The A-Bomb

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by xsedrinam, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. xsedrinam macrumors 601

    xsedrinam

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  2. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #2
    What the A-bombs meant was that my father didn't have to go to the Pacific after his part in the liberation of Germany. My step-father didn't have to return to the Pacific after flying B-24s out of Guadalcanal.

    The capitulation of Japan meant that the estimated thousands and thousands of U.S. casualties did not happen. It meant that many tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers' deaths from combat did not happen. It meant there was no "collateral damage" of thousands upon thousands of Japanese civilians. It meant that a U.S. blockade didn't happen, with the ensuing starvation of many thousands of Japanese.

    Horrible though Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, it could have been one helluva lot worse.

    I am quite comfortable with, "Made in America, tested in Japan." I had cousins who were interned by the Japanese, in the Phillipines. In 1949/1950, I went to school there with high school classmates who'd been interned, and knew Filipino and American guerilla fighters. I know what the Japanese made of those folks' lives.

    It's one thing to forgive; something else to forget. Today's Japanese are mostly good people, from what I've seen. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna get all teary-eyed over the deaths from the dawn of the nuclear age.

    'Rat
     
  3. cooknwitha macrumors 6502a

    cooknwitha

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    #3
    Personally, I think it's a shocking moment in history which should not have happened. And speaking to my grandfather who was fighting at the time, he said it didn't feel like a victory at all. But I guess historians will argue over that until the end of time. The sad reality is the propaganda we were and continue to be fed during times of war clouds the mind.

    BBC News has great coverage of the events themselves as well as the effects all these years later.
     
  4. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #4
    Regardless of who and what it saved I would have like to have seen our country make an effort to demonstrate the power of the atomic bomb over an uninhabited area first. Our bomb production was capable of producing enough to level every Japanese city, so what the harm would have been in publicly demonstrating the potential before actually inflicting it on civilians I don't know.

    In any case, the US now has to live with the knowledge that it is the only nation to have used a nuclear weapon in anger. Of course, it doesn't seem to bother many Americans, but the rest of the world.... ah that's right, who gives two ***** what the rest of the world thinks?

    I'm Rick James, bitch.
     
  5. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #5
    "...I would have like to have seen our country make an effort to demonstrate the power of the atomic bomb over an uninhabited area first."

    Not at all a bad idea. But where? And then, how do you get the information to the Japanese governmental establishment, and in a credible manner? How would we have persuaded them that it wasn't Hollywood special effects?

    We were in a sure-enough war that the Japs started. The Japs were killing Chinese, Americans, British, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Koreans and anybody else who resisted their efforts. The Rape of Nanking was not a fiction, not propaganda--nor was Pearl Harbor. The anti-Axis mood was not at all forgiving, nor should it have been.

    'Rat
     
  6. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #6
    How? Not sure off hand 'Rat, but we invented an atomic bomb. You're telling me our best and brightest couldn't have figured out a way to demonstrate its power?

    Sure it's Monday morning qbacking, but this is a shame our nation has to live with. Some soul-searching is in order.
     
  7. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Well, you go around starting serious wars with folks, you never know what's gonna happen to you if you don't win sorta early--as Japan found out. I've never heard many guys who were in the Pacific worry about dead Japanese nearly as much as about dead buddies, or their own chances. We had some 4,400 killed just at Iwo Jima. I'll mourn for them over worrying about enemy dead.

    Given what we found out after the war, it could well be that using the A-Bombs was extremely fortuitous from the standpoint of time. A Google on "Unit 731" gave this link, among others:

    http://www.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/NanjingMassacre/NMU731.html

    Today's opinions about Hiroshima and Nagasaki don't mean doodly-squat, if you weren't there and at hazard. I knew too many people who were there, and I'll go with their views. Today's opinions about future possible use of nukes is another matter entirely.

    I don't see any need for nukes in today's world, other than for generating electricity. "To whom it may concern" ain't my idea of a Good Thing in dealing with other countries. I'd be a lot happier if there were no more ICBMs or other sorts of nuked-up warheads.

    Funny-odd: The U.S. was retreating into somnolence in 1945-1946. Had it not been for the Communist efforts at world domination, we'd have stayed that way. I'm often amazed at the restraint we showed when the Iron Curtain came down, and when the North Koreans invaded South Korea.

    'Rat
     
  8. Sayhey macrumors 68000

    Sayhey

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    #8
    The problem is, 'Rat, that in Hiroshima alone 140,000 plus people were killed - almost all of them innocent civilians including women and children. While I'm sympathetic to the argument that many more US soldiers would have died (my own father and his brothers fought in that war; my dad flew in B-24s over Germany and two uncles were in the fighting at Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal) without the use of the atomic bomb, I'm not convinced that that meant we should target cities full of civilians to make the point. For the US to preach to the world about ethics while committing this atrocity only proves the hypocrisy of some of our message. Do we need to go any further to understand why other nations look skeptically at our claims of moral superiority in the present world?
     
