August 6, 2010

"During the ceremony, Hiroshima’s mayor welcomed the ambassador, John Roos, and praised President Obama..."

"... as one of the world leaders who 'wielded their powerful influence' to rid the world of nuclear weapons."

This is the first time a U.S. ambassador has attended the ceremony. The bomb was dropped on Hiroshima 65 years ago.
The White House and War Department announced today that an atomic bomb, possessing more power than 20,000 tons of TNT, a destructive force equal to the load of 2,000 B-29's and more than 2,000 times the blast power of what previously was the world's most devastating bomb, had been dropped on Japan.

The announcement, first given to the world in utmost solemnity by President Truman, made it plain that one of the scientific landmarks of the century had been passed, and that the "age of atomic energy," which can be a tremendous force for the advancement of civilization as well as for destruction, was at hand....

What happened at Hiroshima is not yet known. The War Department said it "as yet was unable to make an accurate report" because "an impenetrable cloud of dust and smoke" masked the target area from reconnaissance planes. The Secretary of War will release the story "as soon as accurate details of the results of the bombing become available."...

Not the slightest spirit of braggadocio is discernible either in the wording of the official announcements or in the mien of the officials who gave out the news. There was an element of elation in the realization that we had perfected this devastating weapon for employment against an enemy who started the war and has told us she would rather be destroyed than surrender, but it was grim elation. There was sobering awareness of the tremendous responsibility involved....

78 comments:

Beta Rube said...

Everything I've read about WWII suggests that Japan is not in a very good position to claim victim status.

Maybe when they have a solemn ceremony commemorating the Bataan Death March and the Rape of Nanjing, the medical experiments, and the routine use of (real) torture, I 'll care more.

I wish we had stayed away from the ceremony, as we always had until this time. The good news I guess is that there were no public apologies.

Maybe if a large segment of the Japanese population starts practicing Islam The One can say how sorry he is.

Scott M said...

And away we go on a thread sure to contain uneducated statements, on both sides about why we should or shouldn't have dropped the bombs on Japan.

Bear in mind before we get going, though, that if you have no idea what Ketsu-Go was, even if you're just now googling it or looking it up on wiki, you have no idea what you're talking about.

Also bear in mind that throughout the strategic bombing campaigns in both the European and Pacific theaters, other individual attacks were just as, if not more, deadly than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And, in the end, let's remember that they did start it...

Fred4Pres said...

I am sorry about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I am sorry we did not get the bombs sooner so we could have ended that war that much faster. The thousdands who fell in the Pacific Island hopping campaigns could have been saved.

I am sorry we didn't get it sooner so we could have used it on Germany too. We could have avoided Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, and mitigated the horrors of the Final Solution. A rapid victory would have probably prevented the Soviets from occupying eastern europe.

I am sorry about all of that.

Roman said...

There should be no doubt in anyone's mind, if Japan had an atomic bomb, it would have been used without hesitation against the Allied Forces. It was a good thing that we had it first.

Something else that is usually overlooked...In the period after the war, it was about 4 years before the Soviet Union developed the A bomb, we could have dictated terms to any nation on earth and did not. We gave huge amounts of money to rebuild our defeated enemies.

Comrade X said...

Thank you President Truman. You kept my grandfather from having to fight in Japan after he had already fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped invade Germany. I'm grateful and fortunate to have known my grandfather.

David said...

My grandfather served in the same artillery battalion as Harry Truman in WWI (enlisted, Truman was a Captain). Their big action was the battle of the Meuse-Argonne in early October 1918 (note only a few weeks from the armistice). It was a tough battle against a determined opponent. Truman always felt very grateful that he got all is men out alive. There was no way he was not going to use every means possible to spare American lives even though the war was in it's final stages.

exhelodrvr1 said...

I wonder if anyone asked about Nanking or Manila?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Lighten up, guys. It was only the Rape of Nanking, not the Rape-rape of Nanking.

Scott M said...

Lighten up, guys. It was only the Rape of Nanking, not the Rape-rape of Nanking.

Yes, we have to remember not to be ethnocentric. What happened in Nanking, much like dogfighting, is normal in that culture.

rhhardin said...

Japan has a lugubrious Hiroshima ceremony every year, that remembers it as like unfortunate bad weather.

It's a ritual of forgetting something about Japan, for the Japanese.

A co-worker on the other hand calls the day American Technology Day.

EDH said...

So, when do we build the "'Give 'em Hell Harry' Memorial" next to their Ground Zero?

Joe said...

The use of "Da Bomb" was a RACIST exercise, perpetrated upon the innocent and unsuspecting Japanese. Truman is nothing less than a War Criminal and a Tea Bagger!

