Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Ending The War With Japan

 
Truman, Marshall, and King
Truman, Marshall, and King

Today is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. We are already seeing the usual retrospectives about the ending of the war with Japan, and whether the use of the atomic bomb was necessary. Let’s consider a surprising counterfactual: If the A-bombs had not been dropped and had Japan not surrendered in August 1945, the US might not have gone through with the planned invasion of the Japanese homeland.

On June 18, 1945 at a White House meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of War, and the Secretaries of the Army and Navy, President Harry Truman approved plans for the invasion of Japan. The key participants were the President, General George C. Marshall, and Admiral Ernest King. In 1999, using documents that had only been declassified in the past decade, Richard B. Frank published Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire. It reshaped our understanding of the final months of the Second World War and the endgame that culminated with the Japanese surrender on August 14, 1945. (The formal ceremony took place on the USS Missouri, in Tokyo Bay, on September 2.)

What were Truman and the others thinking as they walked into that meeting room on June 18? The night before, Truman wrote in his diary that the decision to “invade Japan [or] bomb and blockade” would be his “hardest decision to date.” The men entering the meeting knew the American public was increasingly war-weary, shocked by the enormous casualties of the past year. In the first 30 months of the war, the U.S. suffered 91,000 battle deaths, about 3,000 a month. In June 1944, the toll accelerated with the D-Day landings and the assault on Saipan in the Pacific. In the next twelve months, 196,000 Americans died in combat, an average of more than 16,000 a month. The European war had ended in May, and public pressure to bring the troops home was increasing.
As we approached Japan in early 1945, the war in the Pacific was growing even bloodier. During five weeks in February and March, 1945, 7,000 Americans died and 17,000 were wounded fighting 21,000 Japanese soldiers on the eight square miles of Iwo Jima. At the dedication of the 3d Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo, Major General Graves B. Erskine described the desperation of the fight:

Victory was never in doubt. Its cost was. The enemy could have displaced every cubic inch of volcanic ash on this fortress with concrete pillboxes and blockhouses, which he nearly did, and still victory would not have been in doubt.

What was in doubt, in all our minds, was whether there would be any of us left to dedicate our cemetery at the end, or whether the last Marine would die knocking out the last Japanese gun and gunner.

Iwo Jima was followed, on April 1, by the landing on Okinawa. Over the next ten weeks, another 50,000 American soldiers and sailors were killed or wounded while eliminating a Japanese garrison of 92,000. The struggle came to resemble the trench warfare of the First World War, and was likewise so grinding and unrelenting as to result in thousands of additional psychiatric casualties.

They knew that the Allied policy was unconditional surrender for Japan, as set by FDR and Churchill at the Casablanca Conference in 1943.

They knew that the Magic Summaries showed no Japanese government disposition for peace on these terms.

They knew that Japan still had two million military personnel stationed outside Japan from New Guinea to the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, China, Korea, Burma and Indochina; and they wanted to force a formal surrender by the Japanese government to avoid years of piecemeal fighting with all of these isolated forces.

By the end of the June 18 meeting, Truman, his generals, and cabinet had decided on a broad strategy for the invasion of Japan. The first landings would be on the southernmost of the four main Japanese homeland islands, Kyushu, on November 1, 1945. The seizure of Kyushu would allow the Air Force to build airfields for the fighter aircraft that would provide cover for the landing on the Honshu plain near Tokyo, on March 1 of the following year.

Truman was told that military planners assumed about 760,000 American troops would face 350,000 Japanese on Kyushu, supported by about 2,500-3,000 aircraft. Although the Joint Chiefs unanimously supported his decision, Truman was not told that the Navy — unlike the Army — did not believe an invasion would ultimately be needed, or that in Admiral King’s view, he was only supporting preparations for the landing on Kyushu. King believed a blockade and aerial bombing would force Japan’s surrender.

Six weeks later, American intelligence had assembled a completely different picture about what awaited us on Kyushu. The Japanese Army had figured out the American landing would be on the island, and bet everything on a strategy of inflicting maximum casualties to achieve a negotiated settlement to the war, one that would preserve the Emperor, prevent the Allied occupation of Japan, and allow Japan to retain portions of its overseas empire. What changed in those few weeks?

