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Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Discussion in 'Alley of Lingering Sighs' started by Arctic Daishi, Feb 13, 2013.

?

What are your views on this?

  1. American: Drop both bombs without a public test.

    40.0%
  2. American: Drop one bomb without a public test, wait for response.

    20.0%
  3. American: Have a public test and bomb them if they don't surrender.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. American: Bluff by having a public test, but don't follow through if they don't surrender.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. American: Don't drop the bombs or perform a public test at all.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. Foreigner: Drop both bombs without a public test.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. Foreigner: Drop one bomb without a public test, wait for response.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  8. Foreigner: Have a public test and bomb them if they don't surrender.

    20.0%
  9. Foreigner: Bluff by having a public test, but don't follow through if they don't surrender.

    20.0%
  10. Foreigner: Don't drop the bombs or perform a public test at all.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Arctic Daishi Gems: 6/31
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    The question I pose today is whether or not the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified. Do you believe that the United States should have conducted a public test of the destructiveness of nuclear weapons, in an attempt to convince the Japanese to surrender? Was the bombing of Nagasaki, which happened three days after Hiroshima, unnecessary?



    Arguments for the Bombings
    -The Japanese would be unlikely to surrender if the United States didn't drop the bombs, thus resulting in a greater loss of life, resources and infrastructure.
    -At the time of the bombings around 80% of Japanese cities were already destroyed.
    -American and Allied firebombing of Japanese cities did far more damage than both atomic bombs combined.
    -A public test would reveal the potential destructiveness of a single aircraft, thus if Japan refused to surrender, they would begin targeting all individual aircraft (including non-bombers).
    -The United States was not certain of the bombs would explode, thus it would be a massive international embarrassment if a public test was conducted and the bomb did not detonate.
    -The United States only had two nuclear weapons at the time, a public test would have reduced that stockpile to only one nuclear weapon.
    -Germany, Japan and the USSR were also developing nuclear weapons programs during World War II and it is unlikely that they would have given a "public test" first and foremost.
    -World War II was a total war and thus civilian targets can be considered viable military targets. This is consistent with us using conventional bombs on Japanese and German cities.
    -The second bomb sped up the surrender of Japan, thus saving lives and quickly ending the war.
    -The second bomb sped up the surrender of Japan, thus weakening the Soviet Union's position in retaking the Chinese sections of the Trans-Siberian Railway.
    -A public test may have terrified the American people and they could oppose the bombings from a purely emotional and irrational perspective.
    -If we ended up losing massive American casualties by invading Japan and it was later revealed that it could have been avoided by dropping a bomb or two, the public would be outraged.


    Arguments Against the Bombings
    -The exact destructiveness of dropping atomic bombs on Japanese cities was not known at the time, as the only test conducted had been in the middle of a desert.
    -The bombing of Nagasaki came too soon after the bombing of Hiroshima and the Japanese had not finished assessing the damage of the first bomb.
    -Continued firebombing of Japanese cities would have eventually convinced Japan to surrender.
    -Dropping the bombs could strain Japanse-American relations after the war.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
  2. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Veteran

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    I lack sufficient information to vote in this poll. Seeing as this is hindsight I would need complete knowledge of the amount of resources Japan had left, morale for both the public and the military and whole bunch of other variables.

    Generally I can say that I think the main reason the US dropped the bombs was to assert dominance over the world, mostly against the Soviet Union. Nazi Germany hadn't even surrendered before the cold war began, heck the last part of the European campaign was about who of the US and the Soviets could grab the most land. If Nazi Germany could be crushed with conventional means I think Japan could be as well.

    The question is really whether more people would die through a conventional invasion or not but even if the body count would be higher I wonder if it would be as scarring as it is now with children still being born with birth defects and cancer linked to the bombs.

    Another question is whether the cold war would have stayed cold if the US and the Soviet Union hadn't seen first hand what nukes did to populated areas.

    Morally I will always think it was wrong to drop them but pragmatically, a tricky tricky question. One thing is for sure, I am utterly convinced that the Nagasaki bomb was completely superfluous.
     
  3. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    No matter the histrionics of various people who have never lived through a war, I will always say that the bombings were justified. They very likely saved my father's life. What do I mean?

