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JLeslie's avatar

In retrospect, what do you think about America dropping atomic bombs on Japan to end WWII on the Japanese front?

Asked by JLeslie (47745 points ) 2 months ago

I don’t know what America teaches now, but when I was in school we were taught that it was a necessary evil. That much fewer people died in the end than if the war had continued. I was told that America warned Japan and gave them a chance to stop, but they chose to continue and so we carried through our threat. Nuclear weapons horrify me. The radioactivity I find extremely upsetting, let alone the damage just from the explosion. I don’t know what I think about ending a war by using devasting bombs. I tend to want to believe anything can be negotiated, but I know that is not true in real life.

Do you think America did the right thing? Do you think Japan did the right thing? Do you think that having a strong military and strong defense, is the best offense? If someone started dropping bombs on your country would you want to fight back?

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22 Answers

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zenvelo's avatar

There really wasn’t any warning to the Japanese, no one in Japan had any inkling of the destructive power of an A Bomb. No one outside the command staff in the US forces and those in Las Cruces had any idea.

Yet the best intelligence, and analysis since, have pointed out that an invasion of the home islands would have resulted in US casualties in the millions.

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo The way I understood it, and I could easily be wrong, America warned Japan we had a devastating bomb. It would make sense to me that possibly Japan had no idea how devastating, or they might have even questioned if we really had anything.

CWOTUS's avatar

If daily carpet fire-bombing of the primarily wooden structures of Japanese cities from fleets of high-altitude (and at that point in the war, essentially unchallenged, because of the near-total destruction of the Japanese air force and air defenses) B-29s wasn’t adequate warning that “the American military will continue to pulverize and incinerate you”, then no mere words would have done the trick. (I’m not sure that it was even clear to the American military exactly how powerful those bombs would be. Nothing like them had ever been seen in history before.)

When it was finally clear that the US Army Air Force could do the same thing with single planes carrying single bombs that it had been doing with fleets of planes carrying full loads of conventional bombs, then it was finally clear to even the psychotic military rulers of the country that there was no possible way to prolong the war, and that they had to surrender to avoid more loss of life by their own population.

I think, as horrifying as the loss of life was, it was preferable – to the Japanese civilians who were spared, as well as the military on both sides who would have been killed in a pointless drive to end that particular military regime – to drop those weapons instead of continuing the conventional air attacks, followed by a ground assault (which would have started in winter time). The Japanese had already suffered enough, under their own leadership. The people were already starving; forcing them to endure a ground assault (after more weeks and months of carpet bombing) would have resulted in even worse horror.

And yes, it did save American lives, too, and I’m not a bit sorry about that.

gorillapaws's avatar

It was terrorism. We could have detonated the bomb over the ocean for a Japaneese military observation party to demonstrate our capabilities. Killing hundreds of thousands, the vast majority of which were civilians is morally indefensible.

As an American who lived with a Japaneese family in Hiroshima, and has been to the Peace Park at ground zero, seen the shadows of people who were vaporized into the architecture, I think I can speak with some authority on the subject.

Darth_Algar's avatar

It was a genocidal act of no military necessity at all. The Japanese were already beaten and had put out feelers to begin peace talks. The notion the the bombs were preferable to a ground invasion is a lie to justify the bombings to the public. Such an invasion was highly unlikely to take place. We used the bombs not to end the war but to show the Soviets “look what we can do, don’t fuck with us”.

flutherother's avatar

I keep to the old fashioned view that wars should be fought between armies in the field and it is immoral to attack women and children and the elderly. As for atomic weapons; they are an abomination.

ucme's avatar

Typical American massive overkill, “hey, look what we got boyah!”

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Overkill…

Japan’s never surrender policy that meant that every last Japanese soldier, every man, every woman, and even every child that could pick up a rifle would be forced to die to save the Emperor was overkill.

If we had not frightened the Emperor into submission there would have been no Japanese people left.

And thousands more American soldiers would have died as well.

ragingloli's avatar

A crime against humanity, a war crime and terrorism.

canidmajor's avatar

Horrifying and definitely ridiculous overkill. I can appreciate that the decision makers figured it would be a decisive end of Japanese hostilities, and why it was considered appropriate in light of the anger and outrage the Americans felt about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Still doesn’t compare with the Germans’ wholesale torture and slaughter of millions of innocents without provocation.

ucme's avatar

“Enola Gay, you shoulda stayed at home yesterday…”

gailcalled's avatar

Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Dec., 1941 and then continued to do hostile and anger-provoking things until the bombs were dropped three and a half years later, in early August. l945. There were many opportunites for them to surrender before these actions (the simple version).

“Together with the United Kingdom and China, the United States called for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945, threatening “prompt and utter destruction”.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Yeah, Japan wasn’t willing to surrender unconditionally (which is why they started to initiate peace talks with the Soviet Union, not the US or Great Britain). They wanted to keep the imperial house intact. The US thought that unacceptable (and were likely outraged that the Japanese were talking with the Soviets, not them), committed this horrendous act and then….negotiated a peace which allowed the imperial house to stay intact after-all.

gailcalled's avatar

Does anyone know why one bomb wasn’t enough? That seemed pretty compelling on its own.

canidmajor's avatar

@gailcalled: I also wonder that.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@gailcalled

The second bomb was dropped because Japan didn’t surrender quick enough. Nevermind that they were still trying to figure out what the fuck had just happened. Basically the US’s plan was to drop a bomb every 2 or 3 days until Japan surrendered.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Japan proved they intended to attack US civilians on their native soil:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_balloon_bomb

While the story may be nearly laughable, Japan crossed the line. What might have happened if they had a more sophisticated technology?

Darth_Algar's avatar

@SecondHandStoke

What does that have to do with the atomic bombings?

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