Atomic Bomb

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Silas » Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:25 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?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marzabotto_massacre

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.


I have to point out that, though spies and saboteurs aren't protected as POWs under the Geneva Conventions, they're not war criminals. Neither being a member of nor supporting the Resistance qualifies, then or now, as a war crime.
What is (very carefully spelled out as) a war crime is mass reprisals against civilians. Killing seven hundred civilians because guerrillas have been active in the area isn't comparable to killing 70,000 civilians in an attack on the enemy's command structure and industrial base.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby 22/7 » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:31 pm UTC

To the (many) people arguing the atrocity of the act of dropping the bombs, my question to you is this. Would it have been a better decision to outright invade the mainland?
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby BattleMoose » Fri Apr 11, 2008 7:55 pm UTC

Indon wrote:
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.


My gripe isnt with atmoic warfare at all, its with killing civilians.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Kaiyas » Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:46 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:To the (many) people arguing the atrocity of the act of dropping the bombs, my question to you is this. Would it have been a better decision to outright invade the mainland?

That's a false dichotomy, but in any case, neither was necessary.

United States Strategic Bombing Survey wrote:Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.



Even if we had to drop a bomb, a demonstration could easily have sufficed. (Nuke a nearby uninhabited island.)

According to Wikipedia, many of the high-ranking U.S. officers opposed dropping the bomb:

Eisenhower wrote:In 1945 Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act. During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives.


Nimitz wrote:The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military point of view, in the defeat of Japan.


Leahy wrote:The use of [the atomic bombs] at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Swordfish » Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:38 pm UTC

Garm wrote:My apologies.


No problem, that can be a confusing argument I make there.

Ati wrote: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.


That was considered. The Allies thought about setting one of the bombs off out in the ocean as a demonstration for Japan, but they wanted to have more than one bomb available to drop on targets so that Japan would not be able to "call a bluff" by the Allies and correctly guess that there weren't any more. The next atomic bomb wouldn't be available until something like November.

BattleMoose wrote: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.


While an important consideration to ending the war was to save Allied lives (not just American, but British, Russian, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, and many other countries that I missed as well), this is not something that I will use as a main argument. Though I do feel I owe my existence to the use of the Atomic bombs, as my grandfather spent his entire time in the Navy training for the invasion of Japan, and very easily could have been killed in it.

Anyway, the Allies did consider how many of their own lives it would save. But the main interest was to end the war in the fastest way possible while causing as few deaths as possible, Allied and Japanese.

Which is why this:

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?
Or 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.


doesn't work. Germany wasn't concerned with killing as few people as possible here, they were just eliminating a threat to their soldiers. These are completely different situations.

Kaiyas wrote: According to Wikipedia, many of the high-ranking U.S. officers opposed dropping the bomb


Your article is contradicting what it said not a page before what you quoted.

That same Wiki article wrote:Professor of history Robert James Maddox wrote that "Another myth that has attained wide attention is that at least several of Truman’s top military advisers later informed him that using atomic bombs against Japan would be militarily unnecessary or immoral, or both. There is no persuasive evidence that any of them did so. None of the Joint Chiefs ever made such a claim, although one inventive author has tried to make it appear that Leahy did by braiding together several unrelated passages from the admiral’s memoirs.


Also, the statement made by the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey which you quoted was not the whole story. The survey discounted use of the atomic bombs and a declaration of war by Russia to give a worst case scenario of how long it would take Japan to surrender if the conventional bombing campaign was stepped up. If the Allies had increased their bombing efforts then more Japanese civilians would have been killed than were in the use of the Atomic bombs.

The truth is, anyone in the U.S. at the time was woefully unaware of the situation in Japan. The citizens wanted peace, but the military did not, and the military held much more sway than the citizens. Anyone who, at the time, said that Japan would have surrendered shortly if the Allies had continued to just to sit back and blockade the nation did not know just what was going on in the country.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Ati » Fri Apr 11, 2008 11:09 pm UTC

Swordfish wrote:
Ati wrote: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.


That was considered. The Allies thought about setting one of the bombs off out in the ocean as a demonstration for Japan, but they wanted to have more than one bomb available to drop on targets so that Japan would not be able to "call a bluff" by the Allies and correctly guess that there weren't any more. The next atomic bomb wouldn't be available until something like November.




We only ever had two bombs. Let's say we'd set off one as a demonstration. Set off a blast that scared everyone. If they were crazy enough to 'call our bluff', we still have another bomb. At any rate, considering that they were already prepared to surrender conditionally, I think that this would be sufficient cause to lower their demands considerably.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby SabreKGB » Sat Apr 12, 2008 12:22 am UTC

Ati wrote: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.


