Did We Really Have To Drop.....

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Cosima___J
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Did We Really Have To Drop.....

Post by Cosima___J » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:08 pm

....the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima???

According to my knowledge about WWII, I have always read that the Japanese were stubbornly determined to fight on. The military leaders had no regard for how many more of their soldiers would have to die. Nagasaki and Hiroshima were bombed in order to finally make the Japanese realize that they had no other option than to stop fighting.

I am currently reading a truly fascinating book, American Prometheus, The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. I've just read a few paragraphs that have really stunned me. According to the book, the Japanese knew the war was lost and were ready to surrender, thus making the use of the atomic bombs unnecessary! Here are some quotes:

There was much that Oppenheimer did not know. As he later recalled, "We didn't know beans about the military situation in Japan. We didn't know whether they could be caused to surrender by other means or whether the invasion was really inevitable. But in the backs of our minds was the notion that the invasion was inevitable because we had been told that." Among other things, he was unaware that military intelligence in Washington had intercepted and decoded messages from Japan indicating that the Japanese government understood the war was lost and was seeking acceptable surrender terms.

On May 28, for instance, Assistant Secretary of War John J McCloy urged Stimson to recommend that the term "unconditional surrender" be dropped from America's demands on the Japanese. Based on their reading of intercepted Japanese cable traffic, McCloy and many other ranking officials could see that key members of the Tokyo government were trying to find a way to terminate the war, largely on Washington's terms. On the same day, Acting Secretary of State Joseph C Grew had a long meeting with President Truman and told him the very same thing.

On June 18, Truman's chief of staff, Adm. William D Leahy, wrote in his diary: "It is my opinion at the present time that a surrender of Japan can be arranged with terms that can be accepted by Japan" The same day, McCloy told President Truman that he believed the Japanese military position to be so dire as to raise the "question of whether we needed to get Russia in to help us defeat Japan." He went on to tell Truman that before a final decision was taken to invade the Japanese home islands, or to use the atomic bomb, political steps should be taken that might well secure a full Japanese surrender.

According to Gen. Dwight D Eisenhower, when he was informed of the existence of the bomb at the Potsdam Conference in July, he told Stimson he thought an atomic bombing was unnecessary because "the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing." Finally, President Truman himself seemed to think that the Japanese were very close to capitulation. Writing in his private, handwritten diary on July 18, 1945, the president referred to a recently intercepted cable quoting the Emperor to the Japanese envoy in Moscow as a "telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace."

No one can be certain of Oppenheimer's reaction had he learned that on the eve of the Hiroshima bombing, the president knew the Japanese were looking for peace, and that the military use of atomic bombs on cities was an option rather than a necessity for ending the war in August."

Did we really need to drop those bombs?

Dennis Spath
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Re: Did We Really Have To Drop.....

Post by Dennis Spath » Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:37 pm

There were dozens of Presidential info sources from individuals promoting alternatives to an invasion of the Japanese mainland. Based upon the fight to the death mentality experienced at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, which included the mass suicides of more than 30,000 civilians, military planning for a November Invasion projected over 100,000 American casualties and the slaughter of millions of Japanese civilians to force capitulation of the military. The emphasis of the Author in your Oppenheimer Bio appears, from my point of view, a device to promote controversy and book sales among the anti A-Bomb crowd. Much is made of the death toll related to A-Bomb usage, but that was "humane" compared to the number of civilians already killed by way of firebombing cities in Japan and Germany.
It's good to be back among friends from the past.

Cosima___J
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Re: Did We Really Have To Drop.....

Post by Cosima___J » Mon Jul 02, 2012 3:33 pm

Dennis, you said "The emphasis of the author in you Oppenheimer Bio appears, from my point of view, a device to promote controversy and book sales among the anti A-Bomb crowd".

No, not really. This was only a paragraph or two in a book of 591 pages! The book is mostly favorable to Oppenheimer, so I hardly think the author was looking to rack up sales to "the anti A-Bomb crowd".

And the author isn't arguing about whether the bomb was "humane" or not. But rather , was it necessary, if the Japanese were close to capitulating? You could argue whether they were really close or not to throwing in the towel. The history I have read has always emphasized that the Japanese leaders were NOT ready to give up. This book presents some evidence to the contrary.

However, this was only one very tiny point brought up in the book ---- a fascinating page-turner. I'm only about half way through it and I might want to post some more thoughts when I finish.

Agnes Selby
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Re: Did We Really Have To Drop.....

Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:45 pm

....and London sufered 76 continuous days of the Blitz with over 40,000 people
killed and more than 1 million houses destroyed. It is not mentioned
very often. Why???

Cosima___J
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Re: Did We Really Have To Drop.....

Post by Cosima___J » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:06 pm

Actually, the Blitz is prominently mentioned in WWII histories that I have read.

John F
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Re: Did We Really Have To Drop.....

Post by John F » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:22 pm

Two questions, actually.

Could the war with Japan have been ended as quickly and with as few allied casualties if the bombs hadn't been dropped? Even today, with all the historical information we have, and despite what the book about Oppenheimer says, I don't believe the answer is an unequivocal yes. Another way of putting the question: was it in the American interest to sacrifice more American lives in order to save Japanese lives? Surely not.

Did President Truman, given the information and advice he had to go on, have good reason not to use the bombs? The Japanese had not actually offered to surrender, and as for their intentions, they had been in peace negotiations with the U.S. when they attacked Pearl Harbor, so who could be certain what they were going to do?
John Francis

Agnes Selby
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Re: Did We Really Have To Drop.....

Post by Agnes Selby » Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:20 pm

Cosima___J wrote:Actually, the Blitz is prominently mentioned in WWII histories that I have read.
I know, however the bombing of Dresden is mentioned
more often. I have seen London in 1959 when I lived there,
much of it wa still in ruins even after so many years after the war.
The East End was still a mess and food was still at a premium.

As for the Japanese, they would have continued fighting as it
was a "matter of honour". You would have to study the Japanese
attitude to life during that war to understand it.

Cosima___J
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Re: Did We Really Have To Drop.....

Post by Cosima___J » Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:10 pm

Agnes, I've read John Toland's totally fascinating in depth book about the Japanese called "The Rising Sun". It covers the period 1936 - 1945.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Rising-Sun-Jo ... B001NFT0G6

If you want to get a thorough and very readable book about the Japanese mind-set, this is a must read. It's a lengthy book, but I've read it twice ---- it was that good!!!!!

Agnes Selby
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Re: Did We Really Have To Drop.....

Post by Agnes Selby » Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:39 am

Thank you, Cosi, I will order it from Amazon.

RebLem
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Re: Did We Really Have To Drop.....

Post by RebLem » Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:33 pm

Since, in another thread, we have gotten off on an Ogden Nash tangent, I thought I'd post this one here:

A Caution To Everybody by Ogden Nash

Consider the auk;
Becoming extinct because he forgot how to fly, and could only walk.
Consider man, who may well become extinct
Because he forgot how to walk and learned how to fly before he thinked.
Don't drink and drive. You might spill it.--J. Eugene Baker, aka my late father
"We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."--Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. Carolina.
"Racism is America's Original Sin."--Francis Cardinal George, former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.

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