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Dropping of the atomic bombs... saved lives?

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nessasary?

  1. un-nessasary (8 votes [13.56%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.56%

  2. nessasary (51 votes [86.44%])

    Percentage of vote: 86.44%

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#1 futballman

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 12:49 AM

I am majoring in Secondary Social Studies Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I am writing a paper where I must argue the point that the dropping of the Atomic bombs in world war 2 actually save hundreds of thousands of lives.

I am arguing that an all out invasion would have lead to several more losses for both the United States as well as Japan.

Please share your opinions on the subject.

Also, i am having a hard time finding legitimate references for my topic. If anyone knows of any books and / or websites that i may use as sources please post them here.

anyone on here familier with "operation olympic"?

Thank you! i look forward to future discussions on these forums as a new member

#2 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 03:27 AM

There are two clear arguments that prove that dropping the nuclear bombs on Japan saved lives:

1. Had they not been dropped, or even existed, the cities that received them would have suffered damage equal to or heavier with equal or heavier casualties to those caused by the nuclear weapons in conventional bombing attacks. Both cities were only spared up to the time of their bombing so the USAAF could better assess the damage of a nuclear strike.
If nuclear weapons were not available, there was no reason to spare either city. Given that the destruction and casualties in a single night's raid on Toyko caused about 40% more casualties and destroyed about twice the area of either nuclear strike using conventional weapons there is no doubt that both Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have suffered equally or worse.

2. They precluded the need for an invasion. This too saved lives.

But, in any case arguing that the primary rational for dropping or not dropping nuclear weapons is the casualty rate is simply insane. One uses nuclear weapons, or any other weapon of war, for one reason alone: To achieve victory. Only some Liberal / Leftist touchy feely moron with absolutely no conception of history or the strategy of conflict would think otherwise.

#3 Devilsadvocate

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 04:53 AM

I am majoring in Secondary Social Studies Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I am writing a paper where I must argue the point that the dropping of the Atomic bombs in world war 2 actually save hundreds of thousands of lives.

I am arguing that an all out invasion would have lead to several more losses for both the United States as well as Japan.

Please share your opinions on the subject.

Also, i am having a hard time finding legitimate references for my topic. If anyone knows of any books and / or websites that i may use as sources please post them here.

anyone on here familier with "operation olympic"?

Thank you! i look forward to future discussions on these forums as a new member


If you want to discuss this question in any meaningful way, it's absolutely essential that you obtain a copy of Richard B. Frank's book titled "Downfall: The End of The Imperial Japanese Empire". Frank has simply done the best job of historical research I have ever run across on exactly the issue you are concerned with. Frank has collected a huge body of statistical data and collated it with logic and understanding to prove beyond any shadow of rational doubt that the atomic bombs saved not hundreds of thousands of lives, but very probably millions.

"Downfall" was the overall code name for the invasion of the Japanese Home Islands; Operation Olympic (the invasion of Kyushu) and Operation Coronet (the invasion of Honshu) were the two operations comprising "Downfall". Franks book is heavily footnoted and contains an extensive bibliography of both secondary and primary sources. In my opinion it's the finest example of outstanding historical research in the last 30 years. "Downfall" was published in 1999 by Penguin Books.

Some of the sources Frank used are available on line, the links below will lead you to a few of them.

http://www.mtholyoke...search/evolving

Documents Relating to the Development of the Atomic Bomb and Its use on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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

PS, On a personal level, I'm certainly grateful that the atomic bomb was used. My father was a carrier pilot in the Pacific war serving from before Pearl Harbor until the very end. I think it's quite possible that he might have been killed had the fighting gone on another year.
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#4 Za Rodinu

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 08:59 AM

Not wishing to be a spoilsport, but we have discussed this matter at length here:

http://www.ww2f.com/...tomic-bomb.html

Please feel free to read this older thread and extend it before creating a new one.

Quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra...


