August 6th, 2010

Hiroshima, 65 years later

[NOTE: The following is a reposting of a piece that appeared here on a previous Hiroshima anniversary. If you follow the links in the second paragraph, you’ll find three other pieces I’ve written about the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima.]

Once again it’s the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Nagasaki followed three days later, and Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945.

To date these two bombs remain—astoundingly enough, considering the nature of our oft-troubled and troubling species—the only nuclear warheads ever detonated over populated areas. (I’ve written at length on the subject of those bombs: see this, this, and this.)

Oliver Kamm wrote a while back:

Our side did terrible things to avoid a more terrible outcome. The bomb was a deliverance for American troops, for prisoners and slave labourers, for those dying of hunger and maltreatment throughout the Japanese empire – and for Japan itself. One of Japan’s highest wartime officials, Kido Koichi, later testified that in his view the August surrender prevented 20 million Japanese casualties.

This context always needs to be kept in mind when evaluating any “terrible thing”—and there is no question that the dropping of these bombs was a terrible thing.

But critics who are bound and determined to portray the West as evil, marauding, bloodthirsty— whatever the dreadful adjective du jour might be—are bound and determined to either avoid all context, or to change the true context and replace it with fanciful myth. As Kamm writes, those who want to portray Hiroshima and Nagasaki as American crimes cite evidence of an imminent Japanese surrender that would have happened anyway.

Trouble is, there’s no such evidence; available information points strongly to the contrary. It’s difficult to know whether those who argue that the bombs were unnecessary and the deaths that ensued gratuitous are guilty of poor scholarship, wishful thinking, or willful lying—or perhaps some combination of these elements.

Truth in history is not easy to determine (see this), although it helps greatly if conventions of scholarship (sources, citations) are properly followed. Oh, the main events themselves are often not disputed—except for fringe groups such as those who think we didn’t go to the moon—although the details are often the subject of disagreement. But it’s the motivations behind the acts, the hearts and minds of the movers and shakers, the “what-might-have-been’s” and the “but-fors” that are so open to both partisan interpretation and willful distortion, and so deeply meaningful.

It’s hard enough to determine what happened. How many died in Dresden, for example? Do we believe Goebbels’s propaganda as promulgated by David Irving, or do we believe this work of recent exhaustive scholarship? The former “facts” have reigned now in popular opinion for quite a while, and although the latter mounts a far more convincing case, how many have read it or are familiar with the facts in it, compared to those who have been heavily exposed to the former?

There’s what happened, and then there’s why it happened—the meaning and intent behind the policy. A combination of the two is what propaganda is all about. It takes a lot of time and effort to wade through facts, make judgments about the veracity of sources, and be willing to keep an open mind.

Much easier to stand in a public square (as a bunch of nodding, smiling, waving, middle-aged peace-love Boomers regularly do in the town where I live) holding huge banners declaring “9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB.” Repeat it often enough, and the hope is it will become Truth in people’s eyes.

Especially in the eyes of the young, and of future generations, who don’t have their own memories to go on. It’s much harder to convince a WWII vet that Hiroshima was an unnecessary war crime than it is to convince a young person of same; the former not only has the context, he has own personal memories of the context. But propagandists are not just interested in changing opinions in the present, they’re interested in history and the future.

45 Responses to “Hiroshima, 65 years later”

  1. newton Says:

    “It’s much harder to convince a WWII vet that Hiroshima was an unnecessary war crime than it is to convince a young person of same”

    Why try to convince me, a woman in her 30s?

    I only know this: were it not by Little Boy and Fat Man, my husband’s grandfathers would have been dead long before they married their sweethearts, and neither my husband nor my children would be here today (ages 41 yrs, 3.5 yrs and 18 months, respectively.)

    My argument ends there.

  2. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    Bill Whittle makes the case far stronger than I ever could.

    He does even better with the video version (for PJTV subscribers only, I believe).

