How could US drop the a-bomb on Civilians?

Discussion in 'History' started by aaqucnaona, Jan 18, 2012.


Was Us justified in dropping the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

    truman didn't have hind sight. you do. so don't pretend you and truman's choices are the same. he had to deal with the fog of war you don't.
    well not for the unstated goal of vbacking down the soviets no. but for inducing the japanese to surrender sure we did.
    no our investment and friendship post war did. all our bombs did was burn people to ash.
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    So? If it didn't work, nothing was lost, and the Japanese given due warning. If it did, the war ends in May or June, not August, and without horrible mass burning of children by surprise.

    Distrust is dealt with by transparency. Invite the Japanese to send a couple of interns to Los Alamos, see what's going on.

    Besides: The equations cannot be faked, neither can a working basic design, neither can a demonstration explosion either witnessed by Japanese envoys at Los Alamos or set off at a place of Japanese choice, and so forth. Accusations of fakery are what negotiation deals with - negotiations easily arranged, as the Japanese envoys were readily available and had been trying to set them up for months.

    btw: The Japanese physicists were very good, and knew the American physicists involved - they would have known immediately what had been accomplished.

    The US had dozens of ways to deliver the information that the US could now build working atomic bombs. The one chosen had two odd features: 1) it required a delay of several months (for the Nagasaki design to be vetted) and the avoidance of any realistic opportunity for the Japanese to surrender during that time 2) for some reason it featured the detonation of this weapon in the middle of two civilian populations - one for each of the early designs - in quick succession.

    Every other means of informing the Japanese carried the possibility of an earlier surrender, without the opportunity of actually killing tens of thousands of children and other non-combatants and obliterating major cities. That appears to have been their major flaw.
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  5. TBodillia Registered Senior Member

    Funny little thread.

    Iwo Jim is an island 8mi² in area. The Battle of Iwo Jima lasted a bit over a month. Only 216 Japanese soldiers surrendered and most of those did so because they were unconscious/disabled and unable to fight to the death to avoid surrender. 18,844 Japanese soldiers died, about 3,00 went into hiding and tried to fight on. 6,821 Americans were killed, 19,217 wounded. That means 3208.125 people died for every square mile of that island.

    Okinawa was an almost 3 month battle: 82 days. Okinawa is 1201.03mi². Many, many civilians died on Okinawa and I don't hear anybody crying. Many died because there were forced to fight for the Japanese Army. These Okinawans also surrendered more readily than the Japanese. Japanese did their fair share of killing civilians and encouraged them to commit suicide instead of being captured by Americans. The official Army tally is 142,058 civilians, 12,500 Americans, & 110,071 Japanese. The Peace Monument on Okinawa has 240,931 names on it. That's 200.6 killed per square mile, or 220.3 by the Army's tally.

    A little "fact" I ran across the other day and didn't believe until I checked it out: Basically every single Purple Heart medal given out since WWII was made for WWII. They envisioned over 1 million American casualties for a land invasion of Japan and ordered 500,000 Purple Hearts in preparation. Since there was no invasion, they had 500,000 medals in reserve and have been handing them out since. In 2010, they still had an estimated 120,000 left.

    Wars bring about changes in battlefield tactics. The US Civil War was fought with rifles and yet they still used battlefield techniques meant for smooth bore muskets. This brought high casualties. Trench warfare was the rage in WWI and nowhere to be seen since. There was no war like WWII before and there will never be another like it.

    In 1941, The US population was 133.4 million and there were 1.8 million serving in the Armed Forces (1.3%). 1944, 138.4 million US citizens, 11.6 million in the Armed Forces (8.4%). 1.3 million people serve today, 0.8 million are in the reserves and the US population is 318.9 million (0.4% without reserve, 0.6% with). Food was rationed to the civilian population as was gas and cars and appliances and other goods and services. Factories weren't churning out products for civilians. They were part of the war machine.

    The same went with Europe. If you wanted to stop the war machine, you had to target the factories spitting out weapons and unfortunately those factories were manned by civilians or slaves.