We only had 2 working bombs at that point, and given that it took both of them to get the Japanese to actually surrender, it seems a good thing that one wasn't wasted on a psychologically less significant and non-militarily significant target.

The potential additional risk that using one of the bombs in that way would not get the US what it wanted (unconditional surrender) was not worth the cost of not having it to use for the benefit that would be gained from using it on a city, considering how few bombs existed. Cost/benefit...simple.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Ati » Sat Apr 12, 2008 12:27 am UTC

SabreKGB wrote:
Ati wrote: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.


We only had 2 working bombs at that point, and given that it took both of them to get the Japanese to actually surrender, it seems a good thing that one wasn't wasted on a psychologically less significant and non-militarily significant target.

The potential additional risk that using one of the bombs in that way would not get the US what it wanted (unconditional surrender) was not worth the cost of not having it to use for the benefit that would be gained from using it on a city, considering how few bombs existed. Cost/benefit...simple.



We don't _know_ that both bombs were necessary - the rest of Japan didn't surrender because they were dead: they surrendered because they were scared shitless. Atomic bombs tend to do that. The number of casualties doesn't matter, so long as they believe that we have more bombs. Leveling a national landmark would have done the same job. If it didn't, well, then we can talk about blowing up a city. Anyway, how are they going to know that we didn't have more bombs?

[quote = SabreKGB] Cost/benefit...simple. [/quote]

Interesting that you don't consider the massive numbers of horrifically painful civilian deaths from radiation poisoning in your analysis. If you did, it might come out a little differently.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby SabreKGB » Sat Apr 12, 2008 2:50 am UTC

Interesting that you don't consider the massive numbers of horrifically painful civilian deaths from radiation poisoning in your analysis. If you did, it might come out a little differently.


That's a different cost/benefit analysis. Answer comes out similar though: Nuking them was the right choice.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Adalwolf » Sat Apr 12, 2008 3:46 am UTC

SabreKGB wrote:
Interesting that you don't consider the massive numbers of horrifically painful civilian deaths from radiation poisoning in your analysis. If you did, it might come out a little differently.


That's a different cost/benefit analysis. Answer comes out similar though: Nuking them was the right choice.


I agree, it was the right choice.

Dropping the bombs saved Allied lives, and Japanese lives.

It was the right call.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Swordfish » Sat Apr 12, 2008 4:10 am UTC

Ati wrote:Interesting that you don't consider the massive numbers of horrifically painful civilian deaths from radiation poisoning in your analysis. If you did, it might come out a little differently.


Is a slow painful death from starvation or disease, or horrifically burning to death in continued firebombing that much better of a fate? Not to mention that it would have happened to a vastly greater number of people.

Ati wrote:We only ever had two bombs. Let's say we'd set off one as a demonstration. Set off a blast that scared everyone. If they were crazy enough to 'call our bluff', we still have another bomb. At any rate, considering that they were already prepared to surrender conditionally, I think that this would be sufficient cause to lower their demands considerably.


There was significant worry among U.S. Generals that a demonstration would fail to intimidate the Japanese military into surrendering. This was a sound fear, as a significant portion of the Japanese military wanted to continue the war after the first and even second bomb was dropped. Even to the point of attempting a coup d'etat when the Emperor's broadcast of surrender was to be issued.

The Allies were not even certain that use of both of the bombs on Japan would force them into surrender, and much of the Japanese military was determined to hold out until they could stall or repulse an attempted invasion and then sue for peace with a better foothold. With the military so determined to continue the war, it was better for the U.S. to drop the bombs on targets that would aid the Allied invasion should it come to that.

These were weapons that no one had ever seen before, and had never been used in battle. There was no telling how effective they'd be or how anyone would react to it, so the Allies had to plan for the contingency that the bombs would not get Japan to surrender, and use them in such a way as to support an invasion that they may have had to resort to.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby BattleMoose » Sat Apr 12, 2008 11:55 am UTC

Silas wrote:
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?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marzabotto_massacre

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.


I have to point out that, though spies and saboteurs aren't protected as POWs under the Geneva Conventions, they're not war criminals. Neither being a member of nor supporting the Resistance qualifies, then or now, as a war crime.
What is (very carefully spelled out as) a war crime is mass reprisals against civilians. Killing seven hundred civilians because guerrillas have been active in the area isn't comparable to killing 70,000 civilians in an attack on the enemy's command structure and industrial base.


Wether they are considered war criminals or just criminals, I'm honestly not entirely sure, or wether its a war crime or just a crime, regardless, it is punishable by execution.

