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“Brighter Than A Thousand Suns…”

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If survivors fear Japan has forgotten the lessons of Hiroshima, have not the American people also? Are we to relive those horrible times again and make George Santayana a prophet?

Are you so enamored of the reams of propaganda that justify nuking Japanese cities during WWII that you are willing to allow the same excuse to be used again, in some current or future war, and do nothing to prevent the use of atomic weapons today?

If so, I hope you are near Ground Zero when the Bomb goes off. Then maybe your ghost can explain to the rest of us what a fabulous experience that was for you as you turned to ash in a flash.

Today is a sad day in the history of the world. It was the day that Little Boy roared.

The Hiroshima bomb, known as "Little Boy" – a reference to former President Roosevelt, devastated an area of five square miles (13 square kilometres). More than 60% of the buildings in the city were destroyed.

Official Japanese figures at the time put the death toll at 118,661 civilians. But later estimates suggest the final toll was about 140,000, of Hiroshima's 350,000 population, including military personnel and those who died later from radiation. Many have also suffered long-term sickness and disability.

Keep these facts in mind when George Warmonger Bush talks about tactical nukes — they will have a similar yield in firepower and in casualties.

Sixty years ago today, the ultimate act of terrorism — one that is today used to scare otherwise rational human beings into believing the unbelievable — was first committed. In an act of wartime revenge rife with racism and nationalism, the city of Hiroshima was leveled by the newest weapon in our arsenal, the atomic bomb. In an instant, 70,000 Japanese paid with their lives for the attack on Pearl Harbor which killed less than 5% of that number.

[Concerning the racism involved in the decision to drop the Bomb on Japan: In The Rise of American Air Power by Michael S. Sherry, he writes that "the Japanese seemed an enemy by virtue of race." [p.245] Because of this officially-sanctioned division between Good Caucasian Human and Evil Asiatic Sub-human (see any site that presents WWII propaganda), it was possible to ignore certain societal and religious injunctions against the usage of savagery and barbarity (even though the Nazis did evil things on a larger scale than the Japanese), and many vile weapons were used against Japan and restricted to the Pacific theater of operations, because it was easier to perform retribution on the Japanese due to their Asian genetics – 'they aren't like US!']

Such distinctions continue to hold a place in American foreign policy. While there is still an artificial genetic differentiation, religious bigotry is again in play ('Christian' v. 'Muslim') as it was in 1942-45 ('Christian' v. 'Shinto' / 'Buddhist' / others …) as a foil to block the economic justification for taking from those who 'aren't like US!' A couple of WWII veterans of the Pacific War who would have been personally affected by Operation Downfall — the invasion of the Japanese homelands — still felt it necessary to make amends for the atomic bombings which happened instead of the traditional massive invasion, thus saving their lives to be able to make apologies.

It wasn't just Japanese who suffered from the Bomb – among the Nagasaki dead were American POWs.

Some believe to this day that without these bombs, Japan wouldn't have surrendered, and would have fought to the last person when invaded. I wasn't there, so I can't say who was right. But I can defer to some who were there to tell their story — an Army Air Force chaplain and a US Marine (slated to participate in the invasion of the Japanese homeland).

In Nijyuu Hibaku (Twice Bombed, Twice Survived: The Double Atomic Bomb Victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki), by director Hidetaka Inazuka, seven survivors who lived through both atomic bombs recount their experiences. These people suffered the terror of an atomic blast, not once, but twice. For a long time, no one noticed that such double-bombing victims existed. There is no good excuse for this oversight, as Robert Trumbull wrote Nine Who Survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki, published in 1957 by Charles E. Tuttle Company of Tokyo, Japan, from data gathered during the 1950 census conducted by the Atomic Bomb Commission. The only logical explanation for this 'ignorance' is that the Japanese government didn't want to acknowledge that some of its wartime citizens got to experience Hell twice.

Was there another option? Was there another reason? According to this article, the answer to both questions is: YES. So why was the Bomb dropped on Hiroshima?