#5 Tomcat

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 09:12 AM

Don't forget that google is a great invention, just type what you want in and wohla it is all there:)
For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the want of a horse the rider was lost, for the want of a rider the battle was lost, For want of a battle the kingdom was lost, and all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Robert,


#6 Za Rodinu

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 10:15 AM

In this case the forum's Search feature at top :)

And welcome aboard Futballman !

World War II Forums - Search Forums

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#7 tikilal

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 08:06 PM

I just wanted to add that had they not used the Bombs I probably would not be here. My Grandfather was scheduled to fight there. He had already lived through 2 years of fighting, another one may not have been in the cards.
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#8 lwd

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 12:19 AM

The axis history forum has had several exaustive threads on it as well. One advantage of them is you get to see the counter arguments as well. They also tend to list a fair number of resources in their discussions as the moderators will often insist on it.

#9 Herr Oberst

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 04:44 AM

I just wanted to add that had they not used the Bombs I probably would not be here. My Grandfather was scheduled to fight there. He had already lived through 2 years of fighting, another one may not have been in the cards.


I'll add to that and state that my kids probably wouldn't be here because my father in law was a PTO vet.

Futballman.....You have a nice source with your first responder because he is a vet.

Good luck and welcome:)
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#10 bigfun

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 02:27 PM

This past winter I spent about a half hour talking with Theodore "Dutch" Vankirk, the last living member of the Enola Gay crew. While speaking with him a reporter asked how he felt about dropping the bomb. He replied very quickly that he knew very well, if they did not carry out their mission, thousands upon thousands of foot soldiers could die.
Scott :flag_USA_ww2: :flag_netherlands:

#11 scarface

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 03:15 PM

There is a very interesting and relevant (to this topic) 'What if...' article in the June/July issue of World War II magazine. Entitlled 'What if... The Manhattan Project Had Failed?" by Mark Grimsley.

In it, he makes some very salient points to this discussion:

  • According to the post-war US Strategic Bombing Survey, the Japanese economy was in ruins, and that, even without droopping the bombs, Japan would have surrendered by November 1, 1945. He does go on to point out that the main issue

'...was not one of destroying Japan's ability to make war, but one of convincing the Japanese government to make peace.'

  • Many of the ruling Supreme Council were in favor of a negotiated peace.... but only after a military victory that would give the Japanese negotiating leverage. At this stage of the war, the chances for that seem increasingly remote. In my opinion, their only hope was a last stand on Japanese soil, combined with a concentrated kamikaze campaign.
  • He goes on to point out

'...that what is often underestimated, however, is the impact of what happened between [his italics] the two nuclear attacks; namely, the massive Soviet offensive against the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria that began on August 8, 1945......the Soviet's Operation August Storm ...[was an]...even greater shock than Hiroshima or Nagasaki, as historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa concluded in his 2005 study Racing the Enemy: Stalin. Truman and the Surrender of Japan.'

  • He discusses the American strategic offensive against Japan's rail system, the economic blockade of Japan and then goes on to point out that ...

'By early August, American planners were already revisiting the wisdom of the invasion of Kyushu in light of new intelligence indicating the Japanese had twice the troop strength and four times the aircraft than previously estimated.'

  • And finally, he points out a big 'What If'..... what if the Japanese 'hardliners' had taken over control of the government and '... continued to resist beyond the point where any centrally controlled surrender was obtainable.'
I found it to be a very interesting read, and an impetus for further personal research into the Soviet operation in Manchuria.

-whatever

-Lou
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#12 Za Rodinu

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 03:54 PM

Lou, for your Soviet operation see here:

http://cgsc.leavenwo...tz3/glantz3.asp
http://cgsc.leavenwo...tz4/glantz4.asp

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#13 Devilsadvocate

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 05:54 PM

  • According to the post-war US Strategic Bombing Survey, the Japanese economy was in ruins, and that, even without droopping the bombs, Japan would have surrendered by November 1, 1945. He does go on to point out that the main issue
'...was not one of destroying Japan's ability to make war, but one of convincing the Japanese government to make peace.'