  • Instead of 350,000 Japanese troops, American intelligence now estimated there would be 650,000. (It was discovered after the war that the Japanese had in fact packed 900,000 troops onto the island);
  • Instead of 2,500-3,000 aircraft, the Japanese had between 6,000 and 10,000, and were planning to employ them in waves of kamikaze attacks against vulnerable transport ships as they approached landing beaches packed with thousands of American troops. (The Okinawa kamikaze attacks had been on warships);
  • The entire civilian population of the island had been mobilized, armed (in some cases just with hoes and spades), and trained to attack the American soldiers when they came ashore, leaving the U.S. military unable to distinguish between soldiers and civilians, and resulting in enormous casualties on both sides;
  • The Japanese military had issued orders to kill all Allied prisoners of war once the American invasion began.

During these weeks, the Magic Diplomatic Summaries indicated no improved prospects of a peace offer from Japan on Allied terms. An enormous literature on this topic has been accrued in the past half-century; suffice to say, Japan’s foreign minister admitted, after the war, that the Japanese cabinet never agreed on a plan for terminating the war. The Magic intercepts revealed a series of communications between the government and its ambassadors that were confusing in many respects, but always clear on one: unconditional surrender was unacceptable, and events such as casualties inflicted on Americans during the anticipated invasion might lead to the termination of the war on more favorable terms.

For those who wish to read more about the rise and fall of the revisionist viewpoint that blames America for the war’s continuation, Michael Kort’s The Historiography of Hiroshima: The Rise and Fall of Revisionism is an excellent start.

According to Frank, the new intelligence probably would have led Admiral King to withdraw his support for the Kyushu landing. Had the war not ended by the second half of August, he believes, this would have prompted President Truman to undertake a new strategic review. Meanwhile, the United States Army Air Forces had come up with a new approach to strategic bombing, which it planned to implement in September 1945. Unlike the massive incendiary attacks that burned down large parts of Japan’s biggest cities between March and June, the new campaign focused on a small number of key rail yards, bridges, tunnels, and ferries. The Air Force had realized that with Japan’s poor road network (mostly still unpaved), the distribution of food supplies could be paralyzed by disrupting fewer than 100 rail and shipping locations. With Japan’s population already on the brink of starvation, the effect of this campaign would have been catastrophic.

This strategic review would have provoked intense controversy within the Administration, since the Army was still committed to the invasion strategy. There is no indication that Truman ever knew of the new intelligence on the Japanese military buildup on Kyushu or of the new bombing plan; and with the end of the war, it was not necessary to raise the issue to the Presidential level. All of this creates a hypothetical future where no American invasion of Japan would have happened, even if the war had gone on beyond mid-August. The likely results:

  • Continued American blockade of the Japanese home islands and complete disruption of the food supply by the Air Force bombing campaign, causing starvation in the civilian population;
  • The Soviet invasion of Hokkaido — the northernmost home island of Japan, then lightly-defended — in September 1945. This was one of the revelations from the opening of the Soviet archives in the 1990s;
  • The British invasion of Malaya in early September, which would have caused heavy casualties against the Japanese forces anticipating the operation;
  • Continued fighting in the Philippines, on smaller islands across the Pacific, and in China;
  • Huge death tolls of Asian civilians under Japanese occupation (primarily in China and secondarily in Southeast Asia), estimated at 100,000 to 250,000 a month from famine, disease, imprisonment, and execution.

How long could Japan have survived in this scenario? Would the ending have been an organized surrender of all Japanese military forces, or a disorganized collapse with scattered fighting continuing across the Pacific and mainland Asia? The end of the Pacific war, like the end of the European war, would have been grim under any scenario.

To learn more about these events, you can read my original post, at Things Have Changed. For those interested in the complicated history and the methodology used in the invasion casualty estimates, read D.M. Giangreco’s “A Score of Bloody Okinawas and Iwo Jimas” in Hiroshima In History, edited by Robert James Maddox (2007).

