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No Apologies For Hiroshima or Nagasaki (from an email)

Discussion in 'Atomic Bombs In the Pacific' started by Ken The Kanuck, Aug 8, 2015.

  1. Ken The Kanuck

    Ken The Kanuck Member

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    "Where do you think this took place? The US bombing raids against Japan were directed at military and industrial targets i.e. to some and usually some considerable military advantage. Again leaflets were dropped on cities designated as targets warning the civilians to leave. Why do this if they were the targets."

    I am thinking about Coventry or Dressan(sp) although there are some here who might disagree.

    KTK
     
  2. OpanaPointer

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

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    Dresden?
     
  3. Ken The Kanuck

    Ken The Kanuck Member

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  4. OpanaPointer

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

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    I meant, is Dresden the city you meant. I've seen "Slaughterhouse Five."
     
  5. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    To be fair, these leaflets were not dropped until June-July, 1945, however, the fire raids began in March, 1945. The leaflets dropped prior to those raids contained no such list of cities, and told the civilians to stay away from military installations to be safe. Meanwhile, other dropped leaflets proclaimed that the US was only going after the munitions industry and meant Japanese civilians no harm.
     
  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    If you really look deeply into it, yes, the dropping of the atomic bombs undoubtedly saved lives. We have discussed the various alternatives in several threads, so I only briefly describe them:
    1. Blockade: The US Navy and the USAAF(through the planting of naval mines and destruction of Japan's transportation network) will blockade Japan. This is the "cheapest" in terms of American lives, but the most "costly" in length of time and financial terms. This is an open-ended option, in that we do not know when Japan will call it quits, although US military experts concluded that it would be sometime between mid-1946 and mid-1947. Starvation amongst the Japanese people was not expected to take a firm hold before mid-1946. American estimates of Japanese deaths from starvation began around 1 million...To reiterate, this number is not casualties, but deaths.
    2. Continuation of the bombing of Japanese cities: The continued campaign against the Japanese cities would likely produce as many casualties as the two atomic bombs, if not more. Then you would have to factor in the casualties amongst the B-29 crews, although this number would be small, it is still a factor. Also, the bombing campaign, despite Lemay's boasts, would not necessarily mean that the Japanese would come to the surrender table when Lemay ran out of targets.
    3. Invasion: All the casualty estimates I have seen would be higher than the total of the two atom bombs.


    This had been discussed by the Americans before the dropping of the bombs, they came to the conclusion that it would not have the desired effect. This conclusion was the correct one. The Japanese had lost their navy, their air forces had been reduced to near impotency, and they had lost control of the vast majority of their island holdings. The destruction of a forest or an island in Tokyo Bay is not even going to enter into their decision-making process.


    The Japanese did not doubt the will of our soldiers, they doubted the will of our citizens and politicians. The Japanese figured that if they could make the endgame of the Pacific War costly enough, then the Americans would offer terms suitable to the Japanese. However, such terms were exactly what the US and her Allies were doing their utmost to avoid.


    Terror was not the object of the firebombing campaign. The USAAF planners were operating under the idea that the Japanese were still making vast use of "cottage industries"(basically, every home is turned into a very small factory, each doing it's own bit for the war effort). However, it was only after the war ended that the US learned that the Japanese had discontinued this practice as it was very inefficient.

    Further, and this is just cold hard numbers, the Americans were trying and failing with their daylight precision bombing campaign against Japan, and they were suffering greater losses(not just to combat, but operational causes as well) in aircraft and crews than they had expected. Now, the US knew that the Japanese cities were fairly well combustible and had experimented, in 1943, about firebombing Japanese cities, and achieved good results. However, early combat experience with fire raids produced indifferent results. With the precision bombing failing to produce the desired results, General Hansell was replaced with General Lemay. Lemay made the personal decision to greatly reduced the bombing height, in order to achieve the necessary accuracy, for the fire raids. The reduction in height achieved the necessary result, with the added benefit of reducing wear-and-tear on the B-29s and their engines, as a result operational losses decreased and heavier loads could be carried. The fire raids proved highly effective at destroying multiple precision targets with one strike and at less cost in planes and aircrew. IIRC, the Tokyo fire raid destroyed some where around 25 precision targets - That's at least 25 missions with an average loss rate(going from memory here, so don't quote me) of about 7-9 B-29s per mission.

    To sum up the cold numbers, fire raids destroyed several precision targets with one mission, thus reducing the cost in American planes and lives.

    Still, the destruction of civilian homes was part of the thought process, and that there would be much lost work time as civilians involved in the war industry had to relocate to other cities or rural areas, or at least try and find housing elsewhere in their respective city. IIRC, the USSBS confirmed this.


    This was a "thing" that needed to be done, preferably while the weapon was in it's infancy and least potent. Once it had been done, and the effects seen, it was clear to one and all that this is a path that should not be traveled.

    Now, had it not been done, and it's effects remained unknown for some time and given the relatively rapid growth of nuclear weapons, it would have been that much more easier to come to the decision to use the bomb later on.

    Just imagine if, later on, given no nuclear use, one nation had decided to use one of the megaton "crowd-pleasers", and the target nation retaliated in kind...

    Sorry, but I am of the firm conviction that it had to have been done, and it was done at the, relatively speaking, best time possible.
     
  7. Ken The Kanuck

    Ken The Kanuck Member

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    So am I, I appreciate your reasoned responses.

    KTK
     
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  8. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    Personally I wish the damned thing had never been invented, but since it was I tend to think that dropping it was the right decision.

    1. Invasion casualties on the Allied side would have been quite heavy, even if not quite as heavy as feared. By mid-1945, any expedient to shorten the war was very welcome to all Allied governments, to say nothing of their troops and peoples.

