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Old 10-03-2010, 04:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Why did the US use nuclear weapons in WWII?

I think the general opinion (correct me if I'm wrong), is the United States used nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to bring about the end of the war with Japan. The terrifying destructive power would be enough to scare the shit out of anyone, even what was left of the Empire of Japan.

I have to question this sentiment, though. In January of 1945, General MacArthur presented a 40-page memorandum outlining 5 different surrender overtures from high-level Japanese officials. Later, in April and May, Japan made three separate attempts, via neutral Sweden and Portugal, to end the war with the United States. The terms stated that unconditional surrender was out of the question (when the actual surrender took place, it was conditional), but were fairly straightforward: they didn't want their Emperor to be tried or killed.

The war with Japan was long and difficult, with both sides taking significant losses, but by midyear 1945, the United States and our allies were clearly winning. Japan's air force no longer existed and most of their navy was gone by June of 1945. In March, the US had bombed Tokyo, killing over 100,000 people. Eleven weeks later, 520 US bombers dropped something like 4,500 tons of incendiary bombs on what was left of Toyko. Two days later came the final attack, with 4,000 tons of explosives finishing the job of leveling the city. Japan's last oil supplies stopped in April, meaning they had lost their ability to wage war.

Subsequently, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, President Eisenhower, Brig. General Bonnie Fellers, Admiral Leahy, and even General Douglas MacArthur all publicly questioned or condemned the use of nuclear weapons on Japan. Not only that, but the United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded the bombings did not defeat Japan nor were they necessary in compelling their surrender.

If my reasoning and research is sound, and please question it if you disagree, why did we use nuclear weapons? Was it about scaring Russia? Was it about revenge for the Peal? I'm curious of your take on this.
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Old 10-03-2010, 05:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm sure revenge was a major part of the decision.
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Old 10-03-2010, 05:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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While I don't agree with the decision, I could understand if it was revenge.
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Old 10-03-2010, 05:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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If these facts add up, I would also buy "a demonstration of power" as a future investment in "international relations."
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Old 10-03-2010, 06:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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What Baraka Guru said. The US had to solidify it's position to the powers as a state to be reckoned with. The Japanese culture had a strong sense of death before dishonor hence the many planned but poorly executed kamikaze attacks. Because of that, the US had feared that any peace treaties enforced by any third party would not only be temporary but open the door to further aggressors. The US only used the bomb to demonstrate that it can finish what it started or what YOU started for that matter.

The US also wanted to demonstrate to the Russians that they had perfected the technology and were willing to use it if necessary.

On an unrelated note, I have always wondered why the Japanese attacked the US in the first place.
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Old 10-03-2010, 06:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I don't know a whole lot on the subject but it is my understanding the bombs were dropped in part to bring about an immediate end to the war.

Firebombing campaigns on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have killed far more people and caused far more damage (they were horrendous in other Japanese cities as the building materials were extremely flammable and fires tended to spread out of control). They also would have been easier to implement, cheaper, and already proven.

We chose to drop nukes instead which we knew would do less damage.

My understanding of War is that it is mostly psychological. By leveling two cities with two bombs we provided a show of force the world had never seen before. That would have sent a powerful and immediate message to the people of Japan (and the Generals) that the war could no longer be won under any circumstances.

Also, the Japanese routinely refused to admit defeat and were often unwilling to change tactics which they knew to be broken....To do so would involve admitting they were wrong and would thus be a dishonor. By changing the rules and introducing a nuclear weapon it may have enabled the leaders of Japan to save face. It had been obvious to everyone for a while prior to Hiroshima that the war was lost, but still the Japanese fought and were likely stuck in a rut, of sorts.

I would expect that some of our top generals may have felt that a surrender would be ignored by many of the Japanese unless something shook them to their core...

I am sure there were other additional considerations as well, such as displaying our military dominance world-wide, etc.
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Old 10-03-2010, 06:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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i've been wracking my brain trying to remember the title of a book i read about this a while ago that was really quite good on the cognitive issues---call them---that the atomib bomb generated for the people who were in on the manhattan project and the military & political types who knew about the project. by that i mean the question of what atomic weapons were, whether they were just really big conventional weapons or something else. the problem of novelty seemingly, the new gets assimilated back into extant categories.

the story goes that hiroshima, the first bomb, was done dropped for alot of reasons, probably all of them everyone has said above, but also as an experiment. to see what'd happen. to see if it was a really big conventional weapon or something else.