    Daniel in Brookline

  3. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    Sorry, I goofed. Try this link instead.

  4. Bob from Virginia Says:

    here is something odd:

  5. RYO Says:

    It should also be noted that the bombs went a long way towards preventing further encroachment by the Soviets coming in from the north (Southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands were taken over by Soviet forces just before the end of the war) and the descending of an Iron Curtain over Japan by way of a swift and decisive end to the conflict. A Korean Peninsula-style division of the country would have condemned generations of Japanese living in the north to unprecedented levels of misery. According to the cold calculus of war and peace, the bombs were the right weapons used at the right time.

  6. physicsguy Says:

    And yet another rational article on the bomb:

    I think it could be argued that the Bomb has been instrumental in actually keeping the peace in the past 55 years.

  7. Occam's Beard Says:

    One of Japan’s highest wartime officials, Kido Koichi, later testified that in his view the August surrender prevented 20 million Japanese casualties.

    Who cares? The only relevant question is how many American casualties it prevented. For an American President, no other consideration is even moral. His job is to protect American lives. Period. If in a war he can do so and avoid foreign casualties, cool. If not, then so it goes.

  8. Bard Says:

    A particularly bad case of the erosion of history: I think there are more twenty-somethings today who believe the CIA assassinated Kennedy than otherwise. Thank you so much, Oliver Stone.

  9. daved Says:

    All I’ve got to say is that if I were an allied general at the time I’d probably have some doubts on a surrender mostly because they had fought the battle of the bulge 9 months earlier. (You know, when they probably thought “Oh the Germans will give up and if they do fight it’ll be the Russians. They won’t fight so hard that we’ll literally have to take Berlin.” Didn’t work out that way did it?)

  10. Gringo Says:

    I was in a class in the 1990s when the professor asked students their opinions on dropping the bomb. Most of the students were of the “I feel that..we should not have dropped the bomb” sort of position. I tried to play devil’s advocate by stating that we shouldn’t have dropped the bomb, because the alternative would have been the US and the USSR both invading, with Japan split into occupation zones of the US and USSR, similar to what occurred in Germany and Korea.

    To my chagrin, I found out that the Politically Correct of a younger generation do not respond to irony. My stated opinion, which I considered outrageous, provoked no comment.

    The most succinct quote I have seen comes from Louise Steinman’s book The Souvenir: A Daughter Discusses her Father’s War During her visit to Japan, she discussed the Bomb with the Japanese she met.

    “During my visit to Japan, I met Japanese who (unlike Soji) had lived through the war years. They shocked me when they offered me their opinion that the atomic bomb had been necessary to end the war, that the military government would have urged them to mass suicide if the conflagration of Hiroshima hadn’t happened.” (page 121)

    Dropping bomb was the lesser of two evils, by a country mile.

  11. Gringo Says:

    Proofreading error: I meant to state that the consequence of not dropping the bomb would have been the invasion w the USSR and with occupation zones.

  12. Occam's Beard Says:

    Every liberal bleating about how we shouldn’t have dropped the bomb should be forced to meet every surviving member of the 4th Marine Division – scheduled to spearhead the invasion of Japan, IIRC – in the presence of all of his descendants, look him in the eye and tell him that he, the liberal, would rather that he, the veteran, had if necessary been killed in the invasion if it would save Japanese lives.

    Liberals are mush heads who “feel,” but don’t think. They’re like children who when faced with an either/or decision, plump for “both.”

  13. Michael Says:

    I posted this elsewhere but what the heck…

    I am just sorry the Japs did not hold out for the third bomb.

    And this said from a person who has been to Japan and found the Japanese of today to be wonderful people to know and work with.

    On one of my trips I was talking with a Japanese lady who said that there were still many people in Japan who hated America, When asked why she pointed to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I replied that their are many Americans who still hate the Japanese. She as stunned and asked why. Pearl Harbor, I replied.

    She had absolutely no idea what I was talking about (not to mean she had not heard of the subject).