    The Axis and The Allies bombed civilian centers. It wasn't just Americans. Remember the attacks on London and the German V2s? You see the civilian areas bombed by the British?

    When the Americans bombed Tokyo From November 1944 to August 1945 (most was in March 1945), around 100,000 Japanese (mostly civilians) lost their lives and Japan didn't move toward surrender. 10,000 were killed in the bombing of Osaka that lasted from March to August 1945 and Japan didn't move to surrender.

    Leaflets were dropped on Japan warning the civilians to to evacuate the cities listed on back because there was a massive bombing raid coming. After the atomic bombs were dropped, leaflets were dropped to let the Japanese know a new, highly destructive, bomb was used. An atomic bomb was used on the 6th. The Soviet Union declared war on the 8th. Another atomic bomb on the 9th. The Emperor wanted to surrender immediately afterwards, but he had a fight on his hands. There was even a coup where the military tried to take over to stop the surrender. The coup was stopped and the Emperor was able to broadcast his surrender on the 15th.

    If you don't think the atomic bombs were needed, you are severely mistaken.
    joepistole likes this.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The mass bombing of civilian population centers, as in Dresden and Tokyo, or even London and the like, seems to have had little effect on the war efforts. The Dresden war supply seems to have increased after the mass slaughter - analysts speculate that the citizenry had nothing else to do except work and nowhere to sleep and eat except the factories - no housework where there's no house, eh? This was understood by British analysts (at least) long before VE Day.

    And the matter is irrelevant. Hiroshima was not intended to disrupt war production, but to end the war in a particular way.
    So? More irrelevance.
    Four points:

    1) The Japanese made their first move to negotiate surrender after the Battle of Midway, which was when their generals and strategists saw for sure that Japan could not win the war. There were Japanese envoys in more or less continual attempts to negotiate an end to the war throughout the second half of the American advance - the US insisted on hanging the Emperor and similar deal breaking terms, and as soon as the Los Alamos designers relayed their success (May of 1945, more than two years after the initial Japanese offers, still three months of war to go) the US refused to meet at all, cutting off all diplomatic communication while the Nagasaki implosion bomb design was being tweaked and tested (the Hiroshima gun bomb was already available, and so simple no testing was necessary, but the US wanted to test the more sophisticated design as well - and suspected the time available after the first one would be short, as it was).

    2) The fact that the fire bombings of Tokyo and Osakis did not motivate immediate and unconditional surrender is evidence that there was probably no gain in dropping the Bomb on civilians - clearly it was the news of the Bomb, not the slaughter of which there was plenty already, that brought surrender. That news could have been delivered months earlier, without incinerating a single child.

    3) Much of the fire bombing of Tokyo and Osakis and other places was done after the US knew the atomic bomb was coming on line shortly - and the war was about to be ended. Keeping the atomic bomb a secret, maintaining the normal appearance of a bloody and protracted conventional war, seems to have killed many tens of thousands of people outside of the direct Bomb totals.

    4) The Japanese received no warnings about the Bomb. Leaflets about bombing raids were routine and prepared for, threats of mayhem and admonitions to surrender were routine in all theaters of the War - nothing like that counts as warning about the Bomb. The Bomb was unique and kept secret deliberately, so that it could be dropped by surprise on cities full of children completely unprepared.
    Nothing you posted had any bearing on a justification of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or even demonstrates a benefit let alone a "need" - yet you seem to have thought it was all relevant somehow. Could you explain how?
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Forgive me if this point has already been made in such a long thread.

    It was taken as certain that the USA would have defeated Japan, no matter how the war was fought. But since Japanese tradition regarded surrender as a dishonorable act, we would have had to actually invade the country and conquer it, island by island and prefect by prefect. It was calculated that the casualty toll of the American forces would exceed 100,000, and of course the Japanese losses would be in the tens of millions, since it was no stretch to assert that even the civilians would take up arms and fight until the last six-year-old girl was gunned down while charging a battalion of Marines with her dead daddy's samurai sword.

