Status anxiety

If the bombing of Hiroshima was a moral obscenity, blame Emperor Hirohito

As a realist, I don’t have the luxury of certainty – but I’d rather be on Harry Truman’s side

15 August 2015

9:00 AM

15 August 2015

9:00 AM

The 70th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has produced some predictable wailing and gnashing of teeth about the horrors of nuclear weapons. The Guardian called the dropping of the bombs ‘obscene’, citing the figure of 250,000 casualties, and CND organised a commemorative event where Jeremy Corbyn renewed his call for unilateral nuclear disarmament.

As a conservative and a realist, I don’t have the luxury of moral certainty. Was Harry Truman wrong to take the decision he did? On 16 August 1945, Winston Churchill defended him in a speech in the House of Commons, making what has since become the standard case. Yes, Japan would have been defeated eventually, but the bombings brought the second world war to an end without the need for a land invasion. In Churchill’s estimation, that would have led to the loss of a million American lives and 250,000 British, Canadian and Australian servicemen.

Critics of the bombings dispute those figures, pointing out that Truman received conflicting advice about the likely American casualties. But does the rightness or wrongness of the decision turn on whether it produced a net saving of lives? Even if the bombings indisputably produced a net loss, that wouldn’t necessarily make them wrong. Truman wouldn’t have been much of a president if he’d attached the same weight to Japanese lives as he had to those of his own people. His first priority was not to minimise the loss of human life per se, but to make sure America won the war, with as few American lives as possible being lost in the process.


OK, so that was his duty as president, but what about his moral duty as a human being? Even there, I think you have to take the historical context into account. Let’s not forget that Japan was the aggressor, not America. The Japanese Imperial Army forced America into the war by launching a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, killing 2,403 Americans and wounding a further 1,178. Before that, Japan had proved its bona fides as an expansionist imperial power, invading Manchuria, French Indochina and China. In the Rape of Nanking, Japanese troops murdered up to 300,000 civilians and enemy combatants.

The point here isn’t that Japanese soldiers and their political masters murdered more people than were killed in Hiroshima or Nagasaki — although they did — but that they brought their misfortune on themselves. The person who should be held chiefly responsible for the deaths caused by the atomic bombs isn’t President Truman, but Emperor Hirohito. If you declare war on another country and demonstrate over and over again that there’s no atrocity you won’t commit in order to win, you cannot blame your opponent for using every means at its disposal to defend itself.

As for the objection that the overwhelming majority of the casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were civilians, I’m not convinced. George MacDonald Fraser deals with this point in Quartered Safe Out Here, his superb second world war memoir in which he describes his experiences as a 19-year-old private in the Border Regiment fighting against the Imperial Japanese Army in Burma. Fraser recounts an argument he had with a man in a pub who denounced the bombings as an ‘obscenity’. The linchpin of his opponent’s case was that the victims were civilians.

‘I did not pursue the question of whether the lives of your own soldiers should be sacrificed for the safety of enemy civilians, because if you get into that particular moral jungle you’ll never come out,’ he writes. ‘But I did point out that we were, in fact, civilians, too — civilians in uniform, and could he understand our possible resentment that people whose lives and liberties we had been fighting to protect (him, in fact) should be ready to expend us for the sake of Japanese?’

None of which means I’m sure Truman was right. It’s one thing justifying the dropping of the first atomic bomb. But did America really have to drop a second three days later? Surely a single demonstration of its new weapon would have been enough to force Japan’s surrender? Here you get into the realm of historical counter–factuals, speculating about the impact of the bombs on halting Stalin’s advance into Eastern Europe — both bombs, since the second proved the accuracy of the first wasn’t a fluke.

It starts to get pretty murky at this point, but if I’m forced to pick a side I’ll stick with Harry Truman.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Toby Young is associate editor of The Spectator.

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Show comments
  • Bodkinn

    While agreeing with what is said above I question whether it
    was necessary to drop the bombs on such highly populated areas?

    • blandings

      A quote from a sailor aboard a Royal Navy cruiser involved in the battle of the North Cape has always stuck in my mind.
      Royal Navy ships were rescuing sailors from the sunken German battleship Scharnhorst, when they were told to leave the area immediately because of u-boat activity.
      They did, leaving many German sailors to drown.
      He said: “I couldn’t do that now, but we were harder then”

      What passes for common humanity in peacetime becomes a luxury in war. The lesson is: Don’t start wars unless you have to, and if you do start them make sure you win. War is not a silly frivolity to be played at by grinning idiots like Tony Blair.

      • freddiethegreat

        “We were harder then”. That says a lot.

        • blandings

          No times for that dude – maybe you’d have had a go

    • Gilbert White

      To save more lives in the long run!

      • mickey667

        It was to (rightly or wrongly) impose a statement of superiority over the Soviet Union.

        The world war was finished, and no-one was stupid enough not to have their eye on the new one.

        • freddiethegreat

          Hindsight is wonderful

    • Alexsandr

      My dad was RAF bomber command air crew. Having done his 30 ops in europe in 1944, aged 19, by 1945 he was awaiting orders to go the the far east to do another 30.
      Remember the japanese were not nice to prisoners of war.
      So I think the further 30 would not have been that survivable.
      So I think my family are glad of the A-bomb.
      I am sure lots of other people will feel the same.

      • mohdanga

        Yeah, why care about the lives of Allied servicemen, let’s get all weepy about the ‘victim’, at least according to the revisionists, which is Japan. These dolts will be making excuses for ISIS cutting off heads.

        • Alexsandr

          yes not much mention of japanese atrocities, their treatment of POW and kamikaze raids.

          • freddiethegreat

            When I see the Jap flag, I superimpose a railway over it – the Burma railway

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Racial slurs do so label you as “other ranks”.

          • Labour Mole Catcher

            Or are you a Japanese yourself?!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            I was beginning to think you’d taken my advice and topped yourself. You know you will sooner or later. Like when you finally realise that I’m not Japanese, and are overwhelmed by feelings of guilt, shame remorse, embarrassment … Face it, repeating the same stupid lie literally hundreds of times over a period of some 12 years… How could you live with yourself?
            Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

    • freddiethegreat

      see my comment above

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    When you think it through, it’s possible to claim that Japan won the War for UK. Hitler attacked Russia in June 1941, some six months before Pearl Harbor. If the Pearl Harbor had not have occurred, the US would never have entered the War, thus
    stalemate and a negotiated truce would have been the result. As Hitler remarked to Mussolini, “America is quietly and without much ado, skinning Britain alive, pawning her into penury”. At some point Britain would have realised that America was after her world position, and reacted.
    Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

    • Jack Rocks

      On the other hand, it’s not clear that Germany would definitely have beaten Russia as in 1941 she wasn’t really engaged anywhere else and still suffered a severe reverse. The high water mark for Germany (Stalingrad) was an entirely German/Russian affair too.

      In my view it’s just as likely that Britain would have survived to 1945 but the channel coast would have been patrolled not by Germans but Soviets.

      • Weaver

        Yes; the war in the east is hard to call in that circumstance. I’d call it 60-40 for the Soviets, but could have gone either way if Hitler had more of a free hand there.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Then again, if Germany factories hadn’t been so heavily bombed, they might have developed the A-bomb before the end of the war. Then it would have been “Game Over”.

        • Jack Rocks

          The Germans weren’t even close to developing an atomic bomb.

    • Marcus

      That is why Churchill cheered.

    • Labour Mole Catcher

      Why do you call yourself “a Japan Alps Brit” when you are clearly not a Brit yourself, eh, “Michael Shrimpton QC”?!

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Perhaps it’s because I’m British and live in the Japan Alps. How about you? Rochdale isn’t it? That up-north multicultural, sister $hagging $hithole; hardly surprising an ultra nationalist failed linguist like you has been driven clean out of his cotton-picking mind.
        Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

  • Gilbert White

    Why do people have difficulty understanding the soldiers were just extras shadow boxing? The real war was fought between ordinary people making munitions or growing rice in the factories or farms.This was the underlying point made with comedy in Dad’s Army and the Flanagan song. American soldiers and many others made the ultimate sacrifice and apart from the fanatical throwaway battles of the Japanese Russians and Germans the casualty lists were remarkably modest for such a wide ranging conflagration. This is the point the islamists are making when the ordinary people will pour out of the mosques armed with nothing but the Koran.

    • davidshort10

      Not sure I get your point.

    • mickey667

      “Why do people have difficulty understanding the soldiers were just extras shadow boxing?”