    In addition….I have studied Operation Downfall and it is not at all clear to me that we would have succeeded. The Japanese knew we were coming and where. Even if we did succeed the fight would have been so terrible that we probably would have used the atomic bombs anyway (we won’t even talk about our willingness, even eagerness on the part of some, to use gas warfare) and in the end the world would have been a far far worse place that it is now…and it is not anything to write home about as it is.

    What we now know as D-Day would have been a minor footnote in history if we invaded Japan.

  14. Artfldgr Says:

    The Japanese people themselves have something the American kids don’t. they remember the focus and drive and how until that moment, they would not have given up. the women were ready to run at American soldiers with sharpened bamboo sticks. and they as a people remember that.

    meanwhile, what reference point does the kid in America have? he gets bent when his i pod breaks. his relative equivalents are all bent out of proportion.

    in one hard second we knocked them hard enough that they gave up.

    and we did things that no other country did ever in history. we helped them rebuild, and we walked away from the spoils.

    they became economic giants till their politicos made them moribund like ours just did. Germany and the free states of Europe and the UK did too.

    all the states that went the other way remained moribund.

    only a person who has no idea of the facts could conclude a moral position being given to them by people who claim there are no morals, and punish him if he speaks the wrong answer, could take a position that far from the reality of it with all the facts.

    the closer we got to japan, the more women and children the solders brought with them to the battle fields (as is even historical in the west too).

    they refused to give up. there are film clips of women throwing their children off of cliffs then hurling themselves off and there was nothing the Americans can do as they would act in fear of the Americans.

    every so often i see the clips on the history channel and over the years they have recently been not censoring them and showing more detail than before.

    and on the flip side? in the new movie recently made (the japanese version of band of brothers. which i think is no where near as good as band of brothers), if you look carefully, there is some accuracy put in front of you, but also hidden from you. which is very unlike the sadistic scene where they did something i know was not allowed, target practice on a human (in fact back then many men would have shot that man before he shot the japanese again, and if not, he would have been courtmartialed for it if the scene was what you had to go on)

    there is a scene where they find the bodies of some americans that were caught. you see them all come to see the bodies in the jungle. its fast, and you dont get to see it easy. that is unless you know what to expect. if you do, then you see it and recognize it right off. so the old timers would see the movie and say it was accurate, and the youngins would miss what was there, and think they were talking about the turkey shoot.

    look carefully and you will notice that they cut the mens penis off and placed them in their mouths after torturing them.

    its a issue that is only complicated when everyone in the room has a different subset of the whole, and a cross section is spiced with lies as well.

  15. Michael Says:

    “But propagandists are not just interested in changing opinions in the present, they’re interested in history and the future.”

    I believe it was Stalin who said he who controls the past controls the future.

  16. Artfldgr Says:

    On the issue of invasion.

    Why invade an island with almost no natural resources?

    just surround it and wait till they run out of fuel and supplies..

    cut off from the rest of their military, no more carriers, not much of a navy either. and almost no planes… why invade?

    meanwhile, if they did invade it would not have been the worst thing and worst than d-day.

    they had already lsot most of their young men and fighting age people, and i think THATS why no invasion, no surrounding, and a big blast.

    if you look at each point carefully, and realize they were beaten back and had no more material, or soldiers left, and that the mainland was mostly going to be invading women, children, and old men who will not give up unless killed.

    how would that play in the press?
    US invades, 14,000 women children and elderly killed to obtain beach heads..

    same thing with attrition but not as bad…

    but boom? after that, the narrative could just ignore those messy details, and just accept that given their psychology and commitment, we had no other decent alternative

    [ps, no one could come to their rescue either]

  17. Occam's Beard Says:

    Michael, I previously related here a story of the wife of a Japanese academic colleague a bit sanctimoniously asking me how I felt when I visited Hiroshima. I replied that I felt pretty much the way I’d felt when I’d visited Nanjing.

