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Author Topic:   Was the Use of Atomic Bombs Against Japan Justified?
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(1)
Message 49 of 140 (623711)
07-12-2011 6:41 PM
Reply to: Message 47 by dronestar
07-12-2011 4:43 PM


my unstudied view of the situation
Ok, in this thread, it appears to be mostly me against . . . the world. I would like a few British participants to weigh in as the British are America's not-so-distant cousins and usually co-imperialists (Mod?, Strag?, Britanica?).
My view is that if the defence for murdering hundreds of thousands of people is that it was for the greater good, the evidence supporting that assertion needs to be cast iron. As far as I can tell, the evidence might support the notion, but not sufficiently to justify the action. I am cautious that the impression sometimes painted of the Japanese as being suicidally loyal to the bitter end, man woman and child is a dehumanising one. Yes, there were men who were willing to die for their country, but this is true for all sides in the war, even if the Japanese expression of this willingness was reputedly more direct.
If we don't demand this absolute certainty we could easily find ourselves justifying the deployment of nuclear weapons in countries where we fear a lengthy guerrilla war with the citizens, many of whom are thought to be fanatical killers who will kill themselves to take out the enemy. Much like some of the very wars that are being carried out today.
Especially when it would have cost america relatively nothing to wait
Indeed.
Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 47 by dronestar, posted 07-12-2011 4:43 PM dronestar has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 51 by Taq, posted 07-13-2011 12:27 PM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 52 of 140 (623792)
07-13-2011 1:32 PM
Reply to: Message 51 by Taq
07-13-2011 12:27 PM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
It isn't a painting. That is exactly what happened. You are aware of the Kamikaze pilots, are you not?
As I said, there were people prepared to die for their country on both sides, and that the Japanese's expression of this may be more direct.
Further, regardless of the accuracy of the painting, I am cautious of it's dehumanising impact. Even if every man woman and child was prepared to kill and die, it doesn't render them less than human, but the picture might help people think of them as less than human - a common and easy state of mind to slip into. Surely the impression does not, for instance, extend to babies?
German pilots did not strap themselves to bombs and hurl themselves at the Allied soldiers, but the Japanese did.
I suspect that at least some German pilots and infantry died performing an act they knew was as good as suicide but would help achieve the goals of their nation.
Facing suicidal troops is not sufficient justification for nuking the country they live in.
Incidentally, you realize that your wiki article is filled with 'unreliable source?' marks. I think my initial point was about the level of confidence we have in the 'greater good' type arguments and how we don't have it.
Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 51 by Taq, posted 07-13-2011 12:27 PM Taq has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 53 by Taq, posted 07-13-2011 2:42 PM Modulous has replied
 Message 55 by GDR, posted 07-13-2011 11:00 PM Modulous has seen this message but not replied

