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A different take on the lives saved by the bomb

Discussion in 'Atomic Bombs In the Pacific' started by dash rip rock, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. dash rip rock

    dash rip rock Member

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    I was having a discussion with a few friends the other day regarding the war, and the subject of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki came up.

    One of my friends has always been of the opinion that we should not have used the bombs. Several of us are fairly well versed in the typical responses to this viewpoint, even knowing that they will do little good towards influencing him or anyone who feels this way.

    But one of my friends put forth an argument I had never heard before, and I was just wondering what others might think of this.

    Rather than the usual arguments for using the bombs because of the cost to both sides of the potential invasion, the fact that we were going to use conventional bombs to annihilate them regardless, the blockade would have starved the country cruelly anyway, etc., he put forth the following, which I am still trying to digest, although it seems to make some sense.

    He suggested that if we had not used the two bombs on Japan, and the world had not seen firsthand the absolute devastation wrought on the cities and the longterm effects of radiation poisoning etc, then either the U.S. or the Soviets might not have been as hesitant to use the H-bombs for a first strike when we had both developed and stockpiled them, and thus the two superpowers would have been far more likely to have entered into a doomsday scenario and annihilated each other to the cost of tens if not hundreds of millions of lives and large metropolitan areas of each country leveled and uninhabitable for years to come, thus the 2 bombs used on Japan actually saved uncountable lives.

    I have to admit that this is the first time I had ever heard this viewpoint. Has anyone else ever heard this argument, and more importantly do you think this is a valid point? I'd like to think we still would have avoided a nuclear worldwide holocaust, but the argument seems to have some merit to me. If we had not had the examples of two destroyed cities, would we have been less resistant to using the weapons against one another, and would we truly have destroyed a great deal of the civilized world if we had not had actual examples of what these weapons could do? I mean it's one thing to see films of a large explosion in the desert or the pacific ocean, but without the perspective of two cities in ruins would the powers that be have really been more willing to use them en masse?
     
  2. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    I totally agree with your friend in most aspects - The only point i would make is that whenever the 'first use' eventually was I do not believe it would have been an all out attack with a massive stockpile of weapons - there would always have been a city or two as the first victims to validate the weapon's effectiveness before any major investment in a stockpile, however that was achieved.

    But to be sure, if the attacks still hadn't happened yet, I think the world would be very different in a bad way.
     
  3. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Simples...millions of allied troops where fighting..Some would inevitably die the longer the war went on..They would die..their sons ..daughters..grandchildren..great grandchildren..do the math..thousands? hundreds of thousands? millions? would never be born..take a look around..and tell me which allied family should not be allowed to ever exist because a rutheless enemy was not short circuited.
     
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  4. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The only sure thing about the bombs is they killed tens of thousands of civilians, anything else is speculation.

    I suggest the bomb apologists go ask citizens of Rotterdam and Warsaw if the German bombs "saved lives".
     
  5. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Actually, your friend has mentioned nothing new, however, he has worded it differently.

    One of the common reasons put fourth, is that the scientists wanted to see what happened and measure the results. The "Bomb" was not dropped on Tokyo, which to the common man would seem the likeliest target. Instead four cities were chosen as targets and these four cities were not to be touched by the masses of B-29s then destroying Japan's cities. Thus, there were four pristine targets for the Atomic Bombs, the results of which could be measured to the fullest.
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    If you shoot one maniac with a machine gun before he reaches his intended target, say a shopping mall or a school, have you saved more lives than were lost?
     
  7. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Ahh..the old emotional angle. Japan was a rutheless ememy. I dont apologise for the bomb. It was used as intended. Of course the fire bombing could have continued. I dont suppose that would have been a problem to the Japanese apologists either? It seems to me its not the number of dead but the how.

    An argument I suppose.

    Again, how the war against Japan ended is no concern to me. There you go. Trying to equate Rotterdam bombing and Warsaw bombing which was in no way intended to end a conflict is neither here nor there. Two wrongs dont make a right.

    How much more fire bombing of Japan was acceptable you? How many allied casualties would have been acceptable to you?

    Again please tell me, would you gladly sacrifice speculative or not, and its not speculative unless you are speculating that no allied troops would die until Japanese surrender under any other circumstances...So how many allied families in your view should not have been allowed to exist....My view..Not one allied family should have been sacrificed for a rutheless enemy.

    Speculation? that more allied troops would die...Give me strengh.
     
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  8. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Around 120.000 civilians were killed by the bombs, you have to go a long way to prove the allied losses would be on that scale. Total US and Commonwealth military losses for the whole 6 years of war were around 600.000 including ETO and MTO.

    Rotterdam an Warsaw both caused a surrender as well, where's the difference? All military actions are aimed at achieving enemy surrender, none is guaranteed to succeed.
    It's pretty likely that loss of lives would have been much greater had it gone house to house.
     