From wikipedia,
On the question of partisans, the tribunal concluded that under the then current laws of war (the Hague Convention No. IV from 1907), the partisan fighters in southeast Europe could not be considered lawful belligerents under Article 1 of said convention [1]. On List, the tribunal stated

"We are obliged to hold that such guerrillas were francs tireurs who, upon capture, could be subjected to the death penalty. Consequently, no criminal responsibility attaches to the defendant List because of the execution of captured partisans..."[1]


Killing seven hundred civilians because guerrillas have been active in the area isn't comparable to killing 70,000 civilians in an attack on the enemy's command structure and industrial base.


Here we disagree. Both actions were taken in an attempt to better the position of the belligerant nation, both actions were killings of civilians, in this they are comparable.

Have you actually gone through the problem, how does an occupying force deal with a population that is criminally impededing your ability to wage war. A desperate war in which every resource is being spent and one which you are desperatly trying to win. Your options are severly limited, to commit soldiers to guard teh infrasture is diminishign your abilities to wage war, because the populatino is behaving in a criminal manner.

Neither being a member of nor supporting the Resistance qualifies, then or now, as a war crime.


Are you sure about this? Do you have a reference, I would look for it, but dont actually have the time atm.


Anyway, the Allies did consider how many of their own lives it would save. But the main interest was to end the war in the fastest way possible while causing as few deaths as possible, Allied and Japanese.

Which is why this:


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?
Or 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.



doesn't work. Germany wasn't concerned with killing as few people as possible here, they were just eliminating a threat to their soldiers. These are completely different situations.

Make make it sounds that unlwafully eliminating an unlawful threat to your soldiers is a bad thing. It needs to be pointed out that Americans were unlawfully eliminatnig a lawful threat.

I would argue that the Americans only objective was to save american lives by ending the war quickly.

Leave the civilians alone, if the civilians are directly, criminally and unlawfully impeding your ability to wage war, kill em.

P.S There were 3 atomic bombs, one was detonated at Los Alamos in New Mexico, as a test, not that it changes much, I just think it should be mentioned.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Weaver » Sat Apr 12, 2008 12:23 pm UTC

Many people were pushing for a public test of one of the weapons to try to convince the Japanese government to surrender. It was judged to be too great a risk - I believe correctly so.

First and foremost was the real chance the device might malfunction. Remember these were very complicated devices using new technologies. We were unsure enough of the plutonium implosion device that we tested one - in spite of having enough fissionables to build only one more, and a long lag time before enough fissionables could be produced for a third. There was more confidence in the uranium bomb design - but it would be much longer before we could separate enough U235 for a second Little Boy-style bomb.

Secondly, there was the distinct problem that the Japanese government would likely NOT have surrendered after viewing such a test. It is completely different, psychologically, to have hard evidece of a destroyed city vs. a big explosion on a far away atoll. The awe-inspiring films we can see today of the open-air tests in the '50s and '60s have such power precicely because we know of the damage to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We had already fire-stormed Tokyo - they weren't concerned with losing their cities one by one (at least as far as we knew at the time.)

Third, you are relying on a government which had absolutely no doubt it could not hold making a rational decision to surrender. This is the government which pushed for last stands across the realm of combat, whose military was convincing civilians on Okinawa to suicide rather than be captured.

Finally, it assumes a rational decision making process without radical interference - and, as history has shown about the process which finally led to the Emperor addressing the Japanese people for the first time ever to order the surrender, the area was ripe for such interference even after we used two atomic bombs on cities. Without such a blatent display, it is unlikely the rationalists would have even found a voice.


There is also an ethical arguement here. How could our government NOT employ a new, likely very effective, weapon in the face of a very risky and costly campaign? Estimates of the casualties to take the Japanese home islands were in excess of 500,000 - and that's only on our side. The Japanese civilian and military death toll would have certainly been far greater than that suffered in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. In addition to the direct combat casualties, it is virtually certain we would have deliberately fire-stormed other cities, with comparable results to the destruction of Tokyo.

Shortly after I arrived here in Iraq, one of my Soldiers was wounded in a mortar attack (very minor injury, and he's fine now.) I have held in my hand the Purple Heart Medal he was awarded. That medal was purchased by the United States government in anticipation of the invasion of Japan. We are STILL issuing out the medals destined for our casualties of that invasion - and we were only spared needing them through the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Though the cost was very high, I believe it couldn't be avoided.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby zealo » Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:04 pm UTC

if my country gets involved in a total war, i want Kaiyas or Ati commanding the enemy
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Swordfish » Sat Apr 12, 2008 8:38 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:Make make it sounds that unlwafully eliminating an unlawful threat to your soldiers is a bad thing. It needs to be pointed out that Americans were unlawfully eliminatnig a lawful threat.