It's going to be said, so I thought I'd get it out of the way...

Richard Franks' Downfall is very interesting. I'd recommend it. It's about the end-game of the war, from Okinawa on.

Scott M said...

@Joe

Don't smirk too broadly. There is a swathe of people out there that actually believe dropping the bomb on Japan, rather than using it on Germany, was just more evidence that America is an evil, racist place. In other words, we dropped it on the non-whites.

I actually heard this writ large on a national broadcast during "Make It Plain" on Sirius Left by Mark Thompson, aka Matsimela Mapfumo.

Of course, little things like surrender dates and dates that the bombs were ready don't really factor into his ethical calculus...

I've always felt that this point of view is every bit as ridiculous as white supremacists thinking that blacks were a mongrel race.

GMay said...

I wonder if the Peace Park and museum in Hiroshima is still the same as it was when I visited in 1996. Before visiting Hiroshima on liberty, Marines are routinely briefed to avoid petitioners since many petitions are for denouncing the attack and/or the United States. I was approached by two.

The highlight of the museum for me would normally have been the large piece of marble steps that were cut from the remains of a bank. You can still see the shadow of the person who was sitting there before being disintegrated by the blast.

But what really struck me was how comprehensive the speculation was about all the reasons for the dropping of the bomb, and the history surrounding the war and events leading up to the use of the bombs...except for what provoked the United States in the first place. If you knew nothing of WWII, you would have discovered what started America's involvement only if you had leaned forward slightly over a rail and looked at the beginning of a timeline that was partially obscured by a pillar.

Most Americans I knew that walked out of the museum there were incensed at the extremely negative tone the museum directed at the United States and how Japan comes out looking relatively clean.

I hope things have changed there.

I owe the existence of most of what little family I have left to the dropping of those bombs. My grandfather was training with the 5th Marine Division for the invasion of mainland Japan after he managed to survive 36 days on Iwo Jima.

I doubt he would have been as lucky had he landed on the mainland.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Bear in mind before we get going, though, that if you have no idea what Ketsu-Go was, even if you're just now googling it or looking it up on wiki, you have no idea what you're talking about.

Keep in mind that these are the same people who will insist that a land invasion was unnecessary since Japan was already beaten at that point. Granted they conveniently overlook the fact that Japan obviously didn't know it was beat (they didn't surrender) but that doesn't stop them from making the claim.

I remember having this discussion with a liberal friend of mine a couple years ago and she insisted we sould have demonstrated it on an uninhabited island first to show them what power it had. I replied that we demonstrated it on a city first and they still didn't surrender. Conversation moved on to wine after that.

I don't think we need to apologize for ending the war that was started by a nation responsible for millions of deaths. Nope.

Joe said...

I've always been impressed with the historical literacy of those making the claim that the use of Atomic Bomb was a racist exercise. Their ability to read Szillard, their ability to read Szillard and Einstein's lettre to FDR, the focus of the many scientists in the Manhattan Project, simply ASTOUNDING.

I do believe Alperovitz has some inklings of a point with his contention that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were pointed at the USSR, but the supposed racist under-pinnings of the attacks is laughable. (Which is not to say that Jeremy, or Montana Wildhack, or Alpha won't try to make the case, just to say that their attempts will be laughable.)

Fred4Pres said...

Japan and Germany went crazy, taken over by evil. They attacked us or declared war on us. We fought them and continued to pound on them until they gave up. Then we go the evil out of power and helped them.

That is how war works. Get over it. Atomic bombs are not good to get dropped on your country, but dead is dead. Is fire bombing that much more preferable? The bombs ended the war. They were instruments, ironically, of peace.

The Crack Emcee said...

"There was an element of elation in the realization that we had perfected this devastating weapon for employment against an enemy who started the war and has told us she would rather be destroyed than surrender, but it was grim elation. There was sobering awareness of the tremendous responsibility involved...."

You're goddamned right - and we better get it back. Yesterday Garage Mahal asked if I ever "lighten up" - no, I'm a man and the rest of you insist on being children. The quote above details just one of qualities that defines the difference.

Now, fuck with my country and I'll blow another hole in the planet to eliminate you.

Fuck Sarah Palin:

The Crack Emcee in 2012!

KerinB said...

I'm a long-time lurker, first-time commenter. I'm a third-gen American of Japanese descent whose family was interned in Arizona during WWII. My father served in the 442nd, was part of the horrific rescue of the Texas-based "Lost Battalion", and later discharged with disabling combat wounds.

I have just moved back home after living as an ex-pat for 3 years in Tokyo.