  9. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #9
    A Secret Memorandum

    It was only after the war that the American public learned about Japan's efforts to bring the conflict to an end. Chicago Tribune reporter Walter Trohan, for example, was obliged by wartime censorship to withhold for seven months one of the most important stories of the war.

    In an article that finally appeared August 19, 1945, on the front pages of the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Times-Herald, Trohan revealed that on January 20, 1945, two days prior to his departure for the Yalta meeting with Stalin and Churchill, President Roosevelt received a 40-page memorandum from General Douglas MacArthur outlining five separate surrender overtures from high-level Japanese officials. (The complete text of Trohan's article is in the Winter 1985-86 Journal, pp. 508-512.)

    This memo showed that the Japanese were offering surrender terms virtually identical to the ones ultimately accepted by the Americans at the formal surrender ceremony on September 2 -- that is, complete surrender of everything but the person of the Emperor. Specifically, the terms of these peace overtures included:

    Complete surrender of all Japanese forces and arms, at home, on island possessions, and in occupied countries.
    Occupation of Japan and its possessions by Allied troops under American direction.
    Japanese relinquishment of all territory seized during the war, as well as Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan.
    Regulation of Japanese industry to halt production of any weapons and other tools of war.
    Release of all prisoners of war and internees.
    Surrender of designated war criminals.
    Is this memorandum authentic? It was supposedly leaked to Trohan by Admiral William D. Leahy, presidential Chief of Staff. (See: M. Rothbard in A. Goddard, ed., Harry Elmer Barnes: Learned Crusader [1968], pp. 327f.) Historian Harry Elmer Barnes has related (in "Hiroshima: Assault on a Beaten Foe," National Review, May 10, 1958):

    The authenticity of the Trohan article was never challenged by the White House or the State Department, and for very good reason. After General MacArthur returned from Korea in 1951, his neighbor in the Waldorf Towers, former President Herbert Hoover, took the Trohan article to General MacArthur and the latter confirmed its accuracy in every detail and without qualification.

    http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v16/v16n3p-4_Weber.html
     
  10. xsedrinam thread starter macrumors 601

    xsedrinam

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    #10
    There's a Proverb that says parenthetically [don't grab a dog by the ears], i.e don't jump in to an argument). I ain't saying that either mactastic's or desertrat's comments are any way near doggish, but I resonate with a fair call to soberness: "some soul-searching is in order". Too long the use of "restraint" on the part of U.S. "might" has been self-congratulatory pomp while being high-fived among the Wealthy Country Club members. Sure, Japan made cars (our family drives them) because McCarthur & Co. rehabilitated them to do so, but if he had had his way, we would have learned what Red Chinese "restraint" lay in weight for all the world to admire. Talk about "shock and awe". It wasn't "restraint" at all. And that, so some degree, is what the blind spot is about with regard to U.S. conscience or the lack thereof.
    X
     
  11. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #11
    are you being portentous?
     
  12. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #12
    Sayhey, hindsight says you're right, but that was the era of "saturation bombing" with "dumb bombs" and technology such as the Norden bombsight. Dresden was an example of a non-nuke holocaust. I don't know how many civilians were killed by the fire-bombing of Tokyo, but I suspect it was large numbers.

    Again, given what was known of the behavior of the Axis against civilian populations, nobody much cared about Axis-country civilians. It's a case of "That's the way it was." I'm not trying to excuse it so much as give it some context. The overall Allied mood was, "Screw'em, they started it." And when Hitler's ovens were discovered, there was even less concern.

    excedrinam, my apologies for not specifying the late 1940s and into the 1950s. In that period, we did indeed exercise restraint. There was the looking back at the results at Hiroshima as well as less passion for the public at large.

    Peterkro, do you know of any writings about WHY that memo was sat upon?

    zim, I'm in no way being deliberately portentious, but I don't see it written anywhere that this country or any other can escape the consequences of bad decisions. I think that holds for wars, economics or social behavior...

    'Rat
     
  13. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #13
    Thanks for that, PK. I always thought there was an excuse for the bombs. I'm interested to know how our transatlantic contingent feel about it, because I'm certainly shocked.
     
  14. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #14
    No I don't,but as to any reason I can think of the only one that makes sense is general military obscurity coupled with a urgent wish to strike the first blow in the cold war.Killing 200,000 almost entirely civilian Japanese to send a message to the Soviet Union seems cynical in the extreme to me.If you are suggesting there is a reason please post a source.Historians are pretty much agreed the bombs in Japan were completely superfluous to ending the war.
     
  15. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #15
    I hear a lot of Boo Hoo's and crying but the fact is the bomb was ment to stop the war period. It was ment to save American & Allied life not the enemys. If Germany,Japan had these weapons they would have used them just the same. Truman was hoping one would be enough, but two was needed. War is Bad and should never be used to solve issues but as long as old Farts can have young men die for their B.S. War will continue.
     
