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Post A-Bomb Revisited: Japan Would Have Surrendered Anyway
Created by John Eipper on 02/04/18 7:15 AM

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A-Bomb Revisited: Japan Would Have Surrendered Anyway (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 02/04/18 7:15 am)

John Eipper commented on the February 2nd post of Istvan Simon: "I did not interpret Tor's comment as drawing a moral equivalency between Mao's 'disgusting atrocities' (Tor's words) and the military adventures of the West. Am I being too indulgent? Tor?"

I believe John's interpretation of my earlier statements is exactly right. I greatly appreciate his careful reading of all WAIS postings, his attempts at reducing misinterpretations and toning down any aggressive language which only adds unnecessary heat to the discussion but little new information. Thank you, John. Keep up the good work.

Regarding the first two uses of the A-bomb, the evidence is clear that the US had the moral high ground due to how the Japanese started the war and the continuous Japanese atrocities against soldiers and civilians alike all over the war theater. Nevertheless, the results in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are considered by most people to be a nasty blow to humanity. Was it necessary? I already explained the reasons why it was clearly not necessary, but let me elaborate.

1. The Japanese was badly beaten.  They had no air power or naval power to speak of. The civilian population was starving and honor-bound and trained with sticks to fight to death if necessary. But they were hardly a worthy opponent against American forces.

2.  The overwhelming invasion of Manchuria by the Russians (which by then had run over the "invincible" German army all way to Berlin) was a huge shock to the Japanese.

3. The Americans in the best position to know, Generals MacArthur, Bombs-Away Le May, and other hawkish American generals, held the opinion that the A-bomb was not necessary for the surrender. That is conclusive enough for me.

4. Once the US government limited the wording of the unconditional surrender demands to "armed forces," the major obstacle (threat to their living god) was removed. Only the military leadership preferred to commit suicide rather than surrender, the rest of the cabinet knew resistance was futile and was ready to surrender.

5. Above all Truman was a politician. He knew the A-bomb was justifiably popular at the time because an invasion of Japan would kill many thousands of American soldiers. A million is likely a huge exaggeration, given the enormous military superiority the US enjoyed over Japan at the time. Any military resistance could have been vaporized by our overwhelming conventional military power.

JE comments:  Howard Zinn's People's History argues that the Bomb was used for two reasons only:  to shock and awe the Soviets, and to justify the enormous capital investment.  Francisco Ramírez has forwarded a thoughtful critique of Zinn's categorical thesis.  Tune in later today.

Thank you for your kind words, Tor.  I do try to give every incoming WAIS post a thorough and open-minded reading.

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  • Howard Zinn and the Dropping of the Bomb on Japan (Francisco Ramirez, USA 02/05/18 3:49 AM)
    Below is a critique from Sam Wineburg of a very popular textbook, Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.

    Part of the critique focuses on the question of whether Japan was ready to surrender and we dropped the bomb to either punish them or impress the Soviet Union. The critique relies on more recent archival data and charges Zinn of sticking to his earlier thesis and ignoring recent evidence relevant to the thesis.

    This is not my area of expertise, but I thought it would be good to consider evidence when putting forth our opinions on historical events.

    Using nuclear weapons is not the sort of decision I even remotely have ever had to make. Informing some faculty that they are not getting tenure was bad enough for me.

    JE comments:  Tenure denial feels like getting nuked, if it happens to you.

    Wineburg takes issue with Zinn for his historiographical certainty, the cocksuredness of his iconoclastic interpretations.  Zinn has no use for nuances or the "perhaps," even when discussing counterfactuals.  Regarding Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Zinn sees two (and only two) explanations for the US decision:  to justify the massive capital investment, and to awe/intimidate the Soviet Union.  Wineburg presents evidence against the "imminent surrender anyway" thesis, specifically the peace overtures sent by Japan to the Soviet Union.  The Soviets did not see the communication as anything other than a Japanese play for more time.



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  • Peace/War, Humility, and Armchair Experts; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 02/05/18 4:07 AM)
    Ric Mauricio writes:

    "War is over, if you want it." --John Lennon

    But there is something called the ego. There is something in humankind that causes us to compare ourselves to others, and to base our self-worth on whether we are more superior than others. Whether it be in the corporate halls or the halls of government, it causes humans to degrade others by calling them names, by bullying, by destroying others with innuendo.

    This ego leads to arrogance, and arrogance leads to destructive behavior. This is why empires rise and fall. And of course, this is why wars happen. But the only way to stop the maddening crowd and the insanity is to humble ourselves. Yes, we are but armchair experts, but at least we are attempting to flail against the futility of the insanity exhibited by humankind.

    MacArthur's arrogance led to his downfall. How many times, my dear General, did they have to photograph you stepping back on Philippine soil on that beach? And why did you, my dear General, leave the Philippines when you were the most needed, only to return after the Japanese annihilated and beheaded many Filipinos and Americans in Bataan? But yes, you staged it well, with your "I Shall Return" speech and the photo op. Oh, what an ego.

    I heard the justification that dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was necessary to save American lives. Shock and awe? No, my ego demands that my MOAB is bigger than your MOAB.

    JE comments:  Economists understand warfare as societies competing for limited resources, but the psychological explanation is perhaps more convincing:  we have wars because enough people want them.

    Mother of All Bombs, yes, but how about brain-altering electromagnetic waves?  Boris Volodarsky (next) gives details.

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