If you think that America showed supreme arrogance, disdain for human life, spitefulness and evil in using the atomic bombs against Japan when it was clearly winning the war…
You don’t read much history.
Yes, it’s true that those earliest nuclear weapons caused horrific death and destruction.
The first atomic bomb, dropped on Hiroshima, killed roughly 70,000 people immediately. Japan refused to surrender. Perhaps they reasoned that America had only one bomb, and could not make more.
The second atomic bomb, dropped on Nagasaki, killed roughly 40,000 to 70,000 people immediately.
Together, the two atomic bombs were responsible for the immediate and over-time deaths of around 140,000 people.
The atomic bomb explodes over Nagasaki
Awed and stunned by this raw power – and perhaps suddenly realizing that the ‘soft’ Americans were actually willing to use such power – the hard-hearted Japanese leaders were forced to unconditionally surrender.
Compare this to the cost in lives for a conventional military invasion of Japan.
In just the Battle of Okinawa alone, the invasion and securing of the tiny islands cost over 90,000 Japanese military deaths, close to 50,000 Allied deaths, and from 75,000 to 140,000 civilians dead or missing.
That’s a total of around 280,000 lives lost to secure just a foothold from which to invade the main Japanese islands.
Victorious (at high cost) troops raise the American flag over Iwo Jima
So in the two atomic bombings, only HALF the number of casualties were incurred as compared to the invasion of Okinawa. An equal number of civilian lives were lost in Okinawa as compared to the maximum estimate for the two atomic bombs. (Yet I don’t hear much in the way of anti-conventional warfare protests.)
Okinawa had a pre-invasion population of about 500,000. That means that up to a third of the entire civilian population was killed in the World War II invasion of the islands. Add to that military deaths equal to another one third of Okinawa’s civilian population.
Part of the reason for this was the fanatical bushido code of the soldiers, who encouraged or forced civilians to hold out to the death against the Allies – or even commit mass suicide rather than surrender and ‘lose face’.
And meanwhile in the homeland of Japan, the Shosango and later Ketsugo war policies were being implemented to encourage every single man, woman and child to fight the Allies to the death… Even if they had only bamboo to use as a weapon. (I, Scott, saw footage of such World War II Japanese women undergoing bamboo spear combat drills.)
Above from Mike Kemble
Above two from Waiting Women
If the main Japanese islands had been invaded, a bloody massacre far more grueling and drawn out than Okinawa could be expected.
In 1945, Japan as a whole had a population of around 52 million… Roughly 100 times as many people as Okinawa had.
If the Japanese had not been forced to surrender by the atomic bombs, a conventional invasion might have incurred a similar casualty ratio as Okinawa had.
That would be roughly 35 million lives lost, half of those being Japanese civilians forced or propagandized into fighting to the death.
I’m not conjecturing out of thin air here – the official Allied plans for invading Japan if it refused to surrender predicted a cost of 1 million American and 10 million Japanese lives. Even after the two bombs were dropped, the military planners were unsure as to whether the stubborn Japanese leaders would keep on fighting tooth and claw.
In 2000, for the first time in years, the government ordered a new supply of Purple Hearts. The old supply, manufactured in anticipation of the invasion of the home islands of Japan during World War II, had begun to run low.
The decoration, which goes to American troops wounded in battle and the families of those killed in action, had been only one of countless thousands of supplies produced for the planned 1945 invasion of Japan, which military leaders believed would last until almost 1947.
Fortunately, the invasion never took place. All the other implements of that war — tanks and LSTs, bullets and K-rations — have long since been sold, scrapped or used up, but these medals, struck for their grandfathers, are still being pinned on the chests of young soldiers.
In all, approximately 1,506,000 Purple Hearts were produced for the war effort with production reaching its peak as the Armed Services geared up for the invasion of Japan. Despite wastage, pilfering and items that were simply lost, the number of decorations was approximately 495,000 after the war.
The veterans were heavily criticized in some academic circles for their insistence that the dropping of the atom bomb had ended the war quickly and ultimately saved countless thousands of American — and Japanese — lives during an invasion.
When hearing of the new production, Jim Pattillo, then president of the 20th Air Force Association stated that, “detailed information on the kind of casualties expected would have been a big help in demonstrating to modern Americans that those were very different times.”
Medical and training information in “arcanely worded military documents can be confusing,” said Pattillo, “but everyone understands a half-million Purple Hearts.
So it’s 140,000 deaths from the two atomic bombs, versus a potential 11 to 35 million deaths from a conventional invasion of Japan.
Do the math. (Here, I’ll do it for you – 250 times more deaths would have been incurred had the two atomic bombs not been used.)
