by Anthony Gregory
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the U.S. Terror State
Being a U.S. war criminal means never having to say sorry. Paul Tibbets, the man who flew the Enola Gay and destroyed Hiroshima, lived to the impressive age of 92 without publicly expressing guilt for what he had done. He had even reenacted his infamous mission at a 1976 Texas air show, complete with a mushroom cloud, and later said he never meant this to be offensive. In contrast, he called it a “damn big insult” when the Smithsonian planned an exhibit in 1995 showing some of the damage the bombing caused.
We might understand a man not coming to terms with his most important contribution to human history being such a destructive act. But what about the rest of the country?
It’s sickening that Americans even debate the atomic bombings, as they do every year in early August. Polls in recent years reveal overwhelming majorities of the American public accepting the acts as necessary.
Conservatives are much worse on this topic, although liberals surely don’t give it the weight it deserves. Trent Lott was taken to the woodshed for his comments in late 2002 about how Strom Thurmond would have been a better president than Truman. Lott and Thurmond both represent ugly strains in American politics, but no one dared question the assumption that Thurmond was obviously a less defensible candidate than Truman. Zora Neale Hurston, heroic author of the Harlem Renaissance, might have had a different take, as she astutely called Truman “a monster” and “the butcher of Asia.” Governmental segregation is terrible, but why is murdering hundreds of thousands of foreign civilians with as much thought as one would give to eradicating silverfish treated as simply a controversial policy decision in comparison?
Perhaps it is the appeal to necessity. We hear that the United States would have otherwise had to invade the Japanese mainland and so the bombings saved American lives. But saving U.S. soldiers wouldn’t justify killing Japanese children any more than saving Taliban soldiers would justify dropping bombs on American children. Targeting civilians to manipulate their government is the very definition of terrorism. Everyone was properly horrified by Anders Behring Breivik’s 2011 murder spree in Norway – killing innocents to alter diplomacy. Truman murdered a thousand times as many innocents on August 6, 1945, then again on August 9.
It doesn’t matter if Japan “started it,” either. Only individuals have rights, not nations. Unless you can prove that every single Japanese snuffed out at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was involved in the Pearl Harbor attack, the murderousness of the bombings is indisputable. Even the official history should doom Truman to a status of permanent condemnation. Besides being atrocious in themselves, the U.S. creation and deployment of the first nuclear weapons ushered in the seemingly endless era of global fear over nuclear war.
However, as it so happens, the conventional wisdom is an oversimplification at best. The U.S. provoked the Japanese to fire the first shot, as more and more historians have acknowledged. Although the attack on Pearl Harbor, a military base, was wrong, it was far less indefensible than the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s civilian populations.
As for the utilitarian calculus of “saving American lives,” historian Ralph Raico explains:
[T]he rationale for the atomic bombings has come to rest on a single colossal fabrication, which has gained surprising currency: that they were necessary in order to save a half-million or more American lives. These, supposedly, are the lives that would have been lost in the planned invasion of Kyushu in December, then in the all-out invasion of Honshu the next year, if that was needed. But the worst-case scenario for a full-scale invasion of the Japanese home islands was forty-six thousand American lives lost.
The propaganda that the atomic bombings saved lives was nothing but a public relations pitch contrived in retrospect. These were just gratuitous acts of mass terrorism. By August 1945, the Japanese were completely defeated, blockaded, starving. They were desperate to surrender. All they wanted was to keep their emperor, which was ultimately allowed anyway. The U.S. was insisting upon unconditional surrender, a purely despotic demand. Given what the Allies had done to the Central Powers, especially Germany, after the conditional surrender of World War I, it’s understandable that the Japanese resisted the totalitarian demand for unconditional surrender.
A 1946 U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey determined the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nukings were not decisive in ending the war. Most of the political and military brass agreed. “The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing,” said Dwight Eisenhower in a 1963 interview with Newsweek.
