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Your View: Truman's decision an act of barbarism?

Discussion in 'Atomic Bombs In the Pacific' started by Spartanroller, Apr 30, 2011.

  1. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    Indeed! We now know all about the intentions of the Japanese in the summer of 1945 which were:

    -no occupation
    -retaining all colonies unless the Allies give up theirs too
    -retainig the undemocratic and militaristic form of government
    -trying war criminals by Japanese courts(=no punishment)
    -self-disarmament of the Japanese military(=token disarmament)
    -explicit rejection of the idea of UC and the mitigating terms of UC set forth in the Potsdam declaration

    It´s you, who hasn´t done his research!
     
  2. Tristan Scott

    Tristan Scott Member

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    Also, it seems to me that when you look at the whole situation, the British weren't that keen on an early cross channel invasion (perhaps because of the fiasco at Dieppe) instead preferring to slog up through Italy; the soft underbelly, a move not popular with Stalin.

    None of these guys were operating in a vacuum, they were all aware of the others feelings towards them. It was an alliance out of necessity only. Prior to the war they were not best of friends to say the least.

    But regardless of that, and in regards to Neutron's:
    Sure, that's true. But to say that was Truman's sole purpose of using the bomb against the Japanese ignores a lot of history. Because we were at war, Truman's most significant responsibility in taking over the presidency after the death of FDR was his function as Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Sure, his military war planners were telling him we didn't need the bomb; their planned invasion would do the trick, but Truman's responsibility was to minimize casualties among his armed forces. If he could do this through strategic bombing, then he was bound to that strategy. If he could do it with risk to only a few aircrew that was his responsibility as well. He also needed to end the war quickly because of war weariness on the home front.

    As to Hasegawa's Racing With the enemy. Even Hasegawa does not make the claim that Japan was ready to accept the terms of Potsdam, indeed, he ponts out that they were not about to accept surrender. He, however, argues that it was the Soviet entry into the war, not the bombs that made Japan surrender.

    This ignores two very important facts.

    The first is that it was the devestation of the Hiroshima bomb that affected Hirohito to the point that he became more and more insistant that the war end. In the end it was Hirohito who spoke up and broke the impass, insisting that the conditions of Potsdam be accepted.

    The second is that the military wanted to fight, even though they knew it was hopeless, to uphold their honor. The Soviets entering the war was no deterent to this desire. The bomb, however, gave them an honorable out: they were not defeated on the field of battle by opposing forces, but instead by a device; by technology.

    The main point that Hasegawa tries to make, though, is that Truman was using the bomb for political reasons against the Soviets, that there was a rush to do so because the Soviets were getting ready to enter the war. In this Hasegawa also ignores many facts that are well documented. The US had become war-weary by 1945, and there was real concern that prolonging the war would have a negative effect on the support at home that would be required for an invasion of Japan the following year. Hasegawa interprets this as a desire hurry and use the bomb before the soviets enter the war. What he ignores is that the real concern of the allies was what price was the SU asking for it's entry into the war-this was one of the major topics of the conference. We wanted the Soviets in the war, but were worried about what they would want (in Europe) in return. That's why, after the conference Truman wrote Bess that he got what he wanted: the SU in the war with no strings attached.

    Hasegawa's book has been panned by many historians for the license he takes in assigning views to people that were not really there. For example when Truman announced in a press conference that the Soviets had enetered the war Hasegawa interprets the terseness of the announcement to Truman's bitter dissapointment of the Soviet entry to the war. But when you read Hasegawa's souces for this, you find that Truman was just toying with the newsmen and breaks out laughing as they are falling over themselves to call in the "scoop". The fact that Hasegawa doesn't report this, in my opinion, takes away any objectivity that may be assigned to him, especially when he does this over and over in the book.

    In his review of the book, Michael Kort, Professor of Social Sciences at Boston University concludes:

     
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  3. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Indeed, and part of the problem was FDR (& Churchill, to some extent) were "talking out of turn" as it were, making commitments that weren't realistic. Although Marshall & Stimson were at first pushing for a 1942 landing "Sledghammer" it was readily apparent to the British that it just wasn't feasable. In a similar fashion, Churchill would make commitments to send x number of aircraft, tanks etc to the Soviets without properly consulting the chiefs, which caused problems as Allied forces were badly in need too.