    Blank expression. She had no idea what I was talking about. None. To hear her tell it, the Japanese had just been minding their own business when for no reason at all we up and nuked ’em, twice. Amazing.

  18. Richard Aubrey Says:

    A historian had an interesting question:
    While we usually say, we’ll do this terrible thing to you if you don’t….whatever.
    In this case, we said, we’ll do this terrible thing to you because we don’t want to have to do this other terrible thing, i.e. invade and conquer.
    What, said the historian, was the reason we were going to do the second terrible thing?
    IMO, it goes to WW I.
    Several things about The Great War.
    First war in history in which more men died of combat than disease.
    Partly it was because the armies had gotten a handle on field sanitation.
    Partly it was because the quartermasters had figured out how to kwwp armies in permanent contact, not occasional battles.
    The possibility of dying in combat is a function of time in contact. The possibility of dying of disease is a function of time in the army.
    And better battlefield medicine.
    However. In earlier wars, of your ten best late friends, seven were taken to the rear ill and died and you heard about it later. three died in front of you, shot to pieces and screaming for their mothers.
    In WW I, it was the reverse.
    Must have had a different impact on the survivors.
    The medics had gotten a handle of sepsis, as well. This meant that horribly wounded men who would have died in earlier wars’ hospitals now lived. But reconstructive surgery was almost non-existent.
    So the guys who, in an earlier time, would have been honored names on the war memorials in the little towns now were your uncle living upstairs, not able to manage his own hygiend.
    Or your friend’s father who crept down the street, the ruined side of his face to the wall.
    The French had resorts for those so horribly mutilated that they wouldn’t come out in public.
    Impact on the public had to be different.
    Despite Masterpiece Theatre, the post-war years in England were, as one writer put it, suffused with grief and despair. Kipling wrote a poem recommending against calling spirits from the vasty deep, which women were doing, trying to reach their million dead men.
    Every decision maker in WW II was a veteran or had been an adult during WW I.
    The Germans could have stayed home. Instead, they attacked everybody they could find on a map.
    Then, after the inconceivable horror, they did it again. Worse.
    People were so angry.
    See the Morgenthau plan, which would have starved half the post WW II German population to death.
    Whatever revisionism has applied to the Versailles Treaty, it looked entirely too gentle in the years following 1939. The Allies weren’t going to make that mistake again with Germany, nor make that mistake the first time with Japan.
    Hence the choice between invasion and conquest and…the Bomb.

  19. Michael Says:

    Why invade? It was going to happen so as such the question does not mean very much. What if Napoleon just stayed home?

    If we did not invade immediately Japan would have suffered mass starvation. Then we would have invaded anyway. And used the atomic bombs anyway. The Japanese had plenty of soldiers, in addition to civilians, with which to fight.

    Fourteen thousand. Maybe the first day.

    The Japanese were not looking at the issue with the same eyes as we. They would do as they were told. Look at Okinawa; a precursor to an invasion of the Home Islands.

    And the Russians would have invaded from the north. North and South Japan, anyone.

    Dropping the atomic bombs sucked, but it did not suck as much as any alternative anyone can come up with.

    Besides, if the atomic bombs where not used we would not have found out just how terrible they until the next war…when there would been too many and no way to stop. Understanding put an end to such nonsense…at least among civilized nations.

  20. Occam's Beard Says:

    My late father, who had been in the 4th Marine Division and won a battlefield commission on Iwo Jima (and so was no ingenue), once mentioned that planners had figured on a 70% casualty rate for the initial assault on the Home Islands.

    The Marines were ecstatic at the dropping of the bombs – they were off the hook.

  21. Occam's Beard Says:

    A while ago I read of the passing of a Japanese who’d been in Hiroshima. The headline was something to the effect of “Hiroshima A-bomb claims another victim.”

    The guy was pushing 90 when the bomb finally got him.

