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A different take on the lives saved by the bomb

Discussion in 'Atomic Bombs In the Pacific' started by dash rip rock, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The US didn't want to telegraph the bomb they still weren't sure it would work. I'm not sure Hirohito could have surrendered in May either. How many in the cabinet were willing to surrender at that time? How about the military. Don't forget the attempted coup in August and that's even with the two bombs and all the bombing and shelling from May 'till then. Likewise Truman and the other allies wanted an unconditional surrender.
     
  2. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    Probably Bix was thinking more of a July surrender with Stimson's original Potsdam draft still containing the clause...............

    "This may include a constitutional monarchy under the present dynasty if it be shown to the complete satisfaction of the world that such a government will never again aspire to aggression."

    Plus Russian signature to the proclamation [& perhaps threat of the bomb if after the test]

    The US Joint Intelligence Committee, a U.S.-British Combined Intelligence Committee, Britain's General Hastings Ismay, chief of staff to the minister of defence, Churchill, Grew, McCloy, Leahy, Under Secretary of the Navy Ralph Bard, Secretary of War Stimson, Secretary of the Navy Forrestal, & the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed, that under those conditions Japan was likely to surrender.
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Source please.
     
  4. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    Agree.....
     
  5. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Do you believe the rest of the Allies would approve of this? As it is, I seem to remember reading the Australian PM voicing his dis-satisfaction that Japan recieved far less strict terms than Germany. It was not just the US who remained at war with Japan, but a multitute of nations. It was very difficult getting Stalin to sign off on the terms Japan did recieve.
     
  6. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    A few sources, the best is over 100 pages of sources & notes from Alperovitz the Decision, plus reams from the net.......

    Minutes of Meeting held at the White House on
    Monday, 18 June 1945


    PRESENT
    The President
    Admiral William D. Leahy
    General of the Army G. C. Marshall
    Admiral E. J. King
    Lieut. General I. C. Eaker (Acting for General Arnold)
    The Secretary of War, Mr. Stimson
    The Secy of the Navy, Mr. Forrestal
    The Asst. Secy. of War, Mr. McCloy

    THE PRESIDENT stated that one of his objectives in connection with the coming conference would be to get from Russia all the assistance in the war that was possible. To this end he wanted to know all the decisions that he would have to make in advance in order to occupy the strongest possible position in the discussions. [Potsdam]

    General Marshall...

    'An important point about Russian participation in the war is that the impact of Russian entry on the already hopeless Japanese may well be the decisive action levering them into capitulation at that time or shortly thereafter if we land in Japan.'

    Source: Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Central Decimal Files, 1942-1945, box 198 334 JCS (2-2-45) Mtg 186th-194th

    The original memo........

    http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB162/20.pdf

    And part of......

    Key Issues: Nuclear Weapons: History: Pre Cold War: Meetings: White House Meeting




    Minutes of Meeting held at the White House


    -------------------------

    Marshall also pointed out the shock value of Soviet entry to Stimson.....



    "I had a talk with Marshall after the meeting of the Committee of Three this morning and went over it [the warning to Japan to surrender] with him. He is suggesting an additional sanction to our warning in the shape of an entry by the Russians into the war [Russia was preparing to enter the Pacific War by Aug. 8, 1945]. That would certainly coordinate all the threats possible to Japan. In the afternoon I did a little reading on the subject and started the dictation of a memorandum to the President." [Stimson presented his memorandum, along with the Potsdam Proclamation surrender warning, to Truman on July 2, 1945;

    Stimson June 19, 1945 Diary Entry:


    "I then spoke of the importance which I attributed to the reassurance of the Japanese on the condition of their dynasty [i.e., retention of their emperor, whom most Japanese believed was a god], and I had felt that the insertion of that in the formal warning [the Potsdam Proclamation] was important and might be just the thing that would make or mar their acceptance, but that I had heard from Byrnes that they preferred not to put it in, and that now such a change was made impossible by the sending of the message to Chiang. I hoped that the President would watch carefully so that the Japanese might be reassured verbally through diplomatic channels if it was found that they were hanging fire on that one point. He said that he had that in mind, and that he would take care of it."