    2. Blockade would have meant slow death by starvation by the Japanese, which was no improvement over a quick death by vaporisation. Rather the reverse.

    3. If the war had gone on only a few weeks longer, all the Allied POWs and internees would have starved to death. The Japs had plans to murder any survivors immediately if the Allies invaded Japan and Malaya.

    4. As far as morality goes, the Japanese were not in a very good position to complain given their record. The Allies had already crossed a moral Rubicon themselves by employing area bombing tactics. How was Hiroshima morally worse than the firebombing of Tokyo?

    5. The Japanese leadership was doing its best to ignore reality. Even at this late and desperate stage, their diplomatic approaches were tentative and vague. Given the Japanese record of breaking every agreement, one can understand the Allied reluctance to take them seriously. And the longer the Japanese dickered and hesitated, the more people died. Only a catastrophe could jolt Hirohito and his advisors out of their dreamland.

    6. The United States had invested years of unprecedented effort and billions of dollars in creating the new weapon. You don't create weapons to use in a demonstration, you create them to be used against the enemy. As far as I can tell there was never any question of the bomb not being used. Can you imagine the furious outcry in the United States if this hugely expensive and secret project had led to nothing or nothing but a fireworks display to persuade the Jap leadership? Given the stupidity and viciousness of the Japanese leaders, I doubt that a demonstration would have influenced them anyway.

    7. Japanese casualties in an invasion would have been far worse than Allied losses. Much of the Japanese army was badly equipped and badly trained, and it had little air cover. Any attempt by the Japanese to fight the Allied armor on the open Kanto Plain would have been a disaster comparable to the similar Japanese attempt to fight Vasilevsky's armor on the plains of Manchuria. The Allies had conventional weapons of unprecedented power ready, including Barnes Wallis' earthquake bombs, self-propelled 240mm howitzers and 8 inch guns, jet aircraft, and tanks with 105mm, 120mm, and 155mm guns. Japan was very densely populated, and even if the Allies had cared more than they did civillian losses were bound to be horrific. That was fine with the Japanese leaders, who were prepared to use their people as human kamikazes armed with wooden spears.

    I hate atomic weapons, but at least in 1945 their use did end the war quickly. I know that sounds like 'end justifies the means.' I don't think the means were just, but probably such a ghastly conflict could only end in a ghastly way.
     
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  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Well ythe US didn't bomb Coventry that I know of. I'm not sure if it was a "terror bombing" or not others will have to clarify that.

    As to Dresden we have gone over this numerous times. It was a substantial military and logistics target.
     
  10. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    Opana is right on...the fire raids did same as the big bombs.... they just had an article about this in WW2 magazaine with estimated deaths for Japanese and US....so they acutally saved more lives than if invading.....a lot of Japanese did not want to surrender even after the big bombs hit, so what do you think they would do if we just blockaded for months and months??
    Kodiak--I think they wanted to make as big of an impression as possible with the bomb, and if they hit a military base not close to civilians--meaning it would not be as big as a city, that would not have made as big of an impression as destroying a whole city
     
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  11. OpanaPointer

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

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    If the members would allow me a moment of generalizations, I see three primary schools of thought on use of the bombs:

    Hard school: Use them to the maximum potential for damage to impress the Japanese and make them consider seriously surrender.

    Moderate school: Use the bombs to demonstrate the potential damage to Japan so as to make them want to prevent their use on Japan by surrendering.

    Soft school: No use of the bombs at all.

    The Soft school simply wasn't going to happen in my opinion. The Moderate school has the problem that it's very hard to threaten a person with bodily injury if they're prepared to die for their cause.
     
  12. Ken The Kanuck

    Ken The Kanuck Member

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    This topic was never meant to be country specific, nor critical of any one country.

    KTK
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Well in the context of the original question quoted below:

    It doesn't seam to make much sense to me otherwise. If no other US bombings were "terror bombings" and the atomic bombs were not "terror bombings" why would you compare them especially given the topic of this thread?
     
  14. Ken The Kanuck

    Ken The Kanuck Member

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    I guess what is meant by "Terror Bombings" are bombing where the primary purpose is not a military target but the intent of the bombing is to inflict terror and fear into non-combatants who will then cause the leaders of the country to bring an end to the war.

    It seems to me that again we have opened a Panodora's box when we target non-combatants. The extremists now feel that this okay to do, ie: Northern Ireland, 911, etc.

    KTK
     
  15. OpanaPointer

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

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    You realize "terror bombing" came before the nukes, right? Bombing London in WWI, shelling Paris, Guernica, Dresden... You keep bringing up Pandora's Box, but the box was open, empty, and recycled by 1945.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Well if the bombs were dropped solely to terrorize the population then they would indeed have been comparable to "other terror bombings" but they weren't so I don't see it as a valid comparison.
     
  17. Ken The Kanuck

    Ken The Kanuck Member

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    Yes I do, it is the atomic bomb Pandora's box I am referring to. I realize that I am being naive and simplistic to think that perhaps there are some evils mankind would not visit upon themselves.

    KTK
     
  18. Ken The Kanuck

    Ken The Kanuck Member

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    As it has been pointed out to me, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were legitimate military targets. I didn't know that there military value was that great.

    KTK
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    At least some of the other acts that have been catagorized as "terror bombings" also may have had military targets as their origin. I've read at least one account that makes a case for Guernica being so. Capital cities would also seem to me to be legitimate targets in most cases. Dresden IMO has been pretty well refuted as truly a "terror bombing". It would be useful to see a clear case of it if such exists.
     
  20. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper Patron  

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    Ha. Thanks for that Skipper.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99MpVke7ZNk
     

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