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Your View: Truman's decision an act of barbarism?

Discussion in 'Atomic Bombs In the Pacific' started by Spartanroller, Apr 30, 2011.

  1. OpanaPointer

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

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    You could have edited your earlier post. We don't penalize people for that.

    As for the kids, if they have the bad luck to be sitting on a target that all that can be said about that. But kids on both sides would have continued to die from starvation and disease over and above the combat casualties if we'd drug it out.
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I disagree. I think as strong or stronger case can be made for b). You forget that there are other concerns than the ones you mention.
    Or not. If the above was true then why didn't the US result to dropping mustard gas on both German and Japanese cities. It could easily have been done in 44 without expecting any retaliation
    I disagree. One of the things that got the US into the war was the American reaction to the Japanese atrocities involving Chinese civilians. Now that doesn't mean that casualties to Japanese civilians or avoiding the same was the highest priority but it was a concern. Just look at the debates considering the bomb or the reaction to the suicides at Okinawa. There also the fact that the allies were looking past the end of the war and what they wanted the post war world to look like and how they wanted to be perceived by history.
     
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  3. OpanaPointer

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

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    The Truman Library online has a lot of documents related to the decision to use the bombs. They make interesting reading.
     
  4. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I take exception to this post on many levels:

    1) Truman’s own statements and diary entries at the time show he was targeting cities with military worth, but since the Japanese had gone on a full war footing, no city would be without "civilian" populations since they were needed for war work. He and his planners did NOT target civilians, and the records of the military import of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki prove that to be true.

    2) Truman wasn’t even widely supported by the Democratic party for re-election in 1948, he had to fund it himself with private donors, and during his "whistle stop" tour the train stopped until he paid them in cash to continue. His staff hat to pass the hat in the train itself to get the engineers to start rolling again.

    3) He spent three years and change after the bombings as President, and the American people did love him for ending the war and bringing their sons, fathers, and husbands home. What do the enemy Japanese deaths have to do with anything? Military or civilian?

    He also started the rebuilding program for Japan and European nations, and got the funding going so that Japan and former Axis powers wouldn’t "tilt Red" as so many eastern European nations had done. Of course if you hate the man, that is of little consequence.

    What in the hell does anything in your post have to do with Truman’s wish to be re-elected? His wife Bess (to whom he was devoted) threatened to divorce him if he ran again in 1948, and when he won she moved to Independence Mo., and visited D.C. only when needed for "official appearances". He felt it was his duty to follow through on the plans FDR and he had initiated (New Deal, SEC, Social Security, Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan), and he was sure Dewy was the wrong man for the post.

    He wasn’t even sure he would be the Democratic candidate in 1948 when he authorized the bombs being dropped in 1945. He was trying to end the war as fast as possible, and stop the deaths of both Japanese and Americans as soon as could be done.
     
  5. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    I have nothing against Truman .
    I also never said that he was targetting Japanese civilians .
    I also stated that the H+N decision was the only thing Truman could do in his as commander-in -chief,because it saved American lives .
    I also stated that the H+N decision saved the lives of a lot (a million ?) of Japanese civilians .
    I also stated that this (=the fate of Japanese civilians) was the least of Truman's concerns.Of course,LWD was disagreeing(I can guess why) and talked about ethics .
    Why would a military commander (and Truman was the highest military commander) be concerned about enemy civilians ?
    What would be more important for the US commander-in-chief in war time :the life of ONE US soldier,or the fate of 100 enemy civilians ?
    And,that brings us to the other hat of Truman :president of the US .
    I don't understand the naivety of certain people ,their refusal to admit that Truman president of the US was influencing Truman commander-in-chief.
    It is a fact that after the results of the election night are known,the next campaign is starting .Thus,on 12 april,Truman (as president) was starting his election campaign .
    That,in 1948,he only was the second(or third) rang candidate of the democrats,is irrelevant :in 1945,he was president,and as such ,head of the democratic party .
    As such,he could not afford ONE mistake ,as
    caring about Japanese civilians :the public opinion would not forgive him;what was better for the president Truman :a war ending in september 1945 with H+N? Or a war ending in november 1946 with the invasion of Japan and with a lot of US casualties ?When would he have the better Gallup polls ?
    A victory or a defeat always is influencing the elections and politics are influencing military decisions .
    Sherman's march through Georgia and the 1864 elections were influencing each other .
    Was there no connection between Torch and the 1942 mid term elections ?
    And the failure of Carter to save the hostages was influencing the 1980 elections,and the decision to try to save them was also politically motivated .
    Presidents of the US are political animals,and all their decisions are politically motivated .
    For the malevolents :I do not say that the political motivation of H+N was dominant,but,it was NOT absent .
     
