Hiroshima & Nagasaki: moral acts?

For reference the next time you get involved in a “it was evil to nuke Japan” argument, here’s a summary of what the alternative would have been. Ok, ok, they might have just up and unconditionally surrendered, but I’ve seen nothing to convince me of that. Mind you, the below is for Olympic; god only knows what Coronet, the invasion of the main island, would have involved.

http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/arens/chap1.htm

Here’s the complete set of plans.
http://fas.org/irp/eprint/arens/

General Marshall gave Truman an estimate of approximately 40,000 U.S. casualties for Operation Olympic.(9) After hours of discussion, Truman approved further planning for Olympic, with an execution date of 1 November 1945. Operation Coronet, if needed, would be conducted in March 1946.

Admiral Nimitz would be in command of all the naval forces. The operation would be the first time that the two major Pacific fleets, Admiral William F. Halsey’s Third Fleet and Admiral Raymond Spruance’s Fifth Fleet, operated together. The number of ships involved in Olympic would be the largest ever gathered for a military operation.(15) The invasion force would include 14 fast aircraft carriers, 6 light aircraft carriers, 36 escort carriers, 20 battleships and over 1,300 troop and cargo transports.

The number of ground forces to be landed in the first four days of the assault would total approximately 436,486. Follow-up forces would number 356,902. With air support personnel of 22,160, the numbers topped 800,000 for Operation Olympic.(13) Should it be found that the fourteen divisions allotted to the Sixth Army were insufficient to capture and hold southern Kyushu, that army would be reinforced at the rate of three divisions a month from X+30 by the units earmarked for Coronet.

In comparison, the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific theater of operations to date was Okinawa, were 182,000 men assaulted the beaches. In the European theater, the largest amphibious assault occurred on Sicily, were 170,000 troops landed. The historic D-Day landing at Normandy in June 1944 had an assault force of 150,000 men. Olympic thus would be the largest amphibious operation in history. The area to be occupied in southern Kyushu totaled about 3,000 square miles.

From another page:
http://fas.org/irp/eprint/arens/chap5.htm

Based on the terrain and the Japanese defensive preparations and strategy, the battle for Kyushu would have resembled the battles of the central Pacific instead of the campaigns in the Philippines. With the casualty ratios of those battles applied to Operation Olympic, the estimate for U.S. casualties would have been 94,000 killed and 234,000 wounded. The total casualty estimate of 328,000 equates to 57 percent of the U.S. ground forces slated for Olympic. On the Satsuma Peninsula, the V Amphibious Corps casualty estimate would have been 13,000 killed and 34,000 wounded, or approximately 54 percent of the Marine force. This casualty estimate for VAC is made without any additional Japanese forces moving into the 40th Army’s zone. Add to these estimates the results of kamikaze attacks against transports, and the battle for Kyushu would have been devastating to the American people.

By comparison, the U.S. suffered a grand total of 300,000 casualties in the entire war up to that point.

I seem to remember reading that the firebombing of Tokyo caused massive civilian casualties compared to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. It’s been awhile though, my memory is fuzzy.

It’s all pretty upsetting. The whole thing is inexcusable on all sides :/ we can be so inhuman.

Yeah, I think the Tokyo and Dresden firebombings are far more indefensible.

“For reference the next time you get involved in a “it was evil to nuke Japan” argument, here’s a summary of what the alternative would have been.”

Uh, yeah, ground invasion was the only alternative. Ever heard of a blockade? Japan is an island nation. The US and Soviet navies could have cut it off from the world until they cried “uncle-san.”

A quick scan of google shows 50% of the population living in rural areas at the time, so they had a lot better food production capability than everyone thinks. Also, would a Japan where the emperor literally had to force the pro-war faction to surrender (they were still pushing for defense after being nuked twice) give a damn about the blockade?

Food, yes.

Fuel and steel, rubber and other warmaking necessities, no.

It’s all pretty upsetting. The whole thing is inexcusable on all sides :/ we can be so inhuman.

Maybe we should have said pretty please? This is pathetic.

Blockade? Are you f’ing kidding. This isn’t cuba, we were at war with these people, we should have enacted a blockade so we could have lost more sailors?

Bunch of damn history revisionists. yes america was bad. we are terrible. Everything we have ever done is worse than anyone else. Japan was a golden civiliztion, it was like we destroyed ancient greece.

Cynical aren’t you? Saying “pretty please” wouldn’t have stopped that Japanese, that’s for sure. But adding that it is pathetic to think that massacres are inexcusable on all sides seems a bit harsh.

“Not-as-bad-as-the-enemy” is not necessarily the same thing as “good”. Maybe it is a bit nasty to drown cities in napalm, or is it pathetic to think so?

