6 August, 2005

60 years ago


Sixty years on, the debate continues over whether the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was justified. Brad DeLong and Howard French both point to a Weekly Standard article that suggests that it was:

Several American historians led by Robert Newman have insisted
vigorously that any assessment of the end of the Pacific war must
include the horrifying consequences of each continued day of the war
for the Asian populations trapped within Japan’s conquests. Newman
calculates that between a quarter million and 400,000 Asians,
overwhelmingly noncombatants, were dying each month the war continued.
Newman et al. challenge whether an assessment of Truman’s decision can
highlight only the deaths of noncombatant civilians in the aggressor
nation while ignoring much larger death tolls among noncombatant
civilians in the victim nations.

At Japundit however we are offered an essay that is less sure of the wisdom of the decision.:

Was it really necessary to drop an atomic bomb on a densely populated
city center just after 8 a.m. on a Monday morning when people had just
started their week? Was the United States simply trying to find out
what the bomb could do? Although Japan and the United States ended up
forming a close postwar alliance, we are left with uneasy feelings over
the atomic bombings.


Market Rant is unmoved by arguments that the bombing was justified.:

Do not let any of the 60th
Anniversary propaganda deflect you from understanding this one salient
fact - the dropping of the bomb did not hasten the end of the war. It
did not save a single American soldier; in fact the ‘2 million saved’
falsehood - spread by Truman after the war - is fully FIFTY TIMES the
official estimates he was given regarding likely US casualties during a
full-scale invasion of mainland Japan.And let’s not forget - any GI killed during an invasion would have been a combatant, as opposed to the quarter-million dead Japanese civilians on August 6th and 8th, 1945.
It was a War Crime, and anyone
who doesn’t think it was done primarily to scare RUSSIA is a dupe. They
should dig up Truman’s corpse, piss on it, set it on fire, and bury the
ashes on unconsecrated ground - the way the Catholic Church did to
Wycliffe 100 years after his death…


From SF Bay, an item that the horrors of the bombing have been suppressed.:

In the weeks following the atomic attacks on Japan almost 60 years ago,
and then for decades afterward, the United States engaged in airtight
suppression of all film shot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the
bombings. This included footage shot by U.S. military crews and
Japanese newsreel teams. In addition, for many years all but a handful
of newspaper photographs were seized or prohibited.
The public did not see any of the newsreel footage for 25 years,
and the U.S. military film remained hidden for nearly four decades.


Like the Bay Area Blog, HK Dave at Simon World similarly links the bombing to the War on Terror, suggesting:

Is there any any to defeat
the terrorism emanating from the world’s Muslim cultures using just a
big stick? I would go one step further to say that for every stick we
use, a carrot must also be proferred. What is the carrot we use today
in the "War on Terror"? Is it only democracy? Judging from Iraq, that
doesn’t seem to be good enough.

Confederate Yankee also sees parallels, although comes down solidly on the more-stick, fewer-carrots side of the argument.:

Three-score years have passed since that fateful morning, and the
veil of time allows revisionists, apologists, and activists to portray
the Japanese people as innocent victims of horrible weapons they didn’t
deserve, and indeed, many individuals were innocent. Japan, however, was reaping what it had sown in Nanking, Bataan, and course, Pearl Harbor.
While our valued allies today, the military society that dominated
Japan sixty years ago was more akin to today’s Islamic fundamentalists
than most would comfortably admit. Fanatical Japanese soldiers were
expected to fight to the death, as were all able-bodied Japanese
civilians of any age or sex, many only armed with as little as
sharpened sticks.


Jodi at the Asia Pages recounts her recent visit to Hiroshima and the memorial museum.:

I must say one thing about the memorials and museum. It would have been very easy for the Japanese to turn such displays into an anti-American campaign but not once did I ever feel that there was a hatred toward Americans and the US military in regards to this tragedy. It was more of an anti-atomic weapons sentiment if anything and if there was any slight hint of bitterness, it would have been shown in museum displays’ excerpts of documents and diaries where U.S. officials wrote in their own words that they felt the decision to bomb was not needed.

The museum comes across in a less favorable light in this posting by the Flea.:

Ground zero in Hiroshima, meanwhile, symbolizes a view of the war long engraved in Japanese hearts: that of Japan as victim. Outside Hiroshima, there is the Holocaust Education Center to teach Japanese about Nazi atrocities. Its operators insist they make no connection between the Holocaust and Hiroshima, but the museum’s location resonates deeply with the Japanese view of the bombings as a slaughter of innocents.
And nowhere does the museum note that Japan was Germany’s ally, or that
Japanese soldiers, like the Nazis, perpetrated mass killings and
medical experiments on humans.

The White Peril restates his essay from 2004.:

When I think of people immediately after the bombings, their faces obliterated by heat, expending their little remaining energy to bow in gratitude for the water volunteers brought to their lips (one of the most famous A-bomb memorials is inscribed with 水, the character for "water," because that’s what so many victims cried out for), my heart aches. The same when…you know, bodies of water feature very prominently in Japanese literature, as they do the world over, as sources of refreshment and sustenance. Imagining people set afire, stampeding into rivers and lakes to cool themselves, only to find the water boiling hot, makes me cry. As an American who places the highest value on individuals, I wish we hadn’t had to cause such suffering to anyone at all who wasn’t irredeemably evil.
But we did have to….

20/20 Hindsight offers the most interesting site, combining historical sources with ‘live’ commentary and blogging as if it were 1945.

As we neared Japan, I began to detect the familiar
Japanese Early Warning Radar. Soon it was locked on to us. then another
radar picked us up. At the same time, but on frequences that we shared
with the Navy, I detected considerable activity off the coast. The
Fifth Fleet was in full operation that morning, and the radio chatter
of the pilots made for fascianting listening. As the range to Hiroshima
began to close, I made an intensive search in that part of the spectrum
where our proximity devices would operate. I found that area as clean
as a hound’s tooth.


by @ 9:15 am. Filed under Japan, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

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