British scientist P.M.S. Blackett suggested (Fear, War, and the Bomb), that the United States was anxious to drop the bomb before the Russians entered the war against Japan; the Japanese would surrender to the United States, not the Russians, and the United States would be the occupier of postwar Japan. In other words, Blackett says, the dropping of the bomb was "the first major operation of the cold diplomatic war with Russia."

"The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants." – General Omar Bradley (Eisenhower's field commander)

Just what kind of a leader could George W. Bush be if it wasn't for the Manhattan Project?

Bogged down in third world Iraq and fourth world Afghanistan, and fought to a standstill by irregular forces in both countries, the foreign policies of the Bush administration have revealed that the United States isn't to be feared on a conventional level any longer. Thus, Bush's empty boasts about winning the 'War on Terra' merely reveal him to be the biggest fool on the planet. The only thing that keeps this disdain from being blatant and open is the fact that this fool is nuclear-armed.

The power of The Bomb isn't just in its properties as an explosive, but also as a tool for international blackmail. Would Iran fear the US today without the means to make Teheran vanish in an instant? Would the American people support the costs of a conventional war in any distant part of the world without it? Would the Russians have had as much to fear from the American paranoiacs who listened to James Forrestal about how the Russians were coming?

But with the Bomb, King George is a Really Big Man on Terra. Everyone is going to listen respectfully to him, no matter how insane his hostile ranting [Axis of Evil], or how blatantly false his lame lines of professed friendliness [Pooty-Poot], for no one wants him to begin the snap count for the 'football'.

Guardian columnist Max Hastings writes the the United States has forgotten that might does not confer right:

The US and its allies do not play by the rules they impose on others. Higher standards are expected from a sovereign state than a terrorist organisation. Somehow, though surely not under this US President, this is what we must regain.

Which would you prefer to be the motto of your nation: "We want to be a part of the world community" or "You're either with us or you're against us"?

It's either the Lady or the Tiger — so choose wisely.

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About pessimist

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Wow, Realist. This really is a festering pile of…well, I can’t even really say what it’s a pile of.

    But just to set your mind at rest, if that last choice is all we’ve got I’ll go with the ‘with us or against us’ option, because to be with us is to be for liberty and civilization and to be against us is to be for oppression and a new dark age.

    Dave

  • STM

    I heard a great quote recently from one of the people who’d been on the Enola Gay.

    It was along the lines of: “No, I was less worried about the people who got killed than I was about all the ones who didn’t get killed because we used the bomb”. The argument was right, if madly flawed … less died because of it, but either way, lots of people were going to be killed. What a testement to the insanity of war.

    Propaganda, though? Nup. Nil. Nada. Japan’s rulers dragged it into a war of aggression and waged it with the utmost brutality.

    It’s like Germans voicing their anger about the British bombing the shit out of Cologne and Hamburg and Dresden. While I don’t agree with it, my feeling is, if Hitler and a more-than-willing German people hadn’t given the world a hot foot for the second time in just over 20 years, none of it would have happened in the first place.

    The same applies to Japan’s wars of aggression. Tragic, but if any Germans or Japanese are still asking “why” after all these years, the answer is still to be had by looking in the mirror.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Realist,

    You may well be right about the ultimate motive in using the atom bomb to bring Japan to its knees quickly – as an act to prevent Russia from gaining a foothold in Japan. But, more importantly, it saved a million American military casualties and saved Japan from the suicidal impulses of its military.

    The Japanese still have not looked their own sins in the face, and because of this their own sins are being visited upon them – instead of using Korean women for whores, Japanese girls are lining up themselves to be whores in the sick pornographic society that Japan has become.

    These are issues that you ignore in an unfortunate attempt to condemn intelligent men for having to take painful decisions to save lives.

    Roosevelt saved you and the rest of the United States from the Nazi jackboot. Truman had the guts to take hard decisions to save the soldiers of his country – he had been one, you know.

