Friday, August 6, 2021

August 6, 1945

 

"I will have such revenges on you both,/ That all the world shall--I will do such things,-- / What they are, yet I know not: but they shall be/ The terrors of the earth" King Lear (II.iv.274-77).

"...In total, the August 6th and 9th bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively killed more than 200,000 people. Six days after the second attack, Hirohito announced Japan's unconditional surrender..." (Smithsonian Magazine).

"This is the greatest thing in history"-Harry Truman, after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

"We used the Japanese as an experiment for two atomic bombs"-Brigadier General Carter Clarke.

"It always appeared to us that, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse"-General Henry Arnold.

"The first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment"-Admiral William "Bull" Halsey. Generals MacArthur, Eisenhower and Arnold and Admirals Leahy, King and Nimitz also rejected the idea that the atomic bombs were needed to end the war.

What do we also know about Truman's decision to drop the bomb: Besides testing the bomb on thousands of innocent civilians, Truman and a few others wanted to deny the Soviet Union their "promised territorial and economic concessions" and "subdue the Russians."

A study conducted by the US War Department in January 1946 came to the conclusion that it was a certainty the Japanese would have capitulated once the Soviet Union entered the war against Japan. Japan was blockaded and most of its cities were already incinerated. Invading Japan wasn't necessary. The Japanese were ready to surrender, but Truman's peace conditions threatened the removal of the Emperor of Japan. Truman could have guaranteed the Emperor would not be threaten or removed, but he didn't. Truman was a bigot, and he wanted to use the atomic bomb.

"Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, told a gathering at the Washington Monument shortly after the war, 'The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace before the atomic age was announced to the world with the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and before the Russian entry into the war.'" (Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, 331).

Testifying before Congress in 1949, Halsey said, "I believe that bombing--especially atomic bombing--of civilians, is morally indefensible" (Alperovitz... 720, note 52.).

No doubt, history is filled with inexplicable horror. I suppose up to 1945, the war atrocities of the Japanese prison camps, German concentration camps, Nazi and American incendiary obliteration bombings, and the dropping of “an uranium bomb that yielded an estimated 16 kilotons of TNT (reaching temperatures of 5,400 degrees) on a civilian population in Hiroshima and the dropping of an implosive plutonium bomb on Nagasaki” by America were nonpareil historical terrorism. 

 

Stone, Oliver and Peter Kuznick. The Untold History of the United States. New York: Gallery Books, 2012. 160-178.

 

                                                                Nagasaki



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