This is an insightful comment. The Japanese economy was virtually wrecked by early 1945 by the US submarine offensive. The strategic bombing offensive had not really begun to affect what little was left of the economy until spring of 1945. But the important thing to note here is that absolutely none of Truman's advisers, even as late as June or July were willing to venture even a guess as to when the Japanese would be forced to lay down their arms because of economic failure. It was essentially irrelevant to the Japanese generals that civilians were starving and the arms industries were withering away.


Many of the ruling Supreme Council were in favor of a negotiated peace.... but only after a military victory that would give the Japanese negotiating leverage. At this stage of the war, the chances for that seem increasingly remote. In my opinion, their only hope was a last stand on Japanese soil, combined with a concentrated kamikaze campaign.


According to the Emperor's own account in Showa Tenno Dokuhakuroku even he was in favor of prosecuting one final battle in order to obtain more favorable terms as late as June, 1945. Only after a negative report on the progress of the preparations was made to him did he realize the folly of such a course.


'

...that what is often underestimated, however, is the impact of what happened between [his italics] the two nuclear attacks; namely, the massive Soviet offensive against the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria that began on August 8, 1945......the Soviet's Operation August Storm ...[was an]...even greater shock than Hiroshima or Nagasaki, as historian Tsuyoshi Hasegawa concluded in his 2005 study Racing the Enemy: Stalin. Truman and the Surrender of Japan.'


Richard Frank in "Downfall" concluded just the opposite. Although the Japanese ambassador in Moscow was informed of the Soviet declaration of war on August 8, word did not reach Tokyo until about 4:00 AM on August 9, just hours before the Nagasaki bomb was dropped. Frank notes that although the generals had previously said the Soviets must be kept out of the war as a precondition to continue fighting, they now took the view that a Soviet invasion of Manchuria had been inevitable, and almost to a man vowed to continue with the war. The Soviet attack could not have come as much of a surprise to the generals as Japanese intelligence had been reporting a heavy buildup of Soviet forces along the Manchurian border for months. In any case, it was Hirohito who ultimately made the decision to surrender and the evidence indicates he had made that decision days before the Soviet invasion. Additionally, in Showa Tenno Dokuhakuroku, Hirohito mentions his reasons for making the decision to surrender as growing public unrest and the atomic attacks. He mentions the Soviet attack on Manchuria only obliquely. It would seem strange that the Japanese, who, in June and July, were apparently willing to barter Manchuria away if it would keep the Soviets out of the war and persuade them to become intermediaries, would suddenly decide to surrender because Manchuria was being attacked. Frank concludes that the immediate threat of another atomic bomb, perhaps exploded over Tokyo in the next few days, had a much greater impact that the Soviet offensive in Manchuria.


He discusses the American strategic offensive against Japan's rail system, the economic blockade of Japan and then goes on to point out that ...'By early August, American planners were already revisiting the wisdom of the invasion of Kyushu in light of new intelligence indicating the Japanese had twice the troop strength and four times the aircraft than previously estimated.'



This is where so much confusion over the casualty estimates originated. The original estimates were based on the original intelligence estimates of what Japanese forces would be on hand to oppose Operation Olympic. As the months passed American intelligence continually increased their estimates of the numbers of troops and kamikazes the Japanese would be able to deploy in the defense of Kyushu. Obviously, the more opposing troops and kamikazes, the higher the potential number of casualties. So anyone who wants to make a case for or against the invasion (or use of the bomb) can enhance his argument by picking a casualty figure from early or late in the planning process. Nimitz and King, who had originally supported the invasion of Japan, finally withdrew that support as a result of the increased potential for high casualties.

#14 scarface

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 07:50 PM

Wow, Za - those are some in-depth papers - good for a little 'light'-reading!

Now, I need to decide just how smart I really want to get!

Great links!

-thanks

-Lou
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#15 Za Rodinu

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 08:13 PM

That's what we are all here for, Lou.

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#16 kingthreehead

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 09:38 PM

I am majoring in Secondary Social Studies Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I am writing a paper where I must argue the point that the dropping of the Atomic bombs in world war 2 actually save hundreds of thousands of lives.