    These are things you discount entirely. Perhaps reading A Man Named Intrepid once or twice would cure you of this foolishness…

  • Doug Hunter

    Would you have preferred a longer, more drawn out conflict with more death? You criticise but provide no logical alternative. Ruvy summed it up much more realist-ically (lame pun intended) above.

  • troll

    weaponizing the atom was an act of absolute evil (a troll’s gotta draw the line somewhere) from which it is probable that humans will not recover – eof

    500,000,000 Or Bust

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    troll. all weapons are made out of atoms, starting with the first sharp rock and pointed stick.

    dave

  • troll

    Dave – while I do see a qualitative difference between sticks and stones and split atoms I’ll go with you and and allow that it is the tendency to weaponize that is the real problem

  • http://LesPaulisanexcellentguitarplayerwithanadmirablegraspofgoodjazz. bliffle

    The Abomb and Hbomb have been very successful at holding off Ultimate War by virtue of their Assured Destruction threat, but at the same time they’ve provided cover for destructive conventional wars. So I suppose they’re a kinda good thing. Well, maybe not good, but better than some other choices.

    As for the japanese nation, which seems to think that the history of WW2 begins in August 1945, it had demonstrated such horrors already in it’s mad pursuit of power that there was little sentiment at the time for restraining the powerful blow of a big bomb. The japanese nation chose to fight a take-no-prisoners war of brutality in the south pacific which we know scant little of. The veterans of the pacific war are exceedingly reluctant to recount their experiences, partly because of the horror of what they saw, but also because of their explicit war crimes, both witnessed and performed.

    We don’t know what the pacific war was really like, partly because of silence and partly because of propaganda. Maybe Ken Burns new PBS documentary “The War” will reveal it. If so, i suspect there will be a lot of protest.

    The other thing that people forget is that we weren’t at all sure we could win in either Europe or the Pacific in those days. It looked pretty bleak: we weren’t prepared for war and we had a string of defeats when we started. And then in 1945 it looked like WW2 would morph into a worldwide war with Russia and it’s communist pals on an even larger scale.

    Desperation and fear are what made Hiroshima and Nagasaki necessary and inevitable.

  • http://none K

    “even though the Nazis did evil things on a larger scale than the Japanese”

    Wrong, check your facts. This article sounds like a high school student wrote it.

  • Alec

    RE: Sixty years ago today, the ultimate act of terrorism…

    Actually, the ultimate act of terrorism began when Hitler embarked on bringing about “a thousand year Reich,” and with his allies Japan and Italy attempted to conquer the world.

    It also should be noted that the Japanese did not surrender after the first bomb was dropped and some of their generals wanted to keep fighting even after the second bomb had been dropped. They thought that they could still force a negociated settlement and keep part of their conquered territories.

    Dropping the atomic bombs may have been terrible, but so were the alternatives.

  • Sean

    The Japanese also had atomic weapons. Recently declassified reports conclusively show that the Japanese military successfully detonated at least one atomic bomb.

    Would it matter to you if they had nuked US targets first?

  • Dr Dreadful

    Sean,

    Would you care to cite that?

    Or did you just make it up out of whole cloth?

  • http://LesPaulisanexcellentguitarplayerwithanadmirablegraspofgoodjazz. bliffle

    Nothing has been more mythologized and lied about than the US role in WW2, especially in the pacific.

    And it’s true that the japanese warlords were unwilling to surrender, even after the second bomb.

  • duane

    Realist is so dead on. Americans showed themselves as terrorists and war criminals in their conduct of WWII. Americans should apologize to Japan for killing all those poor Japanese people with nuclear weapons. Then we should apologize for having the gall to shoot back when Japanese destroyers and battleships were trying to sink the rest of the U.S. Navy. Then we should apologize for getting upset when the Japanese dropped a couple dozen puny bombs on Pearl Harbor. We should apologize to Japan for not playing fair when it came to firebombing raids on big Japanese cities. I would have invited the Japanese high command to set up an airbase on Catalina Island so they could drop bombs on our big cities, too. That would have shown the world that, when it comes to total war, we’re nothing if not good sports. We acted like big bullies.

