Skip to comments.‘It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing’ --- Why dropping the A-Bombs was wrong
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 Surveys 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 wasnt necessary to hit them with that awful thing.
That wasnt 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, Trumans 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, theres what we call the fog of war its really hard to know whats happening currently in war, and its even harder to predict which way the war will break.
Second, more generally, theres 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 Moynihans and the New Republics assessments of the war while I stick with the assessments of Gen. Eisenhower, Adm. Leahy, and Trumans own commission, thats fine. The question would Japan have surrendered without our bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki? cant 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 dont know that. Thats a guess. We didnt 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: its wrong to deliberately kill babies and innocent children. The same goes for Japanese women, elderly, disabled, and any other non-combatants. Even if you dont 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 dont murder kids I think youd need a lot more certainty than Truman could have had.
I dont think Trumans decision was motivated by evil. Ill even add that it was an understandable decision. But I think it was the wrong one.
Beat me to it, had the jpeg fired up and ready to roll. Good thing I checked first!!!
There were several reasons we dropped the bombs:
1) The invasion of Japan was estimated to have inflicted upwards of 500k - 1,000k cascualties. If you were the president in ‘45, or a general or admiral for that matter, and it came out after the war that we had a super incredible bomb that could have shortened the war and saved the lives of a lot of 18-22 year olds and didn’t use it.....there would be you know what to pay. After the invasion of Tarawa in ‘43 and the casualties that happened there was a public outcry. Nimitz records he received letters asking how could you have killed my son? Imagine the outcry over the invasion of Japan and the casualties we would have incurred.
2) Experience with Japanese kamikazie attacks and their no surrender policy experienced during the island hopping campaign indicated the invasion would be brutal.
3) Political considerations: We knew after the war we would demobilize...the Russians wouldn’t. We wanted to send a message to the Russians...we have the bomb and you don’t. Well, at least we though they didn’t have it.
4) Money: we spent 2,000,000,000 on the Manhattan Project. It was felt at the time there would be a public outcry of 2b spent on something we didn’t use.
The comment by Admiral Leahy about not being taught to kill women and children in war is in my opinion political posturing to cover his backside. I’m sure the good admiral was aware we were fire-bombing Japanese cities and a good number of civilians were being killed.
The decision to drop the bombs was correct then and still remains correct today.
Ask yourself this question:
If the Japanese had an Atomic bomb or two and the means to deliver, would they have done so?
I believe after knowing the way they treated Nanking, and our prisoners, there is no doubt they would have.
Should we feel bad about using the bomb? hell no.
Actually more people were killed in conventional bombing than when the Atomic bomb was used.
Our men had been exposed enough to war in the previous battles, like our men have served enough terms in Afghanistan. It’s time that was over too.
In 1944, my father in law was a 19 year old Marine radioman on Iwo Jima. In 1945, my father was on a small Navy ship just off Okinawa. Both would have been sent on an invasion of the Japanese home islands. And it’s doubtful that either of them would have made it home. Not to mention the millions of Japanese who would have died fighting from cave to cave, extrapolating from Okinawa.
Thank you, Harry Truman.
The invasion plans would have moved forward, the Japanese civilians would have been subjected to more propaganda, and the besides the military casualties - US, Japs, Soviets, etc., civilians would have been used asymmetrically, as well as killing themselves as they did on Saipan, and millions more would have died in the trouble stirred up by Stalin over greater geographic areas.
That's not to mention the Japanese bio and nuclear contamination programs aimed at the US West coast.
War is hell, they started it, and killed civilians all over the Pacific with abject cruelty.
Enough of the faery dust and unicorns.
The war ended sooner with less suffering and fewer casualties all around.
I lived in Hiroshima for a few years and visited ground zero “Peace Park” numerous times. Most interesting to me was the comments visitors wrote in the guest book in the museum. Those comments ranged from “Such an atrocity, we must never let something like this happen again” to “the little yellow bastards had it coming”.
All this examination in hindsight is ridiculous. President Truman made the right decision for many reasons, but first and foremost why should one more American die if we, the US, had the means to end the war, no matter how Many Japanese military or civilian lives that cost.
Patton is said to have commented to the effect that we might as well fight the Soviets while we had the stuf over there...
It wouldnt have prevented the revolution in China, but that is for another day.
While Chiang was no angel, we did ourselves a disservice by not aiding him in the fight against Mao. That bit us later when the Reds crossed the Yalu and the Korean War ended up being a negotiated cease-fire instead of a clear victory. With the twit in power over there (North Korea) working to have a nuclear ICBM capability, that may eventually bite us, too.
