Were the A-bombs necessary?

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landrew
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Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by landrew » Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:29 pm

Would Japan have surrendered based on the simple knowledge that the Americans had the option of dropping atomic bombs on Japan, without actually doing so? Was so much devastation and loss of innocent life necessary?
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Oct 15, 2018 6:38 pm

Gen. Anami, the War Minister, refused to consider surrender after the Hiroshima bomb. He sent his aide to check out the damage, and then basically blew off the reports. When the aide reported the same destruction at Nagasaki he changed his mind. This lead to a dead lock among the Big Six cabinet members (Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, War Minister, Navy Minister, Chief of Staff of the Army, and Chief of Staff of the Navy). This meant that for the first time the Emperor could cast the deciding vote on policy. Hirohito went with peace.

As for "loss of innocent life" Anami had previously declared that all men from 15 to 60 and all women for 18 to 45 were to consider themselves part of the military and work to prepare to repel the invasion when/if it came. Japanese munitions industry was moved to single family home wherever possible, to reduce aiming points for the bombers. This made the suburbs legitimate targets of war. So blame the Japanese government for removing the line between civilian and military.
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by Lance Kennedy » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:53 pm

There is no doubt that the bombs stopped the war, and there is little doubt that the loss of life was less as a result. WWII cost about 60 million lives (the exact number is controversial), and the invasion of Japan without the nuclear weapon would have been very, very costly. More Japanese lives than allied would have been lost, and probably by a massive margin.

Of course, numbers of lives lost is only one consideration. The precedent may still prove to be unbelievably costly to the human species and to planet Earth.

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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:02 pm

The "precedent" has so far avoided a third use of the bombs. Fortune-telling lacks citations.
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by ElectricMonk » Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:15 pm

I would say they were inevitable - once these weapons existed, they had to be used to see the effects; it is quite possible that the deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki have prevented more deaths elsewhere.

Were they necessary?

Only if the goal was to keep Japan intact under US occupation. If they hadn't surrendered, Russia would have started an invasion of the North, and Japan would have been split like Germany.

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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by landrew » Tue Oct 16, 2018 3:46 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:15 pm
I would say they were inevitable - once these weapons existed, they had to be used to see the effects; it is quite possible that the deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki have prevented more deaths elsewhere.

Were they necessary?

Only if the goal was to keep Japan intact under US occupation. If they hadn't surrendered, Russia would have started an invasion of the North, and Japan would have been split like Germany.
I tend to agree, even though I posed the question. The war with Japan would have festered along in a virtual stalemate for years. I can't imagine how badly an invasion of the Japanese homeland would go. It needed a dramatic ending, and unfortunately massive loss of life was necessary.
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by ElectricMonk » Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:18 pm

It's not about the loss of life: US firebombs have caused way more casualties in Japan than the Nukes did.
And Japan would have quickly surrendered once the Russian invasion had started: they would always have settled for US occupation if it spared them from Stalin.
But the result would have been a two-zone Japan and another contentious border with the Soviets.
And in a world without demonstrable nuclear deterrent, a US-USSR war might have been unavoidable.

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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by landrew » Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:46 pm

ElectricMonk wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 4:18 pm
It's not about the loss of life: US firebombs have caused way more casualties in Japan than the Nukes did.
And Japan would have quickly surrendered once the Russian invasion had started: they would always have settled for US occupation if it spared them from Stalin.
But the result would have been a two-zone Japan and another contentious border with the Soviets.
And in a world without demonstrable nuclear deterrent, a US-USSR war might have been unavoidable.
I was talking about planned loss of life, not resultant loss of life. Collateral damage is unavoidable, but targeting a metropolitan area is another matter.
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:29 pm

What about targeting munitions production facilities?
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by ElectricMonk » Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:39 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:29 pm
What about targeting munitions production facilities?
To be fair it was a bit like causing a forest fire to cook a meal.
There was no tactical reason to use the nukes.
It was a strategic decision.

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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:01 pm

Well, I would point out that Gen. Marshal was to be given tactical control of ten atomic bombs during the invasion of Japan, four for Kyushu and six for the Tokyo/Kanto Plain area.

If we look at military usefulness of the bombs then we should note that both cities were Military HQs for their prefects, and both produced weapons. Nagasaki Arsenal produced the specially modified torpedoes that were used at Pearl Harbor. And one bomb went off directly over several thousand Japanese army troops lined up for morning inspection. It still stands as the single most lethal shot fired at enemy troops in combat.
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by ElectricMonk » Tue Oct 16, 2018 6:39 pm

There is nothing wrong with considering the use of Little Boy and Fat Boy from today's perspective: if we don't analyse history, we won't learn from it.

But it would be wrong to judge the decision makers at the time, who had to fit a new type of weapon into their current military doctrine.
I do think it is fair to say that the US showed restraint in not using more nukes in quick succession, as they might have with any other new type of a conventional bomb.

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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by landrew » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:16 pm

In a saner world perhaps, the US and Japan would have arranged a meeting and a demonstration of the awesome power of the atomic bomb without the need to blow up two cities unnecessarily. But things were well past that point, and emotions were still raw from Pearl Harbor.
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:04 pm

It was the destruction of Japanese cities that turned Anami. If they had blown up an island he would have been "big {!#%@} deal". Demonstration was not an option.
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by Matthew Ellard » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:56 am

landrew wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:16 pm
In a saner world perhaps, the US and Japan would have arranged a meeting and a demonstration of the awesome power of the atomic bomb without the need to blow up two cities unnecessarily.
The US gave that demonstration with the first atom bomb. Your logic is flawed.

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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by landrew » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:00 am

Matthew Ellard wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:56 am
landrew wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:16 pm
In a saner world perhaps, the US and Japan would have arranged a meeting and a demonstration of the awesome power of the atomic bomb without the need to blow up two cities unnecessarily.
The US gave that demonstration with the first atom bomb. Your logic is flawed.
Heh, what flawed logic is there in speculation of what might have occurred in an alternate scenario?
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by Matthew Ellard » Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:09 am

landrew wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 2:00 am
Heh, what flawed logic is there in speculation of what might have occurred in an alternate scenario?
Well next time Japan declares WWII, I'm sure the USA will ask you for your opinion.

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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Wed Oct 17, 2018 10:36 am

The speculation implies that alternatives were not considered. That's an extension of the "let's see what our new toys can do" conspiracy school. Anyone who has actually studied the matter will know what alternatives were actually considered and the arguments for and against them.
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by landrew » Wed Oct 17, 2018 3:41 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 10:36 am
The speculation implies that alternatives were not considered. That's an extension of the "let's see what our new toys can do" conspiracy school. Anyone who has actually studied the matter will know what alternatives were actually considered and the arguments for and against them.
The speculation looked at one possible scenario. Of course some alternatives were considered, but anti-Japanese hatred was at an all-time high, therefore those alternatives weren't likely to have been on the table.
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:06 pm

You don't what the {!#%@} was likely on the table. You're too lazy to do the reading.
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by landrew » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:08 pm

Gawdzilla Sama wrote:
Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:06 pm
You don't what the {!#%@} was likely on the table. You're too lazy to do the reading.
Sometimes I'd rather speculate than undertake a research project.
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Re: Were the A-bombs necessary?

Post by Gawdzilla Sama » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:54 pm

Blather, you mean. Uninformed babble. Nothing new for you.
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