I am arguing that an all out invasion would have lead to several more losses for both the United States as well as Japan.

Please share your opinions on the subject.

Also, i am having a hard time finding legitimate references for my topic. If anyone knows of any books and / or websites that i may use as sources please post them here.

anyone on here familier with "operation olympic"?

Thank you! i look forward to future discussions on these forums as a new member




What you sayed makes no sense what so ever. Im nto gonna argue with you cause thier is no arguement. you Obeiuisly dont know the ways of war or history. Many more would of died if the bombs were not used. Everyone on this forum would agree with me. Not a good start for you my friend. call me mean or whatever but what your saying is something a 12 year old would say. the japs would fight to the last man.
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but when I ask why the poor are hungry,
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#17 Za Rodinu

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 09:55 PM

Strong language for a newbie, isn't it? We are not used to treat or be treated this way in this forum. Politeness rules.

And your numerous spelling mistakes do not help you at all. Thank you for a completely useless and unnecessary post, kingthreehead.

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#18 skunk works

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 10:29 PM

Great links Za, I bookmarked them, to read as time allows.

In a "Nutshell" yes. They saved....
Lives... on all sides, combatants & non combatants.
Destruction... of war machines, land and civilian infrastructure(s).
Money... to make the weapons of war and the rebuilding of what is/was lost.
Time... to pursue better goals (like education/health/standard of living).
Sanity... of a world gone (temporally) "mad" with hate/stress/deprivation/cruelty/violence/sacrifice/greed/retribution & conquest.
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#19 lwd

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 12:19 PM

This is an insightful comment. The Japanese economy was virtually wrecked by early 1945 by the US submarine offensive. The strategic bombing offensive had not really begun to affect what little was left of the economy until spring of 1945. But the important thing to note here is that absolutely none of Truman's advisers, even as late as June or July were willing to venture even a guess as to when the Japanese would be forced to lay down their arms because of economic failure. It was essentially irrelevant to the Japanese generals that civilians were starving and the arms industries were withering away.

One must also remember the source. The airforce was hardly likely to belittle the effects of strategic bombing especially in an environment of vastly reduced military spending.

....
This is where so much confusion over the casualty estimates originated. The original estimates were based on the original intelligence estimates of what Japanese forces would be on hand to oppose Operation Olympic. As the months passed American intelligence continually increased their estimates of the numbers of troops and kamikazes the Japanese would be able to deploy in the defense of Kyushu. Obviously, the more opposing troops and kamikazes, the higher the potential number of casualties. So anyone who wants to make a case for or against the invasion (or use of the bomb) can enhance his argument by picking a casualty figure from early or late in the planning process. Nimitz and King, who had originally supported the invasion of Japan, finally withdrew that support as a result of the increased potential for high casualties.


There are indeed indications that Olympus would probably have been called off. US intelligence was starting to pick up pretty clear indications that the Japanese had guessed correctly as to where the invasion would take place and were preparing significant defenses there. If Olympic gets canceled then it's spring before the US can launch another invasion. However none of this was available to the decision makers at the time and so it is not reasonable to criticize their decision based on it. In either case a lot more Japanese civilians and military would have died and more US military. As a clue to what the US thought casualties would be like. Last I heard the US military was still issuing purple hearts minted due to anticipated casualties from Olympus.

#20 Devilsadvocate

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 03:20 PM

One must also remember the source. The airforce was hardly likely to belittle the effects of strategic bombing especially in an environment of vastly reduced military spending.


There are indeed indications that Olympus would probably have been called off. US intelligence was starting to pick up pretty clear indications that the Japanese had guessed correctly as to where the invasion would take place and were preparing significant defenses there. If Olympic gets canceled then it's spring before the US can launch another invasion. However none of this was available to the decision makers at the time and so it is not reasonable to criticize their decision based on it. In either case a lot more Japanese civilians and military would have died and more US military. As a clue to what the US thought casualties would be like. Last I heard the US military was still issuing purple hearts minted due to anticipated casualties from Olympus.




