Greedy Goblin

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The genocidal plan of Hiroshima-Nagasaki

70 years ago nuclear weapons were used against Hirosima and Nagasaki, killing between 100K and 200K people, mostly civilians. The topic is still highly controversial, because there is a side defending the bombings as necessary to achieve the surrender of Japan. This side refers to the invasion plans that predicted about a million allied and 3 million Japanese deaths.

I believe that opinion is fundamentally flawed and the bombings (both the nuclear and the fire-bombings of cities) were acts of genocide. The fundamental flaw in claiming "500K death in fire bombs and nukes is better than 4M in an invasion" is that it compares an apple with a big orange: "500K death followed by Japanese surrender" vs "4M death without Japanese surrender". I believe that the allied decision makers and the Japanese citizens got very lucky since the Japanese government, first time in recorded history surrendered. However we don't know if the surrender wouldn't happen without the bombings and the decision makers also couldn't know if the surrender happens at all. Let's look at two correct comparisons.

Apples to apples: if Japan surrenders anyway. By choosing bombings, 500K people, mostly civilians died. By choosing invasion we can't know how many people would have died before the Japanese surrender, but we know for sure (from the Allied invasion of Germany) that most of them had been soldiers. While allied troops performed atrocities against civilians in Europe, mass killings were totally missing. Japan was obviously unable to kill allied civilians. Soldier casualties are generally considered better than civilian.

Oranges to oranges: Japan never surrenders. By choosing invasion 4M people would have died according to the plans (there is no point debating contemporary plans as the decision-makers had no better source). By bombings there is only one way to defeat a non-surrendering enemy: killing them to the last man. This is the fundamental problem: by choosing firebombings and nuclear attacks, the Allies decided to completely exterminate the Japanese nation if its leaders don't surrender. Besides odd survivors and rural villagers, vast majority of the 70 million population would have been killed.

There is one more point to add: the Japanese government was a completely undemocratic half-feudal, half-military dictatorship. There was nothing an average Japanese person could do about it, while an average German could simply not vote for Hitler in 1933. Still, the Allied choose to invade Germany instead of just sitting in the safety of the Atlantic (Germany had no hope to invade Britain in 1944) and wait for the nuclear bombs to complete. By that invasion the people of Germany were liberated from the Nazi rule, regardless what Hitler wanted. By the time he committed suicide and the remaining Nazis surrendered, most of the population of Germany were already safe from the war. The same liberation was not planned for the Japanese people, the Allies placed their fate into the hand of their government.

While one can mention that German cities were also fire-bombed with great civilian casualties, these war crimes were always secondary to the invasion plans and were mostly lobbied and performed by a small group of war criminals (like "Bomber" Harris) and were stopped after the public learned the results of the bombing of Dresden. In case of Japan, this was the only policy.


Unknown said...

Genocide versus weapons of mass destruction:
Your definition of Genocide is quite incorrect. Because people get lose with their words as time progresses - like the word "love" which is so abused it can mean anything from casual liking to sacrificial service to sex. Lets look at how the word is defined closer to the events in history. From the 1965 World Book Dictionary (sorry, I don't have the Oxford Dictionary from that period) Genocide is: n. Systematic measures for the extermination of a national, political, cultural, religious, or racial group.

You can argue that many people died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but you cannot argue, based on evidence, that the intent was genocide. The intent was to end a war the Japanese started (context of the war in the Pacific versus Europe). Had the intent been genocide, the USA would not have stopped with Nagasaki. They would have nuked all of Japan.

Phelps said...

1) the allies were prepared to nuke Europe. The initial project was a response to the German atomic bomb program. The only thing is that Germany surrendered in May, and trinity was in June. If the Germans were still standing tall, they would have been the targets (since they were seen as a more existential threat).