There are 30 comments.

  1. Manny Member

    I agree there would have been huge human loss with an invasion. I’ve always supported the dropping of the atomic bombs, but here’s something that dawned on me recently. Why did they have to drop them on hugely populated, civilian areas? Wouldn’t it have been just a deterent if they dropped them in a less populated space? Or perhaps a military base? And then if that didn’t deter, drop them on the cities.

    • #1
    • August 5, 2015, at 6:06 AM PST
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  2. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Manny:I agree there would have been huge human loss with an invasion. I’ve always supported the dropping of the atomic bombs, but here’s something that dawned on me recently. Why did they have to drop them on hugely populated, civilian areas? Wouldn’t it have been just a deterent if they dropped them in a less populated space? Or perhaps a military base? And then if that didn’t deter, drop them on the cities.

    As I recall, part of the issue was that they only had a handful of bombs and were concerned about what would happen if one or the other of them failed. Basically, they only had two rounds in the chamber, so they didn’t want to waste either of them on warning shots.

    I agree, though, that had there been the opportunity, a demonstration of some kind would have been preferable.

    • #2
    • August 5, 2015, at 6:22 AM PST
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  3. PHCheese Member

    I knew a person that was in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped.She was an American citizen. Her and her twin sister accompanied by her parents were visiting their grandchildren when the war broke out.they could not leave Japan. The girls were in school when the bomb exploded.She never saw her sister again. Her next memory was awakening in the river holding on to a floating tree. She lived on the streets for months and eventually convinced the Americans of her citizenship. She was the only survivor in her family.

    • #3
    • August 5, 2015, at 6:40 AM PST
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  4. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor

    I think we’re glossing over the elephant in the room with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that being the immense propaganda and psychological effect that the sight of a city devastated by a single bomb would have on the Soviets.

    The Soviet death toll in the Second World War eclipses that of most of the other participants’ combined losses. I cannot help but think that this fact was not lost on Truman and demonstrating the ability and the will to deploy such a weapon would have been seen as having two effects:

    1) Expeditiously ending the Pacific war with minimal additional casualties, and

    2) Planting the flag of deterrence against aggressive Soviet expansionism in the face of the utter collapse of European political and military might.

    • #4
    • August 5, 2015, at 6:40 AM PST
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  5. Emerson Member

    Great post. Let’s get this on the main feed.

    -E

    • #5
    • August 5, 2015, at 6:58 AM PST
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  6. Jimmy Carter Member

    Manny: Why did they have to drop them on hugely populated, civilian areas?

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: I agree, though, that had there been the opportunity, a demonstration of some kind would have been preferable

    Y’all are looking back wearing modern day, limp wristed, wussy colored glasses.

    It’s called war.

    And in war You kill as many of the enemy as possible, whenever possible, however possible.

    Now, let the Men handle it, so America can kick some ass again.

    • #6
    • August 5, 2015, at 7:11 AM PST
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  7. DocJay Inactive

    We were in it to win it at all costs. We may well see such another war this century.
    I think the Japanese needed to have their wills broken at all costs. Their toxic ideology would demand no less than death from its followers.
    My ski buddy is LeMay’s grandson and this invasion issue was a topic discussed. Curtis was apparently a mean difficult man in his private life. He was more than willing to give the Japanese their death wish.

    • #7
    • August 5, 2015, at 8:40 AM PST
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  8. Miffed White Male Member

    The atom bombs ended the war. Paul Fussel summed it up well in his essay “Thank God for the Atom Bomb”:

    On the other hand, John Kenneth Galbraith is persuaded that the Japanese would have surrendered surely by November without an invasion. He thinks the A-bombs were unnecessary and unjustified because the war was ending anyway. The A-bombs meant, he says, “a difference, at most, of two or three weeks.” But at the time, with no indication that surrender was on the way, the kamikazes were sinking American vessels, the Indianapolis was sunk (880 men killed), and Allied casualties were running to over 7,000 per week.

