected with regards to the severity of the atrocities, no more than this condition could be extended to the Germans.

There is no honor in butchering close to 20 million people.  Why should honor be extended?  The concern should have been for the lives of all those killed, not for some false honor. 

If the Japanese were truly in a mood for surrender, they would not have required “conditions”  The fact is, they were never repentant for those atrocities, and that does not constitute surrender. 

Also, it is absurd to diffentiate the killing of a civilian by tying her up in the public square while she watches others being decapitated, awaiting her turn comopared to the killing of a civilian with a nuclear bomb.  The bomb seems more terrible, but that is only to the outside observer.  From the standpoint of the victim, I do not see any reason to differentiate.  Other than to bemoan the destruction of physical property, if you are one to value property over the lives of people. 

WWII, like it or not, started out with the butchery of civilians, and ended with the butchery of civilians.  This is not do condone it, but to place the bomb in the context of the time.  It was an obscene weapon of war, different from other weapons in a way which is useless to debate.  The bomb killed in minutes approximately 10% of how many Chinese were butchered over a period of years.

Is it useful to debate which is more evil?  Does it serve some purpose which I am not discerning?

The questions is, why do people start wars?  And why is America always at fault?  Would Japan have dropped the same bomb if they had the opportunity?  Answer that truthfully.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, August 8, 2010 at 2:23 am Link to this comment

DaveZx3:

So dropping atomic bombs on cities mainly populated by old people, women and children is OK because their soldiers committed atrocities against ... old people, women and children?  Nice argument.  So we just became like the Japanese.  I always was taught we went to war because God was on our side.  And then we became the same brutal butchers as our adversaries but is was OK because we did it by remote control.  We didn’t have to stick the bayonet in their stomachs ... we did it with a big explosion that vaporized them.  Probably more humane because, at least some of them didn’t suffer very much.  But a lot suffered for months or even years ... and some are still suffering 65 years later.  But hey, they have slanty eyes and almond skin so their not as human as us white guys ... right?

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By ofersince72, August 8, 2010 at 12:30 am Link to this comment

Chomsky more than a millionaire

I wonder who his money is invested with?? don’t you???

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By ofersince72, August 8, 2010 at 12:24 am Link to this comment

Yeah man, Japan was whooped,  Russia wanted in

they felt since they were the ones that REALLY won
the European theater,  and so on and so forth…....

that was about 10 wars ago….............
wonder how this next is going to go, think it will be
as easy as Iraq and Afghanistan??

Chomsky gets about $12,000 per speaking engagement…
not bad Huh??  He will stop the war,  Cris tooooooo.

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By Elroy, August 8, 2010 at 12:13 am Link to this comment

A few documented thoughts for this dialogue:

“A minority of Americans know that the United States
Strategic Bombing Survey interviewed hundreds of Japanese
leaders after the war and concluded with absolute
certainty that Japan would have surendered in 1945
without the use of the atomic bomb, a U.S. invasion, or
Russia entering the war.”

“The [Survey] concluded that to end the war in July 1945,
Truman only needed to offer the Japanese a conditional
surrender. The one condition was that the Japanese
emperor, a holy figure to the Japanese, would not be
dishonored.”

“Few Americans know that the Emperor had decided to
surrender on August 8, 1945 even before the Soviets
announced their declaration of war or the Nagasaki bomb
was dropped.”

The above material appears in “American Hiroshima” by
David J. Dionisi (Trafford Publishing, Canada; UK, 2006.
p. 109), a former military intelligence officer who
promotes nuclear disarmament. Here he cites “United
States Strategic Bombing Survey: Japan’s Struggle to End
the War.” (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1946).

Dionisi also refers to “From Hiroshima to Humanity” by
David Krieger (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Aug. 2005)
for this reaction of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower(p. 112):
“Japan was at that very moment seeking some way to
surrender with minimum loss of ‘face’. It wasn’t
necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” (Also:
http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/2005/08/00_krieger_fromhiros
hima-to-humanity.htm)

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment

Hey ,  HUFFINGTON POST
      WASHINGTON POST
      NEW YORK   TIMES

You all are a bunch of scum bags just like your
conservative counterparts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

But Americans don’t seem to give to much of a
crap about their elderly so it don’t know why
they would give much of a hoot about their posterity.