And keep in mind the massive civilian and prisoner death toll caused by the brutal Japanese invasions and occupations, such as the Rape of Nanking (300,000) the Death Railway (25,000), and the entire campaign of wiping out the ‘inferior races’ (10 million total).
There are voices which assert that the bomb should never have been used at all. I cannot associate myself with such ideas. Six years of total war have convinced most people that had the Germans or the Japanese discovered this new weapon, they would have used it upon us to our complete destruction with the utmost alacrity. I am surprised that very worthy people, but people who in most cases had no intention of proceeding to the Japanese front themselves, should adopt the position that rather than throw this bomb, we should have sacrificed a million American, and a quarter of a million British lives in the desperate battles and massacres of an invasion of Japan.
Most Americans think of Pearl Harbor as a uniquely American event, not realizing that it was simply the opening salvo the Japanese fired in their generalized war to gain total ascendancy in the Pacific. While Pearl Harbor devastated the American navy, the Japanese did not conquer American soil. Residents in the Philippines (American territory), Indonesia (Dutch territory), Malaya (British territory), and Singapore (also British) were not so lucky. Each of those islands fell completely to the Japanese, and the civilians on those islands found themselves prisoners of war.
The men were subjected to brutal slave labor, and had an attrition rate much higher than the women did. Also, with the typical Bushido disrespect for men who didn’t have the decency to kill themselves, rather than to surrender, the men were tortured at a rather consistent rate.
They were periodically subjected to group punishments. The one that lives in my mother’s memory more than sixty years after the fact was the requirement that they stand in the camp compound, in the sun, for 24 hours. No food, no water, no shade, no sitting down, no restroom breaks (and many of the women were liquid with dysentery and other intestinal diseases and parasitical problems). For 24 hours, they’d just stand there, in the humid, 90+ degree temperature, under the blazing tropical sun. The older women, the children and the sick died where they stood.
Of course, the main problem with camp was the deprivation and disease. Rations that started out slender were practically nonexistent by war’s end. Eventually, the women in the camp were competing with the pigs for food. If the women couldn’t supplement their rations with pig slop, all they got was a thin fish broth with a single bite sized piece of meat and some rice floating in it. The women were also given the equivalent of a spoonful of sugar per week. My mother always tried to ration hers but couldn’t do it. Instead, she’d gobble it instantly, and live with the guilt of her lack of self-control.
By war’s end, my mother, who was then 5’2″, weighed 65 pounds. What frightened her at the beginning of August 1945 wasn’t the hunger, but the fact that she no longer felt hungry. She knew that when a women stopped wanting to eat, she had started to die. Had the atomic bomb not dropped when it did, my mother would have starved to death.
In contrast to this cruelty, see how some captives repaid their torturers at Christian Testimonies of Incredible Forgiveness.
Every day that the brutal Japanese bushido masters ruled, would have meant more torture and murder.
Thus IMHO, the atomic bombs were the lesser of evils and even justified to be used to quickly end the war.
See also Thank God for THe Atom Bomb – a first hand account of soldierswho cried tears of relief as they realized they would not die in invading Japan (via AoSHQ and AoSHQ again which has additional info on how the Japanese forces were much stronger than the American intel thought):
Arthur T. Hadley said recently that those for whom the use of the A-bomb was “wrong” seem to be (Page 15) implying “that it would have been better to allow thousands on thousands of American and Japanese infantrymen to die in honest hand-to-hand combat on the beaches than to drop those two bombs.” People holding such views, he notes, “do not come from the ranks of society that produce infantrymen or pilots.”
Tens of thousands of Americans had already died in taking the Pacific islands as a way to get close enough to bomb Japan. On March 9-10, 1945, B-29 bombers dropped an estimated 1,665 tons of napalm on Tokyo, causing at least as many deaths as later at Hiroshima. Over the next three months, American attacks leveled huge swaths of urban Japan. U.S. planes dropped about 60 million leaflets on Japanese cities, telling citizens to evacuate and to call upon their leaders to cease the war. Japan still refused to surrender and upped its resistance with thousands of Kamikaze airstrikes. By the time of the atomic bombings, the U.S. Air Force was planning to transfer from Europe much of the idle British and American bombing fleet to join the B-29s in the Pacific. Perhaps 5,000 Allied bombers would have saturated Japan with napalm. The atomic bombings prevented such a nightmarish incendiary storm.
The Soviet Union, which signed a non-aggression pact with Japan in 1941, had opportunistically attacked Japan on the very day of the Nagasaki bombing. By cutting short the Soviet invasion, the bombings saved not only millions more lives, but kept the Soviets out of postwar Japan, which otherwise might have experienced a catastrophe similar to the subsequent Korean War.
See also a modern day calculation and comparison, how Bush Saved 750,000 Iraqi Lives by toppling Saddam and ending the UN embargo.