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.
Tim Carney also wrote a first part to this article on the 68th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb:
It was wrong to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Ending a war is a good thing. Killing civilians a bad thing.
Deliberately targeting civilians is murder, and is never morally licit, even in pursuit of a good thing such as ending a war.
The tens of thousands of Japanese non-combatants we killed 68 years ago this week with two nuclear bombs were not collateral damage of military strikes. They were the intended targets.
We hoped that mass murder would bring the Japanese emperor to surrender. It worked, and American and Japanese soldiers lives were probably saved by it which is why most people disagree with me on the ethics of the A-Bomb.
But what if we could have ended the war without the A-Bomb? John Denson at Mises.org argues that we could have:
Japanese leaders, both military and civilian, including the Emperor, were willing to surrender in May of 1945 if the Emperor could remain in place and not be subjected to a war crimes trial after the war. This fact became known to President Truman as early as May of 1945.
Im no historian, and if anyone can refute the facts in this piece, please do because the article seems to make the clear argument that the atomic bomb was inexcusable.
I give you Operation: Downfall...
I mean, after all, it was only other people who were going to die, very few of them were even Ivy Leaguers.
As later conflicts have shown, ending a war is impossible without killing civilians; the enemy will simply use their own people as human shields.
Some of my earliest memories are hearing talk about the war, I was born in 1940. No one has ever been able to answer this question for me, why did the Japanese attack us?
Every time a 21 year old gang banger gets shot, it is counted by the mass media as an instance of a "youthful victim of 'gun violence.'"
So by the mass media's standards, we saved a million "kids" by dropping the bomb.
End of discussion.
you play, you pay... Japan cowardly bombed Pearl Harbor... why should the US be concerned at all with Japan’s saving face in eventual defeat?
I think you are rewriting history in the tradition of hate America first. The times were different and the methods were different. Was it right for the Japanese to kill so may civilians in Pearl Harbor? Was it right for Hitler to send rockets into England? The Japanese were known for fighting to the last man and not surrendering. Don’t rewrite history and expect me to believe you. Don’t rewrite the American Revolution and expect me to believe that either.
Totalitarian socialists have nightmares over this fact.
As they should.
After the second bomb was dropped there was a failed coup d'état by factions in the Military who STILL DID NOT WANT TO SURRENDER.
This is not speculation this is fact backed up by direct testimony of those involved in the coup as well as documentation from that era.
7 days later Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan in a radio address to the nation of Japan.
Anyone who sez that Japan was about to surrender is full of sh!t!
There were Japanese military hard liners that didn’t want to give up after the 2nd A bomb.
These were people willing to fight to the last body. A full scale assault on the home islands would have killed more people than all the battles combined.
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?
What if Hitler had not delayed Barbarossa to assist in the Balkans?
What if the Japanese had launched a second attack at Pearl Harbor and destroyed the fuel supplies?
What if, what if, what if. Despite the misgivings of Eisenhower and others Truman obviously had advice from many that it was necessary to use the bomb to force Japan into a quick surrender. As for killing innocents, the fire bombings in Japan and Germany had been doing that already for some time.
Armchair Generals armed with 20/20 hindsight are a dime a dozen.
I’ll go with the opinions of the Americans who were lined up to take part in the invasion of Japan. I never knew of one who didn’t believe that the dropping of the bombs probably saved their lives.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.