Why “we” REALLY nuked both Hiroshima & Nagasaki. In just 3 days.

OLIVER STONE: … Every school kid — still, my daughter in her school, in private school, in good school, is still learning this: We dropped the bomb because we had to, because the Japanese resistance was fanatic, and we would have lost many American lives taking Japan. This is one — there’s no alternative to that story.   Oliver Stone on the Untold U.S. History from the Atomic Age to Vietnam to Obama’s Drone Wars | Democracy Now!

Here’s the alternative — a part of the truth that should be taught in good, honest, schools:

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, [General Curtis LeMay] and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals.

Boy on dad's lap asks which terrorist group gets credit for nuking Hiroshima

As far as war criminals go, unfortunately we still have them.

46 thoughts on “Why “we” REALLY nuked both Hiroshima & Nagasaki. In just 3 days.”

  1. When we were in China in 2005 we learned the real reason for the bombs. Japan was invading the main land of China for oil. We were helping China keep the Japanese out. The Japanese hit Hawaii, thinking they’d get our aircraft carriers, which were on maneuvers. When Harry Truman allowed the first bomb to drop, the emperor said USA doesn’t have another, and continued with the invasion. When the second one was dropped, the emperor told his troops to withdraw, despite objections from his generals.

    1. Harry Truman–the failed haberdasher, the two-bit hack from the Pendergast machine–was a war criminal. No Nuremberg-type gig for Truman, though. You see, he was on the side that won. That makes all the difference, don't you know. . . .

      In August 1945, Japan was militarily defeated. Nothing was getting in or out of the country. The USN and USAAF waged naval and aerial warfare at will. The Japanese merchant fleet–what merchant fleet?!–was on the bottom. The Imperial Japanese Navy was likewise on the bottom, or in port for lack of fuel.

      The possibility of a negotiated peace was never considered.

      1. Given the United States and Japan were engaged in negotiations before December 7, 1941 and which were still going on right up to Pearl Harbor one can be forgiven for doubting Japanese motives.

        By 1 January 1945 it was clear to all that any US-Japanese peace was going to be on US terms and even after Nagasaki it took the personal intervention of the Emperor to bring about the surrender.

        There was no particular reason to think the Japanese government would negotiate in good faith in 1945 and on the whole Japan had a fairly "soft" peace particularly given the treatment it had given out in China and other occupied territories and most especially to Allied POWs.

        1. "By 1 January 1945 it was clear to all that any US-Japanese peace was going to be on US terms" That was an arbitrary position that the U.S. Government chose, not a necessity.

          There was no particular reason to think the Japanese Government would negotiate in bad faith either, since most of their navy and merchant ships were either on the bottom or in dry-dock for repair. Not to mention that LeMay had torched ~60 Japanese cities. The only way to find out, one way or the other, was to engage in talks.

  2. This analysis would be more complete if it included a discussion of how WWII in the Pacific could've ended without the bombs. Eisenhower's quoted opinion is not enough. For example, the authors could point out that the Japanese were ready for a surrender, just not an unconditional one, because they wanted to keep their emperor (which was allowed anyway, in the end).

    Alternatively, the author could discuss that it doesn't matter whether the Japanese would have surrendered without dropping the A-bombs. Why was the (unconditional) surrender of the Japanese so important as to waste lives of all those civilians? What was on the other side of the scales? It's not like the US civilians were under threat of Japanese invasion. Lives of American soldiers spent in an invasion of Japan were only subject to the US's continued desire to "finish of" Japan — whose justification is not really clear to me.

  3. Nobody pointing out the beneficial effects of a nuclear explosion on urban renewal? A simple comparison of 'war production centres' like Horoshima and Nagasaki with similar cities in America tells the tale, the former are vibrant modern cities, the latter are blighted, post-industrial toxic zones.

  4. If only the Japanese government had also acquired nuclear weapons. Then, the US would have had to be more “negotiable” in the terms of Japan’s surrender. Nuclear proliferation isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

  5. The emperor surrendered already after Hiroshima, but the us wanted to use both nukes so the surrender wasn't considered until it had been repeated after Nagasaki.

  6. Someone forgot to mention that one of the reasons that we dropped the bomb was to keep Stalin inline. The Russkies were rapidly taking back Manchuria in the vacuum left be the retreating Japs.

  7. The Japanese had been trying to surrender for months before the first atomic bomb was dropped. The only condition they had was that the emperor was not to be touched – but the Americans refused any conditions After the unconditional surrender after the two atomic bombs were dropped the Americans didn't touch the emperor. Two cities of women and children and old people had to die the worst deaths possible just for a egotistical American technicality? But there was also the need to justify the development of the bombs, the need to scare the Soviets and the rest of the world, etc… but it's the worst war crime ever…

  8. Towards the end of the war, the Japanese held, in brutal capitivity, over 130,000 POW's, which were scheduled for mass extermination. (Tens of thousands had perished previously due to starvation, beatings, execution, exhaustion and disease.) The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and sudden end to the war had the result, probably unexpected at the time, of saving the lives of most of the surviving POW's.

    1. Pretty sure that is not true Paladin but for the sake of argument even if it was true and I am a soldier in a POW camp I would rather die their then saving me at the cost of women and children dying from the explosions or radiation. Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a horrible science experiment. I could understand at the time the President not realizing the gravity of the decision but years later still trying to justify it is what is sad. Everyon want to solve every issue by dropping nukes on people. It is sad that one day someone with that ideology will be a US president one day…

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