    And that “… day that will live in infamy” stuff. Woooh, boy! There’s some rabble-rousing for ya. Racism, plain and simple, dressed up as righteous indignation.

    I feel so ashamed that we consciously tried to get the upper hand on the Germans, and especially the Japanese. Just show me where in the battle manuals it says that you should try to devastate your opponents to get them to stop shooting at you. I’m sure that the manuals would say, “Always bring a knife to a knife fight. If you show up with a gun, that’s just cheating.”

    Realist, your moniker is perfect. You’ve really captured the real essence of the reality of a realistic war.

    Sean (#11), no way. The Japanese government would never have permitted their peace-loving scientists to dirty their hands working on weapons.

  • Baronius

    So this is what it feels like to agree with Bliffle. OK, halfway. I think he’s overstating (or overimplying) wrong behaviour on the part of the Allies. But there’s no doubt that Japan was the aggressor, more racially motivated than the Allies, and more willing to kill Japanese civilians. They were masters of the human shield.

    A few people commented on the Japanese willingness to keep fighting. There was even an attempted coup against the Emperor when he decided to surrender.

    If Bush takes nuclear weapons seriously, we’ll be obliterating Iranian weapons and research sites soon.

  • STM

    There are many thousands of former POWs of the Japanese and Pacific war veterans in Australia who experienced first hand the brutality of the Japanese, some of whom I’ve spoken to over the years and who would be more than keen to dispel any myths that we engaged in any form of propaganda in relation to Japan’s conduct of the war and the role of the Allies.

    My uncle told me that he and many Australians in New Guinea made a pact to fight to the death rather than be captured by the Japanese after finding the hacked up bodies of soldiers who had been tied to trees and tortured before being executed. Simply, the alternative was too horrible to contemplate.

    The POWs captured in the early campaigns have another story to tell … shocking tales of brutality, too many to list.

    Like I say, if any Japanese are looking for the real reasons for the US dropping the atomic bomb, the answer will be found by looking in the mirror. Perhaps the real story here is that Japan has never faced up to its real role in WWII and continues to gloss over it, even rewriting the history books to ignore the war crimes and brutalities.

    You’ll read plenty about the atom bomb, but nothing about the other stuff.

    Shameful. And it’s not us who should be ashamed.

  • Clavos

    “There are many thousands of former POWs of the Japanese”

    A neighbor of mine at the marina was one. He died a couple of years ago, but not before we became friends.

    He didn’t talk much about it to folks, but one day he and I were trading war stories and he opened up to me about his POW days at the hands of the Japanese.

    Some of the experiences he had or observed were truly horrifying.

    Using the Bomb was justified and saved lives; certainly American ones, and probably Japanese lives as well.

  • STM

    Yep, bizarre as that notion is, it’s true. The Imperial Government had told ALL Japanese citizens, even children, to fight to the death even with pikes, pickaxes and shovels or commit suicide rather than be defeated by the Allies in the homelands. There is no doubt most would have obeyed.

    That was what was on the cards, along with the accompanying deaths of probably hundreds of thousands of allied soldiers. In a truly insane way, Japan is probably lucky that it was bombed or there might not be any Japanese left.

    What an indictment of the madness of war.

  • http://LesPaulisanexcellentguitarplayerwithanadmirablegraspofgoodjazz. bliffle

    STM and Clavos are right: the japanese warriors committed torture and atrocity with much gusto. Certainly against Allied POWs and also against, for example, Chinese civilians. Now we know about the Nanking massacres, which were NOT an aberation, but ordered by the government and executed by a relative of the emperor.

    Most soldiers made a vow not to be taken prisoner because they had seen what happened to POWs, certainly on the Bataan Death March. It soon became customary to execute japanese soldiers who were wounded or captured. Allied soldiers casually shot them with carbine or pistol. Can you blame them?

    That was the war that the japanese nation wanted and the way they acted. Take no prisoners. Give no quarter. Fight to the death.

    Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.