    Stimson July 24, 1945 Diary Entry:

    http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB162/39.pdf


    Joint Intelligence Committee report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on April 29, 1945:

    “The increasing effects of air-sea blockade, the progressive and cumulative devastation wrought by strategic bombing, and the collapse of Germany (with its implications regarding redeployment) should make this realization [that absolute defeat is inevitable] widespread within the year...The entry of the USSR into the war, would, together with the foregoing factors, convince most Japanese at once of the inevitability of complete defeat...If...the Japanese people, as well as their leaders, were persuaded both that absolute defeat was inevitable and that unconditional surrender did not imply national annihilation [that is, the removal of the emperor], surrender might follow fairly quickly” .

    Source: Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Central Decimal Files, 1942-1945, box 198 334 JCS (2-2-45) Mtg 186th-194th

    Alperovitz, the decision p. 113-114.


    Stimson, with Forrestal & Grew--in a memorandum of July 2--offered Truman his considered recommendation that if assurances were given [for the Emperor] of best chance of a likely surrender......

    'I think the Japanese nation has the mental intelligence and versatile capacity in such a crisis to recognize the folly of a fight to the finish and to accept the proffer of what will amount to an unconditional surrender; . . .

    Key Issues: Nuclear Weapons: History: Pre Cold War: Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Decision: Chronology


    The minutes of the July 16 Combined Chiefs of Staff at their first meeting had under consideration a paper prepared by the Combined Intelligence Staffs on the enemy situation, where the survival of the institution of the emperor was mentioned, speaking for the British Chiefs, Sir Alan Brooke suggested that If an interpretation on these lines could be found an opportune moment to make it clear to the Japanese might be shortly after a Russian entry into the war.

    Then, after some discussion, the American Chiefs suggested that "it
    would be very useful if the Prime Minister [Churchill] put forward
    to the President [Truman] his views and suggestions as to how the term 'unconditional surrender' might be explained to the Japanese."(3) And when General Sir Hastings Ismay, chief of staff to the minister of defence, passed the American request on to Churchill, he did so in a report on this meeting, in
    which he described their discussion, and CCS 643/3, suggested that if and when Russia came into the war against Japan, the Japanese would probably wish to get out on almost any terms short of the dethronement of the Emperor.(4)


    (3)FRUS, Conference of Berlin (Potsdam), Vol. II, pp. 36-7.

    (4) John Ehrman, _Grand Strategy_, (London, 1956), p. 291.
    ---------------------
     
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I think the attitude toward Russian intervention in the Pacific War changed after Trinity. My reading suggests the US was at least less concerned with Soviet help in finishing the war after the successful test of the bomb.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Your sources are at best weak support for your statement.
     
  9. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    If you are referring to I, I posted no sources. Yet.
     
  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Sorry for the confusion. I was referring to ANZAC's post. He had previously stated:
    When looking at the quotes he listed I see things like
    Note it says "may well" and includes the possiblity that it will occur "shortly thereafter if we land in Japan".
    and
    I read that as within a year of the German surrender that pushes it well into 46.
    or
    Note it states "might" not will or even probably will.
    That's just the first quotes in order.
     
  11. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    I think Churchill and especially Truman were simply Giddy with the success of the bomb and were more than happy to let Russia clean the 'side yard' that was Manchuria / Manchuko.

    As far as the sources ANZAC has posted it's not unknown that leaving the 'Emperor' was a point of political contention with those for and against; but, the Allies were seeking 'unconditional surrender' and leaving the Emperor in place was, considered by most, a condition.

    There are two sides to every argument: one side wants things their way and the other wants things their's, I see no reason why this should be any different.

    In the larger picture I see this as being an attempt, by those who were involved in the Allied side of the surrender negotiations, to distance themselves from those who were seeking unconditional surrender and the dropping of the bombs. More or less an: " I told you so".

    I was watching a BBC / National Geographic Documentary - Hiroshima and it postulated that Japan had seen the offer of leaving the Emperor in place as a sign of weakness by the Allies when the offer was first put forth. I have not been able to find reference to this anywhere else and I can not confirm the accuracy of it; so, there's that.
     
  12. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    formerjughead, one of Truman's major goals at Potsdam was to get the Russians to honor their "90 day" pledge. We had no real problems with the USSR taking the northern islands if it would end the war quicker. I have seen nothing that would indicated we wanted to limit them to the mainland.

