Hiroshima & Nagasaki: The inside story — again

At 8:16 on the morning of August 6, 1945, the world got a glimpse of its own mortality. At that moment, the city of Hiroshima was obliterated by a fireball that sent waves of searing heat, then a deafening concussion, across the landscape. Three days later, a second bomb hit Nagasaki. … [President Dwight D.] Eisenhower said in 1963 "It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing."

… Besides the Manhattan Project’s internal momentum was an external motive. Its leaders had to justify the $2 billion ($26 billion in today’s dollars) expense to Congress and the public… Byrnes…warned Roosevelt that political scandal would follow if it [the atomic bomb] was not used. … "How would you get Congress to appropriate money for atomic energy research [after the war] if you do not show results for the money which has been spent already?" …the U.S. had produced two types of bombs–one using uranium, the other plutonium. Whenever anyone suggested that the moment the bomb was dropped the war would be over, [bureaucrat] Groves countered, "Not until we drop two bombs on Japan." As [historian] Goldberg explains… "One bomb justified Oak Ridge, the second justified Hanford." Hiroshima was hit with the uranium bomb, nicknamed "Little Boy"; the plutonium bomb, "Fat Man," was used against Nagasaki.

From Why We Dropped The Bomb By William Lanouette, CIVILIZATION, The Magazine of the Library of Congress, January/February 1995

It’s hard for Americans who identify with the U.S. Government to accept the idea that that organization could have engaged in such horrendous acts – twice in three days – without pristine motives.

Here’s what Vietnam era U.S. Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara – who was part of Gen. Curtis LeMay’s command when the bombs were dropped – thought about it:

McNamara: "He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals."

It seems things haven’t changed much, doesn’t it?

  • Steve Hogan

    I've never understood the public's mindset when it comes to our political leadership. They never question how a group of politicians capable of deliberately slaughtering tens of thousands of innocent civilians on the one hand, could also run a compassionate welfare state on the other. Politicians are almost without exception people beset by some very disturbing pathologies.

    It takes a special kind of sociopath to drop a nuke, wipe out a city, and sleep soundly at night. Very, very sick.

    • Connor

      actually they both killed them selves you should follow their footsteps

  • andy

    To me the true question is could war with Japan have been avoided in the first place. The answer is absolutely yes. With a different foreign policy, no American imperialism in the Phillippines, no ethnic and big money based "China lobby" and if FDR hadn't had a personal phobia towards Japan war could very easily have been prevented.

  • L. Reichard White

    I wish I didn’t agree with you, Mr. Hogan.

  • E. A. Costa

    The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not, as indicated correctly above, dropped to force a surrender of the Japanese. The Japanese were already negotiating a surrender, and the one sticking point was that the Emperor not be deposed, a stipulation which, after the atomic bombs were dropped, was in effect agreed to by the US.

    The central fact is that the plans to drop both bombs preceded dropping the first, so it had nothing to do with any Japanese response.

    Apart from the reasons suggested above, the political motive was to make a demonstration of American power and the supposed new “Super Weapon” to Stalin and the Soviet Union.

    Thus the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan were not only war crimes against Japanese civilians, but also the first step in the Cold War with the Soviet Union that followed.

    It also must be noted that it all backfired horrendously.

    The Soviets did indeed have a nuclear weapons program, and physicists who were, if anything, ahead of US scientists, but Stalin had refused to fund it on the grounds that such a weapon would not defeat the Germans and would consume valuable resources invested in areas and material that would.

    Stalin was right–one or two atomic bombs would have accomplished next to nothing against the Germans, beyond wiping out a city or two. But there were other ways of obliterating cities, as shown at Dresden, and obliterating cities was not the key to victory.

    In the face of the American atomic bomb, with headlines blaring US world domination with the new super weapon, Stalin put Beria in charge of developing a Soviet atomic bomb as soon as possible.

    The choice of Beria is interesting, both because Stalin certainly saw that espionage in regard to the US nuclear program was called for, and also because Beria, though brutal, was very efficient.

    The Soviets developed both an atomic and hydrogen bomb in record time.

    Soon enough, Soviet rocketry, which was way ahead of the US, obsoleted the Strategic Air Command and the Cold War became a matter of Doomsday, Strangelove, and mutually assured destruction.

    The success of the Soviets in neutralizing the US threat was hinged on being purely defensive.

    They did not then, nor ever, aim at a capability for an unanswerable first strike.

    The Americans, on the other hand, have never ceased aiming for first stike capability, as with the Stealth program, which was an obscenely huge expenditure of resources obsoleted since the Yugoslav war.

