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August 6, 1945: A Day that Will Live in Infamy ... or will it?

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  • August 6, 1945: A Day that Will Live in Infamy ... or will it?

    In a couple of weeks, we will "celebrate" the 73rd anniversary of dropping Little Man on Hiroshima to effectively end the "war to end all wars." A scant three days later, Fat Boy was dropped on Nagasaki.

    When I was in High School, we had to select an historical topic to research and write a paper based on that research. We were given a list of topics we could select or, on approval, we could find our own topic. On the list was the item:
    • Was the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima militarily justified?


    OF course, throughout my research which could NOT include "the internet" since it was not yet in widespread use, I came across plethora appeals to our humanity as a rejection of the necessity of the atomic bombs on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was a real chore separating out the humanistic opinions from the military strategies, but after all, my task was just that: The Military justification and not the humanistic, emotion-laden appeals.

    I concluded we dropped Little Man on Hiroshima to show Japan their resolve to fight to the last man, woman, and child (per the Japanese code, the Bushido) to defend the homeland was pointless: "We have this weapon that can wipe you out." We, then, dropped Fat Boy on Nagasaki to show them, "...and we have more than just the one." My conclusion was, yes, dropping atomic bombs on Japan was militarily justified and ended the war sooner than would have been the case. Had Allied forces been tasked with defeating the Japanese ON the Japan mainland, the loss of life would have been significantly greater; so it was in our (and Japan's) best interest to end the war as soon as we could.

    But what is your opinion?

    Was the use of the Atomic Bomb against Japan to end the War in the Pacific justified?

  • #2
    Originally posted by DavidSF View Post
    In a couple of weeks, we will "celebrate" the 73rd anniversary of dropping Little Man on Hiroshima to effectively end the "war to end all wars." A scant three days later, Fat Boy was dropped on Nagasaki.

    When I was in High School, we had to select an historical topic to research and write a paper based on that research. We were given a list of topics we could select or, on approval, we could find our own topic. On the list was the item:
    • Was the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima militarily justified?


    OF course, throughout my research which could NOT include "the internet" since it was not yet in widespread use, I came across plethora appeals to our humanity as a rejection of the necessity of the atomic bombs on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was a real chore separating out the humanistic opinions from the military strategies, but after all, my task was just that: The Military justification and not the humanistic, emotion-laden appeals.

    I concluded we dropped Little Man on Hiroshima to show Japan their resolve to fight to the last man, woman, and child (per the Japanese code, the Bushido) to defend the homeland was pointless: "We have this weapon that can wipe you out." We, then, dropped Fat Boy on Nagasaki to show them, "...and we have more than just the one." My conclusion was, yes, dropping atomic bombs on Japan was militarily justified and ended the war sooner than would have been the case. Had Allied forces been tasked with defeating the Japanese ON the Japan mainland, the loss of life would have been significantly greater; so it was in our (and Japan's) best interest to end the war as soon as we could.

    But what is your opinion?

    Was the use of the Atomic Bomb against Japan to end the War in the Pacific justified?
    That's an interesting dilemma I grew up after the war and I had teachers who were waiting on ships getting ready for the final invasion. So I always thought it was a good thing. In my old age I'm not so sure. Here is an interesting song that gives us a lot to think about.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_INemxKjMZs

    מה מכילות החדשות?


    • #3
      I'm not interested in your songs or in you growing up.

      Was the use of the Atomic Bomb against Japan to end the War in the Pacific justified?

      מה מכילות החדשות?


      • #4
        Originally posted by DavidSF View Post
        I'm not interested in your songs or in you growing up.

        Was the use of the Atomic Bomb against Japan to end the War in the Pacific justified?
        Of course it was. The humanist objections are applicable to any general-purpose warfare, not just nuclear weapons. The Quakers have a valid point when they object to mass slaughter, but few other groups have the moral background to apply that objection with impunity. The A-bomb is a more efficient method to accomplish that slaughter, but it is certainly not "less humane" by any measure, other than long-term effects on health. The long-term effects are a serious argument for the humanist (I count myself among them), but that's just about the only argument with some moral weight.

        The mass bombings of urban centers ("Total War", mentioned in Voland's thread around this time) was common practice by 1945. Civilians died by the thousands, well before the A-bomb was a sure thing. The best that could be said about the subject was that those civilians died in "more manageable numbers", using conventional weapons. Life is cheap, modern warfare makes it even cheaper.