Another excuse we hear is the specter of Hitler getting the bomb first. This is a non sequitur. By the time the U.S. dropped the bombs, Germany was defeated and its nuclear program was revealed to be nothing in comparison to America’s. The U.S. had 180,000 people working for several years on the Manhattan Project. The Germans had a small group led by a few elite scientists, most of whom were flabbergasted on August 6, as they had doubted such bombs were even possible. Even if the Nazis had gotten the bomb – which they were very far from getting – it wouldn’t in any way justify killing innocent Japanese.
For more evidence suggesting that the Truman administration was out to draw Japanese blood for its own sake, or as a show of force for reasons of Realpolitik, consider the United States’s one-thousand-plane bombing of Tokyo on August 14, the largest bombing raid of the Pacific war, after Hirohito agreed to surrender and the Japanese state made it clear it wanted peace. The bombing of Nagasaki should be enough to know it was not all about genuinely stopping the war as painlessly as possible – why not wait more than three days for the surrender to come? But to strategically bomb Japan five days after the destruction Nagasaki, as Japan was in the process of waving the white flag? It’s hard to imagine a greater atrocity, or clearer evidence that the U.S. government was not out to secure peace, but instead to slaughter as many Japanese as it could before consolidating its power for the next global conflict.
The U.S. had, by the time of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, destroyed 67 Japanese cities by firebombing, in addition to helping the British destroy over a hundred cities in Germany. In this dramatic footage from The Fog of War,
“Killing fifty to ninety percent of the people in 67 Japanese cities and then bombing them with two nuclear bombs is not proportional – in the minds of some people – to the objectives we were trying to achieve,” McNamara casually says. Indeed, this was clearly murderous, and Americans are probably the most resistant of all peoples to the truths of their government’s historical atrocities. It doesn’t hurt that the U.S. government has suppressed for years evidence such as film footage shot after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet even based on what has long been uncontroversial historical fact, we should all be disgusted and horrified by what the U.S. government did.
How would it have been if all those Germans and Japanese, instead of being burned to death from the sky, were corralled into camps and shot or gassed? Materially, it would have been the same. But Americans refuse to think of bombings as even in the same ballpark as other technologically expedient ways of exterminating people by the tens and hundreds of thousands. Why? Because the U.S. government has essentially monopolized terror bombing for nearly a century. No one wants to confront the reality of America’s crimes against humanity.
It would be one thing if Americans were in wide agreement that their government, like that of the Axis governments of World War II, had acted in a completely indefensible manner. But they’re not. The Allies were the white hats. Ignore the fact that the biggest belligerent on America’s side was Stalin’s Russia, whom the FDR and Truman administrations helped round up a million or two refugees in the notorious undertaking known as Operation Keelhaul. We’re not supposed to think about that. World War II began with Pearl Harbor and it ended with D-Day and American sailors returning home to kiss their sweethearts who had kept America strong by working on assembly lines.
In the Korean war, another Truman project, the U.S. policy of shameful mass murder continued. According to historian Bruce Cumings, professor at the University of Chicago, millions of North Korean civilians were slaughtered by U.S. fire-bombings, chemical weapons and newly developed ordnance, some of which weighed in at 12,000 pounds. Eighteen out of 22 major cities were at least half destroyed. For a period in 1950, the US dropped about 800 tons of bombs on North Korea every day. Developed at the end of World War II, napalm got its real start in Korea. The US government also targeted civilian dams, causing massive flooding.
In Indochina, the U.S. slaughtered millions in a similar fashion. Millions of tons of explosives were dropped on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. These ghastly weapons are literally still killing people – tens of thousands have died since the war ended, and three farmers were killed just last week. Among the horrible effects of the bombing was the rise of Pol Pot’s regime, probably the worst in history on a per capita basis.
The U.S. has committed mass terrorism since, although not on quite the scale as in past generations. Back in the day the U.S. would drop tons of explosives, knowing that thousands would die in an instant. In today’s wars, it drops explosives and then pretends it didn’t mean to kill the many civilians who predictably die in such acts of violence. Only fifteen hundred bombs were used to attack Baghdad in March 2003. That’s what passes as progress. The naked murderousness of U.S. foreign policy, however, is still apparent. The bombings of water treatment facilities and sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s deliberately targeted the vulnerable Iraqi people. Once the type of atrocities the U.S. committed in World War II have been accepted as at the worst debatable tactics in diplomacy, anything goes.
