Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The myth that the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justified

Over the years, the myth that the “nuking” of two Japanese cities was justified, has lost much of its appeal on both sides of the Pacific

Mythmaking and the Atomic Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, CounterPunch BY JACQUES R. PAUWELS, 8 Aug 21,  Myth: The war in the Far East only ended in the summer of 1945, when the US president and his advisors felt that, to force the fanatical Japanese to surrender unconditionally, they had no other option than to destroy not one but two cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with atom bombs. This decision saved the lives of countless Americans and Japanese who would have perished if the war had continued and required an invasion of Japan.

Reality: Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed to prevent the Soviets from making a contribution to the victory against Japan, which would have forced Washington to allow Moscow to participate in the postwar occupation and reconstruction of the country. It was also the intention to intimidate the Soviet leadership and thus to wrest concessions from it with respect to the postwar arrangements in Germany and Eastern Europe. Finally, it was not the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the Soviet entry into the war against Japan, which caused Tokyo to surrender.

With the German capitulation in early May 1945, the war in Europe was over. The victors, the Big Three,[1] now faced the complex and delicate problem of the postwar reorganization of Europe. The United States had entered the war rather late, namely in December 1941. And the Americans only started to make a major contribution to the victory against Germany with the landings in Normandy in June 1944, that is, less than one year before the end of the hostilities in Europe. When the war against Germany came to an end, however, Uncle Sam occupied a seat at the table of the victors, ready and eager to look after his interests, to achieve what one might call the American war aims. (It is a myth that the presumably deeply isolationist Americans just wanted to withdraw from Europe: the country’s political, military, and economic leaders had urgent reasons for maintaining a presence on the old continent.) The other big victorious powers, Britain and the Soviet Union, also looked to pursue their interests. It was clear that it would be impossible for one of the three to “have it all”, that compromises would have to be reached. From the American point of view, the British expectations did not present much of a problem, but Soviet aspirations were a concern. What, then, were the war aims of the Soviet Union?

As the country that had made the biggest contribution by far to the common victory over Nazi Germany and suffered enormous casualties in the process, the Soviet Union had two major objectives. First, hefty reparation payments from Germany as compensation for the huge destruction wrought by Nazi aggression, a demand similar to the French and Belgian demands for reparations payments from the Reich after World War I. Second, security against potential future threats emanating from Germany………………………….

on April 25, 1945, only days before the German capitulation, the president received electrifying news. He was briefed about the top-secret Manhattan Project, or S-1, the code name for the construction of the atom bomb. That new and powerful weapon, on which the Americans had been working for years, was almost ready and, if tested successfully, would soon be available for use. Truman and his advisors thus fell under the spell of what the renowned American historian William Appleman Williams has called a “vision of omnipotence”. They convinced themselves that the new weapon would enable them to force their will on the Soviet Union. The atomic bomb was “a hammer”, as Truman himself put it, that he would wave over the heads of “those boys in the Kremlin”.[3]


Thanks to the bomb, it would now be possible to force Moscow to withdraw the Red Army from Germany and to deny Stalin a say in its postwar affairs. It now also seemed a feasible proposition to install pro-Western and even anticommunist regimes in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, and to prevent Stalin from exerting any influence there. It even became thinkable that the Soviet Union itself might be opened up to American investment capital as well as American political and economic influence,…………  Indeed, with the nuclear pistol on his hip, the American president did not feel that he had to treat “the boys in the Kremlin”, who did not have such a super-weapon, as his equals……….

Possession of a mighty new weapon also opened up all sorts of possibilities with respect to the ongoing war in the Far East and the postwar arrangements to be made for that part of the world, of great importance to the leaders of the US, as we have seen when dealing with Pearl Harbor. Nevertheless, playing that powerful trump card would only be possible after the bomb had been successfully tested and was available to be used………

Truman concluded that only an actual demonstration of the atomic bomb could persuade the Soviets to give way.

…………………The Americans thus knew only too well that the situation of the Japanese was hopeless. “Fini Japs when that comes about”, Truman wrote in his diary, referring to the expected Soviet intervention in the war in the Far East.[9]

…………….. In order to finish the war against Japan without having to make more sacrifices, Truman thus had a range of attractive options. He could accept the trivial Japanese condition, immunity for their emperor; he could also wait until the Red Army attacked the Japanese in China, thus forcing Tokyo into accepting an unconditional surrender after all; and he could have instituted a naval blockade that would have forced Tokyo to sue for peace sooner or later. But Truman and his advisors chose none of these options. Instead, they decided to knock Japan out with the atomic bomb.

This fateful decision, which was to cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, mostly civilians, offered the Americans considerable advantages.

