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Why Truman dropped the Bomb (Long but a very interesting read)
The Weekly Standard ^ | 8/8/2005 | Richard Frank

Posted on 08/03/2005 10:06:42 AM PDT by curtisgardner

The sixtieth anniversary of Hiroshima seems to be shaping up as a subdued affair--though not for any lack of significance. A survey of news editors in 1999 ranked the dropping of the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945, first among the top one hundred stories of the twentieth century. And any thoughtful list of controversies in American history would place it near the top again. It was not always so. In 1945, an overwhelming majority of Americans regarded as a matter of course that the United States had used atomic bombs to end the Pacific war. They further believed that those bombs had actually ended the war and saved countless lives. This set of beliefs is now sometimes labeled by academic historians the "traditionalist" view. One unkindly dubbed it the "patriotic orthodoxy."

But in the 1960s, what were previously modest and scattered challenges of the decision to use the bombs began to crystallize into a rival canon. The challengers were branded "revisionists," but this is inapt. Any historian who gains possession of significant new evidence has a duty to revise his appreciation of the relevant events. These challengers are better termed critics.

The critics share three fundamental premises. The first is that Japan's situation in 1945 was catastrophically hopeless. The second is that Japan's leaders recognized that fact and were seeking to surrender in the summer of 1945. The third is that thanks to decoded Japanese diplomatic messages, American leaders knew that Japan was about to surrender when they unleashed needless nuclear devastation.The critics divide over what prompted the decision to drop the bombs in spite of the impending surrender, with the most provocative arguments focusing on Washington's desire to intimidate the Kremlin. Among an important stratum of American society--and still more perhaps abroad--the critics' interpretation displaced the traditionalist view.

These rival narratives clashed in a major battle over the exhibition of the Enola Gay, the airplane from which the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, at the Smithsonian Institution in 1995. That confrontation froze many people's understanding of the competing views. Since then, however, a sheaf of new archival discoveries and publications has expanded our understanding of the events of August 1945. This new evidence requires serious revision of the terms of the debate. What is perhaps the most interesting feature of the new findings is that they make a case President Harry S. Truman deliberately chose not to make publicly in defense of his decision to use the bomb.

When scholars began to examine the archival records in the 1960s, some intuited quite correctly that the accounts of their decision-making that Truman and members of his administration had offered in 1945 were at least incomplete. And if Truman had refused to disclose fully his thinking, these scholars reasoned, it must be because the real basis for his choices would undermine or even delegitimize his decisions. It scarcely seemed plausible to such critics--or to almost anyone else--that there could be any legitimate reason that the U.S. government would have concealed at the time, and would continue to conceal, powerful evidence that supported and explained the president's decisions.

But beginning in the 1970s, we have acquired an array of new evidence from Japan and the United States. By far the most important single body of this new evidence consists of secret radio intelligence material, and what it highlights is the painful dilemma faced by Truman and his administration. In explaining their decisions to the public, they deliberately forfeited their best evidence. They did so because under the stringent security restrictions guarding radio intercepts, recipients of this intelligence up to and including the president were barred from retaining copies of briefing documents, from making any public reference to them whatsoever at the time or in their memoirs, and from retaining any record of what they had seen or what they had concluded from it. With a handful of exceptions, they obeyed these rules, both during the war and thereafter.

Collectively, the missing information is known as The Ultra Secret of World War II (after the title of a breakthrough book by Frederick William Winterbotham published in 1974). Ultra was the name given to what became a vast and enormously efficient Allied radio intelligence organization, which secretly unveiled masses of information for senior policymakers. Careful listening posts snatched copies of millions of cryptograms from the air. Code breakers then extracted the true text. The extent of the effort is staggering. By the summer of 1945, Allied radio intelligence was breaking into a million messages a month from the Japanese Imperial Army alone, and many thousands from the Imperial Navy and Japanese diplomats.

All of

this effort and expertise would be squandered if the raw intercepts were not properly translated and analyzed and their disclosures distributed to those who needed to know. This is where Pearl Harbor played a role. In the aftermath of that disastrous surprise attack, Secretary of War Henry Stimson recognized that the fruits of radio intelligence were not being properly exploited. He set Alfred McCormack, a top-drawer lawyer with experience in handling complex cases, to the task of formulating a way to manage the distribution of information from Ultra. The system McCormack devised called for funneling all radio intelligence to a handful of extremely bright individuals who would evaluate the flood of messages, correlate them with all other sources, and then write daily summaries for policymakers.

By mid-1942, McCormack's scheme had evolved into a daily ritual that continued to the end of the war--and is in essence the system still in effect today. Every day, analysts prepared three mimeographed newsletters. Official couriers toting locked pouches delivered one copy of each summary to a tiny list of authorized recipients around the Washington area. (They also retrieved the previous day's distribution, which was then destroyed except for a file copy.) Two copies of each summary went to the White House, for the president and his chief of staff. Other copies went to a very select group of officers and civilian officials in the War and Navy Departments, the British Staff Mission, and the State Department. What is almost as interesting is the list of those not entitled to these top-level summaries: the vice president, any cabinet official outside the select few in the War, Navy, and State Departments, anyone in the Office of Strategic Services or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or anyone in the Manhattan Project building the atomic bomb, from Major General Leslie Groves on down.

