Skip to comments.The Moral Lesson of Hiroshima
Posted on 07/28/2006 8:20:58 AM PDT by mjp
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"We see the same sham process at work with MaMooed Imafoolajihad, but as before, you are among the blind who do not see and will refuse to see the sham in this 'negotiation' process, you and J.Feckless Kerry."
You must be the only person on the planet to see Amined-whats-his-ass as somehow negotiating a SURRENDER. What pod did you hatch from? I think what you really mean is Amadadadoodad is stalling for time and that people like Kerry are more than willing to give it to himn. The inference, since you tarred me with the Kerryite epithet, is that I want to give him time, too. Nothing could be further for the turth. Perhaps if you put the whiskey bottle down long enough to read peoperly, you'd know that.
I just don't believe nuking Mecca is the answer, and do believe that the process by which REAL victory will be achieved is beyond your patience or capacity to understand, since it will require decades and a fundamental change in Middle Eastern culture. I'd explain it to you in minute detail, but you're obviously drunk.
As for the Kerry comment; unlike Mr. Kerry, when I volunteered for service it was not after reception of four draft deferrals, nor did I spend 4 months in close-to-but-not-quite-combat collecting enough self-inflicted wounds to be shipped home.
BTW, I don't believe nuking Mecca is the answer either ... that would assure the world-wide inclusion of every muslim into a war to end civilization as we know it. I do believe in extinguishing any possible development of nuclear weaponry with whatever means needed to get the job done because once these demonspawn obtain nuclear weaponry they will immediately try to use them against Israel and won't give a damn how many Muslims they take with the effort since they count every Muslim as a worthy sacrifice to force allah to do their bidding. The same advent was the scenario when the Japanese were 'negotiating' while they feverishly tried to bring more devastating weaponry on line for continuation of the war. That is the context in which I cited negotiating as a tactic common to the goals of the Japanese and now the Islamofascist.
BTW, I don't drink anything stronger than wine and make it a point to avoid intoxication.
Accepted. Let me also take the opportunity to apologize. In the heat of an intellectual battle, tempers often get the best of us. Perhaps we should both pick up the bottle (for you wine, me vodka) and bury the hatchet.
You hit it right on the head very succinctly. I saw a report a couple of days ago about a section of Beirut only a few miles from the bombed out southern portion. The people living there were spending their time sunning themselves by the pool, since they couldn't go to work. The war was merely an inconvenience to them and they didn't seem to care what principles were at stake or who won.
There's no "probably" there. Between an invasion and the continuation of our destruction of Japan's internal transportation system, the Japanese were looking at catastrophic casualties, both civilian and military, if they had not surrendered. They were already on the brink of famine in late 1945 due to a combination of a poor harvest and their inability to transport what food there was to the population centers.
Surrender was the best thing that could happen to the Japanese. If it took the a-bombs to shock them into it, so be it.
This is true, but is it any more humane to starve civilians than to bomb them? Continuing the blockade and the resulting starvation would have spread the deaths throughout the whole nation and greatly increased the their number. Less Japanese died because the bombs forced their surrender.
"... but is it any more humane to starve civilians than to bomb them?"
That was my original question. If we set out to kill, the method, it seems to me is unimportant, and therefore, one method is not "cleaner" or "morally superior" to the other. I keep coming back to "Thou shall not kill" and "What you do to the least of my brothers.." I'm an agnostic, truth to tell, but I still believe there is a lot to be said for that philosophy.
As a former military man (and the descendant of military men) I understand the need for war and realize that it's not a very nice business.
But, since we live in a nation that was founded upon the principles of Western Civilization (prime amongst them the Judeo-Christian ethic mentioned above, and the Geneva and Hague Conventions on Warfare), I think we have a duty to ask those questions, even if the answers merely raise more questions.
Except that Harry could not stick with what worked, which is why we still have to deal with N. Korea today.
On Aug.2nd, 1967 (3 weeks before I landed in Viet Nam), I stood on the bridge across from ground zero in Hiroshima. As I stood on the bridge, I was the only person on the bridge and saw more than 70 shadows other than my own. They had been there since 1945.
I toured the "peace memorial museum", and saw what was recorded. I then hoped the loser president I served under named lyndon(loser) baynes (blowjob) johnson had the balls of Harry S. Truman to drop nukes on the DMZ and give me "glow in the dark" targets when I got to the Nam.
I see, and thus we come back to the original point of the article. If you don't agree with the use of the term "moral", would you agree that the method that kills the least number of people to achieve the desired result is preferred? That's what the bombs did and I agree with the author that their use was indeed moral.
