Numbers were wildly thrown into the air (for example, Secretary of State James Byrnes talked of "a million casualties" resulting from an invasion), but there was no attempt to seriously estimate American casualties and weigh that against the consequences for Japanese men and women, old people and babies. (The closest to such an attempt was a military estimate that an invasion of the southernmost island of Japan would cause 30,000 American dead and wounded.)
The War Department commissioned a study carried out by reputable scientists who consulted with competent military officers, and it estimated that an invasion of Japan would result in 1.7 million to 4 million American casualties, and 400,000 to 800,000 American fatalities.
It also estimated Japanese casualties, though I forget the numbers (they were greater than American casualties however).
The evidence today is overwhelming that an invasion of Japan was not necessary to bring the war to an end. Japan was defeated, in disarray, and ready to surrender.
Hindsight sure is nice. But if Japan was so ready to surrender, nobody was stopping them. They were free to surrender whenever they wanted.
The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, which interviewed 700 Japanese military and political officials after the war, came to this conclusion:
Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.
Hindsight sure is nice.
They had a bit of an axe to grind though. They were arguing that conventional air power won the war all on its own. They were trying to get post-war defense funding to favor the Air Force over the other services.
After the war American scholar Robert Butow went through the papers of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the records of the International Military Tribunal of the Far East (which tried Japanese leaders as war criminals), and the interrogation files of the U.S. Army. He also interviewed many of the Japanese principals and came to this conclusion: "Had the Allies given the Prince (Prince Konoye, special emissary to Moscow, who was working on Russian intercession for peace) a week of grace in which to obtain his Government's support for the acceptance of the proposals, the war might have ended toward the latter part of July or the very beginning of the month of August, without the atomic bomb and without Soviet participation in the conflict."
Prince Konoye was working on Soviet intercession for peace? Really?
How was he doing that when he was sitting in Japan waiting for permission to enter the USSR, and not communicating in any way with the Soviets?
Lowbrows like this Zinn freak have no business demeaning the work of a distinguished scholar like Mr. Butow by mixing it in with their deranged ranting.
On July 13, 1945, three days before the successful explosion of the first atomic bomb in New Mexico, the United States intercepted Japanese Foreign Minister Togo's secret cable to Ambassador Sato in Moscow, asking that he get the Soviets to intercede and indicating that Japan was ready to end the war, so long as it was not unconditional surrender.
Togo asked nothing of the sort. What he did was tell Sato to get Soviet permission to let Prince Konoye come and speak with them.
And at the same time that Togo was wiring that unconditional surrender was an obstacle to Japan surrendering, he was also wiring that "surrender with the sole condition of protection for the Emperor" was just another form of unconditional surrender.
On August 2, the Japanese foreign office sent a message to the Japanese ambassador in Moscow, "There are only a few days left in which to make arrangements to end the war.... As for the definite terms... it is our intention to make the Potsdam Three-Power Declaration [which called for unconditional surrender] the basis of the study regarding these terms."
Japan did not specify in this communication how they hoped to modify the Potsdam Proclamation, and I do not recall there being any American attempt to guess the intent of this specific communication. But previous American analyses had guessed (correctly) that Japan was trying to end the war in a draw. Most likely everyone just figured it was more of the same.
We know from hindsight that it was, in fact, just more of the same.
Barton Bernstein, a Stanford historian who has studied the official documents closely, wrote:
This message, like earlier ones, was probably intercepted by American intelligence and decoded. It had no effect on American policy. There is not evidence that the message was sent to Truman and Byrnes [secretary of state], nor any evidence that they followed the intercepted messages during the Potsdam conference. They were unwilling to take risks in order to save Japanese lives.
What sort of ignorant tripe is this?
Truman and Byrnes read the intercepts at Potsdam. The intercepts just didn't indicate any sort of worthwhile attitude on the part of the Japanese government.
Truman take risks to save Japanese lives??? Where is this nonsense coming from?
In his detailed and eloquent history of the making of the bomb, Richard Rhodes says, "The bombs were authorized not because the Japanese refused to surrender but because they refused to surrender unconditionally."
I point out, again, the reality that the Potsdam Proclamation repealed unconditional surrender and provided Japan with a list of generous surrender terms.
The one condition necessary for Japan to end the war was an agreement to maintain the sanctity of the Japanese emperor, who was a holy figure to the Japanese people.
Nope. Up through the second A-bomb, Japan was trying to end the war in a draw, without surrendering.
It was only after Nagasaki that Japan was willing to surrender "just with a guarantee for their Emperor".
And even then, their requested guarantee asked for a lot more than just his sanctity. Rather, Japan asked us to guarantee his unlimited dictatorial power
Former ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew, based on his knowledge of Japanese culture, had been trying to persuade the U.S. government of the importance of allowing the emperor to remain in place.
Mr. Grew advised that we promise to allow his dynasty to continue as a powerless figurehead.
Mr. Grew's proposal gave us the right to depose or execute Hirohito, and install his son as that figurehead.
Herbert Feis, who had unique access to State Department files and the records on the Manhattan Project, noted that in the end the United States did give the assurances the Japanese wanted on the emperor. He writes, "The curious mind lingers over the reasons why the American government waited so long before offering the Japanese those various assurances which it did extend later."
We did no such thing.
When Japan asked that we guarantee Hirohito's unlimited dictatorial power
as Japan's living deity, our reply was that Hirohito was going to be subordinate to MacArthur
Why was the United States in a rush to drop the bomb, if the reason of saving lives turns out to be empty, if the probability was that the Japanese would have surrendered even without an invasion?
There was no rush. It was just the fact that war was raging and the bombs were ready to use.
The US did not have any time machines built, and so did not have access to any of these Monday-morning quarterbacking conclusions drawn in hindsight long after the end of the war.
Historian Gar Alperovitz, after going through the papers of the American officials closest to Truman and most influential in the final decision, and especially the diaries of Henry Stimson, concludes that the atomic bombs were dropped to impress the Soviet Union, as a first act in establishing American power in the postwar world.
Gar Alperovitz is in no way a historian. And the reason we dropped the bombs was because Japan had not yet surrendered.
He points out that the Soviet Union had promised to enter the war against Japan on August 8. The bomb was dropped on August 6.
I point out that the Soviet cowards were dawdling in their entry into the war, hoping to wait until Japan was all but defeated before they came in to claim the spoils, and they only scurried to hurry up when they learned that the A-bombs would soon be ready.
The scientist Leo Szilard had met with Truman's main policy adviser in May 1945 and reported later: "Byrnes did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war.... Mr. Byrnes' view was that our possessing and demonstrating the bomb would make Russia more manageable."
The fact that there were hopes that our possession of nuclear weapons might make the Soviets start acting like humans, does not mean that the bombs dropped on Japan had any purpose other than trying to make Japan surrender.
The end of dropping the bomb seems, from the evidence, to have been not winning the war, which was already assured,
Wrong. The evidence fully indicates that the reason for dropping the bombs was to make Japan surrender.
not saving lives, for it was highly probably no American invasion would be necessary,
That's easy to say from hindsight, but until Japan actually surrendered, such an invasion was a real possibility.
but the aggrandizement of American national power at the moment and in the postwar period.
This Zinn freak really is something else.
Setting aside the fact that he is lying when he says that bombs dropped on Japan had anything to do with the Soviets, does he really consider protecting innocent people from Soviet domination to be "aggrandizement of American national power"??
Sheesh! What a freak!