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Reply #6: Hiroshima: Needless Slaughter, Useful Terror [View All]

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Octafish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-03-08 03:29 PM
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6. Hiroshima: Needless Slaughter, Useful Terror
More from a true historian:



by William Blum
Covert Action Quarterly 53

While Japan was desperately trying to surrender, the U.S. knowing that the war could be ended without a land invasion dropped two A-bombs: The opening shot of cold war.

Does winning World War II and the Cold War mean never having to say you're sorry? The Germans apologized to the Jews and the Poles. The Japanese apologized to the Chinese and the Koreans, and to the United States for failing to break off diplomatic relations before attacking Pearl Harbor. The Russians apologized to the Poles for atrocities committed against civilians, and to the Japanese for abuse of prisoners. The Soviet Communist Party even apologized for foreign policy errors that heightened tension with the West.

Is there any reason for the U.S. to apologize to Japan for atomizing Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Those on opposing sides of this question are lining up in battle formation for the 50th anniversary of the dropping of the atom bombs on August 6 and 9. During last year's raw-meat controversy surrounding the Smithsonian Institution's Enola Gay exhibit, U.S. veterans went ballistic. They condemned the emphasis on the ghastly deaths caused by the bomb and the lingering aftereffects of radiation, and took offense at the portrayal of Japanese civilians as blameless victims. An Air Force group said vets were feeling nuked.

In Japan, too, the anniversary has rekindled controversy. The mayors of the two Japanese cities in question spoke out about a wide perception gap between the two countries. Nagasaki Mayor Hitoshi Motoshima, surmounting a cultural distaste for offending, called the bombings one of the two great crimes against humanity in the 20th Century, along with the Holocaust.

Defenders of the U.S. action counter that the bomb actually saved lives: It ended the war sooner and obviated the need for a land invasion. Estimates of the hypothetical body count, however, which ranged from 20,000 to 1.2 million, owe more to political agendas than to objective projections.

But in any event, defining the issue as a choice between the A-bomb and a land invasion is an irrelevant and wholly false dichotomy. By 1945, Japan's entire military and industrial machine was grinding to a halt as the resources needed to wage war were all but eradicated. The navy and air force had been destroyed ship by ship, plane by plane, with no possibility of replacement. When, in the spring of 1945, the island nation's lifeline to oil was severed, the war was over except for the fighting. By June, Gen. Curtis LeMay, in charge of the air attacks, was complaining that after months of terrible firebombing, there was nothing left of Japanese cities for his bombers but garbage can targets. By July, U.S. planes could fly over Japan without resistance and bomb as much and as long as they pleased. Japan could no longer defend itself.


After the war, the world learned what U.S. leaders had known by early 1945: Japan was militarily defeated long before Hiroshima; it had been trying for months, if not for years, to surrender; and the U.S. had consistently rebuffed these overtures. A May 5 cable, intercepted and decoded by the U.S., dispelled any possible doubt that the Japanese were eager to sue for peace. Sent to Berlin by the German ambassador in Tokyo, after he talked to a ranking Japanese naval officer, it read: Since the situation is clearly recognized to be hopeless, large sections of the Japanese armed forces would not regard with disfavor an American request for capitulation even if the terms were hard.


A true historian is one who tells the truth.
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