American politicians would have us worry about Iran, a nation that hasn’t attacked another country in centuries, one day getting the bomb. There is no evidence that the Iranians are even seeking nuclear weapons. But even if they were, the U.S. has a much worse record in both warmongering and nuclear terror than Iran or any other country in modern times. It is more than hypocritical for the U.S. to pose as the leader of global peace and nuclear disarmament.
The hypocrisy and moral degeneracy in the mouths of America’s celebrated leaders should frighten us more than anything coming out of Iran or North Korea, especially given America’s capacity to kill and willingness to do it. Upon dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, President Truman called the bomb the “greatest achievement of organized science in history” and wondered aloud how “atomic power can become a powerful and forceful influence toward the maintenance of world peace.” Nothing inverts good and evil, progress and regress, as much as the imperial state. In describing the perversion of morality in the history of U.S. wars, Orwell’s “war is peace” doesn’t cut it. “Exterminating civilians by the millions is the highest of all virtues” is perhaps a better tagline for the U.S. terror state.
Paul Tibbetts was a hero.The Japs had it coming. I wish we’d had a lot more bombs a lot earlier -for use on Germany and Russia as necessary.
[…] by Anthony Gregory http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thelibertarianstandard/~3/ZjpwLxshf_I/ Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the U.S. Terror State Being a U.S. war criminal means never having to say sorry. Paul Tibbets, the man who flew the Enola Gay and destroyed Hiroshima, lived to the impressive age of 92 without publicly expressing guilt for what he had done. He had even reenacted his infamous mission at a 1976 Texas air show, complete with a mushroom cloud, and later said he never meant this to be offensive. In contrast, he called it a “damn big insult” when the Smithsonian planned an exhibit in 1995 showing some of the damage the bombing caused. We might understand a man not coming to terms with his most important contribution… Article by The Libertarian Alliance: BLOG. Read entire story here. […]
All govts are scum. So what. This piece waddles out old tired leftist shite.
The Korean war was a Truman “project”?. I kinda think North Korean and Chicom socialist scum had something to do with it.
Why on earth should he have expressed any guilt? The Japanese at the time had a barbaric culture, consider what they did to the inhabitants of Singapore. The two atomic bombs might be regrettable, but quite justified.
This is why libertarianlsm needs a proper and functioning War Secretariat. You people, who love to argue about grammatical niceties, need to have a focus, strategically, on how you shall win, or not. Old Chris Tame put it mildly, when he said to us once that “there may be two libertarians somewhere on the planet who agree about everything, but I’m not one of them”.
(1) It is tragically necessary, since pre-capitalist-barbarianism has reared its ugly and primitive head n modern societies in the form of socialism.
(2) It is justifiable, to kill those of the enemyclass such as general-staff-officers and government-shindig-fellas and politicians, and all those sub-officers who execute their orders down at least to field level, in a conflict.
(3) It is regrettable that often civilians will be thus killed. The unintentionality of their colateral deaths does not excuse the act, but in societies supposedly functioning as “democracies” – such as Germany in 1933 – it does place some burden of blame on the 1933 electorate, who – as the man at the end of the Indiana Jones -3- film said – “chose poorly”.
(4) In 1942, the British were ahead of everyone on atomic weapons, and moving faster. But we’d run out of money. So we sent everything to the fascist pig FDR who threw money at it and said “get the scientist-fellas to get a bomb”. So in the end we did.
(5) It was right to do what we did. It is sad that it was a city, and then another one, but then if we’d expended our only three bombs on airfields or battleships in dock, would the Japanese High Command have given up then?
I think not.
Did you want the war to go on, to an invasion of the Japanese Homelands, and all the deaths that that would have entailed?
Was that going to be worth the deaths of a million or two million more doughboys, and the sinking of another 100 or 200 Allied ships, together with 10,000 or 20,000 more sailors?
Much of this article is the kind of bonkers that will condemn libertarians to obscurity. By all means question the necessity of those two bombs, and the ethics of bombing civilians, even in total war. But it is the Japanese, not the Septics, who are most resistant to accepting their bloody past. And the behaviour of large numbers of Nips in China and Korea, as well as their treatment of British and Empire PoWs, in the thirties and forties, demands a damned sight more self-analysis than the Nips give it.