    The idea that allowing the Emperor to remain in place was seen as a sign of weakness is odd, because the Japanese held that as their one main demand for surrender, as far as I know. It would have expedited things if we'd been explicit about that. However, we didn't want to get off the unconditional surrender theme as we thought THAT would be seen as a sign of weakness.
     
  13. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    I have only heard of the single reference in the BBC Documentary regarding lessening of the terms being percieved as a weakness. Weakness my not be accurate though, in the documentary the message was percieved as a sign that the US was growing 'weary' of the conflict and may not be able to continue much longer. So I dunno.
     
  14. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    How the Emperor was going to be treated, or how the wording of the Potsdam Declaration would be presented to both Japan and the world at large was "up in the air" until the successful atomic test. At least that is what I have been able to glean over the years. Joseph Grew was the most influential of the Far East experts, and he had put forward an extremely potent argument to cease bombing Tokyo directly after the devastating firebombing raids of early 1945. Convincing Truman and the USAAF command that Hirohito would be more of an asset than a detriment post war.

    Something that many people tend to attribute to General MacArthur was really the brainchild of Joseph Grew, long-time Far East statesman and expert on the cultures of the area. When he was recalled from Japan and returned to the US in an exchange of diplomats in 1942, he remained an advisor to, and Undersecretary of the State Department; eventually serving as acting Secretary of State all through 1945.

    Grew was appointed as Under Secretary of State upon his return to the United States. In 1943 Grew received a L.H.D. from Bates College. He served as Acting Secretary of State for most of the period from January to August 1945 as Secretaries of State Edward Stettinius and James Byrnes were away at conferences. Among high level officials in the Truman Administration, Grew was the most knowledgeable of Japanese issues, having spent so much time in Japan. Grew was also the author of a profoundly influential book about Japan, entitled Ten Years in Japan.

    Grew was a member of the "Committee of Three," along with Secretary of War Henry Stimson and Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, a group that sought to obtain an alternative to the use of the atomic bomb in order to force Japan's surrender without using atomic bombs. Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy drafted a proposed surrender demand for the Committee of Three, which was incorporated into Article 12 of the Potsdam Declaration.

    The original language of the Proclamation would have increased the chances for Japanese surrender as it allowed the Japanese government to maintain its emperor as a "constitutional monarchy." President Harry S. Truman, who was influenced by his Secretary of State James Byrnes during the trip by ship to Europe for the Potsdam Conference, changed the language of the surrender demand. Grew knew how important the emperor was to the Japanese people and believed that the condition could have led to Japanese surrender without using the atomic bombs.

    Grew stated, "If surrender could have been brought about in May 1945 or even in June or July before the entrance of Soviet Russia into the war and the use of the atomic bomb, the world would have been the gainer."
    (emphasis mine)

    Goto:

    http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Joseph_Grew

    and scroll down to the WW2 section.
     
  15. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    How the Emperor was going to be treated, or how the wording of the Potsdam Declaration would be presented to both Japan and the world at large was "up in the air" until the successful atomic test. At least that is what I have been able to glean over the years. Joseph Grew was the most influential of the Far East experts, and he had put forward an extremely potent argument to cease bombing Tokyo directly after the devastating firebombing raids of early 1945. Convincing Truman and the USAAF command that Hirohito would be more of an asset than a detriment post war.

    Something that many people tend to attribute to General MacArthur was really the brainchild of Joseph Grew, long-time Far East statesman and expert on the cultures of the area. When he was recalled from Japan and returned to the US in an exchange of diplomats in 1942, he remained an advisor to, and Undersecretary of the State Department; eventually serving as acting Secretary of State all through 1945.

    Grew was appointed as Under Secretary of State upon his return to the United States. In 1943 Grew received a L.H.D. from Bates College. He served as Acting Secretary of State for most of the period from January to August 1945 as Secretaries of State Edward Stettinius and James Byrnes were away at conferences. Among high level officials in the Truman Administration, Grew was the most knowledgeable of Japanese issues, having spent so much time in Japan. Grew was also the author of a profoundly influential book about Japan, entitled Ten Years in Japan.