I am always ashamed of FR discussion on the atomic bomb (or even conventional bomb) incineration of cities as such: not, strictly speaking, collateral deaths, but when city = target.
The indiscriminate killing of civilians in war is a crime similar to the killing by massive abortion (50,000,000 victims since Roe vs Wade) in this respect: that we dare to offend Almighty God by the deliberate shedding of innocent blood, which He calls an abomination.
Rand had the moral sense of a beast.
So much for the Socratic principle "better to suffer an evil than to commit one."
You are most gracious. I'll toast you with the next beer I have (which may be a while but I'll remembr).
The trouble is in war, innocent blood will be shed. The bombing of cities was not a good tactic (other than being immoral). For instance, in Germany it was thought that bombing and killing the factory workers would slow production. It didn't. Dresden and Hiroshima are part of the reasons that we don't do carpet bombing of cities anymore.
But in 1945 the Allied command had two or three choices. First was ground invasion, which would have devastated Japan and realistically cost a million lives (probably more). Second was a blockade. Which had already failed to incapacitate Japan, and would have had to starve a good portion of the population to death before they surrendered. The third was the atomic bomb.
No good choices there. No way to not kill innocents, no way to just go home and say "Game over, you guys lost." War is like that. If we pulled back and just said "Oh well", Japan would have rebuilt and attacked.
The choices for targets always confused me, and I do not agree with them, but to be honest I can't think of a way that would have got Japan to surrender cheaply.
Top scientists in Japan, Germany and the US all knew that theoretically, the atomic bomb was possible. Both the Germans and Americans worked on it. The Japanese concluded that creation of an atomic bomb would take too long, and instead put their resources into developing biological weapons as their "super weapon." Unit 731 conducted experiments on prisoners, and they practiced on Chinese cities. There are reports of massive epidemics after Japanese planes flew over areas of China. Some reports having over 200,000 Chinese dying of diseases the Japanese were developing.
The Japanese approach was low-tech but highly effective. They selected fleas as the method of carrying diseases, and if memory serves me correctly, planned their first attack in the US with a terra cotta bomb that would have split apart at the maximum dispersal elevation, turning loose over 10,000 fleas infected with smallpox. The target was planned to be San Diego, and the bomb was supposedly already made. The problem was that by the time they were ready to use it, the US had them ringed in so tightly they were unable to break loose a ship with aircraft launch capability and get it to the west coast. They did get some balloons over the US and dropped bombs killing seven people in late 1944, but never dropped a plague bomb. They obviously didn't have a moral problem using it, so I can only assume that by the time they had it perfected, they were unable to get it across the Pacific and deliver it.
The strains of anthrax, cholera and bubonic plague being developed by middle eastern countries and used by Saddam supposedly were originally developed by Japan prior to and during WWII.
When the US dropped the atomic bombs, many said Japan had no idea what the weapon was. This was true of the average Japanese, but the upper echelons of the military and the politicians knew exactly what had happened. The atomic bomb, which they considered theoretical, had been developed.
I hadn't heard the testing story in N. Korea, but Japan certainly had no problem experimenting on their neighbors.
The story of Japan's unit 741 is here.
Watch out for the Mecca comment. I agree with you, but got flamed for 24 hours for saying it!
Before, during or after the Haj?
Actually.the Plague Bomb was a dismal failure,primarily because they could never figure out how to keep the fleas alive at altitude long enough to deliver the bomb, or to keep them alive in an artillery round. Fleas, incidentally, die rather quickly without a host (certainly not long enough to stockpile, so each bomb had to be made within a day or two of it's actual use), never mind the rigors of weaponization. Also, since bubonic plague was endemic in China and surrounding regions, there was no way of accurately counting natural cases and purposely-inflicted cases. You couldn't accurately gauge if it was an effective weapon or not. Certainly not a reliable weapon.
I would tend to doubt the 200,000 Chinese dead figure for the simple reason that in China proper, malnutrition and disease of all kinds were rampant, even before the Japanese got there and perhaps it's only an estimate that an additonal 200,000 Chinese died of disease over and above what would "normally" have died because of the ravages of war (disruption of medical services, sanitation problems, disease caused by unburied corpses, etc all contributing to the total).
I think the only (probably semi-)accurate figure related to Unit 741 was 70,000 (since the facility was supposed to be a lumber mill for security reasons, the Japanese referred to their test subjects as "logs") and that referred to the number of people experimented on (for which there were records made).
Quick retort; if we're talking about killing in war, and your premise is "kill the least number of people to achieve the desired result", and those people are soldiers (who are trained to fight, wear uniforms, who expect that death is part of the job), then yes.
