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Response to Jim Lane (Original post)

Fri Aug 9, 2013, 08:45 AM

65. The decision to drop the bomb

was driven by multiple issues (in no particular order):

- An attempt to drive Japan into unconditional surrender (a stated goal of FDR and adopted by the Allied powers at the Casablanca Conference and reinforced at Potsdam). The Japanese, up to the ultimate surrender, held out some hope that a negotiated armistice could be made with the Allies (specifically on the point of the Emperor) and had made overtures to the Allies to the point but were rejected.

- Remove the need to invade the Japanese Home Islands which would have had horrific casualties on both sides. Look at the casualty figures, both civilian and military, from the Battle of Okinawa: approximately 80% Japanese military forces on the island were dead. Depending upon account, Okinawa civilian casualties were between 14% and 50% (the reality is probably in the mid 30% range). The Japanese appeared to have 900,000 men in uniform and another 28 million men and women in volunteer irregular forces. Apply the Japanese casualty percentages (or even a fraction of them) from the Battle of Okinawa to a potential Home Island invasion and you will come up with horrific level of death and destruction.

- A message to the Soviets. This cannot be discounted as there were quite a few people in government and the military that saw a conflict between the Soviets and the Western Allies as almost inevitable. Warning the Soviets with the use of "the bomb" made good tactical sense at the time.

- War weariness. Other than the American War for Independence and the Civil War, WWII was the longest war fought by the USA to that point. An invasion of Japan could have easily put the length of war to #2. Americans at home were rapidly tiring of 4 years of war enforced shortages (and don't forget the weariness of more than a decade of the Great Depression). Military personnel (who averaged 33 months from induction to discharge and whose service commitment was for "the duration of the war" were feeling the same way. Washington felt great pressure to wrap up the war quickly and with as few American casualties as possible.

it was a combination of these (and other factors) that pressed Truman to make the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As individual issues, they probably would not have been sufficient to justify dropping the bomb (with possibly the exception of the Home Island casualty figures) but taken as a whole, it easier to see why the decision was made.

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Jim Lane Aug 2013 OP
Socal31 Aug 2013 #1
niyad Aug 2013 #3
Nanjing to Seoul Aug 2013 #14
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Niceguy1 Aug 2013 #29
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ConcernedCanuk Aug 2013 #40
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