  6. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    "how they wanted to be perceived by history":that's a good (or bad ) one :Churchill said that he would write history.
    "it was a concern" :but very well concealed,so that public opinion wouldn't know it.
    The old myth of the musterd gas (LWD had better days) :it never would be decisive ,I doubt very much it could be done easily (for Japan) ,and there was the fear for retaliations :eek:ne did know at Washington DC what the Japanese would do and were doing to the allied POW .And,about Germany,no one was certain that Hitler could not retaliate with an other gas .The risks were to high .Otherwise,it would be done,because the general attitude was :the less Japs and Krauts are surviving the war,the better .
    Could you also give some exemples of other concerns than the ones I have mentioned ?
     
  7. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    Sometimes, I have to apologize to the forum for how badly I write, I see how poorly I worded something and must now clear it up. I implied that it was the lady that came from Japan who raised the issues about the use of the bomb when actually it was the writers of the news stories locally that raised all the questions surrounding the issue. I only now see why Biak asked me the question and it is because of my poor wording about the writers concerns about her burns that caused the stir. Sorry for my poor writing ----I am not without faults so this happens now and then that I word things so poorly.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If you look through the various papers of his in the library you'll see that this isn't correct. He had other options and considerd them.
    What's your guess? In any case they weren't the least of his concerns by any means not the greatest ether but that's not the point. Indeed it is about ethics and morality but also about the long term effects.
    The fact that you even ask this question especially given you previous comments raises the serious question of whether or not there is any reason to even try and answer you. You have obviously made up your mind to the extent that you won't even consider the possiblity that others don't share your world view.
    That's an entirely different question and the anwer of course is: It depends.
    Perhaps because you are creating a false dicotomy. I.e. you are asking a meaningless question.
    Not at all sure that holds in 45. Or if it holds the methods are very different.
    Is it? I think not. It graphically illustrates some of the differences between politics today and then for one thing a difference you seem blind to.
    Even today the president is not head of his party.
    It's not at all clear that that would have been a mistake.
    That's an opinion and likely a compleltly unwarrented one.
    That's a straw man. Truman had three basic options and combined strategies were available indeed would have been persued. They were
    1) Blockade
    2) Invade
    3) Drop the bomb.
    it was not clear when the war would end if any of them were followed. The thought seemed to be following all of them was likely to produce results the fastest but that was by no means certain.
    But victory by sometime in 46 was a given that's two years before the 48 ellections.
    PLS note the timing of these two events. Not sure it's relevant in any case.
    That's a very sweeping statment and not at all supported.
    ??? Just what do you mean by that?
    Then why do you deny any other motivation when it's brought up? No one has denied that there were political elements to the decision but they worked both ways. In other words your denial rings hollow.
     
  9. Pelekys

    Pelekys Member

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    In my opinion, any forum is a living system so it is a dynamic system.
    New minds are getting into and old minds are leaving or some times they are changing.
    So always there is space for fresh points of view or for debating again the already written points of view.
    I also believe that the positioning of the new threads relative with old ones is matter of the administrators to leave them as they are or to move them and attached them to the old one(s).