    Field Marshal Brooke (in his book) believed that a large part of this pressure for an early invasion was also just a screen to try to cajole the Allies into sending more aid - Stalin likely knew that there was little possibility of a 1942 landing in France.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I remember reading somewhere that someone actually asked one of the surviving Japanese aces this quesiton while he was in the US on a speaking tour. From what I recall he was almost speachless for a brief period of time due to the absurdity of some one actually asking it. Eventually he replied in the affermative. I think it was back in the 90's but not sure when or who.
     
  5. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    If the bombs were barbaric then the other two options for Truman were even worse. A; invade with casualties in the millions and all the cities of Japan suffering not just the two. B; Blockade and the resultign death of millions due to starvation. Considering the other two options the Japanese got off lightly.
     
  6. OpanaPointer

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

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    This is the point the "HST was an utter ------" folks ignore. "What else should he have done?" doesn't get a coherent response, just a fallback to "Well, they were ready to surrender anyway." General Anami went over to the surrender camp AFTER the second bomb. Until then he was ordering that school girls be issued awls so they could stab the tall Allied soldiers in the groin. He was ordering that elderly people be ready to attack masses of armed troops with bamboo spears.
     
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  7. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    IMHO,the content of the OP is proving
    A) a flaming attitude
    B) a trolling attitude
    C) an anti US attitude
    D) ignorence
    or a combination
     
  8. OpanaPointer

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

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    I have no problem with "C", I'm anti a few political systems myself. The others are problematical.
     
  9. Sabanist

    Sabanist Member

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    This is such an interesting topic although highly polarizing. Does anyone have any books they recommend on the topic?I saw some one post about atomic diplomacy and downfall. Ill check those out to get opposing views, anyone know any "neutral" sources?
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    There's a lot of material in the Truman library. While some is biased a lot of the background material isn't. You might also want to look up Operation Olympic and Operation Downfall. Reading material from both sides isn't too bad an alternative to "unbiased" either. There are also numerous threads scattered around the internet where this topic has been debated. The arguments and referances can be very wrothwhile. In addition to this forum I'd recomend the axis history forum.
     
  11. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    As mentioned Richard Rhodes book The Making of the Atomic Bomb is good, Richard Frank's Downfall as well. The biggest problem one is going to have is that since the bomb was basically a joint project with the UK and the US leading, most of the material concerning its use is going to be "western allies" pov, like it or not.

    That said, for a link to the Truman Library, and especially the decision for the atomic bomb.

    Goto:

    Truman Library: The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb Online Research File

    and for a "transcript" concerning "Operation Downfall"..


    Goto:

    Transcript of "OPERATION DOWNFALL [US invasion of Japan]:  US PLANS AND JAPANESE COUNTER-MEASURES" by D. M. Giangreco, US Army Command and General Staff College

    a collection of primary documents can be found here.


    Goto:

    The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II: A Collection of Primary Sources

    another link of this sort can be found here.

    Goto:

    ATOMIC BOMB: DECISION (Hiroshima-Nagasaki)
     
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  12. Tristan Scott

    Tristan Scott Member

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    I also think it's important to read up as much as you can on the Japanese position at the time and what was going on in Tokyo leading up to and immediately after the atomic attacks.

    I've found that Sadao Asada's Culture Shock and Japanese American Relations has an excellent and comprehensive essay on the subject.
     
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  13. Sabanist

    Sabanist Member

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    Thats alot of meterial, thanks
     
  14. Alaskarat

    Alaskarat Member

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    Barbarism in war go figure this could only have been written by a person who views of war were read from a book ”War is at its best barbarism.” William Tecumseh Sherman. As an old soldier I say never mind that millions of US Soldiers lives were saved by the dropping of the bombs. It is more important that I and those in my unit would not die attacking the enemy. As a Soldier you are hoping that your government is doing everything possible to not only let you win the war but to give you the best odds in surviving the war. You don’t care who gets killed on the enemy side of the fence it is all about your survival. Soldiers know that Japan could have surrendered anytime they wanted to from the declaration of war to the dropping of the bombs. So as far as dropping the bombs again with General Sherman “War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.” and lastly “War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want.” We the United States did not chose to fight this war Japan brought the war to us as a nation and we had the moral right to fight this war with any means possible.
     
