Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why Did the USA Drop the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima?

Hiroshima. A fishing city with no munitions or bases that wasn't even on the list of the top 35 military and industrial bombing targets of the US military. 

It's that day again. In exactly one hour from the writing of this article, it will be anniversary of one of the biggest war crimes in history: The incineration of a hundred thousand innocent civilian men, women and children in Hiroshima Japan on August 6, 1945. 

Truman says, "The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in the first attack to avoid, in so far as possible, the killing of civilians." 

No, that is is simply not true. Pure Propaganda.

This is a military base. Note the battleships:

This is a civilian city. Note the houses and buildings:
Model of pre bomb Hiroshima

Not only was Truman a war criminal he was a liar too... And not a very good one at that. Read on...

Why did the USA drop the bomb?

In a previous article at Lew Rockwell, I showed that the notion of a Japanese citizenry worshipping the emperor as their God and being prepared to fight to the death in World War II is a post-war myth, and most probably an excuse forwarded by American post-war atomic bomb apologists. 

From "Dying For the Emperor? No Way!" I quoted the people who were on the ground and involved with high ranking US military decisions concerning the war. 

First General Douglas McArthur:
Norman Cousins was a consultant to General MacArthur during the American occupation of Japan. Cousins writes of his conversations with MacArthur, "MacArthur's views about the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were starkly different than what the general public supposed. When I asked MacArthur about the decision to drop the bomb, I was surprised to learn that he had not even been consulted. What, I asked, would his advice have been? He replied that he saw no justification for the dropping of the bomb. The war might have ended earlier, he said, if the United States had agreed — as it did later anyway — to the retention of the institution of the emperor."
~ Norman Cousins, The Pathology of Power, pg. 65, 70—71

General Dwight D. Eisenhower:
"In [July] 1945… Secretary of War Stimson, visiting my headquarters in Germany, informed me that our government was preparing to drop an atomic bomb on Japan. I was one of those who felt that there were a number of cogent reasons to question the wisdom of such an act… The Secretary, upon giving me the news of a successful bomb test in New Mexico, and the plan for using it, asked for my reaction expecting a vigorous assent. 
"During his recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought our country should avoid shocking world opinion by use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at the very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face'. The Secretary was deeply perturbed by my attitude…"
Dwight Eisenhower, Mandate for Change, pg. 380

In a Newsweek interview, Eisenhower again recalled the meeting with Stimson:
"The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing."
Ike on Ike, Newsweek, 11/11/63

Brigadier General Carter Clarke (The military officer in charge of preparing intercepted Japanese cables — MAGIC summaries — for Truman and his advisors):
"When we didn't need to do it, and we knew we didn't need to do it, and they knew we didn't need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs."
~ Quoted in Gar Alperovitz, The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb, pg. 359.

Once again, considering the above, one has to wonder just where did this idea that the Japanese were ready to fight to the death for the emperor come from anyway? It is obvious that this is US military propaganda. They used it then to dehumanize the enemy... They use it today for the very same purposes. 

Aside from the militarists in Japan, the average soldiers fought only to protect their homes and families. That's it. And that's what every Japanese who fought in the war I've spoken to has said. In fact, my own Japanese mother told me that people from the southern part of Japan hated the emperor and the militarists because it was the people in southern Japan who were being discriminated against and sent off to do insane things like fly Kamikaze planes (Kamikaze pilots were, by the way, pumped full of drugs before flying on missions — that was the only way they could get those guys to do those missions - not for the love of the emperor, that's for sure).

Many Okinawans still to this day hold ill-will towards the emperor and his masters for what happened on their island. All of the elderly Japanese I have spoken to (12 in all) thought it was ludicrous when I told them that Americans were taught to believe that all Japanese would die for the emperor. All the Japanese I spoke to (yes, and these were regular soldiers or navy) were shocked or laughed at this notion.

