Skip to comments.Was Using the A-Bomb Justified?
Posted on 08/08/2005 5:04:27 AM PDT by hildy123
August 6 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the devastating atomic bomb attack against the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Three days later, a second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki.
For the most part, up until the 1960s the predominant view was that the U.S. was justified in its decision to use nuclear weapons against the Japanese. There was a general consensus to accept, at face value, that American leaders had determined that Japan would not surrender, and that their determination to fight to the death against an invasion would have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not a million U.S. soldiers.
But with the anti-establishment mentality of the 1960s came a new cadre of revisionist historians who began casting the decision to nuke Japan in the context of racism against the Japanese and political opportunism as a show of force to the Soviets. Consequently, for 40 years revisionists have used the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to flog America's conscience.
For years critics of the decision have asserted that the use of nuclear weapons was unnecessary because Japan was so weakened militarily that they realized their situation was hopeless. The revisionists argue that Japan was seeking to negotiate a surrender prior to the bombings. But information from top secret intelligence documents by the U.S. code breaking operation called "Magic" and the British operation called "Ultra" that was declassified in the mid-1990s disclosed a decidedly different situation.
American code breakers had been deciphering Japanese military and diplomatic messages since just before the Battle of Midway. By the summer of 1945, "Magic" was deciphering millions of messages. From these messages President Truman and U.S. military leaders concluded that Japan would not agree to an unconditional surrender.
The revisionists insist otherwise. They point out that in the summer of 1945 the Japanese were seeking a compromised peace to end the war through their envoy to Russia. But based on intercepted Japanese communications, what Japan was trying to do was make a deal to keep the Soviet Union out of the war. What the Japanese military rulers really wanted was a deal that would allow their brutal military regime that started the war to stay in power, something the U.S. and the Allies would never have accepted.
Yet the revisionists persist that the primary obstacle that kept Japan from agreeing to an unconditional surrender was the perception that Emperor Hirohito would not be allowed to continue as emperor. According to the revisionists, the Japanese were so loyal to the Emperor that they would have fought to the death to protect him. While that may have been true for the majority of the Japanese, some of the top military leaders did not hold the Emperor in such high esteem. In fact, when Emperor Hirohito announced his decision to surrender, a group of hard-line Japanese military leaders attempted a coup to overthrow him. The coup failed.
Finally, according to the revisionists, the use of the A-bombs were unnecessary because Japan's military was so devastated that the war would have ended in a matter of weeks anyway. Economist John Kenneth Galbraith even asserted that the use of the A-bombs only shortened the war by two or three weeks at most. But Galbraith and other revisionists couldn't have been more wrong.
The Japanese had been sheltering their resources in anticipation of an American landing. At the time of the bombings, Japan had over 12,000 aircraft for use against U.S. forces. In terms of land forces, some post war estimates indicate that the Japanese defense forces on Kyushu, the first island targeted for invasion, may have outnumbered U.S. forces by a ratio of 3:2. Typically, an invasion force must outnumber defenders by a ratio of 3:1 to be successful. In addition, the Japanese had been training civilians, including children, for attacks against U.S. troops.
The Japanese plan was to inflict such heavy losses that the war weary Americans would seek a negotiated peace. And had the U.S. gone forward with the plans to land on the Kyushu, they would have suffered horrendous casualties. Pre-invasion casualty estimates anticipated the loss of from 100,000 to as many as 1 million American soldiers and from 5-10 million Japanese military and civilian deaths. It has been estimated that for every month that the war continued, between 250,000 to 400,000 Asian civilians still under Japanese occupation would have died.
Revisionists dismiss these estimates as justification for using the A-bombs. But as Dr. James Tent, a professor of history at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, points out, such a dismissal is indicative of the sheer arrogance of the revisionists who, decades after the fact and far removed from the reality of the situation, would presume to judge those who had to make those decisions.
While the revisionists can second-guess the use of such catastrophic weapons on primarily civilian targets, the fact remains that the use of the atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought about the end of the war much sooner than any of the other alternatives would have and in so doing saved millions of lives. Given that the Japanese were already responsible for 17 million deaths, it is not hard to conclude that using atomic weapons to end the war was justified.