So rounding up the population of a town, whether they're involved or not, including the children, putting them in a church or barn and then setting fire to it isn't bad?

Unlawfully eliminating an unlawful threat is a bad thing. It isn't even at though the guerrillas in these towns were attacking the soldiers of their own nation either. They were attacking an occupying force that, from the beginning, had no right to be there. Considering them an unlawful threat is rather questionable since they were disobeying laws of a government which was not their own.


BattleMoose wrote:I would argue that the Americans only objective was to save american lives by ending the war quickly.


I do enjoy how, when it's something "bad" about the Allies in World War II, they're just American, but if you just say "American" any other time, everyone always jumps in to say "Don't forget about the U.K. and Russia."

First off, if we look at this strictly from the Allied side of it, the bombs saved Allied lives. That's American, British, Russian, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, and probably a whole host of other countries that I can't think of. Also, by bringing a swift end to the war, it saved countless other lives throughout Asia, in places where the Japanese Army still held a strong influence, like China and Indonesia. Second, I feel it should be noted that the U.K. and Russia both knew what America had planned to do and neither one objected.

Finally, you would be wrong. The Allies wanted harm the civilian population of Japan as little as possible, because the Allies knew that the civilian population of the nation was, at this point, opposed to the war, and they were the Allies' best chance of getting a surrender. The merciless slaughter of five million of them in an invasion would lose this chance, as the Japanese people most likely would have shown great unity to repel an invasion.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Princess Marzipan » Sat Apr 12, 2008 11:29 pm UTC

Weaver wrote:Shortly after I arrived here in Iraq, one of my Soldiers was wounded in a mortar attack (very minor injury, and he's fine now.) I have held in my hand the Purple Heart Medal he was awarded. That medal was purchased by the United States government in anticipation of the invasion of Japan.


Wow.

Are there any figures for exactly how many Purple Hearts have been issued between the end of WWII and today? That's pretty damn powerful concrete evidence of the casualty expectations of a Japanese invasion.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby 22/7 » Sun Apr 13, 2008 1:55 am UTC

Kaiyas wrote:
22/7 wrote:To the (many) people arguing the atrocity of the act of dropping the bombs, my question to you is this. Would it have been a better decision to outright invade the mainland?

That's a false dichotomy, but in any case, neither was necessary.
No, it's not. I never said that it was the only other option, I'm simply asking if you believe that it would have been a better option, which is why I asked if "it would have been a better decision".
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Swordfish » Sun Apr 13, 2008 3:26 am UTC

Nougatrocity wrote:Wow.

Are there any figures for exactly how many Purple Hearts have been issued between the end of WWII and today? That's pretty damn powerful concrete evidence of the casualty expectations of a Japanese invasion.


As of 2003, there were still 120,000 of those medals in stock, and about 500,000 were made, so that's 380,000 that have been issued since the end of World War II. Also note that the number is even after Korea and Vietnam.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby mosc » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:52 pm UTC

I think any debate that a test on a non-populated target would have been just as effective is easily refuted by the simple fact that Japan still refused surrender after Hiroshima. There was a substantial period of time in between the two drops and the opportunity to avoid the second was openly given.

Weaver wrote:Shortly after I arrived here in Iraq, one of my Soldiers was wounded in a mortar attack (very minor injury, and he's fine now.) I have held in my hand the Purple Heart Medal he was awarded. That medal was purchased by the United States government in anticipation of the invasion of Japan.

Powerful, powerful imagery. Thank you.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Kaiyas » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:15 am UTC

Weaver wrote:Secondly, there was the distinct problem that the Japanese government would likely NOT have surrendered after viewing such a test. It is completely different, psychologically, to have hard evidece of a destroyed city vs. a big explosion on a far away atoll. The awe-inspiring films we can see today of the open-air tests in the '50s and '60s have such power precicely because we know of the damage to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We had already fire-stormed Tokyo - they weren't concerned with losing their cities one by one (at least as far as we knew at the time.)
I must disagree. If they weren't concerned with losing their cities, what difference would nuking another one give?

Perhaps a better target would be one close to wherever the Emperor was staying- after all, he was revered as a sort of god, no?
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Wormwood » Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:47 am UTC

Kaiyas wrote:I must disagree. If they weren't concerned with losing their cities, what difference would nuking another one give?

Perhaps a better target would be one close to wherever the Emperor was staying- after all, he was revered as a sort of god, no?


