They Didn't Have to Drop the Bomb. (But Then There Would Be No Movie.)
“It was actually written by McGeorge Bundy [later National Security Adviser in the Vietnam years]”
Over and over again, it’s always the same small group of people.
Another excellent article debunking the idea that using nuclear weapons would save "half a million American lives" can be found here:
Hiroshima: The Strange Myth of Half a Million American Lives Saved
Rufus E. Miles, Jr.
Vol. 10, No. 2 (Fall, 1985), pp. 121-140 (20 pages)
Published By: The MIT Press
I read it back in 1985 and was able to keep a copy which I just re-read.
Thanks for a great post!
Hopefully, more people will read American Prometheus (p. 300-302) that states that the "military use of atomic bombs on cities was an option rather than a necessity for ending the war in August." Surprising to me that so many of my friends still believe that the atomic bombs dropped in H&N saved U.S.. soldiers. Thank you for the very informative post.
Delightfully braindead comment by Doug above. It "doesn't really matter what those U.S. generals thought" during, and after
Thank you so much for answering my question.
Do you know the best source for statistics on military deaths for Ukraine and Russia since the beginning of this war?
A few things you left out in your incorrect analysis saying "we did not have to drop the bomb."
The Japanese had fortified the home islands just like they fortified Okinawa. They were ready to defend all of Japan to the death. We had prepared a huge invasion army and fleet that would have been necessary to subdue Japan. An invasion of the main islands would likely have resulted in far more deaths than the A bombs caused. So if the A bombs did not end the war, what did end the war?
So you think if we had accepted a conditional surrender, where the Japanese only kept the emperor in an honorary role, then why did the Japanese not say that at at the time? Why did they not reach out and communicate that to the Allies? Your article doesn't mention anything like that. Probably because the Japanese were not interested in telling the Allies anything like that. The had no intent to surrender.
The Japanese were not about to surrender until AFTER the bombs were dropped. The Japanese said nothing after the first A bomb, they did not want to surrender then. But after the 2nd bomb they realized the bombs would keep coming. And maybe the emperor and the top generals might be killed by these bombs. You can survive in an underground bunker from conventional bombs, but the Japanese likely thought you might not survive a nuclear bomb no matter how deep the bunker was. So here's my theory, - the Japanese leadership was afraid for their own lives and thus decided to surrender.
So you think we should have gone begging to the Japanese, asking them to please surrender?
So you think we should let the Emperor continue on with no punishment? The emperor was responsible for the war, He was the number one war criminal.
So just let the Emperor live on as if nothing had happened. The American people would not have been happy with that kind of conditional surrender. As you know, we did not act against the emperor when we took over Japan.
So you think we should have accepted a conditional surrender to spare the emperor and maybe some generals, just to save the lives of the Japanese in the cities that got the A bomb? We had already killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese in the napalm bombing bombing of their cities. If we had lost the war General LeMay admitted he may have been considered a war criminal by the victors.
The Russians were no position to invade the islands of Japan. They had no huge navy with amphibious landing craft in the far east. So they were no real threat to Japan except maybe to invade Manchuria. Japanese held Manchuria was already cut off from the home islands because we had sunk all the Japanese ships. So why were the Japanese so afraid of the Russians? Maybe because the Russians might kill prisoners? Maybe because they might actually execute all the generals?
You wrote "Here’s what I think happened. Not knowing whether the bomb would work or not,..." So even after the U.S. first tested the bomb in New Mexico and seeing that massive destruction they somehow thought it might not work if dropped from a plane or for some other unknown reason? No way. Of course they knew if would work. I don't get where you got that idea.
It doesn't really matter what those U.S. generals and others thought about what the Japanese might have done and how they bombs were unnecessary. The facts are pretty simple. Japan was beaten, and beaten very badly but would not surrender anyway. It was facing a massive invasion of its home islands. But Japan would not even talk to the U.S. about surrender until AFTER the bombs were dropped.
The bombs ended the war, period. Without the bombs nobody knows how much longer the war would have gone on and how many more deaths there would have been.