    Now about this thread. I do not believe that H. Truman was a barbarian. We saw many barbarians in the WW2, we saw some others who were generally noble and heroes but they acted like barbarians in some cases.

    Without using the Bomb the war will last more time, I do not think that Japanese moral was defeated so to be ready to quit fighting during summer/autumn of 1945.
    On the contrary, the kamikaze attacks were increased and gave to the world a taste of what will follow after an invasion.

    There is another thing. I think that nobody –not even the scientists- could calculate and evaluate the lethal results of an atomic bomb. Results, which can change people’ life and environment, many years after the bombing.
    So Truman took the decision easier and in fact nobody knows what the decision would be if the results were known, having in mind that after Nagasaki the bomb was never used.
    It is really the final weapon. It is good to threat the enemy only and not to use it-especially if the enemy has also the Bomb.
    We must have in mind also that while the Japanese were suffering the nuclear damages, the whole world watched breathless what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and first of all….the Soviets. Maybe Dresden had to be burnt so the marching Soviets to have a look in brief of what the Western Allies could do with normal weapons and maybe Hiroshima and Nagasaki also in the same time was a message to the Soviets about what the Americans could do using the non normal weapons.
    Finally I believe that a minor reason for the positive decision of Truman to use the bomb was that US wishes also to test this new weapon in real operation.
    So I believe that there were many reasons in Truman’s mind and also in his consultants’ minds, which were considered, big or small.
    We must not forget that the world was at war for 6 years. Everyone was tired and had enough. Losses, damages, casualties, pain, blood, refugees.
    Churchill would make an ally with devil in order to win this war. Why not to drop the ultimate bomb to end it?
    If Hitler had the bomb or if Japanese generals had the bomb, would they consider any ethical reasons for not drop it? Would they use it or not?
     
  10. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Well ,I am not the one who is claiming that the wish of Truman to be elected in 1948,had nothing to do with the decision to nuke H +N .
    As Brndirt said :the American people loved Truman for ending the war and bringing home sons,husbands,etc ...
    The end of the war in september 1945(because of H+N) was ,politically,a good thing for the democratic president H.Truman .Why all the indignation when I am saying that the (to be expected) good political results of H+N were influencing the decision of Truman?
    It was not so that there was in the summer of 1945,a political vacuum,unless you think that from 8am to 12 am,Truman was the leader of the Democrats (and ,as president he was the leader,unless you think that the Democrats are not led by Obama)and from 12 to 4 pm,he was the military commander,and ,that there was no connexion between both.In the UK,Churchill was neglecting his function as partyleader,in the naive assumption that,in war time,there were no party politics :there was a big disenchantment in july 1945.After the armistice in november 1918,Wilson was making the same fault .
     
  11. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    Presidents of the US are political animals :why do you think Obama phoned G.Bush to tell him the news of the elimination of OBL ?And why do you think,the White House leaked the news of the telephone message ? The answer is obvious :it will be a good thing for the candidate Obama .And,of course,the elimination of OBL will be milked out next year in the campaign ;Obama would be a fool not to do this .
     
  12. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That's a straw man. No one has made that claim.
    Because you seem to be implying that it was the only reason he did so. If you study Truman much you will find he did what he thought was right first in most cases no matter what the political cost. Now in most cases this worked out because what he thought was right usually coincided with what US citizens thought was right. He did consider the political ramifications of how things were done but that's another matter.
    ??? That's what you seem to be argueing. Saying that Truman in his time or Obama in his time is leader of the Democratic party is simply incorrect. They may legitiamtly be refered to as leaders in thier party but they are not "the" leader of the party nor are they the "head" of the party.
    That may or may not be true but the political process and the parties assocsiated with it work different in the US and Great Britain.
     
  13. OpanaPointer

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

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    The Japanese Army was handing out awls to school age girls, instructing them to attack GIs. "As they are very tall, aim for the bowels and groin." If we didn't press for surrender, this is what waited for us on the home islands. I killed a 14 yo once, and I still damn the man who gave him a gun.
     
