+3 votes
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in Politics & Government ✌ by

In Bill O'Reilly's book KILLING THE RISING SUN, he leaves an overall impression that nuclear weapons were justified because of net lives saved. However, the author does discuss also the fact that war itself was changed forever, going through a horrific door we could never close.

Discussing this with a friend, however, she suggested "What if the bomb had been dropped in an unpopulated area of Japan, more as a demonstration, rather than the civilians of Hiroshima/Nagasaki?"

5 Answers

+5 votes
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I think that MacArthur had the right idea! Instead of Unconditional Surrender? We should have told the Japanese government that we would allow the Emperor to remain seated. I think the Japanese would have surrendered then as they knew they were a beaten nation but their way of life revolved around the Emperor. I don't know if dropping the bomb in an unpopulated area would have done much to impress the last die-hard militarists.

It was the unconditional surrender that actually caused the bombs to be dropped and for what? They let the Emperor remain anyway.

I also think Truman ordered them dropped because of the Russians as they wanted some of Japan to occupy also.

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Thank you Rooster, THAT is truly food for thought...with a sinking feeling in my heart...

+3 votes
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I agree with Rooster.  I think the atomic bombs were also meant to give the Soviets a warning not to encroach on Western Europe. They were already showing signs that they were not going to permit free elections in Eastern Europe (contrary to the Yalta agreement), which of course they didn't, knowing perfectly well that no communist government would ever be likely to be freely elected into office.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/ir2/yaltaandpotsdamrev1.shtml

On a slightly different point, I have from time to time asked people which country, Japan or Germany, suffered the most civilian deaths from Allied strategic bombing? They almost invariably guess Japan, but the estimates (300,000 to 500,000) are about the same for both countries, with maybe somewhat more in Germany.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/oct/22/worlddispatch.germany

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_raids_on_Japan

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Dear OtherTink,

Those are high-quality, informative links...I learned a great deal. That saying that history is written by the victors, well there is that one book mentioned in THE GUARDIAN article, I think it was DER BRAND, written by the German historian Friedrich, about the excessive bombing of civilian towns by the Allies. I did not realize that, except for a friend in Germany, my age, who was a baby in the bombing of Berlin and Dresden.

The BBC summary is very concise, I did not know those differences between Yalta and Potsdam.

I remember in the book Rooster suggested, the US General Curtis LeMay was actually apprehensive that if Japan won the war, he would be prosecuted for war crimes, for the massive fire-bombing of Japan which he directed. So I looked him up also. I learned that Truman and the military commanders did not even consider the atomic bombing as a moral consideration.

Right or wrong, I do now have even more respect for Truman, just for the decisions he faced and dealt with.

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Dear Virginia,

I visited Würzburg some years ago. It was almost totally destroyed by firebombing less than two months before the end of WW2 in Europe, for no significant military reason, killing about 5000. The town was rebuilt mostly by the surviving women residents.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_W%C3%BCrzburg_in_World_War_II

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Rebuilt by women...quite poignant, OtherTink...

And I learned the word for those courageous women, Trümmerfrauen... this link also discusses more of something mentioned in one of your other references, the fact that the Allied bombs targeted a pattern of medieval towns with no military nor industry. However in addition to civilian deaths, the bombing raids destroyed the cultural identity of a people.

Our (apparent) human need for war...I asked Rooster once if he, as a soldier, felt the video games were realistic enough to actually someday replace on-the-ground war with virtual warfare...he said yes! (I think he did anyway, if he sees this maybe he will wish to tweak...) anyway, I was impressed, I wish it could work and we study war games only.

+4 votes
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Hi Virginia! I'm currently reading that book...finally! Been waiting for it from the e library...I agree with the consensus here. The unconditional surrender was the culprit as from what little I know of Japanese culture...surrender was not an option, it was a humiliation.

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Angela!!!

So delighted you are here...I learned a great deal from the book, as well as Rooster and OtherTink comments...glad you are reading it. And yes your suggestion of the unconditional surrender, until now I had no real idea what that meant to Japan.

+3 votes
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A very pertinent question, indeed, which has been very well explained by Rooster and Think.

The A bombs had a massive impact, but jointly, with a series of other "heavy arguments"; i.e. Japan had already lost its military control over the Pacific "territories", Germany surrendered in May, the imperial navy was agonising, further, a failed coup d'état and the Soviet-Union (as secretly agreed upon with the UK and the USA) preparing to attack the Japanese forces in Korea, Manchuria, South Sakhalin, etc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet%E2%80%93Japanese_War_(1945)


And even today, the debates about the moral, "effective" and strategic justification of using nuclear weapons and other mass destruction tools goes on:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debate_over_the_atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrender_of_Japan


Further:

World War II casualties:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties


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Marianne, the links you found are very informative. I had been using the figure of 28 million WWII casualties...this indicates between 70 and 85 million. Three percent of the world population...one of every thirty people in the world...

The debate on Wikip...shows there is still a strong argument against the bombs.

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You're very welcome, Virginia. Yes, it is always useful to look into different sources.

And the old questions of morality and the justification of extreme or desperate means to survive, or end a war are still raising controversy and heated debates.

+3 votes
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Japanese allies were won. Eastern Asia was eliberated. Americans could won without the atomic bombs.

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@ Kninjanin:

Yes, of course the Americans could have won without the atomic bombs, but not quickly and not without a high cost in lives.

The battle for just one small island, Okinawa, had killed 20,000 American and 80,000 Japanese soldiers, plus at least 50,000 Okinawan civilians, and it lasted about 3 months, April-June, 1945.

An invasion of the Japanese home islands would have been at least 10 times worse than Okinawa, so the calculation to use the atomic bombs was a simple one, mathematically speaking.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Okinawa


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Thank you for your response, Kninjanin, and I am glad to meet you.

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