Culture

Hiroshima 67 Years Later: Some Reminders of the Cost of Ending World War II

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Here's a perfect summary of World War II: even the good guys committed monstrous, criminal acts. That's the good war for ya, no matter how good it was that Hitler lost.

Today, if pausing to think about the first use of an atomic bomb on civilians, first and foremost, go read Anthony Gregory's post at the Independent Institute's Beacon blog. A sampling:

Even after the bombing of Nagasaki and the emperor said he would surrender, the U.S. firebombed Tokyo on August 14 with a thousand-plane bombing mission. Was this last mass killing necessary? We rarely hear about it at all, perhaps because it throws into question the entire morality of U.S. strategic bombing in the Pacific War.

Indeed, World War II featured a mass wallowing in collectivist slaughter on the part of both the Axis and Allied Powers. Japan's and Germany's brutalities, some of the most notorious in the history of humanity, are appropriately condemned, yet these evils have somehow come to obscure the evils committed by the United States, Britain, and even Stalin in the course of the war. The other side was guilty of unsurpassed inhumanities, but this should not give a free pass to the Allies for their own acts of barbarism, which by any sensible standard rank among the greatest war crimes of the modern era.

Gregory also questions the certainty of those who breezily claim certainty that the invasion of Japan would have cost 500,000 lives. Even if you disagree, the piece is well worth reading. 

Also check out, via Lew Rockwell, the clip below from the 1983 anime Barefoot Gen. It is almost unwatchable in its brutality. (Did you think Grave of the Fireflies was the most soul-crushing anime about World War II? You were mistaken.)  Interestingly enough, the most recent news from a search for that title says that a peace group in Hiroshima wants schools to stop using the original manga that the film was based off of… because it is "one-sided."The author, Keiji Nakazawa, was born in Hiroshima in 1939. He lost much of his family in the bombing. 

This general peace over being pissed off about the atomic bombings attitude is reflected in the memorializing. Seventy countries were represented this year, in a ceremony that included 50,000 people. Harry Truman's grandson was there. The only hint of controversy seems to have come from anti-nuclear power protesters, what with Fukushima still a concern.

In 2010, Jesse Walker pointed Hit and Run readers to a fascinating artifact from a time when the bombings were the recent past. Walker wrote:

Sixty-five years ago today, the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. About a decade later, NBC marked the occasion by having a survivor of the bombing on This Is Your Life, a program that would surprise its guests by reviewing the events of their lives and reuniting them with important figures from their past. Including, in this case, one of the pilots who dropped the bomb.

A small clip for that episodes is below. The co-pilot, Capt. Robert Lewis, who famously wrote " My God, what have we done?" in the official logbook, after the Enola Gay dropped the bomb, seems emotional (he was supposedly trying not to be drunk, so nervous was he about meeting survivors). All in all, it's a bizarre, hard to watch piece of television. Further background on it can be found here. The bombing survivor on TV, Rev. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, was a minister traveling with the so-called "Hiroshima Maidens," 25 women who were taken to the states to be given free reconstructive surgery. Two of them appear on the show in silhouette. 

 

Previous Reason musings on the bombings, including Catchy Young's argument against moral equivalency in World War II and David Harsanyi on the temptations of being simplistic about history. Just so you don't think I'm the world's biggest peacenik… Which I may be.

And I know things become shorthand, but let's not forget it was the bombing of Hiroshima and, three days later, Nagaski too. The latter being more forgotten and even less defensible than the former.

Addendum: Oh, and there are many fine songs about nuclear issues, but Charlie, Ira, and Jesus are the only ones who can save us from "The Great Atomic Power."

Addendum two: Less creepy-kitchy-country, the exceedingly eerie " Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" by Polish composer Kriztof Penderecki.

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  1. Interesting that on this day in 1945 we dropped an atomic device on Hirsoshima and then 67 years later we dropped an atomic device on Mars. Clearly we did it not just to force the Martians to capitulate but also to scare those dirty commies on Jupiter.

    1. That was mostly the Brits. But, we should have told them to fuck off.

    2. I was actually about to mention that. Just last week I read Vonnegut’s essay on the firebombing of Dresden in his “Armageddon” anthology. Whether reading that or watching Barefoot Gen, I just don’t understand how anybody can rationalize it. I mean, I can understand the logic of killing one enemy civilian to save 100 of our own, but I just don’t know how the fuck a civilized person can justify such slaughter, regardless of the situation. I don’t want to hear shit about being naive or simplistic; it’s wrong and I can’t imagine anybody convincing me otherwise.

      1. Thank you.

        When I was little I knew the bombings were wrong, then I went though a phase of “understanding” why and “strategic” and the real world and all that bullshit. And sometimes I question it, but then, say, in my last year of college I watched another documentary where I saw the shadows of people on Hiroshima sidewalks.

        Seriously, I don’t care if it’s childish to not be okay with this, ever. If that’s childish, call me childish.

        1. It is childish, and pathetic.

          Imagine Truman had not used the bomb and “only” another 200,000 Americans died taking Japan.

          The day it was revealed that he had withheld a decisive weapon, there would have been a revolution. He literally would have been torn to pieces by a mob of veterans and the families of the dead. Not a question in my mind.

          It was something he had to carefully consider, but in the end there was only one decision.

          1. But he did and as a result, know what a genocidal fuck Truman was.

            1. genocide: “The deliberate destruction of an entire race or nation.”

              Really?

              1. Really. Fuck you pedant.

        2. Lucy,

          My father, who actually fought in WWII, saw death and destruction first hand and even spent two years in prison camp “knew the bombings were right”.

          Many people “know” different things.

          Civilian deaths are horrible. So are the deaths of soldiers burned to a crisp in a tank.

          No one’s “childish” for questioning the bombings. However, there’s a lot of subtlety to the history of the situation that was forgotten.

          For one thing, when the emporor made his recorded statement of surrender, there was an attempted coup by some of the Japanese top brass and an attempt to intercept that message and keep it from being broadcast.

          People either don’t realize or forget (I suspect it’s the former rather than the latter as time goes by) just how resolved the Japanese were to continue the war.

          The decision was the correct one under the circumstances. Even if estimates of possible American military losses were wrong, FDR/Truman had a choice. Risk 500,000/ 300,000 /150,000/ 100,000/ 75,000/ 25,000/ 10,000 /4,800/ Chuck and Ted or end it with the dropping of a powerful bomb on a city integral to the Japanese war machine.

          1. “People either don’t realize or forget (I suspect it’s the former rather than the latter as time goes by) just how resolved the Japanese were to continue the war.”

            After the second nuke, when the Emperor was about to surrender, there was an attempted coup.

            They certainly were resolved to continue the war.

            1. “They” being a fraction of the military leadership, not the govt. and not the people.

              How does that equate with “a resolve?”

      2. It’s very simple: the good guys have every right to do everything necessary to win at minimum cost to themselves. Indeed that is the moral imperative of rights-defending governments asinine altruistic ‘morality’ of people like Lucy notwithstanding.

        1. So at what point do they stop being the good guys?

            1. I guess that explains the USA post-9/11.

          1. When they stop doing it after the aggressors have surrendered.

            1. Keep doing. Please fix the goddamned preview.

              1. We have a winner!

            2. If the people we’re fighting haven’t surrendered, atrocities and mass-murder are okay? Now THAT’S overly simplistic.

              1. On the scale of a world war, if the people who started the fighting haven’t surrendered, I can’t think of a much that would be off the table to make them do so. If it takes firebombing every puppy and hot chick in the country, that’s OK.

                The people fighting an aggressor owe nothing to the aggressor and I’m perfectly fine with fighting them in a way that minimizes the loss of those fighting against the aggressor at whatever cost to the aggressor.

                1. If it takes firebombing every puppy and hot chick in the country, that’s OK.

                  No, that’s evil. It’s just evil you’re trying to rationalize away.

                  The people fighting an aggressor owe nothing to the aggressor and I’m perfectly fine with fighting them in a way that minimizes the loss of those fighting against the aggressor at whatever cost to the aggressor.

                  So it’s ok to rape and torture and murder babies if they’re part of the aggressing party? That’s pretty sick and twisted thinking.

                  1. It’s just evil you’re trying to rationalize away.

                    I’m not trying to rationalize anything. War isn’t a game with rules and trying to treat it like one might be a great intellectual exercise but it’s only remotely applicable when you aren’t fighting for your survival. We should probably save the “That’s not cricket, old chap” stuff for scenarios other than fighting an aggressive enemy fighting a total war.

                    So it’s ok to rape and torture and murder babies if they’re part of the aggressing party?

                    That seems like a pretty inefficient way to win a war but if it somehow made the aggressors stop fighting and saved lives, then yeah.

                    1. So it’s ok to rape and torture and murder babies if they’re part of the aggressing party?

                      That seems like a pretty inefficient way to win a war but if it somehow made the aggressors stop fighting and saved lives, then yeah.

                      Osama bin Laden endorses this message.

                    2. Fallacy: Guilt By Association

                      Also Known as: Bad Company Fallacy, Company that You Keep Fallacy

                      It is clear that sort of “reasoning” is fallacious. For example the following is obviously a case of poor “reasoning”: “You think that 1+1=2. But, Adolf Hitler, Charles Manson, Joseph Stalin, and Ted Bundy all believed that 1+1=2. So, you shouldn’t believe it.”

                    3. NO,

                      Every belligerent believes that they are on the right side of history.

                      OBL loved to quote Madelline Albright saying that a million dead Iraqi babies was worth it.

                      How can anyone see a country with leadership like that as anything but a force for evil that must be stopped.

                      And if it takes a few thousand dead civilians to accomplish that, well you think that is an acceptable cost. Hell, based on your previous comments OBL was fucking humanitarian.

                2. The people fighting an aggressor owe nothing to the aggressor and I’m perfectly fine with fighting them in a way that minimizes the loss of those fighting against the aggressor at whatever cost to the aggressor.

                  Bomb bomb
                  Bomb Bomb Iran

                  Boopooyyyaaaaaahhh!

                  1. non sequitur (?n?n ?s?kw?t?)

                    ? n
                    1. a statement having little or no relevance to what preceded it

                    1. Hey,

                      I’m just following your theory to its logical conclusion.

                      Iran has been engaged in an undeclared war against the West for decades and committed atrocities is pursuing that war.

                      According to you their intentions are what matter, not their capabilities and clearly they will continue that war until “we” destroy “them”.

                      Your not some pussy that’s afraid to follow his logic are you?

                      Cause if you won’t bomb Iran today you probably wouldn’t have had the guts to nuke Hiroshima in ’45.

                    2. Cause if you won’t bomb Iran today you probably wouldn’t have had the guts to nuke Hiroshima in ’45.

                      I’m not sure why you would compare the situation with Iran today with the situation with Imperial Japan in 1945 — because I surely didn’t.

                      I’m just following your theory to its logical conclusion.

                      No, you’re not; you’re just making up stupid shit.

                      I think it’s fine to have nuked Japan based on what had gone on in the previous almost four years. The fact that I think it was OK in 1945 doesn’t necessarily mean I think it would have been OK on the afternoon of 12/7/1941. Just because I think extreme measures are sometimes acceptable doesn’t mean I think they are always acceptable or should be the first action taken.

                    3. Back pedal much?

                    4. Show me where I backpedaled. Did I ever say we must nuke Japan or that it must be done ad the first action or even at the earliest practical point?

                      Do you think it is ever OK to kill an aggressor?

                      Do you think it is always OK to kill an aggressor?

                      It’s perfectly reasonable to say “yes” to the first and “no” to the second without its being back-pedaling.

                    5. Night Elf Mohawk| 8.7.12 @ 1:12AM
                      Show me where I backpedaled. Did I ever say we must nuke Japan or that it must be done ad the first action or even at the earliest practical point?

                      By your logic, why wouldn’t it have been done at the earliest possible point?

                      For that matter, why not December 8, 1941?

                      Think of all the lives that would have been saved by doing so.

                    6. By your logic, why wouldn’t it have been done at the earliest possible point?

                      It could have. Maybe that would be the thing to do given Europe and the Axis pact. Maybe it would look like an overreaction. My point, though, is given how things actually played out, the loss of life in the Pacific and the potential loss of life in an invasion were a lot more front and center than on 12/7/41.

                      Think of all the lives that would have been saved by doing so.

                      You like fighting wars in hindsight, don’t you?

                    7. Do you think it is ever OK to kill an aggressor?

                      Do you think it is always OK to kill an aggressor?

                      Yes and no.
                      Depends on the level of aggression.

                      Proportionality is an important concept in dealing with aggression.

                      More importantly, you seem to think that every civilian under the control of an aggressor is fair game.

                      Which is an evil idea.

                    8. Proportionality is an important concept in dealing with aggression.

                      NOPE.

                    9. So if someone assaults me, I’m justified in killing his entire extended family?

                      Would nuking Buenos Aires have been an acceptable response to the Falklands invasion?

                    10. ITT NEM understands what evil means while altruists toss non-sequitors and confused garbage at him.

                    11. Because GOOD means “doing best for our people, regardless of the consequences to others”, while EVIL is “what other groups to do us, regardless of the benefit to them”. Nice to see your morality, or lack thereof, out in the open.

          2. Ignore this one, Lucy. He’s psycopathic scum.

            1. Exactly Warty. When someone believe in ideas like this:

              The people fighting an aggressor owe nothing to the aggressor and I’m perfectly fine with fighting them in a way that minimizes the loss of those fighting against the aggressor at whatever cost to the aggressor.

              You know there’s something horribly, horribly wrong with them.

              1. In a different time and place, he would have had a big old Totenkopf emblem on his hat.

                1. In a different time and place, he would have had a big old Totenkopf emblem on his hat.

                  Or a gold plated badge on his chest.

              2. When someone believes the lives of the inhabitants of an aggressive regime need to be considered at the cost of the lives of people fighting the regime, you know there’s something horribly, horribly wrong with them.

                1. Women and children in America, Iran and Imperial Japan are all equally guilty and deserve annihilation.

                2. When someone believes the lives of the inhabitants of an aggressive regime need to be considered at the cost of the lives of people fighting the regime, you know there’s something horribly, horribly wrong with them.

                  Fuck you, scum.

                  1. So what’s your non-scummy acceptable ratio of dead Axis civilians to dead Allied soldiers?

                    How many soldiers are you willing to throw into a meat grinder to keep how many Japanese civilians alive?

                    How many Japanese civilians do you think you’d have saved with a blockade or an invasion?

                3. Sorry, but civilians are off limits. Full stop.

                  If you truly believe that non-combatants are valid targets, you may want to reexamine your moral code for errors.

                  1. I think the error in the moral code is believing that civilians of an aggressor have a higher, or even the same, worth as the soldiers — let’s not ignore the fact that they were largely civilians pressed into war — fighting against the aggressor.

                    Tell me how you think civilians would have fared in a blockade or land invasion.

                    Which do you think is worse: killing 50K civilians on purpose or killing 100K civilians as a collateral damage in a land invasion aimed at the military?

                    1. let’s not ignore the fact that they were largely civilians pressed into war

                      Were they carrying weapons? Wearing a uniform? Part of the armed services? Working in a munitions plant? No? You fail.

                      Tell me how you think civilians would have fared in a blockade or land invasion.

