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July 21, 2008



Since the notorious Rev. Wright has repeatedly referred to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as being examples of America's worst crimes--a sentiment apparently echoed in Obama's own autobiographical writings--it will be interesting to see if this figures into the public commentary on the matter during the upcoming 63rd anniversary, amidst the usual ritual denouncements.


I am not a Leftist and the bombings were obviously preferable to a full scale invasion - which would have killed far more people. However, why couldnt the Americans have dropped a bomb on a largely uninhabited island (or forest) and given Japan a fortnight to surrender? It is true that they showed no sign of surrendering, but then they knew nothing about atomic bombs!
Was an invasion the necessary alternative anyway? America had destroyed allmost all of Japan's navy and merchant navy. Japan has hardly any oil or metal and could not possibly have rearmed. With patience, a blockade may have convinced them to surrender. Returning to an 18th century peasantry would have been the only alternative

Quentin George

Bill, the fact that the Japanese military was quite happy to keep the war going on even after Hiroshima, I don't see how the destruction of an uninhabited island would sway them.

Chris Roberts

It is presumably the case, Oliver, that you yourself 'imagine [your]political opinions are of such depth that they merit being aired in public.' Neither Dawkins nor yourself are experts in the field.

Oliver Kamm

Bill, the reason no demonstration or warning shot was given before Hiroshima was that, as Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy put it 20 years later, "it would have completely wiped out the element of surprise, which in my opinion was extremely important. As it turned out, that was one of the reasons why Japan surrendered so quickly."

Recent historical studies by Lawrence Freedman and Sadao Asada support this conclusion.

Chris Roberts, I very much agree with your first sentence.

Chris Chittleborough

That's yet another great paper by Giangreco.

I worry that few, if any, of the revionist historians are properly aware of the most distinctive thing about the Nipponese military: the hatred of surrender. I'm fairly sure that none of them understand just how startling and terrifying that attitude was to those who fought them. It's interesting to learn that some US leaders underestimated the Nipponese willingness to quite literally fight to the death even after Okinawa.

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