2) 4MM was the number that we expected to die BEFORE SURRENDER. We never figured on having to kill every man jack of them. We expected to have to kill a whole hell of a lot of them, though. We weren't dealing with rational actors. Given a conventional invasion, the holdouts in the nipponese army would have been emboldened with hope that they could deal with the onslaught. Only when it was clear that there was no defense to atomic bombs were the tiny minority of officers willing to surrender able to get to the emperor -- and even then, there was a mini civil war in Edo from the holdouts attempting to keep the rationals from the emperors ear.

You are thinking about this as a rational person. Rational people were not in charge of Nippon at the time. The emperor had very limited information (all filtered through fanatic hardliners military officers) and the general military culture was death before dishonor. We are fortunate that they weren't able to think of some hairbrained scheme to try to defend (like a hasty bunker program) or even the atomic bomb likely wouldn't have worked.

It's funny -- you have dealt with this mentality. Imagine that the nipponese were goons, and it will all make more sense to you.

Unknown said...

Just to add, you might find this debate interesting since you used wikipedia as a source.

Unknown said...

Hiroshima and Nagasaki is basicly what happens when fallen a-socials do science... They know that what they are doing is evil, but they refuse to aknowledge it. Even Nobel invited dynamite to help miners, not fuel war, when Project Manhattan was strictly a child of war.

Its a great tragedy, when people capable of rational, objective thinking refuse to do so... They basicly gives guns to childrens (morons and slackers) and dont think of consequences.

maxim said...

To me, the deal-breaker is USA deciding that they'd rather see other nation's civilians die than risk their soldiers. Whether there were genocidal plans beyond that or not is immaterial (though i agree it wouldn't make sense if there weren't).

WHat's missing here is context. Why did this topic suddenly become important to specifically you?

Anonymous said...

Its very simple. If the choice was 3 million of them dead vs 1 million of ours dead. We choose the option where they die first. If the option were 500k of us and them losing 3 million. They still die first. If the option was 2000 guys dying vs 3 million of them. They die first. That was war, and war isn't fought fairly. Lets not trip up on semantics. Both cities where production centers. Soldiers don't work in factories, but they use the products.

There is no rule that losses on either side have to be symmetric.

However, afterward, it was agreed upon that due to the availability and use of weapons or practices that indiscriminately killed both combatant, and non-combatant. An agreement was reached, and thus was born:

From that, a standard of combat was developed, the law of Armed Conflict. Specifically curtailing actions taken against non-combatants.

To say that it was genocide would be to say Japaneses where targeted due to their racial identity. This was no more the case than Germans shooting Russians in Stalingrad. They were not targeted because of what they were or who they are. They were targeted because their nation was at war with the other.

Nor does the scale of loss in the attacks matter. Millions of civilians died in WW2: Civilians killed totaled from 50 to 55 million, including 19 to 28 million from war-related disease and famine.

To say that "Well, the average Japanese didn't have the chance to vote on the matter" is a poor defense of their intentions. Cultural tradition based on honor of your leadership/Emperor was well ingrained. The US dropped leaflets warning about incendiary bombings. And the Japanese people never wavered.

If the US had not dropped the nuclear weapons and instead continued to perform bombing runs (Some of which caused more deaths than either single nuclear bombing by that time), civilian deaths could have well been higher. A land invasion costing 1 million would have likely never happened either way because bombing (be it nukes or not) was a much more attractive option. Without nukes the incendiary bombing campaigns would have continued. Very likely killing far more than the two events combined.

I think, it could be argued that dropping those bombs might have resulted in a net savings of lives.

If you want to be critical, be critical that the US desired a total surrender. Not understanding that Japaneses thought that it would be the debasement of their honored emperor. They would have accepted conditional surrender long before, but the US insisted on a total, unconditional surrender.


Azuriel said...

In the scheme of things, I think the decision was more political than anything else. The Manhattan Project ended up costing $26 billion in 2015 money, all spent during a world war. If the public found out later that we had two nukes lying around that could of been used to possibly end the war sooner, but we chose not to? All those politicians' careers would have been over. Plus, you know, science; the military had been avoiding firebombing certain cities for the express purpose of getting a better sense of how destructive the atom bombs were going to be.

