American hedonism closes its eyes to death, and has been
incapable of exorcising the destructive power of the moment
with a wisdom like that of the Epicureans of antiquity.

- Octavio Paz
Death is un-American, and an affront to every citizen's inalienable
right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

- Arnold Toynbee
the_band_huge
the_band_huge
"As long as such self-serving hypocrisy
motivates America's response, Ukraine will
only sink further into needless bloodshed,
and that blood will be on America's head."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
the_band_huge
In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors,
since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors,
for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal
applies only upwards, not downwards.

― Bertrand Russell
Global Coke
Global Coke
"What those 'racists' are reflexively and rightly reacting
to is the soulless chill as the fire goes out beneath the
melting pot. Those who think America can thrive as a
'cultural mosaic' are worse than fools; they're Canadians."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Global Coke
Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman
Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman
"[Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea] struck
me as uncannily symbolic of, if I may speak
broadly and loosely, the best and worst
of the 'American character abroad.'"

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman
the_band_huge
the_band_huge
"But where, I wonder, is Obama's hard choice, in this his
now sixth year of leadership? Where is his defining decision,
against the grain, made solely because it seemed right?
Drone strikes in Yemen?"

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
the_band_huge
Two centuries ago, a former European colony decided to catch up with Europe.
It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster,
in which the taints, the sickness and the inhumanity of Europe
have grown to appalling dimensions.

― Frantz Fanon
nsa-spy-cartoon-4
nsa-spy-cartoon-4
"We feel better living in a world with privacy, with intimate, unmonitored communication when desired. Those values mean something to us, and give our lives dignity and humanity."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
nsa-spy-cartoon-4
What the United States does best is understand itself.
What it does worst is understand others.

- Carlos Fuentes
Poor Mexico, so far from God
and so close to the United States.

- Porfirio Diaz
the_band_huge
the_band_huge
"Indeed, everything about the American southland was magical
and exotic to the young Canadian musicians, from the sights
and smells to the drawling manner of speech to, especially, the
central role that music played in people’s everyday lives."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
the_band_huge
America is a mistake, a giant mistake.
- Sigmund Freud
America is an adorable woman chewing tobacco.
- Auguste Bartholdi
chimerica
chimerica
"This is the tone of the China Century, a subtle
mix of Nazi/Soviet bravado and 'oriental'
cunning -- easily misunderstood, and
never
heard before, in a real enemy, by the West."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
chimerica
Coke and 'America the Beautiful'
Coke and 'America the Beautiful'
"And for the others who argued for English-only
patriotism, I note that there are more than
57 million Americans (about 20% of the nation)
whose first-language is not English...."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Coke and 'America the Beautiful'
predator-firing-missile4
predator-firing-missile4
"This is the behavior, and the fate, of paranoid
old-world tyrants like Hitler or Saddam, not liberal new-world democracies like America pretends to be."

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
predator-firing-missile4
America is the only nation in history which
miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to
degeneration without the usual interval of civilization.

- Georges Clemenceau
I found there a country with thirty-two religions and only one sauce.
- Charles–Maurice Talleyrand
A people who are still, as it were, but in the gristle,
and not yet hardened into the bone of manhood.

- Edmund Burke
America is the only country ever founded on the printed word.
- Marshall McLuhan
"The removal of racist sports nicknames (and mascots) seems outrageously belated
-- why, exactly, has this civil rights cause
taken so long to gain momentum?"

JOIN THE DISCUSSION
The atom bomb is a paper tiger which the
United States reactionaries use to scare people.
It looks terrible, but in fact it isn't.

- Mao Tse-tung
They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but
they kept only one; they promised to take our land, and they did.

- Red Cloud
In America sex is an obsession,
in other parts of the world it is a fact.

- Marlene Dietrich
I would rather have a nod from an American,
than a snuff-box from an emperor.

- Lord Byron
One day the United States discovered it was an empire.
But it didn’t know what an empire was.
It thought that an empire was merely the biggest of all corporations.

- Roberto Calasso
"For all the good things he did and tried to do, in a way, for me, Mandela's greatness lay more in what he did not do. And this, I think, is his greatest lesson for America."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather
be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.

- Alexis de Tocqueville
newtown
newtown
"No one, I thought, could watch those scenes, of young children slaughtered en masse, and so many parents grieving, without thinking that this, finally, would tip some kind of balance in the country."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
newtown
If you are prepared to accept the consequences of your dreams
then you must still regard America today with the same naive
enthusiasm as the generations that discovered the New World.

- Jean Baudrillard
I am willing to love all mankind, except an American.
- Samuel Johnson
America, thou half brother of the world;
With something good and bad of every land.

- Philip Bailey
"What can be more powerful than disinformation in the Information Age?"
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
England and America are two countries separated by the same language.
- Sir Walter Besant
Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is honored by
posterity because he was the last to discover America.

- James Joyce
Now, from America, empty indifferent things
are pouring across, sham things, dummy life.

- Rainer Maria Rilke
If the United States is to recover fortitude and lucidity,
it must recover itself, and to recover itself it must
recover the "others"- the outcasts of the Western world.
- Octavio Paz
The youth of America is their oldest tradition.
It has been going on now for three hundred years.

- Oscar Wilde
"America really is, for most Americans, all things considered, a good place to be, and all they really want is for everyone to enjoy the same privilege and pleasure."
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
When good Americans die they go to Paris;
when bad Americans die they go to America.

- Oscar Wilde
jobs drug dealer
jobs drug dealer
They're nothing more than traffickers; and as the smart traffickers'll tell you, you don't use the merchandise. They are just inoculating their kids with a tech-drug serum, to immunize them against the very merchandise that put the **** bowling alley in their basement.
jobs drug dealer
America is therefore the land of the future, where, in the ages that
lie before us, the burden of the World's History shall reveal itself.

- Georg Friedrich Hegel
America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room.
Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair.

- Arnold Toynbee
Americans always try to do the right thing after they've tried everything else.
- Winston Churchill
The thing that impresses me most about Americans
is the way parents obey their children.

- Edward, Duke of Windsor
Americans are apt to be unduly interested in discovering
what average opinion believes average opinion to be.

- John Maynard Keynes
Europe was created by history.
America was created by philosophy.

- Margaret Thatcher
America is God's crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of
Europe are melting and reforming!... The real American has not yet arrived.
He is only in the crucible, I tell you - he will be the fusion of all races.

- Israel Zangwill
American dreams are strongest in the hearts of those
who have seen America only in their dreams.

- Pico Iyer
America: It's like Britain, only with buttons.
- Ringo Starr
The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.
It has never yet melted.

― D.H. Lawrence
I have two conflicting visions of America.
One is a kind of dream landscape and the other is a kind of black comedy.

― Bono
The American mirror, said the voice, the sad American mirror
of wealth and poverty and constant useless metamorphosis,
the mirror that sails and whose sails are pain.