From my perspective, it was a good decision to attend this ceremony but refuse to apologize. Politically, the Japanese people are no more monolithic than our own---there does exist a fervent nationalistic minority that can certainly hold their own with any of our own grievance-mongering groups. I was surprised at the constant level of passion re: the US military bases there---the Japanese Gov takes enormous heat in allowing us to keep those bases, which I believe we absolutely need. However, Japan is an important strategic and economic partner, and it was my sense that the general population actually like and admire America and Americans, more so than most other places I've traveled (in Europe and esp. ANZ).

By attending this ceremony, I think we demonstrated that we value the alliance and therefore are sensitive to their suffering but also let them know that we aren't sorry for what we had to do.

Japanese culture is all about layers of nuance, and this gesture strikes, I think, the proper note.

Sorry if this was too verbose, just MHO.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I do believe Alperovitz has some inklings of a point with his contention that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were pointed at the USSR,

They were. They had dual use; end the war and inform the Soviets that they should think twice before stepping off.

Hoosier Daddy said...

By attending this ceremony, I think we demonstrated that we value the alliance and therefore are sensitive to their suffering but also let them know that we aren't sorry for what we had to do.

I don't think its ever emphasized enough in that as the victors, our treatment of Germany and Japan was nothing less than magnanimous, particularly in light of the monsterous acts carried out by both regimes. The idea that we should express sorrow for ending those regimes and the war they started is simply insulting to those who fought and died to win the war not to mention those who suffered under their brutal occupation.

Michael said...

I was rather hoping the Ambassador would make a pitch for an Atom Bomb Theme Park to be located adjacent to the memorial. As an outreach.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

My father was a young naval officer on an LCT (landing craft, tank) in the Pacific in 1944. After taking part in the landing at Leyte, they were preparing for an assault on the Japanese mainland. Given the high casualty rate among landing craft personnel, there's a very good chance I wouldn't be here if the bomb hadn't been employed.

My best friend in the world is a Japanese guy born near Osaka in 1951. He is the most decent, kind, and hard-working guy I've ever known (with the exception of my father). There is a very good chance he wouldn't be here, either, if the bomb hadn't been employed. The mayor of Hiroshima needs to own this reality.

edutcher said...

This is just another stop on the apology tour. The Zero wants to paint himself as a world leader and Hiroshima is one of the few places that may buy it.

For those interested, 42 US Army divisions were in one stage or another of transit to join the 21 Army and 6 Marine divisions fighting Japan, in addition to 17 British, Commonwealth, and Empire divisions. The campaign was to reduce all Japanese holdings in China, Malaya, and Korea, as well as Japan. The only good news for those guys was that Douglas MacArthur would be calling the shots, not Chester Nimitz.

The bomb was George Marshall's ace in the hole and Marshall had made the decision to even throw resources better used in the US Army into its development. It was intended for Germany, but production difficulties dictated its use on Japan. It was used at the earliest date possible.

Scott M said...

...

Also bear in mind that throughout the strategic bombing campaigns in both the European and Pacific theaters, other individual attacks were just as, if not more, deadly than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Think Tokyo.

Joe said...

The use of "Da Bomb" was a RACIST exercise, perpetrated upon the innocent and unsuspecting Japanese. Truman is nothing less than a War Criminal and a Tea Bagger!

It's going to be said, so I thought I'd get it out of the way...

Richard Franks' Downfall is very interesting. I'd recommend it. It's about the end-game of the war, from Okinawa on.


The degfaming of the US over the use of the bomb was the beginning of the radical Left's attempt to regain some credibility in this country after V-J Day; they had wanted FDR to declare war on Britain while Adolf and Uncle Joe were still best buds.

PS There are better books, try Skates. Frank is a Navy partisan.

WV "vifes" Russian spouses.

John said...

William Manchester had just survived the Okinawa meatgrinder. When he heard the news of Hiroshima, he thought, he says in his memoir "Goodbye Darkness":

Thanks God for the Atom Bomb. It meant that I would live.

Paul Fussell, wounded in Germany, fully expected to be sent to Japan for the invasion. His thoughts were similar and he wrote an excellent book about it in the 90's "Thank God for the Atom Bomb"

Most people forget what we were up against in July of 1945. We fully expected to have to invade Japan. Had we done so, we expected half a million casualties.

The Japanese still had almost a million men under arms in China in August 1945. There was some question about whether they would surrender even if ordered to do so.

We had not long before seen the brutal rape of Manila by Japanese troops.

