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The atomic bomb on Japan world war 2/justified or/not justified?

 
 
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 08:28 pm
Was President Truman's decision the correct one in deciding to bomb Japan with two atomic bombs in World War 2?

Truman once stated that the buck stopped at his desk. Do you believe this is true or does accountability/responsibility go right down to the very lowest ranking soldier, such as the ones who loaded the bomb on the aeroplane? (Enola Gay I think)

Where did accountability begin and end leading to these terrible events?
Paul Tibbets, the man who piloted the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during World War II, died 1/11/2007.

There has been so much controversy surrounding the use of the bomb. Many believe that using the atom bomb brought about a speedy end to the most destructive conflict in human history.

The case against using the atomic bomb goes something like this ,that Japan was on the verge of capitulation and it was therefore unnecessary, even inhumane, to use the bomb. Dwight D. Eisenhower even said, "it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."

During a 1975 interview, Tibbets himself said that he regretted killing so many people, but that he slept well at night because he knew that using the bomb saved American lives

The case for using the weapons is/was that Japanese resistance became even more intense in late 1944 and 1945. Thousands of American sailors lost their lives in Kamikaze - or suicidal - attacks. American warships were severely damaged and even sunk by the Kamikazes. Taking the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa cost almost 20,000 American lives.

An invasion of Japan was planned for early 1946. American casualties were projected at 500,000. The projections for Japanese casualties - military and civilian - ran into the millions. Based on what they had seen at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, our war planners knew that Japanese resistance would be fanatical. As a preparation measure, 500,000 purple hearts were ordered.

Three-and-a-half years of war had cost America 400,000 lives. How many more were we prepared to lose? Did President Harry Truman made the only choice he could? Use the bomb.

That they didn't surrender after the first Atomic Bomb shows the dedication of the Japanese to their religion (in which their leader was a deity), do you think that Japan were about to give up and surrender?

Was this a crime against humanity an immoral act of enormous proportions or can we justify in the light of history?

Peace
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Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 08:40 pm
@Alan McDougall,
There's only one situation in which Japan would have capitulated without horrendous bloodshed, and that would have been if the USSR had declared war on them even a week earlier. It turns out that the Soviet declaration of war on Japan happened on the day of (or maybe the day before) the Nagasaki bombing (and some think that it was this and not the bombs that forced the surrender).

The carnage, to soldiers and civilians alike, would have been catastrophic in ANY other scenario. A marine invasion would have been a calamity with no guarantee of victory for the Americans. A complete blockade would have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians before the regime caved. And the bombs were what they were. And to be fair, the firebombings of Osaka, Tokyo, and elsewhere were as costly and bloody as the atomic bombs -- just less radioactive and carcinogenic.

What's most interesting to speculate on is how it looked in the moment. We look at this retrospectively with ghastly horror at ourselves. But in the moment I'm not sure how clear it was. For god's sake 70 million people had died in that war, and as many as 10-20 million of them were Chinese and Koreans at the hands of Japan. The war just needed to end already -- and I sort of understand how that fits into the whole calculus.
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 09:26 pm
@Alan McDougall,
The Japanese were totally nuts in the war as well. The Japanese were running out of bullets and other key supplies, but that was not stopping them from fighting. The were all in Kamikaze style, and were willing to fight until they were wiped out. Many more Americans and Japanese would have died had the war continued. While the atomic bomb attacks were horrific, the whole war in general was worse, and there was no sense in allowing it to continue.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 09:36 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Not to go too off track, but there have been a couple "counterfactual" scenarios about Europe that people entertain. One -- if the US had an atomic bomb a year earlier would they have used it on Germany? And two, should the Allies have gone on the offensive against the USSR after defeating Germany (seeing as Stalin had made his imperial designs on Eastern Europe quite manifest as early as the Battle of Moscow in 1941).
0 Replies
 
Alan McDougall
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Jun, 2009 10:29 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;72305 wrote:
There's only one situation in which Japan would have capitulated without horrendous bloodshed, and that would have been if the USSR had declared war on them even a week earlier. It turns out that the Soviet declaration of war on Japan happened on the day of (or maybe the day before) the Nagasaki bombing (and some think that it was this and not the bombs that forced the surrender).

