Hiroshima 60 Years Later

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loverofpeace
Hiroshima 60 Years Later

 

loverofpeace

An otherwise well written article was apparently not well proofed as it has the horrible bomb being dropped on August 15, 1945. I hate to quibble, but it was August 6, 1945, Nagasaki was August 9 and "VJ Day" was August 14, 1945.
My great hope is that people of good will wake up and begin again to work for the dismantling of ALL nuclear weapons in whatever country they be found. With the criminals now in the White House it is doubtful that the US will be at the forefront, but we must all take a principled stand and speak out.

Wilf Day

Good article:

quote:

Hiroshima today may be the most important city in the world. Its mere existence reminds us of the madness that men can do.

And [url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=29&t=000437]we're discussing this here.[/url]

Sharon

loverofpeace, I don't know how that mistaken date happened. Mea culpa. Perhaps I was focussing on the 8:15 part of the sentence -- and the August 15 didn't register. Because like you, I know the date was August 6 -- and it occurs elsewhere in the story correctly, with Nagasaki happening three days later on August 9.

For those who haven't read it, it's [url=http://www.rabble.ca/news_full_story.shtml?x=40595] here[/url].

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Wilf Day:
[b]And [url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=29&t=000437]we're discussing this here.[/url][/b]

Actually, we were discussing this particular article [url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic&f=30&t=000602]H..., but now that thread has been closed, and posters have been referred back to this thread.

[ 31 July 2005: Message edited by: M. Spector ]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Bobolink in the other closed thread:
[b]It is interesting that the Japanese government was not shocked by the Hiroshima bomb.[/b]

It would be indeed interesting if it were true. They were shocked enough to surrender almost immediately.

Where's the evidence for your assertion? How could the Japanese government, alone among the world's people, not have been shocked by Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

jeff house

Japan's government was utterly shocked by the bombs, once the degree of devastation had been made clear to it.

A good and accessible source for the extent of the shock is Herbert Bix' book: "Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan". It is available in paperback "everywhere".

Fidel

Yes, it was a shocking display of psychopathy for that to happen to innocent women and children. There were birth defects for some time afterwards. And to think that MacArthur wanted to nuke hundreds of millions of human beings in order to kill and idea not long after. Madness.

retread

Arguably most of WW2 was a shocking display of psychopathy towards innocents. I'm still not sure that the atomic bombs particularly stand out, and I'm convinced that every other major power would have used them if they'd had them.
When they write about WW2 a couple of centuries from now, I doubt they'll point at the use of atomic bombs as standing out as the worst of its offenses.

I'm not saying they were right to use them, any more than bombing cities or firing artillery shells into villages were right, just that at the time that was the norm.

On the other hand, MacArthur wanting to use them in the Korean War was different, because by then they'd learned about radiation effects, and because the Korean War was a relatively limited affair in which all sides held back. MacArthur was a lousy general who went against the advice of almost every other general in the US Army, and then wanted to escalate to preserve his prestige when his plans led to ruin.

Fidel

By what I've read, the Japanese air force and homeland defenses were in a shambles. American bombers were already flying over Japan unchallenged for the most part. I think the fireworks was a display of force for Stalin's benefit, our ally during the Nazi war of annhilation against Russia and freedom in general.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Retread, you don't seem to acknowledge the distinction between conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons represent a qualitative increase in lethality and morbidity. Even the relatively tiny nukes used against Japan were a thousand times bigger in destructive power than any previous bomb. And now the technology exists to make nuclear bombs a thousand times again more detructive than those.

To say that using such weapons was "the norm" in WW2 is bizarre and offensive. Killing people a dozen at a time was the norm. Using a single bomb to kill 70,000 people instantly, plus 60,000 within months from burns, radiation poisoning, and shock, plus another 70,000 within 5 years from the residual effects of the blast was not the norm.

ItsMrAHole2U

quote:


Originally posted by Fidel:
[b]Yes, it was a shocking display of psychopathy for that to happen to innocent women and children.[/b]

Shocking that tens of thousands were killed and several hundred thousand sickened (either at the time or in the form of future birth defects).

It's a fly speck, however, when looking at WWII in its totality (with 50 million dead and many millions maimed).

But, because America dropped the bomb, it's a wonderful thing to beat up Americans with nearly 60 years later...

retread

Spector, when the bombs were dropped almost nothing was known about radiation (they used x-rays until the 50's to see if shoes fit for instance ... stores used to have little x-ray boxes, you'd put on the shoe and then put your foot on the box to see how much room there was on the side. Physicists used to focus high energy beams by looking at the apeture until it looked sharp ... ie they pointed at their eyes).

Other than radiation, killing tens of thousands with one bomb is no different than killing them with a firestorm - so it happens in a second rather than an hour. Is that significant?