                      Poorly. The Japanese were already chocked off from their oil supplies. Their ability to make war was already severely compromised and could have been largely eliminated. A blockade could have easily been enforced.

                      Which do you think is worse: killing 50K civilians on purpose or killing 100K civilians as a collateral damage in a land invasion aimed at the military?

                      Both. Sorry, but morality isn’t a numbers game.

                    2. You fail.

                      Only if I start with your premises, which I don’t.

                      Sorry, but morality isn’t a numbers game.

                      And real life isn’t a morality game. You don’t get to pretend that Japanese civilians weren’t going to die in large numbers, either way.

                    3. Only if I start with your premises, which I don’t.

                      right. You start with the premise that there are n non-combatants. Reality says differently.

                      You don’t get to pretend that Japanese civilians weren’t going to die in large numbers, either way.

                      I pretend nothing. With a nuke, you’re dead with extreme certainty. The only thing working in your favor is dumb luck and location. With a blockade or a conventional bombing, you at least stand *some* chance of escaping death.

                      Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a pacifist, but condoning the intentional killing of civilians as a moral good is nothing short of the most cruel morally relativistic rationalizations.

                    4. You start with the premise that there are n non-combatants. Reality says differently

                      I start with the premise that the goal is to make the aggressor stop fighting.

                      As far as combatant vs. non-combatant, anyone working to keep Japan’s economy and war effort ongoing concerns is a fair target. The burden of a bomb’s inability to distinguish between citizens falls on the citizen’s of the aggressor.

                      …condoning the intentional killing of civilians as a moral good is nothing short of the most cruel morally relativistic rationalizations.

                      Do you consider civilians who die under a blockade to have been killed intentionally?

                    5. ITT butthurt altruists can’t respond to superior moral reasoning with anything more than ‘he’s scum’ and also somehow think civilians are innocent at all times under all circumstances even if they produce munitions.

                    6. The guns made the Nazis evil.

                      And anyone that makes guns is evil and deserves death.

                    7. If they made them for Nazis then yes.

                    8. Does that logic apply to people that make guns for American criminals too, or only furren ones?

                    9. Better a altruist than a collectivist.

          3. When they stop fighting for freedom.

    3. Firebombing of Tokyo.

  2. Don’t you understand Lucy, it’s the civilians fault they got bombed because they had a shitty government/were in the way.

    1. They worked for the German government building munitions. So blame them for staying in the cities and the G government for not surrendering.

    2. I take it your name is a tribute to the Nostalgia Critic?

  3. Lucy, the Emperor didn’t broadcast the surrender until August 15. He supposedly told his family and the “Big Six” in the Japanese imperial hierarchy earlier that he wanted to surrender, but the Allies had no way of knowing this. They told Japan to broadcast an uncoded surrender signal but they kept sending coded shit of a presumably military nature.

    There was also a military coup attempt to prevent the surrender Aug 12-15… AFTER the Nagasaki bombing. Face it, it was a mess. The US wasn’t innocent as the driven snow in these matters, but it’s hard to blame them for endeavoring to drive the point home again and again when faced with this reality.

    1. I think it’s pretty obvious they wanted to scare Russkies by demonstrating the power of the atomic bomb, in addition to forcing a Japanese surrender before the Russians cut too deeply into Manchuria and Korea. Japan was finished, but the politics of the surrender still mattered.

      1. That too. Though, they already knew all about our bombs thanks to Klaus Fuchs et al.

      2. It’s also obvious that the Ruskies wanted to scare us and the Chinese by beating the ever living hell out of the massive Japanese army in Manchuria.

        The Soviet Invasion of Manchuria (August 9 ? 20, 1945) was as important to the Japanese surrender as the Atomic bombs.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S….._Manchuria

        The Soviets used 1.7 million to smash the Japanese army. Afterwards, they allowed days of rape and looting as a reward to their soldiers.

        The Japanese knew that, unlike the Americans, the Soviets didn’t care about the casualties involved in an invasion of the home islands. And that a terrible fate awaited them if the Soviets landed.

        By surrendering to the Americans, Japan avoided all that. MacArthur simply denied the Soviets permission to land in Japan. They didn’t have the sea power to challenge our Navy, much less deal with nuclear weapons.

        1. Corollary to Occam’s Razor:

          Never attribute to willful maliciousness what can be explained through realpolitik.

    2. It’s worth noting that we had less than stellar information about the political status of Japan. There was no guarantee of the Emperor’s power in post-Showa Incident Japan.

    3. THere’s a big difference between “not as innocent as the driven snow” and bombing 140,000 people, mostly civilians, to death.

      1. Not if you were a member of the First Marine Division. – which took 4,000 causalities on the meaningless island of island of Peleliu, 1,655 were killed in action on Okinawa – where they Japanese fought fanatically.

        They lost their innocence at Guadalcanal. They didn’t deserve to die so some douche doesn’t have to feel guilty 70 years later.

    4. It’s actually very easy to blame them if you think the direct consequences of the action is a moral evil. Very easy indeed.

      1. But to think such a thought is itself morally evil. Very evil indeed.

        1. If I think something is evil, that makes me evil? That’s such a broad and generalized statement as to be completely meaningless.

  4. Even after the bombing of Nagasaki and the emperor said he would surrender, the U.S. firebombed Tokyo on August 14 with a thousand-plane bombing mission. Was this last mass killing necessary? We rarely hear about it at all, perhaps because it throws into question the entire morality of U.S. strategic bombing in the Pacific War.

    Curtis LeMay, the general in charge of the Pacific bombing campaign, said that had the Japanese won the war he would fully expect them to try him for war crimes given the horrendous loss of civilian life his bombing policy caused.

    1. Nothing in the Japanese military behavior during ww2 makes me think they would have bothered with trials.

      1. Recently finished reading “Unbroken”. The behavior of their prisoner of war camp guards certainly didn’t follow the Geneva Convention.

        1. A man from my hometown wrote this book about his experience as a POW.
          http://www.amazon.com/Horio-Yo…..0930926110

    2. Given that they put regular soldiers fighting the regular war through the Bataan death march, I’m going to agree with Tulpa, here. I’m doubting there would have been much of a trial.

  5. Japan’s and Germany’s brutalities, some of the most notorious in the history of humanity, are appropriately condemned, yet these evils have somehow come to obscure the evils committed by the United States, Britain, and even Stalin in the course of the war.

    Noooooooo! Not STALIN!

    What kinda commie claptrap are you linking to Lucy?

    1. The point being that not only do the brutalities of Japan and Germany obscure the better allies, they evens somehow obscure the evils done by the guy who had a higher body count than Hitler.

      The Independent Institute definitely ain’t commie…

    2. “Even” Stalin? He was possibly the worst of all of them.

      1. Definitely if you remove the qualifies “in the course of the war”.

        I did misread the “even” as qualifying against the other allies rather than the Axis powers.

      2. See above comment.

  6. Probably the most obnoxious aspect of pacifist hand-wringing about WWII (at least to me) is how cliche and historically ignorant it comes off.

    Want to talk about horrific bombings? Talk about the firebombing of Tokyo, which saw more civilian deaths than either of the atom bombs, and which continued long after military targets were destroyed.

    I would also point out that, as evil as Hitler was, the Japanese were in some respects just as or more evil. The occupation of Manchuria was no picnic, nor was the treatment of ethnic Koreans or Taiwanese in the Japanese empire (to say nothing of how Pacific Islanders were treated). The battle of Manila saw about as many civilian casualties than the occupation of the same city by the Japanese. The Japanese military was about as savage in the Pacific as the Germans were on the Eastern Front (though they were slightly better to the civilian population).

    1. Immaculate Trouser, you’re right about Tokyo, and dozens of other cities were burned to the ground too. You’re of course also right about Imperial Japan. I think Japan was probably the second worst state in that war, between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia.

    2. Not only that, but Hiroshima was a significant military and industrial target. Nagasaki was, too. Yes, civilians lived there, but it wasn’t possible to attack just the military and industrial targets without hitting civilians as well. Maybe the Japanese should have thought of that before they started the war and committed a long list of horrific war crimes which make the atomic bombings look good by comparison.

      Also, I see no reason to question the casualty estimates for a land invasion. Look at casualty counts for Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and note that they were in the process of arming women and children with wooden spears when the bombs dropped.

      1. Yes, maybe the Japanese government should have thought of that.

        Maybe governments should think about the populations who live within their borders before they go to war. Maybe government should think about the populations who live within other borders before the drop bombs.

        1. Maybe government should think about the populations who live within other borders before the drop bombs.

          So how many US soldiers would you be comfortable sending to slaughter Lucy?

          1. So how many civilians are you comfortable murdering Cytotoxic?

            1. Every fucking one of them, if that’s what it takes to make their aggressive country stop fighting.

              1. And that’s why I can’t believe you to be anything than an evil, evil person.

                1. So what’s your non-evil acceptable ratio of dead Axis civilians to dead Allied soldiers?

                  1. 0-0 would be the ideal ratio.

                    How many allied soldiers were saved by the fire bombing of Dresden?

                    Or the August firebombing of Tokyo, for that matter?

                    1. Six years into a global total war is already pretty far beyond analyzing as an “ideal” scenario.

                      Or the August firebombing of Tokyo, for that matter?

                      Hard to say. Probably 0.

                      Absent Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and firebombing Tokyo, what’s your scenario for Japan’s surrender?

                    2. Probably greater than zero. Damned retarded filters.

                    3. Hiroshima and maybe Nagasaki were necessary evils to end the war quickly. The august firebombing of Tokyo was completely gratuitous in hindsight.

                      The thing that I find highly offensive is your gung ho celebration of nuking those civilians, instead of seeing it as a terrible necessary evil.

                      And I find the kill em all and let god sort em out attitude displayed by some here to be extremely disgusting.

                    4. The august firebombing of Tokyo was completely gratuitous in hindsight.

                      Even if that were granted, the war wasn’t fought with the benefit of hindsight.

                      The thing that I find highly offensive is your gung ho celebration of nuking those civilians, instead of seeing it as a terrible necessary evil.

                      Your making up more stupid shit. Where did I “celebrate” nuking anyone?

                      And I find the kill em all and let god sort em out attitude displayed by some here to be extremely disgusting.

                      As opposed to what? You didn’t mention your tactics for getting Japan to surrender.

      2. All those Japanese children who were incinerated?how dare they not overthrow the imperial state when they had their chance?

        1. According to the Geneva Convention, the presence of civilians does not insulate military targets from attack. In fact, placing military near civilians with the intent of shielding them can be a war crime in itself.

        2. I’m guessing it hasn’t occurred to Papaya that his line of reasoning is virtually identical to Al-Qaeda’s justification for 9/11.

          1. Bullshit. Al-Qaeda’s justification for 9/11 was the slaughter of heretics. They didn’t give fuck about the sort of target their assessments and calculations would ultimately select.

            1. Another winner!

            2. Bullshit to your bullshit. Pretty much all of the Western world, and a good chunk of the East, is full of heretics according to Al-Qaeda. Why did they pick American heretics over any other? Because America is “The Great Satan.” In their minds, the people in the Twin Towers deserved to die because of the actions the U.S. government took against Islamic countries. It’s the exact same reasoning as arguing that the people of Hiroshima deserved to die because of the actions of the Japanese government.

              1. Al Qaeda operates in and has attacked plenty of countries outside the US, including India (a country which at the time was not aligned with the US), Yemen, the Philippines, Turkey, and of course countless Islamic targets. They have attempted and planned many actions that didn’t pan out, but which nonetheless were against non-hostile targets (i.e., a Rube Goldbergesqe plan to assassinate Pope John Paul II).

                I’m calling bull on this claim. If any region of the world were going to target the US for interloping policy, it would be Latin America — and yet, you don’t see Mexicans crossing the border with bombs strapped to their chests.

          2. Wow, ClubMedSux, that’s so wrong that I don’t know where to start. For one thing, the WTC wasn’t military or near anything military: it was a purely civilian target, unlike Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

            1. But like Dresden and Tokyo.

              1. Wikipedia: “Damage to Tokyo’s heavy industry was slight until firebombing destroyed much of the light industry that was used as an integral source for small machine parts and time-intensive processes. Firebombing also killed or made homeless many workers who had been taking part in war industry. Over 50% of Tokyo’s industry was spread out among residential and commercial neighborhoods; firebombing cut the whole city’s output in half.”

            2. The attacks on the Pentagon and the Fort Hood shooting were on military targets.

      3. Hiroshima was such a key target that they hadn’t bombed it in the 4 previous years?

        1. Hiroshima wasn’t the primary target, it was actually a secondary target. The Enola Gay was supposed to hit the munuitions center of Kokura, but Tibbits changed his mind when weahter interfered.

          The military brass wanted a city that had been relatively unscathed by bombings so they could accurately assess the damage done by the blast. And because of this, large numbers of civilians, many of them children, had been evacuated to these cities.

          1. Actually check me on that, Hiroshima was indeed the primary target for the first bomb. Nagasaki, on the other hand, was a target of opportunity for the second bomb after weather obscured visuals over Kokura.

        2. It was one of the key targets that remained unbombed. It was the headquarters of the 2nd General Army, the Fifty-Ninth Army, and most of the 224th Division.

          Also note that in Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-47 by D. M. Giangreco, he says that the Japanese government’s own estimates were that an invasion would have killed 50-150 times the number of Japanese who died in the atomic bombings.

          1. But nuclear weapons are BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD. DERP.

          2. “Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-47 by D. M. Giangreco,”

            Ordered as of now. Thanks for the reference.

            1. I’ll second Papaya’s recommendation.

              To reply to Lucy and this subthread, I have no problem with pacifists or pacifist arguments — I’m not a pacifist, but it’s a legitimate philosophy to hew to.

              However, there’s no difference between bombing and amphibious invasion from a moral standpoint — there are aesthetic differences, but I’m quite certain that those differences aren’t appreciated by the civilians caught in the crossfire. The battle of a relatively depopulated Manila saw the death if over 100,000 Filipino casualties, to say nothing of US and Japanese casualties. Hiroshima + Nagasaki saw ~150,000-220,000 casualties, total. I find it entirely plausible that an invasion of mainland Japan by US forces would have seen more civilian casualties than that, plus of course military casualties.

              Oppose WWII, don’t oppose it — but basing disgust on the aesthetics of how we kill civilians is superficial.

          3. 150 times the number of deaths in the atomic bombings would be between 20 and 40 million people. The later figure would be more than half the number who died globally in the entire war. Not saying that more wouldn’t have died in an invasion than in the bombings, but those numbers are absurd

            1. The high estimate is indeed high, but the population of Japan in 1945 was about 72 million. Since they were arming children and women with wooden spears and so on, it’s not entirely absurd to think that more than half the population might have died in an invasion.
              Note that between a tenth and a third of the civilian population of Okinawa died in that battle.

              1. I think it is pretty absurd. I have studied the topic somewhat, and the Japanese definitely were trying to get all hands on deck so to speak, but at some point, the Allies would have gained complete control over the major cities of Japan, and at that point, the war would pretty much be over. I think that would come a lot sooner than the point where half of Japan was dead. I get that the Japanese culture valued the warrior spirit and looked down on surrender. But I still can’t see an invasion resulting in a slaughter that would approach half the death toll of the entire war

                1. Even 1/10 of the civilian population becoming casualties would have been an order of magnitude higher than casualties resulting from the nuclear bombs (again not including military casualties).