    I've never read anything by a Japanese writer who disagreed with that scenario! It would have, literally, wiped the Japanese people and their culture off the face of the earth.

    By using nuclear weapons, we showed the Japanese that we had absolutely no sense of honor--their code insisted that you were supposed to look your enemy in the eye before you killed him. Yes, they violated this code too, but shooting soldiers from the sky is quite different from incinerating an entire town. (And we made sure nobody knew that we didn't have an entire arsenal of nuclear bombs, so we'd simply nuke the entire country.)

    The Americans decided that it would be better to go down in history as the country with no honor, rather than obliterating an entire people... not to mention taking a hundred thousand casualties of our own.
    madanthonywayne likes this.
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Bollocks. Transparent and self serving nonsense, hoping nobody will notice that the central moral and ethical issue is completely and cravenly avoided in a driveling of irrelevancy.

    Once the Bomb was invented, invasion was not an option. The US was not choosing between incinerating Hiroshima and full scale invasion, because there was no way the US was going to invade Japan with an atomic bomb in their arsenal. That was not the choice. Invasion was not on the table. Invasion was an irrelevancy as of May, 1945 if not much earlier.

    And the ubiquity of that silly and absurd excuse is imho a symptom of serious psychological trouble. It makes so little sense that there is a real question as to how it persuades so easily, and no comfortable answers for an American.

    The central question avoided is this: why did the US keep the Bomb a secret until after the Nagasaki design had been vetted and readied to drop on a populated city?
  10. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    You keep ignoring unpleasant facts. All of this has been endlessly discussed. Your questions have been answered over and over again. The answers will not change no matter how many times you pretend they haven't been answered.

    In the magical world you inhabit, along with our right wing kin, you think Japan would have magically abandoned more than a thousand years of culture and surrendered. You ignore the fact that in Pacific fighting only 2% surrendered and 25% of civilians died in the fighting. You ignore Japan was arming and training civilians to fight the impending US invasion. One has to ignore too much to take your seriously.
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Well, they did - remember?

    They surrendered within ten days of finding out the US had developed an atomic bomb. And that was expected - the Nagasaki bomb was rushed, if you recall, at some risk and on an inferior target, for no apparent reason except to be sure of beating the surrender to the punch.

    But that's hindsight, and however expected and anticipated by the players it was of course not completely certain. All they knew for sure was that there was a possibility Japan would surrender as soon as they found out about the Bomb, on even better terms than had already been offered by the Japanese envoys - and that throws a cold light on US behavior in those secret months after the Bomb and before Hiroshima, doesn't it.
  12. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Many senior figures in the US military at the time, not all speaking with hindsight, thought it a bad idea (or at least that there were better ways) and considered Japan ready for surrender.

    Admiral William Leahy (highest ranking member of the US Military at the time), General (later president) Dwight Eisenhower, General Douglas MacArthur, Assistant Secretary of War John McLoy, Under Secretary of the Navy Ralph Bird, to name just a few.

    Personally, if you have such a destructive weapon which you really shouldn't want to use, I'd have warned the Japanese of its capability and willingness to use it, and then demonstrated it on an unpopulated island for them to witness - or at least on military targets. Not cities with no/little inherent military value.
    This was the view held by Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy Lewis Strauss in a proposal to the Secretary of the navy James Forrestal at the time, a view certainly shared by others.

    So I think there was some justification for using them at the time, but not compelling enough that I would have done what ultimately transpired. And I think, with hindsight, it remains a very difficult case to argue that to drop them on civilian targets was the right thing to do.
  13. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, they surrendered after two nuclear bombs had been detonated, two days of debating resulting in a deadlock, misinformation delivered by a tortured American pilot, and a coup after the emperor had decided to surrender.

    And your assertion has been Japan would have surrendered if we just told them we had a nuclear bomb a few months earlier. Based on the evidence, you clearly have some magical thinking going on between your ears.