Mr Gregory claims that the Japanese regime would have surrendered without the atomic bombings.
Actually it took the personal intervention of the Emperor (a thing unheard of) to get Japan to surrender even AFTER the atomic bombings. And it was a close run thing even then.
MILLIONS of Japanese would have died during a conventional invasion of Japan – is this not important?
Still I agree that with a plan suggested at the time (although not suggested by Mr Gregory) that an atomic bomb should have exploded on an uninhabited island, with Japanese personal being invited to view the results.
Most likely such a plan would have failed (I admit that) – it is a million to one shot, but worth trying (to save two cities).
However, Mr Gregory does not stop with World War II revisionism.
His defence of the “Hastener” regime in Iran (which is desperate to gain nuclear weapons so that the world may be covered in blood and fire and the 13th or “hidden” one, return on his white horse….) does not deserve to be commented on, but I am shocked by what he says about North Korea.
I have a rather low opinion of the “libertarian” left – but even I do not expect them to spout hard core Communist propaganda, which is exactly what Mr Gregory does.
To take one of the proudest moments of both American and British history, the successful defence of South Korea, and pretend it is something shameful – only someone who is complete and total scum would do that, and that is what Mr Gregory does.
Mr Gregory then continues by blaming the crimes of the socialists in Indo China (for example Pol Pot in Cambodia) on the RESISTANCE to the Marxists, the “bombs made them do it” line.
Again only someone who is complete and total scum would play that game – and that is exactly the game Mr Gregory plays.
I suggest that Mr Gregory goes to North Korea – and stays there.
Breaking my LA blog commenting embargo (what a fucking clown I am) just to say drop that fucker. Twice.
BLAST! I have spent a bit of time putting together an introduction to a 2011 Afterburner by Bill Whittle entitled “Jon Stewart, War Criminals & The True Story of the Atomic Bombs.”
But WordPress comes back with a message saying Sorry, you cannot post this comment, with no word as to why. Further experiment suggests that the PJTV URL is the reason. –But no: Still further experiment suggests the problem is yet another WordPress gitch. So here’s the third, no, fourth try.
The video runs almost 17 rivetting minutes. Mr. Whittle sets out the facts, cleanly and clearly. Among them: Why a “demonstration bomb” would have been a gravely dangerous misuse of 1/3 of our atomic arsenal at the time, and obviously (since Hiroshima itself did not accomplish it) would not have moved the Japanese to surrender anyway; That the Japanese, including the civilian population, were indeed given advance warning of the coming attack; The readiness of the Japanese populace to sacrifice themselves and their children–so the present IslamoNuttists have form for this!–to the Cause of winning the war; and more.
Yes Julie – I admit that the “demonstration bomb” idea would have been wildly unlikely to succeed (perhaps a million to one odds), but I would still have liked to have tried it.
Not that Mr Gregory suggests any such thing – he is just off in La La land.
A “demonstration bomb” might have been a reasonable idea IF, AND ONLY IF, we had dozens of them and could churn them out like hamburgers. But if we had that many, why would we have saved them up until we had a large stockpile, when ending the war was the highest priority?
Given the extremely long odds of success that even you admit to, and the fact we only had two complete bombs in existence, with a third under construction, AND we had no idea how the Japanese would respond, to waste one of the two most valuable objects then-existing-in-the-world on entertainment, would have been stupidity and malfeasance of the highest order. Try to keep in mind that Japan had never had to surrender in a war. And that almost no Japanese soldiers had surrendered in large numbers during the entire WWII, and that many Japanese soldiers continued fighting 25 years after the war. And that the Bushido spirit demanded death before surrender. You think that some sort of visual fireworks display would cause them to change thousands of years of their warrior culture?
Basic observation regarding the history of aggressive nations of people who think they are the master race of warriors: The only simple way you can change their culture/mindset is to deal them a devastating total defeat. The only other alternative is to wait for them to have a change of heart, and we can’t afford to wait for that while millions of people are dying each year.
