Dropping The Bomb

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by Chicago1871, Jul 9, 2004.

  1. Chicago1871

    Chicago1871 New Member

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    Should the US have dropped the bomb(s) on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Was it necessary? Was there another way? Were there ulterior motives?

    This thread is a spinoff from a discussion on another thread here in the Politics forum. Please feel free to weigh in your thoughts.

    • "The decision (at Potsdam) whether or not to use the atomic bomb(s) was never an issue... (The) unanimous, automatic, unquestioned agreement represented a forgone conclusion" (Winston Churchill). The position held by Churchill was one of inevitability; The Allied countries planned to drop the bomb, it was just a question of when and where.

    • The American public felt that a land invasion was unnecessary when the war could be ended sooner, while saving American lives. Many historians presently question the use of the atomic bomb(s) against Japan. However, during the war, people rejoiced at the thought of ending the war in any way possible.

      President Harry Truman justified the dropping of the atomic bomb by saying:

      It was a question of saving hundreds of thousands of American lives. I don't mind telling you that you don't feel normal when you have to plan hundreds of complete, final deaths of American boys who are alive and joking and having fun while you are doing you planning. You break your heart and you head trying to figure out a way to save one life (Seddon 234).

    • One of Truman's justifications for dropping the bomb was a preservation of American lives. Should a land invasion have occurred there was no doubt that many America lives would have been lost. "It was a question of saving hundreds of thousands of American lives...the casualty estimates called for 750,000 Americans-250, 000 killed, 500,000 maimed for life" (Claypool 127). A land invasion would not have guaranteed an end to the war, for the Japanese were determined to fight to the last man before surrendering. A Japanese government official was quoted in saying: "We will, for no reason surrender our honor to the Americans...our countrymen are prepared to fight for their honor and for the honor of our emperor, surrender does not beget honor" (Amrine 148).

    • "Though the possibility of a demonstration that would not destroy human lives was attractive, no one could suggest a way in which it could be made so convincing that it would be likely to stop the war" (Sherrow 54). It was a strong possibility, and there was even a vote taken about whether or not to actually drop the bomb(s) on a Japanese city instead of holding a demonstration. The decision to drop the bomb was definitely the most beneficial because the Japanese had made it quite clear that they would fight to the last man defending their country.

    • "...The Americans were surprised at how willing the Japanese were to sacrifice their lives rather than admit defeat in battle. Their military code embodied strong cultural principles, including the idea that death was more honorable than surrender or defeat, which meant disgrace" (Sherrow 57).

      Dropping the bomb(s) on a city would force them to reconsider their attitude toward surrender. Truman decided to drop the plutonium bomb "Fat Man" on Nagasaki after it was evident that the Japanese would not surrender even after the destruction of Hiroshima. If the Japanese believed the US had an endless supply of atomic weapons, they would be forced to end the war.

    • One major question that faced the Americans was how to drop the bomb. Should a warning be given? "It was their recommendation that the bomb be used against the enemy as soon as it could be done. They recommended further that it should be used without specific warning and against a target that would clearly show its devastating strength..." (Sherrow 69).

      On May 31, 1945 a meeting, held at the Pentagon included some of the top ranking military officials from the US, Great Britain and Russia. The meeting unanimously decided that no warning should be given to Japan. The committee also advised that the target for the atomic bomb should be a large city containing an army base or a munitions factory. Hiroshima fitted these conditions perfectly (Weintraub 104).


    The text above are snippets from a project I did nearly 7 years ago in early high school. I am trying to track down the reference pages from this project, but I don't think I have them any more. (Take this as you like) I assure you that every reference is accurate, and each was taken from respected sources I tracked down at several local libraries (at least kids used to read and use the library :)).

    While there is almost no way anyone will every really budge from their half of this argument, I have always enjoyed a spirited discussion about this topic, so I look forward to your counter-points Mel.


  2. IntheNet

    IntheNet New Member

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    You made a few points and asked a few questions that warrant reply.

    Initially, nuclear bombs were dropped to convince Japanese to end the war. An Allied invasion of mainland Japan would have been hazardous to many thousands of Allied soldiers; these lives were spared by the end of the war brought about by "Fat Man" and "Little Boy".

    Secondly, warning was given to Japanese via notices and flyers of a new weapon being employed, but since the nuclear design was not even understood by Allied troops, it probably could not have been understood by Axis troops either. Further, carpet- and fire-bombing immediately preceeding nuclear drops in Japan was actually more hazardous than nuclear detonations due to widespread loss and fatalities throughout mainland Japan. Thjis fact gains little traction in the larger issue of guilt about dropping the nuclear weapons.