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment

World War II   has the A Z T E C   S Y N D R O M E

  written all over it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 6:41 pm Link to this comment

What Americans better start realizing REAL quick

is that the powers that be don’t give a crap about them

any more than they did for the Japanese they blew up,
or the Vietnamese they blew up , or the Iraqi that they
blew up, or the Iranians that they are getting ready to
blow up..

and whether it is this generation or the next, when it is
our turn to get blown up, we are going to get blown up
because we are not special, 
Like Carlin said:
“It’s one big fuckin club,, and your not in it”

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Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, August 7, 2010 at 6:14 pm Link to this comment

Given we pushed Japan to war; a fact not often
acknowledged; our use of the bomb had no justification
and the 1 million dead American soldiers is a
fabricated myth.

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By grandpaw, August 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment

bookmark follow:  “Today it’s easy to say using the bomb was wrong because Japan wanted to surrender. But one of the terms they were hoping for was a nonstarter. That being they would prosecute their officers for war crimes and not the Allies.”

That is also easy to say.  The facts: 

“Clearly the time to surrender had come. Incredibly, many in the military wanted to fight on, preferring death to capitulation. The cabinet, made up of elder statesmen, tried to send out peace feelers through neutral Sweden, Soviet Union, and Switzerland as early as June 1945. The only condition was the continued existence of the of Imperial Throne. Unwilling or unclear of the Japanese offer, the Allies refused and issued the Potsdam Declaration on July 26th.”

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By prosefights, August 7, 2010 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

ASSEMBLING THE EVIDENCE FOR HIGH LIKLIHOOD OF COMING THIRD WORLD WAR

http://theuglytruth.wordpress.com/2010/07/31/assembling-the-evidence-for-high-liklihood-of-coming-third-world-war/

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment

It didn’t take long for the INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS
to stop China’s populist movement,  a country that
all the Imperilist nations had partitioned for so many
centuries.

  First they softened the international community up
by DEAMONIZING the “C”  word, but that wasn’t even
the big concern.

  For the International Investors control the world’s
economy and it was easy to pay off some,  pump billions
into destabilizing China’s govt and society (remember the
SQUARE) , Pay Chinese journalists to control the media
SHIT,  this was all done befor NIXON made his symbolic
trip to China.  It was already a DONE DEAL.!!!!!!!!!!

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By rosross, August 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment

To paraphrase the adage, if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.
One ‘troubling’ note amongst the comments is how much ‘history’ appears to have come from movies.
Movies are never history, or rather, never accurate history and when movies are made about war they are always propaganda in some form or another.
In terms of ‘blame’ in regard to past wars, history quite clearly shows that the rogue state which has continued to wage war at massive levels is the United States. Given that it is difficult and at times impossible to know with any certainty exactly who did what and when, just looking at the performance of the United States since 1945 leads one to suspect that a militaristic mode and inherent aggression…. not to mention a desire for hegemony ... are part and parcel of its nature.
The propaganda machine went into top form with World War Two, just as it has with all other wars. Assigining blame is something that historians at a far greater distance will have to do.
In the meantime, killing civilians is a war crime and dropping nuclear bombs on people makes the crime that much more egregious. Needless to say Afghans and Iraqis now suffer from diseases caused by nuclear waste in weapons used by the United States today.
If Hiroshima and Nagasaki said anything it said the United States considers its citizens to be superior and the lives of all others to be worth little or nothing. The evidence of that was seen in Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and a host of South American countries where American hegemony has brought death, misery and destruction.
And, as others have said, the reason is simple. The Military Arms Indrial Complex runs America and it has to protect its ‘own’ to survive. It also needs an endless supply of wars.
Americans are no more warring than anyone else but they are governed by people who want nothing else.

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

The INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS are in the process of

deamonizing IRAN and their leadership right now.


IS EVERYONE READY FOR THE ATTACK AND DECIMATION
OF IRAN,,, IT IS   COMING   SHORTLY…......
TEACH YOUR KIDS HOW TO ENLIST IN THE ARMED FORCES ALONG
WITH THE SCHOOLS AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS FOR THEM, THEY
APPRECIATE THIS GOOD WORK BY YOU.

AND   REMEMBER   IT IS NNNNOOOOOTTTT ABOUT RESOURCES!!