    And you think that makes sense? History clearly demonstrated surrender wasn't a word in the Japanese dictionary. Pacific fighting clearly demonstrated Japanese tenacity where 98% of its troops fought to the death and took many civilians with them. And as previously pointed out, Japan was arming civilians in preparation for a land invasion.
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Exactly. As soon as they found out the US had such a weapon, they unilaterally dropped a couple of the remaining conditions they had offered for negotiation and surrendered almost unconditionally.
    No. Such claims will never become true by you repeating them.

    My observation was that the US knew full well that as soon as the Japanese found out about the Bomb there was a very good chance they would surrender quickly. (The US strategy for dropping them was based on that - we were careful to not kill their top generals and government officials, say, or otherwise hinder their defensive preparations in any way that would interfere with their expected surrender.)

    And that the US prevented any chance of that happening too soon, by keeping the Bomb a secret.

    After all, the Japanese had been trying to negotiate a surrender of some kind for more than two years - on terms not that different from what the US wanted and accdepted (for example: we didn't depose the Emperor, and try him for war crimes - we instead used him to help ensure stability and orderly aftermath. That was one of the conditions we had been rejecting for the past couple of years, in the Japanese offers of surrender terms).
    I and everyone else who isn't throwing chaff about "invasion", yes.
  15. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    How do they find out about the bomb without demonstrating it? And what if we invited them to the demonstration and it didn't work, which was a real possibility?
  16. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    You should take your own advice. I merely restated the position you have taken repeatedly and which you are now taking contradictory positions as you are want to do.

    As repeatedly pointed out to you, Japan didn’t immediately surrender after the detonation of two nuclear bombs. You like to smooth over and omit unpleasant details that don’t conform to your beliefs.
    Yeah, just keep your eyes closed and ears plugged lest you should see or hear the unpleasant truths that have been repeatedly given to you. You live in a nether world. The facts are Japan didn’t surrender “immediately” after 2 nuclear bombs had been detonated on their soil. The emperor’s ministers met for two days and were equally divided on the surrender issue. It took a lie from a tortured American pilot to convince the emperor to surrender. And the emperor’s decision to surrender was immediately followed by a military coup to prevent the surrender.

    And yet you maintain that if the US had just told Japan the US had a nuclear device, Japan would have surrendered. Seriously, are you daft? History has proven you wrong. It’s just as simple as that.
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Well, let's suppose the Japanese command are all ignoramuses, and their physicists have all committed suicide or something, and nobody in the Japanese Command or any of the envoys that have been trying to get Truman's ear for months can read or write or watch a movie or ask questions under a negotiation flag.

    So demo it. Nothing's stopping a demo. The Japanese can't stop anything - have them pick a site and film for themselves. That would be one way.

    Invite the envoys - the ones trying to negotiate surrender for months now - to Los Alamos, give them a tour, meet the folks, maybe watch Trinity if things stretch out that long. Put one of them on the plane that drops the demo.

    There were literally dozens of ways to inform the Japanese high command about the Bomb, only one of which involved certainly prolonging the war for months of firebombings and casualties, and then incinerating two cities worth of schoolchildren for demo purposes.

    Failure was so unlikely, for the gun bomb design that was ready in May, that it wasn't even tested. But suppose it did fail, and the Japanese refused to surrender because of that, and we didn't feel like putting any more effort into convincing them just to avoid slaughtering their children - then we just bomb a couple cities, as planned.
    No, you didn't. And you aren't illiterate - you can read what I post, and my repeated corrections of your "restate".

    How about you cease "restating", and quote instead - see how that fits into the little fantasy trip you've got going.

    They had decided to surrender unconditionally about a week after Hiroshima - dropped the 6th, US date, first solid info as to what had happened delivered the 8th; immediate endeavors to gather all officials and military honchos; all collected and consulted and opposition generals overruled and decision to drop the remaining negotiation positions and surrender unconditionally made by the 14th. That was with no warning, under wartime conditions of sporadic and difficult communication, and almost no information from the US.

