Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hiroshima

I am proud and thankful to have been born in America and to enjoy all of the privileges that comes with it. That does not mean that the actions of every American Administration gets a pass for anything and everything.

It was 65 years ago today that the United States dropped a nuclear bomb over the civilian population center of Hiroshima killing an estimated 70,000 men, women and children. I love my country and am thrilled to have been born an American in this time, yet when I visited Hiroshima several years ago I was thoroughly embarrassed. If December 7, 1941 is "A Day which will Live in Infamy", August 6, 1945 is A Day which will Live in Shame.

It is a sad state of affairs that it is commonly accepted by Americans that dropping a nuclear bomb on a city filled with civilians was a legitimate and necessary step to ending WWII. Many commanders in the U.S. military at the time were completely opposed to the use of nuclear weapons - but history is written by the victors and the politicians. In the aftermath of the bombings the U.S. kept all reports of what actually occurred on the ground in Hiroshima and Nagasaki classified - for nearly 20 years. No one knew what had really happened because in the aftermath our government at that time realized what it had done.

As an American traveling in Japan not a few Japanese asked me how I felt about the bombings. If Americans think that the Japanese have forgotten and forgiven, they are sorely mistaken.

I was in Hiroshima a couple years, almost to the day, after 9/11. This is sure to meet with criticism, but I could not help but feel that the Taliban's murder of nearly 3,000 American civilians at the Trade Towers and the Pentagon was an attempt to influence policy in Washington via terror and was strikingly similar to the Truman Administration's desire to influence policy in Imperial Tokyo with nuclear strikes resulting in the murder of 140,000 Japanese civilians. Murdering innocent civilian to influence policy has been going on since the advent of sticks and stones, but it was a crime against humanity then and it is a crime against humanity now.

Imperial Japan was every bit the disgusting animal that Nazi Germany was. What the Japanese did in Mainland Asia and China has been glossed over by history while the atrocities of Nazi Germany have received the proper airing (if that is even possible). I read the book "The Rape of Nanking". After reading that book one might be sorely tempted to think of the nuclear bombings as some kind of crude justice - but only for a moment. Killing innocent people is not justice. Justice must only be brought to bear on the guilty.

I have also been to the Nazi Concentration camp at Dachau. This might also meet with criticism but I do not see a difference between the crimes of Dachau and Hiroshima.

Americans, through our controlled version of history, have swept Hiroshima and Nagasaki under the rug. Our enemies, and even our allies, have not. Should a nuclear weapon be detonated by some group in an American city, I do not think that many "man on the street" types in Japan, China, Viet Nam, the Middle East and quite a few other places will not see this as evening the score. "What comes around, goes around", if you will. Many of America's military leaders warned the Truman administration of this unintended consequence before the bombings. The bombings were hardly uniformly supported both within the Administration itself and the Pentagon Brass, though you wouldn't know it by reading the American history text books of the 50's thru today.

A nuclear blast in ANY city anywhere in the world would completely end banking, trade, fiat currencies, etc.... wrap your mind around that... THINK of the repercussions... if Paris or Sao Paolo or Tel Aviv experienced a nuclear explosion, would you trust the media explanation? Would ANYONE remain in New York City, London, or Moscow? Trade and commerce would shut down immediately. Everything as we know it would end.

Let us hope the Genie stays in its bottle.


10 comments:

Dextred1 said...

Although I agree that the repercussions of a bomb now would be devastating, I fail to see how letting 2 million American men die invading Japan is worse that killing 100,000 plus people. It is the Greater Good Argument. ALL of our boys were innocent. We were attacked Jeffers. You might not like war, but sometimes if the fight is brought to you, you need to take the imitative and end it. I am not a big war guy myself, but I would not have left Japan standing. They would never give up, there emperor was their God.
Although I feel bad for their families I feel just as bad for every parent that had a government type show up at their door and hand a letter to the mother telling her how her son died.

Stephen B. said...

Let's not forget what Japan was running around the South Pacific and fighting for either.

bureaucrat said...

Bombing Japan in WW2 was justified. While Japan started their part of that war partly due to having their oil supply routes via Indochina squeezed, they apparently were downright relentless warriors, who weren't going to give up willingly.

As far as the aftermath goes, up until 1989, Japan was about to conquer the world. They were buying up American property and driving the UAW into fits.

Now, Japan is on borrowed time, with an elderly population withdrawing their savings (so the government can't borrow those savings for near-zero interest rates anymore); a damaged, shrinking younger population; and a total debt-to-GDP ratio of 450% (the highest in the world). Japan deserves most of what it gets.

