Atomic Bomb

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Re: "End of America"?

Postby Bad Hair Man » Sat Oct 06, 2007 2:29 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:
The dropping of the a-bomb (the only one ever) on a civillian target was unquestionably a crime against humanity.
I think you mean two, not one, and it was not a crime against humanity- it resulted in less civilian deaths than an invasion would have.

The way those two bombs were used very much was a crime against humanity.

Dictionary.reference.com wrote:crime against humanity
–noun a crime or series of crimes, such as genocide, directed against a large group because of race, religion, country of origin, or other reason unconnected with any individual's responsibility for having committed a criminal act.

A very large number of people were purposefully killed and injured in spite of most of them not having done anything to deserve such a fate.

Saying that act B would have been worse than act A does not magically make act A not a crime, it just means that act B would have been an even worse crime.

Note that Japan had been trying to surrender to the USA for half a year before the bombs were dropped. It was Roosevelt's insistence on "unconditional surrender" that prevented WWII from ending months earlier than it did. Neither an invasion nor the dropping of nuclear bombs were necessary.

(Related reading: 1 2)

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Re: "End of America"?

Postby Illemonati » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:05 am UTC

Bad Hair Man wrote:
Vaniver wrote:
The dropping of the a-bomb (the only one ever) on a civillian target was unquestionably a crime against humanity.
I think you mean two, not one, and it was not a crime against humanity- it resulted in less civilian deaths than an invasion would have.

The way those two bombs were used very much was a crime against humanity.

Dictionary.reference.com wrote:crime against humanity
–noun a crime or series of crimes, such as genocide, directed against a large group because of race, religion, country of origin, or other reason unconnected with any individual's responsibility for having committed a criminal act.

A very large number of people were purposefully killed and injured in spite of most of them not having done anything to deserve such a fate.

Saying that act B would have been worse than act A does not magically make act A not a crime, it just means that act B would have been an even worse crime.

Note that Japan had been trying to surrender to the USA for half a year before the bombs were dropped. It was Roosevelt's insistence on "unconditional surrender" that prevented WWII from ending months earlier than it did. Neither an invasion nor the dropping of nuclear bombs were necessary.

(Related reading: 1 2)


Perhaps you should do a little bit more research. Hiroshima and Nagasaki both contained large portions of the Japanese military/industrial complex. People are needed to work in the factories and provide the weaponry and supplies for an army. Just like today, people really don't want to live very far from where they work; commuting sucks. These cities were targeted, not because they had large populations, but because they were vitally important to the war effort. Also, it might interest you to know that more people were killed in the fire bombings than in the dropping of the atomic bombs. Do you consider the bombings of Tokyo to be crimes against humanity?

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Atomic Bomb

Postby fjafjan » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:00 pm UTC

Illemonati wrote:Perhaps you should do a little bit more research. Hiroshima and Nagasaki both contained large portions of the Japanese military/industrial complex. People are needed to work in the factories and provide the weaponry and supplies for an army. Just like today, people really don't want to live very far from where they work; commuting sucks. These cities were targeted, not because they had large populations, but because they were vitally important to the war effort. Also, it might interest you to know that more people were killed in the fire bombings than in the dropping of the atomic bombs. Do you consider the bombings of Tokyo to be crimes against humanity?

No they were targeted because of the weather, atleast in the case of Nagasaki. It seems it is you who should do some more research
Wikipedia on The Bombings wrote:The Target Committee at Los Alamos on May 10–11, 1945, recommended Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama, and the arsenal at Kokura as possible targets. The committee rejected the use of the weapon against a strictly military objective because of the chance of missing a small target not surrounded by a larger urban area. The psychological effects on Japan were of great importance to the committee members. They also agreed that the initial use of the weapon should be sufficiently spectacular for its importance to be internationally recognized. The committee felt Kyoto, as an intellectual center of Japan, had a population "better able to appreciate the significance of the weapon." Hiroshima was chosen because of its large size, its being "an important army depot" and the potential that the bomb would cause greater destruction because the city was surrounded by hills which would have a "focusing effect".[6]
(emphasis added)