    There has been a great deal of distortion on this issue; I recommend a book: "Manhattan: The Army and the Atomic Bomb," United States Army in World War II, Vincent Jones, U.S. Army Center of Military History. 1985. Library of Congress: GPO. This book tells the history of "the bomb" without distortion; how it was developed, why it was used, and what it accomplished. I recommend it highly.

    IntheNet
  3. verybdog

    verybdog New Member

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    Dropping automic bombs has only one purpose - that is killing people in a massive scale. So how do you justify dropping a bomb like that in a residential city? What it killed were not the soldiers fighting you, but women, children just like your women and children in your neck of the woods.

    So I think using automic bombs in a war on non-military target is not fair (maybe is a war crime) no matter what your excuse was(including the Japenese army were dispicable, which was true; or saving the lives of both sides). There's no natural law says that Americans have to be the winner. In order to do that by killing civilians in that large scale was not justified and was a sin.

    Plus lots of historians told us, at the time of dropping the bombs, Japan was nearly defeated in effect. It wasn't necessary.
  4. speedcake

    speedcake Member

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    OMG. I don't think I can justify in my mind trading literally hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths for a number of military casualites that we will never know because we took the easy route.

    We dropped atom bombs on two cities full of nothing but civies. There is no justification.


  5. stopper4

    stopper4 Member

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    I don't find it difficult to justify at all: It ended the war.

    I'm quite happy my grandfather was able to make it home healthy enough to procreate, thank you very much. We'll never know if there were 'nicer' ways to end the war, and I'm fine with that too.
  6. GringoTex

    GringoTex Member

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    Dropping the first one made a hell of a lot more sense than dropping the second one.
  7. IntheNet

    IntheNet New Member

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    speedcake and verybdog:

    Suggest you both read a bit about a couple things; first, a military history of Japan; and second, the situation after the Battle of Midway during World War II. This post does not have enough space to refute all the ignorance you both exemplified on the situation with Japan at the end of WWII. Both Nagasaki and Hiroshima were legitimate military targets containing military forces; in much the same way as Pearl Harbor and its miliary/civilian base was identified as a military target by the Japanese. Stop relying upon Greenpeace ignorance to provide you with military history!

    IntheNet
  8. stopper4

    stopper4 Member

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    I'd only have a problem with the second one if the Japaneese had given up after the first one.
  9. verybdog

    verybdog New Member

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    Use Fallujah as example. It's a strong anti-American city that has killed many GIs. And we can't get in there without risking soldiers' lives. So what do you do with it? Level it with nuclear bombs?

    I know that many people at freerepublic.com are advocating that.

    But we can't do that - there's no natural law says you have to be a winner; you can't kill innocent in order to win. That's barbaric. We shouldn't do that. People don't like US army there, fine, so let's get out.
  10. cosmosRIP

    cosmosRIP Member

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    If there's a last resort it has to be incinerating someone's cities. At the time the US was in no danger of being invaded, subjugated, starved to death or anything even remotely close to a last resort situation.
  11. metroflip73

    metroflip73 Member

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    Right. I do not advocate the killing of civilians, but unfortunately, history has shown for over 2 millenia that killing civilians is part of war (from barbarians, Crusaders, pre-industrial musket-wielding troops, etc.). No matter how evolved people are/will be, things haven't changed all that much, if you think about it.
  12. Chicago1871

    Chicago1871 New Member

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    From my original post:

    On May 31, 1945 a meeting, held at the Pentagon included some of the top ranking military officials from the US, Great Britain and Russia. The meeting unanimously decided that no warning should be given to Japan. The committee also advised that the target for the atomic bomb should be a large city containing an army base or a munitions factory. Hiroshima fitted these conditions perfectly (Weintraub 104).


    Lots of historians said otherwise as well (which is what makes this such a great debate).

    From my original post:

    Truman decided to drop the plutonium bomb "Fat Man" on Nagasaki after it was evident that the Japanese would not surrender even after the destruction of Hiroshima. If the Japanese believed the US had an endless supply of atomic weapons, they would be forced to end the war.
  13. BenReilly

    BenReilly New Member

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    :D
  14. BenReilly

    BenReilly New Member

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    At the very least, there are a lot of Koreans and Chinese that might beg to differ.
  15. superdave

    superdave Member+

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    The problem I have with the 2nd one was it was, what, 4 days later? What the hell was the rush? We could have given them at least a full week.
  16. GringoTex

    GringoTex Member

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    "...in [July] 1945... Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. ...the Secretary, upon giving me the news of the successful bomb test in New Mexico, and of the plan for using it, asked for my reaction, apparently expecting a vigorous assent.

    "During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude..." - Dwight Eisenhower, Mandate For Change, pg. 380





    "It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons.

    "The lethal possibilities of atomic warfare in the future are frightening. My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children." - William Leahy(Chief of Staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman), I Was There, pg. 441.