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm Link to this comment

And when the INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS get alamed

some worldwide resistance to the domination of the masses

by the many MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEXES,

They have many convienient thought out deterents
In the twentity century, they deamonized the “C” word
attached all progressive populists movements throughout
the world with the “C” word

  They also deamonize personalities if someone should
get a good following or a leader of a nation should
defy the INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS,  they HITLERIZE them.

  Today the INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS use the word
TERRORISM to dominate world wide commerce.

And of course still and always will use the easy
nasty concept of NATIONALIZM…...............
...........................................................

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

I am going to get all you pukes right at

  R E T I R E M E N T     T I M E

Dennis,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,sucks doesn’t it !!!!!!!!!!!

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bookmark dofollow's avatar

By bookmark dofollow, August 7, 2010 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment

Today it’s easy to say using the bomb was wrong because Japan wanted to surrender. But one of the terms they were hoping for was a nonstarter. That being they would prosecute their officers for war crimes and not the Allies. At the same time they were asking for these news reels showing the Nazis war crimes were a daily occurrence. We now know the Japanese where not as bad as the Nazis but in the summer of 45 Truman had no idea what we would find on mainland China. The stories we had before the war about the Rape of Nanking were shocking, even today they are. This had to play some role in the pursuit of an Unconditional Surrender from Japan and not a negotiated one like with Italy.
As for the invasion itself unlike at Normandy there was no way we could use deception or diversion to convince them we were landing somewhere else. Geography and six thousand years of seasonal weather led them to know the place and approximate date of the landings. It would have been a blood bath on both sides.

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment

Dennis, you better tell Rat, that his Missouri
connection, ain’t gonna work either.

  Gabby does have influence, but he he can’t get to me!!

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment

But MAO,  screwed both America’s and Japan’s post
war vision of China up , didn’t he????????????

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 3:21 pm Link to this comment

What I do appreciate though Dennis ,  is how you all

were able to blackmail the command from then on!!!!!!

When Astro stole the ship’s truck while he supposed to
be on duty, took that RMSA with him, and disappeared for
three days, no one recieving communications for the
command , he laughted at them, didn’t get in a bit of
trouble did he…......
BUT THE RMSA, who Astro was responsible for,,
got ADMINISTRATIVLY DISCHARGE for this event didn’t he
You all had the command by the balls…..good for you
and Rezac never would have made 2nd, dumber than a box
of rocks that he is….................................

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

And guess what else Dennis Sexton,  the Operations
Officer was still alive in 2006,

  I was told he died in 2004…......Go Figure!!!!!!!

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By jimch, August 7, 2010 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

It doesn’t surprise me that each poster’s omniscience emerges after reading an article and they think they have the correct interpretation, analysis, description of past events. But then everyone knows opinions are like rectums, everybody has one, though sometimes the digestive system reverses itself. The result being, the shit which normally excretes from the rectum flows from the mouth - or the keyboard.

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

And Dennis, if I had known what you all had going on,

that time that Astro and I got stranded at LAKE TAHOE,

I would have taken care of him then.!!!!!!!!

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

I have something special in store for ASTRO , dennis.
Here is still in Washington State Dennis, but you kn this.
You got extemely worried that I was still on my feet
in Augest , didn’t you???

  Thought you just might be out your shut up money…

So you all had Astro meet me up by radio central one night
when none of you had talked to me for close to eight
months.,, and try to slip me 15 hits of ORANGE SUNSHINE
LSD, and he told me to take them and go sell them to
the MARINES, where did you get them ASTRO?
Even being half dead, and looking for reasons to have
someone talk to me,  I didn’t take your bait did I??
the Sad fact is Astro , Ens. Montgomery probably put you
up to it….....thought you had me didn’t you ?????

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 2:44 pm Link to this comment

And Dennis, hiding down there in Wellington,

as smart as you are, you couldn’t add yours, Rats,
GBGs, or the Bohonks brains together and out fox me.
AND YOU KNOW IT.  TEXAN….....you probably next after
bob…..................................................

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By ofersince72, August 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

Those other Radiomen can’t hold a candle to me !!!

I trained every fucking one of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


and BOB REZAC of Owtonna, MN,  you are going to be the
first to fall,  for covering the command’s very first
lie in JAPAN… Stand by FOR A RAM,  BOBBY

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