same wiki wrote:On the morning of August 9, 1945, the U.S. B-29 Superfortress Bockscar, flown by the crew of 393rd Squadron commander Major Charles W. Sweeney, carried the nuclear bomb code-named "Fat Man", with Kokura as the primary target and Nagasaki the secondary target. The mission plan for the second attack was nearly identical to that of the Hiroshima mission, with two B-29's flying an hour ahead as weather scouts and two additional B-29's in Sweeney's flight for instrumentation and photographic support of the mission. Sweeney took off with his weapon already armed but with the electrical safety plugs still engaged.[34]

Observers aboard the weather planes reported both targets clear. When Sweeney's aircraft arrived at the assembly point for his flight off the coast of Japan, the third plane, Big Stink, flown by the group's Operations Officer, Lt. Col. James I. Hopkins, Jr. failed to make the rendezvous. Bockscar and the instrumentation plane circled for forty minutes without locating Hopkins. Already thirty minutes behind schedule, Sweeney decided to fly on without Hopkins.[34]

By the time they reached Kokura a half hour later, a 7/10 cloud cover had obscured the city, prohibiting the visual attack required by orders. After three runs over the city, and with fuel running low because a transfer pump on a reserve tank had failed before take-off, they headed for their secondary target, Nagasaki.[34] Fuel consumption calculations made en route indicated that Bockscar had insufficient fuel to reach Iwo Jima and they would be forced to divert to Okinawa. After initially deciding that if Nagasaki were obscured on their arrival they would carry the bomb to Okinawa and dispose of it in the ocean if necessary, the weaponeer Navy Commander Frederick Ashworth decided that a radar approach would be used if the target was obscured.[35]


And yes, I would consider a large number of fire bombings to be immoral, way too few diplomatic efforts that could have been made were made, and it prolonged the war, as well a number of fire bombings like that in Dresden which was just plain unnecessary as well as most likely counter productive, as the targeted area was mostly anti Nazi. Not sure why that would be a controversial claim, except to those who have not yet realized that quite a large number of Allies should have been charged at Nuremberg as well, or in similar war trials during the Cold war and Beyond.


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And of course this thread turned to nuclear weapons. Where else would it go?

This is Serious Business, making two line comments is not Serious Business, so take it elsewhere.

Adam Tiler wrote:This discussion turned to the atomic bomb faster than usual.

Also, do some research.

Research about what? Again
This is Serious Business, making two line comments is not Serious Business, so take it elsewhere.

What IS true is this is not a thread about World War II, so I will be splitting this
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Illemonati » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:32 pm UTC

Well, I guess we're going to have to disagree. War is nasty, vile, and horrid. In war, a distinction can not be made between civilians and soldiers. The soldier may be the one shooting you, but without the civilians at the plant, that soldier will have no ammo; without the farmer, the army can not fight. When a country is at war, everyone in that country is directly or indirectly, supporting the war effort and is therefore a legitimate target.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Gunfingers » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:53 pm UTC

Actually the laws of war are pretty clear about you making the distinction between combatant and non-combatant. I'm not saying i agree with the above*, but you can't run around claiming that murdering civilians is okay because "War is hell."


*Unconditional surrender was demanded because they believed there would be another war if Japan kept their military. The bomb was dropped because it was the only hope of getting a surrender without invading the island and killing most of the population of Japan. There's certainly no clear "this was the right thing to do", but i wouldn't go so far as to call it a crime against humanity.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby 22/7 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:02 pm UTC

So.... yeah. It doesn't even fit your definition of "crime against humanity", so how are you calling it one again?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby fjafjan » Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:16 pm UTC

You have to distinguish between civilian and non-civilian, a nuclear bomb (at least of the kind that was used) is not able to do that. The end.
Now if you want to call it crime against humanity, or violation of international law or the variety of lesser terms that can be used, well sure, It was certainly against a large number of people though.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Vaniver » Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:20 pm UTC

Gunfingers wrote:Actually the laws of war are pretty clear about you making the distinction between combatant and non-combatant. I'm not saying i agree with the above*, but you can't run around claiming that murdering civilians is okay because "War is hell."
Yes and no- by laws of war I imagine you mean the Fourth Geneva Convention signed after WWII.