The carnage, to soldiers and civilians alike, would have been catastrophic in ANY other scenario. A marine invasion would have been a calamity with no guarantee of victory for the Americans. A complete blockade would have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians before the regime caved. And the bombs were what they were. And to be fair, the firebombings of Osaka, Tokyo, and elsewhere were as costly and bloody as the atomic bombs -- just less radioactive and carcinogenic.

What's most interesting to speculate on is how it looked in the moment. We look at this retrospectively with ghastly horror at ourselves. But in the moment I'm not sure how clear it was. For god's sake 70 million people had died in that war, and as many as 10-20 million of them were Chinese and Koreans at the hands of Japan. The war just needed to end already -- and I sort of understand how that fits into the whole calculus.


My history is not as good as yours but I know there was an intense bombing day and night bombing of a German city Hamburg maybe? with incineratory bombs that was almost as bad as the atomic bombing of Japan and just because it was considered "Conventional bombing" it is little remembered

You are correct in that we should look at this aweful event in relation to much worse things going on in the war, murder of Jews and Russian prisoners the rape of entire countries but the reality is that the Bomb gets all the media attention and is replayed to us in TV documentaries over and over again.
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 12:02 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall;72344 wrote:
My history is not as good as yours but I know there was an intense bombing day and night bombing of a German city Hamburg maybe? with incineratory bombs that was almost as bad as the atomic bombing of Japan and just because it was considered "Conventional bombing" it is little remembered.


Yes. Dresden was bombed. It was the subject of Kurt Vonnegut' Slaughterhouse Five. Tokyo was also subjected to incendiary bombing which was thought to have killed 100,000 people - more than that died at Nagaski or Hiroshima.

Many people who worked on the bomb felt that there should be an exhibition first to allow the Japanese to realize the destructive power of the bomb. My guess is that this was turned down for two reasons:

1) There were only two bombs available, since there was a very little bit amount of appropriate fissionable material available. And, no one knew whether the bombs would even work. There was only one test on a completely different gadget.

2) Should the Japanese disregard the test, then the American public would probably have gone crazy that it was not used to end the war quickly.

3) There were people in the military and government offices who wanted to use the weapon - period. Either out of hatred and revenge, or to demonstrate to the Russians the new capability in the possession in the U.S.

The one major argument against using the weapon was that the Japanese were actually suing for peace during the period before the dropping of the bomb. One provision that they requested was that the Emperor be left in his office. One that had great meaning to the Japanese. The U.S. refused and insisted on complete surrender. Interestingly, after the bombs were dropped, the U.S. agreed to this provision and the Emperor was saved. This particular sequence of events makes many historians think that the U.S. was not interested in a peace before they used the bombs.

Rich
Alan McDougall
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 12:33 am
@richrf,
richrf;72376 wrote:
Yes. Dresden was bombed. It was the subject of Kurt Vonnegut' Slaughterhouse Five. Tokyo was also subjected to incendiary bombing which was thought to have killed 100,000 people - more than that died at Nagaski or Hiroshima.

Many people who worked on the bomb felt that there should be an exhibition first to allow the Japanese to realize the destructive power of the bomb. My guess is that this was turned down for two reasons:

1) There were only two bombs available, since there was a very little bit amount of appropriate fissionable material available. And, no one knew whether the bombs would even work. There was only one test on a completely different gadget.

2) Should the Japanese disregard the test, then the American public would probably have gone crazy that it was not used to end the war quickly.

3) There were people in the military and government offices who wanted to use the weapon - period. Either out of hatred and revenge, or to demonstrate to the Russians the new capability in the possession in the U.S.

The one major argument against using the weapon was that the Japanese were actually suing for peace during the period before the dropping of the bomb. One provision that they requested was that the Emperor be left in his office. One that had great meaning to the Japanese. The U.S. refused and insisted on complete surrender. Interestingly, after the bombs were dropped, the U.S. agreed to this provision and the Emperor was saved. This particular sequence of events makes many historians think that the U.S. was not interested in a peace before they used the bombs.