        There is one other serious but positive consequence of the nuclear option: A fear of extinction, personally forced upon the leadership of any given nation that contemplates modern warfare. At no time before in our history, has a single weapon category given leaders pause before engaging in mass warfare. With the A-bomb, it is obvious that the nation that "wins" a nuclear war, will also lose the same war. Specifically, the most narcissistic leader's ego is forced to confront his own "no win" situation; even if his nation can overwhelm a modern foe, but that foe has even a couple dozen primitive nukes on fairly reliable delivery vehicles. For that very reason -a threat to the personal existence of a given country's leadership- nuclear weapons can easily be credited with preventing a third world war. If the threat were merely the slaughter of a couple billion people in conventional warfare, I'm convinced we would have suffered WWIII a few decades ago.

        In short, those innocents in Nagasaki and Hiroshima did not die in vain. Their split second vaporization -in very large numbers- forced a profound psychological shift (aka "humility") inside the minds of the world's leadership class. That arguably prevented the murder of billions (not just millions) of people.
        Last edited by radcentr; 07-25-2018, 06:09 PM.

        מה מכילות החדשות?


        • #5
          I find it compelling that the Emperor decided to call it quits after Nagasaki, but his council was against that. They really did want to fight to the death (of every man, woman, and child) in defense of the Japan mainland ... but mostly their god, the Emperor.

          Fortunately, he WAS, after all, the emperor so his wishes prevailed. Had we had to invade Japan, estimates of dead range up over a million as even children were being armed.

          מה מכילות החדשות?


          • #6
            Originally posted by DavidSF View Post
            I find it compelling that the Emperor decided to call it quits after Nagasaki, but his council was against that. They really did want to fight to the death (of every man, woman, and child) in defense of the Japan mainland ... but mostly their god, the Emperor.

            Fortunately, he WAS, after all, the emperor so his wishes prevailed. Had we had to invade Japan, estimates of dead range up over a million as even children were being armed.
            I'm not at all sure the A-bomb or D-day style invasion were the only choices. The fire bombing of Dresden was an atrocity on a par with thith the nukes. That one was totally unnecessary. The city was not a real military target of value. https://www.businessinsider.com/phot...-war-ii-2018-2 In Truman's defense I 'm sure he didn't have a full understanding of what he was unleashing.http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2015/...omic-bombings/
            Last edited by redrover; 07-26-2018, 07:37 PM.

            מה מכילות החדשות?


            • #7
              Dresden was in Germany. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are in Japan. Different wars, different strategies, different cultures, different leadership (on both sides)...

              basically, Dresden has no bearing, in any way, on this discussion. Was the use of the atomic bombs against Japan militarily justified?

              מה מכילות החדשות?


              • #8
                Originally posted by DavidSF View Post
                Dresden was in Germany. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are in Japan. Different wars, different strategies, different cultures, different leadership (on both sides)...

                basically, Dresden has no bearing, in any way, on this discussion. Was the use of the atomic bombs against Japan militarily justified?
                You are wrong on that point. It was "Total War", therefore civilians were barely off the list of targets. IOW, Collateral damage was just peachy, regardless of "culture" or the particular theater of war.

                That is the argument against Dresden being somehow "more protected" or otherwise deserving avoidance of the slaughter. Go with the flow, David. The Bomb changed the efficiency of slaughter, not the reasoning behind it.

                מה מכילות החדשות?


                • #9
                  Originally posted by radcentr View Post
                  You are wrong on that point. It was "Total War", therefore civilians were barely off the list of targets. IOW, Collateral damage was just peachy, regardless of "culture" or the particular theater of war.

                  That is the argument against Dresden being somehow "more protected" or otherwise deserving avoidance of the slaughter. Go with the flow, David. The Bomb changed the efficiency of slaughter, not the reasoning behind it.
                  I may be wrong about this but I think I once read that McArthur was ready to use nukes in Manchuria during the Korean war. Back in 1964 Barry Goldwater was talking about using them in Vietnam. During his prelection briefings it has been reported that Trump wanted to know why we don't use them.

                  מה מכילות החדשות?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by radcentr View Post
                    You are wrong on that point. It was "Total War", therefore civilians were barely off the list of targets. IOW, Collateral damage was just peachy, regardless of "culture" or the particular theater of war.

                    That is the argument against Dresden being somehow "more protected" or otherwise deserving avoidance of the slaughter. Go with the flow, David. The Bomb changed the efficiency of slaughter, not the reasoning behind it.
                    I was not suggesting Dresden was somehow "more protected." What I was saying was, we bombed Dresden for different reasons than we dropped Fat Boy and Little Man. It was my apparently vain attempt to drag redrover back on-topic.