    • Interesting perspective – – – thanks! Fits with the nuclear arms race being an artifact of the Kennedy/Nixon debates – – –

  • R/T

    The Japanese had already slaughtered nearly 10 million Chinese BEFORE their attack on Pearl Harbor , they killed , worked to death and did unspeakable medical and chemical experimentationto any prisoners they took . They killed over 5 million Pacific Islanders . They fought maniacally to the death. They resighned themselves to arming every man woman and child top fight an invasion to the death . ____Yea FDR could have igoired the slaughters in Asia , in fact it seemed as if the world did just that .The US posed a roadblock to their plans, and attacked Pearl Harbor in the hope of crippling the US in the pacific until they had the region in a death grip.__I doubt you'd barely ANYONE in that time who regrets using the Bomb , it did infact save lives on both sides . 20/20 hindsight on the part of latter day moralizers is not only hypocritical but utterly simplistic..And yes , it took TWO bombs to get an unconditionla surrender .R

    • E. A. Costa

      What nonsense–the atomic bombs had NOTHING to do with the Japanese surrender.

      Incidentally, the Japanese Imperial Army by the turn of the 20th Century was in part deliberately patterning itself on what it knew of the US military behavior in the Philippines, including its systematic inhumanity and massacre of civilians.

      It is a pertinent fact that many of the US military in the Philippines were veterans of the Indian Wars, and behaved toward the Filipino "wogs" very much as they had behaved toward the Injuns–that is, viciously and barbarically and savagely and as a matter of standard practice.

      Contemporary sources are very enlightening, since even the politicos and military brass were very open about their barbarism and racism.

    • andy

      It would have been in America's best interests not to have fought a war with Japan. America could have avoided trouble with Japan as easily as Mexico did if America had pursued a foreign policy that was TRULY in the best interests of Americans.

    • Don

      American fire raids had already destroyed Japanese war production and had killed more civilians than the two nuclear weapons combined. Japan was ready for a solution.
      I was in the third grade on Pearl Harbor Day…too young for the wars, but old enough to read the papers and to have been immersed in the blatantly racist, aggressive propaganda machine that permeated the country. Only now is the truth emerging.
      We simply set out to destroy a major competitor through our aggressive foreign policy.
      Read Walter Karp's excellent "The Politics of War."

      • andy

        I can't think of one single thing America gained from its war with Japan.

  • Ball

    R/T, so we should murder millions of civilians? WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?!

    Get a moral compass!

  • L. Reichard White

    I’ve encountered R/T before – – – he’s well intentioned, but the poster-child for victims of state propaganda.

    I can identify with that, unfortunately. I watched all those WWII movies too.

  • John P.

    It goes like this R/T?__The United States was morally justified to murder millions of innocent Japanese civilians in the mid – 1940's to avenge the murder of millions of innocent Chinese civilians in the mid – 1930's.

  • Popsiq

    And not one of those reasons was listed in the US declaration of war. So, if hindsight about the Japanese 'war crimes' is 20/20, are we not far enough down the road to take a good, objective look at our motives and actions?

    Our would that mess up the myth of word redemption we've built up about our last 'good' war?

  • EDH

    I'm pretty sure 2 billion dollars could have been allocated to a less destructive way to end the war. In any case U.S. couldn't really afford to use that much. Most likely the government wanted to rub the atomic bomb in the Soviet's faces.

  • tom

    I see

  • alz

    The Pacific war was fought because the USA wanted to fight it. It could have been avoided entirely. The bomb was unnecessary. The end could have been easily negotiated by truce. The Japanese proposed many solutions, but all were rejected. Why? The USA were out for blood, and wanted to dominate the world. This has been the US ideal before and since. Even a cursory review of history since proves the relentless pursuit of the ideal. Criminal.

    • andy

      It was a very avoidable war.

  • JonathanD

    I believe the bomb was a necessary thing in order to end the war quickly. Without the use of the bomb, many unnecessary casualties would have occurred on both sides. Whoever holds the weapon has to think about what it needs in order to protect its own people from death especially its own men fighting in the army. So from the user's standpoint, the only way to end it quick is to use the bomb in order to save the lives of their own people. Of course, another bomb would have been unnecessary, but countries have to do what they need to do in order to protect themselves. This is what war is.

  • JonathanD,

    That IS the official version – – – –

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  • Bronwyn

    ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT people! This is all part of the conspiracy to usher in the NEW WORLD ORDER organised by this One World Government which headquarters in ROME and consititutes the RICHEST FAMILIES IN THE WORLD PARTICULARLY THE USA. It is however fully orchestrated and controlled by satan himself who has vowed to rise to the position of "god" of the world and have EVERY MAN WOMAN AND CHILD BOW DOWN TO HIM AND HIM ALONE. His first attempt in Heaven FAILED, so this is his revenge! People are of no consequence to him – viz Hitler, Polpot, Caligula, and hoards of other EVIL human beings who swore their allegiance to satan and his evil. READ YOUR BIBLES, READ THEM NOW AND PRAY TO GOD FOR HIS WISDOM AND INSIGHT.

  • It takes a special kind of sociopath to drop a nuke, wipe out a city, and sleep soundly at night. Very, very sick.

  • even as the attacks provoked the Pakistani government and military leadership into much stronger opposition to U.S. policy in the region.

  • To me the true question is could war with Japan have been avoided in the first place. The answer is absolutely yes. With a different foreign policy, no American imperialism in the Phillippines, no ethnic and big money based "China lobby" and if FDR hadn't had a personal phobia towards Japan war could very easily have been prevented.

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