But okay, maybe firebombing a city is only a 9 out of 10 on the atrocity scale, whereas using the atomic bombs was a 10 out of 10. The difference is academic.

Nothing I've read suggests dying from radiation poisoning is worse than dying over a few weeks from complications of having most of your skin burned off. They're both horribly painful, gruesome ways of dying, and at that level of pain any difference is too small to be significant.

Ultimately, I just have a really hard time with the idea that some ways of killing civilians are benign, others are evil, and that's what seems to be the implication. And as I said, its hard to think of any the major powers who wouldn't have used the atomic bomb if they had it ... at least there's nothing in their conduct of the war which suggests it.

Edit: edited to remove comments about criminality ... mixed up thread with another one on this subect.

[ 01 August 2005: Message edited by: retread ]

voice of the damned

quote:


Killing people a dozen at a time was the norm. Using a single bomb to kill 70,000 people instantly, plus 60,000 within months from burns, radiation poisoning, and shock, plus another 70,000 within 5 years from the residual effects of the blast was not the norm.


This is a little like arguing that bin laden is so much worse than the Ku Klux Klan, because bin laden killed 3000 people in a few hours on 9-11, whereas the Klan would've taken a few months or even years to lynch that many people during the Jim Crow days.

I could see George W. Bush employing this type of sophistry in order to portray Al Qaeda as some sort of unprecedented evil facing mankind. I can't see too many leftists swallowing such logic, though.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

So now I'm channelling George W. Bush because I dare to say that kiling 200,000 people with one bomb was not the norm in World War 2? Get a grip.

I'm sure it's all very easy to sit at your computer in your comfortable chair and casually dismiss the deliberate targeting of 200,000 civilians for death as some kind of business as usual. I don't care if they shot them one at a time or killed them all with one bomb, it was an unprecedented atrocity, and made all the more reprehensible by the fact that it was completely unnecessary inasmuch as the Japanese were already willing to surrender.

voice of the damned

quote:


I don't care if they shot them one at a time or killed them all with one bomb

Well, in the post I responded to, you wrote:

quote:

Using a single bomb to kill 70,000 people instantly, plus 60,000 within months from burns, radiation poisoning, and shock, plus another 70,000 within 5 years from the residual effects of the blast was not the norm.


Can you see how I might draw the conclusion that you think killing a large number of people instantly is worse than killing them over a longer period of time?

quote:

I'm sure it's all very easy to sit at your computer in your comfortable chair and casually dismiss the deliberate targeting of 200,000 civilians for death as some kind of business as usual.

I'm not saying that the dropping of the atom bombs were morally defensible simply because it was "business as usual". BAU does not always equal morally correct. Whether BAU at Hiroshima was worse than BAU at other allied atrocity sites is my question.

quote:

So now I'm channelling George W. Bush because I dare to say that kiling 200,000 people with one bomb was not the norm in World War 2? Get a grip.

I'm not saying you're a Geroge Bush supporter, just that your logic re: Hiroshima and Nagasaki is the same as the logic used by Bush and others who want to make bin laden out to be some unique evil in modern politics, ie. Killing X number of people in a short period of time is worse than killing X number of people over a longer period of time. I simpy don't buy that distinction.

[ 01 August 2005: Message edited by: voice of the damned ]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

quote:


Originally posted by voice of the damned:
[b]Can you see how I might draw the conclusion that you think killing a large number of people instantly is worse than killing them over a longer period of time?[/b]

No, I can’t. Try reading what I actually said to get a clue as to what I think.

I was responding to another poster’s equating of conventional weapons with nuclear weapons. He thought that using nuclear weapons, though “shocking”, didn’t particularly stand out from the “norm” of WW2. My response was to say that nuclear weapons do not represent the “norm” of warfare – they are qualitatively different from conventional weapons. I wasn’t making a moral statement.

It’s as if someone refused to recognize that the advent of the Gatling gun marked a qualitative change in weapons of warfare over the single-shot rifle. The fact that you could kill many more people in a shorter time was immensely significant. But it has nothing to do with the question of whether killing 200 people in a minute with a machine gun is “worse” than killing them with 200 rifles over the space of half an hour. And I never tried to make that moral distinction in relation to nuclear weapons. You jumped to that conclusion yourself.

voice of the damned

quote:


And I never tried to make that moral distinction in relation to nuclear weapons. You jumped to that conclusion yourself.

So am I to understand that you see NO MORAL DISTINCTION between using convential weapons and using nuclear weapons to kill the same number of people? Because you also wrote:

quote:

To say that using such weapons was "the norm" in WW2 is bizarre and offensive.

If the difference between nukes and conventional weapons is not a moral one, why would failing to acknowledge that difference be "offensive"? Wouldn't it just be a case of being factually wrong?