    No clearer insight into the liberal mindset can be offered.

  22. Michael Says:

    I cannot offhand remember which Marine division it was, 4th or 5th, but according to the plan it was not mentioned after day four.

    The implicit assumption was that it would no longer exist.

  23. Mr. Frank Says:

    The Japanese of the era were barbarians with their prisoners and occupied territories. They got what they deserved including the massive fire bombings of their cities. One could argue they deserved more.

    After the experience of Iwo Jima and Okinawa it was clear that the Japanese would fight to the last man to defend their homeland. We only had two bombs which had to be used wisely. As General Curtiss Lemay, architect of the fire bombing campaign, said, if you kill enough of them, they quit.

  24. Occam's Beard Says:

    Here’s your calibration on expected casualties: half a million Purple Hearts were reportedly manufactured in anticipation of the invasion. We’re still working off that inventory to this day, 65 years later.

  25. newton Says:

    “Occam’s Beard
    August 6th, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I previously related here a story of the wife of a Japanese academic colleague a bit sanctimoniously asking me how I felt when I visited Hiroshima. I replied that I felt pretty much the way I’d felt when I’d visited Nanjing.

    Blank expression. She had no idea what I was talking about. None. ”

    This squares precisely with something I have noticed: even the same generation or the one after can react to their own defeat in war with denial. Denial is such a powerful sedative.

    A former co-worker of my husband took a high-risk job in Bahrain a few years ago and found a Russian mail-order bride a year later. She absolutely denies that the United States won the Cold War, or that Americans landed on the Moon. He hopes that his enrolling of her son into American schools would make him more aware of reality than his mother.

    Also, what about the reaction of the Germans when they were forced by the Allies to face the reality of the Nazi concentration camps, the “living dead”, the corpses, the skins… all of it? Many of them became literally sick when facing the consequences of their acquiescence to Hitler.

  26. anna Says:

    Artf, I also have seen those clips of Japanese women and children jumping off a cliff after the allies took the island they were on.

    My high school had a japanese exchange student once, and I remember him being very nervous about the fact that we were learning WWII history. He thought people were going to be mad at him for being japanese etc. We were like, dude the war is over, no hard feelings k? Basically he had more issues about WWII than we did.

    Incidentally, my pathetic publik skool education did not include much actual history. We all got the Holocaust beaten into our heads ad nauseum but that was about it. I think I learned Holocaust in 5th grade, 6th grade, 9th grade, and 12th grade. Other US or world history was pretty much nil. The older I get, the less and less I think of it.

  27. Occam's Beard Says:

    I think I learned Holocaust in 5th grade, 6th grade, 9th grade, and 12th grade. Other US or world history was pretty much nil.

    That’s totally inappropriate. The Holocaust deserves mention, but in the context of world history. In and of itself, it is not an important event in world history, because it did not appreciably change the course of history (except maybe tipping the scales to favor foundation of Israel, and that’s debatable). That’s not to say it wasn’t important to those affected, but rather to put it in context, where it logically resides alongside the Armenian genocide in 1915 (which I would bet my life didn’t get mentioned at all). The assassination of Alexander II, for example, had much more impact on world history than the Holocaust did.

    Knowledge of US history would be nice. Too much to ask of an American school, apparently.

  28. Jamie Says:

    Occam’s Beard, you make me want to become a perpetual student of history, because it’s clear that I know next to nothing… Unfortunately, my husband’s the primary breadwinner of our household by a factor of 10 (yes, really – I’m a part-time preschool director!) and I consider it my duty, if I’m going to go back to school, to make some money at it out of fairness to him. (Which isn’t to say I can’t study history for free, and thanks for the kick in the pants, it’s looking more and more needful!)

  29. Occam's Beard Says:

    Jamie, you’re too kind.

    But there’s no need to go back to school; I’ve never darkened the door of a history lecture theatre in my life. (I’m a scientist.) In fact, given the predilections of most history faculty, you’re probably off doing the same.