Great, with a whole new page I could post the comment! More to post on the topic, but it’s late, so maybe not tonight.
HOWEVER. Paul and davidncl are dead right about the execrable Anthony Gregory. His articles have the stink of raw sewage–go to the Independent Institute and check them out, if you have the stomach.
It does seem to me that “the left and right have joined hands” indeed, if by “the left” you mean “the left” and if you take “the right” to include certain allegedly non-leftist self-styled “libertarians.”
I have to say that I don’t see any reason to consider this pimple’s piece “libertarian” in content at all. So why is it here?
And by the way — if the excuse for that is “Well, but it speaks to Smashing the State, don’tcha see,” I ask how come it’s only the U.S., or the U.S. and the Eeeeeviiiilllllll U.K., that need to be smashed? Why aren’t people interested in smashing Cuba, or N.K., or … ?
A few points among many worth considering:
1. Hiroshima, on the southern tip of Honshu, was the HQ for the Japanese Southern Military District, which would have provided C3I for the island of Kyushu, the landing zone for Operation Olympic, had there been no a-bombs, and a U.S. amphibious invasion launched. Field Marshal Shunroku Hata’s 2nd General Army used Hiroshima as both a command center (40,000+ soldiers in the city’s military facilities), and combined troop staging area and war materiel shipping port, for Kyushu. Hence, it was not merely an important military target, it was one that would have specifically been very important in the defense of Kyushu and southern Honshu in Operations Olympic and Coronet.
2. Even the Japanese can’t really hide the military significance of Hiroshima; unlike many pure-theory libertarians who usually blame all the evils of the world on Western Civilization generally, and U.S. actions particularly. Look at a Hiroshima website (which includes data often ignored or covered up by anti-Americans), maintained by Japanese citizens, and containing some info that indirectly supports the bombing rationale, though much of the site’s history info is devoted to victimization: http://www.hiroshima-spirit.jp/en/museum/morgue_e11.html
3. If we examine the Battle of Okinawa, which occurred only a few weeks before the bombing of Hiroshima, it might be useful to take the losses on both sides and extrapolate them to cover the Japanese home islands in event of invasion. The Okinawa battle killed 95,000 Japanese soldiers out of the 130,000 based there, and 100,000 (Okinawan est.) to 140,000 (U.S. set.) civilians out of the 300,000 residents. U.S. losses were 12,500 soldiers killed and 39,000 wounded, out of 190,000 participating. Even a conservative extrapolation, with eventual surrender occurring halfway through the invasion, would result in 300,000 to 600,000 American dead, and 1 million to 2 million wounded, with Japanese losses in the neighborhood of 5+ million dead soldiers and civilians, and an approx. equal number wounded. Considering that the long term death toll at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was approx. 220,000 to 300,000, Japan saved 5 million lives (or more) by surrendering without a land invasion. Read “Downfall” by Richard Frank for more on the background of the preparations and logistics for the final battles.
4. Some will say that the Japanese could not resist militarily because they were low on fuel and equipment, but that was not exactly true. When the enemy is coming to you, you don’t need much fuel to launch short range attacks. Furthermore, they had stored up lots of planes, artillery, boats, and ammunition in caves and bunkers, which they were experts at building and utilizing. Americans landing on the Japanese beaches below the hills would have been easily targeted.
5. Would the civilians have continued to resist? The residents of Okinawa did so, and they weren’t even hard-core “real” Japanese citizens, being viewed by themselves and the Japanese as lower class citizens or outsiders. Shortages of food were not a big deal either, given the Japanese willingness to sacrifice for the Emperor.
6. Another red herring is the frequent reference to the “Ambassador Sato message of possible surrender” to be communicated to the Soviet’s Minister Molotov. Neither Togo or Sato sent the USSR any message that they would accept any Japanese surrender except “surrender lite” with minimal occupation and full retention of Japanese political and monarchy sovereignty. A non-starter, and the Japanese knew it, which is why they approached the Soviets rather than communicating directly with the U.S. They were hoping that the Soviets might be willing to put pressure on the U.S. to accept the Japanese partial surrender, so long as the Japanese gave something to the Soviets. Togo wrote, “…with regard to unconditional surrender we are unable to consent to it under any circumstances whatever. … It is in order to avoid such a state of affairs that we are seeking a peace…”, not a surrender, but “peace” as they saw it.
