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‘It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing’ --- Why dropping the A-Bombs was wrong
Washington Examiner ^ | 08/10/2013 | Timothy Carney

Posted on 08/10/2013 6:09:00 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

That was a conclusion of the 1946 U.S. Bombing Survey ordered by President Harry Truman in the wake of World War II.

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower said in 1963, “the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”

That wasn’t merely hindsight. Eisenhower made the same argument in 1945. In his memoirs, Ike recalled a visit from War Secretary Henry Stimson:

I voiced to him 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 that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of “face.”

Admiral William Leahy, Truman’s chief military advisor, wrote:

It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.

I put a lot of weight on the assessments of the military leaders at the time and the contemporaneous commission that studied it. My colleague Michael Barone, who defends the bombing, has other sources — a historian and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan — that lead him to conclude Japan would not have surrendered.

This confusion is not surprising. For one thing, there’s what we call the “fog of war” — it’s really hard to know what’s happening currently in war, and it’s even harder to predict which way the war will break.

Second, more generally, there’s the imperfection of human knowledge. Humans are very limited in their ability to predict the future and to determine the consequences of their actions in complex situations like war.

So, if Barone wants to stick with Moynihan’s and the New Republic’s assessments of the war while I stick with the assessments of Gen. Eisenhower, Adm. Leahy, and Truman’s own commission, that’s fine. The question — would Japan have surrendered without our bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki? — can’t be answered with certainty today, nor could it have been answered in August 1945.

But this fog, this imperfect knowledge, ought to diminish the weight given to the consequentialist type of reasoning Barone employs — “Many, many more deaths, of Japanese as well as Americans, would have occurred if the atomic bombs had not been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

We don’t know that. That’s a guess. We didn’t know that at the time. If Pres. Truman believed that, it was a prediction of the future — and a prediction that clashed with the predictions of the military leaders.

Given all this uncertainty, I would lend more weight to principle. One principle nearly everyone shares is this: it’s wrong to deliberately kill babies and innocent children. The same goes for Japanese women, elderly, disabled, and any other non-combatants. Even if you don’t hold this as an absolute principle, most people hold it as a pretty firm rule.

To justify the bombing, you need to scuttle this principle in exchange for consequentialist thinking. With a principle as strong as “don’t murder kids” I think you’d need a lot more certainty than Truman could have had.

I don’t think Truman’s decision was motivated by evil. I’ll even add that it was an understandable decision. But I think it was the wrong one.

TOPICS: History; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: atomicbomb; hiroshima; japan; nagasaki; timothycarney; washingtonexaminer; worldwareleven; worldwartwo; wwii
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To: SeekAndFind

It was wrong to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki

It was wrong to attack Pearl Harbor without provocation

21 posted on 08/10/2013 6:25:46 AM PDT by chainsaw ("Two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by Obama")
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

“What did you do in the Great War, Daddy?” The recruiting poster deserves ridicule and contempt, of course, but here its question is embarrassingly relevant, and the problem is one that touches on the dirty little secret of social class in America. Arthur T. Hadley said recently that those for whom the use of the A-bomb was “wrong” seem to be implying “that it would have been better to allow thousands on thousands of American and Japanese infantrymen to die in honest hand-to-hand combat on the beaches than to drop those two bombs.” People holding such views, he notes, “do not come from the ranks of society that produce infantrymen or pilots.” And there’s an eloquence problem: most of those with firsthand experience of the war at its worst were not elaborately educated people. Relatively inarticulate, most have remained silent about what they know. That is, few of those destined to be blown to pieces if the main Japanese islands had been invaded went on to become our most effective men of letters or impressive ethical theorists or professors of contemporary history or of international law. The testimony of experience has tended to come from rough diamonds—James Jones’ is an example—who went through the war as enlisted men in the infantry or the Marine Corps.

22 posted on 08/10/2013 6:26:15 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (Doing the same thing and expecting different results is called software engineering.)
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To: SeekAndFind


Next topic

23 posted on 08/10/2013 6:26:24 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit)
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To: Mad Dawgg
There were going to defend the Japanese mainland to the last person, military or civilian:

"Towards the end of World War 2 the Japanese military created and employed the `kaiten`, a manned suicide torpedo designed to blow up American ships with great accuracy. At that point in the War Japan had suffered severe losses, was experiencing rapid decline in its industrial capacity compared to the US, and American troops were closing in on the home islands. Surrender was out of the question, so Kaiten (along with kamikaze planes) were brought in to help tilt the balance."