The three daily summaries were called the "Magic" Diplomatic Summary, the "Magic" Far East Summary, and the European Summary. ("Magic" was a code word coined by the U.S. Army's chief signal officer, who called his code breakers "magicians" and their product "Magic." The term "Ultra" came from the British and has generally prevailed as the preferred term among historians, but in 1945 "Magic" remained the American designation for radio intelligence, particularly that concerning the Japanese.) The "Magic" Diplomatic Summary covered intercepts from foreign diplomats all over the world. The "Magic" Far East Summary presented information on Japan's military, naval, and air situation. The European Summary paralleled the Far East summary in coverage and need not detain us. Each summary read like a newsmagazine. There were headlines and brief articles usually containing extended quotations from intercepts and commentary. The commentary was critical: Since no recipient retained any back issues, it was up to the editors to explain how each day's developments fitted into the broader picture.

When a complete set of the "Magic" Diplomatic Summary for the war years was first made public in 1978, the text contained a large number of redacted (literally whited out) passages. The critics reasonably asked whether the blanks concealed devastating revelations. Release of a nonredacted complete set in 1995 disclosed that the redacted areas had indeed contained a devastating revelation--but not about the use of the atomic bombs. Instead, the redacted areas concealed the embarrassing fact that Allied radio intelligence was reading the codes not just of the Axis powers, but also of some 30 other governments, including allies like France.

The diplomatic intercepts included, for example, those of neutral diplomats or attachés stationed in Japan. Critics highlighted a few nuggets from this trove in the 1978 releases, but with the complete release, we learned that there were only 3 or 4 messages suggesting the possibility of a compromise peace, while no fewer than 13 affirmed that Japan fully intended to fight to the bitter end. Another page in the critics' canon emphasized a squad of Japanese diplomats in Europe, from Sweden to the Vatican, who attempted to become peace entrepreneurs in their contacts with American officials. As the editors of the "Magic" Diplomatic Summary correctly made clear to American policymakers during the war, however, not a single one of these men (save one we will address shortly) possessed actual authority to act for the Japanese government.

An inner cabinet in Tokyo authorized Japan's only officially sanctioned diplomatic initiative. The Japanese dubbed this inner cabinet the Big Six because it comprised just six men: Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki, Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo, Army Minister Korechika Anami, Navy Minister Mitsumasa Yonai, and the chiefs of staff of the Imperial Army (General Yoshijiro Umezu) and Imperial Navy (Admiral Soemu Toyoda). In complete secrecy, the Big Six agreed on an approach to the Soviet Union in June 1945. This was not to ask the Soviets to deliver a "We surrender" note; rather, it aimed to enlist the Soviets as mediators to negotiate an end to the war satisfactory to the Big Six--in other words, a peace on terms satisfactory to the dominant militarists. Their minimal goal was not confined to guaranteed retention of the Imperial Institution; they also insisted on preservation of the old militaristic order in Japan, the one in which they ruled.

The conduit for this initiative was Japan's ambassador in Moscow, Naotake Sato. He communicated with Foreign Minister Togo--and, thanks to code breaking, with American policymakers. Ambassador Sato emerges in the intercepts as a devastating cross-examiner ruthlessly unmasking for history the feebleness of the whole enterprise. Sato immediately told Togo that the Soviets would never bestir themselves on behalf of Japan. The foreign minister could only insist that Sato follow his instructions. Sato demanded to know whether the government and the military supported the overture and what its legal basis was--after all, the official Japanese position, adopted in an Imperial Conference in June 1945 with the emperor's sanction, was a fight to the finish. The ambassador also demanded that Japan state concrete terms to end the war, otherwise the effort could not be taken seriously. Togo responded evasively that the "directing powers" and the government had authorized the effort--he did not and could not claim that the military in general supported it or that the fight-to-the-end policy had been replaced. Indeed, Togo added: "Please bear particularly in mind, however, that we are not seeking the Russians' mediation for anything like an unconditional surrender."

This last comment triggered a fateful exchange. Critics have pointed out correctly that both Under Secretary of State Joseph Grew (the former U.S. ambassador to Japan and the leading expert on that nation within the government) and Secretary of War Henry Stimson advised Truman that a guarantee that the Imperial Institution would not be eliminated could prove essential to obtaining Japan's surrender. The critics further have argued that if only the United States had made such a guarantee, Japan would have surrendered. But when Foreign Minister Togo informed Ambassador Sato that Japan was not looking for anything like unconditional surrender, Sato promptly wired back a cable that the editors of the "Magic" Diplomatic Summary made clear to American policymakers "advocate[s] unconditional surrender provided the Imperial House is preserved." Togo's reply, quoted in the "Magic" Diplomatic Summary of July 22, 1945, was adamant: American policymakers could read for themselves Togo's rejection of Sato's proposal--with not even a hint that a guarantee of the Imperial House would be a step in the right direction. Any rational person following this exchange would conclude that modifying the demand for unconditional surrender to include a promise to preserve the Imperial House would not secure Japan's surrender.

