On The Atomic Bombing Of Japan

On The Atomic Bombing Of Japan

This started as a brief introduction on whether we could mathematically tell the difference between superstition and genuine cause, using certain practices to avoid having bombs drop on one’s head as our example. But it kept going. When I write the superstition article, it will call on this as its introduction.

A while back, as happens from time to time, a discussion developed on whether it was moral or immoral to drop atomic weapons on Japan.

I take no position on this except to give you one word.

Maybe you saw the movie Bridge on the River Kwai, but if you have not, do so. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I am not giving away much by telling you what the doctor at the end of the film said, in his stunned summary of the behavior of everybody, all sides, in the war: Madness.

That’s my one word.

A word well confirmed in the book The Day Man Lost: Hiroshima, 6 August 1945, by the group calling themselves The Pacific War Research Society, issued by Kodansha in 1972. Note the main title carefully.

The book is not an apology. For anybody. It is a clear-eyed a summary of the events in the last year of the Pacific War as you are likely to find.

Here we see delusional Japanese Army brass arming starving shriveled old men with bamboo spears, demanding these pathetic warriors battle American Marines to the death. Here are delusional American scientists who eagerly built their horrible weapon begging that it not be used. Madness.

Let’s go back before The Bomb. Let’s go to when the battle for Okinawa was raging, a battle which killed around forty-five thousand Americans, and twice as many Japanese soldiers, not to mention the 150,000 or so dead Okinawan civilians.

When I was stationed on that island in the late 1980s, I came across a sort of cave, with two chambers, an upper and a lower, carved out of the corral connected by (what I took to be) a concrete speaking tube. In the lower, smaller chamber were two skulls, a big and a very small one. This was just off the Kadena golf course. (Yes, I am aware of the irony of where I was and why I was there.)

Well, it is difficult, at best, to speak of these things without tribal urges taking over. If you are in one tribe you might be tempted to say every casualty, even dead enemy children, were really the fault of the enemy. And vice versa. You will tempted to allow any behavior as long as your side wins.

When American B-29s initially dropped bombs on the Japanese mainland beginning in late 1944, they did so at night. They weren’t very accurate. The planes flew too high to avoid enemy flak, which, loaded with heavy armor and bombs, put too much stress on the planes, causing more than a few of them to abort their missions or splash. The bombs that did get dropped usually went far off target because of the height and wind.

These anemic attacks emboldened Japanese Army leaders, who said, translated into modern parlance, “Is that all you got?” This was one of the reasons they thought it might be possible to fight the Americans off. Indeed, General Tojo (no longer Prime Minister at that point) used that very line of reasoning in a briefing of the Emperor.

Then Curtis LeMay came along. He dared change tactics to those used in Germany. He bid the planes fly low, and carry light incendiaries instead of bombs. The planes’ armor was reduced, and their guns taken out.

On the night of 9 March 1945. LeMay’s fleet headed for Tokyo. The raid was a tremendous success. LeMay only lost a dozen or so planes. The entire eastern half of the city was razed. Some 100,000 people, plus or minus, were killed in the conflagration. Included in the dead were many small skulls.

Gratified at the efficiency of the attack, LeMay went on to fire bomb other Japanese cities. Over and over and over again. He only paused when he ran out of incendiaries. Which were, in time, resupplied. And which were not, as we know, sufficient to cause Japan to surrender.

Then came Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were enough. But only just. There were several attempted coups after the Emperor, horrified by the bombs, decided to surrender. These were small efforts, with just a few men each, who reasoned it was better to have death than dishonor. Which is what they thought Americans demanded, with the Allies’ adamant insistence on “unconditional” surrender. They had heard what was happening in Germany. It was a near run thing.

Since we started this with a pop culture reference, it is well to end with one, especially if you find yourself shaking your head at the after-atomics attempted coups. This one is from the movie Gladiator, where our hero, Roman General Maximus, is arraying his well-equipped disciplined troops for a battle against German barbarians.

Maximus’s lieutenant Quintus scoffs at his enemies. “People should know when they are conquered,” he says.

Maximus replies, “Would you, Quintus? Would I?”

Incidentally, I don’t know if this source has done the math properly, but if you add up the bodies from the firebombings, it seems it is much higher than the number wiped out in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Something like 350,000 versus 200,000. Which were both totals smaller than the number of civilians killed in bombing German cities like Hamburg and Dresden, a total well north of 400,000. To say nothing of all the others massacred in one way or the other in those years.

Benjamin Colby in his ‘Twas A Famous Victory: Deception and Propaganda in the War with Germany, puts the German civilian total at 537,000, with 60,000 dead in Britain. He also reminds us it was Britain that first purposely bombed civilians. “The British military expert and historian, Capt. B.H. Liddell Hart, called it the ‘most uncivilized method of warfare the world has known since the Mongol invasions.'”


Subscribe or donate to support this site and its wholly independent host using credit card click here. Or use the paid subscription at Substack. Cash App: $WilliamMBriggs. For Zelle, use my email: matt@wmbriggs.com, and please include yours so I know who to thank.