24 posted on 08/10/2013 6:29:22 AM PDT by Dubh_Ghlase (Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I knew the typical WW2 Monday morning QBs would come out with this anniversary. Let’s put it this way, the nation that attacked the United States was defeated and those bombs ended the war.
Millions of Americans (and Japs) alive today would not have either survived or been born if their fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers had died in an invasion of Japan.

25 posted on 08/10/2013 6:29:45 AM PDT by Proud2BeRight
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To: SeekAndFind

The bombs were dropped to prevent the deaths of thousands of US citizens. Japan should have thought of it before they bombed Pearl Harbor.

26 posted on 08/10/2013 6:30:13 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: SeekAndFind
Killing civilians a bad thing.

But no whining over the bombing of cities in Europe?

Deliberately targeting civilians is murder, and is never morally licit, even in pursuit of a good thing such as ending a war.

You can't target militarily important industry and supply chains without targeting civilians, and in some instances slave laborers and even POWs will be caught in the mix on the ground. Sometimes the collateral damage is light, other times unavoidable if the target is to be eliminated. We, more than any other nation, have taken incredible steps to minimize those casualties--to the point of filling smart bombs with concrete and using them as a kinetic energy weapon rather than an explosive weapon to destroy a single building instead of take out a whole block.

The incendiary bombing of Tokyo killed more people than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Consider that the reason Hiroshima and Nagasaki were on the A-bomb target list is that they had not been extensively bombed already, and the scope of the bombing campaign against Japan becomes a little more clear.

Plans were in the works for the invasion of Japan, anticipating more than a million casualties.

The power of the bombs as evidenced by the destruction of relatively undamaged cities was a factor in bringing the war to a swift end.

I will not do the disservice to the memory of those who made a tough decision (based on what they knew) of second-guessing them. Their decision ended the war.

27 posted on 08/10/2013 6:31:31 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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To: SeekAndFind
‘It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing’ --- Why dropping the A-Bombs was wrong

The ONLY thing wrong about a nuke is that we haven't used them more often.

28 posted on 08/10/2013 6:31:45 AM PDT by The Sons of Liberty (Who in DC is looking out for The Constitution, Bill of Rights, much less ME?)
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To: saganite
"What if Longstreet had managed to launch a morning attack on the second day instead of late in the afternoon on the Federal left wing at Gettysburg?"

Longstreet only had one division on the field that morning (McLaws was not yet up and Pickett was miles away) and Sickles' Corps would not have moved into the salient yet thus Longstreet's defeat would probably have been much worse.

29 posted on 08/10/2013 6:32:43 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: SeekAndFind

Want to end a war quickly?
Kill civilians and break stuff, not breaking stuff and not killing civilians extends any war

30 posted on 08/10/2013 6:33:11 AM PDT by svcw (Stand or die)
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To: SeekAndFind


31 posted on 08/10/2013 6:33:20 AM PDT by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: SeekAndFind
UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER....No if's and or buts. Japan and Germany started the mess and we finished it. Millions died because of Japan and Germany....Millions.

Afterwards, Communism and Socialism killed millions more...

32 posted on 08/10/2013 6:33:48 AM PDT by Dallas59 (Obama: The first "White Black" President.)
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To: SeekAndFind
The Japanese and Germans were the ones who started the "total war" strategy. Japan deliberately killed millions of Asian civilians in their quest to rule Asia. Don't tell me about Germany. They forfeited any moral rights long before the bomb was dropped.

Nevertheless, if I didn't think the a-bomb was necessary to force Japan into submission, I wouldn't have been for it. Everything we've read about Japan at that time leads to the conclusion that without the bomb, a full-scale invasion would have been necessary to defeat them. That would have meant a minimum of 100k dead Allied soldiers.

How would you like to be the person who ordered the invasion because we didn't drop the bombs, and have to look into the eyes of 100k plus American parents who lost a son in the invasion and tell them we could have won the war earlier without their sons' deaths, but we didn't want to kill a lot of Japanese civilians? Who would have died by the hundreds of thousands or million anyway if we had invaded

33 posted on 08/10/2013 6:34:03 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: SeekAndFind

Wonderful...such Monday-morning armchair quarterbacking from someone from these times.