    "...the Japanese were prepared to negotiate all the way from February 1945...up to and before the time the atomic bombs were dropped; ...if such leads had been followed up, there would have been no occasion to drop the [atomic] bombs." - Herbert Hoover, quoted by Barton Bernstein in Philip Nobile, ed., Judgment at the Smithsonian, pg. 142


    "When I asked General MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no military justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended weeks earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed, as it later did anyway, to the retention of the institution of the emperor."
    Norman Cousins, The Pathology of Power, pg. 65, 70-71.


    "I believe we missed the opportunity of effecting a Japanese surrender, completely satisfactory to us, without the necessity of dropping the bombs."
    -John McCloy (Undersecretary of War), quoted in James Reston, Deadline, pg. 500.


    "I think that the Japanese were ready for peace, and they already had approached the Russians and, I think, the Swiss. And that suggestion of [giving] a warning [of the atomic bomb] was a face-saving proposition for them, and one that they could have readily accepted." He continued, "In my opinion, the Japanese war was really won before we ever used the atom bomb. Thus, it wouldn't have been necessary for us to disclose our nuclear position and stimulate the Russians to develop the same thing much more rapidly than they would have if we had not dropped the bomb."
    -RALPH BARD (Under Sec. of the Navy)
  17. speedcake

    speedcake Member

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    Honestly, stick it in your arse. You and your god d@mned exclamation points.
  18. nicephoras

    nicephoras BigSoccer Supporter

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    This thread assumes the atomic bomb was somehow far worse than what we could have done to Japan otherwise, or what we in fact did. The truth is, the firebombings of Tokyo and other cities caused far more death and devastation than the atomic bombs, because so many Japanese buildings were made of wood. We created infernos in Japanese cities. So if you're going to start questioning the A-Bomb, you'd have to go considerably earlier than that. You'd have to question our whole bombing strategy, as many have done.

    I personally think the second bomb was unnecessary, as given a week or two to think about it, while under blockade, food supplies diminishing, under constant conventional bombardment and with the knowledge that the US may well have more A-Bombs, Japan would have surrended. But - that's my opinion, and I can hardly say that I'm sure of it.
  19. verybdog

    verybdog New Member

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    :D

    like automobile, automatic, automonous, they sound the same, don't they?
  20. nicephoras

    nicephoras BigSoccer Supporter

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    Sounds just like nucular.
  21. needs

    needs New Member

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    My conclusions from reading a bunch of the histories a while ago are this:

    -Given widespread attitudes in the US about the war in the Pacific as a quest for revenge, the pressure on Truman and other officials with the money spent on the Manhattan Project, and the escalation of the bombing of civilians by all sides in the war, dropping the atomic bombs was not seen as a giant break with other tactics (by military decision makers). Much of what made the decision "logical" can be traced to the invention of strategic bombing of civilians.

    -Atomic diplomacy, the effort to keep the Russians out of Japan and to demonstrate the power of a new weapon, played a significant but probably not determinative role in the decision.

    -The argument that the bomb would save lives is largely a public relations creation begun after the war by Stimson and others (and ramped up in the mid 90s with the battle over display of the Enola Gay) and played very little role in the decision making.

    -It's clear that factions within Japan were ready to sue for peace. It's also unlikely that those factions would have been able to acquire the power to do so.

    If anyone wants to read a great book about the continuing battles over how to remember the bombings, pick up "History Wars," its a collection of essays written after the Enola Gay scandal.
  22. nicephoras

    nicephoras BigSoccer Supporter

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    I actually think that the "saving lives" issue is underplayed in that discussion. It most certainly was an issue.
    As for keeping the Russians out of Japan - huh? Why'd we ask them to invade Manchuria then? And how were they going to get to Japan? Swim? Or use the remnants of their fleet that wasn't destroyed at Port Arthur?
  23. Chicago1871

    Chicago1871 New Member

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    My source said differently. Again, there are so many takes that this argument is pretty much unwinnable, and always interesting and fun.
  24. GringoTex

    GringoTex Member

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    But your source isn't the two highest ranking generals of World War 2 and the Under Secretaries of the armed forces.
  25. ElJefe

    ElJefe Moderator Staff Member

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    Personally, I don't have any greater discomfort about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki than I do about the firebombings of Tokyo and Dresden.

    It's my opinion that most people who carry on about how the two atomic bombings were such an atrocity only do so because of the magic word "atomic" in the description. Generally, the majority of those people do not really get as hot and bothered about the widespread firebombing of Japanese and German cities by the Allies and the firebombing of English cities by the Germans as they do about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even though the goals were the same -- death and destruction and demoralization of the civilian populace.

    Personally, I don't shed too many tears over the way we leveled Dresden, so why should I shed tears over the way we leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

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