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Response to Jim Lane (Original post)

Wed Aug 7, 2013, 12:15 AM

8. A list of incorrect statements in this thread so far

from comments:

  • I have asked why the hypothetical "million casualties" invasion was necessary. I have not received an answer.

    This is a well covered topic. The US never estimated they'd indure a million deaths from invading Japan. The high end estimates were horrible--about a quarter million. If the US had failed to invade Japan and fully defeated its armed forces, then the fascist militarist party would have triumphed interally and the so-called "peace party" factions would have been driven from the government. Japan would have spent a generation more or less acting like North Korea does now, biding its time until its militarist elements, considered heroes for having scared off the "cowardly Americans", launched new aggressions. A clear win put the peaceful elements in charge of Japan almost immediately.

    You now have your answer.


  • It {the atomic bombings} was obviously a message to the Soviets

    A common revisionist critique that is, unfortunately, not backed up by facts.

    The US was in the midst of a war with a determined enemy. Efforts by peace factions within Japan were blocked and frustrated by the dominant (and murder prone) war party. The bombing was clearly and frequently cited by internal councils in the US government as a means to either (1) force Japan to surrender or (2) wipe out concentrations of Japanese military & industrial power to quicken the end of the war. While there is no doubt that Truman and Byrnes were aware of the impression Hiroshima would give to the Soviets, there is exactly one quote from Byrnes about what it would make the Soviets think and literally hundreds of in-context quotes about what the bombs were supposed to drive Japan to do.


  • I agree though that we could've waited

    Waiting would have been disastrous for Japan. Upon hearing at Potsdam that the US had the Bomb, Stalin moved up the calendar for his attack on Japan's forces by two weeks. The Soviet war on Japan was spectacularly successful, despite losing half of their prep time to Stalin's insistance on having a seat at the surrender table. Every delay in forcing the surrender risked giving the Soviets yet bigger concessions than what they already won



    from OP:

  • Most of the defenders of the bombings assume that the bombings shortened the war

    People who've studied the history generally recognize that it was the Soviet invasion, not the bombing of Nagasaki, that was the nail in the coffin of the militarist faction.

  • In early August 1945, the Japanese had drawn some encouragement from the Soviet Union’s failure to act against them, even after the end of the war in Europe. They thought that there might be some kind of “Asian solidarity” against the Western allies, so that the Soviet Union might remain neutral and help to broker a peace agreement. The Japanese government had begun communications with Moscow to explore that possibility.

    You're close here. First, your post implies (but doesn't state) that Japan began its negotiations with Moscow in August. They'd been persuing them with Russia since the Spring of 45 actually. The whole time the Soviets were just stringing the Japanese along--a deliberate waste of their diplomatic assets so that the Japanese didn't seek other mediators (like Sweden). The Japanese thought they could buy off the Russians with Manchura, Sakhalin, fishing rights off Hokkaido, the whole ball of wax. By July, before the Potsdam conference, Japan's ambassador to Moscow, Sato, was almost impudently telling his bosses they were wasting their time with Russia. But the Peace Party was as stubborn as the War Party--they truly believed Stalin could be bought off and could force the US to end the war short of unconditional surrender. It was self-delusive. Fascists are prone to that sin.

    The Japanese did not have any illusions about Asian solidarity. I don't know where you got that. They always saw Russia as a European power.


  • {Truman} had an easy and obvious alternative – to hold off on the bombing for a few weeks and wait to see what effect the Russian attack would have.

    Holding off the bombing was not an easy alternative. If you read Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's Racing the Enemy, you'll see the very point of rushing the bombs into deployment was to prevent the Soviets from taking part in the surrender of Japan. Truman, during his stay at Potsdam, found out how the Russians had raped and brutalized all the women in the household the American delegation was staying at. The Americans were horrified (and helpless) by Soviet violation of the Yalta agreement in his subjugation of Poland and other European countries. The principal hope of the bomb was to force Japan to surrender before the same "liberation" occurred to too much of Asia.

  • In fact, one reading of the situation is that a major purpose of the bombing was that American planners wanted the power of the weapon to be graphically demonstrated – not to a prostrate Japan, but to the Soviet Union.

    Discussed upthread. It's a "reading" that isn't supported by a wide review of primary sources.

  • They wanted to intimidate Moscow. That goal would not be achieved if the Soviet attack caused Japan to surrender with no need for (excuse for) the dropping of the bomb.

    One thread of advice running to Truman, particularly from his scientists, was that the US would not be holding a monopoly on atomic bombs for very long. They may have been thinking 10 years instead of 4, but they were under no delusion that the Soviets could be intimidated for long by atomic power

  • The real motivation was a fear that Japan WOULD surrender. Planners in Washington didn’t wait a few weeks because they wanted to get the bombing done while they still had the chance to kill scores of thousands of people, instead of just dropping it on some uninhabited island.

    The underlined statement is an utter fabrication. Based on US "Magic" interceptions of Japanese messages, the Truman Administration knew perfectly well that Japan was not on the cusp of surrender. They knew Japan's main diplomatic efforts, talking to the duplicitous Soviets, were drilling a dry well. It would have made Truman's day if the Japanese surrendered because that would achieve his number one and number two strategic goals--ending the war before the Soviets got in on it.


    Read Racing the Enemy. It's an eye opener and a balloon buster on both sides of the debate. Much of it is online right now.

    Right here ==> http://books.google.com/books?id=iPju1MrqgU4C&pg=PA7&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false
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