              2. The Nazis were arming women and children.

  7. Arguably one of the most left wing American governments in our history allied with the USSR bombs a bunch of civilians.

    Sorry if I do not suffer from white mans guilt for an act by a bunch of socialists in 1945.

    1. You don’t need to feel guilty in the slightest. I am more interested in you not being okay with brutalities, past or future.

      1. As long as you recognize the choice was not between brutality and no brutality but rather a different set of brutalities. Sometimes you have to choose the least bad option under your own priorities. The US government’s priority was to value American lives over Japanese lives. That’s not nice, but that is war.

    2. Leftists can go on and on about social justice or equality, but they never seem to have any issue at all with killing people who do not agree with them, or just for whatever reason.

      1. remember, they tell us you must break a few eggs to make an omelette

        1. Omelettes are the mass-genocide of breakfast foods

          Which is why they’re so tasty.

          Don’t get me started on caviar. mmm, mmm. I rate foods on a scale of suffering-cruelty-number of potential lives-lost-scale to judge what I should order. I ask waiters all the time, “what dishes cause the most death and pain to the animals? I’ll have that.” Dolphin-*free* Tuna?? pppt. Someone should market, “Wanton disregard to all other sea-life-Tuna”

  8. You know, maybe one day, all of the people of the world will just unite in telling their governments to fuck off, we’re not going to war for you. The crazy thing is that even now when their are systems in place, like democracy, that let people choose their leaders, the same type of psychotic mass murdering lunatics seem to wind up in power.

    1. Democracy pretty much assures it.

      1. Then why don’t democracies ever seem to go to war with each other?

        1. What do you mean,? We went to war with Iraq which had its own democratically elected leader…

        2. The city-states of Greece might disagree with you there, but they would be busy violently disagreeing with each other.

          The claim that democracies never go to war with each other requires narrowing the definiton of “democracy” which entraps you in a “No True Scotsman” fallacy and also makes it hard to criticize communism (as any good communist will tell you, there’s never been a communist regime, for sufficiently narrow definitions of communist).

          Democracy is good and all that, and it may reduce the incidence of war, but it sure as hell doesn’t end it.

  9. When powerful people and the criminal enterprises we call “governments” that they inhabit jostle for position in the world, we all know who actually pays the price.

    1. This is why I keep you around, Epi.

      Though also for the wit.

      1. I thought it was because his scent deters less dominant males.

        1. No no, it’s because the ammonia he secretes kills bacteria.

  10. Oh boy… I watched Grave of the Fireflies for the first time a few weeks back. Now that Barefoot Gen clip is bringing me back down. Gut-wrenching.

    I don’t want to have to feel these feelings, damn it!

    1. yeah, Grave of the Fireflies is not exactly the feel-good movie of the century.

      It should be required viewing for anyone who wants to wage war.

    2. Grave of the Fireflies and Barefoot Gen are part of my “suicide watch” anime collection.

      There are others, but Fireflies is pretty much one of the most depressing shows I have ever watched and are good at capturing the horror of war from the level of those who just happen to in the wrong place.

  11. Thanks Lucy for posting the clip from Barefoot Gen. I haven’t watched that anime since probably 1992. It still is painfully beautiful. I’m going to have a bourbon.

    You are driving me to drink!

  12. There’s no nice way to fight a war, much less win one.

    Although it is funny, this site does seem to be in favor of the US Civil War, as if that was somehow atrocity free…

    1. I don’t think “this site” is “in favor” of any war. Different writers have different opinions, old boy.

    2. Cosmos are ok with the US civil war because the right sort of civilians were collateral damage.

      1. Speaking only for myself, I can say that I’m never OK with civilian casualities.

        What I can say is that I am convinced that even if Lincoln had negotiated an acceptable exit for the CSA (ie resolution of debt owed etc) in the end there would have been a war, or series of wars, absolutely as bloody, if not more so than the “Recent Unpleasantness” as 1) Slaves revolted 2) the South tried to expand into the West confronting Union forces bent on preventing them from doing so and 3) they attempted to invade Mexico in an attempt to expand their territory to the South instead/in addition to the West.

        1. By contrast, I’m OK only with civilian casualties. You should never try to hurt the boyguard if you can get to the body he’s guarding directly.

          1. Congratulations, you just justified 9/11.

            1. I would if I were on that side.

        2. I agree that it seem hard to see any way that war or a series of wars could have been avoided as slavery died in the old south.

          My point was that the pacificists that agonize over allied atrocities in WWII never seem to worry about civilian suffering in the Civil war, presumably because those civilians are seen as uniformly evil racists.

          1. You’re talking about hypothetical people here. Give some examples.

            There are plenty of people agonizing over both allied atrocities and civilian suffering in the Civil war. Basically every paeleo-libertarian writer out there does. Read any article about WWII or the civil war at sites like LRC.

  13. One of the guys my dad carpooled from Falls Church to his assignment at the Navy Budget Office was some kind of super secret spook who worked somewhere else in the War Machinery of 1945.

    This guy had never talked about what he did but on the morning of Monday, 8/6/45 as they drove to work he said something to the affect, “well, I can tell you guys now, yesterday we dropped the biggest bomb in history on some city in Japan.”

  14. The only thing wrong with the atomic bombing of Japan is that one of those nukes should have been dropped on the Emperor’s palace.

    Gregory also questions the certainty of those who breezily claim certainty that the invasion of Japan would have cost 500,000 lives.

    Look at the Battle of Okinawa and upscale it for Kyushu and Honshu
    That figure is only for allied forces too.How many Japanese lives were saved? The civilian population was drilling for total resistance. The young women pearl-diver underwater demolition teams and sailor-suited schoolgirls with pikes were not just morale-boosting homefront propaganda. Japs die hard and they go down fighting.

    1. There are questions as to whether after Okinawa and the sinking of Yamamoto, there were, in fact, reasons to invade the Home Islands. After all, without a fleet (effectively destroyed at Leyte Gulf) to protect shipping there was no way that Japan could have kept supplies coming in.

      That said, in terms of starvation and deprivation a total blockade might have taken as many lives as heavy bombing did. Just stretched over a longer period.

      One of the problem of Atomic bobing though was the fact that we really had no idea what he long term affect of radiation was going to be. The long slow deaths of so many victims, even extending to the yet unborn as of 8/6/45 was something of a shock to everyone concerned.

      1. Isaac Bartram| 8.6.12 @ 8:36PM |#
        …”The long slow deaths of so many victims, even extending to the yet unborn as of 8/6/45 was something of a shock to everyone concerned.”

        See Frank, “Downfall”; the claims of long term deaths have been greatly distorted.
        And do you think starvation is somehow preferable?

        1. And do you think starvation is somehow preferable?

          Indeed, I do not. Hence, my caveat.

          I do, in fact see few of the simple answers that I once did.

          At one time I accepted the “all the lives saved” proposition.

          Then I followed the “McArthur was against it” combined with the diplomatic suits and all the other arguments.

          In the end I reluctantly accept that it might have been necessary tempered with the notion of “what if it wasn’t?”

          It’s also worth noting that the horror of the bomb has had an extreme deterrent affect against any further nuclear adventurism. No national leader wants to be responsible for another Hiroshima.

          1. Isaac Bartram| 8.6.12 @ 9:18PM |#
            …”It’s also worth noting that the horror of the bomb has had an extreme deterrent affect against any further nuclear adventurism. No national leader wants to be responsible for another Hiroshima.”

            Only twice have nuclear weapons been used in anger. They were used (successfully) to end a horrible, bloody war, saving (AFAICT), millions and possibly tens of millions of lives. And since then, not *one* nuke has been used in anger.
            If there could ever be a use of a weapon more ‘morally’ than that, I’d like to see the claim.
            If Truman knew that would have been the outcome, he’d have probably jumped and shouted about the (non) decision. I would, and I hope his grandson hammered that home to the Japanese.

            1. If there could ever be a use of a weapon more ‘morally’ than that, I’d like to see the claim.

              How about a use that DOESN’T kill a bunch of civilians including children? Really, if that’s the most “moral” use of a weapon you can think of, you have some problems.

              1. darius404| 8.6.12 @ 10:12PM |#
                “If there could ever be a use of a weapon more ‘morally’ than that, I’d like to see the claim.

                How about a use that DOESN’T kill a bunch of civilians including children? Really, if that’s the most “moral” use of a weapon you can think of, you have some problems.”

                Unicorns live in your neighborhood? Sorry, you need to deal with reality.

                1. Unicorns live in your neighborhood? Sorry, you need to deal with reality.

                  And you need to get some morals rather than try to rationalize everything.

                  1. OK, darius404, it’s 1945 and you are Truman. You have two atomic bombs. Perhaps hundreds of American soldiers are dying every day. Please give an example of a more moral use of the bombs.

                    1. He’d drop a ‘free hugs’ bomb.

            2. Coming into this conversation a little late, but I’m glad that Isaac made his observation about their use in Hiroshima and Nagasaki horrifying the world against their being used again. Had they not been dropped in WW2, you can be damned sure they’d have been used in Korea. Or against the Soviets, potentially. And there were a lot more bombs in 1950 than the, IIRC, one left we had after Nagasaki.

              The sacrifice of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki both prevented a much larger death toll from a conventional invasion/blockade (Recall that the winter of 1945/1946 was a bad one and that Japan already had problems feeding its population.) and probably a gigantic death toll from their subsequent use in Korea/China, or the Soviet Union. As it was, we ended up incinerating damned near 1/2 million to 1 million civilians anyway from conventional bombing. (Richard Rhodes’s Dark Sun makes that claim towards the end of the book, also see this link)

              My own estimation of the atomic bombings is close to Isaac Barton’s view of them.

              1. The 1/2 to 1 million civilian death toll is of North Koreans, during the Korean War. Sorry for the ambiguity.

              2. You actually CAN’T be “damned sure” any of that would happen, you’re JUST GUESSING.

                1. You actually CAN’T be “damned sure” any of that would happen, you’re JUST GUESSING.

                  Thanks for the HUGELY insightful commentaRY DUNPhy.

                2. You actually CAN’T be “damned sure” any of that would happen, you’re JUST GUESSING.

                  Also, yes he can. Personal assuredness has nothing to do with factual accuracy.

                3. Why wouldn’t they have been used? Especially considering the numerous war plans advocating their use in Western Europe against the Soviets? War plans that were created after we already knew what the damned things would do when they went off?

                  You’re telling me that the U.S. wouldn’t use nuclear weapons against an enemy who couldn’t retaliate in kind (the Chinese/North Koreans), without the horrific example of Hiroshima to stay their hand? MacArthur wanted to use them in strikes against the Chinese and Koreans. (A bit biased of a link, but I don’t have the time to dig up a more balanced reference, and moreover, the gist of the statements at the link are true.) One of the factors that ruled against their use against North Korea was:

                  At this point, however, the JCS rejected use of the bomb because targets large enough to require atomic weapons were lacking; because of concerns about world opinion five years after Hiroshima [Emphasis Added]; and because the JCS expected the tide of battle to be reversed by conventional military means.

                  They were right at the last, at least until the Chinese showed up in October of 1950… Go read the link. See what crazy plans the JCS came up with to limit the Chinese crossing into Korea. And be glad that the U.S. forces, post Pusan, never were in danger of being wholly wiped out.

                  I’ll agree with you that it’s a guess, but it’s a very likely eventuality.

    2. It’s also worth noting that however reluctant the military was to sue for peace, there had been feelers for peace, both through Moscow (where Japan still had a diplomatic mission along with our own – so informal discussions with our enemy were possible) and Stockholm (neutral* – likewise) weeks before 8/6. The problem was that they were conditional (mostly that the Emperor should remain – something that was contained in the final settlement) and hence unacceptable to the US.

      1. Isaac Bartram| 8.6.12 @ 8:44PM |#
        “It’s also worth noting that however reluctant the military was to sue for peace, there had been feelers for peace, both through Moscow (where Japan still had a diplomatic mission along with our own – so informal discussions with our enemy were possible) and Stockholm (neutral* – likewise) weeks before 8/6. The problem was that they were conditional (mostly that the Emperor should remain – something that was contained in the final settlement) and hence unacceptable to the US.”

        Bullshit. The ‘Emperor shall remain” offer was specifically rejected by the Japanese weeks prior to the bombing.

        1. Sevo, if that is so, I stand corrected.

          However, it still stands that the unconditional surrender terms demanded by FDR (in fairness, because he didn’t want the same legacy as Wilson) and to a lesser extent by Churchill (who, I suspect, might have accepted some conditions that did no leave Stalin so much in the driver’s seat) remained a major impediment to ending hostilities on both fronts. Both wings of the Axis had factions who would have made major concessions to end the war much earlier.

          1. Actually, the unconditional surrender demand came as a surprise to Churchill, and was considered very stupid by Patton and others. Some suspect it was something that the Communists in FDR’s administration pushed for.

            1. PapayaSF| 8.6.12 @ 9:17PM |#
              “Actually, the unconditional surrender demand came as a surprise to Churchill,..”

              So Churchill claims and so Weinberg (“A World at Arms”) debunks.

            2. While I’m sure it’s true that the communists in the Roosevelt Administration (which we now know most certainly did exist) wanted to see Germany crushed as a gateway to Soviet domination of Western Europe, It’s also fair to say that FDR himself only wanted unconditional surrender as a toll to unequivocally dictate the terms of peace.

              The interesting thing is that Eleanor Roosevelt constantly warned FDR against giving too much away to Stalin.

              As easy a target she is as “a busy body housewife looking around America as though it was a living room to be redecorated” it is hard to not admire a woman who could ride a horse as well as any man and was a crack pistol shot who carried a gun to civil rights demonstrations ready to help protect her black friends.

          2. Isaac Bartram| 8.6.12 @ 9:03PM |#
            …”Both wings of the Axis had factions who would have made major concessions to end the war much earlier.”

            And both, unless you have other info, would have required maintaining areas conquered by them. That was *not* acceptable, regardless of any demand for U-S.

            1. I’m fairly sure that the Canaris (and others – Rommel, Trott etc) faction would have been perfectly content to move back to status quo ante 1939 in exchange for a peace in 1942-44.

              1. Possibly, but they had no legal warrant to offer the terms.
                By late ’42, there were plenty of Germans willing to offer terms. Problem is, they had no ability to bind the German government to do so.
                So they were so much chaff in the radar.

                1. Fair enough. Good point, for the most part.

                  But, the fact is that Canaris, von Trott etc could have offered a legitimicy that the Allies chose to ignore. And of course, Canaris, von Trott paid for that with their lives (as a very distant Trott cousin, I am, you have to believe exceptionally proud of something like that).

    3. SIV – An understandable but stupid sentiment. The military objective, per the Commander in Chief’s instructions, was to achieve unconditional surrender. Nuking the one person with the authority to surrender the Empire of Japan, would be counterproductive.

      1. Decapitation should always be the #1 goal in any war.

        1. Why? So you can fight a guerrilla war in Japan for another 5 years? Without the Emperor to order them to surrender, they simply wouldn’t have. The ugliness of Okinawa proved that.