  1. bruce g charlton

    My understanding is that – although this was not known at the time – the actual reason Japan surrendered unconditionally to the USA was not the Nagasaki bomb on top of Hiroshima; but that the USSR declared war on Japan by invading Manchuria – when, up to that point, the Japanese leadership hoped that the USSR would broker an armistice peace (not unconditional surrender).

    I think this is factual; and that the actuality and prospect of all-but annihilation of many Japanese cities by bombing including two atom bombs was insufficient to force the Japanese Army to surrender unconditionally.

    (This opens another debate on why an negotiated armistice rather than unconditional surrender was not sought, but was ruled-out altogether – since it was almost certainly a possibility for ending the war.)

    This chap – who seems informed, honest and thorough – states that each atomic bomb were equalled by 330 B-29s – a number often achieved at this point, indeed more than double this number were available for raids – and that the firebombing campaign was 29 times more destructive than the 2 atomic bombs.


  2. Manul

    While I’m not typically a fan of “Mother Jones”, this is an interesting article summarizing the history of our current nuclear war plans. They’re still crazy!


    Regarding the newly revealed (early 1960s) Single Integrated Operational Plan whereby the US sends the Soviet Union into nuclear oblivion:

    “No one spoke up to object to the indiscriminate killing of 600 million people in a preemptive, US–led first-strike, Rubel wrote. Not any of the Joint Chiefs. Not the secretary of defense. Not John Rubel. Then, finally, one man did: Gen. David Shoup, the Marine Corps commandant, who’d been awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in World War II. … He remembered how Shoup spoke in a calm, level voice when he offered the sole opposing view: ‘All I can say is, any plan that murders 300 million Chinese, when it might not even be their war, is not a good plan. That is not the American way.’ ”

    That is, the radioactive fallout from the nuclear bombing of the USSR would kill millions of Chinese.

    Also, I recently read that our land-based nuclear arsenal, composed of Minuteman III missiles, is so old that many of the schematics for the missiles are missing and all those who could read them are dead. There is a multi-billion effort underway to replace them, as upgrading them isn’t an option. What a waste of money. They are simply well-known targets. If we need nuclear weapons, there are more than enough hiding on submarines scattered around the world to send mankind into the stone ages.

  3. Dors

    Yep. To add to the above point by Bruce G Charlton, see also Ward Wilson: “The Winning Weapon? Rethinking Nuclear Weapons in Light of Hiroshima” International Security (Spring 2007)

  4. Phileas_Frogg

    Over the years I’ve come round to the conclusion that in the Atomic-Bombing of Japan, Japan was not the primary target but rather an unfortunately auspicious means to an end; some combination of the USSR and the burgeoning American Military Industrial Complex’s bottom-line.

    The British bombing campaign was, simply put, unconscionable.

    In the words of Vaclav Havel, “We are all responsible, we are all guilty,” when speaking of the war, it’s aftermath, and the expulsion of the Germans of Central Europe, in particular the Sudeten Germans. There is a professor I know from a nearby college, we share similar social/political circles, who was 17 and lived in what is today Poland when the Red Army swept through; he is German. Not knowing his history the first time we were introduced we were casually chatting when I asked where in Germany he was from. The poor man got the most distressed look in his eyes I’ve ever seen, almost immediately burst into tears and haltingly explained some small geographic details before mumbling something about trying to keep his mother safe and escaping West, and shuffling off abruptly.


  5. billrla

    War is madness, thus, to win requires the greater madness.

  6. Zundfolge

    “All’s fair in love and war.”

    So nuking Japan was fine.

  7. Vince Lee


    Another book I always bring up when the atomic bombing of Japan is discussed is “Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947 ” by D.M. Giangreco. It describes in detail the horrific reception, both in weapons and personnel, that the Japanese military had prepared for the invasion by the US scheduled for November, 1945. Their intelligence agency had pinpointed both the location, and the date.

  8. Incitadus

    Very timely post Briggs:
    Russia starts ‘tactical nuclear drills’ near Ukraine border

    This exercise basically consists of removing conventional warheads from missiles and replacing them with tactical
    nuclear warheads in the field. They will then presumably be left on standby. Madness doesn’t quite cover it NATO
    expansion into Ukraine is borderline insanity in good company with Charles the 12th, Napoleon, and Herr Hitler.
    There must be some explicit agreement on the use of strategic equipment without which I cannot this war happening
    in the first place. Buckle up.

  9. Zundfolge

    I was a little glib with my initial response, so let me clarify.

    Of all the stupid things the modern western world believes, among the stupidest is this idea that “War should have rules”.

    This foolish notion is why we have so many long, drawn out, expensive (in blood and treasure) and ultimately fruitless “police actions” and wars with no victors. War is a nasty business and it should be prosecuted with genocidal zeal. If you’re not willing to genocide your opponent … kill every last man, woman, child, pet and house plant of the enemy than its probably not worth going to war in the first place.