    The key is time management in reading. I never read fiction, nor People magazine, and for the same reason – it’s time-wasting trash, intellectual chewing gum. If potential reading material doesn’t offer skills or knowledge, it’s adios.

    Artfldgr is our resident historian. I’ve learned a lot by reading his recommendations.

  30. Scott Says:

    Based on Okinawa’s civilian casualty rate, I estimate about 35 million excess deaths if the bombs had NOT been used.

  31. waltj Says:

    The Okinawa campaign, which had just concluded in June 1945, would have been uppermost in the minds of the military planners contemplating the invasion of Japan’s home islands. At Okinawa, of 117,000 Japanese troops, 110,000 had been killed or died of other causes during the battle; many of the Japanese who surrendered were in fact native Okinawans who had recently been pressed into service and were thus more willing to stop fighting before they were killed. The U.S. lost over 12,000 killed and over 38,000 wounded of 183,000 engaged. Make no mistake, these are ghastly casualty rates, and U.S. planners were expecting even more fanatical resistance, and thus higher U.S. losses, once the American invasion force hit the beaches on Kyushu (Operation Olympic).

    With American casualties and Japanese determination to fight to the last man in mind, Truman authorized the dropping of the atomic bombs. To say, as you often hear these days, that the Japanese were about to surrender, and the bombs were unnecessary, is revisionist nonsense that has no basis in historical fact.

  32. Richard Aubrey Says:

    “revisionist nonsense with no basis in fact”
    IOW, truth.

  33. Mr. Frank Says:

    I fear the knowledge, wisdom, and insight contained in many of the above posts are fast going down the Memory Hole. Those of us whose parents were of the WWII generation know about the butchery of the Japanese in Nanking and on the Bataan Death March, but our children do not. The U.S. was the good guy. Full stop.

  34. anna Says:


    you would bet correctly that the Armenian genocide never got mentioned. I had to learn about it from family, the reason being that my great grandparents escaped it with my infant grandfather in tow. They brought him on that famous death march to Dier el Zor in Syria. The mom (my ggmother) later wrote a book about it and it is a very gory and graphic book, difficult to read.

    That being said, the armenians are certainly guilty of squeezing all they can out of the genocide, being as they are a middle eastern people and in my experience most ME people are very willing to subscribe to victimhood mentality. The victim business is not limited to American minorities. I get kind of sick of it from my family.

  35. colagirl Says:

    Having read “Japan’s Longest Day,” a book about what the surrender of Japan looked like from the Japanese side, simply reinforces the idea that the bombs were necessary to win the war. Even *after* both bombs were dropped, the Japanese military officials and heads were still divided about whether to surrender–it took the Japanese emperor himself stepping in personally, in a move almost unprecedented in Japanese history, to force a surrender. Even then there was a coup movement among some of the military officers who believed that the emperor couldn’t actually mean what he had said, and it was their duty to protect their country by continuing to fight. It amazes me (though it probably shouldn’t) that anyone could argue the dropping of the bombs was unjustified. I guess that’s about what we should expect from our liberal education system.

  36. Bob from Virginia Says:

    A few notes: I have read that the Japanese make it a point NOT to teach WWII history in their schools. The Japanese actors in Letters from Iwo Jima apparently learned of that history for the first time while making the movie.

    I once spoke to a WWII vet who was viewed the Japanese defenses for their home islands. I remember getting the impression that an invasion would not have succeeded.

    Japan’s Longest Day is now a good movie available through Netflex.

    My kid also got a lot of holocaust in school, also Japanese Internment camps, Jim Crow the whole liberal guilt trip. I do not recall anything about the Gulag or Bataan though.


    “Why invade an island with almost no natural resources?”

    The Japanese had three natural resources that would have defeated a siege, farmers and farm-able land, a birthrate and indoctrination. Even without an invasion getting rid of the evil Japanese overseas Empire would have been expensive. Remember they were able to wage successful offensives against the Chinese until the very end.