and they say that the fat boy that was dropped a few days later on nagasaki was dropped for fewer reasons, not least of which was that it was thursday and the weather was nice. and they wanted to see if the other bomb design worked. and because it was planned.

so i think there are two different questions, two different situations one that involves hiroshima and political, military and ethical questions that admit of lots of perspectives and there are arguments to be made that depending on the skill of the person making them go any number of directions. it's complicated. personally, i think the ethical problems of using nuclear weapons weren't really clear until after hiroshima, the difference between it and conventional weapons weren't clear (if they are...in my mind they are, but that could be circular and driven, in the end, by revulsion)...

but nagasaki...i see that as wrong. unnecessary and wrong. it was clear but not necessarily Obvious before hiroshima that surrender was coming---but it was Obvious before nagasaki.

remembered the book:

Sherwin, Martin J. (2003). A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and its Legacies. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-3957-9.

there's alot of them, but this one reproduces alot of primary material and asks interesting questions of it.
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Old 10-03-2010, 06:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Personally, I think that it was deterrence. The Soviets (not the Russians - there's a difference, folks) were widely considered by most of the commanders in Europe to be capable of launching another westward push. And let's be honest, the Soviets won the war against Hitler, not the Americans and Europeans. At the time, Soviet Communism was understood as a constant evolving revolution boiling over from inside Soviet borders and spilling over into other countries (see: Spain, China). Actual Soviet foreign policy was, in retrospect, very different than what Americans understood it to be, but most Americans understood Communism to be a direct threat against their government and actively feared it. American military personnel sat in victory dinners with their Soviet counterparts and expected war to break out at any minute - these were not allies that trusted one another.

I don't disagree that there wasn't a revenge factor (which would be coupled, of course, with racism) or the "saving American lives" argument. But I see it as a very vivid demonstration to what was widely perceived as "the next enemy".

That said, I don't think that it's at all possible to point to any one single factor for such a decision. It's like saying that the American Civil War was just about slavery or that the Crusades were about religion.
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Old 10-03-2010, 06:42 PM   #9 (permalink)
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"Shock and awe," the most supreme form of posturing was the big reason. We had plans to invade mainland Japan, which would have killed a lot more Japanese and Americans than dropping an A-bomb. The invasion plan was called Operation Downfall, and the Wiki page for it has some great info about projected casualties versus actual nuclear bomb casualties.
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Old 10-03-2010, 07:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I agree with RB that a major part of it was lack of knowledge. The foresight/hindsight divide makes it easier to pose the question but prior to Hiroshima we really didn't know the full extent of what would happen and wanted to see.

It's easy to look back now at the devastation and ask "Why?", but without clear knowledge of it before hand it was a lot harder to answer the question "Why not?". We were already firebombing cities around the globe and jumped the collateral damage hurdle, this was just another piece of that puzzle. The only difference was the degree of effectiveness - which wasn't known. Without that knowledge there isn't reason they aught to have refrained from that particular weapon and not the others.
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Old 10-03-2010, 08:57 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I would say all of the above, but easily placing Shock and Awe at the top of the list. Firebombing was devastating, and it could cause phenomenal destruction on a city-wide scale with the firestorms it created, but it was still understandable and something people could relate to on a human level. Lots of airplanes dropping lots of bombs makes lots of fire and causes lots of destruction. The concept was something that even the illiterate could readily understand and relate to, and it was something that they could fight as well because after all the more bombers you shoot down the less effective the bombing run is.

Then the atom bomb comes along and with just one bomb they did what used to take hundreds if not thousands of bombs in dozens of bombers a concerted bombing run to do. How do you fight that? How do you relate to that kind of power from a single object on any level? Lots of bombs causing a firestorm you can understand, but one bomb blinding everyone, turning the city into a pile of rubble and ash, vaporizing things instantly, and then poisoning people who survived?

But even that wasn't the issue. The problem was the implications of being able to do that with one bomb and one plane. Back then a bombing run looked like This. I count at least 20 readily visible bombers in that picture, in reality there were probably a lot more and at least as many on the other side.

Dropping two atomic bombs basically told everyone that was watching: "You know how many planes we have. Any one of them could do this and you'll never know which one. Can you shoot them all down? Every time?"
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Old 10-03-2010, 10:34 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Interesting. So far, no one thinks it was about mostly winning the war. I have to admit, I'm really happy with the response in this thread. Do you think I was wrong about it being common knowledge? Is it possible if there is common knowledge about the use of nuclear weapons, it's actually that they weren't instrumental in winning the war?
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Old 10-03-2010, 10:44 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I believe it was mostly a chest-thumping move. "We are America, hear us roar!" The original MCLMM moment.