    A lesson that would be well observed by certain high officials in any presidential administration.

  • http://LesPaulisanexcellentguitarplayerwithanadmirablegraspofgoodjazz. bliffle

    STM: “Japan is probably lucky that it was bombed or there might not be any Japanese left.”

    Indeed, William Styron once reported that his Japanese friend, upon learning of Hiroshima, said “we are saved”.

  • STM

    Duane: “I feel so ashamed that we consciously tried to get the upper hand on the Germans, and especially the Japanese. Just show me where in the battle manuals it says that you should try to devastate your opponents to get them to stop shooting at you. I’m sure that the manuals would say, “Always bring a knife to a knife fight. If you show up with a gun, that’s just cheating.”

    Mate, that is absolute gibber.

  • Clavos

    I think it was sarcasm, Stan…

  • STM

    Really? :) Moi bad …

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    After reading this all I can ask is where do you get off calling yourself Realist? Maybe you can go to Japan and help them write history text books. There’s about as much truth in them as is in this article when it comes to WWII history.

    Holy fuck…talk about American hating Americans!

  • troll

    if the US’ use of the bomb is justified as a ‘necessary evil to achieve a greater good’ so too will be every use in the future…at least to the people using it – and they’re the only ones whose opinion will matter

  • Clavos

    “if the US’ use of the bomb is justified as a ‘necessary evil to achieve a greater good’ so too will be every use in the future…at least to the people using it – and they’re the only ones whose opinion will matter”

    That has been the rationalization (for most Americans and the government, anyway) since it was actually dropped sixty years ago, and so far there haven’t been any further uses.

    On the contrary, our use of it then has served as a strong deterrent against anyone else trying it, although I DO believe the paradigm (both as to attitudes and technology) has shifted to the point where MAD may well no longer be a viable deterrent.

    It’s entirely possible that a relatively small group of terrorist zealots could insert a so-called “suitcase” bomb into an unsuspecting city and blow it to kingdom come.

    And I think the probability of that city being American is very high, though the Brits appear to be nearly as much of a target, as well.

  • troll

    agreed Clavos – MAD got us this far but as you indicate: times have changed…*I DO believe the paradigm (both as to attitudes and technology) has shifted to the point where MAD may well no longer be a viable deterrent.*

  • duane

    STM (#21): “Mate, that is absolute gibber.”

    STM, I suppose I could have made myself clearer. As Clavos points out, my entire comment was in the form of sarcasm, which was a way to keep myself from calling Realist bad names. I wish sarcasm translated better on these threads.

    My point is that WWII fell into the realm of ‘total war.’ The use of nukes was totally justified. Their purpose was to end the war with Japan, and they did just that. There were, possibly, more down-the-road purposes, involving Russia, but those were secondary motivations.

    In the 1950s, when the programs to develop the H-bomb were just getting underway, the true philosophical aspects of nuclear warfare came to the fore. It was believed by some that access to the “red button” would be too tempting, that inflicting genocide was becoming too easy. Even Oppenheimer (“I have become death….”) became a critic of the push to develop more powerful weapons. The concept of “first strike weapons” spoke of potentially terrible intent. Images of mad leaders and mad scientists were placed before the public, and the public felt fear and shame. MAD soon came along, and the public could not resist the double meaning. Against this changing philosophical backdrop, the Japan bombings began to take on a more sinister affect.

    I think people like Realist, raised in a culture that is prone to view the nuclear weapons program in the context of power-mad politicians and the evils to which science and technology may be applied, have been horrified by the stories of the carnage associated with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. There have been numerous documentaries, books, TV specials, art exhibits, speeches, etc., dedicated to depicting the horrible aftermath of the bombings. “The bomb” has become part of our culture, and rightly so, since the nuclear stockpile is much more than a weapons stockpile; it has become a political instrument.

    But if you look a little below the cultural mainstream surface, you can find other stories. Stories of soldiers fighting a purely conventional war, and citizen bystanders subjected to total war. They are no less horrifying. The shock wave alone from a conventional artillery explosion would ram your eyeballs backward into your skull and turn them to goo. The depictions of soldiers’ experiences in the Pacific theater are good depictions of Hell on Earth.