― Roberto Bolaño

October 17, 2017

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Author Topic: Hiroshima


Yuuichi-
Takada
Experienced Their American
Posts: 17
Yuuichi Takada
Hiroshima
on: November 15, 2013, 14:58

For me, the bombing of Hiroshima was one of the greatest and most horrible crimes against humanity in history. It was even greater than the holocaust in some ways (I think) because Hitler was not sane and obsessed with the Jews, but America was sane and reasonable (I assume). I have asked myself why, read books, and asked students of Japanese-American history, but I have never really understood.
I have read the main reasons for using the bomb (to save American and Japanese lives, etc.), and for using it on Hiroshima (one of the last centers still standing, so good for the "demonstration", military base, etc.). And I know that some of the scientists who made the bomb said that the US should just show the bomb in a neutral place, but Truman chose a major population center. I think I know why for this also, according to the historian McCormick: "A prearranged demonstration of the atomic bomb on a noninhabited target, as some scientists had recommended, would not do. That could demonstrate the power of the bomb, but it could not demonstrate the American will to use the awful power." (McCormick, Thomas J. America’s Half-Century: United States Foreign Policy in the Cold War and After, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore: 1995.)
I also know that Truman and Oppenheimer and some others were excited as little children when they heard of the successful destruction of the city, knowing fully well that with it died tens of thousands of its people, mostly women, old people and children, and (at least for Oppenheimer) this was only the beginning of the horror. (According to one account, when President Truman heard the news about Hiroshima while crossing the Atlantic, he declared, “This is the greatest thing in history,” and “raced about the ship to spread the news, insisting that he had never made a happier announcement. ‘We have won the gamble,’ he told the assembled and cheering crew.” Offner, Arnold. Another Such Victory: President Truman and the Cold War, 1945-1953, Stanford University Press, Stanford: 2002. p. 92. And Truman seems mostly like a decent person.)
And I know that at the time many Americans had a very harsh, like a cartoon view of the Japanese, almost not people at all.
The question I have never been able to receive an answer to and am hoping someone can answer here is, since the US had control of the sky, why could they not tell the Japanese authorities and scientists that they would explode the bomb in a neutral place, and give them some days to surrender. And then, if they did not surrender, they would drop the next bomb on a population center. (And so on.)
Maybe the government would have refused, but the US would have given it a chance, and would have given itself a chance not to be remembered forever as happy killers of innocent civilians.



Josh-Trich-
ilo
New Member
Posts: 2
Josh-Trichilo
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 17, 2013, 23:16

First I’d like to say that it is not my intention to lessen the terrible significance of Hiroshima in this reply, rather I would like to answer the question posed, namely: why did America not issue a warning first, before dropping the bombs?

Stating that Hiroshima was greater than the tragedies of the Holocaust doesn’t seem useful to me in discovering the reasons why there was no warning for Hiroshima first. Saying Hitler was insane and therefore not as responsible for his actions, also doesn’t seem useful. Hitler may have seemed the sanest to some of his followers. We all know that sanity is dictated by the victor. History does not write itself, after all.

I think we have to take into account what passes for acceptable in wartimes. There are many other tragedies like that of Hiroshima during WWII. For example, there was the firebombing of Dresden, of which Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote.
“You guys burnt the place down, turned it into a single column of flame. More people died there in the first storm, in that one big flame, than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.”

History is in itself an interpretation, and the current interpretation is one that this article I’d like to present hopes to argue. It helped me to think about some of the pressing questions I had and have about Hiroshima also:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/05/29/the_bomb_didnt_beat_japan_nuclear_world_war_ii

First I’d like to say that the question of a warning assumes the persuasiveness of a warning at wartime, that it would have held just as much sway as the actual bombing. Then it assumes that Hiroshima was pivotal to Japan’s decision to surrender. It assumes that the severity of the bombs was unlike any other tragedy in the war, and thus without a doubt, had particular swaying power in convincing Japan.

I’d like to sum up some of what the article poses.
First, Japan was already being constantly firebombed by American forces. With the death and destruction already happening in Japan, a warning shot may have had no particular sway over Japan’s decisions to surrender, especially since the display of the warning shot would not have posed a greater single threat than the multitude of fire bombings that had already occurred.
Second, the bombing of Hiroshima itself may not have had any particular sway in Japan’s decision to surrender either. As the article suggests, there were many other political reasons for surrendering, reasons that America was probably aware of, including Russian influence. Perhaps the immediacy of these problems leads the Americans to think that a warning would not have been affective in stopping the war, or rather, attaining victory. America wanted its hands on the pen of history just like everybody else did.

Again, I’m not trying to undermine the severity of what happened at Hiroshima. I’m just lending some information that may help to answer your still relevant question.



Todd H.
Experienced Their American
Posts: 13
Todd H.
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 17, 2013, 23:44

Why did they drop the second bomb three days later on Nagasaki?
What wasn't sufficiently credible about the first one?



Yuuichi-
Takada
Experienced Their American
Posts: 17
Yuuichi Takada
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 18, 2013, 14:28

Thank you very much, Josh and Todd.
Todd, my understanding is that mostly America felt it needed to show two, simple as that. And there are records of Japanese government disbelief that they could have more than one. We must remember what a colossal phenomenon it was at the time. I myself would have doubted it probably, and the Japanese authorities were buried in their own narrow worldview. As they say, it "beggared the imagination".
Josh, your response is rich and interesting, thank you. I'm afraid that I don't see how it speaks to what I asked, which was very specific, but I shall try to speak to it as best I can, on its own merits.
Stating that Hiroshima was greater than the tragedies of the Holocaust doesn’t seem useful to me in discovering the reasons why there was no warning for Hiroshima first.
I did not think the first (which is not quite what I said) was part of the second.
Saying Hitler was insane and therefore not as responsible for his actions, also doesn’t seem useful.
Please see above.
Hitler may have seemed the sanest to some of his followers. We all know that sanity is dictated by the victor.
I'm afraid I can't agree with this, Josh, and I do think it matters (though not to my question). Neither the Germans nor the Japanese would, I think, consider America insane. And they both lost. What Hitler did was no less horrible, but the horror we feel about him is less I think, when we understand he was effectively mad (by that time at least). Truman, as I said, seems to have been a decent man.
I think we have to take into account what passes for acceptable in wartimes. There are many other tragedies like that of Hiroshima during WWII. For example, there was the firebombing of Dresden, of which Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote.
“You guys burnt the place down, turned it into a single column of flame. More people died there in the first storm, in that one big flame, than died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.”

Mr. Vonnegut is not, perhaps, the best source for such facts. The number appears to be likely around 18,000, to a maximum about 25,000, according to the recent expert study (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1067489/Death-toll-Second-World-War-Dresden-bombing-25-000-commission-finds.html), which is a fraction of the Hiroshima toll, even before the waves of radiation deaths began. However, the colossal firestorm caused by the firebombing of Tokyo in March 9-10, 1945, the largest single bombing raid in human history, involving a total of 334 B52s, is estimated to have killed around 100,000 people, even more than the immediate destruction caused by the bombing of Hiroshima.
Grinding up such numbers, however, feels sordid.
What it is about the atomic bomb and its unique form of destruction that feels peculiarly obscene to many (including me), compared to 334 B52s making a pyre of Tokyo is, perhaps, something more for the "Drone strike" thread. It is an interesting and important question, but not mine.
First I’d like to say that the question of a warning assumes the persuasiveness of a warning at wartime, that it would have held just as much sway as the actual bombing.
I don't see that. I merely ask why they did not try?
Then it assumes that Hiroshima was pivotal to Japan’s decision to surrender.
Not pivotal. Just important. The 1.6 million Russians sweeping into Manchuria may well have been more important to the actual surrender. But of course that would only make it less necessary to destroy 90,000 women, children and old people in an instant, not more.
It assumes that the severity of the bombs was unlike any other tragedy in the war,
I think most would say it was, in its way.
and thus without a doubt, had particular swaying power in convincing Japan.
Particular, but not complete, I think most would say.