But yeah, for the record, the US Strategic Bombing Survey concluded:

Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

Anonymous said...

You're missing an essential point.

At the time of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the US had only two atomic bombs. Yes, those two.

The third one was scheduled to be finished a few months later. The US government simply bluffed. They released both bombs in a short interval as a show of force to intentionally make the Japanese government believe that they had many, many more.

Also, a technical detail. Both bombs were detonated as air bursts. Meaning that the bomb exploded before it hit the ground. One reason was that it increased the radius of destruction. The other side-effect was that it reduced fallout by quite a lot. But if you were planning on genociding an entire country, you would start with a dirty bomb, not an airburst. Radiation fallout would potentially affect far, far more people than an increase in destructive radius.

So, even if it were an attempt at genocide, the planning was horribly bad for it. They didn't have enough tools to finish the genocide, and they chose the option of bombing that demolished more buildings, but affected less population.

Finally, I think you miss a political point. Namely, the million soldier deaths the US would take. US, at the time, was a democracy, while Japan was not. Dragging the war for far too long would make people in the US just vote for someone else that maybe would have promised a cease-fire and peace talks. (In fact, I am willing to bet that THIS is what the Japanese government hoped to gain by dragging on the war.) The bombs changed all that in the sense that it showed that the US could do a lot of damage without exposing their soldiers. Propaganda could explain the Japanese civilian deaths as tragic but necessary, but it's a lot harder to propaganda that own soldier deaths are tragic but necessary.

While I don't deny that there were many racists who believed genocide to be the solution, the actual planning does not seem to suggest that.

Finally, I think that if the government would not have surrendered, the US would have proceeded with a ground invasion regardless. There were really no other options for them at the time besides that and a negotiated peace settlement.

Anonymous said...

Oh, one other point that you also ignored, when to comes to Germany.

Make no mistake, the allies could have waited, but they were not especially fond of Stalin and communism.

The invasion of Normandy had really no longterm strategic value (Germany would have lost anyway.), but they had to stop the russians from 'liberating' Germany, and, even worse, France.

You can't ignore the fact that their judgement was spot-on. Look at what happened after the war, in countries that the russians 'liberated'.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gevlon.
(You mistyped the city name. Hiroshima.)

The big difference is that Germany was a race against the sovjets as well. There was no need to capture any territory in the war against japan. the terrain and constellations were completely different.

Anonymous said...

It was terrorism, plain and simple.
"We've blown up civilians, do what we want or we'll blow up more".
Civilians have nothng to do with war. Collateral damage happens, but the moment you aim to kill them instead of military forces to force your policy it stops being an act of war and becomes an act of terrorism.

Unknown said...

Gelvon, I must respectfully disagree.

First of all, the fire bombing of Tokyo killed about as many people than the atomic bombs did. Second, during the battle of Okinawa, 110,000 Japanese were killed, either by the US, or by their own people.. Toward the end of the war, the Japanese military was stealing food from their own civilians and causing starvation among their own people. In addition, military planners projected 5 to 10 million Japanese casualties during a potential invasion.

One final note, in preparation for the invasion of Japan, the US made 500,000 purple hearts. Every single purple heart that has been awarded in all the wars since has come from that stash. Not one purple heart has been made since then.


Luobote Kong said...

A couple of things you may wish to factor in for the no surrender scenario. The Japanese empire were quite prepared to sacrifice its own civilians as happened in the Okinawa caves and alliied civilians were being slaughtered on mainland China (an ally) and Indochina. Those campaigns were unlikely to be resolved even if the Japanese mainland had fallen.

Gevlon said...

@Luobote Kong, Unknown: there is no doubt that the Japanese government was an evil, racist bunch of war criminals. But it's no excuse for anyone to perform war crimes against innocent civilians. It's merely a reason to hang any Japanese government member they could find.