So, yeah, I agree with Fussell and Manchester. "Thank God for the Atom Bomb"

John Henry

BTW: All the Purple Hearts that have been awarded in Korea, VN, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan etc? They are leftovers from WWII. The Army had something like 500,000 made in 1945. They expected to use them all.

Thankfully we are still working off the inventory.

Anthony said...

KerinB --

I agree with you -- attend but no apologies. War itself is hell, it is awful. I think the use was justified. But like Reagan went to Bitb urg (something that also was attacked, but which I think was correct), we can send our ambassador to Hiroshima.

I might go one bit farther and think we should start shutting down our bases in the Far East. Make Guam our main Pacific base. Start by withdrawing troops form Korea and shutting down the base on Okinawa. Then the rest of Japan.

Marshal said...

"I hope things have changed there."

Nope.

But while we shouldn't feel one second of regret (other than on the meta scale that it was necessary) neither do we have to rub their faces in it. They fucked with us, they paid the price. Force feeding the truth keeps the grudge alive, and should only be done when someone is trying to use their version as leverage.

As long as we don't forget there's no reason to worry about what they tell themselves.

Trooper York said...

Thanks KerinB. That was a very sensible and informative post.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
c3 said...

"I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here.
Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!"


-William Tecumseh Sherman in address to the graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy (19 June 1879)

KerinB said...

Hoosier Daddy,
Agreed.

My Mother's beloved eldest brother was one of the first AJAs killed on the European front. He was a medic. I hope I never, ever dishonor his memory, or the many, many others who were lost.

We were incredibly generous to our defeated enemies. We were generous in attending this ceremony---but in a strange way I think all the attention really highlights our belief that we did the right thing in dropping the bombs.

Given the current trend of blaming ourselves for all strife and suffering in the world, anywhere, anytime...I'm glad to see this bit of backbone in our diplomatic corps. (corpse?)

By sending our ambassador, we show magnanimity and compassion. By refusing to say "sorry" we show our strength.

GMay said...

"Force feeding the truth keeps the grudge alive..."

There's a difference between "force feeding" and 'acknowledging'.

That park is an international attraction, and prides itself as such. Therefore there should be some balance to their presentation of events, which there is not.

bagoh20 said...

"Not the slightest spirit of braggadocio is discernible either in the wording of the official announcements or in the mien of the officials who gave out the news. There was an element of elation in the realization that we had perfected this devastating weapon for employment against an enemy who started the war and has told us she would rather be destroyed than surrender, but it was grim elation. There was sobering awareness of the tremendous responsibility involved...."

What other nation do you think would have announced it that way, or used such power as carefully as has the United States did while an an entirely unstoppable power.

Benevolence is easy when you are weak, but truly exceptional when an overpowering force is in hand.

We tried to avoid it, but the determination and pride of both sides made it an unavoidable situation. There was no other way out. The only people who could have avoided it, were the Japanese military, and that was just not possible.

Fen said...

Most people forget what we were up against in July of 1945. We fully expected to have to invade Japan. Had we done so, we expected half a million casualties

I've also read that the invasion fleet would have been crushed by tsunami-like weather. Does that ring true?

Would have been ironic. People forget that the British Empire wouldn't exist if not for severe weather affects on the Spanish Armada.

Teki Setsu said...

The bomb at Hiroshima 広島 and at Nagasaki 長崎 were terrible violence against civilians. But let's also not forget the evil at Nanking 南京 committed by Japan against the men, women, and children of China... not to mention other events.

War is violent. It will always be violent. Those who want war today (such as the Palistinian people) are people who want enormous evil.

Ironclad said...

Having had the privilege to live in Japan twice, I can say that in general they are very good people now. They are still very insular, but the aggressive portion of their nature seems much better under control.

That said, I can say that when the anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki rolled around - the stores ran something like: "Mysteriously, one day a plane flew over and dropped a bomb on the city" and went from there. There is a large reluctance to discuss why this happened or to discuss WWII. The biggest controversies there are the yearly visits by dignitaries to cemeteries where some of the war leader dead are buried. That generates a lot of nationalist heat.

The bombs did enormous damage, but in the end saved more lives than they ended - on both sides. Let it end there, but don't apologize.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I've also read that the invasion fleet would have been crushed by tsunami-like weather. Does that ring true?

Both Mongol invasion attempts on Japan were pretty much complete falures as the result of typhoons.
Hence the powerful symbolism of the divine wind or kamikaze.

Japan still had significant air power in 1945 which was going to be used solely as kamikaze attacks on invasion transports. When one looks at the level of damage the kamikaze attacks caused on the USN toward the end of the war, the argument that our casulaty estimates were over exaggerated is pretty weak.

Comrade X said...