Togo's initial messages--indicating that the emperor himself endorsed the effort to secure Soviet mediation and was prepared to send his own special envoy--elicited immediate attention from the editors of the "Magic" Diplomatic Summary, as well as Under Secretary of State Grew. Because of Grew's documented advice to Truman on the importance of the Imperial Institution, critics feature him in the role of the sage counsel. What the intercept evidence discloses is that Grew reviewed the Japanese effort and concurred with the U.S. Army's chief of intelligence, Major General Clayton Bissell, that the effort most likely represented a ploy to play on American war weariness. They deemed the possibility that it manifested a serious effort by the emperor to end the war "remote." Lest there be any doubt about Grew's mindset, as late as August 7, the day after Hiroshima, Grew drafted a memorandum with an oblique reference to radio intelligence again affirming his view that Tokyo still was not close to peace.

Starting with the publication of excerpts from the diaries of James Forrestal in 1951, the contents of a few of the diplomatic intercepts were revealed, and for decades the critics focused on these. But the release of the complete (unredacted) "Magic" Far East Summary, supplementing the Diplomatic Summary, in the 1990s revealed that the diplomatic messages amounted to a mere trickle by comparison with the torrent of military intercepts. The intercepts of Japanese Imperial Army and Navy messages disclosed without exception that Japan's armed forces were determined to fight a final Armageddon battle in the homeland against an Allied invasion. The Japanese called this strategy Ketsu Go (Operation Decisive). It was founded on the premise that American morale was brittle and could be shattered by heavy losses in the initial invasion. American politicians would then gladly negotiate an end to the war far more generous than unconditional surrender. Ultra was even more alarming in what it revealed about Japanese knowledge of American military plans. Intercepts demonstrated that the Japanese had correctly anticipated precisely where U.S. forces intended to land on Southern Kyushu in November 1945 (Operation Olympic). American planning for the Kyushu assault reflected adherence to the military rule of thumb that the attacker should outnumber the defender at least three to one to assure success at a reasonable cost. American estimates projected that on the date of the landings, the Japanese would have only three of their six field divisions on all of Kyushu in the southern target area where nine American divisions would push ashore. The estimates allowed that the Japanese would possess just 2,500 to 3,000 planes total throughout Japan to face Olympic. American aerial strength would be over four times greater.

From mid-July onwards, Ultra intercepts exposed a huge military buildup on Kyushu. Japanese ground forces exceeded prior estimates by a factor of four. Instead of 3 Japanese field divisions deployed in southern Kyushu to meet the 9 U.S. divisions, there were 10 Imperial Army divisions plus additional brigades. Japanese air forces exceeded prior estimates by a factor of two to four. Instead of 2,500 to 3,000 Japanese aircraft, estimates varied between about 6,000 and 10,000. One intelligence officer commented that the Japanese defenses threatened "to grow to [the] point where we attack on a ratio of one (1) to one (1) which is not the recipe for victory."

Concurrent with the publication of the radio intelligence material, additional papers of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been released in the last decade. From these, it is clear that there was no true consensus among the Joint Chiefs of Staff about an invasion of Japan. The Army, led by General George C. Marshall, believed that the critical factor in achieving American war aims was time. Thus, Marshall and the Army advocated an invasion of the Home Islands as the fastest way to end the war. But the long-held Navy view was that the critical factor in achieving American war aims was casualties. The Navy was convinced that an invasion would be far too costly to sustain the support of the American people, and hence believed that blockade and bombardment were the sound course.

The picture becomes even more complex than previously understood because it emerged that the Navy chose to postpone a final showdown over these two strategies. The commander in chief of the U.S. fleet, Admiral Ernest King, informed his colleagues on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in April 1945 that he did not agree that Japan should be invaded. He concurred only that the Joint Chiefs must issue an invasion order immediately to create that option for the fall. But King predicted that the Joint Chiefs would revisit the issue of whether an invasion was wise in August or September. Meanwhile, two months of horrendous fighting ashore on Okinawa under skies filled with kamikazes convinced the commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz, that he should withdraw his prior support for at least the invasion of Kyushu. Nimitz informed King of this change in his views in strict confidence.

In August, the Ultra revelations propelled the Army and Navy towards a showdown over the invasion. On August 7 (the day after Hiroshima, which no one expected to prompt a quick surrender), General Marshall reacted to weeks of gathering gloom in the Ultra evidence by asking General Douglas MacArthur, who was to command what promised to be the greatest invasion in history, whether invading Kyushu in November as planned still looked sensible. MacArthur replied, amazingly, that he did not believe the radio intelligence! He vehemently urged the invasion should go forward as planned. (This, incidentally, demolishes later claims that MacArthur thought the Japanese were about to surrender at the time of Hiroshima.) On August 9 (the day the second bomb was dropped, on Nagasaki), King gathered the two messages in the exchange between Marshall and MacArthur and sent them to Nimitz. King told Nimitz to provide his views on the viability of invading Kyushu, with a copy to MacArthur. Clearly, nothing that had transpired since May would have altered Nimitz's view that Olympic was unwise. Ultra now made the invasion appear foolhardy to everyone but MacArthur. But King had not placed a deadline on Nimitz's response, and the Japanese surrender on August 15 allowed Nimitz to avoid starting what was certain to be one of the most tumultuous interservice battles of the whole war.