          1. Hell, Okinawa wasn’t even that loyal to the Empire. It was inhabited by the Ryukyu people, who were integrated into the Empire relatively late, and who did not consider themselves Japanese. Resistance would have assuredly been greater in Japan’s more ancient prefectures.

        2. Beware the martyr effect.

      2. This was also my first reaction. As much as the bastard may have deserved to be the first one to pay for the war, he was also the only thing keeping Japan from becoming the Afghanistan of 1945.

  15. that Barefoot Gen is awful.

    after watching that kind of horror, the outrages du jour seem like so much static in the background

  16. Simple facts:
    By all (contemporary) projections, the two bombs saved the lives of millions of Japanese, ignoring Allied lives.
    Gregory’s claim of ’40K casualties’ for an invasion is patent bullshit; see casualty numbers for Okinawa or any of the books mentioned.
    The Tokyo bombing of 8/14/45 was a result of the delay of the surrender radio transmission; Japan had *not* surrendered when the bombings took place.
    WWII wasn’t the bloodiest government action of the 20th Century; various Communist thugs managed to beat that body-count all hollow.
    Cont’d.

  17. Cont’d:
    But it was brutal, and the Allies didn’t cover themselves in glory. The Brit bombing of Germany in particular is certainly open to questions; the intent was ‘morale’.
    The US, by comparison, at least tried to target ‘military/economic’ assets, and given the tech at the time, that meant civilians were going to die, too.
    The Japanese OTOH, made no effort to hide the purely terroristic aims of quite a few of their supposedly ‘military’ operations, and they further made no effort to hide their aim to arm every civilian they could to oppose an invasion.
    See Frank, “Downfall”, Tillman, “Whirlwind”, Pacific War Research Society, “Japan’s Longest Day”, Boyne, “Clash of Wings”, Tooze, “Wages of Destruction”. There’s more, and I’ll be happy to offer page numbers if anyone is interested, but you’d better be willing to provide cites if you’d like to argue the points.
    As of August 9th, Japan should be holding a national day of thanks for the Japanese lives that didn’t end in the later portions of 1945 and 1946.

    1. I think you hit on the issue that is often missed. Its understood in economics a little better (at least here). For example, landing stuff on Mars is freaking cool and lots will be learned. But, at what cost? What was the opportunity cost of the Mars mission? What would have been done with that money if it had been left in the hands of the taxpayers instead?

      No one ever answers that.

      Same thing for Japan. How many lives, both allied and nipponese would have been lost if we hadnt bombed them? I dont think this is solely a utilitarian calculation, but assuming any means of war are moral at all*, the ones that minimize death while achieving victory seem to be the best.

      *a big assumption, to say the least

      1. …”assuming any means of war are moral at all*, the ones that minimize death while achieving victory seem to be the best.”

        I don’t think it requires any assumption. If *any* activity reduces the number of human deaths, it’s *GOOD!*.
        If that’s utilitarian, well, I’ll answer to the charge.

        1. If *any* activity reduces the number of human deaths, it’s *GOOD!*.

          There is a reason Jefferson enumerated more rights than just life.

          1. I don’t think liberty and property would have fared well under a hypothetical invasion (pursuit of happiness, neither).

            The thing they don’t tell you about invasions is that no matter what the name is of the city under siege, the letters always spell “Rapetown”.

            1. I think you missed the point I was trying to make.

              Surrendering could result in far fewer lives lost. Yet we did not surrender, because we would rather sacrifice lives and govern ourselves than remain relatively unmolested under the heel of a foreign oppressor.

              1. Was there really any chance that the Japanese or Germans would have ever invaded the US? I know the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, but that was an attack on our military power not an attempt to control the territory.

                1. Do the Aleutians count?

                  Had they better luck (and codes) at Midway, the next step was going to be reducing Pearl Harbor, if not actually occupying it. That would have been unpleasant for the Hawaiians concerned. Officially, the Philippines counted as U.S. territory (even though we were on the way to giving it back to the Filipinos).

                  Invasion by Germany pre-supposes a win by them against the Soviet Union. Germany would have then taken the Soviet Union’s place in the Cold War. There were plans for missiles and planes that could have struck the U.S., but by the time they were drafted, Germany was in no position to do any such thing.

                  Invading the continental United States would have been an absolute nightmare for either primary Axis power. Considering Japanese utter ineptitude at logistics throughout the war, I don’t think they could ever realistically try it. But then, their goal was never to invade the U.S.

    2. I would agree, but I do have to say that at some point, the bombing of Tokyo went past reasonable and became excessive in terms of military (non-civilian morale) objectives gained vs civilians killed.

      Wasn’t quite a Dresden, but it was bad.

      1. The Immaculate Trouser| 8.6.12 @ 10:16PM |#
        “I would agree, but I do have to say that at some point, the bombing of Tokyo went past reasonable and became excessive in terms of military (non-civilian morale) objectives gained vs civilians killed”

        Cite? Please define “excessive” as regards military supply lines.

        1. Don’t have a cite for you (don’t remember what book I read it in), but May-July 1945 was almost entirely made up of bombing runs on the urban population and “morale” targets (e.g., the Imperial Palace).

          1. The bombing of Tokyo that is cited as equivalent to the atomic bombings, was the March 9-10, 1945 raid. It was one of the first ones to use the new tactic of low-level, night bombing with an incendiary-heavy mix of ordnance.

            Being one of the first raids, LeMay, et al, were surprised at just how effective the raid was. I don’t believe they expected the raid to kill 100,000 people, nor burn out 16 square miles of downtown Tokyo. (I don’t thing they’d have cared either, but that’s a separate question.)

            IMHO, it’s a different story than Dresden. Although Dresden was (and is) a large city with multiple industrial sectors and a major rail junction. Moreover, the War in Europe still labored on for nearly 3 more months after the bombing. I go along with NEM‘s estimation that, while we can’t say how many Soviet or American/British lives bombing that rail hub saved, it’s probably more than zero.

            War is hell. I am thankful the technology has improved to where civilian populations need not necessarily be targeted in order to destroy military or industrial targets.

  18. I won’t contribute anything to the discussion of ending the Pacific War other than to strongly suggest anyone who can find it watch the Canadian docudrama Hiroshima. It’s fascinating in that it contains both historical reenactments and interviews with participants or their family members.

    1. And what sort of information might it add to the discussion?

      1. Carve out three hours to watch it and you will see. Oh yes, you will see.

        1. Sorry, if I’m going to spend 3 hours, I want to have some idea of that which I spending time.
          What are the claims? That people suffered?

          1. It didn’t seem to have a point of view. It seemed more a straightfoward telling of events but from differing angles. American and Japanese, civilian and military.

            Full disclosure: I identified more with the Allied POV, but I don’t think that was due to the telling.

            1. FoE,
              My POV is using 3 hours to gain information means that the information should be worth the time. Sorta like ‘blind’ links; not gonna happen.
              If there is something that really adds to the discussion, hell, I’m more than willing. But…

              1. Whoa. Your choice. If you mouse over it you’ll see the link is just to IMDB. At this point it’s probably best you just ignore it and move on. I didn’t post it to pick a fight or personally piss you off.

                It’s an interesting (to me) political docudrama about the decision making leading up to the bombings and also includes the effects. If anyone else is interested, it’s reenactments, archival footage and brief interviews.

  19. In the end, it came down to this:

    1) Drop the bombs; suffer lower casualty count than invasion.

    2) Pussy out and invade; suffer prolonged multispectral warfare with a tremendous fuckload of casualties more.

    One thing a lot of people don’t seem willing to say is that sides mattered, for fuck’s sake. Nuking them to save lots and lots of us was a good thing to do. Them or us, I pick us. That’s not a very difficult decision, from my perspective.

    1. Res Publica Americana| 8.6.12 @ 9:06PM |#
      “One thing a lot of people don’t seem willing to say is that sides mattered, for fuck’s sake. Nuking them to save lots and lots of us was a good thing to do. Them or us, I pick us. That’s not a very difficult decision, from my perspective.”

      Hard to argue, but it ignores the fact that the bombs saved millions of *Japanese* lives also.
      Frank, “Downfall”, pg 310, Japanese Navy Minister Yonai:
      “… the atomic bombs and the Soviet entry into the war are, in a sense, gifts from the gods…”

      1. Yeah, of course. I’m just arguing the point that should be argued before we even GET to the discussion about Japanese lives spared.

    2. So launching a full-scale military invasion is “pussying out.”

      1. When the choice is between deploying novel weapons of mass destruction and initiating another invasion, yeah.

        1. What about the option of neither? Could the US have continued without using the bomb or invading?

    3. One thing a lot of people don’t seem willing to say is that sides mattered, for fuck’s sake. Nuking them to save lots and lots of us was a good thing to do.

      SO MUCH THIS. Lucy and other pacifist fucksticks think Americans should be happy to die for their enemies.

      1. My father-in-law went through Parris Island in the spring of ’45. He was then assigned to one of the Marine Divisions they planned to throw at the coast of Japan – and never use again because the units would suffer casualties so high as to render the entire division useless.

        It’s tougher to be the self-righteous. smug, preachy pacifist when it’s not your people being thrown into the meat grinder.

      2. Lucy and other pacifist fucksticks think Americans should be happy to die for their enemies.

        Methinks you misunderstand the premise behind pacifism.

  20. Awright, let’s discuss ‘civilian casualties’. In this case, see Tooze, above.
    At one time, a war could be fought between the front-line military units involved, with cavalry cutting supply lines behind the front lines. By mid 20th Century, that simply wasn’t possible.
    The US bombed the Nazi petroleum facilities and the transport grid to deny supplies to the front line army.
    Please explain how that can happen absent civilian casualties.

    1. The thing is, I don’t understand why so many people can’t simultaneously understand something to be bad and acknowledge its ultimate necessity or benefit.

      1. No argument from me. Killing people is evil, even when it’s required.

        1. I wouldnt go that far. I find nothing evil about a justified killing.

          1. many justified killings are awful tragedies even if not evil.

            they are not evil, because (well almost always) a justified killing involves the killer’s reasonable belief that he has proper cause.

            however, consider a killing of a mentally ill person who points an unloaded weapon at you out of a desire to end their own life

            your killing of them certainly wouldn’t be evil, but it’s still a horrid tragedy and an evil result, if results (vs. actions) can be said to be evil.

          2. robc| 8.6.12 @ 9:15PM |#
            “I wouldnt go that far. I find nothing evil about a justified killing.”

            OK, I stand corrected.
            Let me modify it to state killing civilians in war is evil, even if they make the supplies for the military.
            Evil, but necessary; there is no workable option.

          3. Has there ever been a killing that wasn’t justified?

      2. Im with the two of you.

        If someone wants to argue against war, make that case. But once the war is started, the acknowledgement that certain bad things will be done should be simple.

      3. So I assume you’re cool with police chases that kill innocent bystanders? After all, that’s the cost of law and order, right?

        1. like many things in the law, it’s about tradeoffs.

          what is the risk per pursuit mile of death to innocent bystanders?

          what is the risk to society if the criminal is not caught?

          and furthermore, what is the incentivization for that criminal to not stop THE NEXT time if he knows he can simply speed away and the police will not pursue? and what is the incentivization for other criminals who note that “agency X” won’t chase you if you if you commit a (insert crime here) and then elude them.

          if you want to get ACCURATE, driving in GENERAL, even if done cautiously creates a risk of killing innocent bystanders. and it does

          many thousands of innocents a year are killed because we insist on driving. it’s a dangerous activity. apparently, we accept that carnage as a tradeoff

          fortunately, we’ve decreased the fatality occurrence FIVE FOLD over the last few decades (in driving in general).

          and despite the occasional ignorati here who think DUI shouldn’t be a crime unless somebody is injured, we (and I ) will aggressively enforce dui laws.

          but you could apply your same logic to driving in GENERAL.

          every time you decide to step behind the wheel, you create A risk of an innocent bystander being killed. think about that, the next time you decide you want to drive somewhere, especially if not a necessary trip (food, work, etc.)

          1. btw, just as a frame of reference, in the most recent year i could find stats (2008), 334 people were killed in police pursuits, and of those 334 – 94 were innocents.

            there were 39,800 total traffic fatalities in 2008, which was a record low

            thus, innocents killed in police pursuits were 94/39,800 total traffic deaths

            the ratio of innocent bystander deaths in pursuits to total traffic related deaths is thus: .0023

        2. How the fuck did you manage to perform the mental acrobatics necessary to equate the deployment of nuclear weaponry at a time of global war to recklessness by cops? Holy motherfucking shit. My mind’s been blown.

          1. “I don’t understand why so many people can’t simultaneously understand something to be bad and acknowledge its ultimate necessity or benefit.”

            My point was that, whether it’s dropping a bomb or chasing a criminal, it comes down to a risk-benefit analysis. Clearly we understand that something can be bad and necessary at the same time; we’re not idiots. The disagreement comes in considering whether something as heinous as burning hundreds of thousands of civilians alive can ever be sufficiently necessary to justify such action.

            1. ClubMedSux| 8.6.12 @ 9:44PM |#
              …”The disagreement comes in considering whether something as heinous as burning hundreds of thousands of civilians alive can ever be sufficiently necessary to justify such action.”

              First, the best estimates of Hiroshima and Nagasaki amount to 200K deaths. That’s horrible, but by comparison, it doesn’t begin to measure up the the Japanese ‘Rape of Nanking’ *after* the city was captured.
              And then, let’s take the best contemporary estimates that by “burning hundreds of thousands of civilians alive” (your terms) we saved millions of others from equally horrible deaths.
              Put it bluntly: Japan and only Japan had the ability to end the war in the Pacific. Japan chose to sacrifice those ‘hundreds of thousands’ up until it looked like the Emperor was gonna take it in the shorts.
              For some reason (…), it then became incumbent on Hirohito to end the war.

    2. But there’s a much more fundamental issue. Military personnel are there solely to fight for and at the behest of civilians. I would target the military only as a last resort, and go after the civilians who are attempting to use them as cannon fodder wherever possible instead. If there were a way to avoid all military casualties and produce only civilian ones among the enemies, that’s the way I’d wage war.

      1. Poe’s Law

  21. 1983 anime Barefoot Gen. It is almost unwatchable in its brutality. (Did you think Grave of the Fireflies was the most soul-crushing anime about World War II? You were mistaken.)

    I’ll bet – especially if there are any Nanking animes.

    1. I could barely read the wikipedia article about the Rape of Nanking.

      The unspeakable horror of that is not relevant to my objections to Hiroshima and Nagaski and Tokyo and Dresden and Berlin.

      1. So, you had rather kill 300, 000 Allies vs. 100,000Japanese? Sorry, I vote for the Allies anyday. War is hell, remember? Which decision would YOU have made?

        1. She would have allowed the deaths of unspeakable numbers of the good guys. Sacrificed on the altar of altruism.

          1. In war, there are no “good guys” and “bad guys”, only the living and the dead.

          2. Altruism is your favorite word wall know that by now.

      2. The unspeakable horror of that is not relevant to my objections to Hiroshima and Nagaski and Tokyo and Dresden and Berlin.

