Leftist Lies on the Decision to Bomb Hiroshima
Historical arguments based on fantasy and a desire to present America as a villain have made the use of nuclear weapons to end World War II into a “controversy.” Ignorance of history is a very dangerous thing.
The President recently visited Hiroshima Japan, site of the first atomic bomb ever used in combat. The bombing took place on August 6th, 1945. It was followed three days later by a second bomb on Nagasaki. Although he was very careful not to explicitly “apologize” for our use of atomic weapons -- mindful of the harsh backlash that awaited him should his trip be perceived as yet another “Obama apology tour” -- the tenor of President Obama’s remarks left little doubt as to where he stands on the issue.
For years, the estimated death tolls from these two events were put at approximately 70,000 and 45,000 respectively.* However, in recent years these figures have increased dramatically, often being cited as being in excess of 120,000 and 90,000. Perhaps recent historians, equipped with more data, are including the lingering radiation and burn-related deaths that can now be attributed to the initial attacks. Perhaps agenda-driven revisionists -- confident that the earlier numbers will never again come to light -- are simply intentionally exaggerating the casualty numbers for greater emotional impact, in service to an anti-nuclear or anti-American political goal.
No matter. They were devastating attacks and their stunning severity convinced an otherwise fanatical and totally detached-from-reality Japanese leadership to snap into some semblance of lucidity and surrender immediately. The formal surrender took place on the battleship USS Missouri on September 2, 1945.
The Japanese had displayed a zealous obsession to fight to the last man in their frenzied defense of the Pacific island campaign in 1944-1945. When the island of Tarawa fell to US forces after three days of unbelievably intense fighting, only 17 (!) Japanese soldiers remained alive out of their initial force of 4800. On Guam, after three weeks of fighting, the 18,000-man Japanese defensive force had fought with such ferocity that victorious U.S. forces took only 485 prisoners.
So it went, island after island, month after month. Total American casualties in the Pacific Theater were averaging 7000 per week. Try to put that into the perspective of our recent engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iwo Jima (the famous “flag raising” battle) saw the Japanese fight to within 4000 of their 22,000-man force, inflicting American casualties of 7000 dead and 19,000 wounded during the 36-day battle.
Okinawa, the final island battle before the invasion of the Japanese homeland was to commence, lasted three months from April-June 1945, with 12,000 American deaths and 80,000 wounded. Japanese combat deaths were estimated to be in excess of 110,000.
The rate of casualties in these Pacific engagements was and remains simply unprecedented and incomprehensible, even to this day. Defending their homeland, there is every reason to believe that the Japanese would be even more desperate and fanatic. Adult civilians and children were ready to join the battle. Estimates of the duration of the invasion were as long as 6 months to over a year, and casualty expectations were over 500.000 American dead and 5-10 million Japanese dead, figures made so high because of anticipated widespread civilian participation in the defense of the homeland.
To reduce the calculation of different warfare strategies to a cold analysis of projected casualty/death rates is indeed a horrifying proposition. It’s a choice no sane person wishes would ever have to be made.
But it is equally insane for the emotionally/ideologically-obsessed but intellectually-stubborn/ignorant sect to somehow believe that some innocent deaths in war are “worse” or less morally-defensible than others. The March 1945 firebombing of Tokyo resulted in far greater casualties than either atomic strike in August 1945, yet the modern anti-nuclear war faction has let that one pass completely. Why? Are civilian deaths by “conventional” means somehow acceptable but death by nuclear weapons -- especially because of their longer-lasting and grotesque radiation/fallout effects -- somehow “worse”? Or is the anti-World War II nuclear bloc simply unaware of history?
Much -- most, actually -- post WWII analysis centers on how “wrong” the U.S. was to use atomic weapons, how America sacrificed its moral standing by employing them, how -- in the eyes of many modern-day historians -- we did it mostly to impress and intimidate the ever-strengthening Soviet Union, who we correctly saw as the major threat to post-WWII world stability, or how we could have brought Japan to its knees and forced them to surrender without such extreme measures.
Is any of that possible? It’s possible. But unlikely. No credible evidence or documentation has ever been uncovered to support such a contention, although a lack of evidence certainly doesn’t deter proponents of the we-did-it-to-intimidate-the-Soviets theory, no matter how far-fetched it may be. And in actuality, virtually all of today’s criticisms and protests focus on America’s supposed moral transgressions, since many anti-nuclear protesters tend to be absolutely, completely unaware of any late-40’s Soviet implications in past U.S. strategic deliberations.
Absent the atomic bomb, an invasion of the Japanese homeland was going to happen in November 1945. Six million or more would have died. But it didn’t happen and they didn’t die. As previously stated, ignorance of history is a dangerous thing. And while awareness of it may not make difficult historical passages any easier to absorb, such awareness is, at the very least, intellectually empowering.
*Famous Bombers of the Second World War, © 1960 William Green, Doubleday & Co. P. 118 -- 70,000
Airwar Vol 2, © 1971 Edward Jablonski, Doubleday & Co.; P. 210-211: 71, 379 “...still less than the number of casualties of the [U.S.] Tokyo fire raids and the [British] Dresden [Germany] attacks.”
Air Force © 1957 Martin Caidin, Bramhall House; P. 194 Hiroshima -- 80,000, Tokyo [March 1945] 130,000