Yes, I am well aware that the USSBS reports, and especially the "conclusions" contained therein, were largely motivated by a need to justify an independent Air Force, and to provide ammunition in the coming battles with the Navy for post-war funding. If you scrutinize some of the conclusions reached you will notice that they often contradict the data presented. But as a source of raw historical data, the USSBS documents do have value, if one is careful to exclude the pro-Air Force propaganda.

BTW, the plan for the invasion of Kyushu was dubbed Operation Olympic, not "Olympus".

There is no doubt that Operation Olympic would have either been called off or substantially modified. Not only were King and Nimitz off the reservation about it, the planners and nominated commanders (with the possible exception of MacArthur) were growing extremely nervous about the escalating numbers of units the Japanese were deploying to defend Kyushu. I'm not sure which "decision makers" you are referring to, but Truman and his advisers were the ones to make both decisions; whether to proceed with Operation Olympic and to use the atomic bombs. And they were well informed about the intelligence estimates which were making a decision to implement Olympic harder and harder to justify.

There were really three unanswerable questions which faced Truman; which available option (naval blockade, aerial bombing, or ground invasion), or combination thereof, was more likely to cause the Japanese to opt for an orderly surrender process, how long would each option take to induce a desire for surrender, and what would the be the cost in casualties (both Japanese and American) for each option? General Marshall had made it clear that there were too many variables to be able to estimate American casualties with any degree of accuracy, but it was also clear that a ground invasion had, by far, the greatest potential for producing American casualties. A ground invasion also carried with it the risk of generating a situation where an orderly and unified surrender process was impossible, but it also was the option most certain to guarantee eventual subjugation of Japan.

The Naval blockade and aerial bombing were in the middle rank as far as producing American casualties was concerned and, in any case, were already underway. But there was no certainty as to how long they might take to induce a surrender decision. They also entailed the highest risk for large numbers of Japanese civilian casualties due to widespread starvation and disease. All in all, the use of the Atomic bomb seemed to carry the least risk of casualties both for the Japanese and Americans, and if the effects were as anticipated, were also likely to entail the least amount of time. Practically speaking, logic relegated the ground invasion option to the position of a last resort and appeared the least desirable resolution from every standpoint.

As it eventuated, the atomic option turned out to be the best option from the perspectives of both casualties and time. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the bombs saved hundreds of thousands of American lives, and millions of Japanese lives. It seems to me that anyone arguing otherwise is either mathematically challenged, ignorant of the salient facts, or attempting to further a misguided agenda.

#21 J.A. Costigan

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 04:39 AM

My opinion on the subject of the atomic bombs being dropped.
As stated above I think that it was necessary, had they not been dropped the war would have been dragged out at least another year and killed at least another million people. It brought a swift conclusion with less casualties.

#22 mavfin

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 11:40 PM

As it eventuated, the atomic option turned out to be the best option from the perspectives of both casualties and time. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the bombs saved hundreds of thousands of American lives, and millions of Japanese lives. It seems to me that anyone arguing otherwise is either mathematically challenged, ignorant of the salient facts, or attempting to further a misguided agenda.


Well, all one really needs to compare is how the fought-over parts of Germany looked, and compare that to the state of Japan after the bombs. Yes, there were burned-out cities, but, as a whole, the nation looked much better than postwar Europe. Think how many Japanese would have been dead after an invasion, especially considering most think the civilians would have fought to the end, too. Many thousands of Allied lives would have been lost, too. Yes, the bombs killed thousands, but, I think those lives were a drop in the bucket compared to what might have been.

Of course, people can be free to second-guess this, as they have second-guessed Truman and Co for 60 years. I've only studied the Pacific war for 25+ years. Most who come out and say that it shouldn't have been done have access to information that the US leadership did not, could not have had at the time, and, most have made assumptions that really don't fit the data.