    My father had just completed his tour of duty, having flown as a tail gunner in around 30 missions over Germany from bases in England. He was a volunteer, not just for the armed forces, but also for the tail gunner position. Because he truly believed that freedom worldwide was under attack, he signed up to "go fight **** in the Pacific" (his words, not mine, anyone wants to criticize, live what he lived or shut up.)

    Had he gone over there, he would have faced pretty lousy odds in terms of survival -- tail gunners had the worst fatality rates of anyone on a bomber, IIRC, and he'd already used up his luck. So in a very real sense I would probably not be here if the bombs hadn't been dropped. So I'm all for them. Some days I think we should do the same to Iraq, but that's just when I'm feeling vicious and shortsighted, as the situation there is quite different.
     
  4. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Carpet bombing had been going on in rural areas for months before the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with ~600,000 casualties. This is about the same number of casualties from bombing Germany and the Japanese were not even close to surrender. Tokyo was carpet bombed for only one night and had 100,000 casualties from just that attack. It was believed a full scale attack on Tokyo was required break the Japanese -- which would have left millions dead.

    As horrific as Nagasaki and Hiroshima were they were nothing in comparison to the alternative -- the destruction of Tokyo. I believe the US expected an immediate surrender by Japan -- probably not the most thought out stance. When that didn't happen the second mission was carried out. I don't know if that decision was right or wrong, but it worked.

    Also, there was no option of a public test. There was no more material -- The Gadget, Fat Man and Little Boy used all our stock. Those were the only one we had and they used different technologies (implosion crushing plutoniun into fissionable mass versus ramming two masses of uranium into one fissionable mass).

    I believe the bombings, using two of the smallest nuclear weapons ever made (at 21 and 16 kilotons), gave the world a glimpse of the devastation of the technology. Fortunately, leaders have been hesitant to use the power literally at their fingertips.
     
  5. Shoshino

    Shoshino Irritant Veteran

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    My grandfather once said "The bombs were dropped to wank on the Japs when they'd already been kicked to the floor", my Bampa (who was a bit more thorough in his explanations didn't use those words but also believed the war was done, he believed that the bombs were dropped simply because they could, that Japan no longer posed an ongoing threat as they had lost the ability to wage war and only limited defence remained. who knows? none of us were there.

    One thing I do know however is this: the US has shown that they are prepared to use nuclear weapons in war.
     
  6. Arctic Daishi Gems: 6/31
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    It may not be viable now that we look at it in retrospect, but at the time it was however taken under serious consideration at the time. The Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, supported the idea of a public test. As did some of the scientists developing the bomb, through the Franck Report.
     
  7. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    Unless the Japanese knew how many nukes the US had, the rationale could have been that "just" one nuked city might still be considered acceptable losses. It'd leave room for doubt whether the nuke was a one-off, or at least something that the US couldn't repeat immediately. Dropping two made it crystal clear that the US could and would repeat the devastation unless they surrendered.

    It's anybody's guess whether dropping them somewhere where they wouldn't kill so many civilians but the effect would still be easily visible would have been enough. But it's really pointless guesswork. For as long as recorded history will exist, the issue won't come up again so we'll never know.
     
  8. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    The options that really weren't viable options were either A) Bluffing and then not doing anything if they didn't surrender (now they think you're gutless and it may only strengthen their resolve) or B) publicly display a test - because that's essentially the same thing as a bluff. If they call your bluff, you now have one fewer bomb to use.

    So the way I see it, you have to decide if you are willing to use the atmoic bombs from the start. If you are, then you don't do a public test. Your "public test" is Hiroshima. About the only viable argument against dropping them both is to wait a bit longer before hitting Nagasaki. You might try to open diplomacy by asking "Would you like another?" They may have said no. Then you drop the second bomb on Nagasaki, and you ask them again, "Would you like another?" (I know we didn't have a 3rd, but they didn't know that.)
     