The atomic bomb is an incredible PR stunt. Whether it crippled Japan or not was largely irrelevant: It looked scary.

The bombs weren't instrumental in winning but they were instrumental in speeding the process up.

Nobody had used one before and the ability to destroy in a city in seconds is pretty persuasive.

That and you can't have a new toy and not use it, especially in war. Everybody loves toys.

Also: I forget what famous Japanese military leader said it but the quote went like,

"You cannot invade America. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass."

I think that philosophy also applied to Japan. You would have had to kill everyone.

...

Winning a battle, whether its man on man or country on country requires three things:

Audacity (exploit the situation), violence of action (be aggressive), and momentum (be moving).

In this case, the atomic bomb exploited the situation, was incredibly aggressive, and kept us moving fast.

...

In the end it comes down to your politics and what type of percentages game you wanna play.

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Old 10-03-2010, 11:22 PM   #14 (permalink)
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---------- Post added at 12:22 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:20 AM ----------

Quote:
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Personally, I think that it was deterrence. The Soviets (not the Russians - there's a difference, folks)
The United Soviet States of... oh snap.
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Old 10-04-2010, 03:20 AM   #15 (permalink)
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It was about dick-waving, but it was only just barely about the Japanese. The alliance with the USSR was known by all parties to be a partnership of convenience, between nations that were, at their heart, rivals. Both nations foresaw that the weak post-war Europe was going to allow for the rise of at most a couple superpowers, and each intended to be one of them.

The souls who were lost in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were enemies, despite being civilians. They were therefore expendable in the service of sending a message. Their death was meant to say, "Look what we have, and look what we're CRRRRRRAZY enough to do with it." And that message was sent directly to the soviets. You could say that the cold war started in Hiroshima.
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Old 10-04-2010, 04:07 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I think it was to end the war quickly before our Allies* or Russia could invade Japan. It would have been a hard fought war, and using the bomb was the right decision. I'm not sure they picked the right places. Kagoshima would have been the more militarily advantageous place to drop the bomb. (Kagoshima is on the very southern part of the island where it was expected the US would land.)

I think it might of also been about getting the Manhattan Project out into the open so they could test more.

*On the Operation Downfall wiki, the US refused UK, Canadian, Australian troops until the second half of the invasion.
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Old 10-04-2010, 04:12 AM   #17 (permalink)
 
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first moment of the cold war. there's little doubt about that.

but dropping the bomb, reading the documents that recount the processes of development and the decision to use them is an interesting confrontation with open-endedness. once a story is past folk like to fill in detail, re-organize the narrative in order to eliminate or reduce the space(s) of uncertainty and/or contingency, mistakes and gaps in knowledge. when we say, for example that it was pretty clear that the japanese were willing to surrender before hiroshima, what does that mean? to whom was it clear and what did clarity mean? after the fact, that this was the case can be reconstructed, but with the reconstruction comes an evacuation of the importance of limitations of information in shaping the spaces of acting. there's also a tendency to reduce the role of what amounts to anonymous masses of people and replace it with Actors whose Names we Know, as if a reassuring story needs a single definite Hero. but the world isn't like that and human systems aren't like that.

what is the difference between an atomic weapon and a really big conventional weapon? is it the radiation, the gift that keeps on giving? does it lay in the fact that the fire-bombing of a place requires alot of payload and delivery systems, so is a Big Operation that delivers a Big Nightmarish Effect while a nuke is a single, relatively small package? And how fast was information about what happened to hiroshima assembled? who did the assembling? (this i think is pretty well known, i just happen not to remember it)...

frequently it is not obvious on the ground what just happened, yes? it takes some time to assemble a coherent view. for example, a group of french deportees sent germaine tillion, who was an anthropologist and who had been deported to ravensbruck, to the nurmberg trails so she could gather a coherent narrative about what happened to them all and publish it. her book reframed the holocaust as a holocaust for alot of these folk. but before that, what was it that had happened?

i say all this in a kind of agnostic mode. i just find it interesting the extent to which open-endness, partial information, contingency and multiplicity get written out of histories when histories are allegedly about such things. heros and story-lines and an illusion of omniscience provided for a reader. histories as they're written are more about the genre of histories as texts than they are about the world they talk about.

but i digress.