[ 01 August 2005: Message edited by: voice of the damned ]

[ 01 August 2005: Message edited by: voice of the damned ]

Fidel

quote:


Originally posted by ItsMrAHole2U:
[b]
It's a fly speck, however, when looking at WWII in its totality (with 50 million dead and many millions maimed).

But, because America dropped the bomb, it's a wonderful thing to beat up Americans with nearly 60 years later...[/b]


There there. We lefties don't lump all American's in with you lot on the right. They were defenseless women and children in Nagasaki and Hiroshima just as much as they were in Phnom Phen and Saigon when the doctor and the madman were on the loose.

MacArthur and other hawks talked about dropping the bomb on N. Korea in order to draw China and the Soviet Union into a nuclear war. They considered murdering hundreds of millions to kill an idea. MacArthur mentioned "unleashing Chiang Kai Shek" from Taiwan. It wasn't such a wonderful thing, no.

[ 01 August 2005: Message edited by: Fidel ]

Cueball Cueball's picture
retread

More people died in Dresden overnight in the firestorm than in Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined. It was described as "one big flame".
Almost as many died in the firestorms in Hamburg and Tokyo. Killing hundreds of thousands in one night was almost routine, doing it in one bomb was just a technical detail.

War is psychopathic, period. There have been millions killed in wars since the end of WW2, no nukes among them, but because the deaths have come from conventional weapons things like the peace movement have hardly noticed them.

I'd say what Bush is doing in Iraq is criminal; what Truman did wasn't (or no more so than ten thousand other acts done by all combatives in the war). Times change, and putting new morals on old events is a useless anachronism.

skdadl

quote:


doing it in one bomb was just a technical detail.

retread, while I mainly agree with the rest of your post, with the general sentiment, I would still quibble with this particular claim.

Setting up a Dresden or a Tokyo is an immense, difficult, time- and resources-consuming effort. Dropping one bomb (once it had been developed) that could have the same (or now, a worse) effect was real shock therapy.

It said that any nation able and willing to use such technology could wipe out entire nations and peoples in a few days with very little expenditure of energy or resources. It was not just a technical detail.

retread

Its a reasonable quibble skdadl, let me justify my opinion from an engineers viewpoint.

To murder Dredan (or partially Hamburg or Tokyo) with conventional weapons required the allies to design and produce many planes and bombs, and then organize the bombings (and you're right, they were very carefully planned - the firestorms were by design, not an accident). Making the planes and bombs took little new effort, it was more or less the same technology and industry as was used in automobile and chemical plants. The new effort was in the bombing itself.

To murder Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the allies (wasn't just Americans involved - in fact most of the important figures were European refugees - though the Americans like to speak as if it was their invention) had to create the Manhatten Project, an immense new project (too lazy to list the resources it needed, but I suspect you're familiar with it) and in the end only had a handful of bombs (actually IIRC three) for their effort. The actual bombing itself was simple (since they'd wiped out the Japanese air defenses - one plane is a long shot otherwise), the effort was in the preparatory work. It would have been much simpler to just firebomb the Japanene cities and not bother with the Manhatten Project. In fact the only reason they started the Manhatten Project was because they knew the Axis powers were working on nuclear projects themselves ... hows that for the start of a pattern we've come to dread?

(Well, maybe not start ... guess the same thing happened with machine guns before; professional soldiers at the time hated them, because they reduced glorious (their opinion, not mine) charges to long drawn out slogs).

If you're talking about today, then I agree; nuclear technology has become old hat, and its much easier to destroy a city with a hydrogen bomb (100 to 1000 times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped in WW2), and to deliver them with ICBM's or cruise missiles or even unmarked vans. But in my mind projecting that onto WW2 is again an anachronism.

BTW, as said, most of the major combatives in WW2 were working on nuclear weapons ... including Japan and Germany. Ironically (on several levels) one of the reason the Germans didn't get it first (besides their kicking out the Jewish physicists who at the time made up a large portion of the worlds best physcists) was because they considered it "Jewish" science and so not worthy of support.

Contrarian

[url=http://hnn.us/articles/10168.html]History News Network[/url] has a bunch of links to articles and information websites about Hiroshima. Articles tend to be by American historians, but not exclusively.

loverofpeace

I'm fascinated by the direction of the discussion. No one seems interested in the fact that nuclear weapons have long term effects on the WORLD's environment. It's all very well to quibble over whether it's worse to kill individuals or entire communities but what of the deleterious effects? A city can be rebuilt after a firestorm and we don't see children born with horrible defects due to the fires, as we do the generations born post atomic bomb destruction of a city. What of that folks? I call it continuous murder.

obscurantist

quote:


Originally posted by loverofpeace:
[b]A city can be rebuilt after a firestorm and we don't see children born with horrible defects due to the fires, as we do the generations born post atomic bomb destruction of a city. What of that folks? I call it continuous murder.[/b]

That's an important distinction between nuclear and conventional weapons, but not one that was known (or at least not well known) when they were used against the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

I regard the American government of the time as morally culpable for using a weapon that was known to be far more destructive than any other weapon invented up to that point, when its use was not clearly necessary to end the war. I would also judge them as morally culpable for the ongoing effects of the bombs, but not to the same degree, because while they could have foreseen the scale of death and devastation, I don't think they could have foreseen the ongoing effects.