@Anonymous: the Soviets were no excuse. Using nukes to prevent Japan being captured by Soviets is telling "better them dead than communist". Also why did the Germans were liberated from the Soviets by invasion, but not the Japanese?

@Prev Anon: I see no difference between the firebombings and the nukes. Without nukes the US would have continued to exterminate civilians with firebombs.

@Azuriel: they could just drop the bombs on a forest. That would show the Japanese the power of the bomb.

@Anonymous 5:42: telling "rather 3M of them than 2K of us" is genocide itself. The Germans shooting Russian civilians were war criminals without doubt. The very point of the post is that the Japanese were targeted because of their nationality/ethnicity and NOT because their nation was at war. The Germans were at war too, yet not targeted. Hint: German- and Italian- Americans were even serving in the US army, while Japanese-Americans were collected into internment camps (despite belonging to the American nation, not the Japanese). The Japanese PEOPLE had no way of "wavering", since they were totally oppressed by their government.

@Maxim: genocides are the ultimate form of sociality. A genocide performer does not care at all about your personal qualities, actions or beliefs. If you are a member of a group, you'll die.

@Marek: building the bomb wasn't evil. Dropping it was.

@Phelbs: expecting Japanese civilians to be unreasonable enemy who can't be stopped without killing them is pure racism.

@S Riojas: the intent was to kill every single Japanese unless their government surrenders.

Luke said...

You are forgetting that this was essentially field test of new potentially gamechanging weapon. The initial (trinity )test was made day before Potsdam conference. Bombings went just after it ended.

Given conventional superiority of Soviet Army in Europe, dropping the bombs on legal target of opportunity is something whole future MAD doctrine is build upon.

As you said, having a bomb, and being able to actually use it are two diffferent things.

nightgerbil said...

Gevlon I used to think the same as you as a teenager until I got the chance to speak some brit vets and high ranking officals from the time. They told me the real reason they supported the bomb was it saved the lives of 150 000 allied pow's. The million military deaths is a red herring. If you ever played silent service you would know the devasting effect our subs were having on japan.

Japan had already tried to surrender twice and were a few months off mass starvation on the homeland. NO invasion was needed. The IJA however gave orders to their commanders in indochina, burma and elsewhere that all allied pows were to be executed on news of Japans official negotiated surrender. It was ONLY the nukes forcing Japans unconditional surrender that saved the lives of those men and women (they had civilians too).

Now I'm from a military family. I hold as a core value that we have a sacred trust to our men and women in uniform, that if we must ask them to kill fight and die for us then we OWE it to them for it to matter. That we will not give away their lives needlessly and waith want abandon and that we will do everything we can to see they come home safe.

If I had been President nightgerbil I would have dropped as many nukes as it took, on tokyo, on kyoto, on the emperors palace, on the last fishing village on the last little island where the last 10 japanese kids were huddling in a tent if thats what it took to force the war criminals who ran the IJA/IJN to not murder our people. You might call that genocide. I call it a sacred trust.

Anonymous said...

It was a genocide.
Why, simple, when you launch a nuke to a country today, would it be considered anything else then genocide?
In first WW they used gas(both sides), since then it is a no no.
Using gas in syria is also considered a genocide.
There has always been someone who used it first, but they always get branded to be genocidal why would the us's nukes be any different.
The reason why is irrelevant today.

Anonymous said...

"German-Americans were serving in the USA army"

Germans had not attacked the USA.
Japan had, and, were continuing to

You think Britain let Germans fight in our military?

If you think that the USA was not anti-German, or did not mind if large amounts of German citizens died post-war (so, after they were defeated) , then you are wrong. It is extremely fortunate the Morgenthau plan did not get approved, because, as Hoover said “There is the illusion that the New Germany left after the annexations can be reduced to a ‘pastoral state’. It cannot be done unless we exterminate or move 25,000,000 people out of it.”

Gevlon said...