      Probably because they were shadow boxing with guns and bombs and limbs and heads flying all over the place

      • blandings

        I’ve already said: If you don’t like wars then don’t start them.
        The Japanese military launched the attack on Pearl Harbour – nobody else.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          Harbor

          • blandings

            It ain’t my fault they can’t spell

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            “they”?

          • blandings

            That’s right, “they”.
            You have to understand the rules Smiler.
            I’m right even when I’m wrong.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            So here’s your new user name: “Mr. I’m Never Wrong”.

          • blandings

            I prefer
            “Mr. I’m Never Wrong, Mostly”
            In deference to the Great Douglas Adams

  • davidshort10

    I remember my friend and colleague, the late Ronnie Payne, who was a Royal Marine intelligence officer in the Far East, telling me that his colonel asked him what he thought of this ‘atom bomb thing’ and Ronnie said it probably added 50 or 60 years to his – Ronnie’s – life expectation. He was right. An Allied invasion of Japan would have been successful but at an appalling cost. Let’s not forge that there has never been another aggressive explosion of a nuclear bomb for 70 years. The world learnt a lesson.

    • Alexsandr

      hope someone is telling some countries like Iran and Pakistan that.

      • Hamiltonian

        For India and Pakistan, the bomb ended their back and forth wars. I only hope Iran can be kept from getting it, somehow.

        • fundamentallyflawed

          The realist argument is that Iran having the bomb (which is surly their ultimate aim) will stabilize the region as it will balance Israels powe exactly in the way you say Pakistan and India have learned to co-exist

          • Hamiltonian

            The relationship between Israel and Iran is not the same as Pakistan and Israel, and there are more enemies of Iran who will now seek nuclear weapons of their own.

          • Jack Rocks

            When did Iran engage Israel? It didn’t participate in any of the 3 wars against Israel, only the Arab states did.

            The more interesting angle on this is Iran’s eastern border has a nuclear Pakistan. Iran and Pakistan vie for influence in Afghanistan (and elsewhere). Iran fought a horrific war against Iraq with millions dead and it has a NATO member (Turkey – which hosts US nuclear weapons, or if not deployed has the capability) to the north west.

            I’d be surprised if they didn’t want a nuclear weapon.

    • Omallet

      I have a similar story from in my 1st job a man nearing his retirement and someone who had served as a Royal Marine in Africa and Italy was on a ship heading to the far east when the bomb dropped and he expressed the same sentiment – that it saved the lives of him and many of his comrades, so he was glad that it ended before the war ended him. So not nice but war isn’t and given the Japanese appalling treatment of civilians and soldiers of all nationalities then I can’t help but think tough luck.

  • cedders

    My father in law fought the Japs in Burma. To his dieing day he wouldn’t have anything made by Japan in his house. He wouldn’t have shed a tear if the whole Japanese race would have been killed.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      So no chance of running into you in downtown Tokyo?

      • runningdog

        You’ll still find karaoke machines in Tokyo bars that have singalong Imperial Japanese Navy and Army marching songs . . . complete with accompanying video of dive bombing Zero fighter/bombers and kamikaze runs.

    • will91

      I think the residents of Nanking would share your fathers sentiments.

      • Weaver

        Absolutely. It’s hard to imagine how hated the Japanese are in China and Korea for what they did.

      • Thersites

        In the mid-1980s I visited Hiroshima with a group of young (early 20s) Hong Kong Chinese. They were shocked by the horrible injuries but the unanimous opinion was, “You baskets, you deserved it all for what you did in Hong Kong and China.”

        I also knew several ex-POWs. By mid-1945 most of them had been in captivity for more than three and a half years and they were dying at the rate of scores every day. They have no doubt that use of the bombs saved their lives. I agree, statesmen should regard the lives of their own servicemen as being more valuable than enemy lives.

  • Mary Billington

    Imagine making an almost unbelievably massive investment in developing a super weapon and then, just as you’ve got some that may work but you and haven’t even tested, your last remaining enemy is negotiating for peace.

    It’s a billion time worse than building a library for £180 million and then not having any books.

    • mohdanga

      Really? Where was the Japanese request that they were willing to surrender unconditionally?

      • Standish79

        Indeed. If it still cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt, even now with the benefit of decades of hindsight and historical research, that Japan was on the brink of issuing its surrender, then imagine how the fog of war would further have clouded such a message. No such request was made even in the three days following Hiroshima. How are we to conclude that Japan was about to surrender and that further attacks were therefore not necessary to bring an intransigent and fanatical enemy to heel?

        • mohdanga

          They made a very ambiguous statement on the radio after Hiroshima, the army still had about 3 million soldiers in Japan and civilians were being trained to resist the ‘invaders’ with whatever they could get their hands on. Yet dopes still say “they wanted to surrender”.

  • mickey667

    What a fucking tough guy Toby. Calculating death figures of 100s of thousands of civilians weighing them up and saying ‘yeahhhhhhh’ What a complete waste of my fucking time this was.

    Why was this written? Its utterly banal and pointless

    • Still, it was good of you to take the trouble to read it.

      • LastmaninEurope

        And comment.

  • swavesey sage

    March 9th 1945: Americans dropped 2000 tons mostly incendiaries on Tokyo. Result was a firestorm covering 16 square miles and killing an estimated 80,000 to 130,000 civilians. The shock of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the War.

  • RocketDodger

    I think people need to do a little bit of research regarding Operations DOWNFALL and OLYMPIC, the US Invasion Plans. In a nutshell, the US was prepared to drop 15,000 tons of chemical weapons on urbanised areas in Japan and use Biological weapons (Anthrax etc) against livestock and crops. They were also prepared to drop Atom Bombs in the areas of advance for US Troops to wipe out resistance and allow the Marines / Soldiers to advance unhindered. And, no, they did not at that time understand the implications of Radiation and Fallout so that would have gone (in the years to come) horrendously wrong for both sides.

    On the Japanese side, in short, they had Militarised and armed the whole nation, including women and children, all awaiting the Emperors Order to fight to the death.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the lesser of any number of evils.

    • Tom M

      “…..They were also prepared to drop Atom Bombs in the areas of advance for
      US Troops to wipe out resistance and allow the Marines / Soldiers to
      advance unhindered. And, no, they did not at that time understand the
      implications of Radiation and Fallout…..”
      Where were they going to get all these “atom bombs”. Bearing in mind that they struggled to get enough fissile material for the three they detonated?
      They understood very well the implications of fallout. As a matter of fact one of their concerns, before the German surrender, was the Germans possibly making a “dirty” bomb as a shortcut to a fission bomb with the very real fallout effect on the population it fell on.

  • Marcus

    1. Toby, there is good evidence the Emperor was trying to
    sue for peace prior to the dropping of the bomb. You have not done your
    research. Even a little.

    Also the emperor guarded against war with the USA, it realising it’s size and power.
    Look it up.

    2. The emperor was weak and it was the generals who controlled him.

    • tjamesjones

      wow there’s a point back there in the article and you have whizzed right past it, I guess while looking at yourself in the mirror….

      • Marcus

        No; I read it all.
        The most important question is: were the emperor’s attempts to sue for peace purposefully ignored by the allies?
        That’s the crux.
        Also, remember; more people killed in conventional bombing of Tokyo than in Hiroshima amd Nagasaki combined.

        • Tamerlane

          If the Generals ran the country then the Emperor was irrelevant anyhow.

        • Weaver

          The Emperor’s sotto voce attempts to obtain peace were;

          1) Weak beer: a long, long way short of unconditional surrendur

          2) Not passed on by the Soviets in any event

          There is nothing in the record to indicate that the American’s were aware of any Japanese peace offer, on any terms. Much less an offer of unconditional surrender

          • Angkor

            Actually the Americans were well aware of the Japanese proposals for peace offers. They were reading Japan’s diplomatic mail, having broken its codes. The terms the Japanese were proposing fell well short of unconditional surrender and in any event represented the views of one faction of the Japanese government and not an official position of that government so the Amercians rightly concluded that there was nothing to talk to them about.

    • johnhenry

      I think TY only means that the Emperor was responsible in his official capacity, not as a person who, as you say, seems to have had doubts about the war and who was largely under the thumb of the war faction.

      • Weaver

        I think it would be fair to say, like the German people, Hirohito was perfectly happy with things whilst they were winning….

    • Ivan Ewan

      As Tamerlane pointed out:

      if (2 == TRUE) { 1 = NULL; }

    • carl jacobs

      You can’t have it both ways. If the Emperor was weak, then he couldn’t have sued for peace. The Army was unalterably committed to a face-saving fight to an honorable death. If the generals were in control, the Emperor couldn’t have compelled the Army to stop in August 1945. So was he weak or in control?