If we're talking about factory workers, schoolteachers, sanitation workers, carpenters, and telephone operators, not to mention children, the infirm and the elderly, all behind the lines and not attached to any military force involved or connected to the field of battle, and attacked while in their own homes, then no.
If a an oil-field worker or railroad worker happens to be at work when his workplace is attacked, then that is indeed collateral damage, and I don't see any way of avoiding that about 99.9% of the time.
All of the major combatants in the Second World War went after those schooltechers and carpenters, in their homes, in their bomb shelters, in the streets, with reckless abandon and called it "Strategic Bombing". It was terror bombing, really, under the guise of Strategic Bombing (the weapons were wholly unsuited to the mission as laid out in the theory) justifed by such quaint notions as (per Bomber Harris) "every apartment flat bombed displaces 4 or more German workers with resulting loss of productivity".
That is certainly their aim, goal, intention, and ambition for us. We should never assume that just because we are "strong", wealthy and well armed, that their intentions for us lays outside the realm of possibility, because it is possible. Babylon and Rome found out the hard way that sometimes the barbarians do win.
The problem with looking at alternatives to something that has already happened is twofold: for one thing, we can never actually know how the alternatives would have turned out; and secondly, you often don't grasp the consequences of what actually DID happen.
For instance, consider this: WWII marked a moral turning point in that not just the "bad guys," but even the "good guys" carried out massive and strategically deliberately attacks against civilian populations.
In the aftermath, during the U.S. Occupation of Japan under General Douglas MacArthur, Japan passed a law entitled the Eugenic Protection Act of 1948, encouraging voluntary sterilization as a public health measure. (In addition, reportedly some 275,000 Japanese were involuntarily sterilized.) Also in the wake of Hiroshima/Nagasaki Japanese law was changed to permit abortion for most genetic or chromosomal disorders or congenital malformations.
Every such law is not only policy, but precedent. Heretofore in most nations considered criminal and in many, unthinkable, abortion became newly associated not with crime but with public health. So the surgical killing and trashing of unborn babies picked up a certain undeserved respectability, and began its long march toward universal acceptance.
Or maybe not such a long march. By 1962, the American Law Institute published its "Model Penal Code" de-criminalizing abortion for certain hard cases. Within 20 years of the Japanese abortion law, abortion law was liberalized in Colorado and California. (Some so-called "ethicists" had picked up on the WWII-vintage idea that you can intentionally exterminate the innocent if you have a really good reason!) In 1970, New York (followed by Alaska, Hawaii and Washington) introduced the first laws to allow abortion "on demand."
Then came Roe vs Wade. Then over a period of 30 years, 1/4 to 1/3 of all babies conceived in the United States of America were killed. That comes to approximately 50,000,000 dead.
Is this one of the long-term consequences of Hiroshima/Nagasaki? I think the argument could be made. Once you accept in principle that the prohibition against the intentional shedding of innocent blood can be set aside in favor of our own better judgment, the consequences can play out across a range of situations. And if the killing of 1/3 of the children in America is not a consequence of the "new morality" of targeting the innocent as in Hiroshima/Nagasaki, it may be its punishment.
Was there any talk of doing a demonstration bombing? Like blowing the top off that sacred mountain?
Problem with bio bombs is delivery. Fleas are not very hardy, and with the hygenie habits of the US the plauge bomb would not have been that succesfull. But Japan was working on all kinds of nasty things by the wars end.
You're right about the eugenics/euthanasia crew in the USA preceding WWII by many decades. Sanger and her movement supplied important legal precedents as well as the philosophical basis for the Nazi program.
I'm looking at the cumulative effect of the anti-ethic that it's OK to deliberately kill innocent people if you have a really good reason. That's why it always disturbs me when certain FReepers refer to -- well, some of them start with William Tecumseh Sherman --- and then justify the targeting of the civilian population of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, Hirosima, Nagasaki as an ongoing American tradition of indiscriminate slaughter "when needed."
If we accept that, it's hard to see how we differ from the jihadis, who (also) reject the fundamental moral law that innocent human life is to be immune from direct attack. Certainly there is no fear of God before our eyes.
It's only recently that I saw that the massive slaughter of our own, via abortion, may be the judgment and punishment we have brought upon ourselves.
The Instrument of Surrender contains the provision that "The authority of the Emperor and the Japanese Government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate these terms of surrender." (The first of these terms being the acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration and its provisions.)
I'd be interested in your opinion as to what else would have been accomplished had the instrument contained an explicit surrender by the Government. You state that it is an important distinction, and I'd like to get your thoughts on what was so important.
Actually there was about 100 million Japanese still in Asia. Specifically that part of Asia known as "Japan"...