    “Two or three weeks,” says Galbraith. (continued below)

    • #8
    • August 5, 2015, at 9:13 AM PST
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  9. Miffed White Male Member

    (continued from comment #8)

    Two weeks more means 14,000 more killed and wounded, three weeks more, 21,000. Those weeks mean the world if you’re one of those thousands or related to one of them. During the time between the dropping of the Nagasaki bomb on August 9 and the actual surrender on the fifteenth, the war pursued its accustomed course: on the twelfth of August eight captured American fliers were executed (heads chopped off); the fifty-first United States submarine, Bonefish, was sunk (all aboard drowned); the destroyer Callaghan went down, the seventieth to be sunk, and the Destroyer Escort Underhill was lost. That’s a bit of what happened in six days of the two or three weeks posited by Galbraith. What did he do in the war? He worked in the Office of Price Administration in Washington. I don’t demand that he experience having his ass shot off. I merely note that he didn’t.

    End quote.

    A personal addendum. My father lost a cousin on the Indianapolis. And he was in training on B-29’s for deployment to the Pacific theater himself. He did wind up at Clark Field in the Phillipines from Nov. 1945 to spring of 1946. In his words “We still got shot at every night”.

    • #9
    • August 5, 2015, at 9:14 AM PST
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  10. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Jimmy Carter: Y’all are looking back wearing modern day, limp wristed, wussy colored glasses. It’s called war.

    You’ll notice I defended the bombs’ use on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    • #10
    • August 5, 2015, at 9:52 AM PST
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  11. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Miffed White Male: [quoting Paul Fussel] Two weeks more [fighting] means 14,000 more killed and wounded, three weeks more, 21,000. Those weeks mean the world if you’re one of those thousands or related to one of them. During the time between the dropping of the Nagasaki bomb on August 9 and the actual surrender on the fifteenth, the war pursued its accustomed course: on the twelfth of August eight captured American fliers were executed (heads chopped off); the fifty-first United States submarine, Bonefish, was sunk (all aboard drowned); the destroyer Callaghan went down, the seventieth to be sunk, and the Destroyer Escort Underhill was lost. That’s a bit of what happened in six days of the two or three weeks posited by Galbraith. What did he do in the war?

    That’s also a very powerful argument.

    • #11
    • August 5, 2015, at 9:57 AM PST
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  12. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Majestyk:I think we’re glossing over the elephant in the room with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that being the immense propaganda and psychological effect that the sight of a city devastated by a single bomb would have on the Soviets.

    The Soviet death toll in the Second World War eclipses that of most of the other participants’ combined losses. I cannot help but think that this fact was not lost on Truman and demonstrating the ability and the will to deploy such a weapon would have been seen as having two effects:

    1) Expeditiously ending the Pacific war with minimal additional casualties, and

    2) Planting the flag of deterrence against aggressive Soviet expansionism in the face of the utter collapse of European political and military might.

    The argument of the revisionist school in the 60s and 70s was that the U.S. knew Japan was willing to surrender but chose instead to drop the atomic bombs in order to intimidate the Soviets. The argument was based on cherry picking information as the linked paper in my post demonstrates. There is little support for either proposition.

    • #12
    • August 5, 2015, at 10:06 AM PST
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  13. Miffed White Male Member

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Miffed White Male: [quoting Paul Fussel] Two weeks more [fighting] means 14,000 more killed and wounded, three weeks more, 21,000. Those weeks mean the world if you’re one of those thousands or related to one of them. During the time between the dropping of the Nagasaki bomb on August 9 and the actual surrender on the fifteenth, the war pursued its accustomed course: on the twelfth of August eight captured American fliers were executed (heads chopped off); the fifty-first United States submarine, Bonefish, was sunk (all aboard drowned); the destroyer Callaghan went down, the seventieth to be sunk, and the Destroyer Escort Underhill was lost. That’s a bit of what happened in six days of the two or three weeks posited by Galbraith. What did he do in the war?

    That’s also a very powerful argument.