      There is a shrine in Japan for the war criminals executed after the war. The Japanese consider that these men took a bullet for the Emperor.

      Also, there were some people in the Japanese gov’t who were exploring avenues to end the war. But that group was seeking conditional peace, and was doing so in secret for fear of assassination by the Army. In 1945, the Army was the only power remaining in Japan. Remember that the gov’t had no authority over the Army. The Army answered directly to the Emperor.

    • Weaver

      Hirohito was not the gentle gardener his post-war image made him out to be. He was entirely happy with the war party and policy all the way through the 1930’s, and the invasion of china. If he had qualms about war with the US, they were softly voiced.

      Your point is half-right, in that he was a lot less militaristic than some of his cabinet. But that’s not saying much.

      • Observer1951

        You object to my comments on lack of evidential objectivity and yet here your whole response is based on subjectivity and self opinionation with no basis on hard evidence. Truly historians are fools.

        • Weaver

          Cute ad hominem. But terrible shot. I’m a system’s engineer not a historian. Some of us have more than 1 degree, you know.

          Anyway, oh look; secondary sources and evidence!

          http://chinajapan.org/articles/04.1/04.1wakabayashi4-27.pdf

          This must be a terribly confusing and frightening experience for you.

    • Omallet

      Yep like all bullies and thieves when they start to lose it’s I was only joking or hang on let’s be mates or I was going to give that back – always suing for peace and love when they are getting the sh.. kicked out of them.

  • trace9

    How to lose enemies by evaporating people. Good-oh!

  • AndrewMelville

    I don’t understand why some people value civilian lives over the lives of soldiers. Dropping the bomb was a good decision which saved lots of allied soldiers lives – end of story.

    If you want to consider a real obscenity, one which will soon be turned against us, consider the disgusting practice of long range drone killing, with its usual bleating about unavoidable “collateral” damage.

    • Drones have an accuracy of a few feet. In WW2 dropping hundreds of tonnes of bombs within a mile or three of the intended target was considered a job well done. Yes – both may result in the death of innocent bystanders, but the numbers killed this way in modern times are vastly fewer. Imagine if we could have flown a missile through the door of Hitler’s bunker, or hit command and control centres as we can do now. Millions of Germans need not have been blasted and burned as they were by flattening whole cities.

      • Weaver

        Broadly true. Drone attacks with precision munitions are a very low collateral way of killing. Certainly much better than 1:1 ratio.

        We could do the job with PWIVs from fast jets too, but we’d kill perhaps twice as many civilians.

      • AndrewMelville

        … Except we haven’t declared war on anyone. We’re just choosing to kill people we don’t like – too bad if dozens around them due too. It is a morally bankrupt weapon – as we will protest futilely when it is turned against us. Check out the security state we will all enjoy then!

        Still that’s a small price to pay for killing some ugly Muslim thugs, goats and children today.

  • freddiethegreat

    I accept the use of the first bomb (is there really
    a difference in area bombing with thousands of bombs or just one?). From my
    (limited) reading, I think Japan WAS on the point of collapse anyway. I read a book by a Kamikaze
    pilot (who wasn’t sent, in the event) about how everyone was on the verge of
    starvation. So, maybe neither the bomb nor the invasion might have been necessary,
    but this is with hindsight. Again with hindsight, would not a demonstration in
    a less populated area have sufficed – say Tokyo Bay?

    • Weaver

      I think its worth reading the Japanese cabinet minutes and their planning for the defence of the home islands. They were prepared for close blockade.

      Starvation over the winter ’45-’46 would indeed have killed a few million, but there was enough rice to feed the army and continue fighting. The Japanese leadership accepted that.

  • Maybe the Guardian and CND would rather we had been obliged to sacrifice half a million of our own in trying to fight our way through the streets of every Japanese city. As it was, the war ended within days. We know how it was on those islands we had to fight them over – scorched earth and massive casualties on both sides, almost total slaughter on their side where even civilians jumped from cliffs rather than surrender. The Guardian can be relied on to always be on the wrong side on any issue. If ‘they’ think something, the rest of us probably should run a mile from adopting it. It interests me that even now Japanese leaders refuse to acknowledge what they did. Take the so called ‘Comfort Women’ for example. They were willing participants, not Korean sex-slaves, we are told by senior Japanese politicians.

    • CouchSlob

      The Guardian can be relied on to always be on the wrong side on any
      issue. If ‘they’ think something, the rest of us probably should run a mile from adopting it.

      What a narrow-minded and stupid thing to write.

      • Paul Robson

        But astonishingly accurate.

      • Dicky14

        They supported Nick Clegg in 2010 and have just plumped for Yvette Cooper. Yes, Arthur may have employed hyperbole but not without substance.

      • Jack Rocks

        He’s spot on.

      • Yavver

        Often a good rule of thumb.

      • runningdog

        He’s right though. Whatever line the Grauniad drips, the opposite is invariably true.

  • They DESERVED it. Anyone who doesn’t think so has not had the good fortune to speak with men and women captured by the Japanese and dragged off into slavery to be starved and beaten and to see their fellows casually beheaded by psychopaths with swords. I knew a man of six foot two who returned to these shores weighing six stone ten. He in 1995 would still not get into a Japanese car or have any product in his house made by the people who tortured him for years, almost unto death.

  • Tamerlane

    Those who fought the Japs know full well there was no option. The alternative was another five years slog through Japan fighting an enemy that fought to the death, without compromise and without surrender. Japan would have been annihilated in totality, millions of Japanese would have died, hundreds of thousands of allied troops as well.
    The Guardian is right, dropping the bomb was ‘obscene’ but it was an obscenity as nothing compared to the incalculable horror that a full invasion of Japan would have necessitated. Truman’s moral courage was a thousand times anything the Guardian could muster.
    Ludicrous popinjays from the left have the luxury of moral grandstanding from the comfort of their Islington homes 70 years later, it’s what so many died for. Celebrate their naivety, vanity and stupidity and move on.

    • Roger Hudson

      As the Japanese islands could never feed it’s population a blockade would have starved them to the surrender like we did to Germany and Austria in1918/19.
      111.11.18 was the ceasefire, Paris was the surrender.

      • Weaver

        Well, perhaps ultimately. How many million Japanese would starve to death first? It’s not a cheap route.It could conceivably have got into 8-figure death tolls.

        The Japanese government was certainly prepared to accept starvation of very large numbers of civilians to keep the army fed, and had laid their plans accordingly.

      • Ambientereal

        Has anyone thought that for Truman, the Japanese lives where more valuable than for Hirohito? That he devoted much more thoughts in the bomb dropping than the Japanese in starting the war and massacring their own civil and military population?

      • runningdog

        Yeah right. The bloody flux is a much more humane tool of war, not! Besides, where in the Geneva Conventions is the slow starvation of civilian populations posted as an acceptable military tactic?

  • Observer1951

    There were three reasons why the bombs were dropped. First to send a clear signal to the Japanese hierarchy that without immediate surrender annihilation was guaranteed. Second was a message to Russia which was threatening invasion of Japan, see what we have and can do. Third, a few people seem to mention this, the American military wanted to see the effect of an atomic weapon on a city.

    • Weaver

      >>the American military wanted to see the effect of an atomic weapon on a city.

      It’s not mentioned because there is no documented evidence for it.

      You probably think you heard it mentionned somewhere. But I bet you can’t find a source.

      • Observer1951

        I never said there was a documented source. Human nature, the Manhatten project cost hundreds of millions of dollars and it was a unique weapon of war. Of course the military wanted to see the effect of such a weapon. Do you really think all historicity is true if only based on documentation?

        • Weaver

          Yes, I do. Because, you know, some of us require physical evidence or testimony. It’s a historian thing, you probably wouldn’t understand.

          The name for stuff that you personally think happened without any supporting evidence is called “fiction”.

          • Observer1951

            So any event in history, if not supported by documentation, is to be discarded? Interesting how you preach the necessity of hard evidence but cannot resist the ad hominem attack. Still think you are such a objective observer.
            Sent from my iPad

          • Weaver

            Documentaion or physical evidence. Sworn testimony is also fine. Anything you can point to apart from that thing in your head called “imagination”.

          • Observer1951

            Should have said that I am a scientist and the necessatity of evidence is central to the scientific method. Don’t fool yourself that history equates to the scientific method. Do you deny that Hitler ordered the genocide of the Jews? Show me the evidence, where is the written evidence?

          • flydlbee

            Where is the written evidence? Thousands of eyewitness statements.