I discussed this some time ago, but the gist of what's relevant from that: civilians are an integral part of a nation's military might. In fighting a war against a nation, the destruction of civilian productive power and civilians are tactics that seem necessary for victory; it appears that the choice is between genocide and suicide.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby 22/7 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:41 pm UTC

fjafjan wrote:You have to distinguish between civilian and non-civilian, a nuclear bomb (at least of the kind that was used) is not able to do that. The end.
Now if you want to call it crime against humanity, or violation of international law or the variety of lesser terms that can be used, well sure, It was certainly against a large number of people though.

I would still argue that it's not a crime against humanity. As has already been discussed, the cities attacked had large industrial capabilities and allowed Japan to continue fighting by supplying its armies. Did the Japanese civilians who died commit a crime in doing that? That's arguable. Most people would say that the Japanese had no right to invade China, and that they were indeed committing a crime by allying themselves with Stalin and Hitler.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Silas » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:21 pm UTC

fjafjan wrote:You have to distinguish between civilian and non-civilian, a nuclear bomb (at least of the kind that was used) is not able to do that. The end.


That's not quite right. You have to distinguish between military and non-military targets, and you mustn't deliberately (or negligently or recklessly) target civilians, but their presence doesn't make a place immune from attack. Hiroshima was a major military site because of its supply depot and industrial base. There's a reason we're careful to keep military targets far from populations centers (as we're able), now.

Vaniver wrote:
Gunfingers wrote:Actually the laws of war are pretty clear about you making the distinction between combatant and non-combatant. I'm not saying i agree with the above*, but you can't run around claiming that murdering civilians is okay because "War is hell."
Yes and no- by laws of war I imagine you mean the Fourth Geneva Convention signed after WWII.


The "Laws and Customs of War" go back a lot farther than the Geneva Conventions. There was just... more contention over what they were.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:36 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:
fjafjan wrote:That's arguable. Most people would say that the Japanese had no right to invade China, and that they were indeed committing a crime by allying themselves with Stalin and Hitler.


Japan was not allied with the Soviet Union in WWII.

I have thought about this subject to great lengths, in terms of morals, ethics and practical situations in the conduct of war. It demands much thought because the topic is complex with great consequences.

A distinction should be drawn between war and total war. Normal war, is generally were international laws regarding war is respected, total war, where you do everything in your power to meet your goals. The classic example of Total War is Germany versus the Soviet Union in WWII. Germany vs the Allies, UK&USA, the rules of war were generally respected.

One war is alot more pleasant to fight, especially for the civilians. Civilians and non-combatans, imo, are not legitimate targets in war, ever, collateral happens, if your objective is to destory a factory, and you know that some civilians are going to perish, I think thats ethical. However, bombing of Dresden clearly was not.

I dont buy the argument that its okay to kill civilians if it helps you win the war, even if its true, i think it horrificaly unethical.

Using that logic, its okay to kill medical staffs of the enemy, because they help treat the wounded which will return to fight when their wonds heal. It would be okay to kill POW's, so you dont have to guard them, feed them and they may escape.

When French civilians were were attacking German soliders and blowing up infrastuture, which is against the laws of war, the Germans got tried at Nuremburg for taking actions against civilan populatinos for the unlawful actions of her people. But the allies did not when the bombed and killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. The only constant is that the side that wins is "right". Leave the civilians alnoe and fight a civilised war, as much as possible.