I wouldn't want to "drop a big one" on Mecca, because not everyone there is a cog in the machine of radical Islamist terror.
But the author's case has a logic to it, in a brutal sort of way. I would be uncomfortable making this case publicly, I confess.
How serious were those negotiations? I have heard conflicting reports on whether negotiations were official. What sort of terms were they asking for?
Certainly. While the instrument of surrender does make the Japanese civilian government subordinate to MacArthur's Occupation forces, it did not require the surrender of civil authority to Allied command, as was the case in Germany.
The reason for this was because unlike Nazi Germany, the Japanese government not only fufilled constitutional, civil needs, but reflected cultural norms as well. The Japanese public could accept the surrender of it's armies to enemies that had clearly demonstrated their superiority in the field (this is a near-universal oriental concept, see Sun Tzu, Confucious, et. al.). However, civil authority in Japan devolves from divine providence (i.e. the Emperor) and therefore, turning over civil authority to the Allies is, in a sense, religiously intolerable.
What occurred during the American Occupation of Japan is that MacArthur, fully aware of these distinctions and cultural bugaboos, left the visible signs of Japanese self-rule in place, and worked behind the scenes through the Emperor to affect whatever changes he deemed necessary (New constitution, reorganization of the civil service, universal sufferage, etc). MacArthur could dictate to the Emperor and the Emperor to the government and people. To do it any other way would have incited the Japanese to continue the war.
That is the distinction; Germany could function without the Nazis, Japan could not without the Emperor and the organs of government that were touched by his divine mantle. There was no strict program of "De-Nazification" in Japan (with regards to the militarists who dragged the country into war), because to do so would have resulted in civil unrest on a huge scale (and would probably have driven Japan in to the Communist sphere). For the sake of peace, the Allies were willing to make these concessions to the Japanese people.
I know of three attempts made by the Japanese from May to July of 1945 to negotiate a surrender;
1. Japanese envoys in Moscow made no fewer than three attempts to negotiate through the Soviet Union (Japan and Russia had signed a Non-Aggression Pact in 1940, and this was still in force at the time). The Russians stonewalled these negotiations by purposely failing to notify the Western Allies of them, primarily because American pressure on the Soviet Union had been to enter the war in the Pacific at the earliest, possible date. Roosevelt (before he died) had promised the Russians a slew of incentives to do so (mostly reversing the Treaty of Portsmouth of 1905, and promising American acquiescence in Russian interests in Mongolia, Manchuria and Northern China. Roosevelt was famous for taking credit for the Atlantic Charter and then forgetting about it's provisions when it was convenient -- see Baltic states, Poland, etc).
The Russians would do nothing to jeopardize this arrangement --- like inform their allies the enemy wished to surrender before they could get into the war and strengthen their claims with military force.
2. Additional attempts were made through the Swedes in Stockholm. Allied officials did actually listen to some of the proposals, but rejected them because Japan offered to surrender to the Western Allies, but not the Soviets, with whom they were not officially at war (Russo-Japanese Non-Aggression Pact rears it's ugly had again), and the guarentee of the sanctity of the Emperor. Allied diplomats, wedded to the ideas of Unconditional Surrender and no seperate peace treaties between beligerents (i.e. not entering into any agreement which was not binding upon ALL the Allies simultaneously) rejected these terms.
3. The third attempt that I'm aware of took place in Bern, Switzerland, where Japanese diplomats contacted Allen Dulles (then Head of the OSS, forerunner of the CIA), and offered the same terms as in example 2. Dulles did not presume to speak for the American government, and demurred, but did forward the information to Washington, where it was rejected because it did not fit the "Unconditional Surrender/No Sperate Peace" mold.
Prior to the actual dropping of the Atomic bombs, American scientists sent a report detailing the effects (but not the secrets behind) the bomb to their Japanese counterparts as a warning of what was in store. Additionally, the American government made repeated broadcasts between 25 July, 1945 and 3 Aug, 1945 (the day Hiroshima was bombed) all but begging the Japanese to surrender.
The respnse they got to these broadcasts is astonishing; the Japanese did in fact agree to negotiate, whatever by wireless broadcast on 2 Aug, 1945 delivered by Foreign Minister Shigematsu. However, due to a mistranslation (Japanese is not an easy language to learn and it is not as precise or literal as most Western languages) the response was misconstrued as "stuff your offer" when in realty it was closer to "we will consider your proposal".