@Nightgerbil: you make absolutely no sense. They were not executed on the Japanese surrender, so they were equally not executed if Japan surrenders later or in different manner.

@Anonymous: some madmen planned a genocide against Germans and some soldiers committing war crimes against civilians and POWs is totally irrelevant. The final policy against Germany was invasion and remaking the state into democracy. The final policy against Japan was killing their civilians until they surrender.

Frostys said...

If it was indeed a genocide, why accept the surrender at all? I mean, if they really wanted to kill every single one of them like a genocide is about, they would not of stopped dropping bombs, atomic or otherwise, on the city over and over until the island is nothing but a bunch of carbonized craters.

Unknown said...

Gevlon, You pointed out that building a bomb wasnt an act of evil. But I have to disagree. While invention of nuclear power and the possibility of useing uranium as weapon was a -possibility- it remained as such. It have taken one of the greatest minds of the world, to collaborate and create such thing as an a-bomb. And they were totally aware, they are creating just new means of destruction. There was nothing noble in Manhattan Project, there was no interest in harvesting that power for peace and prosperity, they wanted "ultimate weapon" from start to finish.

And they delivered it. They opened pandora box, we today feel safe and comfy, cause we grew to tolerate the fact that everyday Earth could go into total anihilation. We think M.A.D is valid solution for peace, but we forget that is the possibility istelf, that may one day vanish our race. Dont take me wrong Gevlon I do not put the whole responsibility on scientists society here, but I always want to remind people, specially the "brainy" ones, that what they do MAKE a diffrence. And they cant close themselves in their ivory towers without thinking of consquences.

Gevlon said...

@Frostys: I didn't say that the US government wanted all Japanese to die. I said they couldn't care less if they do.

@Marek: not inventing something is not an option, since someone else will invent it. The Soviets were also building a bomb and completed it independently.

JackTheManiac said...

Genocide must be backed by a racist ideology. This is not genocide. It just so happens that Japan has basically no non-japanese habitants.

Same with the Iraq War, it is not genocide, it just so happens that the people who want to bomb the US are all/mostly Arabic.

It is NOT genocide.

Next, the Hiroshima debate is pointless. Debate as we must, there is no way to ever change that happened. The Japanese tried to prolong the war like a child losing a board game, trying to make you lose your time and resources as much as he can instead of just giving it up. But regardless, there is no way to change the past.

However we can learn from it. Atomic bombs (nuclear power in general) cause unrepairable damage to both the land and the people. So yeah, if it's used, it must be very carefully, and never as an offensive tactic.

But back then, they had to make a choice. Good or bad is up to debate, but one thing we know, this must not happen again.

War sucks.

(Note to people: Gevlon is talking about this because August is the month this debate comes back to life, August 6th is the anniversary).

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it may have been genocide, but lets not forget the genocide and atrocities that were committed by the Japanese against America itself (Pearl Harbor),China, Korea, and the Philippines.

Unknown said...

Gevlon, but You still speaks in terms of countries. For me countries and nationality is just song of the past (they had sense, when means of communication was so small, that the other nation may seem completly alien... but even then You could argue if it was so). I speak about scientist community of the whole world.

It dosent matter if You are Jewish, Russian, American or Japanesse scientists, it dosent matter, if You work for USA or USSR, if You put Your rational thinking into creating means of destruction and control, You support it and You are completly aware that You are supporting regime. Be it communist, imperialists or "American Freedom".

When I can have some pity for soldiers fighting on the front, cause after all I do not expect from line-soldier to be specially aware and capable of rational thinking, I can call him extreme cause of social that he puts his own life on stake, just because group, let it be country or nation, demand it from him.

But a scientists, a rational thinker, that creates nukes? He is fully aware, what he is creating and what is his goal. I cant have any pity for him, as he is taking FULL responsibility for his own actions. Most of the time, he abbadon everything You cherrish, he gives away his free will, rational reasoning, selfishness and in general a-sociality. He thinks that he NEED to create such weapons, because his group needs them and guys on the other side may create them too. Its a sad example, of "downfall". A lv 3 or even 4 (inventor) dropping down to thinking of lv 2 or even 1. ("What can I do?" "My country needs me" etc.)