            Where is the evidence to support your contention? There isn’t any. It’s just another CND myth.

          • Weaver

            Godwin’s Law and I win £5.

            I said physical evidence, not written evidence. Its a superset of the latter, Mr Scientist.

    • Tom M

      I’ve just found your comment.
      The first point I would agree with, it’s no surprise and has always been self evident having been the stated reason at the time. What’s new?
      The second point, No need to send Russia a message telling them “what we have and can do”. They knew already and were busy making their own nuclear devices thanks to their efficient spy network (Fuchs, Nunn-May etc etc). And the Americans knew their nuclear bomb programme had been compromised by Russian spies so that reasoning doesn’t work either.
      Third point, well you couldn’t say no-one in the military wanted to see the effect on a city. I’m sure they existed. But that is different from a military policy is it not? And as someone below said that would be a matter of record.

  • Icebow

    ‘The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage’ (Hirohito). Understatement of the century? Cf. ‘Houston, we’ve got a problem’.

  • ardenjm

    I’ve always wondered why the first bomb wasn’t dropped on an uninhabited part of Japan to demonstrate the firepower….

    That the Japanese were absolutely committed to fighting to the last man is undoubted. There have been enough stories of ordinary Japanese soldiers being discovered in the jungle decades after the war still with the mindset of men in action.

    All the same, even if that first bomb hadn’t convinced, a second on a military/industrial target would have shown Allied seriousness to make use of the weapon.

    That the Japanese capitulation still took a week after Nagasaki is, nevertheless, revealing. A week is a long time. I wonder if the documents and discussions of that week have been kept and are open to the scrutiny of historians…

    On the other hand, there is no way that Nuclear weapons can ever fulfil the criteria of ‘proportionate means’ that has been part of Just War Theory for 1500 years. But then neither d0 fire bombing, carpet bombing, chemical weapons and the like….

    • alleagra

      I guess once the Japanese had seen internet and TV coverage of the effect of the bomb on the uninhabited locale they would have capitulated pronto. As it is . . .

    • carl jacobs

      I’ve always wondered why the first bomb wasn’t dropped on an uninhabited part of Japan to demonstrate the firepower

      It would have vitiated the shock of the impact. The effect of the bomb was delivered through its effect on people and infrastructure – not trees and terrain. As it stood, it took the destruction of two cities to get the Japanese to surrender.

    • Weaver

      The post-bomb the Japanese cabinet discussions are now mostly a matter of record. It took a 2nd bomb to convince the majority to surrendur. Even then, there was a sizable faction willing to fight to the death.

  • Eowyn

    There’s no justification to drop a nuclear bomb ever. Not even in the sea to ‘test them out’.

    • Uusikaupunki

      I think the reasons for using the atomic weapons on Japan were much more complex than winning the war against Japan per se.
      It has been reasoned that owning a devastating weapon (and being prepared to use it) would signal to the Soviets that expansion would not be tolerated.
      Two were used to a) show that the US had plenty (bluff).
      b) to test both types (uranium + plutonium).
      To test the destructive power on previously undamaged cities.

      Remember that the USSR, having declared war a few days previously, were making claims upon the Kurile islands and the northern island of Japan proper….

      • Éowyn

        So it was a strong of strength from the USA?

        The target of Japan as they saw it as a target they could justify because of Japans affiliations with fascists?

        • Uusikaupunki

          I don’t think they saw it in terms of trying to “justify” it…. they wanted to send a strong message to the USSR as well as to Japan. The worry the US had was that a very powerful Russia was looking at territorial gains in Asia and Europe….or so they thought. This was a warning shot.

          • Éowyn

            I think it’s fair to say that Japan could have been seen as an easy target though as they weren’t a popular nation at the time, no?

          • Uusikaupunki

            If you mean they weren’t a “popular nation” in the sense that most of the civilised world were fighting them,then yes, you are right. In fact that might be an understatement…go and read some history FFS. Or go back to school….

      • Angkor

        When you apply reasoning to a matter it is generally useful to have facts to support your reasoning. You have dispensed with facts completely and fabricated a few of your own.
        1. The Soviets entered the war against Japan, as sought by the Allies at war with Japan at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, and Truman sought confirmation that the Soviets would honour that undertaking at the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, immediately before the atomic bombings
        2. The Yalta Conference agreement specifically mentioned that the Soviets would take the Kurile Islands from Japan. The Americans provided the Soviets with the ships to do so as Lend Lease under Project Hula.
        3. The Americans did not provide the Soviets with anywhere near enough ships for them to be able to invade the northern island of Japan, Hokkaido, and the Soviets had no other source of ships to do so.
        4. The Soviet declaration of war on Japan on the evening of 8 August 1945, and its attack on the Japanese in Manchuria on 9 August occurred after the decision to bomb Nagasaki was made.
        5. Two bombs were used because the Americans concluded that one alone had not been enough, evidenced by the fact that the Japanese showed no sign of surrendering after the dropping of the first one.
        6. There is no evidence that the primary purpose of the Americans in dropping the bombs was other than what they said it was; to force Japan into surrender. There is no evidence that their purpose was to conduct some grand experiment on the effects of either a uranium bomb or a plutonium bomb on a Japanese city. Their explosion of the first atomic bomb on 16 July 1945 and their knowledge of the blast and fire effects of their bombing of over 60 other Japanese cities prior to the atomic bombings would have given them all the information they would have needed about what would happen with the dropping of the atomic bombs. The
        contrary argument would, by the same reasoning, be that the real reason for the firebombing of those sixty plus other Japanese cities was to test the destructive power of fire bombing on those cities and not to force Japan to surrender.

    • carl jacobs

      So I guess you weren’t a Marine on Okinawa trying to breach the Shuri Line. Neither were you one of the Chinese who survived the war because the war in China stopped with the bombings. Or an Allied POW who lived past Nov 1945 because the Emperor compelled the Army to stop. And I suppose you would justify inaction because there is a moral difference between doing something and permitting something to happen. What does it matter how many die just so long as you have no blood on your hands.

      Better the death of 5 million Japanese than the death of 500,000 allied POWs. If you want to measure it as a straight cost-benefit analysis.

    • Weaver

      You’d prefer to storm the Kanto plain, then? Your choice. Just sayin’.

      Btw, can one drop an equivalent tonnage of conventional bombs without being evil? Where is the evil in the A-Bomb located exactly? Behind the shell or in the pit itself?

  • new_number_2

    I suppose someone who tries to influence the result of a leadership election of another political party would have no qualms about the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of people.

    • Éowyn

      Hi. Toby’s childish prank really is having unfair repercussions.

      • new_number_2

        I’m sure he’d like to believe he was that influential.

        • Éowyn

          Could the Tory lites potentially use that as a excuse to get the contest classed as null and void?

          • new_number_2

            There are suggestions that they might challenge the result in court should Corbyn win, under the excuse of ‘entryism’.

  • cartimandua
  • cartimandua

    the bombs saved the lives of 100s of thousands of allied troops.

  • Uusikaupunki

    “The essence of war is violence, moderation in war is imbecility.”
    Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Fisher.

  • johnhenry

    Toby says that, if forced to choose, he’d have sided with Truman. I think I would have, too, even though I believe the moral high ground lay elsewhere.

    But as for his point that Japan started the war, I’d agree that’s true as a technicality, but cannot and has not a scholarly case been made that America had an interest in provoking a casus belli and did so? My history on that point is rusty.

    • banner

      Japan effectively started WWII when it attacked China in 1936 – a full five years before it attacked America.

      • Weaver

        Yes, technically, viewed as a continuum of conflict Dyads, WWII began in Manchuria…

        • banner

          No, it’s not a technicality – it’s a fact.

          johnhenry also appears to be suggesting that Pearl Harbor was allowed to proceed in order to get America into the war. It’s conspiracy theory nonsense.

          • Weaver

            Yes, you’re right. Though to be fair I read his comment as more “US backed Japan into corner, and expected trouble to start” than “US backed Japan into corner, expected trouble to start and knew PH was the target”

            Anyway, Japan was the aggressor, and had been for a long time.

          • carl jacobs

            That’s correct. Pearl Harbor succeeded because of Japanese daring, meticulous preparation, and a firm American belief that the Japanese would never risk sending a fleet to attack Pearl Harbor. They only thing they did wrong was fail to exploit the victory with a second wave.

            The idea that Roosevelt sacrificed Pearl to get America into the war is absolute historical nonsense.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            “The idea that Roosevelt sacrificed Pearl to get America into the war is absolute historical nonsense.”
            There’s a lot of evidence that says you’re full of $hit.