The desire for an end to the war in Japan was quite manifest to anyone willing to pay attention to it in early 1945; the Tojo government fell in March (have to check again) 1945. Japanese diplomats all over the planet were making overtures to the allies through neutral embassies. Food shortages were causing civil unrest throught Manchuria, Mongolia and Korea. Fuel of any kind was all but unobtainable. While there were still diehards within the military, the civilian segments of the Japanese government were increasingly being run by men who worked for, and died for, peace. Only the peculiarity of some Japanese customs and Allied thick-headedness prevented the war from ending sooner than it did.
The funny thing (or is it?) is that American intelligence was aware of most of these facts; they are all over the "Magic" intercepts (Magic was the consolidation and interpretation, with strategic recommendations, of all Allied intelligence gained through espionage, codebreaking, or other means, which was presented to Allied policy makers on a daily basis). The Western Allies were well aware of what was happening in Japan, they were singularly unaware of how to use it to their advantage.
Your contention has a precedent. World War I was ended by your "other way". Since it did not demonstrate to the Germans that they had really lost, they did not believe it and took "another round" to prove to the world that they were able to defeat their enemies.
The author is absolutely correct. Until an opponent is convinced in their own mind, that they are defeated, there will just be another round later.
If you ever got involved in a civil lawsuit, you would know how it works. It doesn't stop or go away until your opponent is prostrate and recognizes they are defeated.
It isn't just "wars" that have that dynamic.
Dan, didn't you know that internal unrest in Germany forced the Kaiser to seek terms? Or haven't you ever heard of the food riots that took place in Germany from 1916 until the end? How about the mutinies of the Kreigsmarine in Kiel and Hamburg in 1918, or haven't you ever heard of that? The continued British blockade and the addition of a million American troops on the Western Front merely put a punctuation mark on a war that was already being lost behind the lines.
As for your contention that the Second World War was a direct result of not beating the snot out of the Germans the first time around, nothing could be further from the truth. The Treaty of Versailles was incredibly harsh in this regard and the world-wide economic Depression only made the situation worse. Germany ws brought as low as it is possible to bring a western, indutrialized society without returning it wholly to nature.
More than anything, the cause of the Second World War WAS NOT that Germany went undefeated in the field; it was a cultural phenomenon. The generation that fought for the Kaiser in 1914-18 was only the second or third raised in a unified German state (something that had not existed 100 years prior), and who had taken Bismark, Clauswitz, Otto the Great and their warrior past in with their Mother's milk.
And when they went to the front, they defeated the vaunted Russian army (helping to cause revolution in Russia, no less), fought the mighty French to the brink of collapse, and at sea fought Britain's Royal Navy to a stalemate, and at the end of the war were still in occupation of a not- insignifigant portion of France.
As those men saw it, they had won. What they could not fathom was how it was possible that their government surrendered with an arguable military victory in their hands. They left 3 million men on the battlefield while compiling those accomplishments, and the means by which they surrendered left a very bad taste in their mouths. The harshness of Versailles and it's ruthless enforcement only made matters worse. In effect, the Armistice and Versailles were Germany's Hiroshima and Nagasaki; they ruined the country economically, politically and socially.
THAT is the cultural enviornment that produced Hitler and the Nazis. That is the soil in which the seed of a Second World War grew. Such a thing would not have been prevented by razing Germany to the ground because it could not prevent the MINDSET that motivated the Nazis. The First World War is a prime example of how, sometimes, it is necessary to let an all-but-defeated enemy get off the mat. Finishing that war on the terms you suggest only guarenteed a second round.
Japan, of course, is a totally different horse altogether. Th Japanese reasons for going to war cannot be fully explored here (I'm sure you wouldn't want to read it anyway) and the Japanese culture (based on Confucian principles of the Harmonious Society) more or less demand that once a decision is made (for either war or peace) it will be followed through with the utmost expedience and efficiency and with very little opposition from internal social and governmental sources.
In that regard, if any of the surrender negotiations that took place prior to Hiroshima had been seriously explored, a settlement in which atomic bombs were unnecessary can be reasonably assumed to have been possible. Despite the Japanese pleas for more favorable surrender terms, there were plans on the board for a continued blackade (and continued starvation) of Japan, which were expected to last until mid 1946. The question regarding it's implementation, however, was just how long the US Navy could hold out against he Kamikaze (the USN had lost or had damaged 300 ships and suffered over 15,000 casualties from Kamikazes at Okinawa alone).
As for the "1,000,000 American casualties" estimate-- it was just that: an estimate. It is not a fact and bandying it about proves nothing because the event never occurred. You cannot say "the atom bombs saved a million Americans" in that way, because it's theorhetical. That is a terribly bad (and a very old, misunderstood and completely overused) argument. We'll never know if it was accurate (and that's a good thing) and there is no similar, real-life event to use as a comparison. The fact is that all the plans for the invasion and occupation of Japan were all very "last minute" and had gaping holes in them. There seems to have been hardly any realistic planning done because it had been assumed previously that Japan could not be defeated by 1945 and possibly not until 1946.
