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Response to ConcernedCanuk (Reply #42)

Thu Aug 8, 2013, 12:20 PM

43. good question.

Concentrations of 300,000 troops do not just bunch up into conveniently concentrated targets the way that military production factories do in a city. America had 2 bombs only, with a 3rd not likely to be ready until August 19th and a 4th by early September. Targeting troops would probably be more effective by conventional bombing (which did happen on Kyushu). And of course the hope of the Americans was that the a-bomb would shock the Japanese into surrender--essentially a weapon of terror. Obliterating a city is more shocking than bombing a camp and flattening the 2-mile radius of countryside around it. I'm being deliberately blunt here. Both sides share the blame for the loss of innocent lives--the Japanese for scatter-siting military production around their cities, turning neighborhoods into legitimate military targets, and the Americans for calling that bluff.


One thing I don't get is why the moral onus is so uniformly placed on the US. My read of it is that equal culpability rests with the Soviets for being such atrocity-prone allies that the Americans felt compelled to rush the war's end with such horrific airwar policies. And if anything, a great culpability lays with Japan for prolonging a war they'd already lost, failing to develop a kokutai (political system) that could produce a more logical war policy, cultivating a fascistic military culture that constantly threatened violence against anyone who didn't favor suicidal militarism over an honorable peace, and for initiating the needless war in the Pacific to begin with. The political systems of Russia and Japan generally get treated as if they were forces of nature, free from human volition and moral culpability, that American policy makers had to somehow, omnisciently, manipulate into a less violent conclusion. As a history teacher I try to warn my students against falling into such subjective thinking or applying such double standards.

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Jim Lane Aug 2013 OP
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LineLineLineLineLineLineLineLineReply good question.
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