First, Japan was already being constantly firebombed by American forces. With the death and destruction already happening in Japan, a warning shot may have had no particular sway over Japan’s decisions to surrender, especially since the display of the warning shot would not have posed a greater single threat than the multitude of fire bombings that had already occurred.
If the actual bombing mattered, a demonstration of the bombing would also matter of course, to a lesser degree. Remember, please, I only ask why they didn't try.
Second, the bombing of Hiroshima itself may not have had any particular sway in Japan’s decision to surrender either.
Please see above.
As the article suggests, there were many other political reasons for surrendering, reasons that America was probably aware of
Then, as I said, the horrific suffering caused by the bombing would be even less justified, not more, no?
Perhaps the immediacy of these problems leads the Americans to think that a warning would not have been affective in stopping the war, or rather, attaining victory. America wanted its hands on the pen of history just like everybody else did.
This sounds rather flippant, if you will excuse me saying.
Again, I’m not trying to undermine the severity of what happened at Hiroshima. I’m just lending some information that may help to answer your still relevant question.
I'm afraid it did not, but I am very grateful for your effort, and you certainly raise some interesting points for other discussion of Hiroshima. The very fact that the firebombing of Tokyo is known by so few, yet Hiroshima remains one of the handful of definitive moments of the twentieth century, means that even in attempting to understand it, we attempt to understand ourselves at the deepest level.



Nao Nomura
New Member
Posts: 4
Nao Nomura
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 18, 2013, 23:24

I agree with Josh that it does not seem productive to compare equally traumatic historical incidents to access the degree of physical, psychological, and emotional destruction. History is not a "fact" (as we know it), but rather "interpretation" and it seems more relevant for us to think these (or any) atrocities in context.



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 20, 2013, 03:21

Lately, I've reexamined a bunch of historical events that I thought understood because I too accepted the consensus explanation. And from the Iraq war to Vietnam to aspects of the Second World War, I've been finding that the accepted consensus is almost always wrong, or at the very least seriously flawed. This trend seems to be continuing with respect to the first atomic bombs. I've been looking into the reasoning behind dropping the bombs, and even after a rather cursory examination, I'm nothing short of shocked. The idea that the bombs saved lives seems to be completely baseless, and while I need to read more, this is seeming more and more like the greatest war crime that has ever been swept under the rug. Nagasaki is particularly appalling because it seems entirely gratuitous. I'll post again when I know more, but it looks like Truman has a lot of blood on his hands. Truman in general is coming across far differently than his conventional image as the competent, no nonsense everyman president.



Geoff-
Hamilton
Administrator
Posts: 170
Geoff Hamilton
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 20, 2013, 12:28

I'm interested in digging in here a little myself -- which sources are you reading, Wyatt? Anyone have other suggestions for 'setting the record straight'?



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 22, 2013, 23:47

This was a good starting point:

It provided the basic lay of the land and the key players. Right now I'm looking most carefully at James Byrnes, the Secretary of State at the time, who seems to be a key (or even THE key) player.

I think that the decision to use the atomic bomb can only be understood within the greater context of the strategic bombing of cities in WW II. This was one of those cases where finding our footing on a 'slippery slope' proved difficult, and the deliberate targeting of civilians became more and more accepted and commonplace.



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 23, 2013, 23:33

As I continue my exploration of this topic, I am becoming more certain of the idea that the use of the atomic bombs can only be fully understood within the context of the Allies' earlier decisions to explicitly target civilians with aerial bombing. And so that is the avenue I continue to explore.

I can recommend Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan and AC Grayling's Among the Dead Cities. Both author's also have some interesting appearances that can be found on Youtube with fairly simple searches. Hasegawa's appearance on a program titled A Conversation with Tsuyoshi Hasegawa is particularly illuminating because it comes after his book, and in this program he updates some of the conclusions in light of new evidence. AC Grayling has a debate on Youtube with Christopher Hitchens that is quite good as well.



Yuuichi-
Takada
Experienced Their American
Posts: 17
Yuuichi Takada
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 25, 2013, 12:18

Thank you very much, Wyatt. I followed, with great interest, the complex tale of ‘Why the bomb was dropped’, but sadly again learned almost nothing about my question.
I think maybe I should just stop asking, and stop obstructing the broader discussion of Hiroshima, but first I will summarize what I learned about my question from the video.
First, I should clearly distinguish my question again from the bigger question of why they dropped the bomb.
Even if all the pro-bomb reasons were accepted, my question would remain, and even become more pressing for me. It is not 'why did they drop the bomb?', but 'why did they drop the bomb on a civilian population center, with no warning?'.
Ironically, it seems that it was two military men, General Marshall and especially Colonel Stimson, who felt that dropping the bomb on a population center, with no warning, could make America be seen as no better than Hitler. And it was interesting to see that both the Hollywood film and President Truman himself seemed to want to avoid being seen this way: in the film, when one Enola Gay crew member shows regret for how many innocent people he is about to kill, his fellow crew member says 'we've been dropping warning leaflets for 10 days now!', and President Truman says he will drop it on a military site and will give warning (both proposed by General Marshall, and both not done by President Truman).
It was most frustrating to never hear why Colonel Stimson's suggestion to demonstrate the bomb was rejected by the 'Interim Committee'. But at least I now know it was suggested, by someone important, in that most important context, and was clearly, completely and permanently rejected. Thank you, Wyatt, for that!
------
In my scientific work, I am often surprised by how evidence can appear in strange ways and forms. Maybe it is so here. Please forgive me as I try to explain this complex thought.
Maybe, the more my question is not answered, by such thorough investigations as in this video, the more it is actually being answered, but in a different way.
Could it be that the reason we can find no decent explanation for why America rejected the warning demonstration, is that the explanation is simply indecent? As you say, Wyatt, the bombing of Hiroshima appears to emerge from an increasing willingness to use 'terror' bombing in the war. But the atom bomb was a special, unprecedented form of terror, especially at the time. This was repeatedly stressed in the video. So what made it acceptable on innocent women and children (not a military target) and with no 'warning leaflets' at all?
Why did America not demonstrate the bomb and give the Japanese a chance to save them from seeming as bad as Hitler?
Maybe for the same reason as Hitler had for destroying countless innocent Jewish women and children: they did not count. 'The only good Jap is a dead Jap.' When innocent people do not matter anymore, when they are not even really seen as people anymore, atrocities in war become not merely possible but inevitable. Except for General Marshall and Colonel Stimson, and the scientists in the Szilard petition, the video did not mention one important American who even considered the moral responsibility of bombing civilians without warning. Moreover, the shocking fate of the petition speaks much about the Nazi-like attitude of General Groves and Dr. Oppenheimer (http://www.atomicheritage.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=63).
Could it be as simple as this, in the end?
No one warned the Japanese because the Japanese were not worth warning.



