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News Atomic bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki: The right course of action to end WWII?

  1. Jan 5, 2010 #1
    I know it isn't the anniversaries of these two horrific and deplorable tragedies and I know this is kind of ancient history for people not directly impacted by this event, but I looked at the past threads in PF and could not find a discussion of this topic, so I thought I would start the first one . Did Harry Truman make the right decision when he decided to dropped the atomic bomb onto the two cities because it supposedly would save millions of lives or do you believe that these events were largely war crimes because of the number of civilians causalities involved in this incident and a war crime because many of the residents of these two cities were not informed that the atomic bomb were going to be dropped onto the city. Do you think the pilot of the Enola Gay was justified in carry out these actions given by the president even though he would be responsible for thousands of deaths of people who did not initiate any aggression against this man or the US military. Many military advisers to Harry Truman advised him not to used the atomic bomb on the two cities. Personally, I don't think that millions of our US servicemen would have to die because there were many courses of action we could have taken besides implant our troops into the inlands of Japan ; We could have demonstrated the destruction of the Atomic bomb on an uninhabited island of Japan. Another course of action might be to have our allied forces surround the japanese islands sort of like quarantining the Islands like we quarantined Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis. After all, Japan was already weak militarily even though their attitude was very strong , its cities Tokyo was completely in ruins and their allied forces have been defeated by our allied forces.; attitude can take you so far if you are weak militarily; What are your thoughts? Did Harry truman carry out the right course of action or did you think a more appropriate action should have been carried out?
     
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  3. Jan 5, 2010 #2

    mgb_phys

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    Re: Atomic bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki: The right course of action to end WWII

    Killed less people than Tokyo, Hamburg, Dresden (possibly)

    It's only a war crime if you deliberately target civilians - it doesn't matter how many you kill as long as you weren't aiming for them.

    That's been the main cynical view of why the bombs were used. Which other allied countries are a lot closer to Japan and might have wanted a share of the islands?
    The less cynical view is that once a project this large gets underway it's innevitable that it's going to be used.
     
  4. Jan 5, 2010 #3
    Re: Atomic bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki: The right course of action to end WWII

    War is different now than it used to be. "Collateral Damage" was expected and few even batted an eye at the likelihood. As Mgb points out there were greater civilian casualties in other planned strikes and not many people really talk about them probably mainly because it was not done in such a spectacular manner. Perhaps also because the use of a single bomb killing so many is far more ominous.

    If you have not you might like to read Slaughter House Five which was written for the purpose of making sure people remembered that the A-Bomb was not the worst tragedy of the war when measuring in lives lost.

    Was it necessary? I am unsure. I have read arguments both ways and without doing plenty of my own research I could not really say for certain.
     
  5. Jan 5, 2010 #4
    Re: Atomic bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki: The right course of action to end WWII

    If we were not aiming for them , then why did we attacked a military base in Japan liked the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. I think it was deliberate, and I think that the bombings of Dresden and Tokyo were deliberate attacks. If you know that you are going to attack a target area filled with civilians and no warnings are given to citizens to evacuate the area , then it should be considered a war crime.

    Yes, I am aware and I make the same argument that those bombings were unjustified as well. But the bomb left a large impact on the two cities because its inhabitants were exposed to radiation that would eventually take their lives, and the atomic bombs did more damaged to each individual person then conventional bombing. At least you had a chance to escape and shoot down the bombers in Dresden and Tokyo.
     
  6. Jan 5, 2010 #5

    BobG

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    Re: Atomic bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki: The right course of action to end WWII

    Continued bombing of Japan was preferable to an invasion from a US perspective. As another mentioned, the real difference between the atomic bombs and traditional bombs was more psychological than in inflicting higher casualties. I think dropping the bombs was the smart idea, and it's pyschological impact gave Japan's leadership a more honorable out for surrender.

    Tsutomu Yamaguchi certainly lived an interesting life. He was visiting Hiroshima on business the day the first bomb was dropped. He received burns, but survived to return home to Nagasaki in time for the second bomb, which he also survived.

