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Would you consider the atomic bombs a war crime?

Discussion in 'Atomic Bombs In the Pacific' started by thecanadianfool, May 5, 2012.

  1. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    I've battled with this one in the past. I feel when the younger bucks research the pros and cons of the bomb it usually sways in the "it's inhuman" to create and use such a weapon mentality. But, when you look at the alternatives, as GS stated above, it was, at the time, the correct decision. Trust me, it wasn't an easy one.

    I remember a teacher handing me Hiroshima by Hersey and as a younger man I was appalled. I read it again a few months ago and, although I am still appalled at the devastation and loss of life, my thoughts on the matter remain the same. It was the only alternative at the time. This was still a World War and many factors came in to play.
     
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  2. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Seriously...the quote that Fisk attributes to AJP Taylor...Isn't. It's from "Star Spangled Mikado" by Cornelius Ryan and Frank Raymond Kelley.

    The Fisk article you quote from is a joke, and a bad one at that. He spends the first few paragraphs political bashing, before going on a meandering jaunt, that is his article, regretfully, he cannot get his facts straight. Germany was not, as Fisk states, "quick to start admitting responsibility for the Jewish Holocaust..." You did not see real contrition from Germany until chancellor Willy Brandt in 1970, this is hardly what I would call "quick." Of course, the were earlier "official" recognitions of the Holocaust, but, these were the political ones that Fisk is so dispariging of.

    Fisk then mentions "most of us believe that Hiroshima was a war crime", and the fact that the Japanese were already talking of surrender. I think that "most of us" likely applies to Fisk's circle if friends. Further, Fisk does not clarify that "the Japanese" only applies to a small select group of Japanese moderate politicians, who lacked the political power to do anything other than to make "back door" queries through very "unofficial" channels. No Japanese talk of surrender was ever done "officially" and overtly. And more to the point, no talk of surrender was ever made directly to the Americans.

    Fisk then moves on to his Mountbatten quote and closes it with this asinine comment


    which is completely devoid of reality, because "Mountbatten's men" lacked the wherewithall to directly attack Japanese civilians. As the B-29s had been moved out of his AO.

    Fisk then moves on to briefly tell of the Japanese atrocities in China and the sad tale of a relative aboard HMS Repulse who died as a Japanese captive. Then we are treated to more Blair bashing(boy, do those British really hate Tony Blair that much?), before moving on to the Allied bombing of Germany and neo-nazis worshipping at the mass graves of German dead. Then he will finally conclude with a review of ancient historical "war crime", and throw in some more Blair bashing to boot.

    At which point I stopped reading his article and wondered if the entire premise, which began with apologizes, but left me thinking that his premise was just an excuse to trash Tony Blair...Does one really need to trash Tony Blair three times in an article on apologizing for Hiroshima???

    Umm...The Americans had destroyed the Japanese economic prospects. The Japanese population was on a borderline starvation diet, Japan had very little natural resources left, and the fire bombing campaign had left her industry in ruins. Essentially, Japan had already passed the point of economic defeat, and she still had not surrendered.


    Tens of thousands more were killed in the Tokyo fire raid on the night of March 9-10, 1945. Estimates vary between 88,000 - 124,000.

    Of course, there are other ways...
    The USN was advocating for a complete blockade of Japan that would starve Japan into submission. Indeed, this was already begun by late 1944, but was not expected to start having the desired results until mid-1946 to early 1947. IIRC, it was estimated that some million Japanese would die of starvation and the surrender of Japan would come at little cost in Allied lives. The downside, other than the time factor, was that it would require a great deal of supplies to keep the blockade in force.

    The US Army plan to invade Japan is well known, as are the various casualty estimates.

    Then, we have the USAAF, Lemay, and his B-29s, who expected to run out of targets late in 1945, at which point Lemay expected the Japanese to surrender. Of course, the B-29s had already caused a great deal of damage to Japan and that had not brought the Japanese to the surrender table.


    As did the Soviets and the Japanese. Although, neither nation had a delivery system capeable of carrying an atomic payload, and I don't think Germany did either.
     
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  3. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Fisk is writing for the Independent (Independent ?) the twin brother of the Guardian,thus,we know enough.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were legitimate military objects :all the rest is the usual revisionistic claptrap of the anti-Western liberal elites .
     
  4. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    The same Fisk is also insinuating that 9/11 was a conspiracy and the same Fisk is also excusing ISIS .And,when there will be a 9/11 in Britain,he still will excuse the terrorists and condemn his country .

    Conclusion: a new Lord Hawhaw,but a more dangerous one, : he is operating from Britain.
     
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  5. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    yes, totally agree here...why not the other bombings??
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I disagree. At least to the first we can come to a defintive answer. The second becomes purely a matter of speculation.

    ... There is no point discussing if it was a war-crime. We should discuss whether it should be a war crime.



    Did they? Where?

    Then why should we take anything in your post seriously? You have already made up your mind and have chosen a position that based on the available evidence seems deeply flawed.