I forgot to mention another couple of idiocies built into Gregory’s mindless anti-American rant.
Comparing Breivik’s mass murder of harmless people during peacetime to the U.S. use of the a-bombs to end the most destructive war in world history, is the worst sort of historical illiteracy and arrogant disrespect of the readers. Has he ever heard of logic or appropriate analogs? Obviously not. Or did I miss some fact that Breivik’s actions saved us from a prolonged war? Please let me know if that is the case, so I can learn from his actions.
Relying upon the intelligence or integrity of Robert STRANGE McNamara is almost inexcusable for any sentient being. As one of example of his ignorance and lack of integrity, try this quote, “…Killing fifty to ninety percent of the people in 67 Japanese cities and then bombing them with two nuclear bombs is not proportional…”. Really? We killed an average of ~70 to 75% of all the people in Japan’s 67 largest cities (we certainly wouldn’t have been bombing anything but the big cities if we really wanted to maximize our genocide quotient)? How many people is that, 45 million? Or more? Kinda makes the 2-300,000 killed by a-bombs look unimportant, doesn’t it? Coupled with Japan’s combat losses, their whole country must have been essentially depopulated, yes?
Regarding Operation Keelhaul, how can a “libertarian” oppose a trade that returns Brit and American POW’s by sending Eastern Euro POW’s to USSR…when the alternative might be a prolongation of the existing war? It isn’t enough to say that there shouldn’t have been a war.
He also talked about the Aug. 14 conventional bomb raid on Tokyo as having been the greatest atrocity in history, because the Japanese had already communicated their intent to surrender, which is untrue. The actual surrender was not OFFICIALLY communicated until the 15th, and even that was in doubt, due to a narrowly averted, attempted coup on the 14th (the Kyujo Incident, well documented), which would have stopped the surrender broadcast if the coup had succeeded in kidnapping the Emperor and capturing the records. One does not stop a war before the surrender is official, especially given the contradictory and misleading Japanese signals (both formal messages and intercepted cables) regarding non-plans to surrender. He also misrepresented the “1,000 plane raid” as a massive concentrated raid on Tokyo, which it was not…it was several smaller raids on various cities and targets. A minor point perhaps, but it indicates an intent to deceive.
Anyway, I don’t have time to do a complete refutation of his screed. Just be aware that almost everything in it is either factually wrong, or distorted beyond recognition, or intellectually absurd.
Randy – on the Oslo murderer, it is worth noting that the philosophy he must admired was William James – the “Pragmatist” pusher of the denial of objective reality “the truth (and the right) is just the expedient in our way of thinking”.
So the Oslo murderer was could hold to the “myth” (Sorel got this way of thinking from William James) that he was doing one thing (fighting armed enemies) when he was actually doing another (shooting unarmed kids).
If there is no objective reality then one can claim (and believe) anything – anything at all.
That U.S. bombing killed tens of millions of people in Japan (like that dipstick you mention), that the United States was responsible for the crimes of the enemies of the West (such as the murder of millions of people in Indochina by the Marxists – with the claim that if Americans had not fought the Marxists they would not have existed, or would have been nice).;
The sort of delusional (and “delusional” is a nice way of putting it) state of mind which “Uncle Walter” (of CBS) was in 1968 where he (and the rest of the media) pushed the murder of civilians by an handful of American soldiers – whilst ignoring the vast numbers of civilians deliberately murdered by the Communists in the very Tet Offensive he was reporting on (there were piles of murdered civilians – but the media were not interested) and saying “this reporter” (they really talk about themselves in the stick-up-the-backside way) believes their should be an “honourable peace” (he meant a surrender – selling out the people of Indochina to death and slaver). If there is no objective reality one can say anything.
Anything that is good for the “Progressive” cause (which the “libertarian” left seem to be also committed to).
Robert McNamara is an interesting example – as he did not go “strange” later, he already was “strange”.
What is the first duty of a Defence Sec in time of war?
Not a difficult question – the first duty of such a role is to help achieve VICTORY.