i think nagasaki was wrong.
hiroshima there's a discussion.
but nagasaki, i don't really think so.
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Old 10-04-2010, 04:41 AM   #18 (permalink)
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The United Soviet States of... oh snap.
You mean the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? Or the Russian Federal Soviet Socialist Republic that was the Russian entity within the USSR?

oh snap

---------- Post added at 07:41 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:35 AM ----------

RB, I can't make moral judgements about acts of war, especially a war that had been raging (with the current actors away) for 3 1/2 years. There was no definite suit for surrender following Hiroshima, so while Nagasaki may be an ugly episode, I see it as no more or less ugly than anything else that happened during wartime. Plan9 made a very good point with the "well, we've got it, might as well see if it works" argument. Since the Japanese didn't react quickly enough to the first one, putting Fat Boy on the plane was an easy decision. Honestly, I find it harder to find fault with the second bomb than the first.

Nuclear weapons get their special catagory for all the reasons you mentioned plus the fact that it takes a small number to do extensive damage. They didn't get their special status until there were enough of them to effectively cleanse the planet.
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Old 10-04-2010, 04:48 AM   #19 (permalink)
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what is the difference between an atomic weapon and a really big conventional weapon? is it the radiation, the gift that keeps on giving? does it lay in the fact that the fire-bombing of a place requires alot of payload and delivery systems, so is a Big Operation that delivers a Big Nightmarish Effect while a nuke is a single, relatively small package?
Basically. I know you already know this but I'll say it for the sake of the thread.

Think of it this way: You have to dig a big hole. You can use 856 loads with a team of dudes and entrenching tools or you can use a single scoop from a magical backhoe. Both cost the same. Hell, let's say the backhoe costs twice as much. It's still a deal. Wars of attrition tend to go toward efficiency.

And nobody likes radiation. Nobody. The victims don't want it and the bomb-droppers don't want it. You can't own an enemy area (occupy it with boots on the ground) if it's radioactive. Radiation is an undesired byproduct of these weapons. If we could build a lightweight magical bomb that would vaporize a city with no radiation, we would use it over current weapons because radiation lasts a helluva lot longer than a Presidency or a World War.

That and firebombing is so uncivilized.

Also: Discussing how ugly the use of the atomic bombs was during WWII is almost comical. A drop in the body bag. A sentence in a middle school history text. When I think ugly I think of the millions and millions of men that died a slow, painful death from small arms fire and artillery rounds for half a decade.

And that's just in Russia.

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Old 10-04-2010, 05:55 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Interesting. So far, no one thinks it was about mostly winning the war. I have to admit, I'm really happy with the response in this thread. Do you think I was wrong about it being common knowledge? Is it possible if there is common knowledge about the use of nuclear weapons, it's actually that they weren't instrumental in winning the war?
Of course it was about winning the war, but not more so than any of the other Tools of Destruction. I don't think it was viewed as a Magical War Ending Bomb before it was dropped and was used largely because we didn't understand that it was more than just another Tool of Destruction. Without that understanding, which exists mainly in hindsight, the question in the OP doesn't make any more sense than "Why did the US use napalm in WWII?".
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:24 AM   #21 (permalink)
 
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this was one of the earlier attempts to tell what happened, john hersey's 1946 new yorker piece, "hiroshima"

here's a little intro page that's most self-promotion for the writer of it (not hersey) but which is interesting nonetheless:

"Hiroshima" by John Hersey

here's a link to the full text of hersey's piece.

Full text of "Hiroshima"

just so we're all in the same place in terms of what's being talked about here.


later, things like this helped frame what happened at hiroshima internationally (marguerite duras/alain resnais, 1959)


infotainment:

Hiroshima mon amour (1959)

and tied it up with ambiguities of memory/memorialization that center on world war 2.
which was kinda fucked up.
the whole thing. nothing worse that a nation-state level techno-science shaped war in which everyone feels justified and in which racism plays such a prominent role. it's kind of a psychotic place to get to that enabled thinking that dropping nuclear weapons on these cities was humane. and there was a school of thought that ran that way: the invasion of japan scenarios and the nukes as a way to avoid them.
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:38 AM   #22 (permalink)
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And now we move onto the lesson championed by our hero Matthew Broderick in War Games:

Joshua: "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?"
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Old 10-04-2010, 01:30 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I'd say after investing all the money in development, we wanted to see how it'd work. along with the revenge, chest beating etc.
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Old 10-06-2010, 11:52 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Obviously a complex topic. All of the common theories have been posted, but what about economics? It's been glazed over, cheaper to drop the bomb than continue firebombing. But we had been dumping money into Europe and the Pacific. I think the idea of ending the war before we could no longer wage a war, was a very real issue. And although not often documented, there were numerous protests against continuing the war in Europe. I think we just needed to end it.