Read up on the invasion of the Soviet Union, that should never happen again, that was an uncivilised war.

I do also want to mention a "case study" for consequences of not respecting the rules of war.

When Germany started her u-boat campaign, the u-boats obeyed by the Naval rules of engagement of that time, surfacing and giving the merchantmen good time in order to abandon ship and get into the life boats before sinking teh ship. Churchil thought it would be a great idea to hide guns on these merchant men, so as the u-boats surfaced to give warnign, they were shot and sank by the merchant men. It took some time for the Germans to figure out what was going on, and from then on, merchant men were sunk without warning, because through the actions of the British, it made abiding by this civil aspect of warfare, dangerous.

Abide by the rules of war, and we can fight civil wars, which are ALOT better to be involved in than total wars.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Indon » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:40 pm UTC

Silas wrote:The "Laws and Customs of War" go back a lot farther than the Geneva Conventions. There was just... more contention over what they were.


At the time of World War II, it seems to me the convention was indeed to attack industrial centers, civilians be damned, if it could hobble the enemy.

See: The Bombing of London by Germany, the bombing of Germany by Britain. There are probably other examples on the european side of the war.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:50 pm UTC

Indon wrote:
Silas wrote:The "Laws and Customs of War" go back a lot farther than the Geneva Conventions. There was just... more contention over what they were.


At the time of World War II, it seems to me the convention was indeed to attack industrial centers, civilians be damned, if it could hobble the enemy.

See: The Bombing of London by Germany, the bombing of Germany by Britain. There are probably other examples on the european side of the war.


Except alot of they time, they were dilberatly trying to bomb civilians, both german and britain and the usa. And thre is absolutly no argument can be made for the bombing of Dresden, it was shameless slaughter of German civilians, at that stage the war was lost, germany barely had an industry anymore.

Atmoic bombs attacked whole cities, they were trying to kill civilians, not just industrial areas.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby mosc » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:01 pm UTC

I agree that the atomic bombs used against Japan were "crimes against humanity". However, I feel that all war in general is a "crime against humanity" so there is nothing particularly unique in the level of crime to me. Personally, I buy into the justification of the atomic bomb in the first place wholeheartedly. I think in the end it saved a huge number of lives and positively effected the world in countless ways. That's not to say that the people who died deserved it, far from it. It is just referencing that of all the legacies AFTER the war, it was actually one of the more positive ones.

The technology was amazing. It brought humanity into the nuclear age and setting the stage for nuclear power. The political implications of such a weapon were immediately felt. I think it singlehandedly adverted a war between the US+allies and the USSR at least in the short term and set the stage for one of the most bloodless conflicts in world history. Do I think dropping the atomic bomb saved lives? Yes. Do I think it was justified? Yes. Do I feel a huge amount of sympathy for the people who died in the bombings? Hell yes.

Personally, I don't see why one has to feel guilty in this day and age about it. More people died in the fire bombings of dresden for example yet we don't have to shun ourselves when we fly in a pressurized airliner (exploiting B-29 tech) do we? War is horrible but in a lot of ways it is a driving force behind human innovation and progress. In no action in recorded history is this contrast so visible than that of the atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:14 pm UTC

Theres a short story I read back in school.

Some guy was apalled by the amount of deaths due to car accidents, through breaking speed limits and drunken driving. So he decided to do something about it. He identified people breaking road rules and killed them, leaving notes saying why. Public got scared, they drove more carefully, alot fewer people died from car accidents than he murdered. He saved lives.

Is it moral/ethical?

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Indon » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:16 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:Is it moral/ethical?


I would say no... but I probably wouldn't go to any lengths to see him brought to justice >.>

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby mosc » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:16 pm UTC

Pure utilitarian philosophy says hell yes. There's definitely that side of the argument to keep in mind.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:28 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Pure utilitarian philosophy says hell yes. There's definitely that side of the argument to keep in mind.


