Letters to the Editor

Bombing legacy

August 6, 2010


To the editor:

Aug. 6 and Aug. 9 are anniversaries of nuclear attacks by U.S. Army Air Forces. Lawrence peace advocates plan a vigil for Japanese victims. I offer a different perspective. The legacy of Japan’s capitulation is not lost souls killed by our bombs. Rather the true legacy of the nuclear attacks is the postwar peace constitution that renounced war, gave women the vote, established due process of law and established many aspects of a peaceful, economically vibrant democracy.

Shamefully, peace advocates perpetuate great fallacies through their vigil. The entire cost of war in the Pacific must fall upon legions of Japanese war criminals and their awful deeds. The Japanese were not victims of Allied efforts to end Japanese aggression swiftly. The truth is a depraved monarchy permitted vastly violent racist and sexist acts too numerous to count.

Far beyond military necessity, the Imperial Japanese military killed, maimed, raped or otherwise brutalized those in Japanese-occupied territories, including Allied POWs. Simply, in 1945 the path to undo Japanese aggression with least killing and destruction was through nuclear weapon attacks rather than continued explosive and incendiary bombing, blockade and amphibious invasion, or acceding to terms dictated by war criminals.

When, if ever, peace advocates want to commemorate Imperial Japanese Army victims of the Rape of Nanking, Bataan Death March, burning of Manila, or millions of peaceful and productive Japanese alive today because the war ended before invasion or widespread starvation due to blockade, I’ll gladly join them.


Liberty_One 7 years, 10 months ago

The atrocities committed by the Japanese army and government doesn't mean the civilians deserved death and can't be memorialized.

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago

Thank you!

I wholeheartedly agree!

First time I've been able to say that about any of your posts :-)

LoveThsLife 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree Liberty. It kinda make me sick thinking of all the innocent civilians that died. 93% of the doctors and nurses in Hiroshima died, due to the fact that instead of hitting our intended target we ended up bombing a hospital.

George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago

Where did that come from? Seriously, with nukes it really does not matter if you hit the exact aim point.

jaywalker 7 years, 10 months ago

I have no doubt that the use of those massive bombs actually saved millions more lives than they took, but I agree with Liberty_One. And I also find it sad that someone could ever wield a term like 'peace advocates' in a derogatory fashion.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 10 months ago

Amazingly, I, too, agree with Liberty_One. I think the motive here is not just memorializing the past. It looks to preventing nuclear destruction in the future by considering the fate of the only people to die in nuclear attacks. Hopefully, awareness of these people will make us work toward seeing that it never happens again. Oh, and blessed are the peace activists.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

There's little doubt that the dropping of the bombs had an effect on the leaders of Japan in deciding to surrender.

But it's absolutely not a fact that they would not have surrendered, anyway, very possibly within a few weeks or even days of their August 15 surrender. It's absolutely not a fact that an all-out invasion would have been required had the bombs not been dropped.

Those possibilities were certainly part of what went into the decision use these weapons on largely civilian populations. But they were nothing more than speculation then, and they remain so now. And they weren't the only thought processes going on among Allied/American decision makers, either-- Preventing the Soviets from invading Japan by taking the first shots of the impending Cold War was a major one, as well as the desire to have a real-world test of these weapons systems, even if it meant the deaths of 100's of thousands of civilians, including women and children.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 10 months ago

"But it's absolutely not a fact that they would not have surrendered, anyway, very possibly within a few weeks or even days of their August 15 surrender. It's absolutely not a fact that an all-out invasion would have been required had the bombs not been dropped."

Yes, but hindsight is 20/20 and you are speculating on what could have been. Counterfactual history is loads of fun, but it doesn't prove anything and it rarely clarifies. Could the Japanese have given up without the bombing? Maybe. Could they have given up without the Soviets? Maybe. Could they have given up when an angry Godzilla attacked the military command? Possibly.

Using your same counterfactuals... assuming the bomb was used to stop the Soviets from invading, what could have happened if the bomb wasn't used and the Soviets were able to snap up more Japanese territory? What if such an invasion ended in a 50/50 occupation of the islands? What if half the country was de facto occupied until the Cold War ended? Following that train of counterfactuals and a real-life example of a similar train of events (the DPRK), one could posit that more people would have died under such an occupation than died from the bomb itself. There was certainly no love lost between the Soviet military and the Japanese military.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 10 months ago

The Japanese government took the Potsdam Declaration as a sign of weakness and desperation; it only served to motivate them even though it warned of "prompt and utter destruction". The Japanese concluded we were bluffing. Any ultimatum is completely worthless unless you fully intend to follow through with all the consiquences. So two bombs were dropped, and of course no surrender came after the first bomb. The whole thing could have been very easily avoided by the then Japanese government. The blood and suffering of all those innocent people is on their hands and not ours.

It's sad that you have so much flawed thinking when it comes to our history.

jaywalker 7 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, bozo, but while it's true troop loss assessments are speculation, the military is pretty good at such prognosticating, and they put Allied losses at more than a million. And considering the Japanese mentality was strictly 'death before dishonor', that they had more than 2 million forces ready to fight to the death and a 'citizen militia' of 30 million all ready to wallk into a chopper blade, all for the honor of the Emperor......well, you're just plain wrong. Again.

labmonkey 7 years, 10 months ago

Tom, really, stop with the political BS on every, single thread.

beatrice 7 years, 10 months ago

Autie, please tell me you didn't actually expect one of Tom's comments to make sense.