No apologies, but while we're on the subject, is there anything more disingenuous than apologizing for something previous generations did? I'm sorry about something that someone who is not me did. You're not apologizing, you're blaming or sympathizing. Want to apologize? Apologize for your own behavior.

Scott M said...

Forget bombings. Forget marine invasions. Forget all of that stuff and just add up the potential death toll among Japanese if the navy would have had it's way. The alternative to dropping the bomb on them was a prolonged naval blockade couple with strategic bombing.

That bombing would have been targeting rail connections and yards particularly for one simple reason. Japan was heavily reliant on fishing to support it's population. What cropland it does have requires the logistical means to get it elsewhere on the island. Thus, bomb the hell out of the rail system and you starve them out...along with disease and everything else wonderful that goes along with slowly starving to death.

What's more, doing so would have isolated the country into pockets of resistance loyal to local leadership, rather than to the emperor and the military leadership in Tokyo. That means we would have had to spend lives, time and treasure getting each pocket to surrender, rather than having one quick ceremony on a convenient warship.

My point is that the human cost alone from starving them out would have been far higher than the immediate and lingering deaths caused by the atomic bombs.

Saint Croix said...

I feel zero guilt for Hiroshima, like I feel zero guilt for slavery or the Holocaust. I didn't do it. Why should I feel guilty on behalf of other people? I got enough guilt about stuff I do. When Obama goes into Redeemer mode I want to smack him.

Does anybody ever apologize to us? Can you imagine? "Sorry about 9/11, it's our fault. Sorry about Pearl Harbor. Sorry we burned down the White House."

Not that I want any apologies. I think national apologies are b.s. They often seem to veer into blood guilt. "I'm white, sorry about slavery" or "I'm German, sorry about the Holocaust."

It's dishonest, this habit of national apologies. Dishonest and very, very smug. I would be a lot happier if Obama would apologize for shit he did.

rcocean said...

Thanks Joe. I read Franks "Downfall" and consider it the best book on the Bomb and how the war ended. The Japanese Film "Japan's Longest Day" also provides an excellent insight into how the war ended and the "fight to the death" mentality of the IJA.

The Japanese killed millions in China and hundereds of thousands of innocent civilans in SE Asia, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines, etc. yet nobody seems to care much. Guess, they just want to beat their breast about Hiroshima.

ricpic said...

This may be hard to believe but at the time of WW II the government of the United States actually valued American lives over Japanese lives. Okinawa had shown that the price of invading main island Japan would likely be the death of one million American soldiers. So the decision to drop the bomb was a no brainer.

Marshal said...

"That park is an international attraction, and prides itself as such. Therefore there should be some balance to their presentation of events, which there is not."

The Japanese inability to accurately depict events reflects poorly on them. Making it a big deal would reflect poorly on us.

When they start recreating the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere using their version of history we'll be justified in reacting. Until then those who push theri version are just cranks.

Joe said...

@ScottM
8/6/10 11:39 AM

By August 1945, too late....in that you have the wrong verb tense, not we WERE, but we ALREADY HAD...

Attacks on transport ahd already occured...the mine campaign had already limited coastal trade...in fact between the mines and the submarines had cut the links between China and Korea, the Home Islands Bread Basket had already been cut...the rail sysstem was crippled by lack of fuel and attacks on the transport and city city...

Japan was experiencing CLINICAL MALNUTRITION, if not STARVATION.

Your larger point is correct we have three options in August 1945:
1) Use Atomic Bombs; or
2) Invade Japan, at a tremendous cost to both Japan and the US; or
3) Naval Blockade that would ahve starved millions of Japanese. My quibble is with the idea that we were going to do certain things, we had already done them.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to be SPARED from conventional air attack, in order to preserve them for the Atomic Attacks.

Japan was defeated in August 1945, too bad she didn't want to ackowledge it.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Okinawa had shown that the price of invading main island Japan would likely be the death of one million American soldiers.

Almost three months of the worst fighing in the PTO with 50,000 US casualties (over 12,000 KIA). Japanese losses counting civlians were around a quarter million.

Yet another example of the lame argument that we overestimated casualties in invading the mainland.

traditionalguy said...

The April to June 1945 campaign on a Japanese province called Okinawa cost the navy 10,000 sailors, over half killed, and the Marines lost 20,000, of which 8000 were killed. Plus the Combined Navy and Marine forced retirements from mental collapse were 14,000. The survivors lives were set to be wasted on the Japanese main islands when Truman, acting like an American guardian type President, killed the Japanese instead of his letting them kill his own men. Obama feels that he must now apologize for our father's guts and fighting skills that he and other foreigners have always hated so much. That is the reason he will not let the Marines in Afghanistan kill foreigners while they serve as targets to make Muslims proud of themselves like they are for the Muslim Moon Program.

deborah said...

"Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to be SPARED from conventional air attack, in order to preserve them for the Atomic Attacks."

Joe, what do you mean?

chuckR said...

@Joe @ 11:55

All I remember about a quirky little history of technology book called "The Shock of the Old, Technology and Global History Since 1900" is an observation on the bombings. The author pointed out that this was an efficiency advance with respect to the air war. Curtis LeMay already could kill 100000 people every night with 300-400 B29s. Now he could do it with one. LeMay also had 1000 more B29s on order. Had there been no atomic bomb, in a relatively few short nights the Army Air Force would have killed more Japanese than the atomic bombs did.

It was never, never going to end well for Imperial Japan. No apologies for ending the Pacific War as quickly as possible.

Joe said...

"Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to be SPARED from conventional air attack, in order to preserve them for the Atomic Attacks."

Joe, what do you mean?


Just that...Hiroshima and Nagasaki were NOT on the target list, to preserve them for Atomic Attack. Otherwise, they'd have been burned out by conventional air attack, prior to August 1945.

The USAAF was on track to destroy almost all urban areas prior to the end of 1945. It had to be ordered to preserve Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

If you can peruse a copy of Downfall, the USAAF produced a map that compared the damage to Japanese cities to their equivalent US cities. All I can say is that by August 1945 the USAAF had reached down to Peoria and smaller in the destruction, having destroyed the larger urban concentrations.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

It is interesting to note that Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson ordered that Kyoto be removed from the short list of A-bomb targets. Although it contained significant war industries, Stimson felt it was of too much cultural value and should be preserved. Similarly, Tokyo was only briefly considered. While evaporating the Emperor would have been a psychological blow to the Japanese, bombing
Tokyo could not easily be justified in terms of war production capacity. I believe there was also a desire to avoid the appearance of vindictiveness in the attack.

deborah said...

"Japanese culture is all about layers of nuance, and this gesture strikes, I think, the proper note."

KerinB, thanks for your insights.

What is your take on the internment of the Japanese?

ANZ doesn't like us?

El Pollo Real said...

Trad Guy wrote: That is the reason he will not let the Marines in Afghanistan kill foreigners while they serve as targets to make Muslims proud of themselves like they are for the Muslim Moon Program.

@Trad Guy: Dick Dale of all people addressed that very point in a very moving way just a couple weeks ago: linkage

deborah said...

"It is interesting to note that Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson ordered that Kyoto be removed from the short list of A-bomb targets. Although it contained significant war industries, Stimson felt it was of too much cultural value and should be preserved."

Tyrone Slothrop, looking back, I don't know whether to laugh or cry about the marines who spray-painted 'Semper Fi' on the Ziggurat at Ur.

LordSomber said...

I have stood on the Aioi Bridge (original target) and looked to the sky trying to imagine events of that day. Grim and thought-provoking, to say the least.

An hour later I was down the street in a beer hall chatting with a gentleman and his daughter. Very friendly.

Hiroshima is a lovely city and worth seeing, even besides the Memorial and peace park stuff.

deborah said...

Thanks, Joe.

El Pollo Real said...

deborah wrote: Tyrone Slothrop, looking back, I don't know whether to laugh or cry about the marines who spray-painted 'Semper Fi' on the Ziggurat at Ur.

You can feel the same way that one might feel about Russian soldiers painting "Gitler Kaputt" on the walls inside the Reichstag ruins.

What's your point?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

deborah said...

Tyrone Slothrop, looking back, I don't know whether to laugh or cry about the marines who spray-painted 'Semper Fi' on the Ziggurat at Ur.


I think the ziggurat will still be there when the grafitti is long gone. If you want to make a contrast, consider the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas.

deborah said...

EPR, just the irony, just the tragic comedy of human history. Something like that. BTW, are you the same guy who used to post as Chicken Little?

TS, yes, I know.

El Pollo Real said...

BTW, are you the same guy who used to post as Chicken Little?

Yup. I killed chickenlittle and ate him with a nice bottle of chianti. :)

El Pollo Real said...

I think the ziggurat will still be there when the grafitti is long gone. If you want to make a contrast, consider the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas.

Good point Slothrop. Even the Reichstag was rebuilt. And there is a Soviet Victory Memorial flanking it.

See that's what victors do when they win things important: they build shrines (or threaten to).

deborah said...

:)

veni vidi vici said...

The NYT really had a much better style of reporting on war and government's motivations/communications back then, didn't it?