    The Hiroshima mission consisted of three planes: the Enola Gay, a second plane carrying sensing equipment, and a third plane carrying photography equipment. They would have been easy pickings for Japanese fighters, but the Japanese force was too depleted to waste fuel shooting down what surely had to be a reconnaissance mission.

    The Nagasaki mission consisted of two planes, as one of the planes missed the rendevous and returned to base.

    The fact that the Japanese were allowing allied planes to fly unmolested over mainland Japan was an indication that Japanese defeat was a foregone conclusion, even if Japanese leadership couldn't bring itself to surrender.

    Totally irrelevant trivia: I used to work in the same building the Enola Gay and Bock's Car were built in (the Martin Bomber Building in Omaha). The building belonged to the Air Force and there were lots of smaller buildings built inside the old B-29 assembly building by time I worked there, but the old wooden bricks still covered much of the floor. The organization I worked for used to hoard the bricks as various parts of the floor were resurfaced. The bricks were refinished (but in the same basic black) and used for parting gifts (used as the base for pen sets, etc.). I've got a couple, seeing as how I was in a small career field and went through there twice.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
  7. Jan 5, 2010 #6

    mgb_phys

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    Re: Atomic bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki: The right course of action to end WWII

    Fairly unlikely to have ever had a D-Day style storming the beaches landing against Japan.
    With Japans airforce and navy gone you can just shell/bomb the country to ashes with very little risk, or you can just wait and starve them out, this was the technique agaisnt the less strategic Jpanese outposts toward the end of the war.
    Both these options would have killed many more Japanese cuivilians than the atomic bombings.
    The atomic bombs killed about as many people as a firebombing raid on similair cities. The radiation killed more people later - but so does starvation, cold, cholera and typhoid when you bomb a modern city's water, sewage and tranport system.

    The real reason for bombing cities is to kill civilians, you kill enough civilians and the war stops. Either because the enemy runs out of workers or will to fight - ironically both sides in Europe had terror bombing raids to sap the will of the enemy while noting that the enemy bombing brought their own people together.
    You just have to remember not to say this in your memoirs.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010
  8. Jan 5, 2010 #7
    Re: Atomic bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki: The right course of action to end WWII

    Murdering thousands of people who initiated no acts of aggression towards the US is never a reason to instigate an act of aggression onto innocent human beings . Both the firebombings raids and the atomic bomb droppings were unjustified in my opinion. Starvation , and colds only results if you live in a region of the world were you are not able to grow anything or climate causes a draught or if your government decides to blocked food and supplies needed to grow food like the Czar of Russia did prior to the October revolution and King louis did prior to the french revolution . Besides, starvation is something you can change by leaving that region of the world, radiation effects may have done irreparable damage to the human body that could be carried on through future generations and not to mentioned the radiation led to cancers in some of the inhabitants.
    The "enemy" was weak militarily , they had no chance of winning the war against the united states and their allies were already brutally defeated so there was no one to aid them . They were even planning to used even more atomic bombs than the two that the used. It seems like They completely wanted to obliterate japan(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings#cite_note-Generals-72).
     
  9. Jan 5, 2010 #8

    russ_watters

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    Re: Atomic bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki: The right course of action to end WWII

    Point of clarification: bombing civilian populations was not a war crime during WWII, it was an accepted tactic by all sides of both conflicts. The atom bombs, Dresden, Tokyo, London - none of these were war crimes.

    Whether it would be a war crime today under similar circumstances is debateable, but it would certainly be frowned-upon and more to the point, it would be inefficient.

    Anyway, whatever your definition of "right course of action" is, it being a war crime cannot be a component of that. You may still consider it right/wrong from a moral stantpoint, but given what I said above, I don't see much point to that. So the only relevant "right" I see here is whether it saved American and/or Japanese (mostly American) lives.
     
  10. Jan 5, 2010 #9

    Evo

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    Re: Atomic bombings of hiroshima and nagasaki: The right course of action to end WWII

    Noblegas, it's obvious from your posts that you do not really want a sincere discussion, you want to push your idea that it's murder.

    I think you got sufficient responses for the reasoning behind the bombings.
     
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