  37. Teri Pittman Says:

    Waltj says it all. We have totally forgotten the sacrifices at Okinawa. I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about WWII and I didn’t know. Victor Davis Hanson has an incredible description about it in his book Ripples of Battle. You can’t possibly understand the decision to drop the bomb without knowing about Okinawa.

  38. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    The operative issue is this. There is no doubt from testimony of those on the scene, doing the planning, that that casualties from an invasion would have been horrendous. Dropping the bombs was the correct thing to do.

    Think about this: In August 1945 the U.S. was the only country in the world with the bomb and a means to deliver it. Had he USSR (who tested their first bomb in 1949), Germany, or Japan gotten this weapon first, guess where the world would be today? Yes, all of us here would be speaking something other than English.

    When anyone questions the ethics or morality of the U.S. and the atomic bombs, just ask them why we didn’t use the bomb and our delivery capability to subjugate the world when we were the only country with the capability for four years? Why, instead we embarked on a program of rebuilding our adversaries infrastructures and economies? Why we also defended people who wanted to stay free in Korea with no thought of using the bomb? The answer is we really do want peace and to defend freedom. We really are a nation with higher standards of ethics than any dictatorship.

  39. Teri Pittman Says:

    Took a few minutes to find this, but it should be required reading in Japan:

    They might view Hiroshima and Nagasaki differently.

  40. david foster Says:

    Relatively few Americans seem to know about the atrocities committed by Imperial Japan, whereas almost everyone knows about those committed by Nazi Germany.

    Check out the children’s book section in any chain bookstore, which gives a pretty good reflection of what is being assigned in schools. There will be at least some coverage of the European war, but nothing about the Pacific other than Hiroshima and the American internment camps.

  41. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    I’m sorry to say that the abysmal record of public-school education continues.

    A few years ago, I was astonished — and then horrified — to hear my eldest speak, casually, about how the Nagasaki bomb had been dropped after the Japanese surrender; she then casually explained the cynical reasons for dropping it. I told her that she was dead wrong, that the reason for dropping the second bomb was because the Japanese Empire had not yet surrendered. She got quite upset with me; she was reciting verbatim what she had heard in school, and she accepted it as gospel.

    It took only a moment or two of Googling to put her on the right track. To her credit, she went back to her teacher, armed with facts and details, and confronted her. The teacher later apologized for making a “mistake”.

    What bothered me about this was that it was not an innocent confusion between two dates, e.g. forgetting if Wilson was President before Coolidge or not. No, this teacher got the dates mixed up… and then sermonized about it, when her entire sermon was based on ONE detail, which turned out to be utterly incorrect.

    My 8th-grader justified this, in part, by explaining that this was not a history teacher, but a science teacher. I replied that ANY teacher ought to get the facts straight before teaching them, let alone sermonizing about them.

    How much would you like to bet that, within a generation, it will be common to teach American schoolchildren that Jews were responsible for the Holocaust? (If that sounds shocking to you, ask yourself this: what are the odds that American schoolchildren would be taught that America had no business fighting in either Korea or Vietnam, and deserved to lose in both cases? That’s being taught now.)

    Daniel in Brookline

  42. Artfldgr Says:

    “Why invade an island with almost no natural resources?”

    The Japanese had three natural resources that would have defeated a siege, farmers and farm-able land, a birthrate and indoctrination. Even without an invasion getting rid of the evil Japanese overseas Empire would have been expensive. Remember they were able to wage successful offensives against the Chinese until the very end.

    so far i got two answers that have no bearing to the questin that makes sense.

    one, attritions point is starving the enemy out, so invading to stop the starvation kind of negates the purpose of attrition.

    you blockade, they starve, they give up, like they did after the bomb.

    and above makes no sense to me either..

    the Japanese had three natural resources that would have defeated a siege..