What this evidence illuminates is that one central tenet of the traditionalist view is wrong--but with a twist. Even with the full ration of caution that any historian should apply anytime he ventures comments on paths history did not take, in this instance it is now clear that the long-held belief that Operation Olympic loomed as a certainty is mistaken. Truman's reluctant endorsement of the Olympic invasion at a meeting in June 1945 was based in key part on the fact that the Joint Chiefs had presented it as their unanimous recommendation. (King went along with Marshall at the meeting, presumably because he deemed it premature to wage a showdown fight. He did comment to Truman that, of course, any invasion authorized then could be canceled later.) With the Navy's withdrawal of support, the terrible casualties in Okinawa, and the appalling radio-intelligence picture of the Japanese buildup on Kyushu, Olympic was not going forward as planned and authorized--period. But this evidence also shows that the demise of Olympic came not because it was deemed unnecessary, but because it had become unthinkable. It is hard to imagine anyone who could have been president at the time (a spectrum that includes FDR, Henry Wallace, William O. Douglas, Harry Truman, and Thomas Dewey) failing to authorize use of the atomic bombs in this circumstance. Japanese historians uncovered another key element of the story. After Hiroshima (August 6), Soviet entry into the war against Japan (August 8), and Nagasaki (August 9), the emperor intervened to break a deadlock within the government and decide that Japan must surrender in the early hours of August 10. The Japanese Foreign Ministry dispatched a message to the United States that day stating that Japan would accept the Potsdam Declaration, "with the understanding that the said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler." This was not, as critics later asserted, merely a humble request that the emperor retain a modest figurehead role. As Japanese historians writing decades after the war emphasized, the demand that there be no compromise of the "prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler" as a precondition for the surrender was a demand that the United States grant the emperor veto power over occupation reforms and continue the rule of the old order in Japan. Fortunately, Japan specialists in the State Department immediately realized the actual purpose of this language and briefed Secretary of State James Byrnes, who insisted properly that this maneuver must be defeated. The maneuver further underscores the fact that right to the very end, the Japanese pursued twin goals: not only the preservation of the imperial system, but also preservation of the old order in Japan that had launched a war of aggression that killed 17 million.

This brings us to another aspect of history that now very belatedly has entered the controversy. Several American historians led by Robert Newman have insisted vigorously that any assessment of the end of the Pacific war must include the horrifying consequences of each continued day of the war for the Asian populations trapped within Japan's conquests. Newman calculates that between a quarter million and 400,000 Asians, overwhelmingly noncombatants, were dying each month the war continued. Newman et al. challenge whether an assessment of Truman's decision can highlight only the deaths of noncombatant civilians in the aggressor nation while ignoring much larger death tolls among noncombatant civilians in the victim nations.

There are a good many more points that now extend our understanding beyond the debates of 1995. But it is clear that all three of the critics' central premises are wrong. The Japanese did not see their situation as catastrophically hopeless. They were not seeking to surrender, but pursuing a negotiated end to the war that preserved the old order in Japan, not just a figurehead emperor. Finally, thanks to radio intelligence, American leaders, far from knowing that peace was at hand, understood--as one analytical piece in the "Magic" Far East Summary stated in July 1945, after a review of both the military and diplomatic intercepts--that "until the Japanese leaders realize that an invasion can not be repelled, there is little likelihood that they will accept any peace terms satisfactory to the Allies." This cannot be improved upon as a succinct and accurate summary of the military and diplomatic realities of the summer of 1945.

The displacement of the so-called traditionalist view within important segments of American opinion took several decades to accomplish. It will take a similar span of time to displace the critical orthodoxy that arose in the 1960s and prevailed roughly through the 1980s, and replace it with a richer appreciation for the realities of 1945. But the clock is ticking.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS: presidents; thebomb; truman; wwii
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1 posted on 08/03/2005 10:06:42 AM PDT by curtisgardner
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To: curtisgardner

Cause he had it?


2 posted on 08/03/2005 10:07:28 AM PDT by doggieboy (Bush's exit strategy for Iraq is through Iran.)
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To: curtisgardner

I did read this in the magazine. I'm glad it's available to non-subscribers. Very interesting.


3 posted on 08/03/2005 10:07:36 AM PDT by cvq3842
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To: doggieboy

no because he had to


4 posted on 08/03/2005 10:08:50 AM PDT by curtisgardner
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To: curtisgardner

bttt


5 posted on 08/03/2005 10:09:31 AM PDT by Claytay ("We will fight the terrorist till Hell freezes over. Then we'll fight them on ice.")
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To: doggieboy

The article basically says that secret intercepts revealed that the Japanese were not close to surrendering and were preparing a massive military buildup to counter an invasion that might have made that invasion impossible.

I also remember hearing that he made up his mind after someone asked him "what will you say at the impeachment hearings when they ask why you could have ended the war quickly and didn't?"


6 posted on 08/03/2005 10:10:08 AM PDT by cvq3842
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To: curtisgardner

Bump


7 posted on 08/03/2005 10:14:47 AM PDT by sandbar
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To: doggieboy

The reason the French don't rule Europe is because, a couple of Wellington's cannons were not spiked when Ney's charge over-ran them.

The point? So what.