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(1)
Message 54 of 140 (623811)
07-13-2011 4:07 PM
Reply to: Message 53 by Taq
07-13-2011 2:42 PM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
To put it as objectively as possible, the Japanese expression of patriotism was difficult for western cultures to understand. In Europe, neither side was committing ritualized suicide instead of surrendering. Entire Allied brigades were not charging the Japanese lines with nothing but a sword in hand. It just wasn't part of western culture, and so it was quite shocking to the Allied troops. This wasn't going to change if an invasion of the Japanese homeland did occur. In fact, it would probably be much worse. While the Allied casualties may have been under 100,000 (maybe), the casualties on the Japanese side would have been horrendous.
I understand all of this, but I haven't seen an argument that justifies murdering civilians on a massive scale. As I said, I need more than, 'they might have fought relentlessly and more of them might have ended up died if we didn't press ahead immediately'. My position is that we should have something more concrete than that.
Facing suicidal troops is not sufficient justification for nuking the country they live in.
Why not?
If it were, that same justification would have us nuking Afghanistan and Iraq. If you don't think that's a problem, fair enough, but I do.
Japan attacked the US. To use a school yard truism, they started it.
When a military makes a military strike against a military target, the appropriate response doesn't seem to be to murder hundreds of thousands of civillians. If Japan had dropped a nuke on New York - then your 'they started it' line would have more merit.
The math was 100,000 US troops dead and millions of Japanese civilians dead or 100,000 Japanese dead and no US troops dead.
And I've yet to see this math, supporting to a degree that would sufficiently justify murdering as many people as they did.
The description in the Wiki article is on par with several other documentaries and accounts I have seen. Healthy skepticism is a good thing, but there are many independent accounts that relate the same story. Some reports may have 10,000 civilian casualties while others may have 20,000, but the fact remains that a lot of Japanese citizens committed suicide rather than surrender.
But that doesn't justify murdering other citizens, right?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 53 by Taq, posted 07-13-2011 2:42 PM Taq has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 56 by Taq, posted 07-13-2011 11:28 PM Modulous has replied
 Message 57 by Taz, posted 07-14-2011 2:04 AM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 58 of 140 (623882)
07-14-2011 9:27 AM
Reply to: Message 56 by Taq
07-13-2011 11:28 PM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
Why does it matter if a civilian dies from a bullet or from an atomic bomb?
It doesn't. Which is why I didn't say it does. Why would you even ask this question?
German pilots did not strap themselves to bombs and hurl themselves at the Allied soldiers, but the Japanese did.
Facing suicidal troops is not sufficient justification for nuking the country they live in.
Why not?
If it were, that same justification would have us nuking Afghanistan and Iraq.
If Afghanis and Iraqis had conquered nearly the entire Pacific theatre and laid waste to our Pacific fleet you might have a point, but you don't.
Your response is nonsensical. I was answering your question as to why 'Facing suicidal troops is not sufficient justification for nuking the country they live in.'. It seems you now agree that it isn't, and you want to say that conquering a certain amount of territory is an important factor.
When a military makes a military strike against a military target, the appropriate response doesn't seem to be to murder hundreds of thousands of civillians.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were military targets. Nagasaki was a vital sea port, not to mention the industry that produced ordinance and ships. Hiroshima was just as important.
Even if that were true, it doesn't seem to address what I said.
Every able bodied Japanese civlian was being trained to fend of an invasion. What do you think would happen? What did happen on other islands that the Allies invaded?
What does it matter what I think would happen? We know what would happen if the bombs were dropped: huge civilian deaths. I am just saying the justification for doing that had better be cast iron, and I don't think it was. If you want to persuade me otherwise, you are free to do so.
Collateral damage occurs in every war, even with standard ordinance. The firestorm in Tokyo produced by Allied bombing killed 80,000 civilians in a single raid.
And I condemn the firebombing of Dresden, the blitz on London and the above mentioned attacks on Tokyo.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 56 by Taq, posted 07-13-2011 11:28 PM Taq has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 60 by Taq, posted 07-14-2011 10:18 AM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 59 of 140 (623883)
07-14-2011 9:29 AM
Reply to: Message 57 by Taz
07-14-2011 2:04 AM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
Help me understand your position. Do you just ignore what happened on all the other islands where the civilians were either fighting to the death or jumping to their deaths? Why are you ignoring what the Americans encountered on all the Japanese islands during the island hoping campaign? Is this like one of those willfull amnesia thing that creationists often use to ignore evidence?
No.
If you want to understand my position, I wrote it down in Message 49

This message is a reply to:
 Message 57 by Taz, posted 07-14-2011 2:04 AM Taz has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 63 by Taz, posted 07-14-2011 1:02 PM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 61 of 140 (623888)
07-14-2011 10:33 AM
Reply to: Message 60 by Taq
07-14-2011 10:18 AM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
I ask this question because if we had not dropped the atomic bombs then just as many citizens, if not more, would have been killed by bullets and conventional bombs.
So goes the 'greater good' claim. My original point was that the evidence to support this claim was not sufficiently strong to guarantee the deaths of hundreds of thousands.
Both the Iraqi and Afghani governments were overthrown in a matter of weeks. Their troops surrendered without much to-do. The total number of US and NATO troops killed over the last 10 years is on par with a week of fighting against the Japanese during WW II. The vast, vast majority of citizens in each country are not using suicide attacks against US and NATO troops. I guess I fail to see how the two are even comparable.
Then read what I wrote again. I said that suicidal combatants was not sufficient reason to use nuclear weapons. You asked why not. I answered. I did not say that the Pacific Theatre in WWII was otherwise comparable to the Middle Eastern conflict of the present day. You are hoping I'm saying they are otherwise comparable because that would be a crazy position that would be easily rebutted.
If not for the atomic bombs, there would have been a long campaign of conventional bombing raids with just as many, if not more, civilian deaths.
I am aware of the 'greater good' argument. I'm just saying that the evidence I have seen justifying it is insufficient. I think I said that in my first post even.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 60 by Taq, posted 07-14-2011 10:18 AM Taq has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 62 by Taz, posted 07-14-2011 12:55 PM Modulous has replied
 Message 70 by Taq, posted 07-14-2011 3:09 PM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 64 of 140 (623916)
07-14-2011 1:22 PM
Reply to: Message 62 by Taz
07-14-2011 12:55 PM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
Modulus, have you become a creationist?
No. Do you always think that a person will radically change their opinions on biology when someone has a differing opinion than yours with regards to military strategy and morality while also conceding that it is an 'unstudied view'?
Why do you continue to ignore the american experiences with the japanese population on other islands?
I haven't ignore it once, so your characterisation that I am continuing to ignore it is fallacious.
Whole families jumped to their deaths.
And this justifies murdering other families?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 62 by Taz, posted 07-14-2011 12:55 PM Taz has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 68 by Taz, posted 07-14-2011 2:38 PM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 65 of 140 (623917)
07-14-2011 1:36 PM
Reply to: Message 63 by Taz
07-14-2011 1:02 PM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
Your entire argument of not being convinced by our argument rests on the fact that you ignore all the experiences that the Americans had with the local Japanese populations during the war. Sure, your argument makes perfect sense if we ignore everything that happened before the bombs were dropped.
My entire argument is that there need to be absolutely solid evidence beyond any shadow of doubt that dropping the bombs was for the greater good, before it could be a moral act to drop them...and that such evidence wasn't in existence.
Does that not make sense somehow? Do you think we should commit mass murder based on fear rather than reason? Maybe we did have evidence beyond any shadow of doubt, but dronester is putting forward a good case that there was significant shadows of doubts.