        Well no, I guess not, even if certain homilies do come to mind (“goes around”, etc.) And I feel genuinely badly about the fried nice little Japanese ladies and kids. I “object” to it too – who doesn’t? Can’t we all just get along? Well, uh, no. Human beings have been slaughtering each other for several millennia and all the contemporary breast beating one sees about it and the indignation over our inability to be “better than this” betrays to me an arrogance of sorts. Of course we can’t. We’re animals – the same ones we’ve been all those hundreds of years. Watch Animal Planet.

        1. or the discovery channel (do it again now…)

        2. Violence has been going down for hundreds of years now. Modern society is much less violent than our more animal-like hunter/gatherer ancestors.

      3. Lucy Steigerwald| 8.6.12 @ 9:16PM |#
        “The unspeakable horror of that is not relevant to my objections to Hiroshima and Nagaski and Tokyo and Dresden and Berlin.”

        Dresden might (*might*) be questionable, but what possible objections do you have to the others? And I’m presuming you know there was a war in progress.

    2. Ice Nine| 8.6.12 @ 9:15PM |#
      …”I’ll bet – especially if there are any Nanking animes.”

      GRRR!
      300,000 civilians. AFTER the city was captured. Sickening.

    3. There’s a Hong Kong movie about it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113281/

  22. My bombs never say “FLITS”. OTOH, they hardly ever say “ka-pow” either…just “pow” or “boom”. Once in a while I get a “wham”.

    1. “FLITS” would be from Nitro-Whispering as on Get Smart.

    2. It’s the sound of spraying for mosquitos. Come on, folks, it’s an atom bomb! “FLITS”?! Don’t people know how to caption cartoons any more? “Ee-urp!”

  23. The Japanese were the most agressive, brutal, and insidious combatants during the war. They killed 100,000’s of thousands of people, brutally. Have you heard the horror stories of their internment camps or will you turn a deaf ear so you can back stab the US?

    Somewhere around 300,000 soldiers were saved due to those bombings. THe fire bombings were to insure Japan would not surrender and quickly turn around and renew the war. The civilians were trained to fight and never give up.

    Don’t forget, THEY started the war. There is one short sentence you need to remember, “War is hell!” If you can’t get that through your heads, I suggest you don’t comment. It is always the Saturday morning quarterbacks that say, “Oh, how wrong we were!” Well, were you there? Did you have to make the calls? I doubt it seriously. Instead of picking on the Allies why don’t you put the blame where it truly lies? Japan (incredible civilian killings, brutal internment camps, Germany (indiscriminate slaugtering of POWs’ and in case you forgot, 6 million Jews), Italy, mass killing of POW’s. Get it right people!

    1. The war is long over, so no one’s stabbing anyone else in the back.

      On a completely unrelated note, here’s a joke.

      What does it take to get a libertarian to completely forget about the concept of individual responsibility and accept the notion of collective guilt? Start a discussion about war.

      1. I love you.

  24. The last surviving crewman of the Enola Gay,navigator Major Theodore Van Kirk, is speaking right up the road from Atlanta this coming weekend.

    Major Van Kirk is scheduled to appear at the Marietta Museum of History on August 11-12, 2012. He will sign his book, “My True Course,” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday at the museum’s Aviation Wing. On Saturday, August 11 at 4 p.m., he will give a rare lecture back at the main wing of the Marietta Museum of History.

  25. Gregory also questions the certainty of those who breezily claim certainty that the invasion of Japan would have cost 500,000 lives. Even if you disagree, the piece is well worth reading.

    Even if it would have, why invade at all? Once Japan’s navy was gone, they were trapped on a couple of islands. All we really had to do at that point is wait; it’s not like there were gonna go anywhere.

    1. Stormy Dragon| 8.6.12 @ 9:22PM |#
      “Even if it would have, why invade at all? Once Japan’s navy was gone, they were trapped on a couple of islands. All we really had to do at that point is wait; it’s not like there were gonna go anywhere.”

      Uh, because the Japanese military was killing (at best estimate) 100,000 Asians per month on the mainland?
      What alternative are you suggesting?

      1. Wait ’em out and starve ’em, apparently. While their military kept on killing people. Seems like a flawed approach.

        1. Night Elf Mohawk| 8.6.12 @ 9:49PM |#
          “Wait ’em out and starve ’em, apparently. While their military kept on killing people. Seems like a flawed approach.”

          Pretty much. Does anyone think the Japanese military would have yeilded rations to the civilians? Pretty sure I know who would have starved.
          MacArthur, in ’46 called for relief from the US for the Japanese; they were starving. He had to make the point that we (the Allies) had just executed Japanese officers for starving POWs before he got what was required.

          1. Besides that, I suspect that a marginalized military kleptocracy with a country on the verge of collapse would eventually accept an arrangement with the Soviets in exchange for military and economic aid.

            It’s not like there isn’t precedent for those types of client states in the Cold War.

            For various reasons, it was a good thing that the Soviets were denied the industrial centers in Europe and Japan.

      2. 1. The Soviets took care of the largest arm of Japanese oppression in the invasion of Manchuria.

        2. It wouldn’t be that hard to mop up the remaining forces in Asia while blockading the home islands.

        Not that I’m endorsing the argument, but your rejoinder was weak.

      3. So you’re saying that a failure to stop the Japanese government from killing is equivalent to doing the killing outselves? That’s the kind of logic that keeps getting us tied up in occupations all over the globe.

  26. The point you don’t even mention is we warned the Japenese citizens. We dropped leflets 5 days before the bombing that said…

    “Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, some or all of the cities named on the reverse side will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique which they are using to prolong this useless war. But, unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America’s humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives. America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace which America will bring will free the people from the oppression of the military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan. You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders who will end the war. We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked but some or all of them will be, so heed this warning and evacuate these cities”

    I’m as anti-war as the next Libertarian but comparing the Atomic bombs to the acts of the Axis powers is criminally ignorant

    1. btw – After Hiroshima but before Nagasaki We took over a Japanese radio station and broadcast this every 15 minutes…

      America asks that you take immediate heed of what we say on this leaflet.We are in possession of the most destructive explosive ever devised by man. A single one of our newly developed atomic bombs is actually the equivalent in explosive power to what 2000 of our giant B-29s can carry on a single mission. This awful fact is one for you to ponder and we solemnly assure you it is grimly accurate.
      We have just begun to use this weapon against your homeland. If you still have any doubt, make inquiry as to what happened to Hiroshima when just one atomic bomb fell on that city.

      Before using this bomb to destroy every resource of the military by which they are prolonging this useless war, we ask that you now petition the Emperor to end the war. Our president has outlined for you the thirteen consequences of an honorable surrender. We urge that you accept these consequences and begin the work of building a new, better and peace-loving Japan.

      You should take steps now to cease military resistance. Otherwise, we shall resolutely employ this bomb and all our other superior weapons to promptly and forcefully end the war.”

      1. Cite, please?

        1. Every book on the Atomic bomb mentions this. It isn’t an obscure fact. Do a Google search and you’ll come up with hundreds of sites.

          No one disputes these flyers were dropped before Nagasaki. There are a few that dispute they were dropped before Hiroshima but if you look at the flyers dropped after Hiroshima (google Nagasaki AB 11) you’ll see they mention Hiroshima. Where as the one I quoted above does not.

          All that said here is the link where I copied the quotes from: http://www.damninteresting.com…..-citizens/

          1. Uh, not arguing the leaflets; how about “We took over a Japanese radio station and broadcast this every 15 minutes…”
            Oh, and not ‘google it’; let’s see a real cite.

            1. its the second section of the link I provided. It says…

              “An American-controlled radio station on Saipan was broadcasting a similar message to the Japanese people every 15 minutes. ”

              Saipan is an Island that the U.S. took from the Japanese in the Battle of Saipan (1944). Before that it had been in Japanese hands (the took it from Germany in WWI)

              1. Good references. Thanks. Perhaps ClubMedSux will explain how these actions are just like Al-Qaeda.

              2. Saipan is over 1200 nautical miles from Japan. I know you can do wonders with the right radio equipment on a clear day, but I don’t know how well that broadcast would have been received by the general population in Japan.

                Also, how many cities were listed on the leaflets? If the list was large, then presumably there would be nowhere left to evacuate.

                Not that it matters, really. Any effective message would have undermined the military objectives.

                1. At night over the ocean (e.g. not obstacles to block the radio signal) I don’t see that being insurmountable. Los Angeles has a 50,000 watt radio station called KFI and I’ve been able to pick it up in Cheyenne, WY (1100 miles apart).

                  As for the cities there is still plenty of rural areas in Japan.

                  On your last point I really don’t know what you mean. The military objective was to force the Japanese into surrender. That’s accomplished more effectively with less bloodshed (e.g. “You knocked over my house” is much easier to get over than “You killed my wife and children”)

                  1. TomC,

                    Admittedly, would you have believed those leaflets/broadcasts if you were a Japanese civilian living in Hiroshima? Or just considered it wildly out of touch propaganda? Would the Japanese internal police consider you possessing or disseminating the leaflet a crime?

                    Demonstrating the bomb on a uninhabited islet, witnessed by multiple leaders from the Japanese and world community, is an interesting idea. Though I don’t know whether the Japanese would have believed it, and if they didn’t, the U.S. would then have been reduced to two atomic bombs. Perhaps that should have been done, instead of starting with the Hiroshima bombing?

                    Part of the reason for the very quick follow-on raid on Nagasaki, was to convey the impression that we had a bunch of the things, and to echo the pace of the firebomb raids on Central Japan in March. Raids that over nine days, eradicated large areas of Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe, in addition to Tokyo, killing an estimated 105 to 130,000 people and destroying 36 square miles within those cities. It was a bluff, both to the Japanese and the Soviets, and to the former at least, it was successful.

            2. Oh, and not ‘google it’; let’s see a real cite.

              He gave you one, asshole, try actually reading it.

  27. The moral logic of Lucy and others is absolutely disgusting. They would sacrifice allied soldiers for the sake of an enemy people.

    Hiroshima, Tokyo, Nagasaki, and Dresden were all heroic righteous mass killings because they brought the allies closer to victory at minimal cost to their own people. Indeed it would have been immoral to have not carried out those attacks. We need to bring back the spirit of crushing total victory in Afghanistan and any future conflicts America finds itself in.

    1. Your post (#3184431) has been marked as spam by a third-party spam filter.

    2. Hiroshima, Tokyo, Nagasaki, and Dresden were all heroic righteous mass killings because they brought the allies closer to victory at minimal cost to their own people

      Jesus, would you cool it with the warboner? At best those were necessary evils, but to call them heroic and righteous is disgusting.

      And why are we even in Afghanistan? I have an uncle who is a US Army colonel that’s been over there 4 times (and is there now) that thinks we just need to get the hell out because it’s futile. At best we can maintain an embassy in Kabul and support a government that controls the surrounding areas, but there is no way we’re ever unifying the country into a functioning modern state.

      1. Yes they were heroic because they saved countless allied lives. Actions necessary for victory for the good guys are by definition never evil. I have no war boner just the opposite I approve of those actions because they helped end WW2.

        Re Afghanistan: there is credit to withdrawal I would certainly take that over whatever we’re doing now. I think we can do better if we apply a more legalization approach to opium and a more Sherman-Dresden approach to our enemies and those who harbour them.

        1. So in a hypothetical war where we were attacked by a dictatorial state, and it came down to a scenario, where (for the sake of argument) we had two options

          1) Invade, at the cost of thousands of our lives
          or
          2) Use a weapon that would kill everyone in the other country

          You’re ok with option 2? Everyone in that other country should die for the actions of the dictator and his minions?

          I’m not even saying that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were unjustified. I’m just poking holes in your logic. I also agree with A Serious Man that your glorification of mass killing, even if necessary, is a little offputting.

          Judging from your posts, you have a pretty simplistic view of the world. Unlike in cartoons, in the real world, bad guys don’t think they’re evil. Everyone thinks they’re the “good guys.” Your mindset could be used by anybody to justify their actions in war

          1. Yes, I am OK with #2. The initial country is the aggressor, and not one of the victims of aggression should be sacrificed to spare the lives of the members of the aggressive state.

            1. The key words there are “country” and “state.” The country is not guilty of anything. Only the individuals responsible (in this case the dictator and his minions) for it are guilty. The members of the aggressive state are (by and large) not themselves perpetrators of aggression. Given the fact they live under this dictator, they are just as much a victim of aggression as the people in the aggressed state.

              Keep in mind that I am against the draft. I would never support forcibly sending someone off to war. If someone voluntarily joins the military to fight, they assume that risk. If you don’t want them to die, then at that point the correct thing to do IMO is just stop the war.

              Using your logic, an Iraqi would have been justified in killing all Americans to stop the war in Iraq.

              1. Given the fact they live under this dictator, they are just as much a victim of aggression as the people in the aggressed state.

                The guys at the bottom of Pearl Harbor may have a different viewpoint.

                1. @Night Elf

                  This is a hypothetical example that I gave as a response to Cytotoxic’s general logic. I’m not talking about WWII

            2. Didn’t expect that from you Randian after previous conversations.

              Cali: we must never be capricious in slaughter but also not hesitate if necessary. I’d rather hit that offending state with say a giant EMP thing that results in quicky surrender or something but if it’s a #2 then that’s that. The aggressor state bears the blame for all the carnage.

              We need to stop conflating ‘civilian’ and ‘innocent’. If it helps the aggressor element in any way, it deserves to die. It may behoove civilians to resist dictators or leave or at least get out of the cities.

              I trumpet the nuclear attacks and others as hard as I do because I admire the moral clarity and uprightness the decision makers had when making what must have been an unbelievable choice.

              1. You have a different definition of “necessary” than I do. Words have meanings. The average person in this “aggressive” state bears no responsibility for the actions of their government. To suggest otherwise is collectivist nonsense. And how does a six week old baby, for example, “help” the aggressor state in anyway? I will again make the point that your logic would seem to justify terrorism against US civilians by the citizens of any country the US has invaded or aggressed against is some other way (such as supporting a dictator, for example).

                You’re last paragraph is downright creepy. I again can’t fathom how you are so critical of politicians and governments on economic and domestic issues, but the second the subject turns to foreign policy, all your skepticism goes out the window

                1. You have a different understanding of ‘collectivist’ than I do. The Japanese citizens that aid or support the state do bear responsibility for the deaths of their fellow countrymen caused by the state’s actions. The death of that infant is NOT our responsibility it is the fault of the emperor.

                  America has never aggressed or invaded a state in such a way as to reduce its freedom so actions against it are void.

                  I am not unskeptical. I was against Vietnam and a bunch of stuff. Just not this.

                  1. @Cytotoxic

                    The Japanese citizens that aid or support the state do bear responsibility for the deaths of their fellow countrymen caused by the state’s actions.

                    Even if they were unaware of the true extent? I doubt the Bataan death march made headline news in Tokyo.

                    Also, by that logic, we all bear responsibility for the actions of the U.S. government, because it is funded by our taxes and endorsed by our votes.

                2. On domestic issues, we have the means to deal with the politicians peacefully. That’s what makes the situation different.

        2. Yes they were heroic because they saved countless allied lives. Actions necessary for victory for the good guys are by definition never evil. I have no war boner just the opposite I approve of those actions because they helped end WW2.