    They couldn't have done that much faster. The US barely had time to bomb Nagasaki - fortunately the US command knew they probably wouldn't have much time after Hiroshima, so they were ready and could rush things a bit.
  18. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    No, let’s not assume anything. You already do too much assuming.
    They already had two demonstrations on Japanese soil. The first demonstration didn’t work and the second demonstration nearly failed as well.
    Except, Japan had not tried to negotiate surrender and the Japanese had a nuclear bomb program of their own. Why would we want to disclose top secret weapons information to our enemy? And what makes you think a demonstration to a select few would have been more influential than two bombs dropped on Japanese soil with the thousands of witnesses and the threat of a 100 more would be more influential?
    Why would we disclose top secret weapons information to our enemy who had its own nuclear bomb project? And you keep forgetting Japan was warned, and even after two bombs detonating on Japanese soil, it wasn’t enough to convince the emperor’s ministers to surrender.
    How do you know failure was unlikely? You don’t. The best scientific minds of the time didn’t know if the test would be successful. If the test had failed, it would have been much more difficult to convince Japan to surrender. And as repeatedly pointed out to you, two detonations on Japanese soil didn’t convince Japanese ministers to surrender. Yet you think a small delegation sent to witness a nuclear detonation on US soil would somehow be more convincing – seriously?
    Yes I can read what you post and sometimes you contradict yourself. Sometimes you argue with your own posts.
    I’m not the one who has to rely on suppositions and fallacious argument to justify my conclusions.
    Yeah they could have surrendered much faster. Wartime communications were not a problem either. There is this thing called radio. And through Radio Japan was in constant contact with its forces in distant occupied countries like China and around the globe right up until the day they surrendered. Japan could communicate with its forces thousands of miles away across a sea in China and its envoys in Europe it could certainly communicate with a city on its own soil only a few hundred miles away. Japan isn’t that big, and Japan had a nuclear bomb program of its own. It wasn’t like Japan wasn’t familiar with nuclear bombs and what they were capable of. Japan was warned before the first bomb was dropped. It was warned again before and after the second nuclear bomb was detonated.

    Japan knew almost immediately it had been bombed with a nuclear device ad still it took more than a week to surrender. You keep overlooking the fact that even after two nuclear bombs had been detonated on Japanese soil and a Soviet declaration of war against Japan and invading Manchu and days of discussion, Emperor Hirohito ministers could not decide to surrender. It took the emperors intervention which resulted in a coup, to cause the Japanese state to surrender.

    You keep ignoring facts in favor of imagination.
  19. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Demonstrate it again.

    If they _never_ work - well, it would be a damn good thing we found out about it before we dropped an intact nuclear weapon into Japanese hands, eh?
  20. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Pretty sure it would blow up anyway, it's full of explosives. Why waste the bomb and not destroy a city too? We wanted to destroy Japanese cities.
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    When asked for the third time a question already answered quite easily by ordinary common sense in the first place, one must assume the many earlier answers non-operational for some reason, simply to respond.

    While I do understand that the apologists have a very limited repertoire of bogus claims and excuses available to them, I also feel a responsibility to make their case for them as strongly as possible simply to drive the stake in well.
    We - the poster responded to and me - were discussing informing the Japanese about the Bomb when first the US was assured of it - May, 1945. A demo gun bomb, Hiroshima design, could have been detonated almost anywhere at that time. Instead, the US chose to keep the Bomb a secret while it prepared and tested a different and more sophisticated design to go with the gun bomb. The possibility of Japanese surrender to the threat of the Bomb was thereby avoided.

    The desperation inherent in these ludicrous inventions, logical pretzels of avoidance, and bizarre denials of the circumstances surrounding Truman's decision is noteworthy. My claim is that such psychological defense mechanisms point to serious harm done by the moral and ethical bankruptcy of Hiroshima. It's been bad for morale, this festering atrocity. Refusing to face it weakens our character as a nation and as a people.