That's what struck me when reading the report quip quoted in the blogpost. Compared with the timbre of GWOT reporting, it's quite a refreshment to read. No wonder today's dinosaur media is failing abjectly. They've lost the conch.

Hoosier Daddy said...

You can feel the same way that one might feel about Russian soldiers painting "Gitler Kaputt" on the walls inside the Reichstag ruins.

Or the GIs who painted Kilroy Was Here on any wall we deemed fit to be left standing.

William said...

There's something to be said for cataclysmic defeat. Germany fought WWI on foreign soil. Its cities were unbombed, and its armies had inflicted more casualties on the allies than had been inflicted on them. The allied generals at the end of the war wanted to press on against the faltering German army and have victory parades in Berlin. The cvilian leaders nixed that plan and offered Germany an armistice. The German General Staff knew that they were defeated. They turned their government over to the democrats and let them accept the armistice. They later claimed that the democrats had betrayed the fatherland by signing a shameful peace......Keynes book, The Economic Consequences of Peace, also claimed that the Germans had been screwed by the peace agreement. It was a big best seller in Germany. The Junkers at the end of the war were still proud of their honor and military prowess. The German public felt they had been snookered by Wilson's Fourteen Points and subjected to unfair reparations. This unassimilated defeat was fertile ground for someone like Hitler......There's nothing much to celebrate in our bombing campaigns against Germany and Japan. Millions died horrible and painful deaths. The finger of blame should be flexible enough to point towards those leaders with an obligation to protect their populations. The number of their own civilian casualties nowhere figured in the calculus of Hitler and Tojo. The way of the Bushido and Prussian military honor were killed in our bombing raids. For that the world should be grateful.

Joe said...

Kokura was the original target for August 9. Due to being overcast, the B-29 diverted to Nagasaki.

* * *

What stuns me is that the US Air Corp was firebombing Japanese cities from February, inflicting far more casualties than resulted from the atomic bombs. (On March 9-10, 100,000 people were killed in a firestorm that enveloped Tokyo. Pictures of the results of that are nothing short of stunning and indistinguishable from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.) Yet Japan persisted. Looking at the list of cities and casualty rates leaves you reeling. What the hell was the Japanese leadership thinking?

Michael McNeil said...

Similarly, Tokyo was only briefly considered. While evaporating the Emperor would have been a psychological blow to the Japanese, bombing Tokyo could not easily be justified in terms of war production capacity. I believe there was also a desire to avoid the appearance of vindictiveness in the attack.

As the previous comment notes, by August 1945 Tokyo had already been reduced to ashes in a conventional bombing-caused firestorm, killing perhaps 100,000 people. If the city had been subsequently atom bombed, nobody would have been able to tell much difference (which is why those cities which were contemplated as being atom bombed were spared prior conventional bombing).

KerinB said...

Deborah,
You asked for my take on the internment...

My family never spoke of it---the first I heard of it was as a homework assignment when I was in High School.

My mother's whole family (except eldest brother, already in the Army) were dirt-poor sharecroppers in California when they were sent to Poston, AZ. My mom was just a kid, so for her it was kind of an adventure, but the experience broke her father. Before the war, he was The Patriarch...afterward, he kind of gave up. Most everybody just wanted to forget the whole thing and move on with their lives.

When activists in the Japanese-American community eventually got President Reagan to apologize, and Congress to grant "reparations" to living internees, my mother was actually fearful of a backlash. She didn't want the money and felt that the apology was too late for the elder generation, who felt the humiliation most acutely. She was proud of how far my generation has come and felt that the whole thing just dredged up unecessary ugliness.

My father and most of my uncles enlisted in the armed forces straight from "camp", which to me is remarkable but for them was a matter of course.

My take? I think the internment was an abrogation of the rights of those internees who were US citizens, and hope such a thing never happens again. I think, as always, there were political machinations that were a contributing factor. I think it is one of any number of mistakes made by a country at war; the internees were not unique in their suffering. War is, indeed, all the many kinds of hell.

It is profoundly sad to view the blurry photographs of the memorial service held for my uncle, the eldest son. It is a gathering of people, including his very young son, dressed in black, gathered before a makeshift stage erected in the desert, with the barbed-wire fences in the distance. As described in their chaplain's memoirs, my Uncle Jimmy was a good medic, who insisted that his injured buddies be evacuated first. By the time he was transported, it was too late to save him.

KerinB said...

And Deborah--re: ANZ...we were warned by several other ex-pats that if we wanted to avoid "stink eye" and lectures about our evil ways, we'd best pretend to be Canadians while visiting Australia.

