Column: Why Do We Have to Keep Dredging Up Old Stuff About Hiroshima?





Mr. Thompson, Professor of Public Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is the author of Legalized Gambling: A Reference Handbook (Santa Barbara and Denver: ABC-Clio, 1994 and 1997-2nd ed.)

MY TRUTHS ABOUT THE BOMB

1. What did they expect: IT'S CALLED WAR! It ain't beanbag!

2. THEY started it.

3. They deserved PAYBACK for their"sneaky" little attack on

Pearl Harbor.

4. You better believe it. THEY WOULD HAVE DONE IT TO US if they had had the chance.

5. What's their beef. MORE DIED IN the fire bombings of DRESDEN and TOKYO. Why do they think Hiroshima and Nagasaki are so special?

6. The JAPANESE ATROCITIES in China, Korea, and Southeast Asia including rapes and pillage of civilian populations deserved some kind of retribution. We had to get the point across that this would NEVER be tolerated ever again.

7. How can the bomb be criticized considering WHAT THE JAPANESE DID TO THEIR WAR PRISONERS. They broke every civilized rule of war.

8. WE SAVED LIVES by dropping the bombs. Over one million American military would have lost their lives in an invasion of Japan. The loss of one single American life would have been unconscionable knowing we had the bomb that would end the war immediately. One single American life saved was worth all the Japanese lives lost with the two bombs.

9. How many Japanese lives did we SAVE by using the bombs. Probably millions--military and civilian. If we would have had to invade Japan, they would have engaged in a fight to the finish for their mainland.

10. We had to END THE WAR QUICKLY, because Japanese suicide pilots were attacking our Navy ships as they approached the Japanese mainland.

11.If the bomb was so bad, why didn't they surrender after Hiroshima. Why did THEY make us drop a second bomb?

12.It is a bit much to have THEM talk about the sanctity of life. KAMIKAZE isn't exactly an American word. It was THEY who had the suicide bombers. Our leaders didn't do Hara-kari when things went wrong.

13. This revisionism is quite insincere. Sometimes people just want to knock the United States. WE ARE THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN HISTORY, and Harry TRUMAN, without a doubt, was the greatest president during our lifetimes anyway. Thank God! We had a man with guts in office when we needed him!


OTHER VIEWS

1. The Atomic Bomb involved secret (illegal) budgeting games by Congress and the President. The investment in the project was very large ($2-3 billion), and if it had failed a lot of Congressmen just might have gone to the slammer. We HAD TO JUSTIFY spending the money on the bomb project by proving the bomb could actually work in a wartime situation.

2. We had to show Russia just who was going to be in charge after the war. Already Russia had shown signs of opposition to its democratic war allies. If we had not demonstrated to Russia that we had the power of the bomb on our side, Russia might have tried to start a cold war with us. Such an engagement could have tied up our military and national financial resources for over half a century.

3. We made an agreement with Russia that they would come into the Asian theater of the War 90 days after the War ended in Europe. We thought we needed their help, because we did not know the bomb would be successful. Now we didn't need their help. But if they got into the Asian War before we could end it, they would try to be included in the surrender negotiations, and they would want some of the spoils of the Asian War. Those spoils had been earned. They belonged to the U.S. of A., lock, stock, and barrel, not to any Commie-come-lately Russians. The Hiroshima bombing was August 6, 1945. As THEY AGREED TO DO, Russia declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945, exactly 90 days after the war ended in Europe.

4. Our military leaders had shown incompetence in the manner in which they allowed massive numbers of American lives to be wasted in defeats of the Japanese on islands such as Iwo Jima and Okinawa. We had lost sight of military objectives and demanded at each engagement that we defeat the enemy completely regardless of the objective sought. We used the massive number of American military casualties in the Pacific engagements to formulate our estimates of the numbers of personnel that would be lost in a Japanese mainland invasion. We did not calculate costs for winning any objective which did not include a complete capitulation on the part of both the Japanese military and its civilian homeguard.