  9. dogsoldier Gems: 7/31
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    The Philippines campaign (Oct 44-Aug 45) saw around 13,000 US KIA and nearly 50,000 WIA; the Japanese lost over 300,000 KIA (something like over 80% of their total force on the island). Then Iwo Jima took place in February 1945, where the Japanese lost 20,000 men (the only Japanese survivors were just over 1000 prisoners-of-war) to almost 7000 U.S. Marines KIA. The fighting at Okinawa, the bloodiest of the Pacific campaign, took place from April to June 1945, resulting in over 12,000 US KIA and around 90,000 Japanese KIA; reportedly, many Japanese fighters refused to surrender, sealed themselves in bunkers, and committed suicide (up to an additional 4000 Japanese casualties were victims of suicide); the gov't of Okinawa indicated up to 100,000 Okinawan civilians also died in the 80 days of fighting and something like 90% of the buildings the island were leveled. The accounts I've read of Okinawa were probably the most hellish, violent, graphic, destructive accounts of combat I've ever read (I felt The Pacific did not go far enough in depicting the horrors of Okinawa) including rotting bodies in trees, vicious hand-to-hand combat, soldiers wading through mud created by blood, piss, and viscera, the building of defensive shelters out of corpses, and monsoon rains that ran red over the landscape. The Burma campaign had been going on for several years at that point (the Japanese lost a total 150,000 men in Burma from about 1942-5), but specfically in August '45 the Japanese lost 10,000 KIA in a poorly planned and executed breakout. That's, by my count, over 425,000 Japanese KIA from just October '44 to August '45 (note at this point I've completely ignored Japanese losses that year in India, Manchuria, and China, let alone casualties during initial U.S. forays onto Japanese islands, as well as the firebombing campaign of Japan. To me these are almost mind-boggling numbers and evidence of the brutally, frighteningly effective killing machine the U.S. military had become by the end of WW2--as well as the valiant-to-the-point-of-insanity defense the Japanese were determined to put up even in the face of that killing machine). I have not even tallied WIAs for any side.

    The Japanese navy didn't have enough fuel to conduct operations by the end of '44 and had been decimated by battles at Midway, the Coral Sea, the Solomons, and then the Philippines campaign (namely at Leyte). The U.S. and the Japanese knew this but the Japanese refused to yield. Massive firebombing of the Japanese homeland, as T2Bruno noted, had been ongoing for some time, causing enormous civilian casualties as well as degradation in Japanese infrastructure and industrial capacity (these things were already low compared to the U.S.--arguably the Japanese justification for the war--and therefore they were just getting lower). Yet the Japanese refused to entertain discussion of surrender and continued fighting; many Japanese soldiers were literally starving and seemed too sick to fight because many hadn't been resupplied in weeks or months (but fight they did). Accounts of Japanese pilots increasingly resorting to suicide attacks reached the ears of American citizenry; highly sanitized accounts of fighting in Okinawa and Iwo Jima (which were still awful)ly violent and bloody) turned the stomach of the American public and caused the political elite in Washington to doubt that the Japanese would ever agree to a peaceful resolution to the war--and the American public and elites were beginning to question how many American lives were possibly worth what seemed like a continuation to the horrific casualties and violence.

    U.S. planners, according to historian Victor Davis Hanson, decided the atomic bombs were the only way to avoid tens of thousands more U.S. casualties. They knew the Japanese had sustained something like half a million KIA in less than a year, and in terms of rhetoric, propaganda, and actions taken by Japanese soldiers on the battlefield, they didn't seem likely to quit. At this point, the American public was damned sick of the war. I think in the end, by using the atomic bombs, the U.S. gambled on a massive "shock" to the Japanese system.

    An often overlooked point is that the Russians also joined the U.S. in the war against the Japanese in large offensives during the summer of '45 (I believe). I was told by my Russian professor at grad school that the Japanese deeply hated (and feared) the Russians with an enmity that had built over centuries, and his contention is that their addition to the conflict caused the Japanese to look to the U.S. as their best option for reasonable treatment after the war. (There were significant elements to the Japanese gov't, including apparently the Emporer, who knew the Japanese were defeated and they were simply wasting manpower at this point. But the military gov't refused to entertain serious discussion of stopping the war). I'm not so sure about the consideration of the Russians by the Japanese, but it makes a good story; regardless, the Japanese didn't surrender or even seriously discuss surrender until the bombs were dropped on their cities.

    I agree with the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I would argue there is no persuasive evidence that a public test of an atomic bomb would have convinced the Japanese to quit fighting (it may have indeed further steeled their resolve, for all we know). From a historical perspective of the fighting that took place in the Pacific during '45, the bombs were highly successful at ending a war and ending more wasteful expenditure of lives, materiel, and time, from both the U.S. and Japanese perspectives.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2013
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