Skip to comments.How the Atomic Bomb Saved 4,000,000 Lives
Posted on 09/25/2006 1:20:44 PM PDT by pabianice
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You are correct. My dad was burned a crash in the CBI Campaign in '43 and was back in the US (as a still certified flyer)after his recovery... He was ready to go at Rough and Ready Island in '45.
"Japan was seeking terms of surrender at the time."
"Debatable. Certainly there were elements in the civilian leadership and diplomatic corps who saw the writing on the wall and wanted to find a way out for Japan, but the military was in control of everything, including all the channels of communication. They (the civilians and diplomats) had made a very tenuous peace overture for the Russians to relay to the Americans, but the Russians basically stalled on them while gearing up for their own invasion of China, Korea, etc., When the Japanese military got wind of it, I believe they arrested the people who had reached out. What few peace signals reached the Americans were so obtusely worded and so buried in a thousand "to the last man, woman and child" messages that they were simply ignored."
The diplomatic efforts to the Russians was transmitted to the Japanese embassy in 'Code Purple,' which the Japanese knew the British and Americans had already cracked. Truman and Churchill already knew what cards Stalin was holding at Potsdam with respect to Japanese peace initiatives.
If the Roosevelt policy of 'unconditional surrender' had left room to ensure the integrity of the Emperor, whom the Japanese considered on the level of a 'god,' the ambiguity concerning the fate of the monarchy would have been resolved. Stimson was aware of this and requested the viability of a 'constitutional monarchy' be included in the demand for surrender, and his request was ignored at the conclusion of the Potsdam Conference. The people, including the military, obeyed the Emperor, and once the Emperor ordered the surrender, the war was over.
That's very insightful and something that most folks overlook. Few historians or anyone else bother to look at the "totality of circumstances". The Japanese could see the darkness all around them. The atomic attacks were likely to show that the possiblity of staving off an invasion was now impossible.
I am willing to bet that the thinking in the upper echelon staff rooms was that if it could do this to a city,"What would these bombs do to a division?"
"On these islands, seaplane bases would be established and radar would be set up to provide advance air warning for the invasion fleet"
My father was a USN Crew Chief for a PBY (Patrol Boat Plane, aka sitting duck.) He had orders to leave for Okinawa in Mid August. The bomb probably saved his life. My thanks to Einstein and Fermi!
Using it today would save even more.
My dad was a pilot in VP-11, also a PBY. (Although they added four .50 caliber in the noseto be fired with the gunner straddling them!)
Yes, but today we don't have leaders in high places of the same caliber as those we had fighting WW2.
Also it's not yet evident to a majority of the people how serious the current war against Islam is.
Did your father see action?
I read a once that there was also a plan to use atomic bombs to blow breeches in the Japanese defenses for Allied troops to pour through into the countryside.
It would have been a tragedy to have our troops march through a radiation zone on their way to battle.
This assumes unconditional surrender. Had we agreed up front to conditional surrender (e.g. letting the Japanese keep the emperor) both the mass cooking of babies and little old ladies and an invasion could have been avoided.
ping for later
"I wonder how many lives could have been saved if we had the balls to drop 1 or 2 after 9/11."
Exactly where would we have dropped them?
My Dad was on the USS Doyle, a destroyer/minesweeper. He was headed to the invasion of Japan when the A-bombs were dropped. My Uncle Ed was an MP and spent some time in Hiroshima.
The horror of Okinawa was the preview, and would have been magnified a million-fold. Japanese civilians had been taught that the Americans would slaughter the men, rape the women and enslave the kids - and they believed it. They were ready to fight to the death and never surrender.
Before the A-Bombs Gen. Lemay had destroyed virtually all the cities in the firebombing, which would have convinced any other country to surrender. But they didn't.
The casualties, and especially the Japanese casualties, would have been unimaginable. Truman did the right thing.
YEAHHe saw Action!!!!!
He was shot down five times...once by P-40s! That one killed the co-pilot sitting next to him! His logbook is on the Internet (VP-11 sitesearch PBY, VP-11, logbook).
Japan conquered the Dutch East Indies to secure oil for their wars.
It is never right to do a wrong thing in order that good may result.
It is OK to kill an invader. Bombing the invader's mother, father, grandmother and grandfather doesn't sound like killing an invader.
Bombing munitions factories is generally seen as a normal part of a war.
Looks like it is not possible to say that "bombing saved lives".
Thanks, the link is:
Bombing a country that started the war is not just good tactics but morally correct.
"This assumes unconditional surrender. Had we agreed up front to conditional surrender (e.g. letting the Japanese keep the emperor) both the mass cooking of babies and little old ladies and an invasion could have been avoided."
If I remember correctly, the survival of the Emperor was not the only issue in a conditional surrender. Most of the government would have been left intact. We also picked intelligence that the conditional surrender that was offered was a stall for more time.
Dropping the bomb was a good decision.
You are correct, of course. But, that is the revisionist line lately taken by the anti-Americans who try to make the assertion that dropping the bomb was unnecessary.
Such a view is anti-historical and relies on a breathtaking ignorance of the times. To have had the bomb in 1945--and not used it--would have been an act of madness.
I am constantly stunned at how ingnorant people are of World War I and World War II. Many seem to envision WWII as a larger Vietnam War, not too big to be inconvenient, really.
It required everyone's contribution from the children who picked up recyclable scrap to the men on the front lines. We were fighting for our lives.