          Vietnam pretty much disproved that logic. But with WWII, I can understand dropping the first bomb, but the second, based on what I know of the political motives behind (the US already preparing for a Cold War with the USSR), is simply indefensible. Japan was going to surrender after Hiroshima and the continued air raids on Tokyo. We had informal diplomatic relations through neutral countries like Sweden and we had long since broken the Japanese codes.

          I think we can do better if we apply a more legalization approach to opium

          I really don’t give a shit about Afghani opium nor do I think we should be paying our soliders to guard the poppy fields. If the Afghan government wants to do that that’s there business, either way I gurantee you that drug money will be going to the Jihadis.

          1. A Serious Man| 8.6.12 @ 10:08PM |#
            …”I can understand dropping the first bomb, but the second, based on what I know of the political motives behind (the US already preparing for a Cold War with the USSR), is simply indefensible.”

            Cites? And not ‘google it’; I want some someone who has some knowledge making that claim.

          2. How did Vietnam disprove my logic? It actually reinforces it. Vietnam was a disaster because America held back.

            1. If we are to suppose that Vietnam was in any way justified, then it would have to be upon the basis that we were assisting the democrats in Vietnam against the aggression of the communists in Vietnam. Since the distinction between democrat and communist is not delineated on a map, had we not “held back” and instead deployed the full arsenal of our weaponry, we would have killed as many democrats as communists (read: all of them).

              We were not at war with Vietnam the country, because at the time no such thing existed. Vietnam was a territory, the boundaries of which were arbitrarily drawn by imperalist powers long past, that was not meaningfully engaged in an existential conflict with the United States. Justifications that might apply to Japan therefore do not apply to Vietnam.

        3. And the good guys are by definition who?

    3. Cytotoxic| 8.6.12 @ 9:30PM |#
      “The moral logic of Lucy and others is absolutely disgusting. They would sacrifice allied soldiers for the sake of an enemy people.”

      That’s true enough, but the objections would have also sacrificed millions of *Japanese* lives.

    4. Re: Cytotoxic,

      The moral logic of Lucy and others is absolutely disgusting. They [sic] would sacrifice allied soldiers for the sake of an enemy people.

      Government, an innocent bystander! You heard it first here, folks!!!!

      Hiroshima, Tokyo, Nagasaki, and Dresden were all heroic righteous mass killings because they brought the allies closer to victory at minimal cost to their own people.

      Oh, c’mon! You’re being totally tongue-in-cheek with that – admit it!

      1. Er…the Japanese government and its supporters were certainly not innocent bystanders. I am confuse.

        The second point: I elaborate just a bit above.

  28. as somebody who went to quaker school, and would lean towards pacifism, if it wasn’t completely unworkable in reality…

    i can honestly say i have read SO much internet wanking about the hiroshima/nagasaki bombings, and i simply make no conclusion as to “justification”

    the idea of “justifying” such wanton slaughter just seems … i don’t know… kafka’esque … just absurd.

    again, i’ll leave it to others to determine whether it was justified (based on the facts and circumstances known to us at the time and/or based on omniscience), but it was a horrid tragedy, whether or not it was justified.

    it, like global warming, is something i have no opinion on

    1. Just imagine that the bombing was in the contract, then the other facts and circumstances will be irrelevant to you.

      1. And boom goes the dynamite.

        1. i have to admit i ACTUALLY lol’d.

          cheers

          NEM got a lol

          that’s a rarity

          again, cheers

        1. no ouch. actually very funny.

          contracts are important. so is due process.

          but humor is awesome

    2. (based on the facts and circumstances known to us at the time and/or based on omniscience),

      Don’t you mean ATFPAPIC?

      1. sloopy, you really have a sad little obsession. get a life. i’ve bitch-slapped your sorry ass enough for today.

        1. I don’t have any sad obsession. You flatter yourself.

          And I’d like to see where you “bitch-slapped” me or anyone else today. If you think it’s on the stop-frisk thread, you’re sadly mistaken. IIRC, you tucked tail and went whimpering like a little girl when the entire thread called you out on your little bullshit.

          Oh, and if you want to speak of obsessions, you may want to look in a mirror. I’m not trolling a site where 95% of the people are repulsed by my opinions and have very little, if any, respect for me. If I were obsessed, I’d be trolling your jackbooted brothers over at policeone.

    3. It’s a pointless discussion. A disagreement inevitably leads to a “What would you have done?” discussion, which is a futile exercise. Once you start doing that, you can basically assume away the entire war in the first place. And as we have no way of knowing what would have happened if things were done differently (more negotiations, drop only one bomb, drop it off the coast as a demonstration, blah blah), declarations that it was justified or the best option available are ultimately hollow.

      It happened. It’s a fucking tragedy. Let’s do what we can to make sure it never happens again.

  29. “no matter how good it was that Hitler lost.”

    For the record: it was pretty fucking good.

    I didn’t bother to check the link to Lew Rockwell. Did he blame the Jews?

    WWII was a just war that had to be won, at any cost. The civilian dead are the fault of the aggressors.

    The Iraq war, on the other hand, was an unnecessary war, no matter what bullshit is used to try and justify it.

    The Iraq war doesn’t have any of the “sniff, sniff,” bleeding heart, my-god-what-have-we-done moments like the atom bombs or the firebombing of Tokyo. All Iraq has is thousands and thousands of dead Americans and Iraqis with no discernable benefit for U.S. national security after pinhead politicians provided no real justification for the war in the first place.

    You wanna get weepy? Weep for the soldiers and civilians in Iraq.

    Japan and Germany were fucking death machines. It’s shocking we didn’t have to kill more people to end that war.

    Tonight I’ll drink a toast to General Sherman. That man knew how to fight a war.

    1. I didn’t bother to check the link to Lew Rockwell.
      -Never a bad decision.

      But you’re wrong about Iraq. Sadaam had to go. It was the nation building that was a HUGE mistake.

      1. Why did Sadaam “have” to go? Had he attacked the US? Was he a threat to the US?

        1. if hitler hadn’t lost, we wouldn’t have all the awesome fiction based on “what if hitler had won” scenario

          because he would have won. and it would be nonfiction

          1. ?????

        2. The dye was cast by Gulf War 1 -now THAT was the war we should have 1)stayed out of and 2) fought to completion. Leaving Sadaam in power for a ‘peace’ consisting of occasional bombing runs and sanctions. Sadaam was starting to dabble in many terror organizations such as the Abu Nidal Organization and was playing footsie with AQ. Better to pull a weed sooner than later.

          1. That’s it? Really? That is a pretty shitty pretext for a war. I think the reasons we actually got were better than that. More US soldiers died in the Iraq War than people died in 9/11. There is zero evidence Sadaam Hussein was going to do anything that would result in the deaths of a comparable number of American civilians. Not to mention the possible unintended consequences of overthrowing Sadaam and then leaving (or staying for that matter). Like a Shiite Iran-friendly dictatorship (heck, we may get that either way). It’s funny how you have no problem making the observation that things almost always don’t work out the way the government intends, and that results don’t often match intentions when the subject is domestic policy, but on foreign policy, for some reason that’s not a problem anymore. Funny

            1. In foreign policy it’s best to work with what you have and not play too much the ‘what if’ game. By the way the idea that Iraq is in thrall the Iran is a distortion.

              Sadaam was a problem. He had tried to arrange terror attacks in Europe. Without him we could withdraw from the damn airbases in the gulf.

      2. That’s a reasonable distinction: taking out an international thug vs boots on the ground forever. The former doesn’t bother me so much, provided there’s a real threat and a real benefit.

    2. That one got me too. We all butch about the current state of freedom in the U.S., but it truly was a global war for freedom (I know the Reds were on our side, but that was a (cold) fight for another day). Losing that war is too terrible to imagine.

      Damn shame it became an unrestricted war – but it was there long before we were dragged into it.

      Sterilizing all of Japan would be worth it for freedom.

      1. Sterilizing all of Japan would be worth it for freedom.

        If there is a deep end to this conversation, I believe you have jumped off of it.

    3. Re: Lord Peter Wimsey,

      I didn’t bother to check the link to Lew Rockwell. Did he blame the Jews?

      It would’ve made it the first time if he did. And no, he didn’t.

      WWII was a just war that had to be won, at any cost.

      Easy to say when you didn’t have to go fight it.

      The civilian dead are the fault of the aggressors.

      That is exactly what Bin Laden said!

      1. That is exactly what Bin Laden said!

        Ah, guilt by association. It’s the sweet stink of intellectual bankruptcy.

        1. Kind of like how you think it’s ok to kill everybody in a particular country for the actions of their government?

          1. That’s not guilt by association that’s war.

            1. Remember, kids: It’s not a logical fallacy if you’re dead.

            2. If only the North had been more effective, the democrats would have a permanent majority today!

      2. Old Mexican: you’re right. Rockewell probably blamed Israel.

        “Easy to say when you didn’t have to go fight it.”

        Most people who fought in WWII would/will say it. And since I don’t believe in conscription I would not compel anyone to fight in a war.

        “That is exactly what Bin Laden said!”

        If an aggressor (a real one; not Bin Laden’s fevered imagination) forces war upon civilized people, and in order to defeat said aggressor and destroy its military capacity civilians are killed, it is reasonable to put the blame for such deaths on the original aggressor. This does not excuse all conduct during war, but this is a reasonable moral judgement.

      3. Seeing that he was the agressor, this works out nicely.

    4. Opposing nuclear weapons is like wearing a Che t-shirt — in and of itself, it’s an aesthetic statement, and not a truly principled or circumspect analysis of the justification of much of anything. Personally, I like things that go boom (including nukes) and I hate war — but I’m not going to pretend that the former is a profound statement in favor of any philosophy or ethos.

      1. Re: The Immaculate Trouser,

        Opposing nuclear weapons is like wearing a Che t-shirt

        Well, I don’t oppose nuclear weapons – I am opposed, however, to MY FUCKING MONEY being used to MAKE them or MAINTAIN them. I have better things though out for my money, thank you very much.

        1. That’s fine, if you’re consistent and apply that logic to conventional weaponry as well.

          1. Re: The Immaculate Trouser,

            That’s fine, if you’re consistent and apply that logic to conventional weaponry as well.
            And bridges, schools, the DMV, the EPA, the Food Pyramid, the Curiosity rover and pretty much everything the government does. I have better things for my money than them worthless things, thank you very much.

            1. Government is an invention, an attempt to restrain human beings’ worst impulses. It does not always succeed, but there is no other alternative.

              This is like whining about death, as far as I am concerned.

              1. Government is an invention, an attempt to restrain human beings’ worst impulses. It does not always succeed, but there is no other alternative.

                This is like whining about death, as far as I am concerned.

                Beautiful. I may need to borrow this.

              2. Government is more often than not the perpetuator of of human beings’ worst instincts.

            2. Old Mexican| 8.6.12 @ 10:47PM |#
              Re: The Immaculate Trouser,

              That’s fine, if you’re consistent and apply that logic to conventional weaponry as well.

              “And bridges, schools, the DMV, the EPA, the Food Pyramid, the Curiosity rover and pretty much everything the government does. I have better things for my money than them worthless things, thank you very much.”

              I do too. But are you suggesting the the efforts of WWII are equivalent to “bridges, schools, the DMV, the EPA, the Food Pyramid, the Curiosity rover”?

  30. Surprised no one has commented on the fact of how remarkable it might be that the use of Atomic weapons against Japan in 1945 was in fact the only time they’ve ever been used.

    So far. knock on wood.

    but it is notable. If they hadn’t been used… one might expect someone else to have given it a go. It does have a way of making a lasting point.

    Also notable… if anecdotal = many japanese I’ve spoken to about the bombings don’t seem to anguish themselves particularly over the mighty injustice and cruelty of the thing. One woman basically said, “be glad we didn’t get it! we sure as hell wouldn’t have blinked to use it.” In general, they seemed much more comfortable about the idea that in war, everyone gets fucked, and there’s not much use crying over spilled milk.

    That said, neither do they maintain any widespread, pervasive national guilt over nanking, etc. I suppose it goes both ways in the whole ‘Love and War’ equation. They certainly have a no-holds-barred view of pornography (shudder).

    All in all, you have to give them credit for being good sports. At least on their own terms that is. I think within a decade or two they were so thrilled we’d introduced them to Elvis and Lucky Strike cigarettes they were like, “meh, bombs shmoms. lets build walkmen and VCRs and take over their economy!”

    1. GILMORE| 8.6.12 @ 10:18PM
      “Surprised no one has commented on the fact of how remarkable it might be that the use of Atomic weapons against Japan in 1945 was in fact the only time they’ve ever been used.”
      See above.

    2. IIRC the strong “anti-nuke” sentiment in Japan stemmed from our contaminating their seafood with H-bomb testing after the war.They’d already had their fill of radiation poisoning.

      1. SIV| 8.6.12 @ 10:52PM |#
        “IIRC the strong “anti-nuke” sentiment in Japan stemmed from our contaminating their seafood with H-bomb testing after the war.”

        Got a cite for that?

        1. Dude, are you the fucking citation police?

          He said “IIRC” so obviously he doesn’t have a citation.

          Get off your fucking citation hobby horse and research it yourself.

  31. Gregory also questions the certainty of those who breezily claim certainty that the invasion of Japan would have cost 500,000 lives.

    That certainty was nothing more than a post hoc rationalization of a great crime. The fact is that the bombings were unnecessary; the reason why Truman wanted to end the war with Japan quickly (rather than waiting until they succumbed) was that the Russians were were seeing droves of Japanese surrendering to them, which made it reasonable to think that the Japanese government would rather offer their surrender to the Russians rather than the Americans.

    1. Don’t forget that he wanted to scare the shit out of the Russians, too.

      1. Warty| 8.6.12 @ 10:23PM |#
        “Don’t forget that he wanted to scare the shit out of the Russians, too.”

        Sorta like the Soviets wanted to scare hell out of the Allies?
        AFAICT, the development and use of nukes had to do with ending the war. But Truman knew well that the US was *not* going to keep several million people in the military and he hoped the nukes would offset the Soviets’ intent to do so.

        1. Re: Sevo,

          the development and use of nukes had to do with ending the war.

          It had to do with hysterical scientists telling FDR that the Germans were just “one step away” from developing theirs. Sounds familiar?

          1. It continues to be beyond me why you just make stuff up, OM.

            The Germans tested a nuclear device near the end of the war.

            1. Randian| 8.6.12 @ 11:26PM |#
              “The Germans tested a nuclear device near the end of the war.”

              Not a chance; the Nazi economy had no ability to develop nukes. If you claim otherwise, let’s see a cite.

                1. It continues to be beyond me why you just make stuff up, OM.

                  Because he is a dogmatic believer that America is war criminal blah blah blah in the same way movement leftists hate corporations.

                  And he just factpwnd

                2. How close were the Nazis to developing an atomic bomb? The truth is that National Socialist Germany could not possibly have built a weapon like the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. This was not because the country lacked the scientists, resources, or will, but rather because its leaders did not really try.

                  They were certainly trying to win the war. And they were willing to devote huge amounts of resources to building rockets, jet planes, and other forms of deadly and sometimes exotic forms of military technology. So why not the atomic bomb? Nazi Germany, it turns out, made other choices and simply ran out of time.

                  I’m pretty sure that’s not the same as
                  The Germans tested a nuclear device near the end of the war.