Dr. Robert Stadler is a fiction character that decipts such downfall perfectly.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: "the Japanese" did not commit war crimes. The Japanese government and several military units did.

@Marek: inventing a new technology automatically create opportunities for malicious use. There was no way for creating nuclear plants without opening the door for nuclear bombs. While working on directly the de facto weapon can be rejected, you can't research anything without helping the weapon created. For example those who invented 3D printers surely didn't mean to print guns, but they still contributed to the creation of the printed guns.

Unknown said...

Ofcourse I do not deny the fact, that progress gives as new means of destruction. But there is a big diffrence between pushing research futher and working on new weapon. Project Manhattan wasnt about "lets see what use we could have from nuclear energy" it was about "could we harass nuclear energy to create new kind of weapon"?.

Like I said before, creating nukes was like giving kids a gun (rational tool for morons), there is a diffrence between that and buying a gasoline in garrage that kid still can use to burn down the whole house... War is not rational, it stands against everything a rational person cherish. It is abbadonded of what makes us humans (thinking) for primal, animalistic instincts (I dosent matter who is right, if I kill him).

So I am aware, that tech for nukes would shows up sooner or later. But if they would emerge from academic disucssion and work, maybe there would be place for society to react before they are ever used. Like we banns lots of new tech, if we dont consider it completly safe in industry.

Futhermore, that dosent takes away guilt for people like Oppenheimer or Heisenberg for working on projects that was intentended to bring misery and pain to humanity.

Banedon said...

You're free to think whatever you want about the dropping of the bombs, apparently nothing anyone has said will convince you otherwise.

You can even believe it's genocide, but it wasn't. The goal was to force the Japanese government to surrender, not wipe out the Japanese people. Genocide is attempting to wipe out an ethnic, religious, or cultural group from a geographic area. That area could be "this valley" or "the whole planet".

Japan was completely screwed by August 1945. It was clear by mid to late 1944 that Japan had no hope of winning the war. But they still fought on. While their industry was moribund from lack of resources, their people starving, their cities razed, their navy sunk, and Allied ships literally sitting off-shore blasting anything that moved, they still fought on. The Japanese government was run by the Army, which followed the credo of "Death before Dishonor" (Surrender).

As the Allies had no idea what it would take to make Japan surrender, they planned to invade the Home Islands. They anticipated millions of casualties on both sides. Estimates varied, but the numbers usually quoted are 1 million Allied and 4-6 million Japanese. They also expected the fighting to go on into 1948. They dropped the nukes to try to force Japan to surrender then, instead of after additional years of pointless fighting and senseless casualties.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were targeted because of their industrial capacity, shipyards, and local military bases, not because they were full of civilians. If all the US wanted to do was kill civilians, there were cities with far larger populations to hit. Personally. I think the US made the best choice from an array of bad choices. No choice was good, but the options passed over were worse.

And in dropping the bombs they surprised everyone, including themselves, because no one truly understood just how powerful these new weapons actually were. And because we dropped two, none have been dropped or fired since. I think that the world managing to NOT use the most powerful weapons ever created is a gift. We've seen the devastation that two tiny bombs by todays standards did. And because of that, no one wants to unleash more.

Finally, German-Americans and Italian-Americas served in the Pacific Theatre. Though Japanese-Americans in the continental US (but not Hawaii) were rounded up en masse and put into camps, some eventually served in the European Theatre. That unit was the most highly decorated unit in American military history.

Anonymous said...

“[Truman] did…ask a panel of military experts to offer an estimate of how many Americans might be killed if the United States launched the two major invasions of the Japanese home islands…Their figure: 40,000 – far below the half-million he would cite after the war. ”[emphasis added]

"‘…it was completely unnecessary from a military point of view.’ MacArthur said that the war might ‘end sooner than some think.’ The Japanese were ‘already beaten.’”