    It is my contention that if we had *not* dropped the Bomb and let the war drag on for a few more weeks or months, even in a relatively low-intensity manner as described above (“only” 7000 casualties/week), and it had then come out later that we had developed this weapon but refused to use it, that Truman would have been (and should have been ) impeached and removed from office.

    • #13
    • August 5, 2015, at 11:55 AM PST
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  14. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Miffed White Male:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    That’s a bit of what happened in six days of the two or three weeks posited by Galbraith. What did he do in the war?

    That’s also a very powerful argument.

    It is my contention that if we had *not* dropped the Bomb and let the war drag on for a few more weeks or months, even in a relatively low-intensity manner as described above (“only” 7000 casualties/week), and it had then come out later that we had developed this weapon but refused to use it, that Truman would have been (and should have been ) impeached and removed from office.

    I agree. It is inconceivable in the context of 1945 that any American President would have had the ability to use the bomb and then refused to deploy it. And with the mood of the American public it would have been political suicide not to drop it. I dropped a section that had been in my original post explaining that American anger against the Japanese which had always been stronger than against the Germans because of Pearl Harbor got even higher in 1945 because of the enormous and increasing US casualties in light of what was seen as the utterly senseless continued Japanese fighting since it is clear they’d lost the war.

    • #14
    • August 5, 2015, at 12:08 PM PST
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  15. Shawn Buell (Majestyk) Contributor

    Mark:

    The argument of the revisionist school in the 60s and 70s was that the U.S. knew Japan was willing to surrender but chose instead to drop the atomic bombs in order to intimidate the Soviets. The argument was based on cherry picking information as the linked paper in my post demonstrates. There is little support for either proposition.

    Do you think that the ancillary effects of dropping the bomb weren’t considered? Obviously the primary consideration was “ending the war” but if you merely step through that door into a world where a reinvigorated Soviet Union is free to impose its will upon Eurasia you’re merely creating the conditions for a Third World War at some point in the future.

    • #15
    • August 5, 2015, at 12:38 PM PST
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  16. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Majestyk:

    Mark:

    The argument of the revisionist school in the 60s and 70s was that the U.S. knew Japan was willing to surrender but chose instead to drop the atomic bombs in order to intimidate the Soviets. The argument was based on cherry picking information as the linked paper in my post demonstrates. There is little support for either proposition.

    Do you think that the ancillary effects of dropping the bomb weren’t considered? Obviously the primary consideration was “ending the war” but if you merely step through that door into a world where a reinvigorated Soviet Union is free to impose its will upon Eurasia you’re merely creating the conditions for a Third World War at some point in the future.

    There is no evidence of the revisionist theory – that we knew Japan wanted to surrender but dropped anyway the bomb to intimidate the Soviets.

    There are scattered mentions in the contemporaneous documents to the effect of it’ll be good that the Russians know we have this but I’ve seen nothing to convince me that it played any role in the actual decision to use the bomb. I’d phrase it as that for some decision makers the ancilliary effects of the bomb were acknowledged but it didn’t effect the consideration as to the use of the bomb.

    • #16
    • August 5, 2015, at 12:52 PM PST
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  17. PHCheese Member

    Does anyone think BHO would retaliate with nuclear weapon if we were struck by one and we knew did it?

    • #17
    • August 5, 2015, at 3:00 PM PST
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  18. Manny Member

    Tom Meyer, Ed.

    Manny:I agree there would have been huge human loss with an invasion. I’ve always supported the dropping of the atomic bombs, but here’s something that dawned on me recently. Why did they have to drop them on hugely populated, civilian areas? Wouldn’t it have been just a deterent if they dropped them in a less populated space? Or perhaps a military base? And then if that didn’t deter, drop them on the cities.

    As I recall, part of the issue was that they only had a handful of bombs and were concerned about what would happen if one or the other of them failed. Basically, they only had two rounds in the chamber, so they didn’t want to waste either of them on warning shots.

    I agree, though, that had there been the opportunity, a demonstration of some kind would have been preferable.

    Thanks.

    • #18
    • August 6, 2015, at 4:45 AM PST
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  19. Jules PA Member

    Fantastic post. Thanks.