          • carl jacobs

            No, no. You misread what I said. I didn’t deny that Kennedy was killed by the CIA. I didn’t deny that 9/11 was a Mossad plot. I said that Roosevelt didn’t sacrifice Pearl. Please keep your half-baked conspiracy theories organized.

  • carl jacobs

    In August 1945, the American war effort against Japan had reached a crisis. The Americans knew through coded intercepts that Japan had guessed correctly the invasion spot of Kyushu. The Japanese had more soldiers on that Island than there were soldiers int he American invasion force. There were thousands of carefully husbanded kamikaze planes waiting for that stationary invasion fleet. And every American solder on Iwo Jima and Okinawa knew what awaited. The Japanese were going to trade oceans of Japanese blood for gallons of American blood in hopes of convincing the the war-weary Americans to stop and allow that militaristic gov’t to save face.

    MacArthur (the idiot who wanted the “glory” of leading the largest bloodbath invasion in history) wanted to press. Nimitz wanted no part of it. There was no clear end strategy to force Japanese surrender, and no agreed way forward. At this point, the atomic bomb became available and Truman authorized its use. The effect on the Emperor was immediate. He saw that the Japanese end-game of bleeding America white depended upon the Americans closing for battle. He understood that the atomic bomb rendered that strategy useless. The Americans could force the Japanese to mass, and then simply attack the center of mass with an atomic explosion. That’s why Japan surrendered.

    It was fortunate for both Japan and the US that the bomb became available. The actual death toll in the absence of the bomb would have been extraordinary. And the cost imposed upon Japan by an invasion would probably have been fatal. If Japan had turned Honshu into a scaled-up replay of Okinawa, there wouldn’t be a Japan today.

  • carl jacobs

    There were American POWs in Nagasaki when the second bomb detonated. Their reaction upon seeing the devastation was “Good! Go do that to the rest of Japan.” The Japanese were planning to kill the entire population of Allied prisoners by the end of 1945. That’s about 400,000 men, give or take. Remember them when you think you want to shed a tear for Hiroshima.

    If you have the stomach for it, read a book called “First into Nagasaki.” It’s a collection of censored press reports that American military authorities refused to let be published for fear of American public reaction. Most of the book involves the treatment of American POWs by the Japanese. I quit reading after a few chapters.

    • Adam Bromley

      I’d forgotten about the plan to butcher all the POWs and as you say, they had no mercy for their captors who treated them worse than their animals.

      • Edward Treen

        And those who were sent to Unit 731 wouldn’t question it at all – if they survived, that is.

  • Adam Bromley

    It’s worth remembering that a single fire-bombing raid on Tokyo on 9th March 1945 is estimated to have killed 80,000 civilians and caused damage comparable to a nuclear blast. Nonetheless, the Japanese High Command were planning waves of suicide attacks in the event of an attack on the mainland and showed no signs of surrender, even though the military situation was utterly hopeless. By mid-1945, the US submarine campaign had destroyed the merchant navy, the mainland was beginning to starve and garrisons on islands were without any resupply. They had virtually no fuel, minimal armament production and no allies, Germany had by now surrendered. US army estimated the cost of Operation Olympic, the assault on the mainland would cost 500,000 casualties, 110,000 of those fatal. The Japanese casualties would be far higher. This is an objective analysis of the situation facing Truman, not one with the benefit of hindsight. I don’t think Toby is being fair when he questions the use of the two atomic bombs, in particular that on Nagasaki. The decision to drop the second bomb was a message to the High Command, namely that the USA had more of these weapons and would continue to use them. Even after the attack on Nagaski, there were holdouts amongst the generals and only the personal intervention of the Emperor, which was against all protocol, forced the issue. Historians have not discovered any compelling evidence that the Japanese would have surrendered after the first bomb. So even with the wisdom of hindsight, it seems that Truman’s only rational course of action was to order the second attack. They could have delayed, but the result would be same. Moreover, it might shock modern sensibilities, but that decision I would argue was a moral one. He did the right thing, awful though the consequences were for the citizens of Nagaski. Ultimately the blame for those deaths lies with the militarist clique that governed Japan, not the USA; likewise the German civilians killed by Allied bombing could have been saved by German surrender. The guilt lies with the instigators of the war and their decision to fight to the bitter end.

  • DellerboyNZ

    You don’t mention the clincher.
    The US is a democracy. Would Truman (or the Democratic Party) have survived the post-war election if the voters could have asked: ‘Mr Truman, you mean my son, brother, husband had to go to their deaths invading Japan even though you had a weapon, you didn’t have the guts to use?’
    As in Vietnam, the US only has so much tolerance for war. On the other hand the Japanese would have fought on or committed suicide as in Okinawa.
    No mention either of the nuclear programmes of both Japan and Germany. Do you think Hitler or Hirohito would have hesitated?

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Casualties are the US’s soft under belly.

      • carl jacobs

        Yeh. The smoldering ruins of what used to be the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere Japanese Empire sure attest to that fact. But you know us soft Americans. We wouldn’t have the courage to crash a plane loaded with explosives into a ship. It takes a special kind of intestinal fortitude to do that.

  • Roger Hudson

    Nuclear bombs ,then and now, break the basic primary law of war , don’t kill civilians, even if the enemy does . A port facility is a legal target, a port city isn’t.. The fire-bombing of Tokyo , ‘conventional’ as it was, also shortened the war, was also a war crime.
    Wasn’t ‘the Lion of Malaya’ hanged after the war? double standards.

    • Weaver

      Wrong, Mr Hudson. LOAC says don’t kill civilians disproportionately to the military objective obtained. . Ending the war is a pretty big objective.

      Oh yes, some of us do this law of armed conflict thing for a living. And for a killing.

    • carl jacobs

      The USAAF was moving away from fire raids towads the middle of 1945. It was reacting to lessons from the Strategic Bombing survey in Europe. The USAAF was going to start attacking the transportation system. One unavoidable outcome of this change in strategy would have been a massive increase of the already-existing famine. Which I presume would have been better somehow.

      When you start asking people how they would have ended the war, you generally hear vague historical nonsense about how the “Japanese were already trying to surrender.” In fact, some people in Japan were trying to end the war on face-saving terms. No occupation. No disarmament. No change in the Imperial status. That kind of thing. That doesn’t mean they were prepared to surrender. What these critics actually mean is that the Allies should have modified their surrender demands and given the Japanese a way out. Except that wouldn’t have destroyed the military gov’t that started the war – and that was the most important war aim.

      So then. How to end the war in the face of Japanese intransigence? Starvation? Is that the alternative? Because other than invasion that was the only credible alternative to what actually happened. It would have guaranteed the deaths of all the allied POWs in Japan – to whom we owed a force protection responsibility. And it would have allowed the killing to continue in China. And Korea. And everywhere else the Japanese still maintained control. Should the fates of such people have simply been ignored? I fail to see the moral advantage.

      • Angkor

        It is most unlikely that the USAAF was moving away from fire raids because it was reacting to the lessons of the Strategic Bombing Survey in Europe since the report of that survey wasn’t published until 30 September 1945. The actual reasons for moving away from fire-bombing were a logistical one, i.e, that the production of napalm and other incendiary materials used for the fire raids could not keep up with its use, and because having already burned out most Japanese cities, down to as as small as 30,000 people, there wasn’t much left to be firebombed.
        For the rest though, you are right, To those who say, as the Strategic Bombing Survey for Japan did, that the war would have been over anyway without the atomic bombings by 31 December 1945 at the latest, and maybe as early as 1 November 1945, the question must be asked – “How many dead from that then?”
        No realistic assessment would show the number of dead from the protraction of the war, even for only three more months, would have been any less than in the many hundreds of thousands, the overwhelming majority of whom would have been civilians but who would have included massacred allied PoWs and civilian internees throughout South East and East Asia, for there is documented evidence that the Japanese planned exactly that.

        One must wonder what a commemoration of VJ Day, conducted on Japan’s surrender in 1 November 1945 would have been like in those circumstances. One thing is certain; that Japan would not then have experienced a benign occupation.

        • carl jacobs

          You know, the USAAF that bombed Germany was the same USAAF that bombed Japan. It didn’t need a final published report to derive lessons from an assessment of its impact on Germany.

          • Angkor

            True, but the person making the assessments regarding the bombing of Japan was the USAAF general on the ground, Curtis LeMay, and the reasons I gave were the reasons he gave.