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  15. Tristan Scott

    Tristan Scott Member

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    Excellent post Alaskarat. And as far as Harry Truman goes, as Commander in Chief of the Armed forces he was duty bound to end the war with the least amount of casualties among his subordinates as possible. His duty was to his men, not to anyone else.
     
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  16. Biak

    Biak Adjutant

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    Thanks Alaskarat for one of the better "cut through the BS"-concise explanations.
     
  17. Sabanist

    Sabanist Member

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    Im a former soldier myself. I dont agree with targeting civilains. I understand the sentiment though. Before the invasion of iraq we all had this view that all iraqis were the bad guys. So we had no sympathy and didnt care how many of them were hurt. However, once we actually crossed andrealized not every iraqi was the boogeyman, we changed our views. They were just people. Shopkeepers, car salesman, painters, school teachers, and children. Those folks didnt have a dog in the fight.
     
  18. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    That is a fine sentiment "Sabanist", but not applicable to the Japanese of WW2. Every citizen was involved in either war making or production of war material. As the conventional bombing campaign flattened their factories, they went more and more to the use of small parts constructed in homes and transported to assembly centers. Finding a home in Japan which didn't participate would have been extremely difficult. The Japanese of the time were the more than loyal subjects of Hirohito, he was their "god on earth, the son of the sun goddess", and to not work to defend him and his empire would have been not just unpatriotic, it would have been heresy. They had a "dog in the hunt".

    Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were military targets, with ship building, training centers, and headquarters for defense forces stationed in them. From the time of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), the Imperial Headquarters, the command center for the war, and the new Military Preparatory School were all established in Hiroshima. This gave its Ujina Harbor a distinctly military tone for the first time. Each time Japan became involved in any military action in Asia, Hiroshima was the base for education of officers, training, assembly and dispatching of troops.

    As years went by, Hiroshima's military facilities grew more numerous and substantial. By 1945 Hiroshima held these "purely innocent civilian" installations; the 2nd General Army Headquarters, Chugoku Military District Headquarters, and was always home of the 5th Division (participated in the Nanking occupation ["r@pe of"] in 1937). Also it contained the 59th Military Headquarters, 224th Division marshaling/training area, 154th Division training, Marine Transport Headquarters, Mitsubishi Heavy Industry yards, Ujina Harbor Kawasaki yards as well as all those persons who were family members of the military men stationed there, or were working in the yards.

    BTW, everybody in the west who cared about the Chinese people knew of the Nanking atrocities, since this was the same time and place where the river-gunboat USS Panay and two Standard oil tankers were sunk.

    From the beginning of the Showa (Hirohito) period through all of World War II, about 50 % of the all the commercial ships were built in Nagasaki. As to "warships", one might be enlightened to trace the origin of the battleships; "Hyuga", "Kirishima", and "Musashi (the giant)", the auxiliary carriers; "Hiyo", "Junyo", the design built carriers; "Chuyo", "Unyo", "Taiyo", "Kaiyo"," Amagi", "Kasagi", or the cruisers "Sendai", "Natori", "Kiso", "Tama", "Furutaka", "Aoba", "Haguro", "Chokai", "Mikuma", "Tone", "Chikuma", and the destroyers. Now, the destroyers produced there are too numerous to even consider putting on here, and they were still building ships and planes at the time. Nagasaki was also the home to the Nagasaki Steel Works, Mitsubishi Electric Works, Mitsubishi Munitions plants, and was far from another "innocent civilian" port city full of quilt free "fishermen" and farmers now was it?

    Also, Nagasaki was known to be the designated HQ command city for the defense of Kyushu Isle from allied invasion, the city and its command center was a legitimate target.
     