I would tend to take the "1,000,000 casualty" figures with a VERY large grain of salt. The same could be said about the "we saved x number of Japanese"; there is no way to verify whatever figure you throw out there.
Of course, since you can't play "What if.." with casualty figures, I can't play the same game with a negotiated surrender scenario; neither event occurred, and we're arguing 60+ years later, often with a whole lot more information than was available to any decision maker in 1945.
Thanks for your analysis!
It sounds as if Germany wasn't really defeated in WWI, and what the allies won could hardly be called a "victory."
"It sounds as if Germany wasn't really defeated in WWI, and what the allies won could hardly be called a "victory.""
Depends on your point of view, I would guess. If I was a German veteran of the First World War, and I had spilled my blood on the fields of Flanders only to find that elements and events within my country were conspiring to bring about it's downfall, I would feel betrayed too.
When i say "elements and events" I do not mean to lend creedence to the later Nazi claim that Jews, Serbs, Communists, homosexuals, etc. were in direct conspiracy. These identification of these "elements" of German society were merely easy targets and psychological constructs. They are the scapegoats. What had happened in Germany between 1916-18 is simply that a series of calamities for which the German people were unprepared all occurred within a short period of time; the losses at the front, the continued pressure of the blockade, the increasing removal of raw materials from the civilian sector to the military, the stalemates at the various fronts. The typical German-in-the-street back in Bonn, Leipzig or Dusseldorf took all of this in and wondered just why it was continuing.
The only reasonable solutions were either revolution or capitulation. The Germans settled for capitulation. The arrogant French, however, overstepped thier bounds and acted as if they HAD won the war (nothing could be further from the truth), and a weakened Germany was unable to resist the terms of Versailles. Not when it's armies were shattered, it's navy rusting at anchor and with internal revolt just below the surface within each.
The Allies simply WORE Germany (particularly it's civillian population) out; they did not defeat it's armies in any realistic sense. German forces in the field were probably more than capable of drawing the war out infedinitely, but were conversely also unable to resume the offensive. By 1918 there was no longer any reason to do so.
Given that backdrop, it's not surprising that Germany surrendered.
Come on, you're the dreamer, the "idealist"...you tell US what should have been done, and make the case why it worked.
I think your post merely proves that nothing is impossible...as long as it's somebody else's job.
Really? Am I dreaming?
Let me put it to you this way;
1. By 1945, the Unbited States was simply out of soldiers. Between 1941-45, 16 million Americans were serving or had served in uniform. Shortages of manpower had become acute in the European theatre as early as November 1944 (Battles of the Hurtgen Forest) and made themselves manifest during the Battle of the Bulge. The fact was, the American army whihc invaded France in 1944 was an unbalanced force: it was top heavy with armored and specialty units and lacking infantry. American infantry in Europe took a terrific beating at the hands of the Germans. The infantry replacement problem had become so severe that those previously disqualified for military service were now entering the ranks (one of them, Eddie Slovik, was executed on Eisenhower's orders "pour encouragement de otres").
Allied commanders, especially General Patton, were so hard up for infantry that they began systematiccaly denuding anti-aricraft units and other rear-area establishments for troops. This was a common occurrance. There simply was no infantry (and certainly no QUALITY infantry) replacements left to draw upon. Infantrymen, incidentally, win wars; not strategic bombers, not tanks, not aircraft carriers. You need boots on the spot to decide the issue.
The invasion and occupation of Japan ( by MacArthur's estimate) was expected to require 5 million Americans; that's front-line infantry, for the most part. There weren't five million infantrymen to be found anywhere, except in the Soviet Union.
2. Japn's economy was thoroughly ruined and could not continue to produce the weapons necessary to support resistance for any extended period of time. By 1945, 88% of the Japanese merchant navy was on the bottom, the rest was either dodging Allied submarines or swinging uselessly on their hooks in foreign ports, unable to make the transit. There was no flow of raw materials or fuel to continue the fight. While Japanese industry would ocntinue to make extrordinary use of what was available, it was simply never going to be enough to defend against a determined Allied assault, no matter how stubbornly or bloodily the Japanese resisted.
Food riots were common in the hinterlands of the Japanese Empire (particularly in Manchuria, Mongolia and Korea). In most rural regions of Japan, the populace was openly hostile to men wearing their country's uniform. The military government which had dragged the country into war by a series of fait accomplis had, for the most part, begun to sag with the fall of Saipan (Summer 1944) and finally fell a few months later, to be replaced by an organization known as the Jushin (have to check the spelling), a collection of elder statesmen, many of whom had spent the 30's and early 40's working to prevent war.