    Horrific certainly but as has been pointed out not the highest single raid casualties. Nor is it clear just why you site this as it is hardly logically relevant to the point under contentions.
    Would they? On what do you base this? Certainly little or none of my reading has suggest this.

    Or not. More people at the time certainly approved than dissaproved. I'm not sure that I've seen any support for a significant number of people hating the US because it used the bombs either.


    Most of us are aware that the Germans had multiple atomic programs and that the Japanese had a couple themselves. What's your point though?

    Any serious student of history would say that there are few cases more clear cut than this and that history proves you wrong.

    It was not an easy decision as the accounts show. However it was chosen because it was the least cruel of the alternatives. I can certainly think of several decisions in the 20th century alone that were arguably of far greater cruelty several of them made by the axis powers.
     
  7. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Would it be less disturbing if they died in several smaller attacks??

    Thousands of people died every day in that war from 1937 through 1945, most of them civilians, most of them murdered by the Japanese in China and other occupied countries, and thousands of people would have gone on dying every day, in Japan and throughout the theater of war. The prospect of millions of deaths of their own people had literally no impact on the Japanese military leadership; it was precisely that massive shock that finally made an impression - although even then many of them were prepared to fight to the bitter end.

    Maybe all the bombs did was convince one man - Hirohito - that it was time to call it quits, but that was what was needed.
     
  8. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    I agree with this statement completely. The Japanese brass and royalty could care less about the loss of life accrued during the fighting. What was needed was a large, decisive, psychological shot. The war would have raged on until the LAST man. It took, unfortunately, a drastic measure to illustrate that point.
     
  9. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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    Japan was beaten, but the leadership aimed to continue fighting. They convinced the people to continue the war. Individual citizens were instructed to meet any invasion with homemade weapons to defend the homeland, The US alternative to invasion of the Japanese islands was a blockade. This would also lead to tens of thousands of deaths. Again, read Hell to Pay for the thinking of the Japanese leadership. Using the bomb was the only choice that made sense. As it was, it took a second bomb to convince Hirohito to step in and stop the war. Many in the leadership group wanted to continue fighting, but the Emperor's voice brought it to a conclusion.
     
  10. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    Do I believe that the bombings should have been a war crime? Yes and No. In black and white it killed large amounts of civilians which I personally cant agree with however on the grey scale of things it prevented what would have been a much larger civilian death toll had the Allies invaded. Kill one in questionable methods to save a hundred or let that one live but have a 100 die slowly over time. Realistically it was the best bad choice so can be justified.

    What wouldn't have been able to be justified is had Dug out Doug been able to drop his 'ring' of 50 nukes between N. Korea and China (Including in high population centers). Thank god for sending him on his way.
     
  11. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    I find that 'most' one of the most peculiar generalisations on this issue I've ever read.
    Most? Not that I've noticed in Seven years of running a Military History forum, and years before of being obsessed with the Second War. And not just from the hawkish types, but from veritable doves too... Essentially, people who understand the complexities of such a grim business.
    So it made me read the article, and it's hardly a piece of military history that follows the nuances, or even a philosophical piece; it's more a general polemic against 'apologies', and while he and I may dislike historical apologies for slightly different reasons, I can at least agree that they are, as he says 'a sticky wicket'. The article isn't really about the bomb, it's more general than that.

    He mentions a prisoner in passing.
    One point never to be forgotten in the moral to-and-fro-ing over the use of the bomb is those prisoners.
    c.500 PoW camps.
    Good basic stats here, if 'good' is the word.
    http://www.mansell.com/pow_overview.html

    The Tokyo Tribunal concluded these death rates:
    Total Western prisoners - 27.1%
    US Army & USAAF prisoners - 40.4%
    Etc.

    Less than 60 Chinese prisoners made it out alive.
    Etc. etc.

    The order issued to kill all prisoners if the war ended:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bataan/filmmore/ps_order.html
    Etc. etc. etc.

    I would ask the opponents of the bombing, among other things: What of those prisoners?
    Every day the war went on, they died in their tens & hundreds of brutality & disease.
    The moment the news spread was the first glimmer of hope for many of them. They gained the chance to survive, rather than a guarantee of death.
    What of them?

    Moralise all you like about the later issues surrounding Atomic Weaponry & the indiscriminate nature of it's targeting.
    In the one period they were used in anger, their use was entirely justified.
    This was not a state that would negotiate in the face of conventional warfare.
    They were the aggressors in this war, with a poisonous military culture that inflicted massive cruelty on all they encountered, and regarded fighting to the last man as a virtue, rather than the stupidity it so often was. Estimates of Civilian deaths attributed to the WW2 era Japanese state run from C.5 Million to C.20 Million. Pick a number between, or choose the lowest - this was not a victim state, no matter what came in August '45.

    War crime? Bollocks.
    A forced hand. The ultimate response to stop some of the most committed war criminals the world has known from killing tens of thousands more in island defence, abuses of PoWs, Medical experiments, Human shield plans with it's own civilians - you name it. Having engaged in this subject many times, my feelings have not changed one iota:
    Mad dogs don't respond to reason; they respond, and responded, to a big stick, a Fat Man, & a Little Boy.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    By the way, I love that bit of Taylor Quoting an official.

