Dear Diary 

Was the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki justified?

As painful as that is to admit -- yes, I think it was. Japan's Big Six were refusing unconditional surrender, the only surrender they were willing to accept -- until Nagasaki, after which Hirohito stepped in -- was conditional one which would preserve the essential structure of Japan, thus preserving its militaristic ambitions. So until Hiroshima, the options were either a sea invasion with absolutely massive casualties on both sides, or accepting conditional surrender and leaving Japan as a ticking time bomb.

Given the japanese culture, the willingness of civilians, even women and children, to fight to the death in defense of the emperor -- yeah, the casualty estimates of Operation Downfall were reasonable: on the order of a hundred thousand of dead american soldiers, possibly going into many hundreds of thousands. Japanese casualties, including the japanese civilian casualties, would have been immeasurably higher -- estimates were in the millions; as was confirmed later, Japan was fully prepared to fight to the death, even training children for the role of suicide bombers, telling people to literally fight with sticks and stones, to the last breath.

US choices were:

  1. Sue for peace, and risk japanese resurgence 2 decades later, potentially setting up the grounds for WWIII, the way Versailles treaty set the groundwork for WWII. Or simply risk Japan again conquering China and Korea. You know how humane the japanese were there, right?
  2. Conventional invasion of Kyushu, i.e. Operation Downfall. Risk possibly hundreds of thousands of american dead, and millions of japanese, both military and civilians, because civilians were primed to fight with sticks, stones, and bare hands.
  3. Drop the nuke and, in a flash of nuclear flame, end the war decisively, definitively forestalling any chance of japanese revanchism.

US command picked #3 for a good reason. Yes, it was an act of massive savagery. As would have been a land invasion of Kuyshu. As would have been a revanchist war a couple of decades later, were Japan allowed a conditional surrender. And sure, we let them keep the emperor, but only as an act of victor's mercy, after they surrendered unconditionally; we didn't let them retain any illusions of having won themselves favorable terms. The japanese defeat had to be -- and was -- absolute.

It's easy to proclaim all the available choices to be unacceptable. Nonetheless, those three may be all the choices you have. From the comfort of our homes, we can simply say "none of the above" and leave it at that. In real life, that is not always an option.

Yes, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was horrible and savage. The alternatives were even worse.

19:37:13 on 08/05/15 by danilche - Category: General

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