Skip to comments.Was the American Bombing Campaign in World War II a War Crime?
Posted on 05/20/2006 8:33:39 PM PDT by tbird5
Deliberately targeting civilians is widely considered terrorism nowadays, but during World War II both the Britains Bomber Command and the United States Army Air Force deliberately targeted civilians.
The British philosopher A. C. Grayling, in his new book Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan (Walker, $25.95), points out that the two air forces combined killed perhaps 600,000 German civilians and another 200,000 Japanese. He makes the case that at least by our current standards we were terrorists, and it logically follows that the attacks were war crimes. In an age of political terror, when it is urgent to come up with a persuasive distinction between legitimate and illegitimate violence, it is hard to overstate the importance of the questions Grayling raises.
(Excerpt) Read more at americanheritage.com ...
I'll repeat what I just said, only this time read it slowly so you can understand what I'm saying.
They were fanatical in that they thought of their emperor as a god. The emperor was not willing to surrender when Japan was clearly beaten, therefore the people were not willing to surrendur either. When we showed the emperor that we could literally destroy the entire country, by dropping the bombs, he finally realized that surrender was his only option. He finally surrendered, and the people, following the instructions of their "god", stopped fighting. They most certainly were not docile. They were, however, fanatical in following the wishes of the emperor.
Hope that explains it.
you need to go research Japan's biological weapon it developed --- and used --- on China.
Japan was months away from bombing San Fransico with cholera and plauge (clay bomblets with infected fleas) when we nuked them.
Bred the diseases to be antibiotic resistent, in fact.
Parts of China are still uninhabitable.
Things were very close to total disaster. We don't like to think that, though.
Okaaaaayyyy....I guess we are going to hear about the Triads next...yup, we did our darndest not to hurt German industry.
This played out in Europe, where the RAF did night area bombing, and the USAAF primarily bombed industry in daylight raids.
Obviously, LeMay's approach in the Pacific was more in line with Trenchard's theories.
The key to analyzing all of this is the the concept of proportionality, which dictates that the loss of life and property incidental to a military attack must not be excessive in relation to the military advantages expected to be gained.
I would say the RAF's area bombing had little military value. LeMay's firebombing was the most effective way to target Japanese targets given the wooden construction of their buildings, but the collateral damage was very high in proportion. Plus LeMay's intentions were more in line with Trenchard.
The A-Bombs clearly gained a huge military advantage compared to the loss of life. Plus, the fact Japan failed to surrender after Hiroshima suggests their resistance was very high.
We cannot compare wars of the past with the capabilities of today. If it took 1,000 B-17s and 10,000 dead civilians to destroy an enemy target in 1944, that is the standard. Not the fact that today a single airplane can take out the same target and only risk those civilians who are actually within the confines of the target.
We also cannot compare reality (the Japanese did surrender and end the war as a result of the A-Bomb) with theory (if only we had really asked nicely they would have given up).
And let's not forget some advocated bombing the concentration camps to put them out of commission, knowing it would result in a large number of civilian deaths.
Let me provide this analysis:
We were the good guys. They were the bad guys.
Maybe I'm completely naive about this, but how the hell was Japan going to drop a bomb on San Francisco? Did they have some kind of super-duper-long-range bomber program that I'm not aware of?
because he went on the radio and ask them to.
That is the rationale for knocking down the World Trade Center Towers.
There is debate that if the Japanese knew that they could keep their monarch they would have surrendered.
You should talk to someone who lived in places like Cologne, Hamburg, and Bremerhaven during World War II -- I think it would be a fascinating experience.
I presume you are being deliberately dense for rhetorical purposes.
And dropping atomic bombs was the only way to do that?
I'm asking who "they" is in the context of this discussion because "they" apparently don't fit the same clear national identities that our enemies had in World War II.
Or we could have invaded the Japanese mainland and most likely have seen hundreds of thousands of American troops killed. Perhaps you would have liked that better.
No. That's why we'll be justified when we ultimately have to bomb muslim cities. The precedent's been set. And not just in WWII.