    Most of the BS problems in the modern world are from this misguided western notion of “just war” with “Marques de Queensbury rules”. Its why we have remnants of history’s losers constantly engaging in insurgent, guerrilla and terrorist shenanigans throughout modern history (or even just whining and moaning about “stolen land” and “indigenous rights” and sewing guilt into the psyche of the victors and their descendants).

    Japan FAFO’d and got what they deserved and are one of the rare instances where not genociding the enemy worked out well (the exception that proves the rule). But part of why it worked is because it was clear that we could and would genocide them. Also the fact that the Japanese are a generally orderly, higher IQ population didn’t hurt.

    One could also argue that the example of those two cities being nuked kept the Cold War cold and the US and USSR from killing off everyone by showing us exactly how real MAD was, so even if our actions were “unjust” they still made the world a better place.

  10. Tars Tarkas

    Everything was madness from beginning to end. The terror bombing accomplished nothing. Nazi war production continuously rose during the war. It was not until the very end that everything collapsed. The wars were likely extended for at least a year because of the unconditional surrender demands. In the end, it really didn’t even accomplish that much. Both governments remained largely intact. National Socialist government workers took off their Nazi uniforms and turned in their Nazi paperwork and got new ones There were likely people who were hired in the Wiemar period took off their Wiemar hat, replaced it with an NSDAP hat and then took that one off and replaced it with the Democrat hat. Same thing in Japan. Both countries were pacified by the occupation. That occupation would have happened with or without an unconditional surrender.

    Imagine we had a war like this now and insisted on the same terms. Nothing would get the nukes flying quite as well as promising trials and hangings for the enemy leadership.

  11. Cary D Cotterman

    The thing governments and the fools who run them never seem to learn is that if you decide to initiate a war, there’s no whinging about how mean the retaliation was.

    My dad had just spent two years on the crew of a U.S. Navy destroyer patrolling the South Pacific, and had been through Typhoon Cobra and the Okinawa kamikaze attacks. His ship was back in Bremerton, Washington for repairs, and was scheduled to head back out toward Japan within days. He said that when they got the news about the bombs, and then the war being over, he cried with relief. He was only nineteen years old.

  12. Georgiaboy61

    The U.S. death toll at Okinawa was 12,000 or so, not 45,000; the latter number was the total number of dead and wounded. These data are easy to find and have been a part of the historical record for a long time, so an error of this kind casts a pall over an otherwise competent-enough essay.

    As to the question of who bombed civilians first, that is by no means an easy or clear-cut one to answer. The great European colonial powers, and Japan as well, all employed air power against civilians and/or military forces between the First World War and the Second. Italy bombed primitive tribesmen in what is today Ethiopia; the Germans leveled Guernica in Spain during the Civil War; the Japanese flattened Shanghai and other Chinese cities, and so on with the British and French, as well. And none of this takes into consideration the Great War itself, in which Germany, Britain and France all waged war upon civilians supporting the war effort.

    War is indeed “madness,” on all sides ~ and by definition the suspension of normal civilized rules of conduct and moral behavior.

  13. Hagfish Bagpipe


    Compounded by wickedness.

    And then the victorious Empire Builders taught us that we were the Good Guys.

  14. — He also reminds us it was Britain that first purposely bombed civilians. —

    On August 6, 1914, the German Zeppelin L-Z dropped thirteen gravity bombs on Liege, Belgium. Those bombs killed nine civilians. What bombing by Britain preceded THAT?

  15. Madness, yes – but not the kind you think.

    Cultists generally appear sane with respect to anything outside their cult – so the Biden people now using American money and credibility to support the same ideas the kyoto 7 sold in Japan, the Nazis sold in Germany, and Zelenski et al are now selling in the Ukraine look sane enough until you challenge a foundational belief – then the insanity appears. Breaking through this kind of belief system isn’t easy and armadas of B29s dropping incendries isn’t going to do it – once you’ve seen one block on fire and smelt a couple of dozen crispies, the next one, and the one after that, just reinforce your beliefs because everything, no matter how horrible, is human scale. Basically, the people who are alive after each raid just carry on.

    The first fission weapons, however, seemed superhuman in scale and that, coupled with the amplifying effect of inadequate information, is what pushed the imperial palace to order surrender – think of it as a shock effect destabilizing a belief (much as in Germany the combination of mis-information about the red army raping and killing its way to Berlin from one side coupled with unstoppable American units coming on while handing out nylons and chocolates from other direction is what triggered suicides and surrenders there).

    So, bottom line, was the use of these weapons justified? Of course it was – and if you don’t think so, put aside your humanity for a minute and ask yourself whether an Iranian nuke carried about 45 miles off course by an errant missile aimed at Jeruselem wouldn’t quickly lead to a lasting peace in the region.