  14. Coder

    Coder Member

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    One US general not mentioned so far is Dwight Eisenhower, then supreme Allied commander in Europe and later US President, who said, "There was no need to hit them with that thing, or words very like that.

    The thread so far has mainly been a sterile argument as to whether there should be a debate, and, insofar as there has been a debate, it has focussed on the balance between the enormity of the atoimc bombs and the putative cost in US military lives of a land invasion of Japan. No one has noted the final half-sentence of the quotation in the opening posting: "In fact, the Japanese were ready to surrender....."

    It is for Spartan to explain why he curtailed the quotation at that point, but it is the essence of the issue. For some weeks before the dropping of the bombs the Japanese had been making overtures towards surrender, and more recently, with the USSR still neutral in the war with Japan, had attempted to use that government to mediate with the Allies.We know that an inhibiting factor in Japanese surrender was ensuring the continuance of the Emperor. If that aim could succeed after the bombs, it could surely have done so without them, given some encouragement. With relentless "conventional" bombing and loss of ill-gotten conquests, Japan was worn out and wasted.

    Why did the Allies refuse to respond to the known feelers? There are strong indications that the main concern of Truman and Churchill (with Attlee as deputy and successor) was not so much the smooth ending of WW2 as the opening shots of WW3. They had a new, secret and terrible weapon, for which they wanted a "live" - or should I say multiple-dead, target (Alamagordo, 16 July, was not enough). So Hiroshima was chosen.

    Also, no one on the thread has asked why two bombs - Nagasaki as well as Hiroshima? The three-day interval was hardly time in the dreadful aftermath for Japan to renew its surrender overtures. No, the second bomb was a different type, and a second "live" target was needed. Humanity is an expendable commodity.

    Anyone seeking a deeper and more reflective analysis of thiis thesis would do well to read the book by Gar Alperowitz: Atomic Diplomacy - Hiroshima and Potsdam. Having read that, following John Hersey's Hiroshima, and recalling the chilling headlines of August 1945, I need no more convincing as to where I stand.
     
  15. ULITHI

    ULITHI Ace

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    With loosing 7000 allied soldiers a week against the Japanese, we didn't want to speculated how much time "about to surrender" ment. A few weeks more of waiting could have resulted in thousands more dead on my counrty's side.

    As far as Ike's opinion, well, I like the guy and respect him, but his specialty was beating the Germans.
     
  16. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I too like and respect "Ike", but as mentioned he was fighting a "gentleman's war" compared to the PTO. Germans would surrender when defeated by the west if they could, Japanese would strap grenades in their armpits so that when the raised their hands high enough everybody around them would die.

    Eisenhower was too far out of the loop to make that judgment on the use of the atomics in the Pacific. He was a good man, an honorable man, but his opinion in this circumstance leaves much to be desired.
     
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  17. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I won't try to argue with you point by point, but I want to make a few observations. First, in the original post the sentence "In fact, the Japanese were ready to surrender", is complete. There was nothing following it in the article referred to. As far as the casualty estimates are concerned, I can only once again refer to the Giangreco book I mentioned above in my earlier post (post #23). He includes in the Appendix, interviews with Japanese military leaders regarding their preparations for Olympic and Coronet that indicate the level of preparedness that the Japanese had for the suspected invasion. His analysis of documents, both American and Japanese, leads him to conclude that the 1 million figure is, in fact, accurate. I would urge you to read that book and see if you can fit it into your view.
     
  18. CPL Punishment

    CPL Punishment Member

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    That's conservative indeed. An airtight naval blockade coupled with B-29 bombing was never much of a plan. It was more of a what are our options / back-of-the-envelope calculation. It fell from favor because Admiral King and General Arnold couldn't create a timetable. Truman was certain that an open-ended war that lasted beyond the summer of '46 would be a domestic disaster, so invasion was the only real option if the Bomb didn't produce a surrender.

