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Response to Bucky (Reply #8)

Wed Aug 7, 2013, 01:32 AM

25. I appreciate that you're not echoing the tired "save American lives" meme, but....

 

You haven't made a good case for the bombing. I agree with joshcryer (in #17) that your post is in some respects contradictory, and you appear to have conceded my main point.

You write, “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.”

I agree completely. One important motivation to bomb was the scenario in which the Soviet Union attacks and then Japan surrenders, with no A-bomb having been dropped. Washington didn’t want that. In my OP, I emphasized that the U.S. government wanted the chance to demonstrate the power of the bomb on a city, but it’s also correct that there was a big push to get the bomb dropped before the (known date of the) Soviet attack. The supposed concern about the military necessity was largely pretextual. (Notably, none of the military commanders in that theater were even consulted. The only military leader who was asked for an opinion was Eisenhower, who advised against the bombing.)

You write, “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.” Again, I agree completely. That’s an important reason that he didn’t wait a few weeks. Thus the issue is not whether destruction of two cities and massacre of scores of thousands of civilians was justified to save the American lives that would be lost in an invasion, but rather whether those horrendous consequences were justified by these geopolitical considerations. One can argue that they were but it’s a different argument from the ones that apologists for the bombing choose to present. I personally believe that because the slaughter was so extensive, and because it involved a weapon with a new order of destructive power, it would require very heavy justification, and gaming the Soviets didn’t cut it.

It’s getting late and I don’t have time to go through the rest of your posts in this thread in detail, but one statement just jumps out at me. You write, “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.” I’ve never heard that allegation before, and it seems quite implausible, for three main reasons:

(1) First, Truman has been criticized because his disclosure to his nominal ally – we have a “powerful new weapon” – was very vague and uninformative. It’s generally thought that Stalin had no idea of the enormous power of the bomb.

(2) Second, the timetable for the Soviet attack was based on having to move a huge army across half of Europe and all of Asia. The Soviet Union couldn’t just pile them all into a fleet of C-130's. The timetable set at Yalta, in February 1945, was that the Soviet Union would enter the war against Japan three months after V-E Day, and the actual attack came precisely on that date. With or without a bomb, why would the Soviets have planned to defer their attack until late August? They were perfectly well aware of the geopolitical considerations you mention, indicating that getting involved before Japanese surrender would be to their advantage.

(3) Third, if the Soviets had wanted to change their plans, information gained at Potsdam would have given them insufficient time to do it. The Potsdam conference didn’t even begin until July 17. You’re arguing that Stalin, for unknown reasons, had planned to defer his attack until around August 22, but that, upon supposedly learning of a reason for haste, he was able to give an order that magically sliced off 40 percent of the remaining time required for preparation. Even dictators can't pull off that kind of control.

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Arrow 67 replies Author Time Post
Jim Lane Aug 2013 OP
Socal31 Aug 2013 #1
niyad Aug 2013 #3
Nanjing to Seoul Aug 2013 #14
Lancero Aug 2013 #28
Niceguy1 Aug 2013 #29
Jim Lane Aug 2013 #30
niyad Aug 2013 #31
ConcernedCanuk Aug 2013 #40
Name removed Aug 2013 #41
cliffordu Aug 2013 #50
NutmegYankee Aug 2013 #55
telclaven Aug 2013 #56
Bonobo Aug 2013 #2
Fumesucker Aug 2013 #9
Jim Lane Aug 2013 #18
Fumesucker Aug 2013 #24
hack89 Aug 2013 #48
Jim Lane Aug 2013 #59
hack89 Aug 2013 #63
cliffordu Aug 2013 #51
Bonobo Aug 2013 #57
cliffordu Aug 2013 #58
joshcryer Aug 2013 #4
Jim Lane Aug 2013 #12
joshcryer Aug 2013 #15
Jim Lane Aug 2013 #19
joshcryer Aug 2013 #22
GreenStormCloud Aug 2013 #67
LearnedHand Aug 2013 #5
jimlup Aug 2013 #6
Bucky Aug 2013 #10
hunter Aug 2013 #7
Bucky Aug 2013 #11
hunter Aug 2013 #13
Bucky Aug 2013 #20
hunter Aug 2013 #32
Bucky Aug 2013 #39
ConcernedCanuk Aug 2013 #42
Bucky Aug 2013 #43
ConcernedCanuk Aug 2013 #45
Jim Lane Aug 2013 #62
nadinbrzezinski Aug 2013 #54
ConcernedCanuk Aug 2013 #60
nadinbrzezinski Aug 2013 #61
HardTimes99 Aug 2013 #44
GreenStormCloud Aug 2013 #46
hunter Aug 2013 #52
Bucky Aug 2013 #8
joshcryer Aug 2013 #17
Bucky Aug 2013 #21
joshcryer Aug 2013 #23
LineLineReply I appreciate that you're not echoing the tired "save American lives" meme, but....
Jim Lane Aug 2013 #25
zipplewrath Aug 2013 #35
Bucky Aug 2013 #36
Hulk Aug 2013 #16
Jim Lane Aug 2013 #26
sofa king Aug 2013 #27
hunter Aug 2013 #33
sofa king Aug 2013 #49
Lee-Lee Aug 2013 #34
brooklynite Aug 2013 #37
Jim Lane Aug 2013 #38
Bake Aug 2013 #47
markiv Aug 2013 #53
DCBob Aug 2013 #64
melm00se Aug 2013 #65
ConcernedCanuk Aug 2013 #66
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