8 posted on 08/03/2005 10:16:44 AM PDT by TET1968
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To: curtisgardner

Duplicate from 29th:

Why Truman Dropped the Bomb
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1453472/posts


9 posted on 08/03/2005 10:18:31 AM PDT by Boundless
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To: curtisgardner

Truman had been VP for a few months when FDR died ..and he had been kept completely in the dark about the A-bomb until he was sworn in a President. As far as he was concerned, it was just a "bigger bomb"..he didn't grasp what it could do...no one really did. And HST had served in WW I..he'd seen up close the carnage of trench warfare, so when he reviewed the casualty figures from Iwo, Saipan, and the other island campaigns late in the war, there was absolutely no doubt in his mind that he would use/do anything to save American lives..


10 posted on 08/03/2005 10:22:30 AM PDT by ken5050 (Ann Coulter needs to have children ASAP to pass on her gene pool....any volunteers?)
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To: curtisgardner

Finally, thanks to radio intelligence, American leaders, far from knowing that peace was at hand, understood--as one analytical piece in the "Magic" Far East Summary stated in July 1945, after a review of both the military and diplomatic intercepts--that "until the Japanese leaders realize that an invasion can not be repelled, there is little likelihood that they will accept any peace terms satisfactory to the Allies." This cannot be improved upon as a succinct and accurate summary of the military and diplomatic realities of the summer of 1945.

The military intercepts were closer to the truth than the diplomatic intercepts.

Good Read..............


11 posted on 08/03/2005 10:24:02 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple (Seeking the truth here folks.)
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To: curtisgardner
He dropped the bomb so Russia would know we would use it if they tried anything. Truman knew that Stalin was a monster and had to let him know we would not hesitate.

Japan was about to stop the war and surrender...the only thing they objected to was the trial of the emperor.

The emporer was GOD to the Japanese and they were adamant that he not be held for trial.

Truman was later chastised by Eisenhower for dropping the bomb. Eisenhower was aware of all the politics and hated the idea of killing of all the women & children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Russia was the reason for the nuking of those cities.

12 posted on 08/03/2005 10:25:06 AM PDT by Radioactive (I'm on the radio..so I'm radioactive)
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To: Boundless

sorry about that one. i'll do better research next time. still an interesting article.


13 posted on 08/03/2005 10:26:28 AM PDT by curtisgardner
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To: doggieboy
My darling son is going to be 13 this August 6th,,,talking about bombs...

Seriously though I remind him every year and give him a new article to read about this historic day of both his birth and Hiroshima and this one I shall print out now.

Thanks for a great find.
14 posted on 08/03/2005 10:27:33 AM PDT by alisasny (We get 4 more years, you get OBAMA...: ))
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To: curtisgardner
BOOM!!!
15 posted on 08/03/2005 10:27:42 AM PDT by shekkian
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To: cvq3842
The article basically says that secret intercepts revealed that the Japanese were not close to surrendering and were preparing a massive military buildup to counter an invasion that might have made that invasion impossible.

Post-war inspections found that the Japanese were stashing aircraft and weapons for a planned invasion - more so than what the US thought they would have. Further, they were training their civilians for resistance fighting.

The second point is important. If, in that time, non-uniformed fighters made a habit of hiding among legitimate noncombatants to launch attacks, the US forces would have killed the bad guy and anybody else around them. It is not too hard to imagine that the Japanese people would have been slaughtered in numbers that would have far exceeded the dead from Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

16 posted on 08/03/2005 10:33:56 AM PDT by Fudd (Never confuse a liberal with facts.)
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To: Radioactive

i think you are underestimating the Japanese aspect of it. The Japanese treated the Emporer like a god and they would have defended him till the death. Millions of Japanese and American soldiers were saved. The island battles in the Pacific were very deadly and Truman didnt want more of that so he did what needed to be done.


17 posted on 08/03/2005 10:34:49 AM PDT by curtisgardner
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To: curtisgardner
I think Truman used the atomic bomb for two reasons: 1. defeat Japan, 2. intimidate the Soviet Union. Hiroshima's bomb was to get Japan's surrender, Nagasaki (only 2 days later) was to show the USSR that Hiroshima wasn't a fluke. We also needed to win the war with Japan quickly. The Soviet Union declared war on Japan in late July, if they had helped in defeating Japan then they would have expected a role in rebuilding it. The first A-bomb was dropped on August 7, before the USSR could plan a blockade or invasion of any type. We saw what damage the USSR did in post-nazi Germany, and how well the US rebuilt Japan without the USSR.
18 posted on 08/03/2005 10:39:26 AM PDT by BostonianRightist (I don't trust a government I can't shoot back at.)
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To: Fudd

Good point.


19 posted on 08/03/2005 10:44:41 AM PDT by cvq3842
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To: BostonianRightist

very true


20 posted on 08/03/2005 10:48:58 AM PDT by curtisgardner
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To: curtisgardner

> ... sorry about that ...

No apologies necessary.

Search on FR is pretty weak, and even a determined
effort often overlooks prior dupes.

I post dupe notices just to let people see existing
discussions. It's rarely even worth notifying the
mods, although they'll sometimes lock a dupe on
their own.