                  1. During the last months of the war, a small group of scientists working in secret under Diebner and with the strong support of the physicist Walther Gerlach, who was by that time head of the uranium project, built and tested a nuclear device.

                    Device – bomb – tomato tomahto

                    At best this would have been far less destructive than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Rather it is an example of scientists trying to make any sort of weapon they could in order to help stave off defeat. No one knows the exact form of the device tested. But apparently the German scientists had designed it to use chemical high explosives configured in a hollow shell in order to provoke both nuclear fission and nuclear fusion reactions. It is not clear whether this test generated nuclear reactions.

                    The fact that no one knows the exact form of the “device” and whether or not it generated nuclear reactions.

                    Makes the story sound like apocryphal bullshit.

                    1. The wiki for the German nuclear program and for one of the Uranverein‘s team leads, goes into more detail.

                      A controversial 2005 book, Hitlers Bombe, evidently made some fantastic claims about just how far the Nazi’s had come with bomb design, testing a device for initiating a nuclear reaction via explosive compression. Given the Nazi’s didn’t have a critical nuclear reactor at that point, I might consider that they tested some explosive test rig, but that they didn’t achieve a critical mass, nor come close.

                      The kindest thing you could say about their progress or their putative device was that maybe they could have made a dirty bomb, but I doubt even that.

                  2. I’m pretty sure that’s not the same as
                    The Germans tested a nuclear device near the end of the war.

                    Then why did your idiot ass put this in your next attempt to deflect shame from your stupidity?

                    built and tested a nuclear device.

                    Device – bomb – tomato tomahto

                    Well, since the CITE YOU ASKED FOR involved the original claim of “The Germans tested a nuclear device near the end of the war.” you certainly look like a giant asshole for attempting to claim “Device – bomb – tomato tomahto”.

                    You asked for a cite. You got it.

                    Then you made a fool of yourself.

          2. Old Mexican| 8.6.12 @ 10:49PM |#
            Re: Sevo,

            the development and use of nukes had to do with ending the war.

            “It had to do with hysterical scientists telling FDR that the Germans were just “one step away” from developing theirs. Sounds familiar?”

            Yes, and?

    2. What an idiotic comment. “Droves” of Japanese surrendered to the Russians in the gigantic Battle of Manchuria (something like 1.7 million Russians against 1.3 million Japanese).

      After the battle, the Russians raped and looted the Chinese cites they had liberated – good and hard. Why the hell would the Japanese government want to surrender to them?

    3. From Truman’s on hand:

      Discussed Manhattan (it is a success). Decided to tell Stalin about it. Stalin had told P.M. (Churchill) of telegram from Jap emperor asking for peace?

      — July 18, 1945

      That is in reference to Japan finally accepting unconditional surrender instead of the conditional surrender Japan pleaded for in the previous Spring whose main drawback for the US was the emperor keeping a deity status.

  32. People will always feel that killing other people is a small price to pay for progress.

    Take the Genocide of the Native American (American Indians).

    Many people (mostly conservatives) feel that murdering a few million savages in the Americas is a small price to pay for all of the progress for Man-kind that America created after killing these savages. They were Terrorist.

    The same is said about Israel. Small price to kill and displace a few million Arabs. If there were no TV or public view, the Israelis would kill the Arabs in the same way as Germans Killed them.

    Look at Nazi Germany. Hitler wanted a Jew-Free Germany that would rule all of Europe. That’s exactly what we have today and many Germans would argue that the killing of a few million Jews was a small Price to pay…Look at Germany now.

    Just remember, the day you subscribe to this thinking, you make a deal with the devil. The justification of another group killing us for the good of progress will be something we would not be happy with. And, when required to talk another language, give up all we work for, and we fight back to protect our family and property, we will be called Terrorist.

    1. Alice Bowie| 8.6.12 @ 10:34PM |#
      “Many people (mostly conservatives) feel that murdering a few million savages in the Americas is a small price to pay for all of the progress for Man-kind that America created after killing these savages. They were Terrorist.”

      Alice is an ignoramus who can’t seem to follow the argument.

    2. Re: Alice Bowie,

      People will always feel that killing other people is a small price to pay for progress.

      “Always” sounds like “with no time to even go take a dump.”

      […] Many people (mostly conservatives) […]

      So much for “People [universal term] will always…”

  33. Nanking. Next?

    1. While I’m not saying that the bombings were unjustified, using the Rape of Nanking to justify killing thousands of people (including children) who had nothing to do with it is asinine

  34. I watched that Barefoot Gen clip. It was very good.

    The lesson to take from it, however, is not the one conventional, ho-hum “Nukes are bad” lesson.

    1. OK, what is it?

      1. War is a terrible thing and it ought not be entered into lightly.

        That would be a lesson that the Japanese leadership should have taken to heart. If you didn’t want Gen’s little brother wailing while he catches on fire, perhaps being a murderous pack of aggressive dickwolves was not the smartest move.

        1. I’d say they learned that lesson good and hard, though perhaps too late.

        2. Randian| 8.6.12 @ 11:50PM |#
          “War is a terrible thing and it ought not be entered into lightly.”

          No gripes from me. Pretty basic econ that moving a good from a lower value to a higher one increases wealth.
          Take, oh, an air force fighter and shoot it down. Presto; you’ve taken goods of very high value and turned them into scrap metal. And that ignores the true source of wealth; people.
          For all that, I’ve heard claims that the US could somehow have avoided WWII and I’m certainly no fan of FDR, but I don’t see it.

          1. Indeed. The Japanese government was insatiable in bloodthirst and delusions of grandeur. They wanted control of the Pacific and that’s that.

  35. OK, let’s make it clear:
    The Japanese should be holding days of national thanksgiving today ane on the 9th, as should the rest of the world. Not from any purposeful design, just by the luck of the draw.
    Japan (and the allies) were granted relief from millions of deaths to end WWII. The world saw how horrible the weapons were, even in the use to end a bloody, miserable war.
    Some really bad number of people died, and they died saving millions more.
    If you wish to argue, please be ready to offer real evidence.

    1. The world saw how horrible the weapons were, even in the use to end a bloody, miserable war.

      Let’s be honest with that assessment in that had we developed the bombs one year sooner than we did, and in greater numbers, they would have been used more than twice. Germany would likely have been a repeated target.

      1. Let’s say we got the bombs a year earlier. Do you think their use would have caused Japan to surrender a year earlier?

        1. I think we would have had a lot more dead Germans and Japanese and lots of bloody hands to slap ourselves on the fucking back.

          1. I think the “it’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by six” principle applies here.

            As far as I can tell from the actions of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, more of them dead and more Allies alive would have been the best of a bad situation.

            It seems like you’re willing to sacrifice Allied soldiers in place of Axis civilians. That’s a non-starter for me.

            1. Only if you think that’s how the equation boils out.

              But, I’m not a tuff gai like you. I wouldn’t pull the trigger on the weapon that would knowingly level a building with 5 families in it, to get one German tank or artillery piece.

              Maybe you can tell us of your moral calculus and when the body count of civilians is to high to justify to save the life of one soldier, since you place high value on numbers to validate your opinion. 1,001 dead to save one solider? 100,001 to 1? 1,000,001 to one?

              Do tell.

              1. JW| 8.7.12 @ 12:30AM |#
                “But, I’m not a tuff gai like you. I wouldn’t pull the trigger on the weapon that would knowingly level a building with 5 families in it, to get one German tank or artillery piece.”

                And I’ll bet you think that makes you, well, somehow ‘special’.
                Sorry, hindsight isn’t worth squat.

                1. And I’ll bet you think that makes you, well, somehow ‘special’.

                  Nope. Just not a murderer.

                  Find another way to “win.”

              2. I wouldn’t pull the trigger on the weapon that would knowingly level a building with 5 families in it, to get one German tank or artillery piece.

                How many soldiers would you risk by sending them into that building?

                Maybe you can tell us of your moral calculus and when the body count of civilians is to high to justify to save the life of one soldier…

                I said it earlier: Every one of them. I’d rather see every single solitary civilian in a country that was the aggressor in a world-wide total war die before one soldier who is fighting against that country.

                1. @Night Elf Mohawk

                  And that is collective guilt bullshit

                  1. Since it was impractical to conduct a real-time trial for every person in Germany before trying to roll back the German aggression, that’s just a sad reality of making Germany stop fighting.

                    1. No that is not ‘collective guilt’. This not a trial. The guilt goes to the aggressor entity and its supporters. I didn’t know NEM was a fan of the American Self Defense theory of war. Yippee!

                    2. Exactly Cyto. The aggressor entity does not include every person in that country. Justifying the killing of people because of the actions of their government is using collective guilt. I’m not a pacifist and I’m not saying that if we can’t fight war without killing a single civilian then we shouldn’t doing. What I am saying is that we should only fight when necessary, and we should do everything to kill as few people as possible to secure victory (assuming victory is worth the cost of human life. In WWII, this may have been true. In Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. it wasn’t/isn’t)

                    3. What I am saying is that we should only fight when necessary…

                      Agreed.

                      we should do everything to kill as few people as possible to secure victory

                      Disagree, to the extent “killing as few people as possible” means “killing as few as the enemy as possible by putting our troops in more danger.”

                      In WWII, this may have been true. In Vietnam, Iraq…

                      Agreed.

                      Afghanistan

                      Disagree. The fuckers were harboring bin Laden. That doesn’t mean we should still be there or it was approached in the right way.

                    4. “Disagree. The fuckers …”

                      If you read my post, I was saying the costs of victory. And I was referring to what our supposed leaders regard as “victory.” Which isn’t really clear, but seemingly is a peaceful, prosperous modern Afghanistan (that may possibly include golden unicorns as well). I do think we were right to go into Afghanistan. However, we should have had a much more limited, targeted objective than we actually did, and should have been out of there years ago. That is what I was criticizing with that post. Sorry if I wasn’t more clear

                    5. So since we can’t avoid killing everyone who doesn’t deserve it, we might as well kill them all?

                    6. Just the ones we have to. For the rest, trade.

                  2. No. That is doing what it takes to insure one’s own survival.

                2. I said it earlier: Every one of them. I’d rather see every single solitary civilian in a country that was the aggressor in a world-wide total war die before one soldier who is fighting against that country.

                  And that makes you a fucking monster, on par with every other genocidal shitstain who had the resources to pull it off.

                  Warty already said it, so I won’t bother repeating.

                  1. Does it?

                    Why?

                    I’m retaliating–I am not the aggressor, I was attacked.

                    I am not commiting anything–I’m simply stopping an attacker. If they die, why does that become my fault? Should I pause in my defense and make sure my actions will have no impact on anyone else–even if such a pause may cost my life?

                    No.

      2. JW| 8.7.12 @ 12:06AM |#
        “Let’s be honest with that assessment in that had we developed the bombs one year sooner than we did, and in greater numbers, they would have been used more than twice.”

        I’m calling bullshit. You have only your opinion to make that claim.

        1. Seriously? Truman bragged about how he made the decision like *that* (snapping his fingers). We firebombed the fuck out of Japan and Europe. Tell me how this would have been any different.

          I can easily see from a military standpoint that it would have been a no-brainer. 5-10 bombers per city as opposed to hundreds? At the end of the day, the generals wouldn’t have broken a sweat over the decision of whether to use nukes.

          1. JW| 8.7.12 @ 12:18AM |#
            “Seriously? Truman bragged about how he made the decision like *that* (snapping his fingers).”

            Uh, Truman really didn’t make a “decision”; he, in effect, refused to countermand a decision FDR had already made.
            Got a cite for your claim? And it had better be a good cite.

            1. Nope, no cite. It’s something I’ve seen on documentaries over the years.

              It may have been blustering bullshit on his part, but it was still his decision to make. Go or no go? Civilian or military target? A demonstration detonation was an option he had and rejected.

            2. You objection still doesn’t refute the logic of my statement. Nukes would have been seen as a very efficient weapon to use on the enemy in place of conventional bombing. Moral pangs over the bombing of purely civilian targets was long gone by 1944.

              1. JW| 8.7.12 @ 12:35AM |#
                “You objection still doesn’t refute the logic of my statement.”

                The ‘logic’ is irrelevant.

          2. Since there’s no edit function, I’ll add comments this way.
            I’m no fan of Truman, let alone FDR. They dealt with enemies who were quite clear about their efforts to kill every Allied soldier or civilian they possibly could.
            It was simply the economic reality that the Allies were going to win, but when?
            The Nazis collapsed before the nukes were available, but from my reading, they probably wouldn’t have been used in Europe, simply because the Allied troops were too close to where they might have been used.
            Not so in Japan; the Japanese were bragging about ‘arming’ civilians with spears and awls, and there were no (few, it turns out) allied soldiers anywhere close to the targets.

            1. You’re making my point for me. Nukes were less likely to be used in Europe due to higher likelihood of friendly casualties.

              It wasn’t the immorality of killing civilians that would have stopped their use and even the concept of a literal “ending the war” wouldn’t help their use in that theater (by definition, *every* engagement is used to end the war sooner).

              Anyway, it’s late and I need to be up early. I’d like to continue this, so maybe in the AM. ‘Night.

          3. “tell me how it would be any different”

            They would’ve surrendered sooner saving a massive amount of death and suffering.

  36. I’m shocked there are “libertarians” or “libertarian” leaning folk who think some humans (soldiers, Americans) have a great intrinsic value than other humans (civilians, Japanese).

    1. Archduke PantsFan| 8.7.12 @ 12:41AM |#
      “I’m shocked there are “libertarians” or “libertarian” leaning folk who think some humans (soldiers, Americans) have a great intrinsic value than other humans (civilians, Japanese).”

      How about those who think all of the lives are worth a somewhat equal amount and see the nukes saved them all?

      1. You can only estimate how many lives may have been saved. The war may have ended differently with endless permutations otherwise.

        1. So we’re forced to argue against a theoretical.

          You realize that the Japanese emperor and his military advisors were so fucking irrational and nutso that they seriously thought they could conquer and control China, Korea, Southeast Asia, India, Australia, Oceania and the USA all at the same time. Once all those were in the bag, they’d take over the Soviet Union’s Nazi-decimated corpse, before they would face and wipe out Germany for final and total global domination. And worst case scenario, they brainwashed and trained every citizen to die for them with honor in the event of a foreign invasion.

          Any person who believes Japan was on the verge of rolling over prior to Hiroshima doesn’t know much about Japanese culture. There were powerful generals that tried to assassinate and overthrow any dissenting voices calling for surrender in the military leadership and administration in the final days of the war, and even tried to launch a coup against the emperor. Even after Hiroshima. Look up the Kyujo Incident.

          1. The Japanese never seriously believed that they could conquer and occupy the US, nor was that the goal in WWII. They didn’t even try to occupy Hawaii, which they could have feasibly done for a spell in lieu of (or as a follow up to) Pearl Harbor.

            In any case, if even 1% of the Japanese population died during a hypothetical invasion (an improbably low estimate), we’re still talking about 2-3 times as many civilian casualties as Hiroshima+Nagasaki.

            1. That’s just because Yamamoto wasn’t a fucking idiot like all the rest of the admirals, generals and the emperor himself.