  9. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    When diplomacy fails to achieve the political goals of a wanting party---when is it justified to go to war? Then, who is most guilty if he uses the bigger weapon in the fight? When is it that the weapon reaches the "humanitarian" limit? I suggest that we just consider so carefully when we decide on such an action (warfare)as we never know when the consequences will reach levels beyond our intended desire. I suggest we will always struggle with these unanswerables so long as we are human. I do not know how you can compare the pain of multiple bullet wounds to the massive burn of phospherous or napalm but I fail to see suffering as so measurable that we can have acceptables and non-acceptables when it comes to weapons. If we are justly at war whatever that means we had better win and to win we must use what we have in store. It is precisely for these reasons that I wish we would always have "declared" wars as opposed the the "police action" that leaves us in that nebulous realm of "is it or is it not justified?" Either way, we owe our troops the best support as they are serving us with lives at risk and I will support them with my all. My question for all is this: Are we not guilty of all the atrocities if we do not participate heavily in the decisions of our government so that early on we are making good leadership decisions that can avoid the insolvable conflicts? Let us remember in history Hitler offended and re-offended his way across Europe before countries decided to take a decisive stand against the offenses. It is easy in the ex post facto sense, to rationalize this and that apparent solution, but it is much more difficult to foster knowledge and wise practices ahead of the conditions that lead to the dismal events. What good does it do to painstakingly analyze use of this or that weapon if we did nothing beforehand in preparation for preventing the outbreak of war. It is for that reason that we should all encourage the improvement of the skills of citizenship in all the ways we can. Having been a teacher for a while I think this is a very needy area where all of us can contribute to our youngsters learning. I think there is so much value for our beloved veterans to share by the simple telling of their stories be it of bravery or the simply performance of ones job while in the military. Contributions such as this forum serve that purpose. In these ways we must grow citizenship by the teaching we all can do.
     
  10. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    The Japanese could have avoided the buckets of sunshine had they heeded the warning and accepted unconditional surrender.
     
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  11. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Not to beat a dead horse by pointing out something completely obvious, but first off:

    1. The atomic bombings ended the war (not a battle), and impacted the Japanese (a then-extremely militaristic and nationalistic culture) enough for them to completely put down their arms. Compare this to Germany following WWI - similar attitudes (proud militaristic society), but within a few years of their surrender, they were already planning for the next war. I know there is the whole issue of radicals/Versailles Treaty that will inevitably be brought up in regards to the German attitude, but the surrender treaty with Japan wasn't exactly the nicest thing either, and Japan had its fair share of radicals (I would argue equal or more than Germany had in the 1920s) in the 1945 era.
    2. The casualty estimates for Operation Downfall where extremely high. Figures ranged from the 500,000 casualties to 4,000,000 for the Allies, with figures for the Japanese in the 10,000,000 range. Based on this, I would say the atomic bombs were worth it.

    And I'm not being insensitive towards the suffering the atomic bombs caused - last week I was in Hiroshima, including its atomic bomb museum. Are 120,000 casualties better than over 10,000,000? I think so. Its not the nicest thing to draw comparisons like this, but neither is war. Also, keep in mind the Japanese were planning on fighting to the death, and this included the military, as well as every man, woman and child. It wouldn't be just the military that took casualties had Operation Downfall went ahead, and in my opinion civilian casualties would have been a heck of a lot higher than 120,000.
     
  12. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    And it's hardly fair to imply that the civilians who became casualties had any choice in the Potsdam decision.

    Perhaps if we gave them enough time to evacuate - would the effect have been the same?
     
  13. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    As Jughead knows, I am not insensitive to nuclear warfare. I spent hours a few months ago in Reading police station insisting on the release of Belgian activists who had invaded Aldermaston in the UK , to the point I was thrown out of the police station....Theres a first, thrown out not invited in. My other half is what we would call an unofficial weapons inspector. I spend mucho hours and days in company of and assisting Anti nuke movement.I'm coming at this from an activist not a theorist or sitting down on me bum point of view.
     
  14. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Warsaw and Rotterdam did not just stop a battle, they convinced the Dutch and Poles to surrender, end of the war as far as they are concerned.
    Shock and bluff played a big part in the decision, another similarity, Douhet's theories were still not proven false and so the governments decided the game was lost and it was time to end the killings.

    WMDs are a huge risk to humanity, as the capability to build them is now widespread the best way to prevent their use is to create a worldwide consensus that their usage is morally unacceptable. And as I'm concerned there is no possible justification for killing 100.000 civilians.

    As to the "just war" theories, 99% of wars fall into a grey area where rights and wrongs are decided by the victors.
     
  15. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    And we should disregard Japanese casualties if we had invaded or continued a tight blockade? The best way to stop the deaths was to end the war. If there was something available that would help and it was NOT used, people would be cursing Truman for that. Either way, it's just griping.
     
  16. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    It would have been even simpler if they hadn't started the war in the first place. They proved they could do it without military adventures after the war when they were forced to take that route.
     
  17. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Glad to see your Icon has gotten off his high OpanaPointer, he was beginning to freak me out and at my age it doesn't take much anymore!
     
  18. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    He found what/whom he was looking for at the disco. :cool:
     
  19. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Your comment sounds a lot like "we had to destroy the village to save it" (Yes I know it's a journalisic invention but I couldn't resist, it perfectly describes the downside of a mindset that fails to align the means to the ends).

    On a more serious note, it's likely Hiro Hito would have acted when the manchurian armies were shattered by the Soviets that also occupied a large part of Sakhalin, Japan was not Germany where there was no alternative government to the Nazis.

    Going by Soviet losses in Manchuria and Sakhalin the "estimated losses" figures so often quoted look like pure fantasy but we simply don't know what would have happened had the bombs not been dropped.

    The decision to drop probably had many motivations, some more acceptable than others, but makes it a lot harder to avoid WMDs being used again.
     
  20. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Need a new batter for your hearing aid there? Because that was nothing like what I said.
    "it's likely". I just leave that as it stands, I couldn't do a better refutation.
    Yet you think one course of action was "likely". Which way do you want this?
    Really? How many times have we used nukes since 1945? Anything else, you can grease, trim off the extra bits and shove it into the same slot as nukes if you wish. Have fun with that, and I hope you find someone to argue about that with.
     
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