21 posted on 08/03/2005 10:50:53 AM PDT by Boundless
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To: Radioactive

You make interesting claims. Please provide the data to back them.


22 posted on 08/03/2005 10:59:07 AM PDT by rconawa (retired flyer)
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To: curtisgardner
Had the bombs not been dropped, Curtis LeMay would have burned down what was left of Japan's cities and far more Japanese civilians would have died than died in the A-Bombs.

And even then Tojo wouldn't have surrendered. He thought if enough Americans could be killed, public opinion in the US would call for an end to the invasion. Had the horrors of Iwo Jima and Okinawa been duplicated a hundred fold, he might have been right.

Little publicized fact: Hiroshima was a military HQ for the island from where forces opposing Operation Olympic would be directed.

23 posted on 08/03/2005 11:08:28 AM PDT by colorado tanker (The People Have Spoken)
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To: Radioactive

Incorrect in every respect.


24 posted on 08/03/2005 11:18:52 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Scratch a Liberal. Uncover a Fascist)
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To: curtisgardner

I am not a fan of Harry Truman, but IMO he made the right decision on this one and millions of Americans, our allies and Japaneses are alive today because of it.


25 posted on 08/03/2005 11:21:03 AM PDT by Americanexpat (A strong democracy through citizen oversight.)
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To: curtisgardner
Why did Truman drop the bomb?

It must be August and time for the annual anti-nuke-nut festival to start ranting about how Japan was/might/could surrender instead of the US dropping the bomb(s).

So, here is my annual answer to those revisionist historians who "know better" than anyone alive at the time.

Since you like historical facts, here is a suggestion for you.

Take a trip to Okinawa and visit Peace Prayer Park.

It's easy to find. It's right next to the Suicide Cliffs just down the road a ways from the Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters.

There you will see the names of 200,656 men women and children inscribed on black marble slabs who died on that tiny island in the last battle of World War II.

Japanese 188,136
From other prefectures (soldiers and civilian employees) 65,908
From Okinawa (soldiers and civilian employees) 28,228
From Okinawa (civilians fighting in battles) 56,861
From Okinawa (non-fighting civilians) 37,139
Americans 12,520

Following the battle there was not one thing on the island growing or man-made that was over 24 inches high. The entire population of the island was 574,368 and there were 4.72 artillery shells fired per person during the battle.

Keep in mind that this is a time when the Japanese had no problem finding enough volunteers for their Kamikaze planes and submarines.

While you are there be sure and view the Naval Underground Headquarters. While there you will see a room into which the high command entered with hand grenades and pulled the pins on themselves rather than surrender. The pock marks remain in the walls from the grenade fragments. Of course, they only go down so far because of the mound of bodies that "protected" the bottom of the wall from getting any fragments. This was only days after the Japanese soldiers there had slit the throats of the babies of civilian employees, who willingly gave their children to the soldiers, to keep them from crying and giving away their position to the Americans.

Be sure to enjoy the crystal clear waters under the Suicide Cliffs. They were not always so clear. In June of 1945 civililians and soldiers alike jumped to their deaths rather than surrender to the Americans. The bodies were so thick in that part of the bay, one could have walked on them.

Then consider that not one but two bombs had to be dropped on the mainland before the Japanese surrendered and how many lost their lives compared to Okinawa, one tiny little island. And all without one American casualty.

Oh! By the way. The civilians who died on Okinawa. They were not a part of any industrial base either. But they fought, and died, just as energetically as their cousins on the main Japanese islands most certainly would have.

26 posted on 08/03/2005 11:23:21 AM PDT by N. Theknow (If Social Security is so good - why aren't members of Congress in it?)
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To: curtisgardner

Not directed at you. Just jumping in with my take on things.


27 posted on 08/03/2005 11:26:34 AM PDT by N. Theknow (If Social Security is so good - why aren't members of Congress in it?)
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To: N. Theknow

Pretty good summary. The Army estimated that for Operations Olympic, the invasion of Kyushu, and Coronet, the invasion of Honshu, American and allied casualties ranged from 500,000 to a million killed and wounded. That was why Truman ordered the bombs dropped.


28 posted on 08/03/2005 11:36:30 AM PDT by ABG(anybody but Gore) (Unleash Karl Rove!!!)
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To: curtisgardner

This account is not accurate.

Here are some links that might provide useful background on the decision:

CASUALTY PROJECTIONS FOR THE U.S. INVASIONS OF JAPAN, 1945-1946: PLANNING AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS

http://tigger.uic.edu/~rjensen/invade.htm

Transcript of "OPERATION DOWNFALL [US invasion of Japan]: US PLANS AND JAPANESE COUNTER-MEASURES" lecture by D. M. Giangreco, US Army Command and General Staff College, 16 February 1998

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/giangrec.htm

(Be advised these are long detailed accounts, written by scholars, and fully footnoted (unlike the article above).)

And here is a good general reference site on the subject:

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/PTO/FatLady/index.html


29 posted on 08/03/2005 11:38:19 AM PDT by Captain Rhino ("If you will just abandon logic, these things will make a lot more sense to you!")
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To: BostonianRightist
Really don't care why he used it, just glad he did. Because I was parked on Okinawa just waiting to to visit Japan the hard way.
30 posted on 08/03/2005 11:39:52 AM PDT by ANGGAPO (LayteGulfBeachClub.)
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To: N. Theknow

A "What a great post" BUMP!