Of course these effects did become known very quickly, and the Americans and Russians went ahead with a nuclear arms race that had the potential to magnify these effects many times over, to the point where "the living would envy the dead." So the Cold War leaders were willing to carry out the "continuous murder" of millions if not billions of people, although to be fair, some of them (such as Kennedy) seemed to appreciate the horror of this possibility and took small steps to back away from it.

Perhaps it was the knowledge of what happened at Nagasaki and Hiroshima that held Kennedy and others back from starting a nuclear conflict. So perhaps the use of nuclear weapons in World War II, and the resulting deaths, deformities, illnesses and other traumas, saved the world from an even worse nuclear conflict that could have been made easier to start by an ignorance of these weapons' long-term effects. Perhaps. I'm not sure it's a strong argument, as the world came perilously close to nuclear war anyway, but I'll raise the argument nonetheless.

As to the differences between incendiary bombing and atomic bombing, of course there's a huge qualitative difference between the two types of weapons. But the strategy of firebombing cities and the large-scale murder of civilians in World War II, as well as the technological developments that made World War I so horrific, did provide precedents of sorts. Nuclear weapons were something frighteningly different from all previous weapons, but did not represent a complete break with the past.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

quote:


Originally posted by obscurantist:
[b]I would also judge them as morally culpable for the ongoing effects of the bombs, but not to the same degree, because while they could have foreseen the scale of death and devastation, I don't think they could have foreseen the ongoing effects.[/b]

You think that reduces their culpability?

They knew when they dropped the bombs that tens of thousands would die as a result. The fact that they might not have been able to predict precisely how many would die immediately and how many would take longer to die has nothing to do with their degree of moral responsibility.

So long as a multitude of deaths was a foreseeable consequence of the blasts, the exact modality by which the deaths occurred is irrelevant. They are as culpable for the death of the person who died in 1950 of lingering radiation burns and lost limbs as they are of the person who died instantly at ground zero.

Pythagoras

When I went through the Peace Museum in Hiroshima, I got the distinct impression that the dropping of the Bomb was a science experiment. Why else would the air force send a plane to follow the Enola Gay in order to film the effect of the explosion? Now that is sick. (see: [url=http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/peacesite/English/Stage1/S1-4E.html)]http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/peacesite/English/Stage1/S1-4E.html)[/url]

But isn’t all modern, industial warfare now psychopathic because of the implied use of some kind of weapon of mass destruction (WMD) at some stage? I’m inclined to think any weapon that enables small numbers of instigators to kill or injure large numbers of victims is a WMD. The machine gun would qualify as would a bomb. But psychopathic warfare also seems to involve deliberate mass destruction, and for that you don’t need a WMD all you need is some sort of war machine to do your bidding. Rome razing Carthage, the Crusaders massacring all the inhabitant of Jerusalem, “witch” hunting, Nazis killing Jews, Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda…

To pick up on the effect of long-term effect of the Bomb, what makes it different from say, the fear of Dreadnaughts or Dirigibles is that, once you get your hands on one, setting it off is relatively easy – hence the 20th century fear of a kook (presidential or otherwise) “pressing the button”. I think it is the acknowledgement of this apparent instantaneous “global” destruction as the result of the possibly irrational decision (or by definition, irrational decision) of an individual that has made the Bomb a watershed in how we came to view warfare and world politics. What has now complicated the mix and come to characterize the beginning of the 21st century is the availability of the technology enabling anyone to deliver any WMD anywhere, the financial ability of any reasonably well off person to procure or create a WMD and the charged political atmosphere that has pushed internecine warfare from the battlefield into the vernacular of everyday life. So, aptly, the focused fear of destruction by the Bomb as the result of an international conflict has mutated into a diffused, ubiquitous fear of radiation poisoning from nuclear waste or accident (please see the film “Chernobyl Heart” for a vivid depiction of this), or some other destruction as the result of sectarian fanaticism or individual psychopathy.

Perhaps the Bomb, like a genie’s wish, has made has made us careful of what we wish for. It has taught us the imperative of always questioning authority, because there are no civilians. It has pulled back the wizard’s curtain to reveal true heroism resides in all of us to create, bit by bit, the world we want.