  16. Atomic bombs are fake anyway. Not in the sense of some conspiracy theorists who say they don’t work at all and all the bomb tests were fake but fake as a viable military weapon. To suggest the complex and fragile devices needed to cause nuclear explosions are viable as weapons systems is absurd. It’s an even larger problem than nukes: it is widely believed only 35% of America’s F35 fleet is actually combat ready at any given time and an upgrade to the fleet has been delayed for a year so far. An unknown number of F35 sit on tarmac not fit for acceptance into service because their computer systems will need periodic reboot in flight or not run. This is in peacetime conditions with nobody actively interfering. Modern armaments are about laundering taxpayer money to the military industrial complex and are only coincidentally relevant to any purported use case. All the excitement in Ukraine about weapons has telling been from cheap drones and various improvisations, much of it made from repurposed commercial products made in China or warmed over Cold War era weapons systems. The king of the battlefield is still represented by mass artillery bombardment with the big advancement being this is directed by drone observation.

  17. The True Nolan

    Most moderately informed people know that the Germans had their own (unsuccessful) program to create an atomic bomb. How many people realize that Japan had a program (actually TWO programs) to create a bomb. The larger of the two was located at a huge industrial center in what is now North Korea. There is some creditable info that the Japanese were literally weeks or months away from having their own bomb. After the Japanese officially surrendered the Japanese forces guarding the Korean area housing the bomb project refused to lay down arms and were eventually defeated months after the war ended. Oh, and the smaller project? It was in Tokyo at the University of Japan. Before US troops landed, the officials involved in the research bulldozed all their equipment out into Tokyo Bay.

    “Boo hoo! Mean Americans used a HORRIFFIC weapon to defeat us! We would NEVER have used an atomic bomb, even if we had one!”

    Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/168261896X/

  18. BDavi52

    Life is short, precious, and extraordinarily fragile. War is hell; war is madness. And war, since forever, is all about the obliteration of the enemy’s short, precious, fragile lives (and homes, and cities, and ports, and museums, and nurseries, and hospitals, and children, mothers, and fathers, et al.). When it is vicious enough, it ends with the Opposition incinerated, the ashes scattered, and salt sown in the ruins.

    And then we all move on.

    We sit, here in the 21st century atop a multi-millennial charnel heap. Man has done this to Man since the capability to do so existed. This is not changing, at least not any time soon.

    So was it moral or immoral to drop nuclear weapons on Japan?
    It was an inevitability, given the people, place, and time. And honestly, if I were a Marine in July of 1945, thinking about Okinawa and the bloody horror which would have been the invasion of Japan, I would have danced in the street once I learned two bombs prevented that terrible thing.

    Certainly 79 years and multiple generations later it’s easy to look back and talk the morality of mass destruction….but the world, at the time was in flames. It’s estimated that somewhere between 75M & 80M people were killed in 10,000 conflicts stretched across the globe. What’s 200K in the face of that?

    And what might it have been if we hadn’t dropped the bomb?
    It’s counterfactual and unknowable, of course, but it could easily have been worse.

    In any case, I’m not sure what purpose such speculation serves. Even if we were to reach a moral consensus about what our fathers and grandfathers should have done in 1945….that tells us nothing about what we would do if, at some future point, we’re faced with a similar (but never identical) dilemma. The mistake is in thinking it would…or should….when it absolutely cannot.

  19. Johnno

    But Zundfolge, if there are no rules to war, then where is the fun? Where is the sportsmanship? Where is the entertainment if not watching players try their best to skirt around the rules and then rolling around on the grass arguing with the referee that their play was totally on side because they used a different ingredient in their chemical weapon that is totally unlike the banned version despite that they both achieve the same results? Think of the companies, the sponsors, the investments, the value of the dollar!

    Maybe all wars should be decided quickly, on the basis of a duel between champions. Each picks their David and Goliath. Whether their fellow seasoned soldier, or purchased gladiator slave. In this case, a city as their warrior, and their best bomb as their sword.

    Hamas chooses Rafah.

    Israel chooses New York.

    Both have a good muscle (people) density. So it’s more or less the same weight class.

    Each bombs the other. The most destructive wins!

    This should be how all wars are decided. Judged by Experts. Done in a day.

    Now we just need to figure out the war for live network/streaming broadcast rights…

  20. Robert

    Nicely written, as always. My opinions vary slightly, but that is unimportant. Mostly I believe that we can’t put ourselves in their position because it is so far outside our experiences.

  21. Johnno


    The purpose is to demonstrate American hypocracy.

    Also to set the narrative straight.

    It is all part of the parcel of what all was really going on in WWII.

    It is not that America used the bomb.

    It is whether they bullshitted us for their reasons to do so.

    We know the Japanese were negotiating a surrender.

    We know that many notable US generals didn’t see the neccessity to use the bomb.

    We know that the U.S. deliberately targeted heavy population cities. The purpose being a high civilian death toll.

    Frankly, while there are many fine arguments to be made for the bomb, my personal conclusion is that it was chiefly used primarily just to see what would happen. The Japanese were an experiment.