    was in response to why invade when its an island, fortress, etc? it answers as if it has no comprehension of the question.

    the Japanese at that time did NOT have the farmers, they got killed fighting as the good Germans that made all that great stuff did. [the Germans at the end didn’t either. old men and children were used as expendable resources to slow the ‘enemy’ down when the better forces retreated. the term is cannon fodder]

    member Patton? the idea is not to die for your country, the idea is to make the other idiot die for their country.

    you can see the film clips. as in the US, Germany, Russia, and everywhere else, farmers were now women and children…

    so again… you just attrition them… but this comment conflicts with the other one which says they will starve..

    and the other two things, birth rate and indoctrination take over 14 years for each person…

    so they will hold off a flotilla for 14 years till the women screw the men like silly, all have babies, and then they grow up… and fight with what? no raw materials..

    if this is what passes as any form of cogent thinking we are in a world of trouble.

  43. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Among other things, there was a determination to make sure nothing of the kind happened again–see my Aug 6, 6:56 above.
    Among other things, starving them into submission, or into impotence, would have resulted in huge loss of life. More than at H & N.
    Lastly, the Russians and the Japanese armies in Manchuria and northern China (1.2 million and 1 million, resp.), two armies notable for indifference to casualties, were about to get into it, with results which would have been catastrophic for the civilians in the area as well as the soldiers.

  44. Artfldgr Says:

    you made my point…

    that due to how we would appear, we did and could not take certain routes that would have been different.

    we do not know that the Japanese would be willing to starve en mass, and so will NEVER know whether what worked in history (as only one society ever chose not to give up and give in)

    its a reality that we try to ignore…

    that the people who fight care what others they have to deal with (and their own people) will think after the fact..

    this seriously hobbles us (and mostly in a good way)

    in this case, the hobbling is to make totalitarians SEEM less totalitarian for pragmatic reasons.

    but it also means that when the peg that matters and cares and can influence outcomes is gone. that structure collapses.

    by addressing my point i was able to move forward to the actual point, which cant be understood until AFTER the prior point is realized.

    that the situation wasnt just what is commonly discussed. there was this other component that took certain actions off the table. and our absence in thinking or realizing them, as is common in msm, opens up holes which then allows for social games to mold understanding to some othe conclusion AFTER the facts (and missing some of them)

    a free state cant take time…
    this is the key point

    you either act quick or decisively or the goodness of the general population will stop you.

    this is why certain doctrines given to us by common collective argument and not questioned, leverage this against us.

    so in this, the argument on hiroshima is cut down..

    your answer points out that it wasn’t cut down for you, or me, but it WAS cut down for most, as they cant take a synoptic view, without it. (and the lack of it in their synoptic view, does not impel them to fill the holes with facts)

    and now i can conclude
    (thanks for the help)

    ergo ipso facto.. the people acting in war and the interplay back and forth are NEVER free to act the way that those not there can usually imagine.

    that the situations reality makes it so complex that few would really make another choice.

    would the liberal leftists who want some other outcome accept that the other outcomes were starving them out while holding other combatants at bay, invading them, with other combatants included and grabbing territory (as russia did and still holds).

    or finally… a quick decisive knock up the head, which ends it.

    with as much information as you can put on the table, the choices made were the only ones that could be made

    it was the other choices that brought them to this point and why, a good tactician can demand action of favor from enemies if the pieces are arranged right.

    [translated to progressives, they get you to do their work, and so win against you]

    thanks so much!

  45. Richard Aubrey Says:

    The Morgenthau plan, not implemented, was taken seriously by some in the Truman administration. We’ll never know if it was dropped from humanitarian considerations or the strategic necessity of having a strong West Germany–within limits–to face the Sovs.
    Nevertheless, after the German performance in the first half of the century, starving half of them to death didn’t seem so extreme, if that was what it took to put and end.
    And Monday morning quarterbacking is good fun, and helpful to understanding history. It NEVER justifies moral reproach.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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