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 26, 2013, 06:58

I had hoped to provide a more substantive answer sooner, but I've been drawn into more reading. Despite vowing not to be, I really did end up being premature in even my explicitly tentative observations. It seems that with regards to the end of the Pacific War and the use of the atomic bombs, there are two major schools of thought: the revisionists and the orthodox. I discovered the revisionist vein first, and mined it a bit; after which I started positing that Truman might be a war criminal with a lot more confidence than was warranted.

It turns out that Tsuyoshi Hasegawa is a much more controversial figure than I thought, and is considered a kind of 'neo-revisionist' by many. As a result, I felt compelled to investigate the main 'orthodox' historians. Two major names are Sadao Asada and Robert B. Frank. The latter's Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire from 1999 is considered by many to be the seminal 'orthodox' account of the war's end and the use of the atomic bomb. I have gone through some of it, and I have also read a more recent (2009) essay of his in which he updates his arguments with the latest research: http://www.fpri.org/footnotes/1404.200904.frank.trumanbomb.html.
This essay is excellent, and a fairly short read. Also of interest is a short exchange of letters between Asada and Hasegawa: http://hnn.us/article/28318. Finally, for those interested in a somewhat one-sided account of the history revisionist vs. orthodox debate, there is Michael Kort's short paper: http://theamericanpresident.us/images/truman_bomb.pdf.

On the specific point of why both a demonstration and a warning were rejected, I have recently discovered the book Truman and the Hiroshima Cult by Robert P. Newman who is a noted and respected member of the orthodox school. I am somewhat put off by his tone--he is a bare-knuckled proponent of his beliefs--but his book has whole chapters devoted to answering specific questions. And Chapter 4 is called: "Why no Warning or Demonstration?" It was not available as an e-book to Canadians (or those using a Canadian credit card), but it is available to other nationalities. After a lot of searching, I was able to get access to it by signing up for the online library service Questia. I'm making my way through it now, and when I'm done I hope I will have some more to add on the idea of a demonstration. In the meantime, I can provide this quotation from Newman's book about the particular meeting of the Interim Committee that Yuuichi wants to know more about:

Two days after Marshall's conference with Stimson and McCloy, on 31 May, the Interim Committee held an all-day meeting; the scientific panel, plus Generals Marshall and Leslie Groves, Manhattan Project director, met with it. No council of war in American history was more fateful. Every major atomic development and prospect was discussed, and some urgent matters decided. Stimson explicitly stated that he and Marshall viewed the Manhattan Project in cosmic terms: atomic energy represented a new relation of man to the universe, and the conferees were to provide their best advice as to postwar organization, wartime controls, public announcements, legislation, and future research.19 A proposal to bring the Soviet Union in on the project was discussed and rejected, largely on Byrnes's advice.
During the morning, Ernest Lawrence had suggested giving the Japanese a harmless demonstration before using the bomb for military advantage. This suggestion was taken up during the noon hour. General Marshall was not present; perhaps the outcome would have been different had he been able to argue for the moral position he had presented to Stimson. Without him, the demonstration idea was shot down. In hindsight it is easy to see why.
Where would such a demonstration be held? In neutral territory, as Alexander Sachs suggested, with many observers from other nations? Much time would be required to make arrangements, no one knew the bomb would work, and a dud would be disastrous. There was no warrant at all for believing that General Anami Korechika and his military colleagues would give up their determination to fight to the bitter end however spectacular the demonstration. Since the military firmly controlled what appeared in the Japanese press, the people would not be informed no matter what demonstration was staged.
If the demonstration were held very high over a Japanese city, where the fireball could be seen but would do little damage, the Japanese generals would treat it as so much pyrotechnics.20 No one present at the luncheon believed that a bloodless demonstration would impress the Japanese military. If the time and place of a demonstration over a sparsely populated area of Japan were announced, the remnants of Japan's air force could still interfere with the planes.21 American prisoners of war could be brought to the spot. Should the demonstration take place anyway, the generals could again deny that the weapon was lethal. And there was still the dud possibility. The Alamogordo test was of a stationary device, not a bomb.
Further, a demonstration, however impressive, would preempt the shock value of the weapon, and it would waste a bomb, very few of which would be available in 1945. The consensus on 31 May was "no demonstration."



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 26, 2013, 07:41

Some more info. on the demonstration idea.

Later, in mid-June 1945, the Scientist Advisory Committee met in Los Alamos, and a demonstration was discussed again. No minutes were kept, but we have the later recollections of Arthur H. Compton, a member of the committee:

Ten days later, at Oppenheimer's invitation, Lawrence, Fermi and I spent a long weekend at Los Alamos.... We were determined to find, if we could, some effective way of demonstrating the power of an atomic bomb without loss of life that would impress Japan's warlords. If only this could be done Ernest Lawrence was the last one of our group to give up hope for finding such a solution. The difficulties of making a purely technical demonstration that would carry its impact effectively into Japan's controlling councils were indeed great. We had to count on every possible effort to distort even obvious facts. Experience with the determination of Japan's fighting men made it evident that the war would not be stopped unless these men themselves were convinced of its futility.

Even Leo Szilard, famous originator of the Slizard Petition, later wrote that:

I think it is clear that you can't demonstrate a bomb over an uninhabited island. You have to demolish a city.

And John J. McCloy, who as the Assistant Secretary or War under Stimson had recommended reconsideration of the demonstration idea, later wrote:

The decisions recommending the use of the bomb, made by the interim committee formed by President Truman, were reached after thorough exploration of every possible angle: Could you have a demonstration? What would be its effects? We had not at that time seen the explosion at Alamogordo, but I can just say that if I had been a Japanese observer and seen the bomb go off at Alamogordo, I would not have advised surrender. It's one thing to see something go off, causing no damage at all but creating a great ball of fire and obviously of tremendous power, but it's another thing to say: "Well, now, they set this off on a tower; maybe it weighs 50 tons. How do we know they can deliver it?" And I am sure that anyone who was a sound thinker would have said: "No, that doesn't convince us. In the first place, would they have another?" For example, the German scientists believed that it would be impossible for us to make an atomic bomb, and that if we did we could make only one. The Germans thought of an atomic bomb as something that would have to contain as much as 20 tons of uranium 235, a practically impossible quantity.

And Robert B. Franks, writing in 2009, has the following perspective on whether a demonstration would have induced Japan to surrender:

An atomic bomb virtually destroyed Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. In the early morning of August 9, the Soviet Union entered the war with a massive offensive in Manchuria. A few hours later a second atomic bomb inflicted tremendous damage on Nagasaki. The immediate and lingering effects of the two revolutionary weapons killed between 100,000 and 200,000 Japanese.