The history is even more complicated than that. After the great loss of life at Saipan - I believe it was 900 US dead a day - the "Joint Chiefs" wanted to use poison gas on the Japanese. FDR said no but his only reason was that he was afraid the Japanese would retailiate. (I'm sorry I can't source this but I read it a long time ago and didn't save the reference).
That is, would retaliate by using poison gas against our troops.
There would be no Japanese culture left and that territory would probably have been annexed by the US considering how much blood we paid for it.
With American forces locked in combat in the south of Japan, little could have prevented the Soviet Union from marching into the northern half of the Japanese home islands.
Russia would never have been able to do that considering that they could not effectively project power across the ocean.
Other factors that influenced the decision to drop the bomb were:
a) Inadvisability of "Demonstration": one plan was to invite the Japanese and neutral observers such as the Swiss to a demonstration of the bomb at sea near the coast of Japan. This was decided against because we had only tested one bomb. It was not at all clear that these weapons would work reliably every time and if we set up a demonstration and it didn't go off we would have lost 'face'.
b) The Horror of Blockade: Another option to avoid the loss of American lives was to blockade Japan until they surrendered. This was dismissed because a) it could take many months or even more than a year and we wanted the war over with and b) the brunt of the blockade would be borne by the elderly, the young, the sick and civilians - whatever food and medical care was available would of course have been given to the Japanese forces.
c) The Number of Bombs: IIRC after we dropped the two we had enough material to make one more by September and one more by December. After that my memory fails me but I want to say that we could only make maybe one or two a quarter (anyone have any data on that?) In any case, this also influenced the decision not to have a 'Demonstration'. We had two bombs, if we used one in a 'Demonstration' we only had one left and another one available in September. We didn't know at the time what the reaction of the Japanese would be.
I'm sorry I can't give sources for this but my library is not readily accessable.
I am also one of those who wouldn't be here if the bombs hadn't been dropped. My father, God rest his soul, was in the USN Medical Corps on an LST (one of the ones in a flotilla that converted to a hospital ship with the OR on the tank deck). He had been at the invasion of Okinawa and they were slated for the invasion of Japan. He never would have come back.
The United States government decided on June 18, 1945, to commit genocide on Japan with poison gas if its government did not surrender after the nuclear attacks approved in the same June 18 meeting. This was discovered by military historians Norman Polmar and Thomas Allen while researching a book on the end of the war in the Pacific. Their discovery came too late for inclusion in the book, so they published it instead in the Autumn 1997 issue of Military History Quarterly.
You should probably take some time to read this ....
There is the argument-- not mine, but I understand it-- that as killing a man in self-defense is not murder, killing a population in self-defense is not genocide.
I will suggest again the reading of "The Rape of Nanking".
Then come back on this thread and report what you read.
If it was stall, it interesting that Truman, overruled his pro-FDR advisors, and in the end agreed to conditional surrender e.g. keeping the emperor. The Japanese then stopped stalling (which had continued even after the bomb) and complied.....but only after Truman agreed to that condition. Had Franklin D. "Unconditional Surrender" Roosevelt still been president in August, the war would have continued to drag on even after dropping the bomb. Truman, at least, finally realized that the continued demand for Unconditional Surrnder was a foolish waste of lives.
Applying the mores of today is of little value in analysing the actions during World War II. I really would suggest readig the book as it details the spectacular cruelty of the Japanese in one city in China. One city, mind you. Other areas of China experienced much the same genocide, but on a somewhat smaller scale.
The book sobered me up. I now approach analyses of that era very carefully as it was a situation that I have not experienced and I hope never will.
It is inadvertently the best argument for the 2nd Amendment ever written.
One of the sobering reports is of two Japanese officers who had a beheading contest. It was covered in the Tokyo newspaper as sport. They called it a gentleman's draw after each officer had killed 137 chinese.
It was nothing more than sport to them. They deserved the bomb.
Interestingly, conservatives at the time were in the forefront of condemning Truman's decision to drop the bomb.
Which Republicans decried the use of the bomb?
The death of Japanese civilians was to be horrific had we invaded. Millions dead from battle, tens of millions from disease and starvation. We were able to end the war by killing 400,000, a much smaller number. It was a good humanitarian decision.
WWII was a war that did involve the killing of millions of civilians, but that was started by the other side with the V1s and V2s that hit London. It was continued with the bombing of Coventry by the Germans. I do not accept that the Coventry bombing was a mistake as accurate air navigation was long established and it is simply unlikely. Really unlikely.
In all cases, the other side began the reign of civilian terror, Japan in Korea and especially China, Germany in England and Russia.
Our primay requirement was to destroy manufacturing capacity and most all of our bombing was designed to do so. But bomb drops were exceedingly inaccurate by today's standards, the Sperry Bombsight adding a lot of accuracy but not enough to keep the collateral damage to a level that is consistent with today's standards.
And I think you should read some more on WWII. Your knowledge of that conflict is not up to snuff. I know that because you have no real realization of the difficult position that we were in nor do you know what the concept of Total War means.
>>"A Study of the Possible Use of Toxic Gas in Operation Olympic."
>>So the United States has within living memory made a decision to commit genocide on a whole people as a matter of state policy.
>>That's quite a leap!
About 500,000 tons worth of B-17/B-24/B-25/B-26/B-29 deliver poison gas bombs worth of "Leap."
This does not include the 50,000 tons worth of "tactical" poison gas stocks kept on hand for Army and Navy rockets, guns and howitzers plus USAAF fighters.