One guy, Mr. Nishikawa, now past 90, who was a captain in the imperial Japanese navy, said it the best when he replied to me, 

"We wanted to protect our families and our homes. Sure, it's a part of Japanese culture to say that we did care about the emperor in front of each other — that's Tatemae (a kind of little white lie) — but no one really wanted to go to war. No one really cared about the emperor. We were merely told that if we won this war, then we could finally have peace. That's all we wanted. We were sick and tired of war."

We were told that if we won this war, then we could have peace? This should sound hauntingly familiar to today's American.

John McCloy (Assistant Secretary of War):
"I have always felt that if, in our ultimatum to the Japanese government issued from Potsdam [in July 1945], we had referred to the retention of the emperor as a constitutional monarch and made some reference to the reasonable accessibility of raw materials to the future Japanese government, it would have been accepted. Indeed, I believe that even in the form it was delivered, there was some disposition on the part of the Japanese to give it favorable consideration. When the war was over I arrived at this conclusion after talking with a number of Japanese officials who had been closely associated with the decision of the then Japanese government, to reject the ultimatum, as it was presented. I believe that we missed the opportunity of effecting a Japanese surrender that was satisfactory to us, without the necessity of dropping the bombs."
~ McCloy quoted in James Reston, Deadline, pg. 500

World War II Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William Leahy:
The above proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that many of America's top military and civilian commanders disagreed with Truman (or didn't even know about) the planned dropping of the atomic bomb, and all thought that the A-bombs were unnecessary. It goes without saying that many never considered the absurdist notion that the Japanese would fight to the death for their "emperor God."

That article garnered a landslide of protests by readers who all rejected my assertions. In reply, I asked everyone who wrote to send me any quote (with a referenced link) from any high-ranking US government official, civilian or military, who went on the public record condoning the atomic bombings of Japan for the purpose of ending the war. Only one reader replied, and he found only one source: Truman's memoirs.

The truth of the matter is that most of the high-ranking American military men publicly disagreed with the atomic bombing of Japan (including Eisenhower and  MacArthur) or were unaware of the bomb's existence. I cannot find any trace of any American military leader going on the public record in favor of dropping the bomb on the Japanese to end the war. As for the Japanese nation being prepared to die for the emperor, here is what historian Peter Metevelis had to say about it:
"Few believed they were dying for the emperor as a war leader or for military purposes. Rather, the state was apparently able to manipulate a deep intellectual and aesthetic tradition of painful beauty to convince the pilots that it was their honor to "die like beautiful falling cherry petals" for their real and fictive families, including parents, fellow pilots and the emperor and people of Japan."
~ E. Ohnuki-Tierney: Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalism(University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2002), pp 204—205.

Proving that the average Japanese during World War II was not the suicidal maniac that American history books would lead us to believe isn't all that difficult. It just took a bit of research and a little common sense. Yet, there were still more than a few who wouldn't accept the facts — Truman himself gave varying excuses for dropping the bomb.

So, if it wasn't done solely in order to force Japan to surrender, why did Truman order the bombings? The answer seems obvious. Besides my own cynical — but most certainly realistic — view that the US government, having spent millions of tax dollars on the A-Bomb project, had to use the bombs in order to continue feeding the American military-industrial complex (and the Japanese happened to be the enemy at the time), I also would consider that the US used the bombs to scare the USSR. This is a most believable rationale; much more rational than the idea that the Japanese were suicidal fanatics — who suddenly weren't after the surrender — or that the bombs saved a million US lives.

After Franklin Roosevelt's death in 1945, Harry S. Truman became President of the United States. Upon becoming president, Truman was informed of the Manhattan Project — the project to build the atomic bomb. Truman was not elected to the presidency, although he desperately wanted to be elected later on. Even though the public reasons for dropping the bomb are weak on their own, the rarely mentioned notion of scaring the Soviets can still be found quite easily in the public domain.