It took twenty-four hours for Tokyo to learn of the damage to Hiroshima and the American claim that it was inflicted by an atomic bomb. The militarists immediately erected two lines of defense: first, whatever struck Hiroshima, it was not an atomic bomb; second, even if it was an atomic bomb, the difficulty of manufacturing fissionable material to power the weapon meant the U.S. could not have that many bombs, or that the bombs would not be that powerful. These conclusions were the fruit of Japan’s own efforts to build an atomic bomb. These exertions provided no useable weapon, but did instruct Japan’s leaders in the difficulty of producing fissionable material. This revelation also demonstrates the futility of any single demonstration of an atomic weapon. Further, the news of Soviet intervention did not prompt Japan’s military leaders to call for an end to the war. On the contrary, the three top leaders endorsed plans to continue the war and even to abolish any vestige of civilian government—an extremely ominous development that leaves open the question of how the war might have ended absent that mechanism for intervention by the emperor.

From what I have read so far, other arguments from the 'revisionist school' tends to suggest that either the Japanese were ready to surrender already, or that it was the Soviet entry into the War that precipitated surrender. In either case, these arguments tend to suggest that using the atomic bombs at all was unnecessary, and not that the US should have first demonstrated them before use.



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 26, 2013, 08:10

As to my own opinions, they remain generally unformed. I find the the arguments against the effectiveness of a demonstration convincing, but I'm still troubled by the certainty of many orthodox historians that strategic bombing and the atomic bombs were necessary.
Their arguments are predicated on the assumption that the policy of unconditional surrender (or even surrender with the one condition that the Emperor be retained) were necessary. And these policies were based on the idea that Japan needed to be occupied and reformed (as was being done with Germany) so as to make sure they would never be a threat again.
It is clear that faced with such terms, Japan showed an almost irrational unwillingness to surrender, and their decision makers were indeed willing to throw away millions of Japanese lives, if needed.
Once you have painted yourself into this box, there may have been no choice but to bomb civilians given Japanese actions. However,--and I may be naive in this--I wonder if some prices are too high to ensure Japan is "never a threat again", especially if there might be other ways to make sure of this with almost as much certainty. Once Japan was clearly beaten, if the US had offered terms that demanded Japan withdraw to its home islands, but stated that they would be left alone there with certain restrictions on rearmament, it seems likely that Japan would have accepted. From what I have read, this kind of 'Versailles Treaty' ending was what Japan really hoped for, and the US feared (based on their experience with Germany). But it is unclear to me that the essential format of the Versailles Treaty would necessarily result in a replication of the German resurgence, but this time with Japan. Perhaps it was just the actual details of the treaty itself (i.e., the restrictions and reparations were too harsh). Obviously this kind of negotiated settlement would have a greater risk of a future conflict, but I keep asking myself "what about the more than 1/2 million Japanese civilians that were killed by conventional and atomic bombs? How much future uncertainty are their lives worth?" And I don't really have an answer.
With respect to the racism question, I cannot answer that conclusively. But after reading accounts of how Allied war planners optimized bomber loads over Germany to maximize the number of civilian deaths per bomb, I'm not sure that it played that large a factor. It seems like the Allies were willing to do whatever they felt it took to end the war, against any enemy or race.



Geoff-
Hamilton
Administrator
Posts: 170
Geoff Hamilton
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 26, 2013, 21:00

Thanks so much Yuuichi and Wyatt, for deepening this fascinating discussion.
I've begun my own tentative 'digging in' to the topic, and have two lingering questions in light of the arguments cited by Wyatt above for the American decision not to provide further warnings to the Japanese (and be patient about having them listened to), or demonstrate the power of the atomic bombs on uninhabited locales, before attacking the two cities.
Grayling claims (in the YouTube video cited earlier, around the 7:30 mark) that Japan had 'made overtures' about a ceasefire or truce, via Russia, months before the atomic bombs were dropped, but that the U.S. turned a deaf ear (ostensibly because of the condition about leaving the emperor in place).
Around the 8:20 mark in the same video, Grayling suggests that Truman had firmly decided "not to talk with the Japanese about a ceasefire until the bombs had been dropped" (and that Henry Stimson suggested bombing an uninhabited island, but was rebuffed).
These certainly seem like powerful indictments. Anyone know of other scholars who have argued for or against Truman's (seeming) culpability on these specific claims?



Wyatt Dick
Veteran Their American
Posts: 41
Wyatt Dick
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 26, 2013, 23:53

From what I have read, some Japanese were discussing "surrender" with the Russians. However, there were two major issues with these talks. First, the Japanese wanted to keep not only the Emperor, but also the entire imperial system. This short website sums up most of the 'orthodox' rebuttals to the idea that Japan was ready to surrender in a way that Truman could have accepted.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/08/hiroshima_hoax_japans_wllingne.html

Hiroshima Hoax: Japan's 'Wllingness to Surrender Before the Bomb
By D.M. Giangreco

In the mid 1960's, a growing distrust of government and sympathy for the Vietnam protest movement among American intellectuals revitalized the antinuclear "ban the bomb" campaign, which few had taken very seriously before, and spurred criticism of the use of atomic weapons to end World War II.

Since then, "enlightened opinion" has been dominated by a revisionism fueled by seductive tales of conspiracy in high places, unabashed fact bending, and manipulation of the historical record. Historian Robert James Maddox maintains in "The Greatest Hoax In American History: Japan's Alleged Willingness to Surrender During the Final Months of World War II" (History News Network) that this is exactly what was done by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin in their Pulitzer Prize-winning American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

From publication of his The New Left and the Origins of the Cold War in 1973 to Weapons for Victory: The Hiroshima Decision Fifty Years Later which came out in the midst of the brawl over the National Air And Space Museum's Enola Gay exhibit, Maddox, has minced, sliced, and diced the conspiracy theories that have evolved into conventional wisdom in some quarters. In "The Greatest Hoax," he states:

A staple of Hiroshima Revisionism has been the contention that the government of Japan was prepared to surrender during the summer of 1945, with the sole proviso that its sacred emperor be retained. President Harry S. Truman and those around him knew this through intercepted Japanese diplomatic messages, the story goes, but refused to extend such an assurance because they wanted the war to continue until atomic bombs became available. The real purpose of using the bombs was not to defeat an already-defeated Japan, but to give the United States a club to use against the Soviet Union. Thus Truman purposely slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Japanese, not to mention untold thousands of other Asians and Allied servicemen who would perish as the war needlessly ground on, primarily to gain diplomatic advantage.

One might think that compelling substantiation would be necessary to support such a monstrous charge, but the revisionists have been unable to provide a single example from Japanese sources. What they have done instead amounts to a variation on the old shell game. They state in their own prose that the Japanese were trying to surrender without citing any evidence and, to show that Truman was aware of their efforts, cite his diary entry of July 18 [1945] referring to a "telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace."

There it is! The smoking gun! But it is nothing of the sort. The message Truman cited did not refer to anything even remotely resembling surrender. It referred instead to the Japanese foreign office's attempt (under the suspicious eyes of the military) to persuade the Soviet Union to broker a negotiated peace that would have permitted the Japanese to retain their prewar empire and their imperial system (not just the emperor) intact. No American president could have accepted such a settlement, as it would have meant abandoning the United States' most basic war aims.