Rich


Although it is true that the USA had only two atomic bombs at the time they bombed Japan , there were a few others in the production line, as many as five to nine even stronger weapons. The warning given by President Truman gave Japan that if they did not capitulate a destruction of the like never seen in all of human history would rain down on this beleaguered country.

The point of the paragraph above is do you think if Japan had kept to its stubborn never surrender policy could or would this aweful event have taken place?
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 04:13 am
@Alan McDougall,
Dresden, Munich, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin were all heavily bombed by the allies. Don't remember how many people died in the bombing of Tokyo, but it is probably higher than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

When you tally things up, of the forces aligned against the Axis powers, the USSR without doubt had less regard for human life than the western allies. They may not have had an atomic bomb, but they had a standing army of millions, thousands of the best artillery pieces and tanks of the war, and they smashed through cities all across Europe wiping out civilians along the way. That's not to rationalize the atomic bomb, but we do need to keep perspective here.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 05:11 am
@Aedes,
For understandable reasons the A bombings of japan have more historic significance than conventional bombings.What always amazes me is the Japanese expressions of horror that it was used on them but never admit their horrific acts of war.
Their educational system never tells their children how many millions their campaigns killed or the terrible suffering they inflicted on those it defeated.History in Japan is blindfolded not blinkered,they venerate their war dead as heroes rather than aggressive murderers and no public acceptance as ever been made of their war crimes.
I regret one death but the brave decision Truman made saved millions of lives.It also gave a lesson to us all that these weapons should never ever be used again.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 06:59 am
@Alan McDougall,
Yes, Japan has a lot of owning up to do for their atrocities.

But then again the ONLY combatant in WWII that's fully come to terms with its crimes is Germany. The barbarities of Austrians, Lithuantians, Ukranians, Romanians, Hungarians, and the Japanese, (and Turkey from the previous generation), all of which were outside the scope of any military priority, need be admitted and reckoned to the world.
0 Replies
 
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 08:16 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall;72378 wrote:
The point of the paragraph above is do you think if Japan had kept to its stubborn never surrender policy could or would this aweful event have taken place?


As was subsequently reveal through historical documents, Japan was already suing for peace before the bombs were dropped via Russian emissaries. The only condition was that the Emperor was to be allowed to say in place, which the U.S. denied, insisting on unconditional surrender. After the bombs were dropped, this condition was permitted.

Other fissionable material continued to be produced, but any delay in the war costing more American lives would have been a disaster for Truman and the ruling Democratic government.

Rich
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 08:55 am
@Alan McDougall,
In the public library here in Matusmoto, there is an exposition on the bombing of Hiroshima; photos, articles and all (though not that large a collection at all). The point is quite clear, it was a crime to humanity, as any war effort event is. What might be perhaps a bit unexpected by non-locals (and/or non-Japanese) is the immediately nearby exposition on the dug-out chambers of a hill in northern Nagano. It was to be used as a kind of last ditch headquarters for parts of the government. (Nagano is a very central place, naturally blocked from the West by the Japan Alps along a long stretch, with no clear in-road from the Japan Sea (East Sea), much less the Pacific Ocean.) Korean men (mostly, from what I have gathered) were used in forced labor to dig out that tunnel system by hand--and let me be quick to mention here, at no concern for loss of life while doing so.

Many good comments and 'spot on' (as far as my limited knowledge in this matter goes) have been posted above. One thing that can be said to stand out between the Hiroshima and Nagasaki 'experiments' (so to speak) and the Tokyo fire bombing raids (which took far more lives more immediately) has been the long-term affect of radiation on those who touched, their off-spring, and the area for some time.

My personal stance, as mentioned above, is that all activities of war are crimes against humanity--for whatever reason.① The battle in Okinawa was tremendous. The hunt for, and discovery of so many skeletons left in various places (those of the citizens--some of who, by the way had little more information available than to not believe some military personel who had given them handgrenades and suggested they blow themselves up) is saddening. The common folk were in training (we still have pictures (the house I live in is old, the gate house dates back to the Edo period, and I have found newspaper articles of the boming of Singapore, and an Asahi magazine on the invasion of Shang Hi (sp?))) to fight off the red-haired devil with sharply pointed bamboo poles--the death toll would have been a nightmare even worse, we could rightly imagine, than the two atomic bombs (except no aftermath of radiation sickness and ill health going on and on, for some time).

