Thursday, August 06, 2009

And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

In 1945, why did the US drop atomic bombs on Japan?

[Hiroshima (August 6th) and Nagasaki (August 9th) on August 6th and 9th, killing approximately 140,000 and 39,000 respectively]

The Battle of Okinawa earlier that summer resulted in the loss of over 85,000 US military lives and over 140,000 Japanese lives. Approximately a quarter of the Japanese civilian population died resisting US invasion.

July 29, 1945 Japan rejected terms of surrender known as the Potsdam Declaration, which included Truman's ultimatum: "Surrender or suffer prompt and utter destruction."

Invasion of Japan to bring about surrender was daunting and would be costly to say the least, expected to last at least until 1947. Approximately 500,000 Purple Heart medals were made in anticipation of invasion of Japan.

However, with the hastened Japanese surrender, the vast majority of those medals were not needed. In fact, as of 2003 there were still some 120,000 of those WWII Purple Hearts on hand, despite the conflicts the 60+ years that followed (including the Korean and Vietnam Wars).

That gives you some idea of the anticipated carnage (on both sides) that was avoided by the dropping of the two atomic bombs. Could it be that such a grotesque weapon actually saves lives ? (cf. the Cold War)



At 06 August, 2009 08:17, Blogger Timothy said...

I agree. But liberals love to point the finger at us and declare how evil our country is.

At 06 August, 2009 09:02, Blogger Pastor Scott said...

(my comment from your FB link)

Given the toll on civilians using conventional combat, the destruction of total villages, towns, and cities in the Pacific and East Asian theaters of war, and the propensity of the Japanese to use civilians for defensive purposes, the use of the awful weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki probably saved civilian lives (granted, not in those particular cities) and helped preserve Japan's ability to recover post-war.

At 06 August, 2009 09:17, Blogger Amie said...

Gunny, I just read this, and I actually admire the position of your story, given you are a minister. Most men of faith I listen to about war, are so narrow minded about it. Nice to see a different position on the matter.

At 06 August, 2009 09:18, Blogger Amie said...

Gunny, I just read this, of course, after my facebook postings. :) I admire the position of your story as most men of faith usually have a very narrow mind about it all.

At 06 August, 2009 10:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, thank God we had leaders that led and did not fear the alienation of the public to include celebrities that would have possibly challenged their 'relection chances'. But of course, during times of crisis we are more willing to support our leaders when they make difficult choices.. recall, George Bush's popularity 1 month after 9/11. It wasn't until we went into Iraq that his popularity began to fall. Since after all; What had Saddam Hussein done to us or would likely do???? :0

At 06 August, 2009 10:36, Anonymous RonH said...

No, it wasn't justified.

It is a fallacy to imply there were only two choices: dropping two atomic bombs on civilians, or full-scale total invasion. There were other alternatives. MacArthur believed the Japanese would have surrendered without the bombs had Truman not insisted on unconditional surrender but had instead proposed a provisional surrender which allowed the emperor to remain in place (which is what we ended up doing anyway). We could have at least offered terms like that prior to dropping the bombs. MacArthur, Eisenhower, Leahy (Truman's own Chief of Staff), and many others considered Truman's action unjustified. From a military standpoint, I defer to their expertise.

From a moral standpoint, it was an egregious slaughter of civilians. Civilians dying as combatants in an invasion is not the same thing as oblivious civilians being roasted in their beds. If a German official had given the order to drop those bombs on American or British civilians, he would have been executed as a war criminal. I cannot justify Truman's order, even in light of some alleged invasion calculus proposed by the very government that gave the order in the first place.

I do not think it was necessary. I do not think it was just. I do not think it was moral.

At 07 August, 2009 22:40, Blogger Lance said...

"All men die, and most men miserably." C. S. Lewis

At 10 August, 2009 17:34, Blogger Matt said...


I disagree with the logic for the reasons that RonH mentioned. What if the Al-Qaeda brain trust was running this scenario:

We could continue resisting America's military forever, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of Afghani, Pakistani, and American lives, or we could just sneak an operative into America and detonate an atomic bomb in one of their smaller cities like Tacoma, WA. This act would demoralize the American people and turn the populace against the war. Obama, feeling the political pressure, would immediately call for withdrawal. Sure, 100,000 people may die in the blast, but ultimately lives would be saved as the war in Afghanistan would promptly end.

Is that a moral decision, or is that terrorism? How is that different than what we did to Japan?


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