31 posted on 08/03/2005 12:16:42 PM PDT by Pagey (Whether Hillary Clintons' attacks on America are a success or a failure depends upon YOU TOO!)
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To: ken5050
Truman had been VP for a few months when FDR died ..and he had been kept completely in the dark about the A-bomb until he was sworn in a President.

It is sometimes said that Stalin knew more about the atomic bomb through his myriad of spies than Truman did. This is no doubt true. FDR was arrogant on this score in my opinion. In his dying days he could have briefed Truman in on everything, but he didn't, wanting to hold on to power a little longer. It really wasn't fair to Truman.

32 posted on 08/03/2005 12:49:54 PM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: Zack Nguyen

Not sure if I agree with what you wrote. Much of what I've read lately suggests that FDR may not have been all there during the last campaign, and until he died..We'll never know how lucky we are that the Dem power brokers dumped Wallace from the ticket and replaced him with HST,,


33 posted on 08/03/2005 12:55:09 PM PDT by ken5050
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To: N. Theknow
The other thing I find funny is the way the liberals always ignore FDR's role in our use of the atomic bomb.

I guess in their minds FDR would never use such a horrific weapon. He probably ordered the thing built as a planter, but the scientists went beyond what he intended.

34 posted on 08/03/2005 12:55:58 PM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: ken5050

We are very blessed not to have had Wallace as President. Wallace, as I understand it, was more or less pro-Soviet. He might not have stood up to the Soviets. One must wonder if he would have countenanced aggressive action by CIA against the Soviet threat.


35 posted on 08/03/2005 1:38:25 PM PDT by Zack Nguyen
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
Incorrect in every respect

SO says you.

But documents released by the US government has supported the claims that Eisenhower disagreed with the dopping of the bombs. Japan was worried that the Emperer would be tried and executed for the war and was trying to get the US to drop any plans for that.

Check this out:

In fact, none other than Gen. Eisenhower, Gen. Macarthur, Gen. "Hap" Arnold, and Adm. Leahy, Truman's Chief of Staff, among others, thought the war with Japan could have been ended without invading and without dropping the bomb. The following is heavily exerpted from here: (http://www.ncesa.org/html/hiroshima2.html) Eisenhower reported in his 1963 Mandate for Change that he had the following reaction when Secretary of War Stimson informed him the atomic bomb would be used: "During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so 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 measure to save American lives." Eisenhower also said: "Japan was at that very moment seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of "face.". . .It wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing." In his memoirs, Leahy said: "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. . . . in being the first to use it, we . . . adopted an 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." Army Air Forces commander, General Henry "Hap" Arnold, in his 1949 Global Mission: "It always appeared to us that atomic bomb or no atomic bomb the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse." For Macarthur, and the opinions of others, see here. (http://www.doug-long.com/quotes.htm) From this site, on Macarthur and the bomb: William Manchester, American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964, pg. 512. Norman Cousins was a consultant to General MacArthur during the American occupation of Japan. Cousins writes of his conversations with MacArthur, "MacArthur's views about the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were starkly different from what the general public supposed." He continues, "When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor." Norman Cousins, The Pathology of Power, pg. 65, 70-71.

So there you go........Incorrect in every respect....hardly.

36 posted on 08/03/2005 3:28:14 PM PDT by Radioactive (I'm on the radio..so I'm radioactive)
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To: rconawa
Check out this site of quotes by many of the leaders of the time:

http://www.doug-long.com/quotes.htm

37 posted on 08/03/2005 3:31:10 PM PDT by Radioactive (I'm on the radio..so I'm radioactive)
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To: curtisgardner
The island battles in the Pacific were very deadly and Truman didnt want more of that so he did what needed to be done.

I think you should read more on this subject.

See this site of quotes by leaders of the era:

http://www.doug-long.com/quotes.htm

38 posted on 08/03/2005 3:33:39 PM PDT by Radioactive (I'm on the radio..so I'm radioactive)
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To: Radioactive

My dad was there in the late 40s. I arrived in 1951 and lived there ten years. If you had spent ten minutes in country, you'd have a different opinion.


39 posted on 08/03/2005 4:33:04 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Scratch a Liberal. Uncover a Fascist)
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To: Zack Nguyen

Wallace was an out and out Communist. I continue to be amazed that he is revered in his home state of Iowa.


40 posted on 08/03/2005 4:36:59 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Scratch a Liberal. Uncover a Fascist)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
I'm just telling you what Eisenhower and all the other generals were saying.

Your dad may have lived there but the Generals knew what the military leaders of Japan during the war were thinking.

I would agree with you if your dad was Eisenhower or Macarthur.

41 posted on 08/03/2005 4:37:01 PM PDT by Radioactive (I'm on the radio..so I'm radioactive)
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To: Radioactive

Ike, etc., net set foot in Japan.