We didn't experience very much personal animus, but in both Australia and New Zealand it was clear that most people think Americans are fat, loud, stupid, selfish, bible-thumping bullies who moronically chose to inflict the oil-soaked, war-profiteering, trigger-happy, intellectually incurious, criminally corrupt, environmentally insensitive cowboy GW Bush on the hapless world because we just don't know any better.

On the other hand, the Kiwis adore President Obama!

Fred4Pres said...

Wow, talk about must see TV...

H/T: Ace

John Lynch said...

I wonder when a Japanese ambassador will got to Nanking. Or if he has, if we'd ever know.

deborah said...

KerinB, thank you for telling your family's story.

Skeptical said...

I think I just read a whole thread in which not a single person was willing to say that targeting civilians in war is as such vicious and not to be done.

Yet if you ask people why what was done on 9/11 was so unspeakably bad, it is just that folks who were minding their own business were murdered.

There is a tension between these two stances.

JAL said...

@ Skeptical

You should check out Bill Whittle's video on the bombings. Jon Stewart, War Criminals & The True Story of the Atomic Bombs

The population was warned multiple times to get out of Dodge.

Also in case it hasn't been linked The Foundations of Our World.

JAL said...

In understand that the Japanese military was ready to assassinate the emporer and keep fighting.

He had to take a circuitous route to announce the surrender.

Any WWII history buffs here heard that?

Biggles, Prime said...

Some deplore the slaughter of "innocent civilians" by nuclear weapons while generally approving the act that shortened the war and saved uncountable lives.

It's a sign that they prefer to be all things to all people rather than think the issue through.

The majority of the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki worked in the huge armaments factories that dominated those cities.

Not only did the Japanese army, airforce and navy suffer irreparable deprivation of weapons, ammunition and a multitude of other engineering supplies, they suffered the loss of thousands of skilled workers, engineers, machinisists and scientists.

These are not "innocent civilians" but the equal of combatants at the front line when wartime strategies are taken into account.

Did those bemoaning the deaths of "innocent civilians" think those armaments factories were operated by robots?

Those factories were operated on a shift basis. That means that beside the numbers actually working when the bombs were dropped, [assuming a 12-hour shift] at least that same number comprised the non-working shift. If an 8-hour shift the numbers doubled the working shift.

Biggles, Prime

Biggles, Prime said...

JAL writes; "In understand that the Japanese military was ready to assassinate the emporer and keep fighting.

He had to take a circuitous route to announce the surrender.

Any WWII history buffs here heard that?"

The actual history is somewhat different.......

No assassination of the emperor was contemplated. He was considered inviolate and untouchable.

It was his advisors and the military that protected him that were either assassinated or were under mortal threat.

I have a paperback volume titled JAPAN'S LONGEST DAY written by a group of Japanese historians calling themselves The Pacific War Research Society [PWRS]and published by Kodansha Limited which gives a most readable account hour by hour of the 24 hours leading up to the broadcast.

I also recommend BEHIND JAPAN'S SURRENDER by Lester Brooks which is an excellent resource. Both volumes have a great array of photographs which I personally value highly in any book dealing with history.

The PWRS has also published a companion history titled THE DAY MAN LOST which is a 24-hour window on the nuclear bombings and what immediately followed.

Biggles, Prime

Biggles, Prime said...

KerinB writes;
"And Deborah--re: ANZ...we were warned by several other ex-pats that if we wanted to avoid "stink eye" and lectures about our evil ways, we'd best pretend to be Canadians while visiting Australia."

I'm prepared to be corrected by historical facts but I think I'm on fairly safe territory when I observe that practically the entire world will share Australians' views anent Dubyah, accompanied by a metaphorical slap on the back for the US's forsight in seeking to compensate for its mistake by electing a progressive and internationally admired president, Barak Obama.

Congratulations on your diligence in so accurately portraying the Australian public's opinion of G.W.Bush. Your penetrating analysis is an example to us all.

Biggles, Prime

Biggles, Prime said...

Traditionalguy writes,
"......Obama feels that he must now apologize for our father's guts and fighting skills that he and other foreigners have always hated so much....."

I endorse your opinion unequivocally. Obama should not apologise as if the USA was in the wrong.

It is recognised by all reasonable people that the stress of war brings out the best and the most despicable in people.

While we should not stoop to excuse the latter, it is when the "most despicable" has been incorporated into government and military policy, as with the Japanese in WW2, that voices should be raised in condemnation.

The US government and armed services had no such all-encompassing policy.

The best parallel I can remember off the top of my head is a quote from Gen.George S.Patton..........."No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

Biggles, Prime