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 Message 63 by Taz, posted 07-14-2011 1:02 PM Taz has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 66 by Itinerant Lurker, posted 07-14-2011 2:16 PM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(1)
Message 67 of 140 (623920)
07-14-2011 2:30 PM
Reply to: Message 66 by Itinerant Lurker
07-14-2011 2:16 PM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
From the wiki link:
quote:
Because the U.S. military planners assumed "that operations in this area will be opposed not only by the available organized military forces of the Empire, but also by a fanatically hostile population",[10] high casualties were thought to be inevitable, but nobody knew with certainty how high. Several people made estimates, but they varied widely in numbers, assumptions, and purposeswhich included advocating for and against the invasion.
Wherever I look, there seems to be a large swathe of doubt, uncertain assumptions and so on. My position is that before dropping atomic bombs on heavily populated areas, we should be sure - not just afraid - of higher casualties via the alternatives. Alternatives, I believe, included waiting for the Soviets to make their move.
Unless we were trying to set up a cold war with the Soviets...
Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 66 by Itinerant Lurker, posted 07-14-2011 2:16 PM Itinerant Lurker has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 72 by Itinerant Lurker, posted 07-14-2011 4:14 PM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 69 of 140 (623926)
07-14-2011 2:57 PM
Reply to: Message 68 by Taz
07-14-2011 2:38 PM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
Yes, you have. In fact, you're ignoring it in your latest post just now by continuing to claim that all the American experiences with the Japanese populations during the island hopping campaign weren't evidence enough that a much larger casualty on both sides would result from an invasion
I'm not ignoring it. I am just suggesting that there were resonable doubts about Japan's continuation of the war, the casualties that would result from waiting or continuing a standard bombing and the loss of life resulting from strategic nuclear attack.
And that, in the face of such doubts, it's better to think first drop nukes later.
Ok, then what would you have done? Someone else from your side suggested blanket bombing Japan into submission, nevermind that this would have induced mass starvation due to the collapse of their infrastructure. Is this what you want? At least give us an alternative.
I have no clue. I'm just saying that before killing hundreds of thousands of people whether through invasion or via strategic nuclear bombs, one had better be fucking sure one knows what one is doing. And it appears that the USA wasn't completely sure.

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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 71 of 140 (623940)
07-14-2011 3:32 PM
Reply to: Message 70 by Taq
07-14-2011 3:09 PM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
In the Middle East, suicide attacks are the exception, not the rule. During the island hopping crusade, suicide attacks were the rule, not the exception. That is the difference I see.
Yep, there are differences. more than just that. But suicidally aggressive enemy forces is not, on its own, sufficient grounds to murder hundreds of thousands of civillians in my view.
Then we will have to agree to disagree. I think we have both made our cases
I didn't make a case! Dronester seems to be the only one making a case, I just gave him my view because he asked for it.
Do you disagree with my central point that we had best be very sure that dropping the bombs would result in a net saving of lives before we do it?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 70 by Taq, posted 07-14-2011 3:09 PM Taq has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 75 by Taq, posted 07-14-2011 6:39 PM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 73 of 140 (623946)
07-14-2011 4:20 PM
Reply to: Message 72 by Itinerant Lurker
07-14-2011 4:14 PM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
I don't see how the estimates could possibly get any more sure about casualty rates seeing as, in the case of the study done by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, actual rates from invasions against Japanese islands was used.
Then perhaps there is never a time when using strategic nuclear deployments on cities is ever justified, in my opinion.
There's simply no reasonable doubt, then or now, that the alternatives of either an invasion or blockade & bombardment would have resulted in far more deaths.
If that is the case, then my view is in error. Perhaps you can address the case for doubt made by dronester in Message 47?
Is there a particular reason we should expect the Japanese in Hokkaido to have suffered any less during a soviet invasion than Japanese (and Chinese) in Manchuria?
I'm sorry, I haven't a clue.