    I disagree strongly that, in the WWII context, death by nuke was more horrible or tragic than death by firebombing or grenade or .50 calibre shell or being burned alive in a tank. It is all a horror. If Realist wants to convince us that war is bad, thanks, but we’re already convinced. But this spin on the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings that Americans committed sin by virtue of dropping two bombs doesn’t stand up to an alternate history version of the climax of the war in which Americans dropped thousands of conventional bombs in firebombing raids on a host of Japanese cities, and eradicated the rest of the Japanese military, with great cost in American lives thrown in. The A-bombs were a military expedient. It was a solution that ended up saving lives. We brought a bigger gun to a gun fight. That’s how to fight a war.

  • Alec

    Clavos – RE: It’s entirely possible that a relatively small group of terrorist zealots could insert a so-called “suitcase” bomb into an unsuspecting city and blow it to kingdom come.

    From everything that I have read on the subject, it is highly unlikely that a “suitcase bomb” could blow up an entire city. And here we don’t have to depend upon episodes of “24” as a guide. The Federation of American Scientists provide a nifty web site with a Nuclear Effects Calculator

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    The American use of atomic weapons on Japan in WWII was fully justified, and almost certainly saved lives overall, both American and Japanese.

    It’s too bad the American military didn’t use atomic weapons in the Korean War as well…if we had, we wouldn’t have had to station 50,000 or so American troops in South Korea for over 50 years, because North Korea would no longer be ruled by an insane midget Stalinist dictator who starves his people while he … wait for it … builds nuclear weapons that he threatens the US and Japan with

    Yeah, sorry, but MacArthur was right and Truman was wrong. When the US had a nuclear monopoly, we should have used it. The world would be a better place today if we had done so. Just ask the starving, oppressed people of North Korea.

  • STM

    Duane, I knew it was … sorry. Somewhere between continents, meanings get lost. We are, indeed, one people separated by the barrier of a common language.

  • STM

    Must … remember … to … use … emoticons

  • REMF

    “When the US had a nuclear monopoly, we should have used it.”

    Kinda gives ya a hard-on just thinking about it.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    From everything that I have read on the subject, it is highly unlikely that a “suitcase bomb” could blow up an entire city.

    Wouldn’t that depend on the size of the city? We’ve got cities here in Texas with 40 people living in them.

    What you can’t deny is that a suitcase nuke could kill a hell of a lot more people in a heavily populated area than the WTC attack did.

    With the population density in new york city all it would have to do is take out 1 square mile and it would kill 10 times more than the WTC attack.

    Dave

  • REMF

    I wonder how many stray dogs an altoid-box bomb would kill?
    (MCH)

  • Clavos

    The non sequitur quotient just escalated again…

  • Alec

    Dave Nalle – RE: Wouldn’t that depend on the size of the city? We’ve got cities here in Texas with 40 people living in them.

    I know some Texans love to brag, but 40 people ain’t even a hamlet, much less a city.

    RE: What you can’t deny is that a suitcase nuke could kill a hell of a lot more people in a heavily populated area than the WTC attack did.

    There ain’t too much point in either confirming or denying a purely theoretical discussion. Might as well talk about the casualties in a videogame.

    By the way, there was an interesting post in The Straight Dope a while back that talked about the great difficulty in even putting a suitcase nuke together

    RE: With the population density in new york city all it would have to do is take out 1 square mile and it would kill 10 times more than the WTC attack.

    But the bottom line is that this would not destroy the entire city, or even disrupt life in New York for more than a brief period. It would, however, piss off a lot of New Yorkers, and their anger and retribution would be a lot worse than the effects of a suitcase bomb.

  • Clavos

    “and their anger and retribution would be a lot worse than the effects of a suitcase bomb.”

    Hmm.

    Maybe, maybe not.