    For the record: 1) the Japanese had been sending envoys with terms, attempting to negotiate an end to what they and everyone knew was a lost war, since the Battle of Midway in 1942. It was the US, not the Japanese, who were refusing to negotiate in the months leading up to Hiroshima.

    2) Japanese soldiers, and the rest of the people of Japan, were not insane and blindly fanatical, they did not independently and on their own refuse to surrender and choose to fight to the death - they were instead intensely loyal and followed orders regardless of sacrifice or personal considerations. As soon as they were commanded to surrender, they did so, completely - despite widespread preparations for exactly that, there was no guerrilla resistance after VJ day, no splinter army in the mountains of one of the islands holding out until killed. The occupying Americans did not face, in Japan, the kind of fanatical resistance the Germans faced in France, or the Japanese faced in China, for example. And this cultural factor was well known to the American command - they designed the Bombing to leave the high command intact and persuade the Emperor to end the war, rather than attempting to kill the Japanese high command and Emperor as ordinary military considerations would have recommended.

    3) The Japanese had excellent physicists, fully capable of understanding what the development of the American Bomb meant for Japan, but none of the means necessary to even investigate, let alone develop and build and deliver, one of their own. The Americans knew this, of course - no one better.

    4) The Japanese were not warned about the Bomb. When Hiroshima vanished, the Japanese command had no idea what had happened - it took them two days to find out.

    5) The Japanese were not given full information about the US Bomb even after Hiroshima - they did not know, for example, how many the US had or could build in the near future. The generals who wanted to hold out thought the US had only one or two, and would take months to build more - that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were partly a bluff. That lack of information almost prevented quick surrender.

    6) The moral and ethical issues revolve around what was possible and what was known at the time. Speculations as to what the Japanese would or would not have done given this or that do not answer the moral and ethical questions surrounding the US behaviors.

    We wanted to incinerate Japanese children, burn them alive by the thousands - anything else would have been a waste of a Bomb. Got it.

    Let's carve that into the Hiroshima memorial, for future generations to ponder.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015
  22. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    The important thing is it all worked out for the best.
  23. wellwisher Banned Banned

    History needs to be understood in the context of the times, where one does not have 20/20 hindsight. Liberals tend to use revisionists history, which is like making play calls on Monday, about what should have been done on Sunday's game. On Sunday, the circumstances are in real time without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.

    The fact was the Japanese had killed millions of Chinese civilians and others as they expanded their territory. They had been pushed back to Japan and were now mounting a defense of their homeland, knowing the atrocities that had committed. The ends would have justified the means, if they had won and consolidated their empire. But if you lose, justice will be due with the means of atrocity, punished. Again this only applied to the people of that time. It does not extrapolate to present day Japanese people, since that would be irrational in terms of cause and effect in time and space. Just like nobody of today is responsible for slavery of the past since nobody was there in space and time. This would be irrational.

    The Japanese of that time expected justice and were offered unconditional surrender. They were not sure what would happen to the leaders. They refused and decided to they would dig in. They had proven themselves to be very capable in war and a homeland defense would mean fighting to the death. Any prolonged war within Japan would cause millions of casualties ; for the defense and the offense, both military and civilian. The question was how to minimize fatalities on both sides?

    The US had two revolutionary big bombs, so the approach taken was to sacrifice tens of thousands in a display of awe, to save millions in a prolonged war; lessor of two evil. Revisionists history would have preferred the allies had sacrifice millions. If this had been done, the arm chair quarterbacks would be complaining we didn't use the bomb to reduce that number.

    I think it was the correct decision, because millions of lives were saved and the allies felt more compassion after surrender allowing Japan to transcend to the future. If the allies had lost a lot of men, over a prolonged hard fought war, unconditional surrender would have been more harsh. But the awe and fear that the atomic bomb created (glimpse of the future of war) was the slap in the face to end all war and think in terms of peace. The bomb was never used again in war because it was scary for all sides.

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