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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 76 of 140 (623950)
07-14-2011 7:17 PM
Reply to: Message 75 by Taq
07-14-2011 6:39 PM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
The Japanese military were strong enough to take over most of the Pacific. I think that needs to be considered as well.
I agree.
Also, there is a difference between murdering citizens and collateral damage from strategic bombing.
Only in name. Strategic bombing in WWII is basically another term for indiscriminately bombing areas with the intent of killing the opponents workforce, factories and other citizens for the purposes of lowering national morale, capacity and will to make war aka intentionally and with malice aforethought, killing citizens.
If you're going to do that, my opinion is that you need to be very sure it is the right thing to do.
If, for instance, the nation is teetering on the edge of surrender and are just looking for a suitable exit strategy, that might not be the time for strategic nuking, unless you want to send a message to other potential enemies.
I think the US was very sure, and I also think history has born that out.
What do you make of the quotes that dronester posted that seem to indicate that some big names were not sure at all? And feeling sure and being sure might be different things, no?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 75 by Taq, posted 07-14-2011 6:39 PM Taq has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 77 by Rahvin, posted 07-14-2011 8:09 PM Modulous has replied
 Message 79 by Taq, posted 07-15-2011 12:47 AM Modulous has replied

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(1)
Message 78 of 140 (623954)
07-14-2011 8:45 PM
Reply to: Message 77 by Rahvin
07-14-2011 8:09 PM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
1) the discussion of whether hostilities should have continued at all in anticipation of a possible immanent Japanese surrender is a separate discussion from whether nuclear weapons should have been used. Immanent surrender is equally a justification to forestall an invasion just as much as it is against the use of nuclear weapons.
When discussing the moral path to take, you must account for all possibilities. It is not a dichotomy. So sure, one might conclude that an invasion might have been worse for civilians than two nuclear bombs dropping on them, but if doing neither results in less lives lost and the goal of Japanese surrender - it seems a pertinent point in a moral discussion as to what course of action the US should have taken.
We could argue all day about whether shooting someone in the gut is justified because it is better than shooting them in the face, but when an alternative option of 'shoot them in the leg' exists which has the same end result - doing one of the other two might seem morally questionable.

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 Message 77 by Rahvin, posted 07-14-2011 8:09 PM Rahvin has not replied

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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 82 of 140 (624010)
07-15-2011 11:35 AM
Reply to: Message 79 by Taq
07-15-2011 12:47 AM


Re: my unstudied view of the situation
If you are going to discount my arguments in such a flippant manner why do we need to continue this conversation?
Was Nagasaki a vital seaport with major war industry? Yes. Please incorporate this fact into your arguments.
Flippant? Are you suggesting that my definition of strategic bombing is in error?
quote:
Strategic bombing in WWII is basically another term for indiscriminately bombing areas with the intent of killing the opponents workforce, factories and other citizens for the purposes of lowering national morale, capacity and will to make war aka intentionally and with malice aforethought, killing citizens.
wiki:
quote:
Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in a total war with the goal of defeating an enemy nation-state by destroying its economic ability and public will to wage war rather than destroying its land or naval forces...
One of the aims of war is to demoralise the enemy, so that peace or surrender becomes preferable to continuing the conflict. Strategic bombing has been used to this end. The phrase "terror bombing" entered the English lexicon towards the end of World War II and many strategic bombing campaigns and individual raids have been described as terror bombing by commentators and historians
See what you did here? You have blurred the line between war and murder without any inkling of what war is.
I consider deliberately targetting civillians to be murder. When civillians are accidentally killed as part of targetting military assets we might call that 'collateral damage'. And war creates one hell of a blurry line, right?
If there was a ship factory that was bombed by Allied planes and a bike messenger was killed you would call it murder.
No I wouldn't. That would not be indiscriminate, and it wouldn't have been done with the intention of killing civillians, but rather to destroy a factory. Of course, if 5 square miles of land was carpet bombed just to make sure the factory was hit, and a sizeable portion of workforce was killed or demoralised - that would be closer to murder.
On Saipan, the Japanese were utterly defeated. What did they do? Charge Allied lines with nothing more than katanas, or jump to their deaths. There was no "edge of surrender" where conventional warfare was concerned.
And yet the Japanese surrendered without committing mass suicide within days.
I think those quotes are clear examples of remorse that are divorced from logic.
I see.

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 Message 79 by Taq, posted 07-15-2011 12:47 AM Taq has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 87 by Itinerant Lurker, posted 07-15-2011 2:23 PM Modulous has seen this message but not replied

  
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