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Thread: Hiroshima and Nagasaki

  1. #1

    Default Hiroshima and Nagasaki

    I read this John Pilger article in the paper today and I must say I found it rather striking. Pilger is a fairly renowned/condemned polemicist but the article is worth reading and evaluating on its merits before dismissing it on the basis that the author has form, so to speak.

    Iíve always found it incredibly hard to judge anything that occurred in that insane and extraordinary time sitting, as we do, comfortably sixty years removed from events and so, while the action itself was unquestionably abhorrent, Iíve never felt qualified to properly criticise the decision to use the Bomb in Japan. After six long years of conflict and millions of deaths I can see why the ability to bring things to a close rather than face a continuing and bloody invasion with further losses was utilised even if the reality of using a nuclear weapon is as terrifyingly horrible as it is. I havenít been sure whether I would support it or not and Iím very ambivalent about the whole thing but it was the starkness of choices available and the consequences either way that I thought somewhat obviated my thoughts from being pertinent.

    What really caught my eye in the article, rather than the implications and accusations exposed in relation to contemporary positioning, and made me ruminate on my position, was this paragraph:

    The National Archives in Washington contain US government documents that chart Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US dispels any doubt that the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including "capitulation even if the terms were hard". Instead, the US secretary of war, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was "fearful" that the US air force would have Japan so "bombed out" that the new weapon would not be able "to show its strength". He later admitted that "no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the bomb". His foreign policy colleagues were eager "to browbeat the Russians with the bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip". General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the bomb, testified: "There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis." The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Truman voiced his satisfaction with the "overwhelming success" of "the experiment".

    If thatís accurate it paints a very different picture of things and I would be very interested to see those documents. Iíve always considered that the use of nuclear weaponry brought with it military and political advantage and status but I have equally also thought that it was chosen as a course of action not because of this but in addition to it. If it wasnít a matter of choosing what was perceived to be the lesser evil as there were limited choices though, Iím certainly inclined to feel far less ambivalent about the matter.

    Anyhow, thoughts on this or the general morality of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

  2. #2


    Ostensibly, the bombs were dropped to prevent having to launch a drawn out land invasion from the south that would have cost millions more in life - both civilian and military - and that could have prolonged the hostilities for years to come.

    The truth of the matter, as touched upon in the OP, is that by this stage Russia already held a good portion of the upper north area of Japan, as they'd launched their invasion months earlier. Now, understandably, having come this far with heavy losses already, the Soviet forces and governance were not going to just retreat from Japan if the Japanese had signed into a surrender with the USA; even though the US and Soviet forces were allies. And the Japanese would not sign into a surrender that didn't include the retreat of the Soviet occupying forces, obviously.

    The bombs solved both these issues. It was a message to the Japanese that surrender was the best option; regardless of conditions of surrender; and a message to the Soviets to sit down, shut up, and listen; because look what we've got. The sacrifice worked. The Soviets begrudgingly pulled all forces out of Japan and the Japanese surrendered. Was the Cold War that stretched on for decades after the close of the war worth it, though, is the big question for me~

  3. #3


    This is an subject that is near and dear to my heart. My father was in the Marines during this time. He had already been out in the Pacific fighting in the war for 2 years. He was sent back to the States for R&R and to prepare for the invasion of the home islands of Japan. Estimates were at that time that there would be as many as one million US casualties. My dear departed father would have been amongst the brave men fighting. So the chances of me being here right now would have been pretty slim. As for the Japanese surrendering I don't think with out the use of both Atomic bombs they would have. I have seen a show on the History Channel called The Last Mission. It is about the last B-29 bomber mission flown to Japan before they surrendered. Even after both Atomic bombs had been dropped in Japan there was still a large number of high ranking Japanese Officers who opposed the Emperor. They tried to stop the recording of the surrender message and tried to assassinate the Emperor to prevent the surrender. So as bad as it might sound we the US may have done the right thing on both August 6th and 9th. Also there is the issue of the Japanese people that would have died in a land invasion they would have all been wiped out. This is something that I am glad that did not happen. Japan has turned out to be a loyal friend and ally.

  4. #4


    hmm, from how many perspectives can we say that dropping 'the bomb' was justified?
    as far as i'm aware, the key targets (cities) were already destroyed by incendiary bombs as a course of a firestorming policy.

    i think that all things considered, i'll stick with my interpretation of events of America having a new 'big-stick' and having to be seen to be willing and capable of using it. otherwise, the soviet union may have reached the pacific and atlantic oceans.

  5. #5


    I don't really have time to read the article, but from what I understand.

    I remember that the Japanese set up alarms around the city for incoming airplanes, and to get to bomb shelters. We flew around the cities so much that everyone thought we were just flying around and that they weren't going to do anything, so on the day we dropped the bombs they didn't go to the bomb shelters.

    I am guilty of not paying that much attention when we were taught that though, so I don't know, plus I have been known to dream about being in class and thinking that everything the teacher said was real. I really wish I had paid attention in that class though, because now I really am getting more interested in what happened in WW2

  6. #6


    if that's true, which i wouldn't doubt, it was a way for the US to exercise their techno-penis size at the cost of a few japanese lives.

  7. #7


    The Japs would not have surrendered if not for these bombs, therefore, thumbs up from Mr Alex.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by Jaiden View Post
    Anyhow, thoughts on this or the general morality of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
    My grandfather died back in April this year due to cancer and complications that arose from radiation exposure in Hiroshima.

    You have to remember that they dropped the bombs back in a time when radiation and nuclear weaponry was still in it's infancy. They were ignorant to the after effects, not just the bomb blast itself. That's just the given time-frame, so I can't blame anyone for anything.

    My thoughts on it? It was good how it stopped a nation from global domination and destruction, but at the same time I can't help but feel it claimed more lives than it should have.

  9. #9


    I'm all fr what we did. I'm sorry for all the Japs we killed, but I'd rather see them die then are American boys.

  10. #10


    I guess the old addage "Don't start what you can't finish" applies here. The Japanese started the war at Pearl Harbor. We finished the war in Tokyo.

    As far as peace ovatures go, none would have panned out. There was an attempted coup against the Emperor after the bombs were dropped. The Emperor was regarded as a living god. Disobeying the emperor would be the worst conceivible sin for the Japanese warrior class. They (the ruling warrior class) were very much willing to see the fight through to the bitter end.

    The only alternative would have been invasion. Operation Downfall would have cost the Allies at least 100,000 casualties as a conservative estimates. These estimate were based on the false assumption that the Japanese had substantially less war material (aircraft, ships, small arms etc.) then they actually had. The Japanese had over 10,000 Aircraft ready to repeat Okinawa. It would have cost a quarter of a million allied lives to sucessfully invade the Japanese home islands, and tens of millions of Japanese would die defending their homeland and Emperor.

    When compared to the wholesale distruction of the Japanese home islands, the two cities destroyed by atomic weapons were better. Plus, it brought about Pax Atomica.

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