The stage was set for capitulation, the only questions were how to bring it about, and would the men who set it in motion survive the process (Japanese politics of the time was infamous for political assassinations and resort to private violence).
All of this was certainly known to Allied leaders and commanders. What is absolutely incredible (to me) is that given this information, the knowledge of a lack of Allied capability to sustain the assault, and the a knowledge of the Japanese inability to continue resistance for any reasonable length of time, how supposedly brilliant men could find no other way out. It is as if the long practice of direct frontal assault that had been practiced from 1942 onwards simply became a habit that could not be broken.
What was required was a meeting of the minds, which never occurred because most of the minds were already made up, in many cases. In the end, this singular lack of originality, intelligent thinking, foresight and compassion, meant that only option left was direct, overwhelming force, and damn the consequences. That was particularly uncreative and manifested itself in pure, unadulterated murder. The biggest shame of it all is that there were people with the requisite intelligence, compassion and foresight (on both sides) and they went completely unheeded.
We could complicate the picture more by talking about Truman and his hatred of everything Russian, the uselessness of the Chinese as reliable allies, the political pressures on al the Alied governments to end hostilities quickly and bring everyone home (especially in America and Britain), but it only dtracts form the main point; the Japanese had sent out feelers and througha series of stupid rejections, misunderstandings and adherance to a political program (no Seperate Peace, Unconditional Surrender)that was increasingly becoming an obstacle rather than a help, those who had the opportuity to find peace failed utterly.
Thanks for your analysis.
You're engaging in hindsight and mind reading here. First, you're assuming that it's possible to take what was being said at face value. I think not, considering that you're talking about the country that created the Samurai...which was engaged in diplomacy up until Pearl Harbor. You're also operating with the benefit of hindsight and perfect knowledge, which did not exist in 1945. One of the most important factors for any type of decision is an awareness of the limits of your knowledge. In time of war, that's a major consideration; in hindsight it doesn't apply.
That's one of the limitations of hindsight not generally acknowledged by its practitioners.
You've missed the point; I have already stated, several times, that this is a "What If...?" Scenario. The point was that if there had been people with a little more intelligence and who were willing to entertain options instead of automaticaly rejecting those presented for political purposes, a different outcome was possible.
As for the "Samurai" junk, while the samurai tradition did (and still does) permeate Japanese society, the Japanese military was not adverse to retreat or surrender when it suited their needs. There were several incidents of the Japanese withdrawing troops from the battlefield (Burma, Guadalcanal, Coral Sea, mutliple times in China, Nomonhon and other Siberian clashes with the Russians, The Aleutian Islands, etc)when no further advantage could be gained from their sacrifice.
Had the Samurai tradition been as strong and as unbreakable as you assert, the Battles of the Coral Sea, Midway, Savo Island, Imphal, Leyte Gulf, Kommandorski Islands, and a host of others would have been different: the Japanese would have pressed advantages when they had them free of fear of failure or death (since, according to you, they would rather die anyway, either to atone for defeat or if it furthered victory), and the war would have been considerably shorter, since the entirety of the Japanese race would have gladly committed suicide rather than surrender.
I put it to you that since there are still 100 million or so Japanese around, that the Samurai-fight-to-the-death ethic was not as strong as you seem to think it was. It was certainly the driving force behind the ARMY (which later controlled the government) but was not the driving force in other areas of Japanese society (certainly not in the Japanese Navy or government ministries).
Also, towards the end of the war, Japanese troops began to surrender in increasing mumbers. Never as many as the Western nations would have liked, but the numbers steadly climbed as the war went on. Just because western armies surrender en-masse, doesn't mean oriental ones do, and then consider our (western) history of mass surrender as the "right and proper" kind, is ridiculous. In the instances of fanatical, last-ditch defenses to the last man, you have to take into consideration just where those battles took place; isolated island outposts where there was no chance of retreat to safety or reinforcement (Iwo Jima, Guam, Okinawa and such).
We should stop with this nonsense that the "Samurai tradition" created implaccable Japanese resistance to the death. While many aspects of Japanese society stress the collective over the individual, they also don't require suicidal stupidity. Do not mistake the Kamikaze and Bonzai charge as signs of a race bent on death; these were merely tactics, for which Japanese philosophy made exceptions.
You are making the mistake of attempting to view Japanese culture and philosophy through Western lenses. The same mistake the Allies made, incidentally.