Not really. Some Japanese scientists knew what had hit them, and had suggested the idea earler in the war. But the Japanese military never took it seriously or undertook a project to build one. After Hiroshima there was some talk of putting together a project to build one, but there was no industrial capacity to do so. Consider the time and effort the USA put into the Manhattan Project. There was no possible way they could start at that point and do so. Additionally they had no unranium to process anyway, since their only source was Manchuria, and we had them blockaded.
Another myth is that Germany was seriously pursuing the bomb. There is a little more truth to that, but the Germans were experimenting with heavy water. In other words they were looking at fusion, not fission. Since you can't have a hydrogen bomb with an atomic bomb first, they were barking up the wrong tree. In any case they never got much in the way of resources because Hitler distrusted "damned Jewish physics".
Generally ditto to most of your comment that Japan was practically defeated as a threat to the United States and allies after many of their sources of raw materials was taken from them. Also, Japan started their expansion into Southeast Asia and their war against the United States AFTER the United States stopped giving them resources such as oil and iron ore (the United States was hardly neutral before the attack on Pearl Harbor).
There is debate that if the Japanese knew that they could keep their monarch they would have surrendered.
And if Hitler and the Nazis were allowed to stay in power they might have surrendered earlier as well.
Here is my opinion regarding rules in warfare...
Rules are enforced when there is some objective authority with sufficient retaliatory powers to coerce the parties into compliance. There is no such entity in any war that involves major powers. The pretend otherwise is stupid.
I lost two Soldiers in Iraq. If I could bring them back by slitting the throat of every man, woman, and child living in Iraq then I would do it. I would do it and then eat a hamburger and go to sleep and wake up refreshed 8 hours later.
Labeling civilians as non-combatants is stupid. They are not without sin. The German people elected Hitler and gave him the power to terrorize Europe. If their houses got burned and their children slaughtered in order to prevent more of our young men from getting killed as the US un-screwed what Germany screwed up, then so be it. That's war. Deal with it. If you don't like then don't elect sociopaths, psychos, or tyrants.
Same goes for Iraq and Afghanistan. There are over 20 million people in Iraq who let themselves be terrorized by Saddam Hussein (read "Saddam's Delusions" in the latest Foreign Affairs - even his right-hand men were terrorized). Don't expect me to shed a tear because we accidentally kill a couple of them in the process of hunting down terrorists that have attempted to fill the void created when we booted Hussein from power. They made the mess and refused to clean it up. Now people want to sharpshoot us for doing what Haji refused to do.
AC Grayling can F off and eat the next turd that lands in my toilet. I am so sick of subhuman parasites in academia who know nothing other than what their philosophy textbooks and dry reading of the Geneva conventions teach them. I would like to give this moron a rifle and drop him into the middle of some F-ed up city in Iraq and tell him walk to the nearest US Base 5 miles away - and don't shoot anyone unless they're wearing a military uniform. Then we'll see which lasts longer - his theories about the Law of Land Warfare or his basic survival instincts.
also the Imperial staff
That's a bizarre story, and it's the first time I ever heard of it. How the heck can someone launch an unmanned balloon and have it deliver explosives thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean with any degree of accuracy at all?
Hitler and Goebbels asked for "Total War" and they got it!!!
That statement is a perfect example of why liberal teachers are going to destroy the future.
In 1945 the World didn't have to depend on history teachers to tell them what would happen if you allowed an aggressive nation to not surrender. The Japanese will was not broken and they continued to develop new weapons and they had massive oil reserves even after they surrendered. Try getting your history from books written by someone who was there, not from someone who thinks his service to this country was spitting on US Soldiers.
The German and Japaneses are self evident ...just flat out deliberate slaughter... the Italians not as much but still in pre ww2 Ethiopia... the Russian well they were teams with both side went they went in to Poland with the Germans in 39 and in the battles it 44/45 in to Germans civilian were fair game... The Chinese were alway fighting on home soil...