    The Japanese were a demonstration advertising American might, and entering WWII was necessary to end British world dominance, replace it with the American Empire, and intimidate the Soviets from trying to compete for that position.

    American history should just be up front about it. Because all the other criteria like Japan trying to build their own bomb, to fears of a coup derailing surrender negotiations with the Emperor, to saving the lives of American troops from another hypothetical Normandy, by the same bunch who many suspect sat back and let Pearl Harbor and the Lisuthania happen, are all justifications after the fact.

    I’m not at all saying Japan were the good guys; nobody came out of WWII looking good. It was all – madness.

    More specifically, as Our Lady of Fatima warned, it was a result of humanity’s sins, and the one shining potential, the populous Catholic city of Nagasaki, was destroyed, with the Americans ultimately accomplishing what a hundred years of Christian persecutions by the Shogun failed to. How’s that Pax Americana working out today?

    It’s always easy to critize in hindsight, but let’s cut the BS. Then as now, from Pearl Harbor to Wuhan, there is funny business going on. And cynicism is entirely rational when re-examining the history of our century.

  22. BDavi52

    American Hypocrisy?
    Far more accurate to speak of human hypocrisy. It’s our nature … Too easy to play holier-than-thou games while (with all good intentions) stabbing the Other Guy (even if it’s our ancestors) in the back. Clearly they were not as enlightened as we quite obviously are, we say, as we wipe the blood from our blade.

    Far too easy to look backwards and assign stark, black or white motives to decisions made and actions taken which were made, always, in both the normal fog of human uncertainty, pride, hubris, fear, et al…. all that exponentially complicated by the toxic fog of war.

    As to whether governments BS their populace during wartime? Sure they do. And equally they do so during peacetime. We’re dealing with people whose livelihoods (and passing fame) depend upon our willingness to elect them. And to get elected, far easier to tell people what you think they want to hear, leavened with more than a usual helping of positive BS to make the medicine go down more smoothly.

    And then the list of things we supposedly know?
    Yes, some Japanese leaders were considering some sort of surrender (most typically conditional) And equally we know that some Japanese leaders were considering what would have been essentially the mass suicide of Japan in a to-the-death defense of the Homeland. We know that some (many?) (notable?) generals supposedly didn’t see the necessity to use the bomb…but we’d need to know when they believed that and to whom they expressed those beliefs. Did they passionately oppose the use of the bomb? Did they meet with Truman and threaten resignation? Or did they, in their memoirs, suggest that they didn’t think it was really necessary after the war was over?

    You tell us the U.S. deliberately targeted population heavy cities. Do you know why? Have you examined the criteria used by the Target Committee whose many priorities included the psychological impact of the Bomb upon the Japanese … and the World?

    In the end the reasons for the use of the Bomb are many and diverse: strategic and tactical, military and political. And yes, given that it was going to be used, both the scientific and military establishments would have quite definitely viewed the use as an opportunity to measure global battlefield impact. This is not unusual.

    But when you speak about ‘history being up front about all that’….what does that even mean? There were a thousand reasons why the Bomb was used…a thousand voices expressing a thousand opinions about where and who and how and when and why. When we seek to know what was going on in Oppenheimer’s mind…in Groves…in Eisenhower’s….in Halsey’s….in Nimitz’…in MacArthurs…..heck, we have a hard enough time knowing what was going on in our own mind last Monday. So what should we be upfront about? That we had a ton of different reasons for doing what we did? And that some of those reasons were noble and some were venal and some cruel…and some trivial….some evil…some good?

    We are human. And that churning mix of motivations is our normal. When examining history….the story of what people, just like us, did or didn’t do at some distant time, and place, in a world that we would not even recognize….it’s not cynicism we need; it’s humility.

  23. Johnno

    Again BDavi52, it is about setting the narrative straight.

    We need to understand the true scope of it, after all, this could be the very thing that ultimately murders us all, so I’m personally concerned.

    You want to argue in it’s favor? That’s fine. I get it. And I’m not being facetious.

    Explain to me all about the criteria for bombing population heavy centers in contrast to wars of yesteryear where armies met on unpopulated fields and did battle until someone raised the white flag, and civilians were so safe, they even set up picnic blankets on the outskirts and spectated. I know this was not just some American thing, and no matter how many “rules” are set up, someone is going to be desperate to break them, and then the other side has no choice but to retaliate in kind.

    It always takes two to Tango Down. What you justify of the past is justified in the future. If all the criteria was swell for the Americans to bomb Japan’s most populace cities for certain “strategic” rationales, then America can’t cry if the same criteria is used to bomb U.S. cities. Nor can the U.S.A. cry if similar stuff happens to their “partners” or whatever serves as convenient pretexts to intervene in the affairs of other nations. As maybe Saddam had every right to seek WMD.

    Depending on the narrative the coming nukes are either entirely justified based on the actions of WWII or they are not.