    Grew was a member of the "Committee of Three," along with Secretary of War Henry Stimson and Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, a group that sought to obtain an alternative to the use of the atomic bomb in order to force Japan's surrender without using atomic bombs. Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy drafted a proposed surrender demand for the Committee of Three, which was incorporated into Article 12 of the Potsdam Declaration.

    The original language of the Proclamation would have increased the chances for Japanese surrender as it allowed the Japanese government to maintain its emperor as a "constitutional monarchy." President Harry S. Truman, who was influenced by his Secretary of State James Byrnes during the trip by ship to Europe for the Potsdam Conference, changed the language of the surrender demand. Grew knew how important the emperor was to the Japanese people and believed that the condition could have led to Japanese surrender without using the atomic bombs.

    Grew stated, "If surrender could have been brought about in May 1945 or even in June or July before the entrance of Soviet Russia into the war and the use of the atomic bomb, the world would have been the gainer."
    (emphasis mine)

    Goto:

    http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Joseph_Grew

    and scroll down to the WW2 section.
     
  16. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    But the aim of US diplomacy at the time was to not back down from unconditional surrender, so I'm wondering what message they were referring to.
     
  17. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    It's on Netflix insta-view you might check it out. From the timeline I am thinking it was between the bombs, and I am in no way saying that there was ever such a message or reaction by the Japanese. I am sure it will pop up in a CT thread.
     
  18. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    brndirf1 I haven't heard of "the Committee of Three" before. I'll have to see if I can find more references to it.

    On the topic of "alternative uses", do we know what those were? The "demonstration" proposal has a serious problem. The hardliners in the Japanese military weren't afraid to die, and weren't afraid to take to the whole country with them, so intimidating them by nuking a desert island wouldn't have been likely, IMHO. I can picture that conversation.

    "Honorable General, one bomb destroyed thousands of acres of jungle!"

    "So? One raid by the gaijin bombers destroyed many square miles of Tokyo, killed 81,000 people and wounded another 47,000."

    "But this was a big bomb! A great big bomb! Really, really big!"

    "More tea, honorable diplomat?"
     
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  19. Tristan Scott

    Tristan Scott Member

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    And that's really what's most pertinent in all of this discussion. We can discuss till we are blue in the face what was going on in the meetings on the US, but since we have the advantage of hindsight, something the Allies didn't have in 1945, we need to understand that the military members of the Big Six committee in Tokyo were not going to budge in their desire to fight till the last Japanese was dead. We know this to be true from all accounts. We also know that what broke the deadlock was the Emperor himself, and we know that the main motivation behind his intervention on this committee was the a-bombs.
     
  20. chris the cheese

    chris the cheese Member

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    Which is, of course, not actually true and based on a fundermentaly inaccurate assessment of the situation among the Japanese Big Six. Both, yes I repeat both, factions of the Big Six knew that the war had been lost, they just differed in their views on how to achieve the most favourable peace. The 'pacifists' wished to use the Soviet Union as a diplomatic channel while the militant members wanted to force an allied invasion and inflict heavy losses on the Allies forcing them to reconsider their rejection of a conditioned peace. Of course the question was rendered irrelevent when the Soviets entered the war removing the possibility of using the Soviets as a diplomatic channel and also scuppering the military plan given that Japan would then be faced with an invasion from both north and south by the two most powerful armed forces on earth. So it isn't the case that they rejected the notion of surrender, rather it is that they rejected the notion of unconditional surrender.

    Garbage. Even the more, I guess 'traditional', historian Sadao Asada rejects that particular notion:

    "It must be stressed again that the bomb did not "produce the decision" to end the war, nor did it set in motion the political process that led to Japan's surrender. Japan's informal, secret "peace maneuvers" had begun as early as March 1943, when Hirohito first intimated to Kido his wish for peace."

    Sado Asada, 'The Shock of the Atomic Bomb and Japan's Decision to Surrender: A Reconsideration', in Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 67, No. 4 (Nov., 1998), p. 499.

    Asada described the bombs, as well as the Soviet intervention as "twin shocks" (p. 506) prodded Hirohito into finally making the move that had been coming for some time, because they removed the very last options open to Japan. But historians do not suggest that the bombs were the main 'motivation' behind the Japanese decision or the Emperors, shuch an assertion is plainly groundless.
     

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