Had they nuked the Emperor, chances are the Japanese would have never surrendered, forcing a full scale invasion by the Allies, which has generally been established as pretty much the worst option. It was believed at the time that an invasion would result in the deaths of millions of soldiers, and when the Japanese soldiers ran out, the civilians would most likely take up arms. It would be sort of like Vietnam, except they'd have to kill everybody. Oh, and the emperor was the only person with the authority who was likely to surrender. Killing him would have given all the power to the military leaders, who would rather sacrifice the entire population of Japan than surrender.

mosc wrote:I think any debate that a test on a non-populated target would have been just as effective is easily refuted by the simple fact that Japan still refused surrender after Hiroshima. There was a substantial period of time in between the two drops and the opportunity to avoid the second was openly given.


The way I remember it being taught in History class, there was 3 days between attacks. How much time did it take to get observers down to Hiroshima from Tokyo, then back to Tokyo with evidence of the bomb. It may be entirely possible that many high-ups did not believe the attacks had taken place.

22/7 wrote:
Kaiyas wrote:
22/7 wrote:To the (many) people arguing the atrocity of the act of dropping the bombs, my question to you is this. Would it have been a better decision to outright invade the mainland?

That's a false dichotomy, but in any case, neither was necessary.
No, it's not. I never said that it was the only other option, I'm simply asking if you believe that it would have been a better option, which is why I asked if "it would have been a better decision".


In my opinion, it would have been a better decision to drop the bombs. There is no doubt that they saved many lives, and ended the war sooner than an invasion. And, of course, using them twice meant that they were never used in anger again, not even when tensions flared at the height of the Cold War. Having seen what they could do, none of the American or Soviet leaders wanted to risk it.

Swordfish wrote:Second, I feel it should be noted that the U.K. and Russia both knew what America had planned to do and neither one objected.


I first read this as a sort of "My friends said it was ok, so I did it" but I don't think that's what you meant. Does it mean that because the U.K. and Russia did not condemn it, they were complicit? Because they certainly did benefit.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Weaver » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:21 am UTC

The way I remember it being taught in History class, there was 3 days between attacks. How much time did it take to get observers down to Hiroshima from Tokyo, then back to Tokyo with evidence of the bomb. It may be entirely possible that many high-ups did not believe the attacks had taken place.

I have never heard a credible claim that the Japanese leadership didn't believe the reports of the destruction of Hiroshima. They may well have viewed is as a one-time event (haven't heard one way or the other), but that simply increased the need for the Fat Man attack.

Aircraft took off from the Hiroshima airfield within an hour of the attack, circled the city to gain an assessment of the damage, and departed to report the attack. Evidence was plentiful.

The Japanese government showed no signs of impending capitulation in the three days between the attacks. It wasn't until we destroyed Nagasaki that we heard the first indications that they would surrender - and even then, the order had to come directly from the Emperor (breaking a thousand years of tradition).

If we had dropped a nuclear weapon anywhere the Imeperial Palace, I have no doubt that the Japanese people would have viewed it as a failed attempt to kill Hirohito, and would fought to the last man.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Wormwood » Tue Apr 15, 2008 7:44 am UTC

Weaver wrote:
The way I remember it being taught in History class, there was 3 days between attacks. How much time did it take to get observers down to Hiroshima from Tokyo, then back to Tokyo with evidence of the bomb. It may be entirely possible that many high-ups did not believe the attacks had taken place.

I have never heard a credible claim that the Japanese leadership didn't believe the reports of the destruction of Hiroshima. They may well have viewed is as a one-time event (haven't heard one way or the other), but that simply increased the need for the Fat Man attack.

Aircraft took off from the Hiroshima airfield within an hour of the attack, circled the city to gain an assessment of the damage, and departed to report the attack. Evidence was plentiful.

The Japanese government showed no signs of impending capitulation in the three days between the attacks. It wasn't until we destroyed Nagasaki that we heard the first indications that they would surrender - and even then, the order had to come directly from the Emperor (breaking a thousand years of tradition).

If we had dropped a nuclear weapon anywhere the Imeperial Palace, I have no doubt that the Japanese people would have viewed it as a failed attempt to kill Hirohito, and would fought to the last man.


I could easily be wrong. I learnt this stuff years ago. Research time. I do know that the Emperor was the only one likely to want to surrender, and that the military leaders, who controlled the country, would rather die than surrender. Most committed suicide after signing the surrender treaty, as they saw it as the only way to both obey the Emperor and retain honour.