    Remember that the "invasion" was really two invasions, each bigger than Normandy. The first was to be Olympic, an operation to capture and occupy the southern half of Kyushu. This was scheduled for October or early November 1945, weather depending. This was to be followed up by Coronet, the invasion of the Kanto plain, the agricultural and industrial heartland of Japan in March of 1946 with VJ Day estimated to follow by mid-June or July. US and Allied casualties estimates varied enormously. If the fighting were to be on an Okinawa-scale on Kyushu then 1.5 to 2 million Allies casualties with 700K dead was suggested. MacArthur thought the cramped terrain on Okinawa, leading to forced frontal assaults, was the cause of such mass US death there. Whereas the larger battlefield of Kyushu, he believed, would permit maneuver, and thus the casualty ratio would be considerably smaller. However, one no realized what a large force General Anami had collected on Kyushu for its defense. Casualties for Coronet weren't rigorously calculated.

    If Coronet had been forced on America then the consequences for the Japanese people would have been tragic. Most of Japan's cereals are grown there because it is fertile and relatively flat. For centuries the faction that controlled the Kanto controlled Japan. The fighting in 1946 would have raged over the most critical food-producing land at precisely the same time that that land needed cultivation and planting. So if Coronet happens there's no spring planting and no summer harvest. If Japan surrenders in June or July there's hardly enough time to get a fall crop in, assuming there's enough phosphates and nitrates available. As it was Japanese war production had depleted fertilizer supplies in 1945. There would have been none in 1946. Couple this with the devastation of Japan's fishing fleet by US subs and aircraft and you get mass famine in 1946 -- 18 million, maybe 25 million dead by the most cruel death imaginable. Then there's the political consequences. Invasion probably means occupation of Hokkaido and maybe eastern Honshu by the Russians -- a divided Japan ruled by rival -- even hostile -- governments.

    Then there is the matter of economic stress to the United States caused by launching invasions and fighting campaigns in late '45 and early to mid '46. This has never been calculated, but its safe to speculate that the largess showered on Europe by the Americans which hastened its recovery and lessened its suffering could not have been as generous. Thus hunger and privation in Europe must be added to the equation.

    No... with all due respect to smug academics and their, shall we say, facile assessment of the military and political questions facing Truman in July 1945, they just haven't given the question enough thought. No, it wasn't barbaric. In fact, once the weapon was perfected, the use of the Bomb in a manner certain to end the war without invasion was the morally defensible choice.
     
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  19. Victor Gomez

    Victor Gomez Ace

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    If you are defeated in war ........you surrender. If you are talented and losing the war you may feign surrender or think about surrender and that is not a surrender. If military leaders want to surrender they can have that feeling and express it only when it is something that is accepted in your society and if it is not accepted you can have those feelings but you had better not express it for the fears of retribution. When the leader of Japan says he surrenders then the job is done. All the talk heretofore is not acceptable in the belief system of this society so all these collected after thoughts can be debated but our leadership was honorable not to be deterred from erring in making a straight line to victory. Only a fool would "taper off" the war effort risking all for what could have been false peace feelers. Also only the Supreme Allied Commanders could look to what we would need to be able to have a post war recovery as some of them realized this war did not completely get us out of the woods....in fact we had new demands we needed to be ahead in with the Nuclear age coming. By acting to preserve our strength for post war recovery they were being responsible for having something to work with to rebuild. I think if you will study a great deal about the individual concerns that were addressed in the meetings of the big three......there was a definite concern for what the countrie's had left in man power and basic resources in the post war period they thought was soon to come. Victory without an ability to emerge from the war time economy would not be much of a victory if all your people face is poor economies, hunger, and suffering. If you think Truman is barbaric.......warfare is barbaric....and winning for the Allies needed all the elements they pursued.
     
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  20. OpanaPointer

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

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    CPL Punishment, I took that from a book where the author went with the lowest credible number for everything, just to deal with claims of inflation. I thought it an interesting technique when used in the right way.
     
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