Thats exactly the point I was trying to make. I don't believe the end justifies the means, I believe in the right of the individual. Some people can believe different things, I dont really mind, but I do demand consistency.

Either you can adopt a pure utilitarian philiosiphy or you dont, you dont get the the choice to apply it only when it suits you.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby mosc » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:32 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:Either you can adopt a pure utilitarian philiosiphy or you dont, you dont get the the choice to apply it only when it suits you.

Bullshit I can't. I apply approx a 50% mix of pure utilitarian philosophy into my personal philosophy. At least 50% of the answer is just a simple statistical calculation to me. That's far from the only factor but it is sure a good place to start!
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Kaiyas » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:59 pm UTC

mosc wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:Either you can adopt a pure utilitarian philiosiphy or you dont, you dont get the the choice to apply it only when it suits you.

Bullshit I can't. I apply approx a 50% mix of pure utilitarian philosophy into my personal philosophy. At least 50% of the answer is just a simple statistical calculation to me. That's far from the only factor but it is sure a good place to start!

Perhaps he's trying to say pure and partial can't coincide.

Personally, I don't see how nukes are much different from biological weapons, save for the massive explosion. The radiation poisoning is arguably just as dangerous as the bio-weapons we happen to have banned. Hence, I think that although the nukes may have saved lives, the method used was criminal (Going out on a leg here, I'm not versed in international laws of war, but I do remember some treaty banning chemical/biological weapons after WWI, mustard gas and all.)

Of course, with all of the permanent member countries of the U.N. Security Council possessing nukes, I doubt they'll be banned anytime soon.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby 22/7 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:26 pm UTC

And you're right, I was thinking of Mussolini, not Stalin.

The elephant in the room that no one has mentioned to this point is that the goal was to force a surrender and quickly so as to avoid the possibility of all out invasion, which would not only cost the Japanese more lives, it would cost the US lives. And last time I checked, a government's responsibility is first and foremost to its citizens.
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Garm » Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:43 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:And last time I checked, a government's responsibility is first and foremost to its citizens.


This brings up the dichotomy between the government and its citizens. Often the citizens of a country are bound by the decisions of their government, regardless of how out of sync those decisions are with the will of the people. On that note, however, I can only imagine that the Japanese people were complaining to the government when the two nukes were dropped. The Japanese goverment capitulated to the U.S. demands because they were following their responsibilities. I'm not sure that one can say it was the responsiblity of the U.S. to drop the bombs, however. Regardless of the fact that we were already in a war, I think another solution could have been found.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Vaniver » Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:06 am UTC

The elephant in the room that no one has mentioned to this point is that the goal was to force a surrender and quickly so as to avoid the possibility of all out invasion, which would not only cost the Japanese more lives, it would cost the US lives. And last time I checked, a government's responsibility is first and foremost to its citizens.
The start of this thread is split from elsewhere where that was brought up. The counterargument to that is that Japan would have surrendered anyway, if we had been willing to accept a conditional surrender.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Robin S » Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:31 am UTC

Silas wrote:You have to distinguish between military and non-military targets, and you mustn't deliberately (or negligently or recklessly) target civilians, but their presence doesn't make a place immune from attack.
Am I the only person who sees a strong parallel with the Israel / Palestine debate?
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Eazy1980 » Fri Apr 11, 2008 2:00 am UTC

While I am the first to admit that the use of the atomic bomb did end the war quicker than a prolonged ground conflict. Particularly given the attitude at the time of the population, would have meant massive civilian casualties in addition to (probably) having to kill the majority of the empire's soldiers.

This does not excuse the fact that the Americans (particularly given their stance today) are the only country to have ever used "Weapons of Mass Destruction" on another country! Was a complete surrender to be hoped for? Yes. Was it essential? No. It would have been possible to have accepted Japan's surrender and then from an obvious position of power (given that the US had nukes and could have easily spelt out the effect of these weapons) impose severe restrictions (see Versailles) on the Japanese military.