As an aside, I find it interesting that you refer to the American Army (and I assume government) of the mid-Forties as "we". You are unlikely to have been alive then, though I gather you are in the American military, from your location and avatar. It just seems strange to me. I would never refer to something that New Zealand did that long ago as if I had anything to do with it. Hell, at that time, they were more British than Kiwi.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Weaver » Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:08 am UTC

I am in the US Army, although my use of "we" doesn't simply reflect that membership. I will turn 40 next month - yes, far too young to be alive during WWII

I speak as an American citizen - of what "we" as a nation did. I also use the same speach patterns when I speak of lessons the US Army learned following various conflicts, for example.

I cannot imagine being a citizen (or subject) of a nation and not refer to my nation's history without an inclusive article. Good, bad or indifferent, my nation's history is my history, I cannot remove myself from it.

It may have some relevance that my family has been in the US since it's founding - indeed, from the very early history of the North American colonial period. I'll have to think about that - because, while my ancestors came mainly from England and Wales before emigrating to North America, I don't consider British history to be "my" history.

Your statement that New Zealanders of the time were "more British than Kiwi" may hold a clue - it implies a national identity which did not emerge until the post-war period, perhaps significantly later?

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Swordfish » Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:09 pm UTC

Wormwood wrote:I first read this as a sort of "My friends said it was ok, so I did it" but I don't think that's what you meant. Does it mean that because the U.K. and Russia did not condemn it, they were complicit? Because they certainly did benefit.


I actually put that in there because, in my experience, this argument often becomes one of people simply looking for a reason bash America, and it usually shuts them up to find out that both the U.K. and Russia knew exactly what the U.S. was going to do, and had no objections whatsoever. So it's mainly to prevent any arguments based solely on hatred of the U.S. from popping up.

Though, I would say that the fact that neither one objected certainly means that neither nation was on any sort of a "higher moral ground" in this situation.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby gtg947h » Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:33 pm UTC

Just to throw my cent in...

I'm pretty sure US invasion plans called for using atomic bombs to soften up the coastal defenses, if it had come to that. And I think last-ditch Japanese resistance plans involved using just about everything that could move for kamikaze attacks.

And finally, I'm pretty sure that atomic weapons were seen more as just really large and powerful bombs (especially in terms of military planning). The radiation and fallout effects weren't really known too well, and these bombs certainly didn't have the stigma they have today.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby 22/7 » Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:40 pm UTC

gtg947h wrote:Just to throw my cent in...

I'm pretty sure US invasion plans called for using atomic bombs to soften up the coastal defenses, if it had come to that. And I think last-ditch Japanese resistance plans involved using just about everything that could move for kamikaze attacks.

And finally, I'm pretty sure that atomic weapons were seen more as just really large and powerful bombs (especially in terms of military planning). The radiation and fallout effects weren't really known too well, and these bombs certainly didn't have the stigma they have today.

I was fairly certain that the radiation effects involved were fairly well known, even calculable at that point. For some reason I'm remembering a story about a scientist in Los Alamos dying from radiation poisoning during the construction of the test bomb they set off. Does anyone know for sure on this?
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby ATCG » Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:29 am UTC

22/7 wrote:For some reason I'm remembering a story about a scientist in Los Alamos dying from radiation poisoning during the construction of the test bomb they set off. Does anyone know for sure on this?

You are undoubtedly thinking of Louis Slotin, who died following a criticality-test accident. The accident was an eerie parallel to another fatal accident involving the very same bomb core that claimed Slotin's life. Both accidents followed the dropping of the second atomic bomb by less than a year.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Weaver » Wed Apr 23, 2008 4:32 am UTC

gtg947h wrote:Just to throw my cent in...

I'm pretty sure US invasion plans called for using atomic bombs to soften up the coastal defenses, if it had come to that.

I've never heard that - the invasion was scheduled to hit Kyushu in November '45, and they knew they wouldn't have additional bombs that early. Do you have a source?

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby 22/7 » Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:48 am UTC

ATCG wrote:
22/7 wrote:For some reason I'm remembering a story about a scientist in Los Alamos dying from radiation poisoning during the construction of the test bomb they set off. Does anyone know for sure on this?

You are undoubtedly thinking of Louis Slotin, who died following a criticality-test accident. The accident was an eerie parallel to another fatal accident involving the very same bomb core that claimed Slotin's life. Both accidents followed the dropping of the second atomic bomb by less than a year.

Close. After a little bit of research I found that I was talking about Harry Daghlian Jr.. Apparently it happened about 2 weeks after the dropping of the bombs, so a big nevermind on that. Any idea if the knowledge was common at that point?
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby ATCG » Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:36 pm UTC

22/7 wrote:
ATCG wrote:
22/7 wrote:For some reason I'm remembering a story about a scientist in Los Alamos dying from radiation poisoning during the construction of the test bomb they set off. Does anyone know for sure on this?