                    מה מכילות החדשות?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by redrover View Post

                      I may be wrong about this but I think I once read that McArthur was ready to use nukes in Manchuria during the Korean war. Back in 1964 Barry Goldwater was talking about using them in Vietnam. During his prelection briefings it has been reported that Trump wanted to know why we don't use them.
                      Actually, I think this is on point. A few military and political leaders thought the Bomb was just fine 'n dandy until the flow-chart dudes figured out the "most" horrifying consequences of nuclear weapons -the extinction of the leadership class. If the Big One were only going to eliminate a very large part of the unwashed masses, I sincerely believe they would have been employed in World War III by now.

                      Love those flow chart dudes. "If X, then Y happens". It appears that Goldwater and a few of the military leadership had to have the flow-chart explained a few dozen times, with all the possibilities of flow-charts explained. They all came around in the end, because all the scenarios came to the same conclusion: Unless there is no like response to a nuclear strike, a nuclear exchange always results in extinction, Extinction always includes the leadership class. That last part was the clincher. We will go to much greater lengths to avoid a nuclear war, compared to our efforts to avoid a conventional war.

                      Up to this point, the A-bomb has proven to be the best invention for preventing large-scale warfare. A beautiful irony.

                      מה מכילות החדשות?


                      • #12
                        I was in High School towards the end of the Viet Nam "war." As is the case with most upper teenagers, I thought I knew what it was all about: Save the Vietnamese from the red scourge.

                        But as I got older and presumably wiser, I came to know the real story was a bit different from my High School understanding. BTW, my draft lottery, assigned by my birthday month and year in my 18th year, was 156: They only called up to, like, 95 that year as they were already in the draw-down... so I joined the Navy, anyway.

                        As I found out, had the U.S. JUST backed Ho Chi Minh against the French, we would NEVER have had to send soldiers to Viet Nam. Of course, in the late 40's like it was, the U.S. didn't feel it could stand against their French allies so close to the end of WW2, so eventually, Ho turned to first the Chinese and, then, to the Russians who were only too happy to help, advise, and support.

                        I'm now watching the Viet Nam Story on Netflix and turns out, we will might have backed the wrong team in that war... and most of THEM didn't even want us there (a fact the North Vietnamese pressed relentlessly as they tried to get the South to kick us out).

                        All that said, I'm not so sure the A-Bomb would have been a bad thing in Viet Nam ... and I'm only being partly facetious.

                        מה מכילות החדשות?


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DavidSF View Post
                          I was in High School towards the end of the Viet Nam "war." As is the case with most upper teenagers, I thought I knew what it was all about: Save the Vietnamese from the red scourge.

                          But as I got older and presumably wiser, I came to know the real story was a bit different from my High School understanding. BTW, my draft lottery, assigned by my birthday month and year in my 18th year, was 156: They only called up to, like, 95 that year as they were already in the draw-down... so I joined the Navy, anyway.

                          As I found out, had the U.S. JUST backed Ho Chi Minh against the French, we would NEVER have had to send soldiers to Viet Nam. Of course, in the late 40's like it was, the U.S. didn't feel it could stand against their French allies so close to the end of WW2, so eventually, Ho turned to first the Chinese and, then, to the Russians who were only too happy to help, advise, and support.

                          I'm now watching the Viet Nam Story on Netflix and turns out, we will might have backed the wrong team in that war... and most of THEM didn't even want us there (a fact the North Vietnamese pressed relentlessly as they tried to get the South to kick us out).

                          All that said, I'm not so sure the A-Bomb would have been a bad thing in Viet Nam ... and I'm only being partly facetious.
                          True story about Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh started out as a nationalist first, communist second. Apparently, Woodrow Wilson was certain that Ho would be part of a perfectly aligned, hard core communist axis. Thoroughly subject to the whims of Lenin and those who were to succeed him. Too bad, really, because Wilson had a serious opportunity to split the nascent communist movement, a split which Ho wanted to hand to him on a silver platter. Link:
                          Indeed, Ho emerges as an unexpected hero in this balanced book, first seen trying to buttonhole Woodrow Wilson at the Paris peace conference of 1919. But gradually he and his fellow North Vietnamese were viewed as agents of international communism, not admirable rebels against colonialism. Mr Logevall bemoans the fact that Ho’s admiration for American political ideals and French culture did not lead to a life-sparing compromise.
                          https://www.economist.com/books-and-.../hopeandhubris