  • Eudaemonia71

    I’d love to see even a fraction of the moral self confidence shown over Hiroshima and Nagasaki (and Dresden and Hamburg for that matter) at any stage in this so-called War on Terror. The wrong targets, poorly “attacked” – Just War Theory like so many other noble ideas has been twisted and manipulated so badly as to render us unable to fight, let alone win, critical battles. Despicable conduct showing utter contempt for Western forces – take one look at the Left/Liberal (read Post-Modern) response to Israel’s self defensive actions against Hamas to get a flavour of the s***-storm the West bends over backwards to avoid these days.

    • Bonkim

      All is fair in war.

  • As a Marxist operation, World War II accomplished its mission of strengthening the Marxist position across the globe, topped off by duel atomic bomb war crimes that would be used to malign the preeminence of the West…

    The refusal of the World War I Allied nations of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, France, Canada and the United States to overthrow the Bolshevik regime immediately after the 7 November 1917 coup in Petrograd1 shun a bright spotlight on not only the Marxist co-option of the Allies’ political establishments,2 but Marxist co-option of the Central Powers’ political establishments as well, since after the war those nations that constituted the Central Powers during the war failed after the war to alert the attention of the world to the Allies’ Marxist co-option, where the Allies protected the Bolshevik regime in Petrograd, even though Lenin’s war policy would remove Russia from the war, thereby strengthening the Central Powers against the Allies.

    World War I was a Marxist operation creating false oppositions for the purpose of causing chaos, where out of the ashes of chaos the Marxist global position would be stronger. The official term Marxists give to this false opposition tactic is the Scissors Strategy,3 in which the blades represent the two falsely opposed sides that converge on the confused victims, simultaneously neutralizing true opposition while advancing the Marxist agenda.

    As soon as the World War I operation had ended, Marxists began planing for the World War II operation with the creation of that war’s two false opposition fronts, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and the National Fascist Party in Italy. Benito Mussolini was a well known and influential Marxist before theComintern ordered that he take up a new identity as leader of the National Fascist Party. As for Adolf Hitler’s Marxist pedigree, one-third of Hitler’s SA, and later Gestapo personnel, were ‘former’ Marxists.

    During the course of World War II Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Chief of the Abwehr (German military intelligence), and General Reinhard Gehlen, Chief of the German General Staff’s intelligence unit for the Soviet Union and East European countries,Foreign Armies East (FHO), independently discovered that a group supervised by Deputy Führer Martin Bormann,4 second in command of Germany, was transmitting unsupervised coded radio messages to Moscow…

    “Our suspicions were largely confirmed when, independently of one another, we found out that Bormann and his group were operating an unsupervised radio transmitter network and using it to send coded messages to Moscow. When OKW monitors reported this, Canaris demanded an investigation; but word came back that Hitler himself had emphatically forbidden any intervention: he had been informed in advance by Bormann of these Funkspiele, or fake radio messages, he said, and he had approved them.”5

    The only way to ensure that fake radio messages were being sent to Moscow, and not the latest Wehrmacht movements in the Eastern theater of operations, is to have such radio messages supervised by intelligence officers vetted for counterintelligence operations. It’s one thing for Hitler to approve fake radio messages, but there’s no excuse to not have the fake radio messages supervised by experienced counterintelligence officers. To refuse to implement this critical standard operating supervisory procedure cries out treason, since even Bormann himself should have wanted to ensure none of his subordinates were transmitting sensitive information to Moscow. The fact that Hitler refused such elementary precautions informs us that Hitler & Company were Marxist agents, sabotaging the German war effort from Berlin. In fact, it was the winter of 1941-42 that Gehlen and fellow generals had assessed that the Soviet campaign was a hopeless enterprise “…not because it could not be militarily or politically won, but because of Hitler’s continued interference, which resulted in such elementary blunders that defeat was inevitable.”6

    Gehlen details Hitler’s sabotage of Germany’s Soviet campaign:

    (1) The General Staff wanted to concentrate resources on capturing Moscow, since Moscow was the Command & Control location for Soviet forces. Hitler insisted on dissipating the effort on three fronts.

    (2) The General Staff saw that the Soviets were going to entrap the Sixth Army at Stalingrad, and demanded a strategic withdrawal. Hitler vetoed this and 200,000 of Germany’s best troops were lost, including the loss of irreplaceable weaponry.

    (3) To replace these losses, the General Staff wanted to recruit millions of willingvolunteers from anti-Communist ranks, i.e. Russians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians etc., “After twenty years of arbitrary injustice and terror, the reestablishment of elementary human rights such as the dignity of man, liberty, justice, and the sanctity of property united every inhabitant of the Soviet empire (insofar as he was not directly working for the Moscow system) in a common readiness to support the Germans. What could be more natural for us than to exploit this readiness?”7 Hitler’s policy of treating Slavs as sub-human sabotaged any meaningful attempt in turning captured Soviet soldiers into German allies.

    Both world wars severely weakened the security of the West by the deaths of non-Marxist military officers, who were replaced with Marxist officers. The Korean War continued this supplanting of Marxist officers for non-Marxist officers, and in the case of the United States was further exasperated by the Vietnam War, where over 50% of North Vietnamese soldiers (NVA) were Chinese PLA soldiers attired in NVA uniforms. As the globe turned ever redder after the November 1917 Marxist coup in Russia, the Marxist co-opted West naturally never liberated one Communist nation, and in early 1992 refused to perform a verification of the collapse of the USSR, thought the survival of the West depends on such verification… CONTINUE READING AT DNOTICE…

    https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home

  • Bonkim

    Looking at decisions made 70 years back given the prevailing mindsets of the time and using today’s standards is bonkers. One can bring similar useless discussions on the conventional bombings of Dresden or many massacres at other locations/times. The deed was done – The Japs and the Gerries were public enemy No 1 and anything to bring harm to them went. You can only kill an enemy if you don’t consider them human. It was a no holds barred existential conflict.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Bonk, labelling the enemy as sub-human encourages their slaughter by brutal, licentious soldiery.

      But you really many to lay off the racial slurs (Japs and the Gerries). It does so label you as “other ranks”.

      • Bonkim

        I am non-PC also use terms such as Limeys, Scouse, Chinks or Brit. I see you are not immune. Established terms – nothing wrong with that. I am also not class-conscious – what is wrong with other ranks? People should accept such terms and the Japs and Gerries do not object – have many Germans and others and understand their mindsets well. The anti-Nazi training sessions after WW2 was a waste of time, the Japs and Chinese are as or more racist today than the Brits but only in Britain do we make a song and dance about politically correct terminology – which is bonkers – call a spade a spade I say.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          So racist bigot, right?

          • Bonkim

            We are all racists in some ways – our identity and self worth is what defines us – yes I consider myself superior to all others. Bigot – not sure – I also allow all others to be what they are and not worried about their views or inclinations as long as they do not interfere with my rights. In a free society all have a right to what they want to feel, think and say.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            “We are all racists in some ways”
            Speak for yourself/ Oh, you were.

  • Ambientereal

    Moral? Is there any moral in war? Please enlighten me, because I believe that analyzing facts that happened 70 years ago and trying to apply to it today´s moral, could be a interesting exercise for academics but a nonsense if you are talking about actuality. In this article I find two great truths. The first one in that “Japanese brought their misfortune on themselves” of course, why didn´t they thought about the destruction they may cause to their people going to war? the second is why should Truman assign to a Japanese life the same value as an American life? Of course he shouldn´t, and he is obliged not to. He is nothing less that the American president. If I where him, I would have been happy if the two atomic bombs saved only one american life.

  • Augustus

    Whether ‘Truman received conflicting advice about the likely American casualties’ is not the issue, but that ‘Truman wouldn’t have been much of a president if he’d attached the same weight to Japanese lives as he had to those of his own people’ is, and was. A president can never be expected to be more sensitive to the number of enemy victims than those of his own forces. And those poor emaciated POWs were certainly grateful that Truman chose the Bomb. Furthermore, not only did the total defeat of Japan free it from its martial pretensions, with the help of American aid it transformed itself into a peace-loving nation. And by demonstrating its nuclear cataclysmic effects, importantly, the bar of military deterrence had been heightened, and nuclear weapons have beyond any doubt contributed to preventing WW3.

  • Fraziel

    Unusually Toby, as to be honest i find you a smug,pompous, arrogant smart ar*e and its hard to like anyone called Toby,or Sebastian for that matter, I agree with you on this one. Well said.

  • Dogbury

    These chaps below were no milk and water liberals. What did they have to say about dropping the atom bomb on Japan? When the very men charged with prosecuting total war against Japan condemn the use of nuclear weapons, where exactly is your moral justification Toby?