Maddox describes a revealing exchange he had with Bird and Sherwin in the December 2007 issue of Passport (newsletter of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations) where he accused them of resorting to "semantic jugglery" in falsely equating Truman's diary reference to "peace" with "surrender," and pointedly noted that they had failed to provide "even a wisp of evidence" from Japanese sources that Japan was trying to surrender. Sherwin and Bird retorted that Maddox has ignored a "huge body of distinguished scholarship" yet neglected to provide a single example of this material. Instead, they lamely held up a recent book by another author, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan, as a shield to defend their own book, and castigated Maddox for ignoring Hasegawa.

Unfortunately for the Pulitzer winners, the Hasegawa book does not support their central contention. Said Maddox:

What Sherwin and Bird apparently did not know, or hoped their readers did not know, was that although Hasegawa agreed with revisionists on a number of issues, he explicitly rejected the early surrender thesis. Indeed, Hasegawa in no uncertain terms wrote that "Without the twin shocks of the atomic bombs and the Soviet entry into the war, the Japanese never would have surrendered in August."

Maddox relates that:

Undeterred by this fiasco and still unable to produce even a single document from Japanese sources, Bird has continued to peddle the fiction that "peace" meant the same thing as "surrender." In a mostly contemptuous review of Sir Max Hastings's Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45 (Washington Post Book World, April 20, 2008), Bird professed to be "appalled by the critical evidence left out."

This greatly amused Stanley L. Falk, former chief historian of the US Air Force, who wrote in HNN's Comment section:

The nasty tone of Bird's review of Hastings may stem from the latter's unequivocal statement that "The myth that the Japanese were ready to surrender anyway has been so comprehensively discredited by modern research that it is astonishing some writers continue to give it credence." (p. xix)

The recently released Hiroshima in History: The Myths of Revisionism, which is edited by Maddox, has received excellent reviews from an unusually wide array of sources -- The Weekly Standard to The New Republic to The Times of London (scroll down to the bottom here) -- and is a useful corrective to much of the nonsense that has been published on the end of the war and Truman's decision to drop the atom bomb. See also my own piece, Was Dwindling US Army Manpower a Factor in the Atom Bombing of Hiroshima?" run earlier on HNN.

The second problem is that it did not seem that the Japanese minister in Moscow, or his backers in Tokyo, really had the authority to follow through on an agreement, or even to propose specific terms in the first place.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surrender_of_Japan

On June 30, Tōgō told Naotake Satō, Japan's ambassador in Moscow, to try to establish "firm and lasting relations of friendship." Satō was to discuss the status of Manchuria and "any matter the Russians would like to bring up."[45] The Soviets were well aware of the situation and of their promises to the Allies, and they employed delaying tactics to encourage the Japanese without promising anything. Satō finally met with Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov on July 11, but without result. On July 12, Tōgō directed Satō to tell the Soviets that:

His Majesty the Emperor, mindful of the fact that the present war daily brings greater evil and sacrifice upon the peoples of all the belligerent powers, desires from his heart that it may be quickly terminated. But so long as England and the United States insist upon unconditional surrender, the Japanese Empire has no alternative but to fight on with all its strength for the honor and existence of the Motherland.

The emperor proposed sending Prince Konoe as a special envoy, although he would be unable to reach Moscow before the Potsdam Conference.

Satō advised Tōgō that in reality, "unconditional surrender or terms closely equivalent thereto" was all that Japan could expect. Moreover, in response to Molotov's requests for specific proposals, Satō suggested that Tōgō's messages were not "clear about the views of the Government and the Military with regard to the termination of the war," thus questioning whether Tōgō's initiative was supported by the key elements of Japan's power structure.
On July 17, Tōgō responded:

Although the directing powers, and the government as well, are convinced that our war strength still can deliver considerable blows to the enemy, we are unable to feel absolutely secure peace of mind ... Please bear particularly in mind, however, that we are not seeking the Russians' mediation for anything like an unconditional surrender.

In reply, Satō clarified:

It goes without saying that in my earlier message calling for unconditional surrender or closely equivalent terms, I made an exception of the question of preserving [the imperial family].

On July 21, speaking in the name of the cabinet, Tōgō repeated:

With regard to unconditional surrender we are unable to consent to it under any circumstances whatever. ... It is in order to avoid such a state of affairs that we are seeking a peace, ... through the good offices of Russia. ... it would also be disadvantageous and impossible, from the standpoint of foreign and domestic considerations, to make an immediate declaration of specific terms.

American cryptographers had broken most of Japan's codes, including the Purple code used by the Japanese Foreign Office to encode high-level diplomatic correspondence. As a result, messages between Tokyo and Japan's embassies were provided to Allied policy-makers nearly as quickly as to the intended recipients.



Yuuichi-
Takada
Experienced Their American
Posts: 17
Yuuichi Takada
Re: Hiroshima
on: December 2, 2013, 14:56

I cannot thank you enough, Wyatt, for this great and thoughtful effort to answer my very small but most painful question, like a thorn in my foot. I shall never forget it.
With my apologies to the other forum members, I shall take it up very carefully, and welcome those not interested in my hard little question to simply ignore this very long response. As I said to Josh Trichilo earlier, how we answer such hard little questions sometimes defines us very deeply, and we, or rather I, must be very careful.
------
To the fatal ‘Interim Committee’ meeting then, and Mr. Newman’s very assured convictions.
During the morning, Ernest Lawrence had suggested giving the Japanese a harmless demonstration before using the bomb for military advantage. This suggestion was taken up during the noon hour. General Marshall was not present; perhaps the outcome would have been different had he been able to argue for the moral position he had presented to Stimson.
If so, then why is it “easy to see” why it was "shot down"?
And, if “perhaps the outcome would have been different”, history would have been different as well. Perhaps the demonstration would have failed, but undoubtedly America would have tried.
Without him, the demonstration idea was shot down. In hindsight it is easy to see why.
Where would such a demonstration be held? In neutral territory, as Alexander Sachs suggested, with many observers from other nations?