Steve Clark 7 years, 10 months ago

Tom used to make sense, though I seldom agreed with him; now he just speaks in riddles...

jonas_opines 7 years, 10 months ago

King Arthur, I believe. I have no idea why he's being brought up here, but then the MoH's train of thought often eludes me.

labmonkey 7 years, 10 months ago


Your second paragraph ignores the mentality of the Japanese people and of the military leadership. The leadership nearly performed a coup to destroy the record of the Emperor telling the Japanese people of their surrender before it could be played.... a record he himself had to think very hardly about making. Without the Emperor surrendering, even the civilian population would have fought any invasion to the death. The military leadership's opinion was that the American people could not stomach a seven year, bloody war and the war would end with the allies being less than victorious.

Not only did the bomb save hundreds of thousands of American lives, but millions of Japanese lives. If the invasion did occur, and it was found that Truman had a weapon that could have possibly ended the war, history would have looked very unkindly upon him.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 10 months ago

If you like historical fiction and nonsense thinking go to your local library and check out...

"Bozo's Twisted Revisionist History" ...and... "Bozo's backwards & inside-out Economics & Politics"

(Both written in multi-colored crayon.)

blindrabbit 7 years, 10 months ago

If ifs, ands and buts were candy and nuts! The Japanese people were suckered in by a warped military and a weak emperor; similar in many ways similar to the German issue. Based on the way that the Japanese defended Iwo Jima and Okinawa, there is little doubt that a invasion of any of the 4 Home Islands would have been a bloodbath.

Truman could have opted to explode a "demonstration bomb" in Tokyo Harbor and that may have convinced the surrender. This was discussed, but was discounted because the US had only 2 bombs in supply, one U235, the other Plutonium. The only prior test was at Alamagordo (a Plutonium bomb) in mid-July, the success of the U235 bomb was uncertain. Also, the US was very concerned in speeding up the conclusion because of the real threat of Russia trying to get a slice of the pie. Russia was still smarting from the whipping they had gotten in their last dust-up with Japan earlier in the century.

It is time to do what is correct and commemorate the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by sending a US delegation to those cities. The idea of President Obama going to both would be a step in the right direction, especially as there is growing emphasis to dismantling the world's nuclear arsenal. The bombs served their purpose, ending the war and the fact that they were used with so effective and devastating results, probably prevented their further use.

My father was in US Army and was part of a selected group to lead a invasion of Japan; they had just wrapped-up the Philippines and Okinawa; fortunately he didn't have to invade. Instead he was sent to Hiroshima following the surrender to help "police" the area. He related many times how he felt great sympathy for those killed by the bombing and the respect that he received from the Japanese. Years later (15 following the bombing), while serving in military in Japan, I had the opportunity to visit both a-bombed cities. It was a little uncomfortable, being in uniform, but looking back, it was one of the times I remember most.

jafs 7 years, 10 months ago

It is indeed a "crazy" theory, as you say.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 10 months ago

The war is over; give it up. Ironically, since it was used, it may have prevented further use forever. That is a good thing, if we can keep the rogues away from the smaller ones that can be more easily moved. The question could be, if one of these goes missing, which religion and which god would be used to justify the slaughter of more innocents. The big three, from the sands of the middle east all worship the same skygod. It could be any of them if the right nuts go too far. RIP all victims of the war on all sides. Move on.

blindrabbit 7 years, 10 months ago

Well said; afraid you are correct about the bomb-religion mix.

blindrabbit 7 years, 10 months ago

Tom: You are following the Sarah Palin line; she never met a bomb she didn't like. She recently encouraged the US to continue building more as if we don't have enough. But she has an excuse and a different perspective than those of us in the lower 49 states because she can see Russia from her house.

Simplistic approach to issues like "Ma Grizz". "Hockey Mom" and "Drill Baby Drill"

George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago

Well it just may be more complex then what Sarah may have opined. She has a knack for over simplifying things!

notajayhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

"But ... but ... but ... but that's different!"

Boston_Corbett 7 years, 10 months ago

Bozo:"Preventing the Soviets from invading Japan by taking the first shots of the impending Cold War was a major one"

Bozo once again calls Truman a Liar. Because it was a primary objective of Truman's at the Potsdam conference to gain Stalin's promise to invade Japan....not stay away from Japan. He thought that Potsdam was a successful conference in large part of reaffirming this commitment with "ole Joe" which had been first discussed at Yalta with Roosevelt.

Truman's communications to his advisers indicate such, as well as his contemporaneous private writings to himself and his wife, which were only made public much much later.

Certainly people were increasingly uneasy with the possible eventual role of Russia in a post-war world, but this did not rise to a national policy to preclude or discourage Russia from entering into the War with Japan. In fact, the other is the well documented fact. The policy was to seek assurance or guarantee that Russia would enter the war.


George Lippencott 7 years, 10 months ago

I think most military historians have opined that the Soviets would not have been able to mount a serious invasion of Japan quickly - they had very limited means to get there. In time perhaps.

From what I have read, the use of the nukes as to the Soviets was to make a point for actions most likely to have occurred in Europe. Might have worked.

blindrabbit 7 years, 10 months ago

Agnostick: Good info about invasion plans and the U.S.S. Indianapolis. Had a chance to visit the Indianapolis memorial (in a hard to find location in Indy), quite nice. Has there been any further attempt to find her location. There was a deep dive search a couple years ago but they eventually gave up.

The Indianapolis tragedy occurred (in-part) because of some bickering between Nimitz and MacArthur. I watched an interview with the Japanese captain of the sub that sank her, never had a chance once she was in his sights.

notajayhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

Since we're all looking back at those days in retrospect, here's a question to ponder:

If we'd had those nukes in the Spring of 1941, and everyone knew we had them, or even if we'd had them available and used them on December 8th of '41 instead of 4 years later, would we be having this discussion?

blindrabbit 7 years, 10 months ago

Million or billion; my guess the former!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.