However none of the above had any strategic bombing force... only the Brit and American did... of the two the Brits did night time area bombing of city's... it did take a toll on civilian.... However the American went with daylight "precision" bombing it took a higher toll on aircrew and less on civilian but the aim was to take out the factory more the the cities would be more effect in the long run...high altitude daylight "precision" bombing was alway in question during that war not because of civilian death but the opposite in that many felt it was to much effort and risk going it daylight to "precision" bombing the factory...just better to go at night and carpet bomb the lot
The American also started the strategic bombing campaign of Japan also as high altitude daylight "precision" bombing but that was one extra problem over Japan...very strong high altitude winds...(it was over Japan in 44/45 that the so call "Jet Stream" first became well known) be cause of this high altitude daylight "precision" bombing over Japan was proving to be a bust... so it was switch to the Brit style night time area bombing or just call it quits (and that wasn't going to happen)
But like I stated the American probably did the most of any of major combatant of WW2 to avoid killing civilian....not that it was driven by any major degree of concerns for civilian ... it was more that the American doctrine worked on the assumption that destroying the factory's was more efficient that just killing civilian
Well at least we can agree on that. Would "Islamofacist terrorists operating with and without the help of parent governments" be specific enough?
Plus, a lot of Americans would fight if the United States were invaded. Probably the same for Canada.
And even if it was a "War Crime," consider the Marshall Plan, and the Berlin Airlift, payment in full, and then some.
Foolish questioning regarding Allied bombing against Axis targets would not even be a question if the enemy had won the war.
That said, the Japanese weren't stupid and they figured out how to use the jet stream to send their balloon bombs across the Pacific.
As a side note, the Japanese were closer in 1945 to producing an atomic bomb than Nazi Germany ever was. This says a lot for Japanese scientific abilities.
Actually, I got much of my World War II history on the lap of an old relative who served in the South Pacific.
From the late fall of 1944 through the early spring of 1945, the Japanese launched more than 9,000 of these "fusen bakudan", or fire balloons, of which 300 were found or observed in the US.
Just because you never heard of it doesn't mean it didn't happen. And just because they weren't very accurate doesn't mean that they were a very real threat.
Mass bombings are not over - does anyone except Senator Patty Murray believe that bin Laden wouldn't use a nuclear weapon
on the West if he got his hands on one?
And the majority of Germans & collaborators supported their Fuhrer as long as he was winning the horrific war Germany began.
The US Government kept that the bombs were making it to the West Coast a top secret so the Japanese would assume they failed and give up on them. All the fires they started were kept out of the press (by a press that understood that if you leak military secrets people die).
You should really study World War II history before commenting on it.
Hey, I could use the jet stream to send balloons across the Pacific Ocean, too. What I can't do, however (and I don't understand how anyone in 1945 could have done it), is: 1) ensure that it follows a precise track that takes it directly over the U.S., and 2) runs out of air over the U.S. (as opposed to landing in the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean in Europe, or -- heaven forbid -- floats all the way around the world and lands in Japan).
Good gosh, you never heard of that?
If you read Shirer's "Berlin Diary," Germans almost had an indifference to the war, when it started.
That changed after the victory over France, and I do believe most did become convinced Hitler was a genius and became more fanatical.
And apparently some posters here think that fighting to make certain that the genocidal regimes that started the war were thrown on the ash heap of history was not necessary. It's unbelievable how many revisionists and sympathizers are here tonight.
After the payload was released, the balloon had a self destruct system that would destroy the balloon to prevent the Americans from capturing one intact.
People need face reality. Go to war, people die; both the ones that shoot and the ones that make. Don't play the game if your afraid to do what must be done.
It is amazing to me that anything but KILL THE ENEMY and destroy his war making capacity, before the HE does it to you, is even considered!!
It isnt that hard. If you have a rudimentary knowledge of wind patterns, velocities and distances, you set various balloons to destruct after a certain time frame. It is a pretty stupid way to make war, but that is what the Japanese had to work with at that point, as decimated as they were.