It was absolutely the right thing to do. I wonder if he ever read “Unbroken” or interviewed anyone from Pearl Harbor or anywhere in the Pacific theatre before penning this tripe?

While growing up, I spent a good many summers in Narragansett, R.I. They were the last state in the union still celebrating VJ Day (Victory over Japan). I believe they finally caved a few years back.

34 posted on 08/10/2013 6:37:29 AM PDT by SueRae (It isn't over. In God We Trust.)
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To: SeekAndFind
We didn't target Tokyo, due to the desire to have Japan's leaders announce to the whole country that the war was over.

Hiroshima wasn't instrumental in making military armaments. It was, sadly, the seat of Christianity for Japan, for what existed.

Nagasaki did help produce such things.

I would have targeted major military targets at Nagasaki and Tokyo, and tried to make sure the Emperor was not hit.

However, the range of our bombers was always a dire concern and I doubt we could have successfully reached many appropriate areas.

This is what I understand from my knowledge.

Finally, when an entity first offensively, physically, targets you, why should any response restrict the offenders’ most supportive nonmilitary citizens? This may not include kids, but it is difficult to exclude them.

35 posted on 08/10/2013 6:41:36 AM PDT by ConservativeMind ("Humane" = "Don't pen up pets or eat meat, but allow infanticide, abortion, and euthanasia.")
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To: Ditter
"Why did the Japanese attack us?"

To damage our naval capability so that we wouldn't hinder their take over of the far east.

36 posted on 08/10/2013 6:41:48 AM PDT by norwaypinesavage (Galileo: In science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of one individual)
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To: Smokin' Joe

Payback is a bitch. The Japanese aligned themselves with a mass murderer in Hitler.

By dropping two bombs, several things were accomplished. Not only did it end the war with Japan, but it also sent a strong message to the Soviets. Only problem with that was a Democrat being in office in 1947.

In my humble opinion, if a Republican was in office in 1945 there may not have been Soviet expansion into Europe and a split of the Koreas. It wouldn’t have prevented the revolution in China, but that is for another day.

37 posted on 08/10/2013 6:41:50 AM PDT by EQAndyBuzz (The reason we own guns is to protect ourselves from those wanting to take our guns from us.)
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To: SeekAndFind

The destruction at Nagasaki and Hiroshima was NOTHING compared to the destruction of Tokyo, Kanto, and Chiba regions.

Everyone seems to forget Gen Curtis LeMey’s FIREBOMB CAMPAIGN. The firestorms he created made moonscape of all areas that were so bombed.

Hundreds of thousands were burned to death.

These campaigns were indiscriminate and deliberately targeted the civilian population.

Bellyaching about two small cities that got pommeled when compared to the horrific destruction of other parts of the country, is just selective outrage.

I think the thing that upsets these crybabies is that it only took two planes and two bombs, not whole squads.

AND A BIG BTW: Even after LeMey laid most of central Honshu to waste, the militarists had no motivation to surrender.

38 posted on 08/10/2013 6:42:32 AM PDT by ConradofMontferrat ( According to mudslimz, my handle is a HATE CRIME. And I HOPE they don't like it.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Any argument, pro or con, about the use of nuclear weapons against Japan is fatally flawed the moment the use any published information that was not available prior to the middle of July 1945. Use of such information falls under the generic classification of revisionist history.

If you or any of the authors of articles/studies/books use information after the event to justify their position I propose the use of my personal yardstick. Since they are using facts after the event ask them to predict this year’s and next year’s Super Bowl victors. Why not? After all aren’t most of the players in both games currently playing? Aren’t the teams involved in both Super Bowls already established? So, these people have all the information necessary to make absolutely accurate predictions of the future, don’t they? And if they don’t pick both winners they should have to pay some kind of penalty for being wrong.

I am not making any new rules, I am simply taking their logic chain and asking them to apply to a different event. If their reasoning system is valid it should work on a much smaller scale, shouldn’t it?

BTW - I, it turns out, have a very vested interest in the end of World War II prior to the fall of 1945. My father was scheduled to be a landing craft’s crew for the first invasion.

39 posted on 08/10/2013 6:43:16 AM PDT by Nip (BOHEICA and TANSTAAFL - both seem very appropriate today.)
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To: SeekAndFind
When we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, why didn't the Japanese surrender since they were so ready to do so according to the article ?

It took a second bomb dropped on Nagasaki to get them to capitulate...

40 posted on 08/10/2013 6:43:52 AM PDT by Popman
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