[edited with what I should have posted to begin with (and would have, had I better known the author’s tendencies)]

Way to misinterpret. What’s pathetic is your eagerness to invent whatever sentiment you need to line up with your own personal list of hate-ons so you can fire off a retort.

<snip>…</snip>

Bunch of damn history revisionists.

  1. I’m not a revisionist
  2. I didn’t even tell you what I think about anything specific
  3. You’re a fucking tool for being so quick to insult people for posting their opinions

yes america was bad. we are terrible. Everything we have ever done is worse than anyone else. Japan was a golden civiliztion, it was like we destroyed ancient greece.

… the drama, the drama. I used to have this really great drama queen icon someplace… maybe I should dig that up again

I think you are underestimating the strength of the Japanese navy. You speak of this blockade as though it would be easy, or even possible. At the time, I don’t think the issue was quite so clear cut.

hmm. I’d talk to the Chinese and the Philipinos and get their input before it is decided what is “inhuman”.

I don’t really see it as a moral issue. It was a new technology, one that was poorly understood and it was a brutal and long war against a brutal and implacable foe (I don’t mean that as a Japanese slur, they didn’t follow any International law. Ask China and SE Asia what I’m talking about). The questions I’ve always wondered about was…

  1. Why civilian targets?
  2. Why two exactly? Wasn’t wiping one city off the face of the Earth enough?

I haven’t studied this, so I’m genuinely curious.

Both were industrial targets. So by bombing them, we were strategically destroying Japan’s ability to make war. Kind of like the blockade someone else mentioned but without having to starve millions of people (Oh the humanity!)

We threatened three. First took out Hiroshima. They didn’t say anything in response. So we hit target number two (actually Nagasaki was a secondary target… the primary target that day was obscured by cloud cover). Then they said something resembling “we give up!” Apparently they weren’t excited that our third target was threatened to be Tokyo itself. Not that we had a third nuke (we didn’t) but the bluff worked.

Heh, and people think those atom bombs were bad… just look what you can do with a hydrogen bomb like Castle. Had it existed in '45, talk about Bye Bye Japan.

You sound like a Star Trek afficianado. Oh, our poor species hasn’t learned anything, all we do is kill each other in horrible ways! I’m sure bemoaning our sad state on an internet forum will enlighten the world immediately.

Humans are inherently bad. We do not come forth from the womb with a halo chanting the praises of altruism. Rather, survival is our only instinct. If that requires survival at the expense of others, then this is what we are born with so why not follow it? Selfish, evil arrogance is the heart of humankind. It will never be removed, it will never be evolved from. It can only be tamed.

ciparis, ummm got your point and you are missing mine.

WWII was one of the few times in our history that the war effort was pretty clear. There were aggressors and we were defending the world from aggressors. Don’t bother joining noam chomsky or some other idiot and tell me I am wrong, it was all a secret plan for the USA to rule the world.

Do you stop a gun toting maniac by saying you are going to run up and stab him with a butter knife?

Do you all forget, that the allies go from being guys sitting around with their wives eating burgers to losing 4+ years of their lives, and risking their lives and many losing them, to see horrors of forced marches and mass killings? Once you decide you are going to conquer the world, sorry if I don’t think you should be handled with kid gloves. Both axis powers left at the end did not listen to diplomacy in the past, had set the world on end and ignoring military casualties, caused 10s of millions of civilian deaths and hundreds of millions of civilians to suffer. Going up and knocking on the emperor’s door was not going to get their attention.

So give me a break. You want to equate world war II with Vietnam. Go ask any WWII vet what they thought of dropping the bomb.

Chet

If I recall correctly Hiroshima was chosen partially becuase it was relatively undamaged from the conventional bombing campaign. This allowed better assesment of the atomic bomb’s effectiveness. And yes, it was an industrial target also, though the details of what was made there escape me now.

‘Fuel and steel, rubber and other warmaking necessities, no.’

I wasn’t aware existing tanks, fighters, and infantry divisions disintegrate without rubber imports. The fuel embargo might have worked, but it would have taken a long-ass time.

Both were industrial targets. So by bombing them, we were strategically destroying Japan’s ability to make war. Kind of like the blockade someone else mentioned but without having to starve millions of people (Oh the humanity!)

We threatened three. First took out Hiroshima. They didn’t say anything in response. So we hit target number two (actually Nagasaki was a secondary target… the primary target that day was obscured by cloud cover). Then they said something resembling “we give up!” Apparently they weren’t excited that our third target was threatened to be Tokyo itself. Not that we had a third nuke (we didn’t) but the bluff worked.[/quote]

Depressingly, it turns out that the “strategic bombing” like this of WWII had virtually no effect. They surrendered becuase they thought we’d kill anyone, not because of factory loss.

Dresden was completely unnecessary; that’s what hindsight gets you.

Edit: I meant “everyone”, not “anyone”.

Read Operation Downfall by Richard Frank.

— Alan