    Because, of course; 50 years of Cold War would never have provided a justification for the Bomb's existence... :hypnotize:
     
  13. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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    I write as someone who was serving in the forces during the time of which we speak.

    I don't know how many other men/women were serving at the same time but I ask you to consider this.

    If the powers that be had sent us a form at the time setting out what the prospects were of attacking the Japanese mainland and forcing the Japanese to surrender but pointing out at the same time that there was a weapon in existence that would achieve these aims, how many dissenting voices do you think would have been raised ?

    The use of the bomb was, in my opinion, correct at the time and I would consider, had we been asked, the opinion of all.

    Hindsight, may I also point out, was not available at the time.

    Ron
     
  14. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    I think it was a crime to not drop more atomic bombs. Japan launched a surprise attack, unprovoked in the military sense, and yes Yamamoto was upset because the diplomats were supposed to give a half hour warning that they were declaring war against us before Pearl Harbor but the attack happened first so it looked sneaky and grimy. The Japanese attitude towards Westerners, how they treated US and British POWs, their brutality of civilians which was worse than the Nazis in many cases, their fight to the death mindset, the Kamikazes, and the fact that they were going to turn the entire civilian population into a suicide attacker all added up to an extreme solution. It's a different world over there, almost like they were still in a different time or stage of humanity that was less civilized.
     
  15. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    12 million innocents may disagree
     
  16. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Next time they should try a bit harder to stop the others who weren't so innocent.
     
  17. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    Let me clarify. 12 million Jewish, communist, Polish, mentally and physically disabled, etc will disagree that the "Japanese were more brutal than the Nazis towards civilians."
     
  18. von_noobie

    von_noobie Member

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    If two bombs did the trick then why drop more? Did you not take into account that Japanese culture had to an extent been indoctrinated into how they acted, Propaganda played a huge role in their actions just as it does so today. I hear never ending cases/stories of Australians and Americans committing crimes against foreigners based off of bad fact's and zero actual understanding of the history, Should we drop some nukes on them too?

    If two bombs managed to bring about an early peace then dropping a third bomb just for the sake of some ill conceived retribution would have been a war crime straight out that could very well have ruined any chance of Japan signing a peace treaty. When a nations concedes defeat you don't keep on attacking, That is just the quickest way for them to pick the gun back up and see to it millions more die before the fighting stop's again.
     
  19. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Ah, I understand now. I thought these 12 million were the Righteous Japanese. Axis was brutal, all together and they had to be stopped by all means - atomic bombs included. :)
     
  20. green slime

    green slime Member

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    We are not seriously going to get into a pissing contest about which was worse?!?

    [​IMG]

    Especially when the Chinese people suffered an estimated 10 million to 22 million Civilian deaths?!? (large uncertainty)

    The Emperor authorized the use of toxic gas on 375 separate occasions during the Battle of Wuhan from August to October 1938. They were also used during the invasion of Changde.

    Australian National Archives documents show that cyanide gas was tested on Australian and Dutch prisoners in November 1944 on Kai Islands (Indonesia).

    In 1940, the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force bombed Ningbo with fleas carrying the bubonic plague. During the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials the accused, such as Major General Kiyashi Kawashima, testified that, in 1941, some 40 members of Unit 731 air-dropped plague-contaminated fleas on Changde. These attacks caused epidemic plague outbreaks. In the Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign, around 1,700 Japanese troops died out of a total 10,000 Japanese soldiers who fell ill with disease when their biological weapons attack rebounded on their own forces.

    Unit 731 was established by order of Hirohito himself. Victims were subjected to experiments including but not limited to vivisection and amputations without anesthesia and testing of biological weapons. Anesthesia was not used because it was believed that anesthetics would adversely affect the results of the experiments.

    According to GlobalSecurity.org, the experiments carried out by Unit 731 alone caused 3,000 deaths. Furthermore, according to the 2002 International Symposium on the Crimes of Bacteriological Warfare, the number of people killed by the Imperial Japanese Army germ warfare and human experiments is around 580,000. According to other sources, "tens of thousands, and perhaps as many as 400,000, Chinese died of bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax and other diseases ...", resulting from the use of biological warfare.

    To determine the treatment of frostbite, prisoners were taken outside in freezing weather and left with exposed arms, periodically drenched with water until frozen solid. The arm was later amputated; the doctor would repeat the process on the victim's upper arm to the shoulder. After both arms were gone, the doctors moved on to the legs until only a head and torso remained. The victim was then used for plague and pathogens experiments.

    Perfidy, Cannabalism, use of Forced Labour (with an estimated death rate in some cases of 80%), serial rape ("comfort women" were not prostitutes, but another form of forced labour), horrible experiments on live Humans, use of chemical and biological substances...

    The Japanese culture of the 30's and 40's was every bit as vile anything the Nazis had to offer.

    It's worth noting that after 8 years of war, Japan released a massive total of 56 (yes folks, that's fifty six) Chinese prisoners of war upon its surrender... That number speaks for itself.
     

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