However America wasn't the only country to target civilians "as a consequence of a strike on a valid target". The Germans killed many civilians in their V1/V2/V3 attacks against London and the fire raids on various cities in the UK. The Allies aren't without blame either, look up the Dresden raids (to name one) if you don't believe me.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Vaniver » Fri Apr 11, 2008 2:07 am UTC

Eazy1980 wrote:impose severe restrictions (see Versailles)
Because everyone knows how well that worked out.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Eazy1980 » Fri Apr 11, 2008 2:19 am UTC

Vaniver wrote:Because everyone knows how well that worked out.


That is exactly what I am saying. Every man and his dog new the failures of the treaty and were aware of them! Therefore any subterfuge attempted by Japan would be subject to scrutiny, not just by the Allies but also by the Russians. Let us not forget that Russia has a long history of conflict with Japan and would be well motivated to keep them under control.

Let's not forget that a lot of the anger and suspicion in Japan at the time stemmed from rumours that the Allies were going to remove the Emperor from power. This was unthinkable to the Japanese who viewed (most still do BTW) the emperor as their earthly link to the gods!

Look at it from their point of view. The Americans are going to depose the emperor (this was a widely held belief among the Japanese people).
The Americans had already fought a war to break free of the (to the Japanese mindset) legitimate and divinely inspired rule of a monarch.
If the Allies had accepted a surrender and then when the populace was satisfied that they were not going to remove the emperor, they could have easily instituted conditions that would have been acceptable to the victors.
Without resorting to vaporising two entire cities (and their inhabitants) and subjecting countless others to the horrors of a slow, lingering death from radiation poisoning.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Silas » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:01 am UTC

What's your point? That Japan was prepared to surrender and end the war if their terms* were met? That there were culturally significant reasons why the Japanese didn't want to let the Emperor be deposed?

It's irrelevant because the converse is also true: the Allies were also prepared to end the war, if their terms (or lack thereof) were met, and there were politically and militarily significant reasons why a conditional surrender wasn't acceptable.

*It wasn't just a question of keeping the Emperor. The Japanese were holding out for what was essentially a return to the status quo ante bellum

That's what a war is: when no mutually acceptable compromise exists, the two or more sides fight until desperation for the violence to end wears down enough sides' standards to the point where a compromise can exist.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Adalwolf » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:52 am UTC

Silas wrote:What's your point? That Japan was prepared to surrender and end the war if their terms* were met? That there were culturally significant reasons why the Japanese didn't want to let the Emperor be deposed?

It's irrelevant because the converse is also true: the Allies were also prepared to end the war, if their terms (or lack thereof) were met, and there were politically and militarily significant reasons why a conditional surrender wasn't acceptable.

*It wasn't just a question of keeping the Emperor. The Japanese were holding out for what was essentially a return to the status quo ante bellum

That's what a war is: when no mutually acceptable compromise exists, the two or more sides fight until desperation for the violence to end wears down enough sides' standards to the point where a compromise can exist.


Exactly.

Japan wasn't going to surrender on the US and the Allies terms. With Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March, and actions the complete and unconditional surrender of Japans was called for. Honor and pride deserved nothing less.

The bombs were also dropped to save US soldiers lives. Japanese lives were a secondary concern, and rightly so, but the bombs did save Japanese lives, as they averted a long, prolonged invasion of Japan.

Japan reaped what it sowed. End of story.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Swordfish » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:55 am UTC

Before people go and call this the worst war crime in the history of the world it need to be pointed out that The Japanese Empire was far from being innocent. In fact, there is an estimation that from about 1937 to 1945, the Japanese Empire was responsible for the deaths of around 3 Million civilians. Not soldiers, civilians. Innocent people. That number could be as high as 10 Million.

Now I know a county's people should not be held accountable for the crimes of the government, and that's not what I'm trying to do here, but when you look at those war crimes I listed (and I didn't even get all of Japan's war crimes there) and you look at the Holocaust and casualties from the fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo, well, if you're going to be outraged by 60 year old atrocities, you're picking the wrong one. In reality, the atomic bombs pale in comparison to other things that happened throughout the war.