                          Basically, Wilson screwed himself (and the US) twice at Versailles. First, he accepted the proposed WWI peace treaty as an honest attempt by our allies. Second, he blew a very low-risk opportunity to compromise a hard alignment strategy that was sure to be developed by the new communist movement in Russia. At the center of his disgrace was France. I could understand Wilson's belief in the French position at the beginning of the Versailles conference, until it became clear that France's goal was to "make it pay", rather than wind down the European game of empire. At that point, Wilson had nothing up his sleeve. He should have given Ho an opening (then told him to leave Europe for his own safety), and let the French know that part of their empire was coming to an end. France can squeeze Germany for all it's worth, but the US will provide some support for Ho's independence movement in exchange for business and diplomatic agreements. He could have told the outraged French negotiators this: "You apparently believe you can manage the European balance of power, good luck to you. I can't lose the opportunity to drive a wedge in the new menace rising to your east, in Russia. Sooner or later, you will need to let go of your empire, and I encourage you to start with Vietnam. You can let them go quietly with strings attached, or you can struggle -alone- with money and military effort. The choice is yours."

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DavidSF View Post

                            I was not suggesting Dresden was somehow "more protected." What I was saying was, we bombed Dresden for different reasons than we dropped Fat Boy and Little Man. It was my apparently vain attempt to drag redrover back on-topic.

                            There is a degree of discussion here still as to why the nuclear bomb wasn´t used on Germany when in theory it could have been used. There are suggestions that a considerable number of scientists working on it ( like Robert J. Oppenheimer) had a german backround, there were ( definitely) concerns that an unexploded bomb could have given the Germans valuable technical hints how to proceed with their own nuclear program ( and Germany had well organized aerial defences until the end of the war, which means shooting a plane down before reaching its target was a real possibility), there is definitely the point that by early 1945 the european war was coming to an end anyway and Germanys defeat a matter of months ( which obviously raises a few questions about the carnage and devastation at Dresden, which had no military significance, but was mentioned in the same breath as Florence prior to the bombing). But most of all the reasons appear to have been of practical nature.


                            http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2013/...-nazi-germany/


                            It was probably helpful that Hitler had appointed a non-Nazi to head the german nuclear program, Werner Heisenberg, who was not free of scientific vanity, but according to some sources and his own testimony sabotaged the program. More importantly though Germany lacked some vital ressources to complete the project. Not the brains, but "heavy" water ( the norwegian resistance sucessfully sabotaged deliveries), suitable Uranium, they never considered plutonium and then the team was weakened by infighting between Nazis and non-Nazis.
                            And at some point, apparently by late 1944, the Americans were aware that the Nazi nuclear program was a paper tiger :



                            https://cen.acs.org/articles/93/i39/...s-Nowhere.html

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Voland View Post


                              There is a degree of discussion here still as to why the nuclear bomb wasn´t used on Germany when in theory it could have been used. There are suggestions that a considerable number of scientists working on it ( like Robert J. Oppenheimer) had a german backround, there were ( definitely) concerns that an unexploded bomb could have given the Germans valuable technical hints how to proceed with their own nuclear program ( and Germany had well organized aerial defences until the end of the war, which means shooting a plane down before reaching its target was a real possibility), there is definitely the point that by early 1945 the european war was coming to an end anyway and Germanys defeat a matter of months ( which obviously raises a few questions about the carnage and devastation at Dresden, which had no military significance, but was mentioned in the same breath as Florence prior to the bombing). But most of all the reasons appear to have been of practical nature.


                              http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/2013/...-nazi-germany/


                              It was probably helpful that Hitler had appointed a non-Nazi to head the german nuclear program, Werner Heisenberg, who was not free of scientific vanity, but according to some sources and his own testimony sabotaged the program. More importantly though Germany lacked some vital ressources to complete the project. Not the brains, but "heavy" water ( the norwegian resistance sucessfully sabotaged deliveries), suitable Uranium, they never considered plutonium and then the team was weakened by infighting between Nazis and non-Nazis.
                              And at some point, apparently by late 1944, the Americans were aware that the Nazi nuclear program was a paper tiger :



                              https://cen.acs.org/articles/93/i39/...s-Nowhere.html
                              Oddly, I have never considered use of the bomb against Germany. I hitherto felt it wasn't quite ready until just before Hiroshima, but obviously I was misinformed.

                              Good treatment of the issue, Voland. Thank you.

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