  16. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #16
    "...urgent wish to strike the first blow in the cold war."

    Peterkro, research on an atomic explosive device began in the late 1930s/early 1940s. Are you telling me that FDR foresaw the Cold War, whose beginning was in the late 1940s?

    That doesn't jibe, timewise, with our forces sitting around and waiting for weeks for the Russians to capture Berlin. We could have taken Berlin ahead of the Russians, which certainly would have been a first blow in any envisioned Cold War.

    Memo in January of 1945
    FDR died and Germany collapsed in April of 1945
    Truman authorized use of A-Bomb in August of 1945
    Churchill spoke of "...an iron curtain descending..." in 1946

    'Rat
     
  17. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #17
    'rat,

    as you point out, the capture of Berlin was several months before the bombing of Hiroshima. I think it's reasonable to assume that long-term strategic thinking about Russia had time to change in the intervening months. It's also not fair to date the start of the Cold War to a speech given by Churchill, or to the very conservative 1947 start date. The US and Britain at no time considered the Soviet Union a natural ally. It was an alliance of convenience. As for the start of the Cold War, long-term thinkers were considering it the midst of WWII, and certainly by the end. Consider Iran:

    The Brits agreed to leave, but the USSR wanted at least the northern oil fields and tried to spur on a secessionist movement among ethnic Azeris in Iran (a large proportion of the population). The US and Britain were very opposed. Similar tension was building over Turkey, Europe, etc.

    Saying the Cold War began in the late 1940's just isn't true, especially in the context of analyzing strategic decisions made by the US.
     
  18. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #18
    milo, I may be quibbling, but it seems to me that the conflicts of interests over things like Iran are not quite the same as what I've always thought of as the Cold War. That is, first the taking control of the satellite nations around Russia, then the efforts to expand Communism, and then our efforts at containment.

    As far as conflicts between Russia and the West, you can go back to Kipling's "Kim" and his Great Game, insofar as Russia's interest in warm water ports and ready access to the world's oceans--and then the interest in oil fields...

    'Rat
     
  19. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

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    #19
    Fair enough. I guess my only real point is that I think Russia was defintely on the minds of the decision-makers in the US when they decided to drop the bomb. Or more generally, Russia figured into strategic considerations (as a non-ally) well before 1947.

    Ah. The Great Game. It just sounds so fun! Good thing we're playing it again.
     
  20. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #20
    Manhattan Project scientist Leo Szilard recalled Secretary of State James Byrnes’ thinking at the time. "Mr. Byrnes did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war," Szilard wrote. "He knew at that time, as the rest of the government knew, that Japan was essentially defeated and that we could win the war in another six months. At that time, Mr. Byrnes was much concerned about the spreading Russian influence in Europe. [His view was] that our possessing and demonstrating the bomb would make Russia more manageable in Europe."
     
  21. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #21
    Well THAT'S a convienent way of winning an argument. In that case how dare you have an opinion on WWI, the Alamo, the Mexican-American war, how the West was Won, or indeed anything that happened prior to your lifetime if your opinion of anything you didn't live through means 'doodly-squat'?

    If you want to claim your views have special legitimacy because you were there, fine. I accept that. But to say I'm not allowed to have an opinion worth listening to because I wasn't there is ridiculous.
     
  22. mgargan1 macrumors 65816

    mgargan1

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    #22
    I, for one, am happy that the bomb ended the war. I am saddend that many people lost their lives, but we had to do whatever was necessary to end the war. We also did not want the Soviets to interviene... as this would have made Japan the same as Germany, and we all know how well that went.

    I do believe that the bomb was the right thing to do at the time. We knew that they wanted to end the war, but we refusing to do so at our terms. We told them that if they were to not give in, then we would annihilate them. The mentality of the Japanese at the time was not to give up, thus exploding a bomb over a city with a lesser population not as effective. The only way to get through to them was to prove to them that we would and are capible of hitting them where it hurt most.

    Plus we had already firebombed Tokyo, which did almost as much physical damage, just not nearly as much phychological damage.

    But those are just my beliefs.
     
  23. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #23
    If you read Peterkro's post above, you will see that this was not apparently the case.

    But are you willing to revise them if your premises are proven false?
     
  24. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #24
    as i've written twice on these forums, a high civilian population was not a factor in site selection. from here:
    additionally, as i learned at the peace museum in hiroshima, the number of allied POWs believed held at each considered site was a factor.
     
  25. xsedrinam thread starter macrumors 601

    xsedrinam

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    #25
    First time I recall reading the "you weren't there" argument. Perhaps some voices in here are attempting to speak for the 140,000 souls who "were there" one minute, and not there, the next. They must have said something worth hearing prior to their last gasp of air. The self-congratulatory "we saved lives in the long run" rather wanes in the wake of such a smug mentality. Or are we now condoning the trumpeting of triumphalism along with annihilation without representation?
    X
     

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