While Eisenhower, MacArthur, LeMay, and Nimitz believed the dropping of the bombs to be unnecessary, Chief of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy went even further, insisting that even the contemplated invasion of Japan was unnecessary to end the war.

Phelps said...

So I am aware, that tech for nukes would shows up sooner or later. But if they would emerge from academic disucssion and work, maybe there would be place for society to react before they are ever used. Like we banns lots of new tech, if we dont consider it completly safe in industry.

If they had emerged from academic work, then that would mean that they emerged from published journals, and EVERYONE would have access to them.

Frankly, I don't see a world where everyone immediately has access to nukes (rather than the 10 year cooling off period we had before the Soviets managed to steal the plans from the US) as a better world.

I see it as a burned and charred world.

tweell said...

Genocide, Gevlon? Not hardly. 'You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.' It didn't amount to decimation, let alone genocide.

The Japanese had their own nuclear weapons project going, by the way. As did the Germans. It's quite possible that the Germans would have gotten there first, if their heavy water plant hadn't been sabotaged by commandoes and the ship carrying the heavy water from Norway to Germany wasn't bombed and sunk by frogmen. It's physics, and the theory was known world-wide.

I'd also like to note that Japan did not surrender after the first bomb was dropped. They didn't surrender for over a week after the second bomb was dropped, and the 'doves' had to record the Emperor's surrender proclamation in secrecy lest the ruling junta catch on (and still had a coup attempt in the middle). This was with the US bluff that we had a hundred nukes and would obliterate every city in Japan if they didn't give in.

There was another plan to deal with Japan, one that Truman would have approved over MacArthur's vainglorious invasion plans. We would completely isolate Japan, and burn their farms from the air when it got close to harvest time. This would eventually make them surrender, but millions of civilians would have starved to death first - the Japanese military were going to eat as long as there was any food available. The Japanese people were already starving. We fed them as much as we could after the surrender, but it was a close thing. I saw a memo from MacArthur's office dated September 1946 authorizing an increase in food rations to 1800 calories. A year after the surrender, the Japanese were still hungry. Given the progressive nature of starvation (and that after a certain point, it's fatal even if more food is provided), the probability was that at least ten million Japanese civilians would have starved to death before Japan gave up.

A family friend lived in Nagasaki when it was bombed. She was a teenager at the time, and crossed ground zero twice within 48 hours looking for her brother after the attack. What T'kako told me was that she was grateful that the war ended when it did, even if it took nukes to do it. The common Japanese civilian, even inundated with propaganda as they were, didn't really care who was in charge as long as they had food and shelter. The Americans brought food, and she would have been dead of starvation with the rest of her family by the end of November at the latest.

Unknown said...

Dear Phelps, I understand Your point but I disagree with it.
Creating nukes in garrages is today not hard because of science behind it, its hard because we strictly monitor equipment and materials that are needed to do so. Futhermore, there is other weapons than nukes that requires scientific knowledge and are commonly used by terrorists or regimes. Chemical weapons, biological weapons, bombs, hacking infrastructure and military equipment etc.

Its embargo and awarness that makes creating weapons hard, by any means not science behind it. Group of students builds space-pods, sequence dna or reveal new secrets of physics and You think that making nukes would be hard for them? No. Having an acess to reactor that could enrich uranium and said uranium, would be a problem.

So there is no "forbidden" knowledge, that makes us safe. There is only "difficult to access/recreate knowledge" and lots of restrictions and supervision and AWARNESS that makes us safe.

Unknown said...

@gevlon "the intent was to kill every single Japanese unless their government surrenders."

No, that was the stated consequence of not surrendering in war the Japanese fired the first shot in. The intent was to end the war. I really suggest you read that debate from the same sources you cited. It has arguments for and against the bombing.

