US A-Bombs On Japan - 'We Were Sacrificed'
When asked what she thought of the dropping the atom bombs on Japan, a Japanese reporter at first struggled to find the right word then exclaimed “We were sacrificed”. There, in essence is the truth about the use of those frightful weapons on a civilian population in wartime.
Ever since the use of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki there has been a great deal of controversy as to the morality of the bombing campaigns by the Allies during WW II. But when it comes to the mother of all bombing campaigns the truth finally comes out as we review the 70th anniversary of that act of destruction.
The great debate is whether it was necessary to drop those Atom bombs at all. In the aftermath we see the terrible suffering brought about by these weapons of mass destruction. Not only were approximately 100,000 people killed immediately in Hiroshima and Nagasaki both, there was the untold suffering of those who survived.
First we need to recognize that both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not military targets. It was ordinary Japanese people, civilians, who were targeted. This was total war and, as was the case in the all wars of the 20th century, it was civilian lives that were needlessly destroyed. It was the politicians and generals playing a lethal game with the lives of millions of innocent people.
The American government excuses itself on the basis that dropping these bombs saved lives as there would have been hundreds of thousands of deaths on both sides if the Americans were forced to invade the mainland. The number may have been exaggerated but considering the extreme fanaticism of Japanese culture there can be no doubt that the losses would have been extremely high.
However, the Japanese were negotiating secretly for peace but with certain conditions. The primary one being that Hirohito would remain as Emperor of Japan. The Americans demanded unconditional surrender. The Japanese knew they had lost the war as their cities were being bombed at will by the Americans. In the case of Tokyo, they were fire bombed similar to the fire bombings of Hamburg and Dresden in Germany. They knew it was just a matter of time before they would have to surrender and they were bargaining for the best deal they could get from the Americans.
But the momentum of war was against them. At both the Tehran conference in November 1943 and the Yalta conference of February 1945 the Allies asked Russia to declare war on Japan and head east. The war in Europe was winding down which freed Soviet troops to turn eastward and prepare to invade Japan. On August 8, 1945 the U.S.S.R. declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria, the Northern Chinese area occupied by the Japanese. The next day Nagasaki was bombed.
Here the glaring anomaly is that the West must have already regarded the Soviet Union as a threat before WW II was even over. We were still allies with Russia. But before WWII was over, the next war, the nuclear standoff called the cold war, was already being planned and would shortly be implemented.
The Firebombing of Tokyo
Prior to dropping the atomic bomb the American Military had been firebombing Tokyo and other major Japanese cities. Knowing full well that the wooden and paper houses of average Japanese civilians were simple fuel for a gigantic fire, they went ahead. Caught in this maelstrom were, once again, mostly civilians.
War is cruel. But the burning alive of mothers and infants by dropping incendiary weapons on them is beyond cruel, it is a war crime. President Kennedy’s Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara stated that he knew that if the Allies didn’t win the war, he and his cohorts would be hanged as war criminals.1
We cannot spare ourselves the painful truth that total war where civilians, especially vast numbers of them, are targets is a crime against humanity.
Starting the cold war with a bang; a very big bang
Obviously a shift in policy took place much to the detriment of the Japanese people. At the Potsdam conference there began to appear a discomfort on the Allies as to Russia’s post war territorial ambitions. There was an inkling of the notion that “Uncle Joe” Stalin would seek to acquire as much territory as possible which did eventually result in an “Iron Curtain” descending on those countries under Communist control. This shift in policy was in essence the beginning of the cold war. It is telling that when Truman told Stalin about his new weapon of mass destruction, Stalin replied that he hoped Truman would have good luck “using it on the enemy”. Maybe I am reading into this comment but I detect a double entendre as Stalin already was working on an atom bomb of his own from stolen plans from the allies. He was obviously excluding himself as an enemy even though there were growing tensions between the U.S.S.R. and the rest of the Allied nations. The Allies were apparently afraid of a Soviet sphere of influence in Asia. But it wasn’t until later that the cold war actually began in Europe.
So what is the truth here? Was the bomb dropped to save lives? It would have if the allies were forced to invade the Japanese home islands. The Japanese military had plans that would sacrifice every Japanese person if necessary to maintain the honor of the nation. Or was the bomb the only way to break through the fanatical Japanese culture of death over dishonor?
In fact, it took the bomb to finally convince the Japanese rulers to surrender unconditionally. Was unconditional Surrender necessary? Maybe. The sticking point was that the Japanese were demanding that their Emperor would remain the sovereign ruler of Japan. This the Allies could not tolerate. In the end Hirohito remained as Emperor but as a figurehead only. The sovereign power to rule was held by MacArthur until the Japanese could implement a functioning parliamentary system.
Should Truman have dropped those bombs to warn Stalin off of any ambitions to rule a part of Asia? Just think of a Soviet zone in Asia: Manchuria, Northern China and parts of Japan as another Eastern Europe after WW II. Japan divided like Germany for 70 years under a rule of State Terror.
The Allies were making the first move in a war of cold blooded calculations. At stake were not just the lives and lively hoods of millions of people but they rolled the dice on the introduction of new weapons that would eventually have the potential to extinguish the human race.
Could this have been achieved without dropping the atomic bomb?
The only alternative that comes to mind is a long siege of Japan. With its sea routes blocked and its factories destroyed, Japan could only hold out for so long. But how long and would they capitulate fully or prolong the agony hoping for a conditional surrender? Their military was willing to fight to the last man. Would going back to the Dark Ages for solutions work in modern times?
On the other hand the Japanese have never apologized for the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor but imperiously expect one for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Once again, on this 70th anniversary of such a tragically momentous event, there were No apologies from Japanese Prime Minister Abe. He expressed remorse, like a criminal wishing the event had never happened, but not apologizing for their part in it.
But we have strayed from our initial question. Was dropping the atomic bombs necessary?
The timing betrays a hidden agenda that has apparently never been discussed and that is:
First the Allies ask Stalin to invade Japan then they dropped the atomic bomb to stop him from invading. Did the Allies simply realize that they had made an error of judgment? It dawned on them that Stalin’s actions in Europe indicated that were he allowed the same leeway in Asia; An Eastern Iron Curtain would split Asia in half much as Stalin was splitting up Europe.
Power politics is responsible for these tragic mass deaths and destruction. Both side are guilty of the mass murder we call War. It is the stupidity of politicians and generals who make decisions that affect the lives of millions of people with no regard for the consequences. It is the centralization of power in the hands of a very few mostly incompetent bureaucrats who have the power to create such devastation.
The Morality of the Message
Why does it matter to us over a half a century after the end of hostilities? First, it would be nice to know the truth. Without ever knowing the truth we live in ignorance of our own past and therefore cannot make good decisions about the future. A false history only allows for the same mistakes to be reenacted over and over until we finally realize what the mistakes are that underlie our decision making process. More importantly it reveals the machinations of the politicians and generals who have the ability to cover their tracks and place the blame for heinous acts somewhere else. Hopefully it will awaken the general public to the fact that they are constantly being deceived and that there are hidden forces at work that determine whether they will have to deal with these manmade tragedies or find a path to permanent peace.
Maybe Stalin got the message but we don’t. That is, we don’t agree that incinerating innocent people is the way to tell another world leader to not go any further.
How many times will the public be sacrificed for the satisfaction of oligarchic wars before they finally say no to war and violence?
1 He made this statement in a televised interview that the press advertised as his apology for the Viet Nam war. Show me anywhere in that interview where he apologizes for these crimes.
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