    “In being the first to use it, we . . . adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”

    – Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff.

    “The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace before the atomic age was announced to the world with the destruction of Hiroshima and before the Russian entry into the war.”

    – Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet

    “The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment”

    – Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., Commander U.S. Third Fleet

    “It always appeared to us that, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse.”

    – General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces

    “The war would have been over in two weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb.”

    – Major General Curtis E. LeMay, commander of Twenty-First Bomber Command

    “MacArthur once spoke to me very eloquently about it, pacing the floor of his apartment in the Waldorf. He thought it a tragedy that the Bomb was ever exploded. MacArthur believed that the same restrictions ought to apply to atomic weapons as to conventional weapons, that the military objective should always be limited damage to noncombatants. . . . MacArthur, you see, was a soldier. He believed in using force only against military targets, and that is why the nuclear thing turned him off…”

    – President Richard Nixon, reporting on a conversation with General Douglas MacArthur.

    “…the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”

    – General Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States of America.

    • Dogbury

      By the way, the above is only a sample. The consensus within the US high command was that the whole exercise was, in military terms, entirely unnecessary. The majority of the the ranking five star generals opposed the use of atomic weapons. Such was Truman’s concern about his military commanders opinions, he even failed to notify MacArthur of the attack on Hiroshima until after the fact.

      The truth is that Japan was entirely blockaded, and had neither the resources nor any remaining infrastructure to prosecute a war. Japan didn’t even control her own airspace, which is why Colonel Tibbet’s mission flew entirely uncontested.

    • carl jacobs

      It is true that the bombs were unnecessary. There were other ways to end the war. We do know with certainty that the bombs were sufficient however because their use did bring about an almost immediate surrender. It’s hard to argue with that success by asserting convenient counterfactuals that can never be historically verified.

      We know certain things:

      1. The Army was in control.
      2. No Japanese unit had surrendered as a unit during the entire course of the war to that point.
      3. Its major cities were burned out and Japan did not surrender.
      4. Its economy was pulverized and still Japan did not surrender.
      5. A huge proportion of its population was homeless and still Japan did not surrender.
      6. Its population was facing severe famine and still Japan did not surrender.
      7. Hiroshima was destroyed and still Japan did not surrender.
      8. Nagasaki was destroyed and there was an attempted coup to prevent surrender.

      The war was lost. There was no more Navy. There was no more economy. There was no more communication. There was no chance that what remained of the Army could alter the inevitable outcome. There was however the stubborn determination of the Army to fight to an honorable death – as the Americans had seen on island after island as it traversed the Pacific Ocean.

      And yet some say “Well, the Japanese would have surrendered anyways.” Would they have really? There were other ways to end the war. There was no alternative pollyanna-ish path that avoided the disastrous outcomes of victory through starvation or victory through invasion. There is no evidence that the Army would have just changed its mind in late August and surrendered anyways. The only way to have quickly ended the war without the bomb would have been to offer the Japanese military a face-saving solution. And that was out of the question.

      So, yes. The bombs weren’t necessary. But at what cost?

      • cghqui

        They still teach children in the U.S. that WWII ended with the atomic bomb.
        It’s a nice story if one seeks some sort of vindication psychologically but the decision to surrender was decided as a result of Soviet entrance to the war against Japan. To be exact, it was 18 minutes after Japan was informed of this event.
        http://www.sankei.com/life/news/140909/lif1409090011-n1.html
        Discussed here five years ago.
        http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/historians-rethink-key-soviet-role-in-japans-defeat-in-wwii
        The obliteration with napalm/white phosphorous of over 65 Japanese cities caused more death than Hiroshima/Nagasaki combined so civilian casualty as a result of these numerous raids had very little bearing on the government’s concern at that time.
        In addition, there were at least a dozen more bombing campaigns after Nagasaki so even the U.S. knew that the atomic bombing had very little to do with surrender.

  • Kasperlos

    With historical revisionism all the rage thanks to hack authors wanting to make a quick buck sans originality, a mentally twisted PC atmosphere, coward politicians, and the intolerant academic cultural Marxists who never did an honest days work in their lives, I’m glad to read Toby Young’s rational view of things. First, Toby Young wasn’t alive back then, wasn’t privy to the advice, discussions that Mr. Truman had, but the relevant facts are known: Japan was the agressor and Mr. Truman made his decision based on what the situation was at the time. Hindsight is easy to play games with, but Mr. Truman had no time to play such games. The record is clear: Japan’s unconditional surrender on August 15, 1945 happened on the day it did as a direct result of the atomic bombings. Sadly, thousands of innocents died in the two attacks, and sad too are the many architects of Japan’s war who went on to live utterly charming and respectable post war lives. Such is the reality and injustices of this world, because some men and women willfully choose to make it so.

  • Ask the civilians of Nanking what they think.

  • cartimandua

    Someone should have bombed daesh headquarters in Raqqa for the same reasons.

  • Pelo Nord

    Interesting point about the second bomb in Nagasaki; would not the first have been enough to induce a surrender? That’s not a criticism but I wonder what the reasoning was.
    I’m halfway through HBO’s ‘The Pacific’, a 10 part drama on the war in the Pacific which includes documentary footage and interviews with veterans at the beginning of each episode.
    It’s very harrowing and informative and, on the basis that it’s as realistic as a TV drama can hope to be, a timely reminder of the horrors that lead to the Nuclear decision.

  • flydlbee

    Why did we drop another bomb three days later?

    1. Hirohito had not surrendered.
    2. It showed that the Hiroshima bomb was not a one-off, we had more, and would use them.

    It worked.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      What do you mean, “we”.
      Nothing to do with me.

      • flydlbee

        You were on the Axis side, perhaps? Waffen SS?

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          We in the Wehrmacht fought a clean war.
          Kindly ensure that brain is engaged before operating keyboard.
          Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

          • flydlbee

            Keep your helmet on.

          • Labour Mole Catcher

            “We” in the Wehrmacht?!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            A nutter like you wouldn’t understand irony.

          • Labour Mole Catcher

            Not the puerile variety, no!

  • During the Summer of 1945 my father was in Ulm waiting with the rest of the 6th. Armoured Division to be shipped out for the invasion of Japan. Hiroshima and Nagasaki quite possibly saved his life.

  • Malcolm Stevas

    The opinions cited here of The Guardian and CND are contemptible. The Japanese did indeed bring nuclear disaster on themselves. My own father came home from the Far East probably a lot sooner than if the atom bombs had not been used. I’m very happy about that – as were the Allied POWs suffering under the vile Japanese regime.

  • cghqui

    The nuking of H&N was the most disgusting and cowardly war crime ever committed. It was little more than a brutal and cynical live human experiment on women and children. The depravity and racism of the US government and military is apparent from Harry Truman`s demented giggling prior to his announcement of the mass murders at Hiroshima:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d42dMSAltnQ
    See Kermit Beahan gloat as he claims responsibility for nuking the women and children of Nagasaki:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdJyOBriLTI
    As Brig. Gen. Carter W. Clarke, the officer in charge of preparing MAGIC intercepted cable summaries in 1945, stated:
    “….we brought them [the Japanese] down to an abject surrender through the accelerated sinking of their merchant marine and hunger alone, and when we didn’t need to do it, and we knew we didn’t need to do it, and they knew that we knew we didn’t need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs.”
    As the historical record shows, six of the seven US WWII five star officers concluded that the nuking of hundreds of thousands of civilians was unnecessary. In fact, the nuking was one of the most brutal and cynical atrocities ever committed. As Admiral Chester W. Nimitz stated:
    “The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan. The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace before the destruction of Hiroshima and before the Russian entry into the war….”
    Truman`s own diaries show that he prolonged hostilities until the nukes were ready. We also know that he lied to the US public when he stated that Hiroshima was a “military target”.
    Prior to nuking Hiroshima, the U.S. military had already obliterated over 60 Japanese cities with napalm and white phosphorous. This conclusively proves that Hiroshima and Nagasaki had little value other than as an opportunity for the US military to conduct nuke testing on human subjects.
    In this connection, Paul Tibbets is on record as stating that Hiroshima was set aside as a “virgin” test city. Additionally, the primary targets at Hiroshima were residential in nature with the overwhelming majority of casualties being civilian. In fact, Honkawa Elementary school was mere meters from the epicenter of the Hiroshima nuke strike. The fire-bombings and nuclear attacks on Japan were war crimes on par with the holocaust suffered by the Jews.

  • cghqui

    Nuking hundreds of thousands of woman and children saved no lives. It is simply a laughable myth invented by the US government used to justify cynical and cowardly war crimes. Those who try to justify nuking children are similar to the Nazis who try to justify gassing Jews.