    At age 13 in history class, I was asked to defend the A-bomb decision. Even with revisionist history books in my possession, and little strategic comprehension, I knew that using the bomb was necessary, because the war had to end. It had to be stopped.

    My teacher was a Japanese-American.

    This quote proves the truth:

    At the dedication of the 3d Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo, Major General Graves B. Erskine described the desperation of the fight:

    Victory was never in doubt. Its cost was. The enemy could have displaced every cubic inch of volcanic ash on this fortress with concrete pillboxes and blockhouses, which he nearly did, and still victory would not have been in doubt.

    What was in doubt, in all our minds, was whether there would be any of us left to dedicate our cemetery at the end, or whether the last Marine would die knocking out the last Japanese gun and gunner.

    • #19
    • August 6, 2015, at 6:38 AM PST
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  20. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    BTW, I learned a whole lot from this post. Thank you, Mark.

    • #20
    • August 6, 2015, at 6:58 AM PST
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  21. 1967mustangman Inactive

    About the theory of a demonstration bomb. The bomb the was dropped on Hiroshima used essentially all of the U-235 in existence at that time. They never tested a Uranium gun design because they knew it would work and they didn’t have the Uranium to spare. The second bomb came hot on the heels of the first because the US wanted to give the Japanese the impression that we could keep doing this. In fact, it would have been a while (10+ days) before we could have enough material to drop a third bomb. They were having huge issues with both the plutonium and uranium production facilities.

    As far as a demonstration bomb, I don’t think it would have been effective. A large contingent within the Japanese military wanted to fight on even after Nagasaki. If the bomb had not been dropped in such a public way it would have been possible to hide it from the Japanese people. Wiping out a major city cannot be hidden.

    • #21
    • August 6, 2015, at 10:27 AM PST
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  22. donald todd Inactive

    Jimmy Carter:

    Manny: Why did they have to drop them on hugely populated, civilian areas?

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: I agree, though, that had there been the opportunity, a demonstration of some kind would have been preferable

    Y’all are looking back wearing modern day, limp wristed, wussy colored glasses.

    It’s called war.

    And in war You kill as many of the enemy as possible, whenever possible, however possible.

    Now, let the Men handle it, so America can kick some ass again.

    Maybe, but there is a related idea. If you tie up your enemy’s resources caring for the wounded, it takes those resources away from the battlefield. The dead you can leave behind because by definition you cannot do anything for them. But the wounded must be cared for because if you let the wounded linger without care, the men doing the fighting will think that you’ll abandon them as well. Its a killer for morale.

    But a bomb is both a weapon and a source of terror. We terrorized them into surrender, and that was good given what the Japanese were committed to.

    • #22
    • August 6, 2015, at 12:10 PM PST
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  23. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    1967mustangman: About the theory of a demonstration bomb. The bomb the was dropped on Hiroshima used essentially all of the U-235 in existence at that time. They never tested a Uranium gun design because they knew it would work and they didn’t have the Uranium to spare. The second bomb came hot on the heels of the first because the US wanted to give the Japanese the impression that we could keep doing this. In fact, it would have been a while (10+ days) before we could have enough material to drop a third bomb. They were having huge issues with both the plutonium and uranium production facilities.

    Thank you.

    1967mustangman: As far as a demonstration bomb, I don’t think it would have been effective. A large contingent within the Japanese military wanted to fight on even after Nagasaki. If the bomb had not been dropped in such a public way it would have been possible to hide it from the Japanese people. Wiping out a major city cannot be hidden.

    Yes. If the Japanese were really on the verge of surrender, one would think that Hiroshima would have been enough to push them over the edge. That they didn’t surrender until a five days after Nagasaski rather puts the lie to the notion.

    Again, I think there’s a case — not a rock-solid one, but a case — to have been made for a demonstration bomb had the resources been readily available. But the resources weren’t available and it wouldn’t have saved any lives.

    • #23
    • August 6, 2015, at 2:02 PM PST
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  24. Miffed White Male Member

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Again, I think there’s a case — not a rock-solid one, but a case — to have been made for a demonstration bomb had the resources been readily available. But the resources weren’t available and it wouldn’t have saved any lives.