42 posted on 08/03/2005 7:00:58 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Scratch a Liberal. Uncover a Fascist)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
Yes but Ike was privy to all information of the war everywhere in the world. You and your father were not. And Ike did talk often to MacArthur, and MacArthur did know a lot about Japan and what they were planning.
43 posted on 08/04/2005 12:26:31 AM PDT by Radioactive (I'm on the radio..so I'm radioactive)
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To: Radioactive
Mac spent almost his entire life in the PI. Ike never made it to Japan. We got to know many of the Japanese involved in the plan to resist the invasion. A couple of them worked for my dad at JPA in Tokyo.
Our maid was a 9 year old in '45, forced to work 16 hours/day in a munitions factory. When Curtis LeMay fire bombed their plant, the machinery was salvaged and moved into caves where production continued until the day of the surrender. One of the "products" she made was a crude, one-shot zip gun pistol that was distributed to civilians specifically to kill American invaders, then pick up their weapons. Ask someone that's been there.
44 posted on 08/04/2005 7:07:00 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Scratch a Liberal. Uncover a Fascist)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
Yes, BUT......Ike knew of Japans plans to surrender...your father did not.This was not common knowledge. IKe's quotes are the direct opposite of what you are saying. IKE was known to be in line for the presidency and had all knowledge of anything to do with Japan. Being the allied leader in Europe, his intelligence was as good as what Truman had. Maybe better because he had connections with all the branches of the Military.

The Nuking of Japan was a politcal move.....no doubt about it...it was a message to Russia to stand back.

Japan had plans to surrender,no doubt about that.

I almost married a woman from Japan. She told me that some of her family was in Hiroshima....a mostly Christian city the day of the Bombing.

She often told me that The Japanese military was hoping to stop the Emperer from broadcasting the message of surrender. They failed. Yes, some of the Japanese people were going to fight to the end, but only if the Emperer ordered them to.

The Emperer was of the mindset to stop the war....but Truman had other plans.......show the Russians that we had the bomb and was not afraid to use it.

We never married because she wanted me to move to Japan. It was too much of a change for me.

I miss that woman.

45 posted on 08/04/2005 3:05:16 PM PDT by Radioactive (I'm on the radio..so I'm radioactive)
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To: Radioactive
Japan would've fought at least until the 1950s (I have a Japanese war bond that pays off in 1959) and even after the first nuke, was prepared to go on fighting indefinitely.
They had more than a million in uniform on the four main islands, several hundred thousand in Korea plus a one million man army in China and SE Asia that had not surrendered and was living well off native supplies.
Ike was commander in Europe and was not fully knowledgeable of the Asian situation and had little to do with our own invasion force was being assembled at Stockton, CA. Many historians have credited various post-war statements to Ike as if he made them during the war and this is an error. Truman used the bombs to bring an end to casualties and didn't weigh the impact on our erstwhile allies.
46 posted on 08/04/2005 3:41:40 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (Scratch a Liberal. Uncover a Fascist)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
Wallace was an out and out Communist. I continue to be amazed that he is revered in his home state of Iowa.

If Wallace was president in 1945, Japan would have been divided at the 35th Parallel and there would be a wall around the northern half of Tokyo today.

47 posted on 08/04/2005 4:16:43 PM PDT by Snickersnee (Where are we going? And what's with this handbasket?)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks
Many historians have credited various post-war statements to Ike as if he made them during the war and this is an error.

Yes......Ike said these things after the war...and hindsight is 20/20.

Ike knew more after becoming president. He has stated that he was and always will be against the idea of dropping the Bombs.

Russia did get the message of the two bombs dropped on Japan.

They stole secrets and began their own nuclear program culminating in their own nuclear tests.

Japan was the warning to Russia....don't mess with the US........and it was Ike who warned us about the military industrial complex...

Here is an excerpt...

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

So there you go..... The Cold war was started by the US dropping bombs on Japan and FDR giving away half of Europe to Stalin.

The Cold War resulted in huge profits for the militaryindustrial complex.

Russia spent trillions on armaments.......The US spends trillions........What a great world we live in.....I only wish I was old enough at that time to invest in the military industrial complex.

48 posted on 08/04/2005 4:35:36 PM PDT by Radioactive (I'm on the radio..so I'm radioactive)
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To: curtisgardner
But in the 1960s . . .

The author need not say more.

That short phrase there makes his line of thinking irrelevant.

49 posted on 08/04/2005 4:56:42 PM PDT by Dont_Tread_On_Me_888 (Bush's #1 priority Africa. #2 priority appease Fox and Mexico . . . USA priority #64.)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks; Radioactive
I wish I had time to get into this but I don't.
However - part of the Japanese plan for peace was to force the Americans onto the shores of Japan. The Japanese had hoped the God awful numbers of US KIAs would force the Americans to negotiate peace rather than have an unconditional surrender forced on them.
If the Japanese had planned to surrender as has been stated they would have done so the moment the first Atomic bomb was dropped. It took two bombs to convince them and not even that convinced everyone. There was even active resistance by the Japanese military to the peace announced by the Emperor
An excellent read is " The Pacific War Companion: From Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima " By Daniel Marston.
Marston goes into great detail about recently declassified radio transmissions from the Japanese which convinced the US the A-bomb was the only way. The radio transmissions contain the info I mentioned on the first paragraph.
50 posted on 08/04/2005 6:01:01 PM PDT by warsaw44
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