You are undoubtedly thinking of Louis Slotin, who died following a criticality-test accident. The accident was an eerie parallel to another fatal accident involving the very same bomb core that claimed Slotin's life. Both accidents followed the dropping of the second atomic bomb by less than a year.

Close. After a little bit of research I found that I was talking about Harry Daghlian Jr.. Apparently it happened about 2 weeks after the dropping of the bombs, so a big nevermind on that. Any idea if the knowledge was common at that point?

Daghlian's accident is described in my second link (which points to the same Wikipedia link you found). For whatever reason, Slotin's accident seems to be the better known of the two.

If by "the knowledge" you mean "the radiation and fallout effects" referred to by gtg947h, I can really only speculate. The community having any knowledge of such things would certainly be a small one. I would expect that animal studies on the effects of ionizing radiation would have been available. It would also not surprise me if investigations of radionuclide uptake and effect in animals had been conducted. After all, large numbers of workers were involved in the preparation of the fissile materials going into the bombs. Their knowledge was sketchy and incomplete, but the precautions taken certainly show their awareness of the dangers they faced.

As far as fallout and other weapons effects are concerned, there was much less knowledge. One study (which would be repeated in later years) set out to determine if a fission explosion would ignite a self-sustaining fusion reaction in the atmosphere (the answer, needless to say, was no). Still, my understanding is that while much was learned in the aftermath of the world's first three nuclear explosions, very little happened that was outside the range of planned-for contingencies.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby 22/7 » Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:44 pm UTC

Yeah, this is pretty much what was stuck in my head for some reason. They absolutely knew about the radiation effects, but fallout was a different story (or rather, the widespread and lasting effects the fallout would have). Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby BlackSails » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:35 am UTC

Indon wrote:
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.


The bombs used in WWII were on the order of kilotons. We now have bombs with yields in the tens of megatons. (Largest bomb ever had a max yield of 100 megatons) We have weapons that can render an area uninhabitable for hundreds of years (See, salted weapons).

The kind of weapons found today are like machine guns as compared to muskets.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Weaver » Thu Apr 24, 2008 4:56 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:
Indon wrote:
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.


The bombs used in WWII were on the order of kilotons. We now have bombs with yields in the tens of megatons. (Largest bomb ever had a max yield of 100 megatons) We have weapons that can render an area uninhabitable for hundreds of years (See, salted weapons).

The kind of weapons found today are like machine guns as compared to muskets.
That is somewhat inaccurate. Both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs had yields in the 15KT range. The largest device ever tested was about 57KT. While we developed a number of megaton weapons, all the currently deployed systems are in the ~5-100KT range. Megaton weapons are simply ineffecient - they take up too much mass and volume for the available effects - you are better off MIRVing multiple KT weapons instead. In addition, burst altitudes are computed to maximize the congruence between the direct air shock wave and the reflected ground shock wave. This necessitates that the fireball will remain above the surface - reducing fallout contamination. Other than theoretical work, we (and the rest of the world) have never developed "salted" weapons using Cobalt 60.

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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Silas » Thu Apr 24, 2008 5:16 am UTC

I'd say that all that supports the muskets/machine guns parallel. We've gone from being able, with a lot of work, to build and deliver rudimentary weapons twice (before running all the way out) to being able to deliver hundreds of warheads to the other side of the world in half an hour, even if somebody did the same to us first. (Fuck you, Chelyabinsk)
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Swordfish » Thu Apr 24, 2008 5:22 am UTC

Weaver wrote:I've never heard that - the invasion was scheduled to hit Kyushu in November '45, and they knew they wouldn't have additional bombs that early. Do you have a source?


I've actually heard the same thing, I forget where, but my understanding was that, when U.S. Generals were told about the bombs, they started trying to incorporate them into the invasion plans without considering just dropping the two they had and seeing if Japan would surrender.

Wikipeida says that the U.S. was expecting to have at least seven by the time of Operation Olympic, but there's no way that can be right. As far as I knew, the U.S. wasn't even expecting to have their next bomb manufactured by November.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby zealo » Thu Apr 24, 2008 5:23 am UTC

The largest device ever tested was about 57KT

didn't they take out half of the uranium just before testing though? (or something like that)
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Kaiyas » Thu Apr 24, 2008 5:35 am UTC

Weaver wrote:
BlackSails wrote:
Indon wrote:
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.


The bombs used in WWII were on the order of kilotons. We now have bombs with yields in the tens of megatons. (Largest bomb ever had a max yield of 100 megatons) We have weapons that can render an area uninhabitable for hundreds of years (See, salted weapons).