Why?
Much time would be required to make arrangements,
Proof?
no one knew the bomb would work,
According to the Jennings report, they were sure of the first bomb.
and a dud would be disastrous.
Thus, a ‘dud’ was not likely.
But even if it was a dud, where is the proof that this would be “disastrous”. If it works even one time, it may work again. Mr. Newman is playing with absolutes and certainties, when possibilities are all that truly matter, especially to the moral question.
There was no warrant at all for believing that General Anami Korechika and his military colleagues would give up their determination to fight to the bitter end however spectacular the demonstration.
Proof (for the absolute claim)?
And even if so, given the stakes involved, why is this a reason for not trying?
The essential logic of Mr. Newman’s analysis is sophistical. Please see also several examples below.
Since the military firmly controlled what appeared in the Japanese press, the people would not be informed no matter what demonstration was staged.
This does not matter (enough).
If the demonstration were held very high over a Japanese city, where the fireball could be seen but would do little damage, the Japanese generals would treat it as so much pyrotechnics.
He seems a very confident (and absolute) psychologist, as Mr. McCloy below.
No one present at the luncheon believed that a bloodless demonstration would impress the Japanese military.
Colonel Stimson (and Mr. Lawrence) clearly thought it worth a try.
Mr. Newman is again being sophistical. The question is not one of ‘would’ but of ‘could’. The argument was not, and need not be, that it would, but merely that it could impress the Japanese military, and the ‘burden of proof’, given the horrific consequences, is not on Colonel Stimson but on those rejecting the attempt. Mr. Newman’s entire argument rests on this mistake.
If the time and place of a demonstration over a sparsely populated area of Japan were announced, the remnants of Japan's air force could still interfere with the planes.
This has been thoroughly proven incorrect. As the Jennings report confirmed, America had complete control of the sky.
American prisoners of war could be brought to the spot.
Not to a neutral site.
Should the demonstration take place anyway, the generals could again deny that the weapon was lethal.
Here again, sophistry. The question here is one of ‘would’ not ‘could’. Would they? For certain? Proof?
And there was still the dud possibility.
Please see above.
The Alamogordo test was of a stationary device, not a bomb.
As stated, they had no doubt the first bomb at least would work. And even if not, this too is no reason not to try.
Further, a demonstration, however impressive, would preempt the shock value of the weapon,
As Americans would say, ‘So what?’.
and it would waste a bomb, very few of which would be available in 1945.
The consensus is: one every two weeks.
The consensus on 31 May was "no demonstration."
But, as the reasons supplied by Mr. Newman are for me weak, or worse, and the ‘stakes’ are so high—historic infamy on a par with Hitler (at least in the mind of Colonel Stimson, the Secretary of War)—I remain troubled by the question, Why did they not at least try?
------
To Mr. Compton:
The difficulties of making a purely technical demonstration that would carry its impact effectively into Japan's controlling councils were indeed great. We had to count on every possible effort to distort even obvious facts. Experience with the determination of Japan's fighting men made it evident that the war would not be stopped unless these men themselves were convinced of its futility.
As with the sophistry of Mr. Newman, this is only a reason not to expect success, not a reason not to try. My question is why did they not try.
The point of the knife is very sharp: Did America do all it could to avoid the slaughter of 100,000 innocent women, children and old people, or did it not?
------
To Dr. Szilard:
I think it is clear that you can't demonstrate a bomb over an uninhabited island. You have to demolish a city.
Proof? How can he prove this, beyond any reasonable doubt? He is a physicist, not a psychologist. Finally, only God can be sure of this. And let us not forget, as it is so easy to do: we are not talking here about a Pavlov experiment. We are talking about the horrific destruction of 100,000 innocent women, children and old people. The magnitude of the consequence means that any doubt, any doubt whatsoever, must be decisive.
(Also, Dr. Szilard seems to have been more preoccupied with his ‘Place in History’ (e.g., the cold war ‘doomsday’ threat) than with innocent Japanese lives.)
------
To Mr. McCloy:
The decisions recommending the use of the bomb, made by the interim committee formed by President Truman, were reached after thorough exploration of every possible angle: Could you have a demonstration? What would be its effects? We had not at that time seen the explosion at Alamogordo, but I can just say that if I had been a Japanese observer and seen the bomb go off at Alamogordo, I would not have advised surrender. It's one thing to see something go off, causing no damage at all but creating a great ball of fire and obviously of tremendous power, but it's another thing to say: "Well, now, they set this off on a tower; maybe it weighs 50 tons. How do we know they can deliver it?" And I am sure that anyone who was a sound thinker
Probably, but certainly? The burden of proof here does not lie on those who wished to try, but on those who rejected even the attempt. And surely the proof must be very strong indeed to justify the slaughter of so many innocent people.
would have said: "No, that doesn't convince us. In the first place, would they have another?" For example, the German scientists believed that it would be impossible for us to make an atomic bomb, and that if we did we could make only one.
Then explode two.
Okinawa was over, the war was in a ‘pause’. What was the hurry?
“What if the Russians get involved? Then we won’t be the only victors to be lord over Japan. Thus, let us hurry and destroy a 100,000 innocent people.”
Is this the argument?
------
To Mr. Franks:
It took twenty-four hours for Tokyo to learn of the damage to Hiroshima and the American claim that it was inflicted by an atomic bomb. The militarists immediately erected two lines of defense: first, whatever struck Hiroshima, it was not an atomic bomb; second, even if it was an atomic bomb, the difficulty of manufacturing fissionable material to power the weapon meant the U.S. could not have that many bombs, or that the bombs would not be that powerful. These conclusions were the fruit of Japan’s own efforts to build an atomic bomb. These exertions provided no useable weapon, but did instruct Japan’s leaders in the difficulty of producing fissionable material. This revelation also demonstrates the futility of any single demonstration of an atomic weapon.
Then explode two. And if “the militarists” do as you think they will do, you have done what you could. You have at least tried to save the lives of all those people, and it is (if anyone can be blamed in such a horrible situation) the militarists’ fault, not yours any longer.
Further, the news of Soviet intervention did not prompt Japan’s military leaders to call for an end to the war. On the contrary, the three top leaders endorsed plans to continue the war and even to abolish any vestige of civilian government—an extremely ominous development that leaves open the question of how the war might have ended absent that mechanism for intervention by the emperor.
A perfectly specious argument for not trying.
-------
My thanks again, Wyatt, for this very fine research. It is so broad and thorough, and the arguments so weak, that I feel I am finally beginning to sense an answer to my question at last, and can soon ‘get out of the way’.
If you will permit me, I would like to take up your ‘racist’ comment first, and then conclude by considering the heart of your response.
With respect to the racism question,
First, I would prefer not to label this as a ‘racism question’, if possible. ‘Racism’ is a broad, ‘loaded’ and simplistic term, used too easily and with much built-in meanings that can distract us from the special context we are dealing with. I would prefer, if you are willing, to think of this as a question of dehumanization, which you rightly noted was increasing over the course of the war. As with the Jews (and to a lesser extent the Slavs) for Hitler, the Japanese had somehow ceased to be fully human for the ‘Interim Committee’, I think. ‘Racism’ may be a species of this problem, but this problem, this process, runs much deeper than the much-talked of rhetoric of racism.
I cannot answer that conclusively. But after reading accounts of how Allied war planners optimized bomber loads over Germany to maximize the number of civilian deaths per bomb, I'm not sure that it played that large a factor. It seems like the Allies were willing to do whatever they felt it took to end the war, against any enemy or race.
Here we return to the ‘firebombing’ question, and Josh Trichilo’s argument that, ‘well, so what, another mass destruction of innocent civilians, what is so special about the atomic bomb?’.
I think there are two special things about the bomb, one technical, and one, may I say, ‘mythological’.
Technically, a single bomb, with this cataclysmic effect, was simply different than all other forms of destruction theretofore. And this is why, I think, General Marshall and Colonel Stimson, both military men, drew such a strong line before the bomb, and why the Hollywood film lied about the 'warning leaflets'. Whatever you or Josh or I may think, these great men of war, and of their time, did not think exploding the atom bomb on innocent people was just another form of “optimized bomber loads”. It was, for them, if not for you, an epochal action, in danger of bringing down historic “opprobrium” or comparison to “Hitler’s atrocities”. It was, is, and forever will be perhaps, the greatest and most concentrated symbol of man's capacity and willingness to destroy.
And, as a single bomb, with complete control of the skies, it could be demonstrated in a uniquely impressive manner, and was demonstrated, in a uniquely impressive manner, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They too were demonstrations, we must not forget. But demonstrations that destroyed 100,000 innocent people. As the historian McCormick said, in my first post, "A prearranged demonstration of the atomic bomb on a noninhabited target, as some scientists had recommended, would not do. That could demonstrate the power of the bomb, but it could not demonstrate the American will to use the awful power."
America had to demonstrate that it was willing to slaughter countless innocent people, and this was what Hiroshima was for. Not to demonstrate the bomb, but to demonstrate the willingness of America to kill, and kill again, like Hitler.
And finally, your essential response, Wyatt.
As to my own opinions, they remain generally unformed. I find the arguments against the effectiveness of a demonstration convincing.
I envy your conviction.
But who was arguing for the effectiveness of a demonstration? No one.
We are discussing the horrific destruction of 100,000 innocent women, children and old people. Assume, for a moment, if you would, that Ottawa and not Hiroshima were being destroyed in one searing blast, and with it, your children, your family and your friends. Would you still be so convinced? Or rather, more importantly, would your conviction leave you satisfied as you seem here? And it is not enough, I think, to say, ‘No, I am not satisfied. But I am nonetheless convinced of their arguments.’ Dissatisfaction can only mean making the attempt, however hopeless it may have looked, unless the attempt can be proved to be hopeless. And who has, who could ever, in the vast complex changing mix of factors at the time, prove that?
Can you, can anyone say, for certain, it could not work, one or even two demonstrations, perhaps even one city but not then two?
At what odds does your heart simply say no? If it had a 1/1,000 chance, would you try? Remember, if you do not try, I can tell you that you are 100% certain to kill 100,000 innocent women and children and old people, like your mother, your child or your grandparents.
If it had only a 1/100,000 chance, is it then okay to kill them all?
Or do you feel, as I do, that all this cool thinking is finally sick and inhuman, and all we can truly say is, if there is any doubt, we must try?
American justice is founded on the principle: better one hundred guilty men go free, than one innocent man be imprisoned. How many innocent people must die before this same principle becomes active in our mind here?
Are you beyond ‘any reasonable doubt’ that a demonstration could not work? And remember, I include the possibility of two or more demonstrations, and maybe one city, if absolutely necessary, but not two population centers, with no warning, which is what the Interim Committee decided in that fateful ‘lunch hour’.
And if it failed, if you let a hundred guilty men go free, you could take comfort in the thought that at least you tried to save that one innocent man.
By not even trying, by not even seriously considering trying, ‘over lunch’, in the comfort of the 'Interim Committee' meeting, America answered my question forever, it seems:
“No, those 100,000 innocent women, children and old people were not even worth trying to save from destruction.”
I see no escape from this conclusion.