Searching for the reasons Truman ordered the atomic bombing of Japan, I found this concerning the informing of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin of the existence of the atomic bomb:
I was perhaps five yards away, and I watched with the closest attention the momentous talk. I knew what the President was going to do. What was vital to measure was its effect on Stalin. I can see it all as if it were yesterday. He seemed to be delighted. A new bomb! Of extraordinary power! Probably decisive on the whole Japanese war! What a bit of luck!
Winston Churchill: Triumph and Tragedy, pp 669—70.

Probably one of the most damning of all accounts comes from then Soviet Marshal Georgii Zhukov:
I do not recall the exact date, but after the close of one of the formal meetings Truman informed Stalin that the United States now possessed a bomb of exceptional power, without, however, naming it the atomic bomb. 
As was later written abroad, at that moment Churchill fixed his gaze on Stalin's face, closely observing his reaction. However, Stalin did not betray his feelings and pretended that he saw nothing special in what Truman had imparted to him. Both Churchill and many other Anglo-American authors subsequently assumed that Stalin had really failed to fathom the significance of what he had heard. 
In actual fact, on returning to his quarters after this meeting Stalin, in my presence, told Molotov about his conversation with Truman. The latter reacted almost immediately. "Let them. We'll have to talk it over with Kurchatov and get him to speed things up." 
I realized that they were talking about research on the atomic bomb.
It was clear already then that the US Government intended to use the atomic weapon for the purpose of achieving its Imperialist goals from a position of strength in "the cold war." This was amply corroborated on August 6 and 8. Without any military need whatsoever, the Americans dropped two atomic bombs on the peaceful and densely-populated Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Georgii Konstantinovich Zhukov:
The Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov(New York: Delacorte Press, 1971) pp 674—675.

A Soviet Marshal calling US intentions in Asia imperialistic sounds like the pot calling the kettle black, doesn't it? But here is wartime US Secretary of State James Byrnes, recalling Truman informing Stalin about successful tests of the atomic bomb:
I am just as convinced now as I was when I wrote that first book, Speaking Frankly, in 1947, that Stalin did not appreciate the significance of the statement. I have read stories by so-called historians who assert that he must have known, but they were not present. I was. I watched Stalin's face. He smiled and said only a few words, and Mr. Truman shook hands with him, left, coming back to where I was seated and the two of us went to our automobile. 
I recall telling the President at the time, as we were driving back to our headquarters, that, after Stalin left the room and got back to his own headquarters, it would dawn on him, and the following day the President would have a lot of questions to answer. President Truman thought that most probable. He devoted some time in talking to me that evening as to how far he could go — or should go. 
Stalin never asked him a question about it. I am satisfied that Stalin did not appreciate the significance of President Truman's statement. I'm pretty certain that they knew we were working on the bomb, but we had kept secret how far that development had gone.
James Byrnes, interview in US News and World Report,
August 15, 1960, pp 67—68.

The above strongly suggests that for the US Secretary of State, the motivation for using the bomb had nothing to do with Japan. The quote below supports that:
"[Byrnes] was concerned about Russia's postwar behavior. Russian troops had moved into Hungary and Rumania, and Byrnes thought it would be very difficult to persuade Russia to withdraw her troops from these countries, that Russia might be more manageable if impressed by American military might, and that a demonstration of the bomb might impress Russia."

Stalin was a shrewd imperialist dictator, most probably the most successful of his type the world has yet seen. You'd think that he of all men could recognize the truth over announcements made for domestic or propaganda purposes. After all, he was one of the masters.

Finally, even Truman's own writings about the bomb and the Soviets point to the USSR's expansionism as the one truly big reason for dropping the bomb:
All he (Stalin) said was he was glad to hear it and hoped we would make "good use of it against the Japanese."
~ Harry S. Truman, Year of Decisions, p. 416

Harry S. Truman was a war criminal. 

