From Across The River And Under Shade Trees

"Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave" -Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

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Rhode Islander by Birth, Texan by the grace of God.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

60 Years Gone By and the Fallout Continues

August 6, 1945 marked a change in warfare. It is one of those points in history where everything that came before, what every military had in use became obsolete in one moment. The Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hisroshima, Japan. There is no need to go into the details of what happened, it is something that is well documented and abundant at the local librbary, History Channel, and Discovery Channel.

What I want to take a moment to discuss is my view of the fallout that continues to this day. As a native of Lil'Rhody, the only state to still mark V-J Day as a state holiday, I have grown up listening to both sides of the aisle and have been fortunate enough to read my fare share about the Second World War. Today a good number historians, influenced by feel good pshchology and a general America is evil worldview, would have us feel guilty due to the destruction and death the atomic bomb. It was cruel, Japan would have surrendered, we would have invaded the islands of Japan and won out, so why needlessly kill civilians, wasn't Pearl Harbor a military target?? Unfortunately, as the generation that lived and fought through World War II lessens, this "progressive" thinking becomes more pervasive with a weakening defense from the "Greatest Generation." So it must fall to those who understand history and logistics to step up and defend President Truman's decision to drop the bomb.

What needs to be realized is that as horrible as the bomb was in it's death and destruction, there is no disputing that, is that it brought a quick end to the war and probably saved more lives than it took. From a pure military point of view it brought victory with the fewest casualties to U.S. servicemen. From a military point of view, it saved Japanese lives. It brough an unconditional surrender from Japan that also left in place the Emperorship. The United States was gearing up to invade the home islands of the Japanese Empire by beginning to shift forces out of Europe to the Pacific, battle tested veteran units that would need to travel around the globe, be refitted, and brought up to speed on the strengths and weaknesses of a new enemy which was not above comitting suicide if it took more of the enemy to the grave. An invasion of the home islands would result in fighting a well dug in and well supplied enemy on their ground, in towns they grew up in, and that they were willing to defend to the last, not last man, but last man, woman, or child. The ferocity of such fighting would have resulted in casuality projections far greater than the atomic bombs. Logistically, it was the most efficient usage of military power to achieve the desired ends. A few planes and a bomb, cheaper than the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force trying to jointly run an invasion (remember to get all of them to work together is nearly impossible in times of peace, never mind when general's have ego and victory on the line).

The atomic bomb, as destructive and deadly as it was, was the right weapon available at that moment in history to accomplish the ends desired. Whether you think it was needed or not is irrevelant because you have hindsight, in that moment, men made the best descision based on the information they had available at the time they needed to act. For that, I can find no fault.

It was the correct decision at that moment in history. Unfortunately, some would like us to believe otherwise. I pitty them and wonder if they would even be here had some of their ancestors been asked to storm the home islands.

6 Comments:

Blogger amanda said...

I understand the common argument that it saved lives, and more importantly American lives but I cant wrap my mind around this. Firstly, I dont see how anything can justify deliberately wiping out 300,000 Japanese civilians. And 2ndly, I dont believe that we should weigh innocent American lives against innocent Japanese lives, thats rather arrogant and egocentric dont ya think? Im sure youll agree that thier lives are just as valuable as ours.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I'm not saying it can be justified and I'm not saying that innocent lives were at stake, there is no such thing as an innocent life, though every life is valuable.

All I am saying is thay from a purely military point of view, it was the correct decision. We must not forget that in July of 1945 at the Potsdam Conference, we warned Japan to either surrender or face a new weapon the likes of which had never been seen. The deadline passed, militarily they called our bluff.

Additionally, I didn't mention the number of POW's we saved from the following conditions, known to exist in Japan POW camps:

the infamous Unit 713 and the Japanese 'experiments' on POWs and other prisoners, things that would the Nazi 'doctors' look nearly humane. Prisoners were taken into their 'hospitals' and injected with every kind of disease and virus imaginable.

Prisoners were dissected alive, so young doctors could watch and see what the living human body looked like. Prisoners were tied to stakes and explosives were set off near them and then shot, so field medics could practice on the victims.

Prisoners were put in cages in the cold Asian winter to develop hypothermia and frost bite, so that the Japanese scientists could see the effects of each and test new treatments on them.

POWs were regularly used as slave labor, sent into coal mines that had been previously closed because it hadn't been worth the risk to mine the small amounts of remaining coal.

The death rates among Japanese POWs was startling. A full 38% of Japan's POWs died, as compared to 1% of Germany's POWs. Thirty-eight percent. More than one of every three people to enter their camps never came out.


Historically we hear about the atrocities of the bombs, but never about those committed by the "victim country" of Japan. The Bataan Death march is a footnote, the cutting out of American POWs tongues, etc are never, ever mentioned.

I do not defend the use of the bomb, but as I said militarily it was the correct call, horrible-yes, but correct.

5:04 AM  
Blogger amanda said...

i know what you mean about the word innocent- but we're using 2 different definitions- yours in the more eternal sense- mine in the more direct sense- I just mean that they were innocent as far as their role as citizens and not as enemy soldiers-
I still hold that we shouldnt have done it- buuuuut... we could go on and on so- thats all I wanted to say

11:48 AM  
Blogger amanda said...

I forgot- one more thing-

I myself find what POWs suffered under the Japanese unimaginable, but killing all those Japanese citizens who were not even involved in those tortures- how can we say that its was not just as crule- both were crule and wrong-

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2:14 AM  
Blogger ninepoundhammer said...

I have to disagree, Ed. There is no situation in which it is acceptable to vapourise non-combatants whether it be Atlanta, Dresden, or Hiroshima.
Likewise, the an invasion of the home islands was not necessarily imminent and was certainly not necessary. A quarantine/ blockade of Japan would have brought it to its knees in no time--remember, the entire premise of their imperial expansion was to ameliorate their severe lack of natural resources.
There was deep dissention in the military, most wanting to surrender. The people (as witnessed by their reaction to the subsequent U.S. occupation) would have, most likely, fallen in line with U.S. demands for surrender with, for all intents and purposes, no resistance.
The murder of scores of non-combatants violates every aspect of Christian Just War Theory and, in my view, is indefensible. (Not to mention the fact that Nagasaki, which was the center of Japanese Christendom for 200 years--set back the spread of the Gospel in Japan perhaps irrevecably.)
In fact, Truman knew (and sometimes admitted) that dropping the Bomb(s) was the wrong thing to do. His top military advisors were adamantly opposed and argued against use of the atomic option before and after its employment.
I would suggest reading a couple of articles on the subject. Here is a good start: http://www.lewrockwell.com/raico/raico22.html and http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig5/kohls1.html .
Just my $0.02.

10:48 AM  

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