Sunday, August 14, 2016

Atomic bombs ended WWII

An essay argues:
The Real Reason America Used Nuclear Weapons Against Japan. It Was Not To End the War Or Save Lives.

Like all Americans, I was taught that the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to end WWII and save both American and Japanese lives.

But most of the top American military officials at the time said otherwise.

The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey group, assigned by President Truman to study the air attacks on Japan, produced a report in July of 1946 that concluded (52-56):
Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.
The quote apparently refers to a conditional surrender, and the surrender might have been to Russia.

With the benefit of hindsight, I do not doubt that the war could have been won more quickly and easily if different decisions had been made. And that the USA could have won the war without the atomic bomb.

There were also American officials who hated the Germans and wanted to nuke them, but liked the Commies and did not want to do anything hostile to Russia. Maybe they even wanted Russia to take Japan.

All these quotes confirm that dropping the atomic bomb on Japan did end the war, and it did save lives. If it saved Japan from being absorbed into the Communist empire, that is also a good thing.

These arguments about Truman's "real reason" are dubious. When Truman became President, he did not even know anything about the Manhattan Project. Meanwhile the Russians knew so much about it, they were already cloning it.

The harms from the bombs have been greatly exaggerated:
The detonation of atomic bombs over the two Japanese cities in August 1945 led to the death of 200,000 people in the immediate aftermath while also flattening homes and monuments up to three miles from the centre of the blasts.

Yet the long term impacts of the nuclear weapons on those who survived the blasts may not be as severe as many believed, a review of scientific evidence has found. ...

The radiation flung out by the nuclear explosions has been feared to have increased the cancer rates in survivors and their children.

But 71 years after the bombs were dropped, bringing the Second World War to an end, one scientist has found our perception of cancer rates and birth defects as a result of the radiation are greatly exaggerated in the public sphere.
Ppl also argue that the USA would have won the war without relocating the Japanese nationals away from the west coast. With benefit of hindsight, I do not doubt that there is a long list of things that the USA could have skipped and still won.

In the case of the atomic bombs, it shortened the war by at least 3 months, and maybe much more.

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