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  19. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    I have left this discussion and have resisted saying much but I will repeat something that has been covered a bit by me before, so we keep reminded of it as we discuss rationale for war, civilian casualties etc. The leadership that made the decisions of what to do with the bombs available to use acted honorably based on the information they had from intelligence and the projected estimations of casualties to be suffered. I draw attention to the meetings with the Allies as well where the discussions of the big three involved how to win, and who could stand to lose more people in the planned campaigns. It could be argued that the sharing of the load(in casualties), was behind the discussions amongst the big three. They discussed who would do what to bring things to a victory. This thought was carried forth when they began to think about the bomb and the further warfare needed to defeat Japan. As you know we had some planning for the post war that was not totally effective towards containing the Soviet threat but they did realize time was of the essence to prevent more post war Russo-expansionism. When a decision that is made based on what is known that does result in a lessening of the loss of life on both sides over the projected losses from invasion and conventional bombings that restricted more 3rd party intervention that could have been harmful to both sides.....I do not see it so complicated to view this as the most HONORABLE decision that our leaders could have made who had input into what to do with the bombs. Even if Japan had been on a path to peace....they had terms that would have taken more time which meant more conventional bombing(which was extracting greater loss of life), more parties intervening in the peace making that might not have gone so favorably either if they had been given time to get more involved. Also, it is important to remember that the warring Japanese led predominantly by the warring generals of Japan listened little to the Emperor, in the matters of war. Not until MacArthur conquered and gave voice to the Emperor who made his pleas accepting of the "concept of surrender" did it become acceptable and few people realize this important shift of rule in Japan from the warring Generals to the leadership of the Emperor experiencing a bit of a restoration that the people could accept. Again....our leadership was honorable and however sinful MacArthur may have become later, his leadership and decisions with Japan were effective and honorable. Lots has been made of the inhumanity of the bombing(conventional) and I have queried airmen about why so much more casualties in Japan and basically they explain: our planes had to be bigger to go farther, and were not only bigger but carried more bombs, that targeted more war production sites that were not as cleanly separated from civilian sites(as in Germany), so casualties grew larger because of those factors and not an intention to be more severe than what happened in Germany. Most know that Germany was bad enough and things got tougher with the Japanese targets because of this increase in technology. We can argue from now on about war and civilians but really I can only summarize that we need to be more successful at peace to prevent war in a way that does not trade to strengthening the aggressor.....as we don't have warfare anywhere in a background where all things are acceptable, fair, or in any other way mutually tolerable. In all I thank those who study these events for persevering in study and also thank those who are willing to forgo the easy conclusions of making assumptions from what large amounts of material can be studied in futuristic revisionism. We must stick to the facts known of the day when our leaders made their decisions from the advice that was available in that day. That is my view of the appropriateness of how we view these momentus events that shaped our modern world in WWII. It is somewhat important to realize that our leadership had great fears of what was unknown for them......how many casualties can the mother country endure in this war...........and still have a post-war recovery. They indeed did fear such heavy losses that the motherland would remain an economic wasteland for years if there was not a return of some numbers of troops. Such fears we have not had to endure in our times with the exception of our cold war fears which no one disputes as possibly greater.
     
  20. Alaskarat

    Alaskarat Member

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    First off and always thanks for your service Sabanist.
    When you guys rolled into Iraq you did not face a country where every man, woman, and child was being trained to kill American soldiers. The Japanese thought of the emperor as a god and would do anything to please him even if they disagreed deep in their hearts with him. With full 100% militarization of Japan was there really any civilians? I know how you feel about the civilian populace being likable and how one can’t help but have pity for them but remember everyone in Japan was loyal without a flaw to their Emperor. In Iraq only a small segment of the population had any loyalty to Saddam. My father who was stationed in Japan for occupation duty in 1945 said that the Japanese people were very friendly and humble to him he even had some working for him, how could he not like them?
    As for Japan negotiating through Russia for a surrender we have to remember that the only acceptable surrender was unconditional surrender. If one is negotiating surrender then there were conditions that Japan wanted. Unconditional surrender was the brought on to the Axis by the results of WWI were an undefeated German Army marched back into Germany to a hero’s welcome in many cases. This of course led to the popular opinion that an incompetent government was the reason for Germany’s defeat. Of course this was one of the bedrocks that Hitler used to gain power and begin his military buildup.
    It took only one person in Japan to stop the war, or even to start the war. It did not take a Senate, House of Representatives, or a Parliament it only took the Emperor’s command or approval to take these actions.
     

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