Author Topic: Did the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki prevent additional casualties?  (Read 3451 times)

Nephew Twiddleton

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On one hand, it was a graphic demonstration of why global wars were no longer feasible.

On the other hand, we dropped nukes on civilians.

I don't really know what to think.  It was awful as hell, but so were world wars, and without the bomb, we'd have kept having them.


That's true.. Maybe it's better to just let it be a 'damn thing that happened' rather than take a side.  I guess I'd just really like to know if that was really thought out.  I mean Truman doesn't strike me as intelligent to consider those ramifications  and the way he reacted when he heard the news -- all giddylike -- seems to indicate that he was more power drunk than contemplative.

The 20th century was, in my opinion, the most barbaric era mankind ever indulged in.  So of course they dropped the bombs.

This. So much this.

And there was plenty of barbarism outside of the bombs, or WWII in general. The Modern Era was rife with running with technology and the idea of "what can we do to kill the other side faster/stronger/more horrifically than the other guys" without stopping to think. WWI is an excellent example of this. The way warfare technology moved in a period from 1914 to 1919 was INSANE. It became a game of "can we top this?" instead of, "How can we stop this?"

Politics had changed from the kingdoms and empires of the Middle Ages into democracies, dictatorships, and communist states in what was probably a direct result of the industrial revolution. Barriers were broken so fast, nobody gave a fuck.

I'm happy you replied because I've been thinking about Roger's comment on and off today.

WWI was really that time when technology and warfare wedded. Like a kid with a new toy, every country wanted to show off.  Only they were adults with millions of lives on the line.  The bomb seemed to be the capper. Like that moment in Lord of the flies when they got rescued and everyone realized how fucked up they were being.

Only it was a reality that couldn't be reversed.

No, world war I was when that wedding took place.  It was far more awful in terms of carnage.

I would further argue that the wedding was inevitable. There was courtship as early as the American Civil War (birth of machine guns, ironclad hulls, though you could argue the American revolution, with rudimentary submarines. Not being Amerocentric intentionally, it's just that those are the noticeable beginnings of modern war tech from a perspective I'm familiar with). But ultimately, humans have always been at war with each other. WWI just happened to break out at a particular point of runaway technological progress.
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Nephew Twiddleton

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On one hand, it was a graphic demonstration of why global wars were no longer feasible.

On the other hand, we dropped nukes on civilians.

I don't really know what to think.  It was awful as hell, but so were world wars, and without the bomb, we'd have kept having them.


That's true.. Maybe it's better to just let it be a 'damn thing that happened' rather than take a side.  I guess I'd just really like to know if that was really thought out.  I mean Truman doesn't strike me as intelligent to consider those ramifications  and the way he reacted when he heard the news -- all giddylike -- seems to indicate that he was more power drunk than contemplative.

The 20th century was, in my opinion, the most barbaric era mankind ever indulged in.  So of course they dropped the bombs.

This. So much this.

And there was plenty of barbarism outside of the bombs, or WWII in general. The Modern Era was rife with running with technology and the idea of "what can we do to kill the other side faster/stronger/more horrifically than the other guys" without stopping to think. WWI is an excellent example of this. The way warfare technology moved in a period from 1914 to 1919 was INSANE. It became a game of "can we top this?" instead of, "How can we stop this?"

Politics had changed from the kingdoms and empires of the Middle Ages into democracies, dictatorships, and communist states in what was probably a direct result of the industrial revolution. Barriers were broken so fast, nobody gave a fuck.

I'm happy you replied because I've been thinking about Roger's comment on and off today.

WWI was really that time when technology and warfare wedded. Like a kid with a new toy, every country wanted to show off.  Only they were adults with millions of lives on the line.  The bomb seemed to be the capper. Like that moment in Lord of the flies when they got rescued and everyone realized how fucked up they were being.

Only it was a reality that couldn't be reversed.

No, world war I was when that wedding took place.  It was far more awful in terms of carnage.

I would further argue that the wedding was inevitable. There was courtship as early as the American Civil War (birth of machine guns, ironclad hulls, though you could argue the American revolution, with rudimentary submarines. Not being Amerocentric intentionally, it's just that those are the noticeable beginnings of modern war tech from a perspective I'm familiar with). But ultimately, humans have always been at war with each other. WWI just happened to break out at a particular point of runaway technological progress.

I suppose you could further argue that the first world war on any planet would necessarily begin around that level of technology. That level of technology make global war feasible.
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Nephew Twiddleton

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So I've been wandering around the internet and I've come across some folks who can't seem to agree on this--and admittedly I'm not sure what to think. So I figure, why not bring it up here?

So pro A-Bomb side says that Japan civilians would have fought and/or committed suicide had the US invaded--possibly to the point where they would have obliterated their whole race. They claim that the 200,000 people who died from the bomb would have been upward toward a million Japanese and allied people who died in an invasion.  The Japanese thought we had only one bomb and wanted to keep fighting after Hiroshima. In addition the targets had factories and military bases that, should they have remained would have made a southern invasion incredibly difficult. This is also the position that Truman put forth (which immediately creates red flags for me, but that's just a gut reaction from this day and age.)

The anti A-Bomb side says that the Japanese were going to surrender anyway because the Soviets entered the war in Manchuria. Both Gen. Eisenhower and Gen. MacArthur have stated that the bomb didn't shorten the war.  These folks claim that the bomb was more as an effort at intimidating the Soviets and the Japanese were the perfect opportunity due to Americans' racist tendencies to think of the Japanese as "cockroaches".  That the pending surrender was based on a promise that the Allies would allow the Japanese imperial reign  to remain intact as their culture was used to.

So I DON'T want to believe that bombing and horrid aftermath of dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the best solution but there seems to be a good case for it based on the evidence I've found.  The anecdotes from Eisenhower and MacArthur are...well anecdotes and Eisenhower was mostly in Europe and Africa anyway.  I heard that MacArthur was more disappointed that he couldn't do what he did best and storm in there--even after Hiroshima.

Ultimately, I WANT to believe that there is never a use for the bomb so I'd like to reconcile this--even if it means swallowing hard truths.

I dunno...the normal "pro A-bomb" stance I hear is a synthesis of both your presented "pro" and "anti" arguments.

Basically, it follows as:
The japanese would have surrendered anyway because of the Soviets, however, this would have lead to a divided japan, with a southern conquest being perpetrated by the US, and a northern perpetrated by the USSR.
In "North Japan", you'd end up with communist purges, as is per usual with communists, probably some famine from the wonderful execution of communist planning, and possibly a "japanese war" to go right along with the korean and vietnamese ones. God knows how it would effect geopolitics in the long run too...

So the blunt premise is that the A-bombs caused casualties, yes, but far less than a japanese communist state would have in the form of purges, starvation and attempts at conquering the capitalist south...

Conversely, it might have been that Japan ended up being Korea, and Korea, Vietnam, and Vietnam ending up somewhere else.
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Cain

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Or it could've ended up the same way, Japan surrendured to the US to avoid any kind of Soviet occupation.

The US still had the preponderance of force in the region, I'm not sure the Soviets would've pressed the issue, especially with China to the south looking like much more promising territory to forge gains in (I suspect the Soviets had no idea how much wealth Japan had looted, or that most of it would avoid being paid back in reparations to the country's Japan occupied).

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In the most literal sense, no. He didn't stop anyone from dying, he just increased the rate at which they died exponentially.
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#1. Fuck 'em

#2. If we had invaded, Japan could have been a state by now.
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