#23 Devilsadvocate

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 12:33 AM

Well, all one really needs to compare is how the fought-over parts of Germany looked, and compare that to the state of Japan after the bombs. Yes, there were burned-out cities, but, as a whole, the nation looked much better than postwar Europe. Think how many Japanese would have been dead after an invasion, especially considering most think the civilians would have fought to the end, too. Many thousands of Allied lives would have been lost, too. Yes, the bombs killed thousands, but, I think those lives were a drop in the bucket compared to what might have been.

Of course, people can be free to second-guess this, as they have second-guessed Truman and Co for 60 years. I've only studied the Pacific war for 25+ years. Most who come out and say that it shouldn't have been done have access to information that the US leadership did not, could not have had at the time, and, most have made assumptions that really don't fit the data.



I certainly concur. There has been a lot of recent nonsense written and disseminated about the numbers of Japanese killed by the atomic bombs, mostly by the anti-war groups and the Japanese survivors groups who wish to portray themselves as pathetic victims of the Pacific War. In actual fact, the atomic bombs killed far fewer Japanese than the naval blockade, aerial bombing or ground invasion could have reasonably been expected to kill. The highest responsible estimates of Japanese dead due to the atomic attacks was, surprisingly enough, the USSBS report in March, 1947. According to this estimate, there were 80,000 thousand deaths in Hiroshima and 45,000 in Nagasaki for a total of 125,000 deaths. The low figure for these attacks was the Japan Economic Stabilization Board study in April, 1949, which reported a total for both attacks of 101,903 deaths.

Contrast this with the estimates of 316,000 Japanese civilian deaths resulting from the conventional strategic bombing attacks, which had only been going on for approximately five months. Had they continued for another five months, it's reasonable to expect a comparable additional number of civilian deaths or around 600,000 total. This only includes casualties due to the direct violence of the bombing, and not deaths due to the indirect causes of starvation and disease which would have been the result of destroying the agricultural areas and knocking out the railroads which were the primary means of food distribution.

There were approximately 20 million Japanese "civilians" enrolled as military auxiliaries in the Patriotic Citizens Fighting Corps, and based on events on Saipan, The Philippines, and Okinawa, one could reasonably expect between 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 of these people to become casualties (deaths) in the event of a ground invasion, not to mention the million or so potential Japanese military deaths or the 500,000 to 750,000 American military dead.

In addition to that, no matter what the US option the US chose to exercise, for the Japanese, time was of the essence. Because the Fall 1945, rice crop failed due to unfavorable weather and the diversion of chemicals from fertilizer production to production of explosives. The failure of this basic staple meant that from 3,000,000 to 6,000,000 Japanese were going to perish in a country wide famine in the spring of 1946. If the war had not ended when it did, this would have been inevitable. However, the termination of the war in September, 1945, allowed just enough time for the US to organize sea lift, utilizing much of the shipping that had originally been intended for Operation Olympic, of 800,000 tons of emergency food relief to Japan. This avoided what would have otherwise been an inevitable catastrophic famine. In retrospect, it appears almost certain that, had the US taken any other decision than to drop the atomic bombs, at least 3,000,000, and probably as many as 6,000,000 Japanese civilians would have died.

None of this takes into account the thousands of civilians in Japanese occupied territory who were dying each month that the war continued. My wife's mother and older siblings were among those who experienced the Japanese occupation of Borneo, and it's entirely possible that had not the atomic bombs been dropped, their survival might have been doubtful.

By any calculus, the atomic bombs saved millions while dooming tens of thousands.

#24 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 12:49 AM

This subject has been discussed at length as late as Feb of this year.
http://www.ww2f.com/...tomic-bomb.html

As in every thread I have seen where this is brought up the one thing I agree with that others have said is that hindsight is always 20/20. And also that if you weren't alive during that period then you really can't know what the views,feelings and opinions of those that were in charge and with the information that they had at the time were. Nor of the common civilians and Military.
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#25 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 12:50 AM

Heres an article by Richard Frank about why the bomb was used from the Weekly Standard 8 Aug 2005. Quite a large article to post here.

http://www.warbirdforum.com/dropbomb.htm
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For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.




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