Many people have noted that the atomic bombs killed many less people than an invasion would have. In fact, they caused less than 1% of the casualties that an invasion or continued blockade would have. The U.S. Secretary of War estimated that between 5 and 10 million Japanese people would be killed by an invasion, that's fatalities, not casualties. Casualties tend to be five times the number of fatalities, so you do the math. Other than dropping the atomic bombs and invading Japan, there was only one other way to end the war, starve the nation. Considering the deaths from starvation and disease that would set in from malnutrition, you're looking at fatalities about as high as the invasion would have caused.

Some other points to consider, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were both valid targets for a bombing campaign. Hiroshima was actually the headquarters for the defense of southern Japan, and Nagasaki, while chosen due to weather conditions, was home to the largest port in southern Japan and was, as well, a large manufacturing center. As it so happens, these were important targets to take out, because if Japan did not surrender (and, in fact, it did take at lot of work from Hirohito to convince his top generals to surrender, even after the second bomb, there was even an attempt on his life by some of the military to keep from surrendering), then having those two targets neutralized would provide immense support to the initial stages of Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japan. And, actually, if the Allies had chosen to invade, rather than just drop the atomic bombs and hope Japan surrendered, then the bombs still would have been used to support the invasion. There were many Allied Generals that didn't think just dropping the atomic bombs would be enough to force Japan into surrender.

On top of that, Japan knew from nearly the beginning of the war that the Allies would accept nothing less than unconditional surrender. To expect the Allies to accept less is wanton disregard of the government for the well being of their people. The populous of the cities on the target list were also warned well in advance. The U.S. Military still did as much as they could to lessen the casualties caused by the bombs by dropping leaflets over the cities on the target list urging the people to abandon the cities.

In the end, what America did brought the swiftest and least costly end to the war that was possible.

Finally, some other food for though: If the UK or Russia had developed the atomic bombs instead of America, you're kidding yourself if you think they wouldn't have used it.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Garm » Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:41 am UTC

Swordfish wrote:Before people go and call this the worst war crime in the history of the world it need to be pointed out that The Japanese Empire was far from being innocent. In fact, there is an estimation that from about 1937 to 1945, the Japanese Empire was responsible for the deaths of around 3 Million civilians. Not soldiers, civilians. Innocent people. That number could be as high as 10 Million.


This, to me, is specious reasoning. Yes, the Japanese did many horrible things, but that doesn't justify the bomb. It's that whole eye for an eye thing. You're using similar logic to that which is keeping us in Iraq. Saddam was bad, that justifies all the current civilian casualties and the torture.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Silas » Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:50 am UTC

No one said it did- other things justify the bomb. But comparing the nuclear blasts in 1945 to the war crimes committed by the Japanese Empire in Nanking, on Bataan, in Indochina and in Manchuria is dead-to-rights proof that using nuclear weapons to end WWII, even if we conceded that their use wasn't justified, wasn't anywhere close to the worst war crime in history.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Swordfish » Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:50 am UTC

Did you read my whole post, Garm?

The Next paragraph:

Swordfish wrote:Now I know a county's people should not be held accountable for the crimes of the government, and that's not what I'm trying to do here, but when you look at those war crimes I listed (and I didn't even get all of Japan's war crimes there) and you look at the Holocaust and casualties from the fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo, well, if you're going to be outraged by 60 year old atrocities, you're picking the wrong one. In reality, the atomic bombs pale in comparison to other things that happened throughout the war.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Akula » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:07 am UTC

Indeed, nothing short of unconditional surrender would of been acceptable.

Japan would of kept what was left of it's military, and kept much of it's conquered territory in Asia. This, of course, is assuming the Russians didn't decide to just invade Japan themselves. And an invasion by either the US, the Russians, or both would have left Japan a gutted, empty shell of a nation. The cost to the US would of been an enormous amount of blood and treasure.