    Not much happened after 9/11.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Yeah, sorry, but MacArthur was right and Truman was wrong.

    That may be the first time in history that anyone has ever uttered that phrase. Including General George Marshall and the entire military command apparatus (excepting MacArthur) during the Korean War.

  • REMF

    ^ Michael, you’re not disputing RJ’s vast military expertise, are you?

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Upon further review, it looks like both MacArthur and Truman seriously considered using atomic weapons against North Korea and/or Red China:

    The U.S. government seriously considered using nuclear weapons in Korea in early 1951. The immediate threat was the USSR’s deployment of 13 air divisions to East Asia, including 200 bombers that could strike not just Korea but also American bases in Japan; and China’s deployment of massive new forces near the Korean border. On March 10, 1951, MacArthur asked Truman for a ‘D-Day atomic capability’—the ability to launch a massive nuclear assault. Truman complied, ordering the Air Force to refurbish the atomic bomb loading pits at Okinawa, Japan, which were used during World War II. Atomic bombs were then carried to Okinawa unassembled and put together at the base, lacking only the essential nuclear cores.

    On April 5, the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered immediate atomic retaliation against Soviet and Chinese bases in Manchuria if large numbers of new troops entered the war. Also on April 5, Gordon Dean, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), arranged for the transfer of nine nuclear capsules held by the AEC in the United States to the Air Force bomb group that would carry the weapons. Truman approved the transfer as well as orders outlining their use the next day.

    The president also used this extraordinary crisis to get the Joint Chiefs of Staff to approve MacArthur’s removal. For some time, MacArthur had chafed against restrictions placed on him by Truman. MacArthur sought to expand the war to mainland China and ignored Truman’s orders to use only Korean troops near the Chinese border. On April 11, 1951, Truman asked for MacArthur’s resignation. Most observers assumed Truman wanted a more subordinate commander. Although this observation was partly true, U.S. government documents later made clear that Truman wanted a reliable commander in the field should Washington decide to use nuclear weapons. Truman, in short, was not sure he could trust MacArthur to use nuclear weapons as ordered.

    So, I wasn’t 100% correct. But neither was Michael J. West…

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    So, I wasn’t 100% correct. But neither was Michael J. West…

    Well, I said that nobody really took MacArthur’s side over Truman’s, which remains true.

    Truman indeed threatened as early as October 1950 to use nukes in Korea if need be, but when MacArthur decided that that was reason enough to ask for authorization to use them, the JCS consistently denied him that authorization.

    I just read another essay by the same author as the one RJ cites, which again makes the argument that Truman fired MacArthur because he wanted to use nukes and was afraid to have MacArthur be the one to implement them, although it curiously doesn’t cite any of the “U.S. government documents” that “later made clear” that position (although he uses plenty of citations elsewhere).

    But even if it’s true (and yes, I concede that it might be), the fact remains that what MacArthur wanted was to drop 30 nukes and create an atomic wasteland between North Korea and mainland China. A truly monstrous notion. And MacArthur had had a 40-year career of exceeding authority and ignoring orders that Truman had every reason to believe that he would try for that goal even if ordered not to.

    Thus even if Truman did have a nuclear strategy in Korea, I stand by my earlier assertion: MacArthur’s strategy was wrong, and Truman was right to reject it and fire MacArthur.

  • REMF

    “…the fact remains that what MacArthur wanted was to drop 30 nukes and create an atomic wasteland between North Korea and mainland China.”

    Now I know that image will give some of the war-wimps a hard-on…
    (MCH)

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    To err is Truman….

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • zedd

    I’ve heard it stated that dropping the bomb saved lives but I have never heard real proof of that.

    As administrations do, reasons would be given for committing such an atrocity. Whether the reason is valid is a different thing.

    I am ever surprised at our need to believe the elite as they play chess with the lives of those who are not so much unlike ourselves all over the globe.

  • Silver Surfer

    Even many Japanese admit to that being the case Zedd. You really need to consult the history books on this one.

    In this case, possibly just for once, it’s not propaganda.