Malcom-
White
Veteran Their American
Posts: 21
Malcom White
Re: Hiroshima
on: January 2, 2014, 09:55

So many interesting discussions here, Geoff--like an Americanist's treasure trove!
I've finally had a chance to digest this very meaty discussion of Hiroshima--or rather of the non-demonstration, since this, as Yuuichi rightly points out, is what is truly at issue here, and thus the discussion is applicable to any comparable situation, in the past or future; that is, where one must weigh the certain destruction of countless innocent people against the (perhaps remote) possibility of saving their lives through a relatively simple attempt--here, of demonstration (vs. the mind-boggling logistics of the Tokyo fire-bombing, for example).
And I've finally finished that sentence! (Sorry.)
I feel compelled to submit, in support of Yuuichi's very sad conclusion--which bears within it, however, the seeds of optimism--the dramatic effect on the American consciousness (and thus judgment) of the single, short Pulitzer Prize winning book Hiroshima, by John Hersey, published first in the New Yorker, one year after the bombing.
The effect was galvanic and lasting.

"Containing a detailed description of the bomb's effects, the article was a publishing sensation. In plain prose, Hersey described the horrifying aftermath of the atomic device: people with melted eyeballs, or people vaporized, leaving only their shadows etched onto walls. The New Yorker article Hiroshima was an immediate best seller and was sold out at newsstands within hours. Many requests for reprints were received by the magazine's offices. The ABC Radio Network preempted regular programming to broadcast readings of the complete text by well-known actors in four half-hour programs. Many radio stations abroad did likewise. The Book of the Month Club rushed a copy of the article into book format, which it sent to members as a free selection.
Published a little more than a year after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the American public was shown a different interpretation of the Japanese that had been in the media previous to this....After reading Hiroshima a Manhattan Project Scientist wrote that he wept as he remembered how he celebrated the dropping of the atomic bomb. Scientists along with the American public felt shame and guilt at the suffering of the people of Hiroshima." (Wikipedia)

This is the description of a cultural revelation, rooted, as all are, in the human imagination.
Suddenly the slanty-eyed nips were people, living souls with homes and jobs and loved ones, who had suffered much already, but dreamt of a better future for their children; who had done nothing to deserve such unprecedented and unwarned of destruction. And Marshall and Stimson and Lawrence's fears were realized. The magnitude of the atrocity--of any such atrocity--took hold of the American imagination, and with it a guilt never to be fully expiated.
Let us ask ourselves this question, then: What if this book had been published the summer before, before the bombing, and with something like the prophetic force of religious writings; would the discussion above still be taking place? Or would the crew member of the imaginary Enola Gay have been right when he eased the conscience of his murderous co-member, saying "Don't feel bad, Charlie, we've been dropping warning leaflets on them for 10 days!"



GBakkal
New Member
Posts: 4
GBakkal
Re: Hiroshima
on: February 6, 2014, 21:14

This is the book that waits to be written of the ordinary lives of Arab children, women and old people, blown to pieces from the sky.



JeanGiroux
Novice Their American
Posts: 8
JeanGiroux
Re: Hiroshima
on: November 30, 2015, 18:42

To the victor go the spoils. I believe the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be but two examples in a long list of heinous war crimes committed by the American military-industrial complex throughout the 20th century, and now into the 21st. To address OP's intial question as to why the U.S. gave no warning prior to the Hiroshima atrocity - because the American military is accountable to no one. These attacks were not aimed at Japanese military targets, but rather, were knowingly dropped onto the heads of unsuspecting civilian populations. These attacks not only caused immediate and widespread annihilation, but the ills of radioactive fallout remain a serious threat to Japanese populations inhabiting these regions today. I would argue that these attacks constitute genocide and are in line with Hitler's reprehensible agenda. Unfortunately, those responsible for these atrocities were never held accountable, and would have been, even by their own admission, had they lost the war. Evidence suggests that the U.S. were aware Japan had already been defeated prior to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, making the bombings all the more egregious and unforgivable. I think these events, and the military plundering that continues in the present day, highlight the inadequacy of International Law and the terrifying, deplorable notion that no consequences exist for the world's hegemony.



SN_America
Novice Their American
Posts: 8
Ahsan Moghul
Re: Hiroshima
on: December 7, 2015, 23:15

To add to this conversation I recommend everyone take a look at the Hiroshima Maidens and look at how US war crimes were left out of the creation of warcrimes and human rights law. I'll dig up some sources and would love to hear peoples thoughts.

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