    As another example, Israel can bomb the crap out of all civilian infrastructure in Gaza to save their troops’ lives, or because they fear HAMAS might have an internal coup anytime some negotiation is settled, so given you never know, the correct answer is to bomb. I imagine a committee can easily measure the psychological impact of Israeli actions have had on the Palestinian ruffians and they will be peaceful once they are sufficiently bombed… Any day now, the strategy has to work, and if it’s not working, then a bigger bomb will have to be considered until all of Palestine agrees.

    We know Japan was already surrendering. I don’t believe the bomb was needed to intimidate them further. If the hypothetical situation did occur where the suicidal branch of the Japanese military really did take over and end the negotiations. Then perhaps the bomb could’ve been necessary.

    As you said, the many factors of history are complex. But as I see it, the determining factors were largely to test the bomb while they still had a chance, after all, they needed to see their investment in action, and that it seemed necessary to demonstrate American power to the Soviets. I don’t deny all the other considerations weren’t on the table, but there was a weight to all of them, and some nefarious ones outweighed the others.

    I am cynical because I don’t believe the present day is too far removed from the past. It’s a post-covid age. “Humility” was weaponized to “shut up and obey the Expurts and adopt the practices we tell you or else you’re racist!” It is only more overt now because they can’t control information as easily as back then. We’ve been given further nonsense narratives to justify the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, etc. And the victims aren’t constrained to the folks over there, all manner of blowback and government draconian action has been implemented at home too.

    None of this happened in a vacuum. It is clear events today are domino effects of the past. We need to be up-front about THAT history. If the conflict of WWII involved American intervention to become the hegemon, then the current conflict makes sense is current affairs aren’t just randomly accidental. The “unconditional” surrender of Japan also makes sense in light of the actor’s ambitions. Japan had to cave, and had to cave fast, and civilians were killed to establish that, and establish American control over the region without giving time for the Soviets to intervene, and then have to carve up sections of Japan, like Europe, that fell under the other side’s control. Since then, Japan remains a Forward Operating Base with American armed presence that is there to check China and Russia. No doubt, that this was a strategic necessity to American interests, which necessitated the “unconditional” surrender of Japan so that America could continue to operate from it up to this date.

    What this means, is that Japan remains a target for nuclear retaliation, if only because of the presence of American bases, from which nukes can also potentially be launched for shorter travel time. And everybody knows who they’d be aimed at.


    ^^^THAT^^^ is the key. This thing was about a whole lot more than just defeating Japan. And that is the conflict that is raging by proxy today.

  24. BDavi52

    Johnno, my friend…
    You are confused.

    The past does not need to be justified. It simply is. Nor does any particular portion of the past justify the future….or not justify the future. On the global stage of realpolitik no one acts out of justification; they act with power, from power, for power. ‘Justification’ if & when it’s used is only as wallpaper plastered upon the tank, the bomb, the drone, the bullet used to accomplish a specific end….while looking ‘pretty’ to those who care about such things.

    You speak of the “determining factors’….what determining factors? What makes ‘X’ a determining factor as opposed to just a factor, another element, in the morass of elements which eventually created a context within which a variety of individuals, with different but minimally shared motivations (as in the defeat of Japan) made incrementalist decisions which yielded, in the end, Hiroshima & Nagasaki. That particular collection of a zillion factors will not come again. We can study them till we’re blue in the face and still be completely unprepared when our particular moment arises.

    You say some of these factors carried a weight? What weight? Who measures it? Who compares it? Who says “Y” is heavier than “Z”? And what makes a factor ‘nefarious’… especially in war with a demand for an unconditional surrender & submission…or death?

    I had a conversation once with a combat veteran from Iwo Jima. He was talking about fighting. Not war…just fighting. And he told us, quite calmly, in a very mild voice that what you, as an unwilling participant in the fight must do…must feel absolutely compelled to do….is end it. Not end it as in quit….but end it as in absolutely remove your opponents ability to hurt you as quickly, and simply as possible. He said the sooner you end it, the greater the chance you walk away (which, of course, is the ultimate goal).

    Now magnify that by 1000…or 10,000 …or 10M in war, and imagine yourself a soldier, who survived the European Theater and who is now being trained to fight in Japan. What do you want your leaders to do? The answer is simple: You want him to End It, Now. And if that means an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, so be it. If it meant 100 atom bombs on 100 Japanese cities (of course we didn’t have that many at the time)…still, so be it. And if my survival depends on the unleashing of hell, unleash it.

    And as that soldier, who survived, you don’t care about any of the other zillion reasons (nefarious or not) that pushed Little Boy out the bomb bay doors.

    You tell us that none of this happened in a vacuum. Of course it didn’t. Nothing does. You say that the events of today are domino effect of the past. Sure they are. Today is the sum of every yesterday. And tomorrow will include this day in that sum. We can be up-front about that truism as much as we like but nothing changes. The present will always be the sum of the past. But this is not like billiard balls on a table stroked with a single cue. It’s 20 trillion tables and 20 trillion cues striking 20 trillion differently colored balls simultaneously: it is the Big Bang which produces, day after day, 20 trillion todays. And the summation of all those variables is unknowable. It’s silly to worry them.