              But they continually threatened to invade the US, and engaged in psychological attacks to scare America into thinking it was imminent, like the bombardment near Santa Barbara, the “battle of LA”, the invasion of the Aleutian Islands, etc. I don’t think they had the resources to make any serious efforts, at least not without Germany invading the mainland first and pulling most of the military resources off the West Coast.

              1. Yeah, but if Yamamoto had gotten his way we wouldn’t have been at war with Japan, at least not for a while. The Japs certainly would have sued for peace a lot earlier.

                Yamamoto’s prominence during WWII tells me that the generals and all those guys you mention were just blowing sunshine up each others’ asses, and maybe trying to psyche us out.

    2. Do you think your life has greater intrinsic value than the guy’s who is coming at you, your wife, your child with a knife? Would you be willing to kill him to protect yourself or your family?

      1. Is a small harmless child equivalent to a knife-wielding maniac? No. (I’m not even talking about the bombings, but your general willingness to kill infinite civilians to save one soldier). Under your logic, Iraqis would have been justified in killing as many Americans as possible to try and end the Iraq War.

        1. I’m not even talking about the bombings, but your general willingness to kill infinite civilians to save one soldier

          How many Allied soldiers do you think should die to preserve how many Axis civilians?

          1. Once again the point goes sailing over your head. I believe the US should have fought WWII (and all wars for that matter) in a manner that brought about victory with the fewest people dying possible. Some of our actions did not further this goal IMO. However, note that I actually don’t think this is probably the case with the bombs. More people would have died in an invasion in all likelihood.

            1. I believe the US should have fought WWII (and all wars for that matter) in a manner that brought about victory with the fewest people dying possible.

              And I believe the US should have fought WWII (and all wars for that matter) in a manner that brought about victory with the fewest US people dying possible. So it sounds like we mostly agree.

              1. I value all human life. I don’t think one life is more valuable strictly because it comes from a particular country. I guess I should have added the qualifier that by people I meant “Americans and civilian Japanese” as soldiers are obviously fair game. Also, I oppose the draft, so if I was in charge, none of our soldiers would have been forcibly sent to die. I do understand your sentiment to a degree, but I simply cannot agree with the notion that it’s ok to hypothetical slaughter millions of civilians who had nothing to do with attacking you to save the life of one soldier who volunteered to go to war

        2. Under your logic, Iraqis would have been justified in killing as many Americans as possible to try and end the Iraq War.

          Yes and…?

          1. Under your logic, Iraqis would have been justified in killing as many Americans as possible to try and end the Iraq War.

            No America was not the aggressor. One can’t be an aggressor and an agent of freedom they are contradictory.

            1. That is retarded logic even for you Cyto. Though you are technically right. America was not the aggressor. The US government attacked Iraq, not the country of America. That, however, is called aggression. Bringing freedom by bombing a population that does not want you to be there is the real contradiction. It is not our decision to decide that it’s ok to kill people in a foreign country for the sake of “liberating” them. The Iraqi people were the ones that needed to overthrow Sadaam. And while the current government may not be as bad as Sadaam, I wouldn’t call them proponents of “freedom” either

              1. It is the right of any rights protecting nation such as America to occupy, annex, or otherwise change the regime of an unfree state so long as the unfree state becomes significantly freer or it is necessary for the security of the free state.

                1. Do not fear the jackboot stepping upon you, for the thug who wears it must surely know better than you what it means to be free.

                2. Do not fear the jackboot stepping upon you, for the thug who wears it must surely know better than you what it means to be free.

                  1. Fucking squirrels.

                3. Cyto, do you realize the contradictions there? The only way they can overthrow the regime is by forcibly taking money from their own taxpayers to pay for it (while shelling out corporate welfare to military contractors and other members of the “defense” industry along the way). Do the people of that other country have the right to force American taxpayers to pay for their freedom, in a situation that does not enhance American security one iota? And again, that’s ignoring the fact that the people by and large do not want a bloody invasion, even if it’s followed by “freedom.” After how many dead bodies can you still call America a “rights protecting nation.” Our government seems to have no problem infringing on our rights daily. The fact that it isn’t as bad as most others doesn’t change that. So spare me the moral superiority crap (and once again, despite the fact that you can easily see through the lies, selfishness, and manipulation of politicians on domestic issues, you seem to fall for their claims of moral righteousness when conducting foreign affairs)

          2. Well at least you’re consistent

        3. But should I let him kill me just because he’s got a baby strapped to his chest?

      2. He’s violated the non-aggression principle. But blowing up his home isn’t going to change anything. His 6 year old daughter hasn’t done anything wrong.

        1. He’s violated the non-aggression principle.

          As did Japan. And, as between Japanese civilians and Allied soldiers, with the inability to sort out who’s who among the Japanese population, I think Japanese civilians should get the raw end of the deal. I’m pretty sure the Allies would have been more than happy to stop at whatever point the Japanese stopped fighting.

          1. “Japan” did no such thing. The Emperor of Japan sent troops and planes.

            1. Then blame him for all the death and destruction.

            2. “Japan” did no such thing. The Emperor of Japan sent troops and planes.

              Japan WAS the Emperor in this time period.

              Or did you not know that before you goofed?

  37. Lucy Steigerwald| 8.6.12 @ 8:48PM |#
    “When I was little I knew the bombings were wrong,”

    How did you “know” that?

    1. Approximating the current political terms, my model is that liberals are smart children and conservatives are stupid adults.

      I’ve saved that quote for the book I’m never going to write.

  38. Wow This thread went full retard while I was watching The Twilight Zone and Perry Mason.

    1. You should not have come back. Neither should I.

    2. Do you get Perry Mason on anything other than the Hallmark Movie Channel?

  39. I’d like to add that it was regrettable that America did not use the bomb on Moscow and perhaps Beijing to shut down communism and the Cold War before it began.

  40. Anybody with any shred of humanity finds what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki horrific, unacceptable, reprehensible and immoral.

    The question is whether a full-scale land invasion — for which every domestic resident, every grandpa, woman and child, was trained as kamikazes for the State — would have been any less horrific, unacceptable, reprehensible and immoral. And imagine, the Soviet Union certainly would have wanted in on the action as well now that they were no longer tied up battling the Germans.

    We can’t live two courses of history and choose the less deadly and immoral one with the benefit of retrospect. The military commanders made the best decision for America and it’s troops. I think they could have done it differently, but they needed to send shockwaves to the irrational morons running the Japanese empire that we could bomb every last Japanese citizen out of existence without them gaining any possible strategic advantage.

    And after what they did to Nanking and Manchuria, which they continue to deny and reject any responsibility for, Japan holds no surfeit of morality themselves. Don’t get me wrong. I love Japan, lived there, have a Japanese wife. But I probably wouldn’t exist without Hiroshima, because my grandfather would have likely been killed in a full invasion. My wife wouldn’t either.

    And after an event like these, the world has (barely) avoided reaching such desperate straits again.

    1. would have been any less horrific, unacceptable, reprehensible and immoral…

      The military commanders made the best decision for America and it’s troops.

      The best decision is “unacceptable, reprehensible and immoral.” How would you describe the worst decision?

    2. Props Prop.

      My wife is russian and both her grandfathers fought in WWII. Her father’s fathers was killed by the germans. Luckily he had impregnated his wife before he was sent to die. Her mother’s father was in the east and might well have ended up being sent to invade Japan. If he had died there my wife would not be alive.

      I do not get the distinction between military and civilian lives. Neither of these men wanted to be at war and to me their lives were worth every bit as much as some female factory worker in Germany or Japan.

      Lucy, I would suggest you watch the invasion scene in Saving Private Ryan a few times. Maybe on the second go around try to imagine yourself on one of those lead landing crafts knowing that when the gate dropped there would be a very good chance you would die in some horrible manner. You might wish “they had dropped the fucking bomb.” Or as a woman you don’t worry about such things as they don’t apply to you?

      1. Neither of these men wanted to be at war and to me their lives were worth every bit as much as some female factory worker in Germany or Japan.

        Any non-retarded war’s goal is to perpetuate the tribe, thus women are almost infinitely more valuable than men.

        Maybe on the second go around try to imagine yourself on one of those lead landing crafts knowing that when the gate dropped there would be a very good chance you would die in some horrible manner.

        One of grandfather’s proudest moments was being one of the few who realized that being the first on meant being the last off.

        1. “Any non-retarded war’s goal is to perpetuate the tribe, thus women are almost infinitely more valuable than men.”

          Are your tribe’s men worth more than the other’s women? I guess it depends on whether you are planning on assimilating the women into your tribe.

          Outside the pratical, all lives have intrinsic value, men as much as women.

          1. Are your tribe’s men worth more than the other’s women? I guess it depends on whether you are planning on assimilating the women into your tribe.

            I was speaking generally to the notion that women and men should be viewed as intrinsically equal, which is against evolved our instincts (and thus not something that will, however wrong, disappear anytime soon). Your specific point is well-taken.

        2. You mean when the MG42s were maximally zeroed in on the ramp? Brilliant, I’m sure.

          1. I said he was proud, not bright.

    3. I think it’s fallacious to think that if the grandparents you happened to wind up with had been killed, that you wouldn’t exist. Maybe you’d just be a descendant of different grandparents.

      1. That’s physically impossible.

        1. How do you figure? Are you supposing that all details of your existence depend on your entire past? Like “you”-ness is so particular that if the tiniest detail were altered, it would cease to be? What was so special about that time line?

          How about if someone else you knew didn’t exist, or was different somehow? Would you not have existed because your experience of that person would’ve been different, hence an element of “you”-ness is missing, hence there’s no you?

          1. Scientifically it would be impossible because each of us arises from one specific egg and one specific sperm. If there was a different egg or sperm it wouldn’t be us.

            1. You think “you”-ness comes from the DNA alone? What if you were identical twins? You’d actually share an identity? There’d be no “you” separate from your twin’s?

              1. Implication goes the wrong way.

                Having different genes is sufficient, not necessary, to be different people.

  41. Well, this was an interesting thread to read.

    The debate over whether nuking Japan ultimately cost less lives, both military and civilian, than a conventional land invasion would have is a legitimate debate that reasonable people can disagree on.

    But Jesus Christ. To argue that the people of an aggressor nation deserve everything they receive, up to and including the complete extermination of every man, woman, and child in the country? That is collectivism in its purest form. That this argument is being shamelessly embraced by libertarians (at least I presume everyone here identifies as libertarian) is both disturbing and depressing.

    1. To quote one of Eastwood’s finest movies, deserve’s got nothing to do with it. Fact is, a bellicose government derives its support from the people that it exercises dominion over — sometimes willingly, sometimes unwillingly. In all cases, the end goal should be to seek a peace that’s acceptable on our terms with minimal casualties to our side. If possible, we should minimize civilian and potentially even military casualties on the opposing side, but oftentimes that’s not possible — and when it’s not possible, it’s simply foolish to prolong the conflict by draining our own resources while enabling various behaviors on the part of the aggressor (housing important facilities amidst a large civilian population, for example). War is a negative sum game, and pretending that we can have a trial for every presumed combatant in an enemy nation is refusing to engage the subject seriously.

      Of course, the best way to avoid such debates (and the associated killing) is to avoid seeking out war, and to have a strong *defense* and deterrents to bellicosity directed our way from other states.

    2. shamelessly embraced

      LOL

  42. My intertube experience strongly suggests that hosting articles/posts on topics that nearly every commenter is more knowledgeable is not a sustainable business model.

  43. Although I agree with the concept of dropping the bomb in general to convince the empire to unconditionally surrender, I virulently disagree with the choice of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, although I suppose it is far better than Kyoto would have been (the original target). If you wanted to be really symbolic and devastating to the Japanese spirit, they could have nuked Mount Fuji and flown over Tokyo with planes carrying signs in Japanese saying “Kyoto’s next if you don’t surrender”.

  44. Wow I cant believe that much time has passsed!

    http://www.Goin-Private.tk

  45. Or, instead of nuking 2 cities in Japan (and not aiming for the weapons factories) and firebombing Tokyo for no reason, the US military could have just gone home. With a devastated military and country Japan wasn’t going to race back across the Pacific to attack the US again. Especially if we stopped embargoing their country.

  46. Everyone claiming Hiroshima and Nagasaki were important military targets is forgetting that the US strategic command decided NOT to bomb them (and a handful of other cities, such as Kyoto) because they wanted maximal destructive effect from the atomic bombs. If they had been so important to the Japanese war effort, why had we preserved them from bombing prior?

    Nobody remembers that Japan tried to surrender before we dropped the bombs? The terms before and after the dropping were functionally the same.

    So why would we want to drop bombs on an enemy already willing to surrender? On targets the most pristine targets we could arrange for them? To scare somebody else. Don’t forget that we were already at odds with the Soviets over many things and our alliance was only one of convenience. I wouldn’t be surprised if the real reasoning behind the atomic bombings was an attempt to scare the Soviets.

    1. Everyone claiming Hiroshima and Nagasaki were important military targets is forgetting

      It’s been discussed in this thread that you obviously haven’t read.

      Nobody remembers that Japan tried to surrender before we dropped the bombs?

      It’s been discussed in this thread that you obviously haven’t read.

      So why would we want to drop bombs on an enemy already willing to surrender?

      It’s been discussed in this thread that you obviously haven’t read.

      I seriously doubt you could have more effectively demonstrated your ignorance than by posting what you have.

      I suppose Warty’s “Fuck you scum” would be worse but Warty can’t do any better.

    2. I don’t think anybody claims that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were targets of top importance, at the beginning of the war, compared to all other targets in Japan. However, near the end of the war, they were important targets that had not yet been bombed.

      Your point about “already willing to surrender” is debunked above.

  47. I’d just like to point out as one who sees both sides of this, the pro-bomb side sounds far less reactionary and childish in this thread than the anti-bomb side.

    This is less a result of the quality of their arguments and more a result of their seemingly inherent childishness. The anti-bomb argument has been made quite convincingly, just not here.

    1. Ooops, blew the link. (Why does “Preview STILL NOT WORK??) http://www.asiasentinel.com/in…..Itemid=201

      1. I have no idea why those links work sometimes and not others. Go to the Asia Sentinel site and search for Giangreco.

        1. Since it appears that only a few people are left discussing this topic (perils of not visiting H amp R at home and only discovering this post this morning), what is your opinion of the “demonstration” option, Papaya?

          Thanks for the link. I’ll have to see if I can find his book at the library.

          1. The mindset of the Japanese leaders was not amenable to humane demonstrations. I would imagine that the Japanese would have just told their populace that the big and bright bomb the Americans dropped over the ocean was just a trick, and we’d have had one less bomb.

  48. As a constitutional monarchy, the decision to end the war would have had to be a unanimous decision by the Japanese cabinet. The cabinet was comprised of both civilian and military representatives. The civilians wanted a negotiate cease fire, the military wanted to fight until the bitter ends. Even after Hiroshima was bombed Admiral Soemu Toyoda Chief of the Navy General Staff and General Korechika Anami, both cabinet members argued that the bombing was meaningless because the US didn’t have any more and refused to entertain a surrender.

    As far as casualty estimates of a mainland invasion goes, thankfully we will never know if the estimates were accurate or not. Regardless, not included in any of the estimates were the 200,000 allied POW’s held by the Japanese who were to be executed at the commencement of the invasion of the mainland.

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