On the anniversary of the dropping of the Bomb, I will be thinking of a former colleague of mine who was a schoolboy on that August day in Hiroshima. Every year he would make a pilgrimage to the dome and sit there under its gaunt silhouette and write Haiku. I can think of no better way to put that event in perspective.

obscurantist

M. Spector, you're absolutely right from a legal (and ethical) point of view. Truman, and those in the American government who implemented his order to drop the two atomic bombs on Japanese cities, are just as responsible for the deaths, injuries, and deformities caused by the bombs over the long term as they are for the deaths that occurred immediately.

As you point out, criminal and civil law generally don't distinguish between unintended harm and intended harm, where the intention was to cause harm, so it's legally irrelevant that the American government may not have contemplated people dying from radiation sickness / burns and children of survivors being born with terrible deformities.

I was speaking more from a historical point of view. Looking back on what happened to the people of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, should we judge their American attackers harshly for what they did? Yes, I think we should judge them harshly for everything that happened. But I think it matters, if only to a small extent, that while they knew they were doing something horrible, they didn't know quite how horrible it would be.

Maybe this distinction only becomes significant when you apply it to the context of the nuclear arms race, where the two sides had a much fuller understanding of the long-term effects of nuclear weapons. They knew what some of those effects were, and yet went ahead and built thousands of those weapons. On the other hand, they never used any of those weapons in war (yet). Maybe that extra knowledge was one of the things that held them back.

quote:

Originally posted by M. Spector:
[b]You think that reduces their culpability?

They knew when they dropped the bombs that tens of thousands would die as a result. The fact that they might not have been able to predict precisely how many would die immediately and how many would take longer to die has nothing to do with their degree of moral responsibility.

So long as a multitude of deaths was a foreseeable consequence of the blasts, the exact modality by which the deaths occurred is irrelevant. They are as culpable for the death of the person who died in 1950 of lingering radiation burns and lost limbs as they are of the person who died instantly at ground zero.[/b]


velcrow

I would come back to the fact that the Japanese were on the verge of surrender, a huge number of cities had been flattened by firebombing, and yet the U.S. still chose to drop the bomb. Perhaps it was because the Manhattan Project was the most expensive military project in history, and it needed to justify the expense. The race to finish the bomb was not so much to finish it in time to help end to war - it was to get the bomb ready before the war ended.

Cueball Cueball's picture

I'll say this about this issue. I can see the point that the war was a tremendous struggle, with apparently unlimited means used by either side of the conflict -- so usinig it make sense in terms of that.

But the one thing that truly distrubs me because it strongly suggests that the use of the bomb was not merely motivated by the desire to to find a military expeditious means to end the war.

It is a fairly obscure fact that when Truman gave Gen. Leslie Groves (the CinC of the Los Alamos project) his mandate to drop the bombs, he gave Groves a 12 day window in which he was authorized to act. Groves ordered that the bombs be dropped on the 6th and 9th of August 1945. The second bomb came three days after the Tibbets succesully detonated the first over Hiroshima.

In other words Groves could have legally waited a full 8 to 9 days longer to drop the second bomb over Nagasaki, which would have given Japan that much more time to figure out what happened, consider the options and formulate a political response.

There was no pressing adminstrative or military reason to rush the second bomb into action. There as no reason not to wait and no evidence to suggest that Japan would not have surrendered had they merely dropped the first one.

There are several possible reason why the US dropped the second bomb in the time frame it did, none of which conform to the thesis that the bombings were a military necessity.

[ 01 August 2005: Message edited by: Cueball ]

retread

I agree there were a lot of reasons other than military necessity for the US dropping the A-bombs. But thats true for a lot of what went on in WW2 - civilian bombing, whether done by the Nazis or Americans or British or Soviets, was almost never for military necessity; it was always thought of as a way of intimidating the enemy. In retrospect it only hardened resolve, which they probably should have been able to figure out from their own country's reactions (but always felt their own citizens were made of sterner stuff and so were immune to the effect).

I agree nuclear war has long term effects that conventional war doesn't have, but I also know it wasn't known at the time, and couldn't play a role in the decision to use them back then(which wouldn't be the case now). In the case of the atomic bombs, their effects were actually less than that of the firestorms (which were deliberately set up, not accidents ... lots of material on that). A firestorm isn't just a lot of burning buildings, its a whole city as one big flame reaching hundreds of feet into the air.

Now with modern nukes that's not the case, and I'm not arguing about using WMD's today, just the historical use in WW2.

Anyway, I'm repeating myself, and I'm back to work tomorrow so I won't be around til the weekend; been an interesting discussion, learned a few things.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

This idea that the Americans didn't really know how awful the bomb was before Hiroshima is a complete fantasy made up out of whole cloth. There is no evidence whatsoever for such an assertion.