And while the Japanese had shown indications that they were willing to surrender, the Emperor was seen as a deity by the people. Leading many to believe that in order to gain victory in Japan, every last Japanese would have to die or they would later take up arms against us. I don't think anyone wanted that. Nor did we really want a ground war on their turf. They'd already proven their tenacity and skill everywhere we fought. A long costly genocide was bad for everyone.

Someone earlier asked 'why did Japan attack us?'. It's my understanding, we cast the first stone there. In an effort to stay out of the war in Europe, but support our allies. We imposed an embargo on grains, steel and oil moving into Japan. After nearly 2 years of this, they attacked Pearl Harbor.
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Old 10-06-2010, 12:04 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Yeah, the economics question is a good one, and economics was likely a factor, but I don't think it's entirely straight forward. I mean, the Manhattan Project happened at the cost of $2 billion and some three years. It might have been cheaper to keep firebombing, I don't know. I think if you consider the economics behind it, it was more of a question of having spent the money only to have it come to naught.

In a way it's like asking, "Why did we go to the moon?" And I think there are a number of reasons. Going back to the "display of power" argument, and now tie into it the "because we want to know if we can" and the "we want to be the first ones to do it" arguments.

Maybe it was mostly a push to debut the use of atomic weapons before anyone else did.
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:45 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Timing was also an issue. Before the end of the war in Europe, the Soviets had agreed to enter the pacific war within 3 months of the end of the European war. 3 months after the end of the European war was August 8, 1945.

Had the war with the US lasted longer, for example, the entire Korean peninsula would be under Soviet control.
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:55 PM   #27 (permalink)
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You mean the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? Or the Russian Federal Soviet Socialist Republic that was the Russian entity within the USSR?
HOLY SHIT. I have to have a serious discussion with my HS world history teacher. Fuck.

Mea culpa.
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Old 10-06-2010, 11:57 PM   #28 (permalink)
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HOLY SHIT. I have to have a serious discussion with my HS world history teacher. Fuck.

Mea culpa.
Don't bother. I've had at least one that was utterly convinced that Yemen, Oman, and Saudi Arabia were a single unified country.
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Old 10-07-2010, 12:00 AM   #29 (permalink)
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I only hope my embarrassment will serve to spread awareness: USSR stands for Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (CCCP stands for Союз Советских Социалистических Республик).
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:02 AM   #30 (permalink)
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I'm confused that you were confused. Didn't you ever see that Rocky movie, Mr. California Public School Education?
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Old 10-07-2010, 04:07 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Imagine you're an Allied private (there WERE other nations than the US involved in the Pacific campaign!!!). You don't know what's going on in the big picture, but you know 2 things because they've been drilled into you over and over.

1) The fucking Jap bastards are sub-human, evil cretins who have attacked you unprovoked, have committed outrageous atrocities on civilian populations (think Nanking), and must be forced to surrender or die.

2) No matter what happens, your commanders up the line will kill every one of those fuckers to protect YOU! One of the reasons you're willing to fight is that you know in your heart that you're worth more than any fucking Nip.

Now, with the first item being the mindset right up through to just below the CIC, what would you do if you had something that would end the war TODAY??

Secondly, look at the invasion of Okinawa and Guadalcanal. The invasion of Japan, and there was NO question that the US was going to occupy Japan, would cost hundreds of thousands of Allied wounded/deaths. Those bastards would literally fight to the death.

Thirdly, yes, the surrender WAS conditional. That the emperor be left in place and not executed as a war criminal. That was the only condition of any consequence. It was accepted as means to placate and control the population, nothing more. Any of the other surrender proposals didn't come near acceptability to a country that was dragged unceremoniously into a conflict it was determined to stay out of.

All the rationalisation that Nagasaki was unacceptable (maybe it was), and that Hiroshima was unnecessary (define unnecessary!) smacks of historical revisionism. *WE* are not looking at the situation through the eyes of the population that had been threatened and deprived (yes, deprived) here in North America & Australia/New Zealand, or worse those brutalised by the Japanese in Southeast Asia & China.

Wrong by today's standards maybe, but today's standards would be VERY different if we faced the world of 1940 - 45.