5. We had to make the Atomic Bomb drops without any specific warnings, because Japan would have only hardened its resistance to the American military if we had said we would drop a bomb and then did not do so, or did so and the bomb failed to work.

6. If we would have announced targets for the bomb, the Japanese would have only moved prisoners of war to the sites.

7. We only had three bombs. We used one in New Mexico. We did not have anymore for demonstrations or testing. We had to use the bombs on Japanese targets to demonstrate to Japan that we would destroy the entire country if they did not capitulate.

8. We needed fresh unbombed targets in order to assess the damage the bomb could inflict on structures. After four targets were selected, they became off-limits for conventional bombing.

9. We needed the scientific knowledge that would come from analyzing the effects of using the bomb on people, hence we had to use it on a populated area.

UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTHS

1. The Bomb(s) was developed because we feared that Hitler would make one and we had to check his power. We did not have any concern that Japan would develop a nuclear weapon. Part of the research community included Jewish refugees who wished to have a weapon of retaliation against Hitler. The bomb was never intended for use against Japan. The scientific community did not accept that Japanese atrocities justified such retaliation as the bomb delivered. An element of the scientific community became very much opposed to nuclear weapons when the object of their planned use became the Soviet Union.

2. Our goal was to stop the war. We therefore had to drop the bomb in such a way that we could convince the warlords that they should accept surrender. However, we did not wish to drop the bomb on the warlords, because we wanted THEM to survive (1) so that they could order the surrender, and (2) so we could try them and kill them.

3. We chose targets that were far from the warlords' headquarters (Tokyo). Yet we wanted them to react to the bomb--to totally surrender in accordance with a policy we had developed at Potsdam several weeks earlier. We dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. The main communication links between Hiroshima and Tokyo were broken. The first reports that reached the warlords indicated a new bigger bomb had been dropped, but the reports minimized the damage. The reports were probably consistent with the rules of communication, i.e., that bad news has a difficult time travelling upstream in communication channels. More accurate reports of the devastation and the extent of structural and human damage reached the warlords on August 9, at precisely the same time we were dropping the second bomb on Nagasaki.

4. We did a great job at selection target locations. The first bomb went off (hypocenter) directly above the Shima Hospital in Hiroshima. (Shima means island). The second bomb went off (hypocenter) directly above the Catholic Hospital of Nagasaki.

Most of the medical response capacity of both cities was destroyed in the bombings. As doctors worked in the cities, there were few surviving physicians in either place who were available to care for the wounded and those ill from Atomic disease.

5. The targets had no enduring military value, although both cities did house factories and military installations. The United States and its allies had complete command of the air. Frequent air raid alerts were sounded in the cities as American planes (B-29s) flew missions over the cities uncontested. The factories of the towns were completely at the mercy of the American bombers. Any wartime production capacity that remained in the cities had already been completely neutralized. The cities may have been targeted because their populations had engaged in wartime production which at a previous time was adverse to our military threat. In such case our bombings may have been retaliatory.

6. Nagasaki was the one open city of Japan during the three century Togagawa regime--1600s-1800s. Nagasaki had a Dutch trade center, and the city allowed Christian missionaries. The Christian presence remained after the Meigi regime emerged in the mid-Nineteenth Century. Not only was Nagasaki the center of Christian activity in Japan, it was also a place where anti-war sentiment was most loudly expressed.

7. The Japanese did make overtures to the Russians months earlier. Certain leaders expressed a desire for Russian assistance in opening up communication channels with the United States so that discussions to end the war could be undertaken. Russia was not overtly helpful because they knew that they would soon enter the war and they wanted to be able to pick up some of the spoils.

8. After Potsdam, the United States offered an imprecise ultimatum asking for total surrender and indicating that the United States would destroy Japan if the Japanese leaders did not surrender. The ultimatum made no precise mention of a super bomb or that such would be used on Japanese cities.