For more information I recommend Ralph Raico's Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Here's a few quotes from that article:

On other occasions, Truman claimed that Hiroshima was bombed because it was an industrial center. But, as noted in the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, "all major factories in Hiroshima were on the periphery of the city – and escaped serious damage."90 The target was the center of the city. That Truman realized the kind of victims the bombs consumed is evident from his comment to his cabinet on August 10, explaining his reluctance to drop a third bomb: "The thought of wiping out another 100,000 people was too horrible," he said; he didn't like the idea of killing "all those kids."91 Wiping out another one hundred thousand people . . . all those kids.

Moreover, the notion that Hiroshima was a major military or industrial center is implausible on the face of it. The city had remained untouched through years of devastating air attacks on the Japanese home islands, and never figured in Bomber Command's list of the 33 primary targets.92

Portions of this article previously appeared on Lew Rockwell


Jimbo said...

Thanks very much for the enlightening (as usual) article. For years I have been on the fence as to whether the US military was just in dropping the two bombs on Japan. Those close to me have often asked my opinion on the matter (having lived in Japan and being closely tied to Japanese culture)and I honestly hadn't known of any evidence in favor of either argument. I had always suspected the US gov't had just made it all up (like they do), but it's nice to see it straight from the generals' mouths. Keep 'em coming, Mike!

Anonymous said...

"...Sure, it's a part of Japanese culture to say that we did care about the emperor in front of each other — that's Tatemae (a kind of little white lie) — but no one really wanted to go to war. No one really cared about the emperor. We were merely told that if we won this war, then we could finally have peace. That's all we wanted. We were sick and tired of war."

I had no idea.

I thought I knew a lot.

I guess not.

When I was asked by some Japanese in Japan, basically, Why Did the USA Drop the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima?

I replied, "You guys attacked first." As if I knew something. And I was a part of the "we'.

I know some things now that I didn't know then.

"The darkness is lifting as it lifted long ago during the Renaissance. An Internet Reformation is coming. It will have numerous unpredictable ramifications. In fact, its dawn is already here." - The Daily Bell.

- clark

Andy "In Japan" said...

Hey everyone, let's give thanks to Mike In Tokyo Rogers for being bold enough to tell the truth under a regime of lies.

Truman is indeed a war criminal, and I would just add that he is also a blood soaked mass murderer.

By stating the truth about the mass murderer Truman, I was banned for life from

Thankfully, in the era of free internet access, the ruling party bosses and their fellow gang members in the media can not prevent the truth from being published.

Murasaki Shikibu said...

Thumbs up on publishing the quotes from MacArthur & Eisenhower.

Evacomics said...

It's strange that it's not mentioned how many lives were massacred outside of Japan and my country suffered under the Japanese occupation. As for the dropping of the bombs, it remains controversial.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mike in tokyo rogers said...

Eva, your logic is most curious and, dare I say, hypocritical.

On the one hand you talk about Japanese war crimes in your country insinuating that they deserve some sort of mention when the subject is the bombing of innocent civilians, women and children.

Then you add the remark, "controversial".

Intelligent people will not be moved by the crass hypocrisy of your remark or the racism shown in the implication that incinerating innocents is pay back for Japanese military brutalism.

Using your logic, I would say that Japanese crimes against your people were "controversial".

No. Two wrongs don't make a right. Most people learn this by the time they are 10 years old.

Anonymous said...

This article mentions the Aug. 14th bombing of Tokyo, after the Japanese had surrendered. I had heard, of course, of the terrible fire-bombing of Tokyo, but hadn't realized another raid had taken place after Nagasaki.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Thanks Marc Sheffner. Here is a working Link:

Hiroshima & Nagasaki.

If that doesn't work, copy and paste this:

Anonymous said...

Firebombing of Tokyo was March 9th, 1945: "the U.S. Army Air Force had already killed 100,000 Japanese civilians when it firebombed Tokyo on the night of March 9, 1945, with seventeen hundred tons of bombs."

(From Nuke'Em and God Will Bless You)

PS Thanks for fixing the link in my previous comment for me.

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