The author makes many good points
It's just sad that we need to go through these gyrations every year to answer the revisionists. The decision was made based on the cirumatsances and intelligence available at the time.
Only a liberal can second guess things for 60 years and try to "wish" the upleasantness away
I don't think it's about 'wishing unpleasantness away'. It's about making sure that the US never again has the certainty and fortitude to defeat an enemy.
Also, if they were really ready to surrender there wouldn't have had to be a second bomb. Isn't that obvious?
I teach a course called "Technology and the Culture of War" at the U. of Dayton, and when we get to the a-bomb, there are several things I have the students read. However, one of the comments I make is that while the Nagasaki bomb is often viewed as the "more immoral" of the two ("they were going to surrender anyway"), I point out that had Japan not surrendered after the Hiroshima bomb---and we still had to invade---that would have been the most immoral thing at all. We should have dropped them as fast and furious as we could until they unconditionally surrendered.
Yes this is right on target. The goal of the left is to undermine the psychological strength of the nation. Their real battle cry is make the government strong and the nation weak.
Decisions like this require a clarity of purpose and principled stand that no liberal could muster or even understand the concept of
Yes, of course it was.
As long as we're doing body-count mathematics, this alone justifies the use of the A-Bomb. If the US had invaded, every civilian would have been expected to meet the Marines with a sharpened piece of bamboo, or a shovel, or some other improvised implement. And the Marines would have gunned them down. By the millions.
Look at what happened in Saipan, where the Japanese civilians threw themselves into the sea rather than be captured by the Americans. How much more irrational would the response be to an invasion of the Home Islands?
Exactly! Sadly not one revisionist debates the decision of the Emperor NOT to surrender right before or after the first bomb. How many civilians lives would have been saved with responsible coherent leadership on the Emperor's part?
Yes, it was necessary. As the author pointed out, the best explanantion for the Japenese military to surrender was to save their own hides. They sure had lots of troops go to their death defending their bid to take over the world.
I seen on TV the other day where they asked some 18 year old Japenese student why the US nuked Japan. He said it was for revenge and because we were being racists. What a short sighted idiot. We nuked them because they wouldn't surrender.
Drop the mealy-mouthed "at the time" BS. What subsequent information, available now and not then, indicates otherwise? Some things are just right, and don't need to be second guessed. This is one of those things.
The Japanese would have reached a negotiated settlement on December 8, 1941. We just would not have liked the terms.
If for only one reason ... The Battle of Okinawa
" Battle of Okinawa [1st April to 22nd June 1945]
Okinawa was the largest amphibious invasion of the Pacific campaign and the last major campaign of the Pacific War. More ships were used, more troops put ashore, more supplies transported, more bombs dropped, more naval guns fired against shore targets than any other operation in the Pacific. More people died during the Battle of Okinawa than all those killed during the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Casualties totaled more than 38,000 Americans wounded and 12,000 killed or missing, more than 107,000 Japanese and Okinawan conscripts killed, and perhaps 100,000 Okinawan civilians who perished in the battle.
The battle of Okinawa proved to be the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War. Thirty-four allied ships and craft of all types had been sunk, mostly by kamikazes, and 368 ships and craft damaged.
The fleet had lost 763 aircraft. Total American casualties in the operation numbered over 12,000 killed [including nearly 5,000 Navy dead and almost 8,000 Marine and Army dead] and 36,000 wounded.
Navy casualties were tremendous, with a ratio of one killed for one wounded as compared to a one to five ratio for the Marine Corps. Combat stress also caused large numbers of psychiatric casualties, a terrible hemorrhage of front-line strength. There were more than 26,000 non-battle casualties.
In the battle of Okinawa, the rate of combat losses due to battle stress, expressed as a percentage of those caused by combat wounds, was 48% [in the Korean War the overall rate was about 20-25%, and in the Yom Kippur War it was about 30%].
American losses at Okinawa were so heavy as to illicite Congressional calls for an investigation into the conduct of the military commanders. Not surprisingly, the cost of this battle, in terms of lives, time, and material, weighed heavily in the decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan just six weeks later.
do these idiots ever stop and consider how many lives were saved in the end as a result of these bombs?
Yes and maybe we need to fire one up now.
It was either do something drastic, or they would have killed far more of our troops and the war was expected to last at least three years longer.
Our enemies would do that and worse to us in a heartbeat if they got military advantage.
Thet doesn't change the fact that I am so sorry for the terrible loss in such a horrible way of the innocent lives that were lost and the terrible trials of those who survived.
We were humane with the survivors and tried to help them as best we could within our means. What country would have done the same for us had the circumstances been reversed?
Q: Was Using the A-Bomb Justified?
Too bad we couldn't have developed it earlier.
Absolutely, positively, without a doubt, YES, YES, YES, period.
I'm thinking a MOAB would be nice right about now, drop it right into Mecca, hit every freakin' mosque, case closed, war over, nighty nite to terrorists.
Yep, they wanted to kill us, we killed them first.
We salute you!
Therefore, use of the atom bomb prevented the necessity of genocide and cannot possibly have been racist.
Thank you for your service to our country.
The libbies think Iraq is a way too much drawn out nasty, and that with our most modern tools 'n toys. What would Japan have been?
Without reading a word of the article...YES!
Was using the A-bomb on Japan justified. Yes.
In fact, after the 1st bomb, the Japanese leadership told the people 'not to lose heart, this is just the nature of war'. Thus, the 2nd bomb.
The 'A' bomb has killed over 20 million innocent American children.
Where are the protests by the liberals?
Was ending the war justified?
God rest the souls of the civilians that lost their lives because of the megalomaniac desires of their corrupt and cruel military elite.
Yes the bomb was necessary, do we laugh about that fact? of course not.
The Liberals are of course making that claim when anyone steps out in support of the Manhattan Project and it's outcome. How vile and typical of them to use such an event for political gain.
The two Atomic bombs killed less than 200,000 people. Far fewer than those that were killed by B-29 fire bombing attacks on Japan. On the Night of March 9, 1945, General Curtis LeMay's B-29s did a massive fire bombing of Tokyo. That night 100,000 Japanese died from the attack. The B-29 pilots on that mission reported that Tokyo looked like one giant fire ball.
Neither atomic bomb dropped on Japan killed 100 thousand people. Between March and July of 1945 our B-29s fire bombed over 60 Japanese cities killing at least 800,000 Japanese.
The question is, why did the Japanese surrender after just 2 nuclear attacks?
After the first Nuclear bomb was dropped Truman sent word to the Japanese that atomic bombs would be dropped until the Japanese surrendered or all Japanese were killed.
Truman was bluffing. He only had 2 atomic bombs and he only had one left. He dropped it and the Japanese surrendered.
There were only 3 atomic bombs in the world in 1945. There was no capacity to make more for use in 1945. One of the three was set off in Nevada to prove that they worked. The other two were dropped on Japan. Truman had been told in early august 1945, that it would be at least a year before any more Atomic bombs could be produced.
Truman was bluffing the Japanese, but the Japanese did not call his bluff.
Truman did one other thing that was designed to fool the Japanese. Both Roosevelt and Truman had been trying to get Stalin to help us attack Japan. No one knew for certain that the Atomic bomb would work. Truman first learned of the successful atomic bomb test while attending the Potsdam conference with Stalin and Churchill in late July 1945. Truman immediately told Stalin about it. At the same time Truman told Stalin that his help would not be needed in defeating Japan. Truman had to be aware that the Japanese were talking to Stalin. Years after world war II Truman revealed that he had told Stalin we had enough atomic bombs to defeat Japan. We would not need his help.
Some on the right were very angry that Truman had told Stalin about our atomic bombs.
But Stalin very likely concluded that we had many more than a total of 3 Atomic Weapons. He may very well have told the Japanese that Truman had rejected his help because the USA had a large supply of atomic weapons.
That could have been the calculus that caused the Japanese to surrender. They would have believed Stalin when he said Truman had a large number of Atomic Weapons.
It is interesting to note that Truman did not get an unconditional surrender from the Japanese. Truman agreed that Emperor Hirohito would not be charged with crimes or punished in anyway. With Hirohito spared, the Japanese surrendered.
I believe that had the Japanese known we had no more atomic bombs and would not have any for a year, they would not have surrendered at all.
The Japanese Cu lure prior to 1946 had many similarities with the Muslim culture. Both believed that suicide bombers go straight to heaven. Both taught that surrender was a direct path to Hell. Both had no problems using woman, children, and attacks on the innocent to further their quest for power.
The Japanese had only contempt for Americans that surrendered. Many were killed and others only allowed to live as long as they provided needed labor. They were feed poorly and treated miserably. The ratio of American dead to Japanese dead in our attacks on pacific islands held by the Japanese was 1 to 4. Four Japanese died for every American. The reason is the Japanese soldiers would not surrender when all was lost. They would not surrender. They made us kill them. The Japanese held beliefs that in many ways are far more contemptuous of human life than the Muslims.
Those that think the Muslim culture can't be changed to make them good world citizens know nothing of the Japanese culture and religion prior to their defeat in 1945.
Why don't any of these revisionist a-holes ever ask the Japs if Pearl Harbor was justified?
Yes, it resulted in unconditional surrender, which is what was needed.
The same applies to the present war, it must be fought with enough intensity and aggression to secure unconditional surrender from those that act and support the radical Islamic terrorist faith, whomever and wherever they are. Nothing else will end their terrorist acts.
Atomic power, Atomic power
Was given by the mighty hand of God.
Atomic power, Atomic power
Was given by the mighty hand of God
You remember two great cities
In a distant foreign land,
When scorched from the face of earth
The power of Japan.
Be careful, my dear brother,
Don't take away the joy.
But use it for the good of man
And never to destroy.
Paid a big price for their sins.
When scorched froom the face of earth,
Their battle could not win.
But on that day of judgment,
When comes a greater power,
We will not know the minute,
And we will not know the hour.
Fred Kirby, Sonora Records #H-7008, 1946
Yep. I interviewed Bill Verity, Reagan's Commerce Sec., some years ago. He was a "Higgins Boat" pilot, practicing for the invasion of Japan when the bomb went off. He said there was massive cheering, as the men realized that they likely weren't going to die soon.
The local talk radio host here is discussing a letter to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen; the letter writer apologizes "to all of humanity" because the U.S. was guilty of war crimes, since we bombed civilians.
Here's an email I just wrote to him:
So Carolyn Parrish would try to bring down the Martin government if even one Canadian comes home in a body bag. And yet, people sharing her anti-American mindset think the U.S. bringing the war in the Pacific to an abrupt end by dropping the atomic bomb was immoral.
Well, as an American, I can agree with her on one thing--it may be politically incorrect, but I believe that every drop of blood shed by a soldier from my native country is precious. The bomb saved untold lives. It saved American lives, and that's good enough for me.
And by the way, for the sake of consistency, let's accuse the Germans of war crimes. After all, they bombed innocent civilians in London.
Oh, that's right... the Germans opposed Iraq and are therefore "good guys."
I doubt if anyone will ever know thw real truth, but it did stop Russia...
It was absolutely justified.
But we need to be true to history as well, and note that many conservatives and Republicans (i.e., Henry Luce, Robert Taft, Dwight Eisenhower, the National Review, William F. Buckley, among others) were on the wrong side of this issue for many years. I suspect it was based in partisan politics, as it was, after all, a Democrat, Harry Truman, that made the decision to drop the bombs.
And thanks be to God that he did, IMO.
"I don't think it's about 'wishing unpleasantness away'. It's about making sure that the US never again has the certainty and fortitude to defeat an enemy."
I agree 100%. I think that one needs to understand an adversary. The left is bashed for this kind of thing, but, they do have a misguided logic to this course. Oddly enough, the one world thing, the thing that GWB seems to be totally on board with, is what the left craves. The left thinks war will end, and we will all be happier with one world government.
The UN is an example of why that won't work.