We should be more concerned today with China, which has nearly completed a missle that is called a "carrier killer" (in Yahoo news today). There is only one country that has a sizeable number of aircraft carriers (guess who that is). The Chinese govt. is hell-bent on making their country THE #1 country in the world, and they'll have to take lots of commodities to make it happen. The US and China will be at war at some point.

American Chinese sent to internment camps in the California desert someday? Something like that has happened before.

Forget Japan -- it is a dead country, for the time being. To bring that up is to bring up the much larger number of people who died (and were crucified) by the Romans 2000 years ago.

tweell said...

Sorry, but you are wrong, Mr. Jeffers.
First, it is fact that the firebombing of Tokyo killed more than either nuclear bomb did, and devastated more area. We didn't nuke Tokyo because there wasn't much of a city any more, not enough even for a conventional bombing attack. So why is it that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are remembered while Tokyo is not?
Second, the conventional assault that General MacArthur was planning would have killed many more Japanese as well as Americans. Casualty estimates vary, but the Army purchased 500k purple heart medals in anticipation with more on order. With the casualty ratios being 20-1 in our favor (something the Defense department knew), the expected Japanese casualties would have been well into the millions. Japan wasn't going to crumble just because we put boots on their islands.
Third, Nimitz's alternative plan had won with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. MacArthur's grand invasion would be held in reserve. Instead, we were going to tighten our grip and starve them out. Starvation was already upon them. The food ration for Japanese soldiers and factory workers had been cut to 1500 calories months earlier (women and children got half that), and their food stocks were almost gone. How many would this have killed? The Imperial estimates were that if we continued our blockade until the end of 1945, 20 million Japanese would perish. After Japan surrendered, we started feeding them. In December, MacArthur announced the first ration increase - to 1700 calories per day.
Fourth, Japan was going to try to hold out, even though they knew that millions of their people would die. One of the reasons (aside from the general attitude and inability to give up) was that they were working on their own nuclear bomb. Had they completed it, they would have used it on us, and the consequences of that action are truly frightening to contemplate.
First we dropped one bomb on Hiroshima. Then we dropped leaflets telling what we had done, saying that we had hundreds more and would eradicate every city in Japan (a bluff, but how would they know?). Three days after the first bomb, we nuked Nagasaki. Then we dumped more leaflets telling the Japanese about that destroyed city and reiterating the threat. By this time our propaganda leaflets were believed more than the Imperial radio broadcasts. We had been announcing our bombing targets beforehand for months, which built up credibility and emphasized their weakness. It still took six days (and a failed military coup attempt) for the Japanese to surrender.
My conclusion is that any other scenario would have been much more costly to them.

DaShui said...

Hey Jeffers,

We nuked Japan in 1945, how come we did not nuke China Just a short 5 years later in 1950?
Stalin gave us permission to nuke the Chinese staging areas across the North Korean border, as long as we did not nuke the cities. Seems like a no brainer, we could have won, without losing 35,000 men.
The only reason I can think of is that the American civilian and military leadership had some moral problems with doing so.
Oh yeah, we were sending Flying Tigers to fight Japan as early as 1931, ten years before Pearl Harbor. A Lt. Short is buried outside Shanghai, shot down in 1932, the first American killed in WWII.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

DaShui:

Please stop stealing my thunder, for G-d's sake!

Dex and Tweel:

I respect you gentlemen as thinking men.

Stay with me for a couple of posts... mayhap you will have a change of heart, and if not, perhaps I will.

PioneerPreppy said...

Accurate comments as usual from Dex, Tweell and DaShui. They mentioned the massive numbers of civilian and military casualties on both sides that were avoided. Tweell mentioned the Tokyo fire bombings which I immediately thought of when I read Greg's post this morning. I wasn't familiar with the Nimitz blockade idea. That would have been horrible.

The problem is none of these facts or maybes are promoted or known by the current power base of the world.

Teachers don't teach them, media wont report them. It is recent history enough that they haven't started completely twisting it but the implied motives these days is that simple blood lust and eagerness to test out "The bomb" prompted the drops.

About ten years ago I had to do an observation for a class I was taking. This observation was of a world history class at a local high school and they discussed this period. The decision to drop the bombs were glossed over as simply a natural growth of power and a desire to end the war fast. Not one shred of weight to a what if or alternate scenarios.

If American high school teachers taught it that way 10 years ago how does the world in general view the motives now?

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Stay tuned.

tweell said...

According to Truman's autobiography "Memoirs", during the Korean War he ordered nuclear weapons sent to Japan to be used on his directive. It stated that the British and French governments asked him not to use them, they were worried about being nuked and/or invaded.
Yup, that's moral! Oops, am I stifling some thunder here?

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Tweel:

Truman may not have made the top 5 mass murderers in history but certainly he's in the top 10.

I wouldn't believe a word from such a mad man who I am sure is, as we speak, a VIP in the 9th Canto.