Many folks have postulated that a direct attack on the Emperor would have left Japan in a frenzy and they really would have fought to the last man. The folks who say Mecca should be the first target following the next terrorist attack if there is another big attack might consider the results of that action (something by the way I don't consider a bad idea). Would a smoking Mecca break their resolve or fortify it? I don't know the answer, interesting question though.
So a continuing blockade leading to starvation for millions, plus the likely casualties on both sides from an invasion, is morally preferable to the use of the 2 atomic bombs?
The Japanese peace feelers were not taken seriously for good reason, not solely because of the declared Allied policy of unconditional surrender but for the underlying historical lessons that policy reflected: that anything less than a complete and catastrophic defeat for each of the Axis powers would just lead to a re-building phase and a renewal of war at a later date.
p.s. If we extrapolate from the death tolls on Okinawa (21,000 US and 120,000 Japanese dead), any invasion of the home islands would have been looking at 10x those casualties. The atomic bombings saved vast numbers of Japanese lives, although I'm sure that was not foremost in the minds of US policymakers at the time.
Perhaps I could put this better, but I don't know exactly how much clearer I could have been.
I don't mean to imply that firebombing or starvation is "more humane" than instant incineration. My beef, in this regard, is with those who believe that vaporization IS humane. Deadis dead, and it shouldn;t matter how quickly death came or by what method.
The point I've been trying to make all along is, that if the goal is "ending the war as quickly as possible" that possibilities to do just that existed prior to the decision to drop the bombs and weren't taken, and conversely, that options other than the bombs were available that did not necessitate a direct invasion of Japan and infliction of mass casualties on both sides.
The Tojo government fell one month before Roosevelt's death and directly afterwards, peace feelers working through various third parties were sent out by the Japanese; their arguments were discounted and ignored. That's the first possibility of ending the war without Atomic bombs: taking them up on their offer. Since Japan surrendered in anything BUT an unconditional fashion in the final analysis, I don't see why peace on the modest terms the Japanese presented in March, 1945 was any better than the peace achieved in August 1945.
In the meantime, many more Japanese, who died in conventional bombing raids would have been spared, as would the American servicemen who died at Okinawa and other actions directly afterwards (April 1,1945 onwards).
The background against which I base this idea is as follows:
- The Japanese were at the end of their rope, and the American's knew it (thanks to Magic). Japanese war production was nil, the population was starving, internal unrest was brewing, there was no fuel and the remaining weapons at Japan's disposal were completey inadequate to the task of defending the Home Islands.
- The Japanese desire to surrender was well known to Allied war leaders (also through Magic). Various diplomatic missions around the world were enlisted in the Japanese attempt to surrender prior to August, 1945. The Soviets, the Swedes and the Swiss all knew of Japanese surrender attempts and tried to mediate an end to the war (except the Soviets, of course).
- The Western Allies were out of infantry, and whatever could be scraped up would be hardly/barely sufficient to the tasks of invading Japan. Roosevelt, truman and Churchill knew this very well. The bomb, obviously, reduced the need for the "5 million men" MacArthur wanted, but wasn't going to get in any case. Why you would continue to throw soldiers, which you no longer have, at an enemy who wishes to surrender, is beyond me. Particularly when the American public, after the defeat of Hitler, pretty much felt the war to be over anyway. Demobilization of the American Armed forces after the Second World War was done with indecent haste. The public wanted the troops home NOW. The public would have accepted a Japanese surrender in Macrh 1945, regardless of terms, or whether or not MacArthur marched through the streets of Tokyo.
- The US Navy was taking a pounding at the hands of the Kamikaze, and Roosevelt/Truman were well aware that it would only be a matter of time before the strain, the losses and the logistical nightmare of keeping it in action would begin to tell. Lives would have been saved.
- The Soviets were about to invade Manchuria, Korea and Northern China (at America's behest). Since the West could effectively (and the Japanese definitely) do nothing to stop this, quickly negotiated peace made infinite sense if a secondary goal is to keep Stalin out of East Asia (the casis belli would be removed, i.e. the war would be over). Think of how many lives that would have saved.
All I'm saying is that there were options, they were known at the highest levels, and none of them was taken or explored. That is not "ending the war as quickly as possible" and "saving lives"; that is stupidity. And no, it is not "hindsight"; Truman perhaps had the best intelligence tool ever available to an American President in Magic, and it told him everything he needed to know about the true state of Japan and it's intention to surrender. What followed, the Atomic bombings, was murder, when you stop to consider how many times the Japanese tried to surrender and how hard-headed the Allies were about accepting the one Japanese condition; keeping the Emperor on the throne, which they wound up doing in any case, but only after unleashing hell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I'd hardly call any of that "arguing for the sake of arguing".