    What this means? Heck, it’s anybody’s guess. Is Japan a nuclear target? Sure it is. So is pretty much everywhere. Given 12,512 thermonuclear warheads, the world is the target…nor are you (or any of us) not targeted. Remove all American bases from Japan and it’s still a target. And even if, through sheer happenstance, Japan was somehow missed during the multiple rounds of nuclear exchanges….it would still be destroyed because pretty much everything would be destroyed.

    “Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds”. There’s a weight-filled, determining factor for you.

    No need to continue. We’ve already gone on way too long.
    And you’re wrong, btw, about humility and Covid. It was the lack of humility….the utter refusal to admit the possibility that maybe the models were wrong, that maybe the vaccine was flawed, that maybe injecting billions of people with mRNA might not be a ‘best possible solution’ that created the disaster. ‘Shut Up and Obey the Expert’ is the opposite of humility; it’s pride and arrogance.

  25. Johnno

    First off, BDavi, it’s about the Truth, with a Capital-T.

    You seem oddly dismissive of it.

    There is a hierarchy of things that lead from one thing to another. Even when God’s pemissive will allows bad things to happen to draw good from it, the bad thing remains bad.

    It matters not whether or not the troops on the ground benefitted from a quick resolution. The motives of the ones in power do matter, and we already know how much they value human life.

    If they continue to get away with it, and we refuse to catch on, then we deserve all that comes our way. Your hyper focus on the side-benefits alone is how every corpo screws us by spinning their insanity into a marketing net positive for you, “You’ll own nothing, and be happy”,”We bombed Japan to save the lives of our troops”,”We’re invading Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, etc. for Democracy!”, “We fast-tracked vaccines and granted legal immunity to their manufacturers and kept the ingredients secret and coerced you to take it to keep you safe!”,”We locked you down, but gave you FREE money! Surely some poor veteran needed it! Think of him!”

    Are you simply buying that waffle? You going to look me in the eye and say that the primary impetus and motivations don’t matter? That we should perform evil means for good ends?

    When I criticised “humility”, I am not referring to them, but us, and it is more accurate to label that as “gullibility.” Where we just buy into the narrative. Then double-down and double-think when things aren’t adding up, until then finally we throw our hands in the air with,”Who cares? There are zillions of complications! What makes your views so special? Let’s just stop talking about it!”

    Thus we develop insoucience, and the sin of acedia for all things. This is what ultimately breeds all our troubles.

  26. Johnno

    Of relevance…

    The Bombing of Japanese Catholicism

    “But curiously, in this city, once the centre of Japanese Christianity, not a single religious symbol has been allowed to be erected at any of the sites dedicated to the memory of the bombing. Despite repeated enquiry, I was not able to find any proper explanation of it.

    My tentative conclusion was that, to avoid any contention about which religious symbols would be appropriate in a city where the Kakure Kirishitan had been persecuted by their Buddhist and Shinto brothers, the authorities must have decided that all religious symbols were to be excluded.

    However, as always happens when religious symbols are excluded, this simply meant, and still means, an entirely self-contradictory victory for Atheism and secularism, the very reverse of what should be commemorated at such a tragic site.

    Thus, as I mounted the escalators to go up to the peace park, what were the first two memorials that I encountered after entering?

    One from the Soviet Union and the other from the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic!

    Christianity could not be celebrated at the site of this, the most Catholic part of Japan, destroyed by a cruel and brutal atomic bomb, but Communism, a totalitarian ideology of the Soviet Union that had refused the Japanese peace requests which might otherwise have prevented the bombing, was allowed to erect its false and mendacious monuments.”

  27. BDavi52

    Johnno, my friend,
    Truth with a Capital T is the last thing I’m dismissive of. It’s just that Truth with a Capital T is something we mere mortals will never know. At best, we see through a glass darkly, and that is — at best.

    Most of the time we live our lives enfogged, confused, in the middle of the muddy puddle which is the ‘today’ which surrounds us.

    You tell us, “there is a hierarchy of things that lead from one thing to another”…and this is true, if we’re talking, generally, about life on a billiard table, a single white ball, a well-honed pool cue, and a single player with a consistent stroke. And even then we’d need to consider the age and composition of the table, the wear of the felt, the angle of the floor, the ambient noise, the temperature, the humidity, et al….and that’s just shooting pool in closed room with a single actor. Now emerge into the global reality which is uncountable players, uncountable motivations, millions of actions, millions of reactions…..and yes, with enough time & effort one might be able to trace some thing and see how it seems to push A which strikes B which prompts C….and as soon as we write that dissertation there’s a counter dissertation disputing it.

    Seriously, though, who is the “they” who’s getting away with it…and what is it ‘they’ are getting away with? And who is catching on to what?