The Americans were the only nation privy to the first-ever atomic explosion, in Alamogordo, N.M. on July 16, 1945. From that date onwards they knew very well what kind of a destructive monster they were preparing to unleash.

Immediately after Hiroshima it was evident what the extent of the devastation had been to civilian populations and infrastructure, and they knew that the bombing of Nagasaki three days later would produce similar results.

And let's set the record straight about firestorms: The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs each killed more people than the firestorms in Hamburg and Dresden combined.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

quote:


Originally posted by velcrow:
[b]Perhaps it was because the Manhattan Project was the most expensive military project in history, and it needed to justify the expense.[/b]

You raise an interesting point, and I think a reasonable case can be made that there were domestic political considerations involved in the decision to use the bombs.

Truman had made his political reputation as the penny-pinching chairman of a Senate investigating committee that had saved millions of dollars in wartime military contracts. Meanwhile, the USA had secretly spent $2.6 billion since 1941 on the Manhattan Project in a race against Germany, but the race was clearly over once Germany had surrendered. Truman was worried that Congress and the American public would never forgive him for spending so much money with nothing tangible to show for it. They would ask why, if the U.S. had such a powerful weapon, it hadn't been used in the war.

Geneva

[i]the Japanese were on the verge of surrender[/i]
___________________________

this assertion is not really clear;
the country was run by 6-man military junta entirely insulated from the sufferings of the population, and they had fought for every centimetre of Okinawa at horrific cost

the most obvious invasion route was southern Kyushu, and the Japanese military had started moving divisions there to match the anticipated 10 divisions McArthur might attempt to land

one can be entirely opposed to the use of the Bomb without being in any way deceived about the horrendous war record of the Japanese high command and its willingness to fight to the end

thank God for the Emperor, who forced the issue and urged surrender

[ 03 August 2005: Message edited by: Geneva ]

Kevin_Laddle

quote:


Originally posted by Geneva:
[b][b]the Japanese were on the verge of surrender[/b]

thank God for the Emperor, who forced the issue

[/b]


huh?

[img]confused.gif" border="0[/img] [img]confused.gif" border="0[/img]

Geneva

K.L.:
I cut and paste the "quote" from a poster above who said that "the Japanese were set to surrender", which I don't really think is proven; in fact I think Japan might have fought on into 1945-46

but the fact that the Emperor himself took the microphone and announced on radio to the Japanese nation that they should surrender was taken as the final word; some Japanese reported being more astounded at hearing the Emperor's voice than they were at hearing of the destruction of 2 cities;
no dissension after that

if, by contrast, the Emperor had said:
Forget it, Japan will never surrender to the heathens!, or something along those lines, no doubt they would not have stopped fighting

[ 03 August 2005: Message edited by: Geneva ]

Geneva

[url=http://tinyurl.com/8r7z6]http://tinyurl.com/8r7z6[/url]
[i]Though these terrible events [Hiroshima and Nagaski] failed to induce the military leaders to concede defeat, their resistance was overcome by the emperor who pushed for acceptance of the surrender terms, since amended to leave some hope for retention of the imperial system in a democratic Japan.
The decision to surrender was broadcast to the nation by the emperor--an unprecedented event in itself--on August 15 while further rescripts were issued to the armed forces ordering them to lay down their arms. The formal surrender took place on Sept. 2 as Japan came under the occupation of American forces and the administrative fiat of General MacArthur.[/i]

THE SPEECH:

To our good and loyal subjects:

After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our Empire today, we have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union that our Empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well- being of our subjects is the solemn obligation that has been handed down by our Imperial Ancestors, and we lay it close to the heart.

Indeed, we declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to ensure Japan's self- preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone-- the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of our servants of the state and the devoted service of our 100 million people--the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, or to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers.

We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia.

The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, and those who met with death and all their bereaved families, pains our heart night and day.

The welfare of the wounded and the war sufferers, and of those who have lost their homes and livelihood is the object of our profound solicitude. The hardships and suffering to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great.

We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all you, our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable. Having been able to save and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, we are always with you, our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.

Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion that may engender needless complications, and of any fraternal contention and strife that may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.

Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith in the imperishableness of its divine land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibilities, and the long road before it. Unite your total strength to be devoted to the construction for the future. Cultivate the ways of rectitude, nobility of spirit, and work with resolution so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.

All you, our subjects, we command you to act in accordance with our wishes.

[ 03 August 2005: Message edited by: Geneva ]

Contrarian

Here is a good summary [url=http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0803-26.htm]by Gar Alperowitz[/url] of current historians' views. The Soviet connections are fascinating; such as the argument made by some that Japan did NOT surrender because of the Hiroshima bomb, but

quote:

...By far the most important factor forcing the decision, his research indicates, was the Soviet declaration of war against Japan on August 8, 1945, just after the Hiroshima bombing...

And the author:

quote:

...(Full disclosure: My own view–as one of the historians involved in the debate--is that the bombings were unnecessary and that American policy makers were advised at the time that a combination of assurances for the emperor plus the forthcoming Russian declaration of war would likely bring about surrender in the three months available before the invasion could begin. I also believe the evidence is strong, but not conclusive, that American leaders saw the bomb above all as a way to impress the Russians and also as a way to end the war before the Red Army got very far into Manchuria.)...

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Geneva:
[b]I cut and paste the "quote" from a poster above who said that "the Japanese were set to surrender", which I don't really think is proven; in fact I think Japan might have fought on into 1945-46[/b]

The Hirohito speech you linked to is preceded by some explanatory material. It points out that [b]the Japanese could not accept the persistent demands of Truman for "unconditional surrender".[/b] The Japanese had in fact been making surrender overtures to America through Russian diplomatic channels for months before Hiroshima; [b]it is now known that Japan's only "condition" for surrender was that they be allowed to keep their Emperor as head of state. Truman's stubborn insistence on "unconditional surrender" was understood by both sides to mean that they could not keep their Emperor. In the circumstances, that meant the Japanese felt obliged to fight to the last person to defend their emperor/god, and unconditional surrender would be out of the question - unless the Emperor himself decreed it. That's why his intervention was required to reverse the Japanese position on surrender and to save his people from annihilation on his behalf.

It is tragically ironic that when the surrender terms were drawn up after Nagasaki, Japan was allowed to keep its emperor after all![/b] The actual surrender terms were therefore not "unconditional" after all, and would have been acceptable to the Japanese in June 1945 if Truman had not been so pig-headed.

The link to the article by Gar Alperovitz that Contrarian posted above bears out the above narrative. Here's an excerpt:

quote:

President Truman's friend and Chief of Staff, five star Admiral William D. Leahy was deeply angered: The "use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender... In being the first to use it, we... adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages."

[snip]

...several historians now ask, why did President Truman and his chief adviser Secretary of State James Byrnes make it harder for Japan to surrender? Specifically, why did they remove assurances for the Japanese emperor from the July 1945 Potsdam Proclamation warning Japan to surrender? The assurances were strongly recommended by U.S. and British military leaders, and removing them, they knew, would make it all but impossible for Japan to end the war.

A traditional theory has been that the President feared political criticism if he provided assurances to the emperor. But, other historians note, leading Republicans were for - not against - clarifying the terms to achieve a surrender, and were calling for this publicly. Moreover, American leaders always knew the emperor would be needed to order a surrender - and, of course, in the end they did agree to an understanding which allowed such assurances: Japan still has an emperor.


[url=http://www.qern.org/node/203]Another article, by Anthony Gregory, written a year ago[/url], makes the same point, and provides some insight into how [b]Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked an infernal turning point in the way we think about wars:[/b]

quote:

In the case of Hiroshima, no substantive evidence exists that the bombing was "necessary" to make Japan surrender. In fact, the Japanese had already attempted to sue for peace in July and were only hesitant because they distrusted the terms of unconditional surrender that the Allies demanded. They specifically wanted to keep their emperor, which, after the atomic bombings, they were allowed to, anyway.

[snip]

[b]But we do know that the bombings did accomplish a number of things.[/b] They ushered in a new era of warfare, in which targeting civilians became an acceptable strategy. The advent of the nuclear bomb brought on decades of Cold War between the U.S. and Russian superpowers, whose subjects lived in constant anxiety under the perennial threat of nuclear annihilation. It encouraged the Russians to accelerate their production of weapons of mass destruction. It further consolidated power in the executive branch of the U.S. government — what power even compares with the power to destroy so many lives at the push of a button? And it launched civilization toward the ultimate collectivism, whereby civilian lives became expendable fodder for the sufficiently empowered governments of the world.

More than half the fatalities in World War II were civilian, and the apocalyptic finale of the war in Hiroshima and Nagasaki drastically altered the formula for waging war, henceforth branding civilians as legitimate targets to achieve higher, collectivist purposes.

[b]Since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the U.S. government has continued to treat civilians and combatants as roughly indistinguishable.[/b] During the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon carpet-bombed Cambodia, killing hundreds of thousands of peasants. The first Bush and Clinton administrations devastated the lives of Iraqi civilians, bombing civilian infrastructure and imposing UN sanctions with the express policy goal of destroying civilian water treatment facilities and starving the Iraqi people into submission, in hopes to incite them to rise up and overthrow Saddam.

On [i]60 Minutes[/i] in May 1996, Leslie Stahl asked Clinton's UN Ambassador, Madeline Albright, point blank: "We have heard that a half million children have died [from the sanctions]. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And - and you know, is the price worth it?"

Albright replied, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."

[snip]

Three years after Albright's frightening admission, Clinton went on to drop cluster bombs on Serbia, knowing full well that civilians would endure the most suffering. In regard to Gulf War II, the U.S. government has shown a complete apathy toward civilian dead in Iraq, refusing even to keep and publicize an accurate body count.

[snip]

[b]Instead of making excuses for past U.S. war crimes, we need to remember them for the great evils that they indeed were.[/b] We cannot undo history, but with determination, we might possibly prevent such horrendous crimes from ever again being done in our name. The worst way to guarantee a brighter future is to look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and draw the lesson that sometimes the government needs to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians for the sake of humanity. Indeed, it is that conventional lesson that has helped solidify the United States in a state of perpetual war since the end of World War II, and that dangerously faulty lesson might still one day be invoked to facilitate such terror and atrocity that we can now hardly imagine.


[ 05 August 2007: Message edited by: M. Spector ]

Fidel

The two western leaders fully believed the Nazis would occupy the Kremlin in about six weeks time. They ignored Russia's request for backup and a second front against what was the bulk of the Hitler's offensive for two and a half years inside Russia. And Chiang Kai Shek wasn't expected to have retreated to Taiwan so soon after slaughtering 10 million Maoists and taking the bank of China's wealth with him.

[ 04 August 2005: Message edited by: Fidel ]

Judes Judes's picture

The Globe and Mail poll today asks
[i]Here's a poll people should vote on. It's on U.S. president Harry S Truman dropping the bomb on the Japanese 60 years ago. Truman didn't need to do this, the Japanese were defeated already. It was a blatant demonstration to the Russians, and also a racist act. [/i]

The results so far are 50/50 so vote [url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/]here[/url]

You don't need to subscribe for this one

skdadl

Oh, dear. The Yes side is suddenly up. Vote, people.

You don't suppose that the denizens of the Other Place have found this poll?

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

What an ugly premise for a poll. "To bomb or not to bomb" - that is the question.

And that's in addition to the whole way the question is posed in regard to the actions of a foreign power. [b]How about the actions of Canada, either then or now, in relation to such events? [/b] Why the hell should the question be the Canadian attitude towards the action of the U.S. and not the independent action of our own country? How about a poll seeing how many Canadians would like to make their country a nuclear weapons free zone? #$%^&!! What a repulsive un-Canadian newspaper. The Globe and Mail, together with the NP on the other "extreme", makes up a bookend of right wing opinion in this country.

The poison of slavish pro-US ideology splashes into Canadian political discussions like the biota and pollutants from Devil's Lake poisons [Minnesota and] Manitoba watersheds.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

How is bombing a country you're at war with a "racist act"??

It's not like the U.S. got a choice of enemy. Their enemy happened to be Japanese.

josh

Do you think they would have dropped the bomb on Germany, if it were available? Don't think so. And while they firebombed Dreden, the fireboming of Japan was far, far worse.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

That's nothing but cynical speculation. I would hope for a little more substance than that to accompany a charge of racism.

josh

Magoo, when you're dealing with historical what if's, speculation is par for the course, cynical or otherwise. However, as evidence, simply examine the way the Japanese were racially caricatured in U.S. popular culture during WWII, and the internment of Japanese-Amercians, as opposed to how Germans, and German-Americans were treated.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The poll itself doesn't refer to race directly. I'm not sure where the [i]italicized[/i] part of Judes' contribution comes from - whether it is her own comment or a quotation of another writer.

However racism played a role in wartime propaganda to demonize the Japanese and marshall public support for the internment of Japanese Canadians in this country, appropriation of their property, etc.. Racist arguments were more tolerated in 1945 than today.

If the bombing of Hiroshima is shown to be unnecessary, as many think, then it is a fair question to ask "What were the real reasons for bombing Hiroshima?" And one of the contributing "reasons" could well have been a racist attitude towards the Japanese whose lives were treated as less valuable than the lives of the Allied soldiers who would have been expected to invade and occupy Japan.

Bacchus

quote:


racist attitude towards the Japanese whose lives were treated as less valuable than the lives of the Allied soldiers

You could easily reverse the Japanese and Allied words there.

The racism went both ways

Japan had a substantial force still left for convential warfare and Hirohito didnt surrender until days after nagasaki and in secret for fear the warhawks in government would stop him as they dearly wanted to continue the fight

Crippled_Newsie

Like it or not-- wars are the most extreme sort of exercises in nationalism. In such circumstances, the thinking ineluctably goes 'your dead people are worth less that our dead people.'

It's one of the many reasons wars are BAD.

To be morally perspicuous, what rate of predicted casuaulties (Allied vs. Japanese) would have properly compelled Truman to invade and not drop those bombs?

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