The fact is, ALL of the alternatives would have almost certainly led to far worse circumstances for all the involved parties. The most humane option available was the use of nuclear weapons. A fitting exclamation point to the most terrible war in human history.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby BattleMoose » Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:39 am UTC

Eazy1980 wrote:While I am the first to admit that the use of the atomic bomb did end the war quicker than a prolonged ground conflict. Particularly given the attitude at the time of the population, would have meant massive civilian casualties in addition to (probably) having to kill the majority of the empire's soldiers.

This does not excuse the fact that the Americans (particularly given their stance today) are the only country to have ever used "Weapons of Mass Destruction" on a civilian population! Was a complete surrender to be hoped for? Yes. Was it essential? No. It would have been possible to have accepted Japan's surrender and then from an obvious position of power (given that the US had nukes and could have easily spelt out the effect of these weapons) impose severe restrictions (see Versailles) on the Japanese military.

However America wasn't the only country to target civilians "as a consequence of a strike on a valid target". The Germans killed many civilians in their V1/V2/V3 attacks against London and the fire raids on various cities in the UK. The Allies aren't without blame either, look up the Dresden raids (to name one) if you don't believe me.


Fixed.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby BattleMoose » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:05 am UTC

Double postage.

The argument has been made, the atomic bomb was dropped to save American lives, and this seems to be okay with most people on this forum.

An action was taken, to kill civilians, which was believed would directly or indirectly aid the war effort in the favour of the side performing the action.

I dont think I am missing anything in that comment, but the question I have is this. Was the Marzabotto massacre thus equally justifiable?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marzabotto_massacre

Or Oradour-sur-Glane,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oradour-sur-Glane

I draw only one difference between the two, that is, in Germany's instance, members of the civlian populations of Europe were commiting war crimes.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Vaniver » Fri Apr 11, 2008 1:46 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:I dont think I am missing anything in that comment, but the question I have is this. Was the Marzabotto massacre thus equally justifiable?
There are two ways to look at this- the first is just the principle (can civilians be targeted?) and the second is the comparison (what other options did they have to deal with Marzabotto?).

Any principle that says "never kill a civilian" is a principle that any responsible general will abandon. He's got a war to win and troops to keep alive.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Ati » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:14 pm UTC

I personally think that it would have been best to use the bomb as an intimidation tactic. Drop it in an uninhabited harbor somewhere off the coast of Japan. To make it really personal, level mount Fuji. Give a really, really graphic idea of what the atomic bomb can do. If they surrendered, then you've won. If they don't, then start on a city.


Really, the most interesting thing of the whole ordeal was what the atomic bomb did to warfare. It effectively ended war between the major powers. Large scale war is now pretty much impossible under MAD (although now we do have the crazy nuclear theocracies to worry about)
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Indon » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:56 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:Fixed.


You know, despite the current administration's rabid hatred of the Dubya MD's, one weapon of mass destruction causes about as much destruction as a mass of weapons of not much destruction.

Even the most long-term effect of the attacks, nuclear contamination, has largely died down by this stage - and even that is far less impacting upon human life than, say, land mines.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Garm » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:57 pm UTC

Swordfish wrote:Did you read my whole post, Garm?

The Next paragraph:

Swordfish wrote:Now I know a county's people should not be held accountable for the crimes of the government, and that's not what I'm trying to do here, but when you look at those war crimes I listed (and I didn't even get all of Japan's war crimes there) and you look at the Holocaust and casualties from the fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo, well, if you're going to be outraged by 60 year old atrocities, you're picking the wrong one. In reality, the atomic bombs pale in comparison to other things that happened throughout the war.


Apparently not carefully enough. I siezed on this:

In reality, the atomic bombs pale in comparison to other things that happened throughout the war.


and lumped your second paragraph in with your first.

My apologies.
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