Was it necessary to win the war? No. But it was done to expedite the end of the war, which is succeeded in doing:
"The "one condition" faction, led by Togo, seized on the bombing as decisive justification of surrender. Kōichi Kido, one of Emperor Hirohito's closest advisers, stated, "We of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war." Hisatsune Sakomizu, the chief Cabinet secretary in 1945, called the bombing "a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war."
“Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should We continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers."

Extract from Emperor Hirohito's "Gyokuon-hōsō" surrender speech, August 15, 1945
" - a quote from the Debate I mentioned earlier.

For my part, I wish the bomb had never been made.

Anonymous said...

First, the Germans did NOT vote for Hitler. Hitler lost his only election (Hindenburg defeated him in the Presidential election). They did vote for Nazi representatives, but passing the Enabling Act to seize power still required not only political misdealing, but using their control of the state police to arrest enough opposing politicians to get the required numbers. Hardly a democratic state.

Second, as noted above, Germany surrendered before we finished the atom bombs. We did use all other available weapons against them, so why would anyone assume we wouldn't have nuked them?

Third, we were trying to negotiate for Japan's surrender during that time, and had access to their diplomatic ciphers to see the results. Expecting a surrender was calculated (to the point of using our only two bombs back-to-back to suggest more capability than we had and put time pressure on them that didn't exist), not some random stroke of luck.

Finally, the statement about holding back targets for the bomb is only partially correct. Likely targets that made the list were certainly more intact cities to better show its power, but some cities (like Hiroshima) were intact because they were judged poor candidates for firebombings (Hiroshima straddles several rivers joining together).

So Rearden said...

@Marek: Dr. Robert Stadler is meant to represent a man who puts his mind to use to serve men who rule by initiating force. Ragnar is meant to represent a man who uses force to defend men against those who initiate force. If it a nuke that is the form of force being used it depends on the purpose for which it is being used that determines its morality.

@Gevlon: I reject your premise that the concern for the civilians of a hostile nation is to be placed over winning the war and minimalizing the freer nation's casualties. I don't consider soldier casualties better then civilians qua soldier casualties. It is the second consideration after protecting the rights of your citizens according to what your self-interest demands.

Phelps said...

@Marek I'm not talking about everyday citizens. I'm talking about nation states. Chemical weapons are a perfect analogy -- they were all developed this way just before WW1, and were used extensively (to our common detriment) in that war. Your argument proves my point. Without the decade that the world enjoyed where we could examine the results of America's use of nuclear weapons, I think that they would have been much more commonly used, especially in the immediate aftermath of WW2.

Unknown said...

Phelps I do agree, that this tech was used during war. But I understand Your last comment, that civilians with acess to nukes would vanish world. If You meant, that would be regimes during war, then yes, You was right and I was just misreading Your comment.

War sucks. There is a good reason, why Sun Tzu wrote "A true general hates war" in his Art of War.

Fex said...

It wasn't genocide because the means of delivery killed indiscriminately, the bombs were used against a nations civilians and according to any definition would be labeled a war crime by the Hague war tribunal. Coincidentally USA is the only "civilized" country NOT recognizing the tribunal and consistently refusing to extradite war criminals of their nation prior to assessing their "guilt" for themselves. As in if you are an American soldier in say kuweit during the golf war and proceed with your mouse litary unit to rape all the females in a village the USA refuses to arrest and extradite its soldiers because they qualify that as legal an necessary interrogation techniques.
The USA does not feel that all conventions apply to them and has structurally undermined human rights of their enemies. Just look at the patriot act, alqueda, and other anti terrorism legislation. Mainly because of their lack of exposure to and risk of domestic wars they don't feel the need to adhere to rules protecting citizens in warzones. I mean, realistically its unlikely that an American soccermum is ever going to be at risk of being gangraped by a company of invading foreign soldiers. And because they don't have a need of protecting their own civil population they are willing to take violence against other countries much further then governments on Continental Europe. Our mad enemy might live next door, theirs is always an ocean away.