I need to correct my prior post. It was Nagasaki that was the seat, followed by Hiroshima. So I would rather have limited Christian deaths in whatever way possible.
Ha! That turned out badly!
I really didnt want to get into a discussion of any particular battle. I used that example as an illustration of arm chair generalship. Like I said, they’re a dime a dozen. Including me. ;^)
If only there had been some factor that the Japanese could use to validate a decision to surrender
The enemy, moreover, has begun to employ a new most cruel bomb, the power which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would only result in the ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation . . . but would lead also to the total extinction of human civilization. Such being the case, how are we to save millions of our subjects, or ourselves, to atone before the hallowed spirits of our Imperial ancestors? This is the reason we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the Powers.
Thanks, Timmy - glad you have an opinion, too... but you know what they say about a-holes and opinions.
I wonder if Tim remembers how, in Dec. 1944, Germany was bound to surrender by Christmas. Unfortunately, that was when that whole Battle-of-the-Bulge thing occurred and the war dragged on for several more months with thousands more American deaths and casualties.
I wonder why Tim is so concerned about the civilian deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but not apparently concerned about the 100,000 civilians killed during the firebombing attacks on Tokyo or Dresden. And if he's so concerned about the civilian deaths, I would point out the Japanese military started that tradition with their attacks on Manchuria, Burma, the Philippines, and China - see "Rape of Nanking."
I wonder if Tim is aware of the deaths of the Japanese civilians at Saipan, where entire families, after years of propaganda by the japanese military, hurled themselves from cliffs rather than suffer "abuse" at the hands of the "barbaric" Americans. An invasion of the Japanese home islands would have seen that reenacted over and over.
I would also ask why it took a second strike for Japan to finally figure out the war was over for them. Maybe they thought the first bombing was just a fluke.
The atomic strikes occurred less than two months after some of the bitterest fighting in the Pacific at Okinawa - nobody told the Japanese they were on the verge of surrender, I guess. I'm glad Tim's sanctimonious conscience could have been salved by letting the war drag on for another 3 or 4 months, but then his life was never in jeopardy during that time.
The bomb saved a million American casualties an invasion would have cost.
"What if's" do not change history.
Revisionist history. Monday night quarterbacking.
Sacrifice hundreds of thousands to save millions? I maintain it was the correct thing to do.
It took two.
I grew up hearing stories from those that fought against Japanese soldiers, they said the Japanese fought with a mindset that surrender was not an option in any circumstance. That is how the Japanese fought every fight they were engaged in; in the islands they holed up in caves and only horrific things like flamethrowers could get to them and even knowing we would use them, they did not surrender. Don’t forget there were Japanese soldiers found still believing the war was ongoing for many years after it was over.
The belief that Japan would never surrender was a widespread belief with knowledge of their actions in many battles as evidence it was true. Most believed Japan would not surrender and we would have to go to Japan and fight every citizen as it was thought their fanatical commitment to their cause was that strong.
Eisenhower and others may have believed Japan would surrender but there was certainly no widespread belief of that at the time. Most believed it would come to hand to hand combat with Japanese civilians and huge losses of life to all involved before Japan would concede defeat. It seemed at the time the only option was to drop the bombs to convince Japan to surrender.
The funny thing about history is in looking back we can easily see how things coulda shoulda been done. Looking back we tend to overlook the perception people had at the time that led to the actual decisions made. If we don’t take into consideration how the people perceived what they were dealing with it is unfair to second guess the actions they took.
I know my parents were absolutely convinced a million people would die in an invasion of Japan by our forces. Whether that was true or not it was the perception, and they had the benefit of hearing first hand from people who had personally been in combat against the Japanese.
I personally have never doubted our decisions made to drop atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II, we fought for just reasons. Japan attacked us and that is justification to bring an enemy to their knees. They would have gladly taken us to our knees and beyond. Spend some time studying how the Japanese treated people that surrendered to them in order to understand how they really felt about surrender.
My own personal opinion is that war is a ugly horrific thing, not to be taken lightly. I am convinced that war is to be fought ruthlessly and to win at all costs or not at all. I am not a warmonger- exactly the opposite, I think war is taken too lightly by our politicians and most civilians- we want to have war lite, where no one dies yet the conflict is settled our way. History has proven if an enemy is not completely and soundly beat down to their knees with no doubt they have been trounced the conflict simmers and is never settled. I think if there is just cause to go to war we should fight to win and to save the lives of our own, and not play at it. If there is not enough cause to do that we should not be going to war at all.