    As for your series of supposed equivalencies…they’re not. ‘No man ever steps into the same river twice’. EVER. It’s impossible.

    And the importance of so-called primary motivations??? Heck, beyond telling you that my primary motivation for eating breakfast is hunger….even my own primary motivations are usually so intertangled that it’s difficult, if I’m honest with myself, to tell my ‘primary’ from my ‘secondary’ from my ‘tertiary’. Besides, they change regularly. And that’s when dealing with something as complex as breakfast.

    (As for buying waffles, I much prefer French Toast…though honestly, both waffles and french toast are better than pancakes.)

    But when it comes to the ‘primary’ motivations for the use of the Bomb in 1945: the primary motivation was ending the war. Ending the war, defeating the enemy was the primary motivation for most everything the world did between 1939 and 1945. But what Roosevelt believed was most important, given that primary motivation, was many times different from what Churchill thought…from what Stalin thought…from what Eisenhower thought…from what Halsey or Nimitz or MacArthur thought….from what Hitler, Rommel, Goerring….from what Hirohito, Tojo, Yamamoto, et al…and those are just the main players. Drop down a rank or two and there are hundreds of additional leaders, decision-makers, advisors, counselors….people whose voices were heard in those large conference rooms.

    It is of critical importance that we recognize the immense complexity associated with these questions….and consider, carefully, their interconnectedness amidst the fog of war and the fog or ordinary human limitations. When faced with this Gordian Knot there are two errors we tend to make: the first, as you noted, ‘acedia’….but just as dangerous, the sin of pride — given our possession of a single hammer — and the horrible tendency to see nothing but nails which need hammering.

    I would encourage all of us to enlarge our toolbox, sharpen our gaze, and do our best to see what is actually before us…well before we start pounding away.

  28. Johnno

    Well BDavi, we had better start thinking fast because here’s where things are going.





    And we have a good list of names that are part of the present Team Them. Starting with every American Neocon and international public head from Biden to Johnson to Macron, and Merkel and more. There are undoubtedly more, but we have lots of openly obvious places to start. Ditto criteria applies to the past as well.

    Let me simplify the complexities for you.

    If it was the right call for America to nuke Japan for X reason, then anyone can nuke America for X, or anyone else for that matter.

    If X is defined as sparing your troops a hypothetical ground invasion, and/or defined as speeding up an adversary’s unconditional surrender based on hypothetical possibilities of a coup or failed negotiations, then those are grotesquely vague reasons that can always be premptively used to justify using nukes without limit.

    Russia should just nuke Kiev now, because unlike America and Japan, they are more justified following the failure of the Minsk Agreements and NATO’s continued expansion, and to spare Russian troops and mercenaries on the front from having to push the line of control further back to keep Western missiles at a distance. Unlike Japan, we know for certain that the Americans, French, Germans and British are bad actors, where peace negotiations and their guarantees cannot be counted on.

    America is presently attempting to throw it’s weight around and demand unconditional surrender by Russia; that Crimea be handed back, that the breakaway republics let Kiev’s Bandaristas continue to bomb them into compliance, and bring more of the East into NATO.

    But unlike Japan, this time Russia has the more advanced arsenal and the strategic territorial advantage.

    Clearly, every American reason for bombing Japan now stands in Russia’s favor.

    If the narrative above was the Truth, then there is no getting around it.

    However, if America or simply historians were to acquiesque that bombing Japan had completely ulterior motives, then this would once again change the public perception of the justification for using nukes. While it would shed a bad light on U.S. history, it may also serve to buy time on the debate of the necessity to use them.

    Admittedly, that is a big ‘if.’ But it would also shed new light on what has led up to our present predicament, and especially that this whole West vs. East conflict basically means that the fallout of the Second World War probably never ended. It set the stage for the present hot conflict, and we need to solve this with a longer term memory.

  29. BDavi52

    Johnno, last time…

    We’ve hit this nail on the head 27 times already.
    Yes, “If it was the right call for America to nuke Japan for X reason, then anyone can nuke America for X, or anyone else for that matter.” Yes. This is true. It’s always been true. It was true before nuclear weapons existed. It was true before America existed. It would be true even if it wasn’t the ‘right call’ (whatever that means) for us to use nuclear weapons in ’45.

    Anyone can do anything to anyone at any time for any reason.
    These actions do not need to be justified by anything.
    And most of the time the reason any action is undertaken is very very simple: THEY (and THEY can be anyone) want what they want and they believe, rightly or wrongly, that ‘X’ will give that to them. That’s it.

    Your obsession with historical justifications and so-called ‘hidden reasons’ and ‘secret agendas’ and Truth (with a capital T) matter not a whit.

    Best wishes on your continued quest!

  30. Johnno

    BDavi, they will matter at the Final Judgement, and so will our decisions to pursue the Truth and their consequences or not.

    In the end we will have no right to complain when the verdicts issue forth, as we are judged individually and cooperatively, in this world and the next.

    That is all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *