June 24, 2006
What a great discussion (in the previous post). Provoking and informative and passionate, and it seems to represent a large spectrum of what's felt about this historic time and how it continues to impact us.
Here's a sampling of some of the comments...
Armyguy quoted a number of Western statesmen who were directly or indirectly involved with WWII. I think it doesn't hurt to pay attention to their assessment of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki:*
General Dwight David Eisenhower, Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces in Europe said,
Japan was at that very moment seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of 'face'... It wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing.
Admiral William D. Leahy, President Truman's Chief of Staff said,
The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons... In being the first to use it [the atomic bomb], we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages...
I was not taught to make war in this fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.
Leahy also wrote,
The dropping of the first atomic bomb was an act of pure terrorism. It fulfilled no military purpose of any kind.
Paul Nitze, Vice Chairman, U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey said,
Certainly prior to 31 December 1945... Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.
Field Marshal Montgomery, Commander of all UK Forces wrote,
It was unnecessary to drop the two atom bombs on Japan in August 1945, and I cannot think it was right to do so .... the dropping of the bombs was a major political blunder and is a prime example of the declining standards of the conduct of modern war.
UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill said,
It would be a mistake to suppose that the fate of Japan was settled by the atomic bomb. Her defeat was certain before the first bomb fell.
All of that was from one reader. Thanks armyguy!
Daisuke Colson, another reader, says,
My grandma lived in Hiroshima. She's dead now, but luckily she was able to raise her children before she passed due to some unknown condition linked to radiation poisoning. Lucky, because otherwise I'd not exist! Grandfather lived in Nagasaki. He was lucky to be out of town during the time. Other Grandfather was in the American armed forces. Grandma cheered him on.
War, although tragic, is neither evil nor heroic. It's just an effect of human nature. The Japanese do not brag about wartime heroics, it's not a topic that is mentioned. In the fog of war, there were choices made during that time, that we can look back on and say "ahh, that was a mistake", but over all.. It played out the way it did.
No one says the American's were wrong. Most Japanese are very thankful of the generosity with which the American's treated them. MacArthur was a good man. Many Japanese knew they were in over their head during the war, but at the end they were left little choice, as the homeland was at stake, and there was fear of being taken over by a country like Russia which was viewed as ruthless. Japan is still paying it's dues to the countries it has invaded.
War happens. Japan had bad timing. The Atom bomb is an amazing power. It's amazing that man could create something like this. It was excessive, but understandable. -shrug-
Many cowardly, brave, barbaric, ruthless, compassionate..etc deeds have been carried out either inside of us, or by our ancestors at some point in time. It would not be a well thought out opinion that indicates otherwise, I believe. Unless you're not a participant of humanity. If so, I'd like to meet you!
There was a short comment from reader "none" that got me thinking. He said (amoung other things) that the bombs "jump started the Cold War." Could it all really have just been for a show of power? With the U.S.S.R. looming in the distance, did we just wanted to flex our muscle to show them how powerful we were? Maybe it had nothing to do with Japan; like the bully, beating up the skinny kid with his big new stick when he's really just out to scare the other bully (who's on his way, around the corner). Ah! But he never realizes that the other bully will just bring a bigger stick to school the next day!
Ralph Bard, Under Secretary of the Navy at the time, seems to be one of many who gives creedance to none's comment. He said,
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.
Thanks to everyone for your comments! I appreciated all of them!
a. Tinian island, August 5th, 1945. The tail of the Enola Gay is being edged back into position over the pit in which rests the Little Boy bomb.
b. Little Boy, in the pit, waiting to be loaded into the bomb bay.
d. Hiroshima, from the Red Cross Hospital, about a mile from the center of the blast.
e. Photograph by U.S. Intelligence, to help analyze the destructiveness of atomic weapons.
* I check on a few of these quotes but not all of them.
June 24, 2006 | Permalink
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It is not, nor has it ever been really in my opinion, a question of if the Japanese were beaten, they were beaten. But, would their have been a surrender without a great deal more blood-letting across the full depth and width of Japan? Based on the Japanese cultural mindset of the time, the answer seems clearly, no. Additionally, would the surrender have been unconditional or simply an armistice agreement? Under such a condition, what vestige of Japanese society mindset would have continued to survive, providing for the bushido, samurai, mindset that lead to the oppression of millions by the Japanese and the roots of war in the first place?
The decision to the bomb, nor the act of dropping the bomb, is neither moral nor immoral in and of itself and certainly no more or less so then any other act in WWII, or any other war, where a death occurrs. How many must die at one instance before an act of war is unethical and immoral. It is not a question of numbers and there were no innocents. It is no more immoral to kill 100,000 civilians then it is to kill one at time those who would certainly, and had clearly demonstrated a willingness to do so, fight to the death were prepared to defend their homeland or take their own lives as occurred during the landings on Okinawa when civilians jumped to their deaths from cliffs. The dropping of the bomb removed any possiblity of them making a defense of the homeland.
Just as in the US the population was mobilized to support the allies’ war effort, Japanese society was equally mobilized to support the Japanese war effort. This was simply one act in long war, a war that needed to end. The bomb clearly removed any uncertainty and doubt about the outcome. It provided the Japanese the condition and undeniable reason to surrender unconditionally. It put the period at the end of a cruel, barbaric and bloody war. The sum total of actions of WWII, including the dropping of the bomb, established the sure foundation for the modern Japan that exists today, dedicated to peace.
The bottom line is, war is to be avoided. Both the innocent and the not innocent suffer. War is ugly, it is barbaric, and it must remain so. It was the known and demonstrated consequences of a nuclear exchange that prevented such an exchange from occuring during the cold war. It is the horrors of war that are the greatest arguments against war and those actions that occur during a war, and why war must be avoided. The lessons learned from the dropping of the atomic bomb in WWII have been so convincing, it has kept another from being dropped since that time.
Posted by: Bill | Jun 24, 2006 4:33:44 PM
Bill: well said.
I would like to amplify "The sum total of actions of WWII, including the dropping of the bomb, established the sure foundation for the modern Japan that exists today, dedicated to peace."
by adding _in the most kickass way possible_.
Posted by: Scott Elyard | Jun 25, 2006 12:16:15 AM
Nah, I don't agree!
Posted by: Mark | Jul 6, 2006 10:37:23 AM
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