  • Augustus

    There are some historians who believe that a bloody drawn out invasion would have cost less than the quarter of a million lives lost with the atomic bombs. But there are others who point out that the Americans had already lost 14,000 soldiers at Okinawa alone. The Japanese were fighting literally to the last man to defend that island. In the last weeks of the war the allies were losing 7,000 soldiers a week. So an invasion would certainly have cost many more American lives. Also, thanks to the quick surrender after Nagasaki the Japanese command to execute all the thousands of allied prisoners in the event of an invasion wasn’t carried out.

    Today proposals for a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons boils down to unilateral disarmament, and that only increases the risk of war precisely because of deterrence. If you want to keep the peace, you must always prepare for war.

  • cghqui

    They still teach US school children that the war ended with the atomic bomb. It’s a nice story if one seeks some sort of vindication psychologically but the decision to surrender was decided as a result of Soviet entrance to the war against Japan. To be exact, it was 18 minutes after Japan was informed of this event.

    http://www.sankei.com/life/news/140909/lif1409090011-n1.html

    Discussed here five years ago.

    http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/historians-rethink-key-soviet-role-in-japans-defeat-in-wwii

    The American had already obliterated over 60 japanese cities with napalm and white phosphorous prior to Hiroshima/Nagasaki so civilian casualties as a result of these numerous raids had very little bearing on the government’s concern at that time.

    In addition, there were at least a dozen more bombing campaign after Nagasaki so even the U.S. knew that the atomic bombing had very little to do with surrender.

  • cghqui

    The fact is well documented that no invasion would ever have taken place as the Russian invasion ended the war. Additionally, no US Pacific top level military commander supported either nuking civilians or an invasion. They collectively felt Japan was defeated and ready to surrender. Here is an excellent starting point for their feelings.
    http://doug-long.com/quotes.htm
    In this regard, six of the seven highest ranking US WWII officers are on record as stating that using nuclear weapons on Japanese civilian targets was an unnecessary and cowardly atrocity. I place far more weight on their opinions than the fantasy “casualty” figures invented by US politicians as risible justification for mass murder of innocent women and children with nuclear weapons.
    As Brig. Gen. Carter Clarke stated:
    “….we knew we didnt need to do it, and they knew that we knew we didnt need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs.”
    American politicians decided to nuke hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children needlessly. They chose to do this despite clear knowledge that Russia`s imminent declaration of war in early August 1945 would cause Japan to surrender, without invasion, upon nearly any terms the U.S. chose to dictate. That makes them complicit in the two most heinous single event atrocities in human history.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    The vitriolic hostility going on hatred on the part of (mostly) elderly Brits towards the Japanese works to my advantage. The last thing I wanted was for this place to be mobbed out with “seek your fortune in the colonies” Brits. Exclusivity has been my ace on the hole since 1970. In common with US presidents, I have landed jobs that I was in no way qualified to do, falling back on “learn on the job training”. So continue to boycott Japanese goods, see if I care.
    Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

    • carl jacobs

      But then … you weren’t imprisoned by them, were you. No one conducted medical experiments on you. No one subjected your friends to live vivisection. So you wouldn’t have much reason, would you. There is a reason for that vitriolic hostility. You don’t have to share it but you damn well should show it respect. That hostility was obtained at a fearsome price. But not by the likes of you.

      I have nothing against the Japanese. I have been there five times. I have had Japanese exchange students in my house. I have a daughter who is preparing for a JLPT III exam. I appreciate and respect its culture. But it received not even one-seventh the suffering it earned in that war. I’ll never cry for the dead Japanese of 1945 – out of respect for the prisoners who survived, and for the memory of the one in three who didn’t.

      • cghqui

        No surprise that America tried to censor evidence of their live human medical experiments at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. American live vivisection on the Guatemalan children remained hidden for nearly 70 years. Nuclear tests are simply harder to hide.

        Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        Guatemalans deliberately infected with STDs sue Johns Hopkins University for $1bn | US news | The Guardian

        As American war correspondent Edgar Jones stated about Allied war crimes: “What kind of war do civilians suppose we fought, anyway? We shot prisoners in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed lifeboats, killed or mistreated enemy civilians, finished off the enemy wounded, tossed the dying into a hole with the dead, and boiled the flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts…”
        There you have it from a man who was there.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Suit yourself, Sunshine.

    • Labour Mole Catcher

      But you are a Japanese yourself … why pretend to be British in Japan when you are in fact not British at all?!

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Give it a rest, looney.

  • Solage 1386

    Read ‘The Knights of Bushido’ by Lord Russell of Liverpool and ‘Hiroshima’ by John Hersey.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Young Toby here has managed to release an avalanche of latent hatred towards the Japanese with his somewhat inept article that applies western values to an Asian situation. But by applying logic rather than emotion, surely it’s only the male segment of the Japanese that certain Brits (often, but not exclusively ex-PoWs) have it for. And those in the frame must surely be in very late age, so essentially a very small segment of the Japanese population.
    Japan is under new management: So were those “I hate the Japanese” Brits to make a visit to Japan, it is highly they would modify their attitude. Because as a Brit you would be met with a far higher level of respect, kindness and courtesy that as a stranger (Brit or otherwise) you would experience on the streets of any British city. And I say this on the basis of some 32 years residence in Japan.
    Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

    • Labour Mole Catcher

      When everyone knows you are under 50 …

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Every illogical allegation you make reveals more about you, you sad delusional deranged loser.
        So you’re 50 years old, right?

        • Labour Mole Catcher

          “Michael Shrimpton, QC”, eh?!

    • Terry Field

      ‘Japan is under new management: So were those “I hate the Japanese” Brits to make a visit to Japan, it is highly likely they would modify their attitude.’

      Do you speak for the Koreans, the Chines, the vast number butchered? The hospitals where all were killed by regular Imperial Army troops???
      You sound unconcerned; a natural white-washer; and your sense of what is right and what is not seems to have withered.
      The Japs now have what they want, and can behave reasonably out of self-interest. Big deal.

  • Jack Regan

    Brilliant.

    If you work in a school you often hear ‘well, he started it,’ and it’s an argument I’ve always had sympathy with. It doesn’t absolve every act that follows, of course, but it is an argument much under-appreciated.

    A few years ago I was in a certain town in Germany that had been bombed quite badly in the war. The townsfolk had no doubt that the bombing was an atrocity and went on and on and on (and on…) about it during our visit. They were our guests, so I had to bite my tongue and make the appropriate noises rather than giving the responses I wanted to give, those being: a) I wasn’t there, and b) I’m guessing the people living there at the time weren’t so quick to condemn what Hitler was up to!

    • Terry Field

      Were they not your hosts?
      How ill mannered they are.
      As C said, ‘either at your feet or your throats’.
      How many of them have assets pillaged from the murdered Jews. They don’t go on about that, do they!

    • Hamburger

      The bombing campaign over Germany was atrocious, it was also war and I am afraid that we began the atrocities. It was, as were the dropping of the atomic bombs in Japan, necessary. Unfortunately.

  • Terry Field

    Harrihotto should have stopped the war, could have stopped the war, didn’t stop the war.
    His sole contribution was reciting an obscure poem, almost immediately ignored by the war-criminal of a prime minster.
    I watched program recently, where a customer in a fish restaurant in Nippoland chose a fish to be cooked.
    The ‘chef’ filleted the fish, fully alive, and when the cooked fish fillets were brought to the table, for decoration, the fully filleted fish was presented – in a silver frame that made it look as if it was swimming – still alive, at the table.

    As for their (Japanese) behaviour in China, Korea, against our troops made prisoners of war, our interned women and little children – they are beyond condemnation.

    These people are fucking sadists.

  • runningdog

    davidshort10 makes a similar point below but for what it’s worth here’s my ‘tuppence worth: my father (RAF conscript, now 94) spent July and August 1945 in Burma wiring the electrics into gliders in preparation for the anticipated airborne invasions into SE Asia and, ultimately, Japan. He (and my siblings and I) is probably alive today thanks to Truman’s decision.

    Besides, if the bombs weren’t dropped in 1945 they’d have been dropped somewhere in the ’50s and ’60s. Whatever the warmongering Japs may whinge about, we’ve at least had 70 years of deterrence-secured security from WMD.

  • cghqui

    Those who try to justify nuking children and pregnant women at H&N are similar to the Neo-Nazis who say gassing Jews saved lives. It’s amazing how people will rationalize just about ANYTHING when patriotism and racism are involved.

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