BUT, it's history. We should not forget, neither side, but we should not make use of it as though it were some barganing chip on world politics, or something. We should not hold grudges against our fellow H. sapiens for ills commited by our grandparents, now, in today's world. And, I do not feel that we should try to place value judgements on it. . . it happened . . . it was negative in outcome in some ways, positive in out come in others... that's it. (and that's my view) KJ



① Thus the instigation of war is the fault. If someone broke into my house at night, and tried to injure me or any member of my family, I would of course fight back. This is, like it or not, nature--but we bigger brained animals should surely have learned by now, one would think . . . alas. . . we read the news. . .
0 Replies
 
William
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 09:12 am
@Alan McDougall,
kj,

Thank you so much for your perspective as I for one, gained from it. BUT, as always, and I will continue to state as long as I am alive, WE ARE NOT ANIMALS. That term should, as it relates to the "HUMAN BEING", should be stricken from our vocablulary, in all manners, shapes and functions. War is ANIMALISTIC!!! No doubt, and as long as we justify "that" as being the "animal in us" it will continue to exist and we will continue to justify atrocities until there is nothing left to justify any longer as the arena of conflict spreads like a virus and we no longer have a place to live.

William
xris
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 09:19 am
@William,
William;72456 wrote:
kj,

Thank you so much for your perspective as I for one, gained from it. BUT, as always, and I will continue to state as long as I am alive, WE ARE NOT ANIMALS. That term should, as it relates to the "HUMAN BEING", should be stricken from our vocablulary, in all manners, shapes and functions. War is ANIMALISTIC!!! No doubt, and as long as we justify "that" as being the "animal in us" it will continue to exist and we will continue to justify atrocities until there is nothing left to justify any longer as the arena of conflict spreads like a virus and we no longer have a place to live.

William
Will are you saying we cant justify this action or any action of defence,if you see it as defence?
KaseiJin
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 09:21 am
@Alan McDougall,
Thank you William for your appreciation and comments. I guess we'll have to go with the understanding that we are probably putting different essence in our terms of what it is to be animal. That, however, will be for other days, on other threads. Thanks ! KJ
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 09:26 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall;72344 wrote:
My history is not as good as yours but I know there was an intense bombing day and night bombing of a German city Hamburg maybe? with incineratory bombs that was almost as bad as the atomic bombing of Japan and just because it was considered "Conventional bombing" it is little remembered

You are correct in that we should look at this aweful event in relation to much worse things going on in the war, murder of Jews and Russian prisoners the rape of entire countries but the reality is that the Bomb gets all the media attention and is replayed to us in TV documentaries over and over again.


Both Hamburg and Dresden were nearly destroyed, but it is probably Dresden you mean. The fact that there were other horrible events (as there usually are when there is war) does not mean that one particular event was not horrible. And, of course, there were special features of the atomic bombing. Radiation, for example, which had effects well into the future. And it was a new and terrible weapon. So there are good reasons it get special attention.
0 Replies
 
William
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 09:28 am
@xris,
xris;72459 wrote:
Will are you saying we cant justify this action or any action of defence,if you see it as defence?


No. Eliminate the cause that created the conflict. Justification only adds fuel to the fire and lays the groundwork for our next conflict. IMO.
Even Einstein knew this as he stated we must learn to cooperate with each other rather than compete with each other or the war we fight after the next one will be with stones.

William
xris
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 10:15 am
@William,
William;72463 wrote:
No. Eliminate the cause that created the conflict. Justification only adds fuel to the fire and lays the groundwork for our next conflict. IMO.
Even Einstein knew this as he stated we must learn to cooperate with each other rather than compete with each other or the war we fight after the next one will be with stones.

William
So you are saying we should not defend ourselves against aggressors?
William
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Jun, 2009 02:46 pm
@xris,
xris;72468 wrote:
So you are saying we should not defend ourselves against aggressors?


No, I didn't say that. Not even close.

William
xris
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Jun, 2009 03:38 am
@William,
William;72518 wrote:
No, I didn't say that. Not even close.

William
Sorry Will but are you saying we should not justify our defence?You will have to make it clearer.
 

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