9. The date for an invasion of Japan was set. The invasion would begin on November 1, 1945. The bombs were dropped on August 6 and August 9.

10. The property loss suffered by the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the combined equivalent of the annual wages of 1.2 million Japanese workers. The people who lost property had to"fend for themselves." They did not have government grants or loans. There was no program to help with property losses. The United States through General MacArthur (American Caesar) was THE government of Japan after the war, THE government that gave no help.

11. The number of casualties in terms of deaths and injuries in the two bombings approached one half a million or more. For the wounded and sick survivors there was no medical aid program at all. They had to"fend for themselves" until the Atomic Bomb Medical Treatment Law was passed in 1957. The Japanese government was very remiss in not attending to the special needs of these people (no other Japanese suffered from Atomic Bomb disease--with Leukemia, keloids, cancer from bombings). But then it was the United States that served as THE government of Japan in the immediate years after the war.

12. The United States as THE government of Japan did have post war policies regarding the dropping of the two bombs. The United States government censured all mention of the bombs in the Japanese Press, we forbade all discussion of the bomb in Japanese schools (after all, WE had to re-educate the Japanese so that THEY could become democratic), we allowed no public display of photographs or of art work depicting Hiroshima or Nagasaki or their residents after the bombings. Maybe, the fact that the restored government of Japan lagged in its duties to help these people (point 10 and 11 above) could be partially--at least a little--excused because the entire population of Japan just wasn't told.

13. IF the bomb was necessary, IF the bomb was the way to a quick end of the War, IF the bomb saved millions of lives--American AND JAPANESE, IF the bomb was so GOOD, WHY WAS THE POLICY OF OUR GOVERNMENT DIRECTED TOWARD CENSORING DISCUSSION AND DISPLAYS ABOUT THE BOMBINGS OF HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI?



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Scott Michael Ryan - 8/1/2005

See my post above as it is equally applicable to your post. I suggest that before you expound on topics such as, “Invasions have happened before and the effects were not as dangerous”, you read some actual military history rather than books that concern themselves with “the innocent children”.


Scott Michael Ryan - 8/1/2005

I believe you missed the author’s “irony” as his My Truths section is written from a “super patriot” point of view. Mores the irony that many of the points he raises do, in fact, contain some grains of truth. On balance this article is sophomoric in the extreme and comes across as ideologically motivated drivel designed to impress the like minded.

Your POV is equally shallow and childlike. After all, the war against the Japanese was indeed a war, and NOT beanbag!


Mikayla Jacobs - 6/16/2004

I think that column, 'Why Do We Have to Keep Dredging Up Old Stuff About Hiroshima?', was completely disrespectful and untrue.
Innocent Japanese civillians, who had no control over the war, were killed by the atomic bomb. To make matters worse, their children and children's children and so on, also suffered effects of a war they knew nothing of. This is hardly fair.
You say this SAVED lives? Who are you trying to kid? Invasions have happened before and the effects were not as dangerous.
You should listen to the wise words 'Two wrongs do not make a right', or are you too caught up in American so called 'pride' to admit when your counrty makes a mistake?
Maybe it would be wise to indeed 'not dredge up the past' rather than write outrageous and agressive columns. I suggest you read the book 'Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes' to understand the effects on innocent children.
Don't take American pride too far by never admitting you're wrong.


Philip Nobile - 8/17/2001

Mr. Thompson's praise of the massacres of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is Hitlerian in logic and cruelty. Surely, he has heard of the laws of war. Even Truman said (disingenuously) that the bombs were dropped in confority with international law. But according to Mr. Thompson, anything goes in war--like the Rape of Nanking, I suppose. So why did we bother to prosecute Nazi and Japanese war criminals? Let a hundred flowers bloom, but with all respect Mr. Thompson sound more like a skinhead than a professor.
Philip Nobile

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