………………… The atom bomb seemed to offer the American leaders an additional important advantage. Truman’s experience in Potsdam had persuaded him that only an actual demonstration of this new weapon would make Stalin pliable. Using the atom bomb to obliterate a Japanese city seemed to be the perfect stratagem to intimidate the Soviets and coerce them to make major concessions with respect to postwar arrangements in Germany, Poland, and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. Truman’s secretary of state, James F. Byrnes, reportedly declared later that the atom bomb had been used because such a demonstration of power was likely to make the Soviets more accommodating in Europe.

To make the desired terrifying impression on the Soviets – and the rest of the world -, the bomb obviously had to be dropped on a big city. It is probably for this reason that Truman turned down a proposal, made by some of the scientists involved in the Manhattan Project, to demonstrate the power of the bomb by dropping it on some uninhabited Pacific island: there would not have been sufficient death and destruction. It would also have been extremely embarrassing if the weapon had failed to work its deadly magic; but if the unannounced atomic bombing of a Japanese city backfired, no one would have known and no one would have been embarrassed. A big Japanese city had to be selected, but the capital, Tokyo, did not qualify, since it was already flattened by previous conventional bombing raids, so that additional damage was unlikely to loom sufficiently impressive. In fact, very few cities qualified as the required “virgin” target. ……….

The atom bomb was ready just in time to be put to use before the USSR had a chance to become involved in the Far East………………

Already on August 10, 1945, just one day after the Soviet Union’s entry into the war in the Far East, a second bomb was dropped, this time on the city of Nagasaki. About this bombardment, in which many Japanese Catholics perished, a former American army chaplain later stated: “That’s one of the reasons I think they dropped the second bomb. To hurry it up. To make them surrender before Russians came”.[11] (The chaplain may or may not have been aware that among the 75,000 human beings who were “instantaneously incinerated, carbonized and evaporated” in Nagasaki were many Japanese Catholics as well an unknown number of inmates of a camp for allied POWs, whose presence had been reported to the air command, to no avail.)[12]

Japan capitulated not because of the atom bombs but because of the Soviet entry into the conflict. ………………………

 Truman, however, wanted to use the bomb for a number of reasons, and not just to get the Japanese to surrender. He expected that dropping the atom bomb would keep the Soviets out of the Far East and terrorize that country’s leaders, so that Washington could impose its will on the Kremlin with respect to European affairs. And so, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were pulverized.  Many American historians realize this only too well. Sean Dennis Cashman writes:

With the passing of time, many historians have concluded that the bomb was used as much for political reasons . . . Vannevar Bush [the head of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development] stated that the bomb “was also delivered on time, so that there was no necessity for any concessions to Russia at the end of the war”. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes [Truman’s secretary of state] never denied a statement attributed to him that the bomb had been used to demonstrate American power to the Soviet Union in order to make [the Soviets] more manageable in Europe.[16]

Truman himself, however, hypocritically declared at the time that the purpose of the two nuclear bombardments had been “to bring the boys home”, that is, to quickly finish the war without any further major loss of life on the American side. This explanation was uncritically broadcast in the American media and thus was born a myth eagerly propagated by them and by mainstream historians in the US and in the Western World in general, and of course by Hollywood.

The myth that two Japanese cities were nuked to force Tokyo to surrender, thus shortening the war and saving lives, was “made in USA”, but it was to be eagerly espoused in Japan, whose post-war leaders, vassals of the US, found it extremely useful for a number of reasons, as War Wilson has pointed out in his excellent article on the Bomb. First, the emperor and his ministers, who were in many ways responsible for a war that had caused so much misery for the Japanese people, found it extremely convenient to blame their defeat, as Wilson puts it, on “an amazing scientific breakthrough that no one could have predicted”. The blinding light of the atomic blasts made it impossible, so to speak, to see their “mistakes and misjudgments”. The Japanese people had been lied to about how bad the situation really was, and how the misery had dragged on so long just to save the emperor, but the Bomb provided the perfect excuse for having lost the war. No need to apportion blame; no court of enquiry need be held. Japan’s leaders were able to claim they had done their best. So, at the most general level the Bomb served to deflect blame from Japan’s leaders.

Second, the Bomb earned Japan international sympathy. Like Germany, Japan had waged a war of aggression and committed all sorts of war crimes. Both countries looked for ways to improve their image, seeking to exchange the mantle of perpetrator. for that of victim…………

Third, echoing the American notion that the Bomb had ended the war was certain to please Japan’s post-war American overlords. The latter would protect Japan’s upper class against the demands for radical societal change emanating from radical elements, including communists,………………..

Over the years, the myth that the “nuking” of two Japanese cities was justified, has lost much of its appeal on both sides of the Pacific……………

References:   multiple sources are quoted . https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/08/06/mythmaking-and-the-atomic-destruction-of-hiroshima-and-nagasaki/

August 9, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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