The no-fly list is wrong by the standards of the 1960's/70's when we were rejecting McCarthy-ism and demanding the paramouncy of personal liberty. Today... it's acceptable (at least to some).
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Old 10-07-2010, 05:03 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Can we just blame Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer and get it over with already?
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:59 AM   #33 (permalink)
 
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oppenheimer at least knew that the nukes weren't like a really big (or really compact) conventional weapon.
it may have been from watching the test at alamogordo (one of the great apocalyptic moments, i am become death destroyer of worlds)

einstein's relation to the manhattan project was what exactly? i mean beyond being part of the crew that tipped the us to the german uranium enrichment project and so set the manhattan project into motion?

thinking about this a little, from a remove, i wonder sometimes about the way the atomic bomb intertwined with public perception/imaginings about relativity theory. it kinda dissolves a newtonian world, yes? makes mechanical causation into a region-specific phenomenon...that's a pretty considerable break with "common sense" relations to the world.
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Old 10-07-2010, 07:35 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roachboy View Post
"i am become death, destroyer of worlds"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia Fun Fact
Oppenheimer later recalled that, while witnessing the explosion, he thought of a verse from the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad Gita:

If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one...

Years later he would explain that another verse had also entered his head at that time: namely, the famous verse; "Kalo Asmi Loka-ksaya-krit Pravardho, Lokan Samartum iha Pravattah" and was quoted by Oppenheimer after the successful detonation of the first nuclear weapon. He translated it as "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

Oppenheimer later would be persuaded to quote again in 1965 for a television broadcast:

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty, and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.'[51]

According to his brother, at the time Oppenheimer simply exclaimed, "It worked." A contemporary account by Brigadier General Thomas Farrell, who was present in the control bunker at the site with Oppenheimer, summarized his reaction as follows:

Dr. Oppenheimer, on whom had rested a very heavy burden, grew tenser as the last seconds ticked off. He scarcely breathed. He held on to a post to steady himself. For the last few seconds, he stared directly ahead and then when the announcer shouted "Now!" and there came this tremendous burst of light followed shortly thereafter by the deep growling roar of the explosion, his face relaxed into an expression of tremendous relief.

News of the successful test was rushed to President Harry S. Truman, then at the Potsdam Conference, who authorized the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Oppenheimer later became an important figure in the debates on the repercussions of this act.
Also: I got a cool T-shirt with the cloud from that test along with the quote. In cursive, no less.
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Old 10-07-2010, 07:46 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Einstein's letter to Roosevelt carried the double weight of being from the one of the foremost scientific minds of the 20th century and a German ex-pat who knew of what he spoke.

It is not a coincidence that Germany's first attacks into Western Europe included Belgium, the only European country with any sizable reserves of uranium, and that Hitler targeted the Congo in Africa for the same reason. Papers discovered in the early 2000's revealed that the Germans my have been only WEEKS away from a function nuclear bomb, not the months that is generally accepted. There are some suggestions that they even detonated a test nuclear weapon, or at least a "dirty" bomb, in March of 1945.

Had such a bomb been detonated on London via a V-2 rocket (unlikely, but possible), there is a good chance the war would have finished much differently.
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Old 10-07-2010, 07:50 AM   #36 (permalink)
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A poll was taken in US on the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. I don't remember the exact percentage, but between 31 and 34% of respondents thought the US should have dropped as many nukes as possible before they had a chance to surrender.....60 years later, a third of those polled.

My only thought was that many must be projecting their feelings about Al Quaeda into their response at the time.

It was still a very fascinating, and scary, poll.
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:45 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Cimarron a third is 33.333333333333333%...
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:59 PM   #38 (permalink)
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I think he was suggesting a third of the 31-34%, chief. Otherwise, yeah, it doesn't make sense.
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Old 10-08-2010, 04:38 AM   #39 (permalink)
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No, he's saying that roughly a third of those polled 60 years after the end of the war thought we should have, in the parlance of you GI Joes, "bombed them back to the stone age". Then he followed that up with what I think is one of the best observations I think I've seen him make, which is the transferrence of unresolved American anger over 9/11 onto the Japanese in a context where revenge was possible. I'm sure that the "third" that he used fits within the margin of error.

Cimarron, if you run across the actual poll data, I'd be interested in seeing it.
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Old 10-08-2010, 05:34 AM   #40 (permalink)
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Yeah, you gotta speak slowly around us Neanderthals. A third and 31-34% look remarkably similar when they represent slices of a pizza.
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