The kind of weapons found today are like machine guns as compared to muskets.
That is somewhat inaccurate. Both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs had yields in the 15KT range. The largest device ever tested was about 57KT. While we developed a number of megaton weapons, all the currently deployed systems are in the ~5-100KT range. Megaton weapons are simply ineffecient - they take up too much mass and volume for the available effects - you are better off MIRVing multiple KT weapons instead. In addition, burst altitudes are computed to maximize the congruence between the direct air shock wave and the reflected ground shock wave. This necessitates that the fireball will remain above the surface - reducing fallout contamination. Other than theoretical work, we (and the rest of the world) have never developed "salted" weapons using Cobalt 60.


But it's all kind of irrelevant. Indon's point is correct, for the reasons Weaver mentioned, along with being able to aim at individual targets with more precision. However, the trade-off seems to be fear factor for effectiveness, from my limited point of view.

The analogy isn't wrong so much as misused- cruise missiles would have been godly to either side in WW2.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Dream » Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:51 am UTC

But it's all kind of irrelevant. Indon's point is correct, for the reasons Weaver mentioned, along with being able to aim at individual targets with more precision. However, the trade-off seems to be fear factor for effectiveness, from my limited point of view.

The analogy isn't wrong so much as misused- cruise missiles would have been godly to either side in WW2.


Well, the shift to MIRV delivered kiloton range weapons was intended to allow easy, reliable delivery of the same destructive power as the megaton range weapons that preceded them. Cold war logic dictated that there could only have been a change if the same or better destructive capability was maintained. So, it's disingenuous to assert that megaton weapons are not "used" today. There are megaton missiles, made up of many individual variable yeild devices that are perfectly capable of doing the same job. START aside, I can't see the city-killers having been retired unless there was some replacement capability developed.Nuclear powers now have the option of using less destructive force, but only alongside the option of using a similar destructive force.

The V1 flying bomb was the first useful cruise missile, and is strikingly similar in design to the Tomahawk. Jet engine and stubby wings, although it lacked the terrain guidance system. It was apparently far from godlike, more an annoyance to a battle hardened British populace.

Tsar Bomba, which is a western name, was the biggest bomb ever designed and built. It was detonated with half of its fissile material removed, and yeilded a little more than it's predicted 50 megatons. 57 sounds about right. I would imagine it could have exceeded 100mt had it been fully detonated. It was actually delivered to the testing range by a modified bomber, indicating that had ballistic missile techology not progressed as it did, such massive weapons could well have been deployed in active service.
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Re: Atomic Bomb

Postby Weaver » Thu Apr 24, 2008 1:19 pm UTC

It is equally disingenuous to refer to the megaton-range missiles of decades past as "city killers".

The primary reason for the development of such warheads was to put debris clouds over foreign missile fields such that enemy missiles couldn't boost through them, thus reducing or eliminating the enemy strike force. Improvements in targeting and in accuracy enabled missile designers to produce multi-kiloton range weapons which could accurately target specific silos, eliminating the need for the larger weapon systems. Those missiles whose combined warheads add up to megaton range are not designed to attack cities, and planning doesn't envision that role. Should it ever become necessary (politically, for that is where all force becomes necessary) to destroy a city, single large kiloton-range weapons suffice quite nicely - there is no need to employ multiple MIRVs to accomplish this. In addition, the employment of multiple kiloton-range weapons in a given area with military intent is far less destructive than the employment of an equivilant single megaton-range weapon with the same military intent - in order to achieve the same effects, the megaton weapon requires employment which will greatly increase the fallout. Finally, even if using W87 or W88 warheads, modern US missiles only carry <6MT of total yield, compared with 9MT on the W53s carried by Titan IIs, or (US max deployed) 25MT Mk41 Gravity bomb.

Also, the V1 was looked at with some disdain precisely because it lacked terminal guideance - it was only accurate enough to hit (some) large city-sized targets, and it was slow enough that Spitfires could shoot them down. The V2, on the other hand, was viewed with much more alarm. Modern cruise missiles, with targeting capable of hitting specific buildings (as opposed to cities), and nuclear warhead would have indeed been terrifying to WWII-period observers.



Finally, your assertion that Tsar Bomba had "It was detonated with half of its fissile material removed" is inaccurate. The u-238 tamper materiel (a tamper in a nuclear weapon reflects neutrons, and resists expansion of the fission core through inertia) from the second and third stages which was replaced with lead is not fissile materiel - it is fissionable when struck by neutrons from a fusion reaction, but it is not fissile (capable of undergoing fission on it's own.)


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