    I think I’m stealing this from a post here a few years ago, but exactly how would such a demonstration have been carried out? Send Hirohito a letter?

    Dear Emperor Hirohito.

    Next Tuesday at 9 AM we’ll be sending a single airplane in the vicinity of Tokyo. Please don’t attempt to shoot it down! But if you wouldn’t mind walking outside and facing East at about that time, we’d appreciate it.

    Sincerely, Doug.

    PS – Don’t forget to wear sunglasses!

    • #24
    • August 6, 2015, at 2:26 PM PST
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  25. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:BTW, I learned a whole lot from this post. Thank you, Mark.

    Thanks Tom and to the others who’ve appreciated the post. I learned a lot when doing the research that led to it.

    • #25
    • August 6, 2015, at 3:21 PM PST
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  26. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Miffed White Male: I think I’m stealing this from a post here a few years ago, but exactly how would such a demonstration have been carried out? Send Hirohito a letter?

    I’d imagine dropping a bomb across Tokoyo harbor and dropping leaflets afterwards saying — “We have more of these.” — would qualify.

    Again, it wouldn’t have worked and there weren’t enough bombs to make this feasible. They made the right call in doing it as they did.

    • #26
    • August 6, 2015, at 3:44 PM PST
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  27. Nick Stuart Inactive

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were both legitimate military targets

    Between 80,000 to 130,000 civilians were killed in the firebombing of Tokyo (accomplished with 2,000 tons of conventional incendiaries)

    It took the second bomb at Nagasaki to get the emperor’s attention and cause him to directly intervene in the war cabinet. Military hardliners wanted to fight to the last man, woman, and child. By and large the Japanese people did not think they had been beaten, but after Hiroshima and Nagasaki there was no doubt.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1946/12/if-the-atomic-bomb-had-not-been-used/376238/

    Nobody I knew who lived through WWII as an adult, and that includes some very die hard Lefties, thought anything other than that the atom bombs needed to be used.

    The Japanese had it coming. There wouldn’t have been a Hiroshima if there hadn’t been a Pearl Harbor. Additionally the Japanese were a bunch of racist, sadistic bastards. See: Rape of Nanking, Korean Comfort Women, Bataan Death March, etc.

    Until very recently, 2008 or so, the world understood the US had limits, that you crossed only at mortal peril. Obama threw that away but it was good while it lasted.

    • #27
    • August 6, 2015, at 4:00 PM PST
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  28. Tedley Member

    Mark, I also want to express my appreciation for this great post. I ordered the book by Mr. Frank, and greatly enjoyed the document you linked to describing the revisionist history.

    • #28
    • August 6, 2015, at 7:59 PM PST
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  29. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge

    I strongly recommend Richard Rhodes’s book The Making of the Atomic Bomb for those who want to know more about the development of the weapon itself. It’s a really fascinating book, part science and part history. It was what helped me to understand just what went into the development and construction of those two bombs — it was an unprecedently massive project, comparable in scope to the Apollo program — and helps to explain why those bombs were too precious to be used for any mere demonstration.

    • #29
    • August 7, 2015, at 6:50 AM PST
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  30. Tedley Member

    Although it’s been several months, I wanted to provide a follow-up to my earlier post for posterity’s sake.

    I finally received the book (took over a month to get here, obviously on the slowest boat). It’s a thorough and very comprehensive review of all the available contemporary evidence regarding U.S. and Japanese actions leading up to the end of WWII, including a lot of information which hadn’t been publicly available before the 90s. It makes a rock-solid case for dropping the bombs, and shows how dicey it was that the war ended when it did.

    I was impressed by the breadth of Japanese sources and information. I found it important that Mr. Frank took the time to weigh each source against others, to determine how strongly he could trust what they had to say. And I found his last chapter to be very powerful, providing an exclamation point on his case.

    Thanks for the referral and solid source!

    • #30
    • October 14, 2015, at 7:25 AM PST
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