However, McNamara was not interested in VICTORY (it was not an objective of his plans) – his words and actions (as with his time at the Ford Motor Company and later at the World Bank) give the impression of reason (there are lots of “management meetings” and “scientific” talk), but when one it examines the words and actions of McNamara there is really no rational objective. To put such a person in a position of responsibility (as both President Kennedy and President Johnson did) is a terrible mistake.
My belief is that the government never had any intention of winning the war (the war was NOT “unwinnable” – cut off enemy supply lines with regular mountain divisions operating in LAOS [not a handful of CIA people and local tribes] and the military situation in Indochina is transformed) – VICTORY simply did not interest the political leadership (every decision they make may shows this – such as asking the airforce for a list of the top military targets, and then forbidding attacks on these targets, and the endless meaningless “talks” as if anything a Communist agrees to can be trusted).
That is the real evil of the situation – war without the serious intention of VICTORY is just blood and mud (one long crime).
However, I must fundamentally disagree with you on the “Victims of Yalta” (as the best known book on the handing over of vast numbers of people to Stalin is called).
First of all full disclosure – I despise Franklin Roosevelt, so I am inclined to be against anything he pushed (especially when he pushed Winston Churchill into agreeing – teaming up with Stalin against a man, Churchill, who has been an ally of the United States for many years). I wish Harry Truman has ripped up the Yalta Agreement (sadly he held the American government to be bound by it).
However, I think that I can say that the case is made on its own merits.
Stalin held a handful of Western POWs – and there is no real evidence that he was not bluffing about refusing to hand them over if vast numbers of people were not given to him (to face torture and death in his camps), and there is quite a lot of evidence that he was bluffing.
For example. when 500 Russians fled into Lichtenstein at the end of World War II – the Soviet Marxists made all sorts of threats (really scary stuff).
However, the Prince of Lichtenstein defied the Soviets – and they did……
I agree with most of what you wrote, but I think you are over-analyzing and attaching too much importance to the 500 Soviet refugees fleeing to Liechtenstein after the war. Yes, USSR was one of the 4 occupying nations in Austria, but its zone in 3 and 1/2 provinces of eastern Austria was nowhere near Liechtenstein, so it’s ability to threaten Liechtenstein militarily was minimal. The Soviets would have had to fight through the American zone, the British zone, AND the French zone to reach Liechtenstein, which borders only the westernmost tip of Austria. The only other country bordering Liechtenstein is Switzerland, so the Soviets had no access from that direction.
I suspect those 500 refugees were not especially high on the Soviet’s “List of Evil Things To Do To Consolidate Our Hold On Eastern Europe.” However, it is fairly obvious that Stalin was still outraged over the fact that so many of his soldiers and citizens had “defected” during the war, either voluntarily or through military capture. They were probably willing to go to great lengths to push their claim on those “defectors”, who were much more numerous than the 500.
If you have more detailed info on the 500 refugees in Liechtenstein or the specific threats that the Soviets issued, I’d be interested in seeing it.
Randy – for the Liechtenstein situation (and for the Eastern Europeans generally) see “The Victims of Yalta”.
Also the United States has an atomic monopoly at the time (and did right till 1949).
Harry Truman could have done anything he wanted – there was nothing Stalin (with his pathetic air defence) could have done about it.
This is why the good press Truman gets (on standing up to the Communists in Asia and Europe) is not FULLY deserved – it does not take a lot of guts to (PARTLY) stand up to someone when you have nukes – and they do not.
In the Soviet camps the prisoners actually lost their fear of the guards in the late 1940s – A.S. (in “The Gulag Archipelago”) reports that prisoners started to call out to the guards “shoot us – go on, do it, Truman is going to drop the bomb on us all anyway” and the guards were so scared they did not open fire.
Had the positions been reversed (had the Soviets had nukes and the United States had not) Stalin would have attacked at once.
Ordinary Soviets (both camp guards and camp inmates) assumed that the Americans would do what the Soviet Union would have done.
But the United States did not attack.
Did not attack the Soviets – and did not attack Mao in China.
indeed It was worse than that.
For example, in 1946 the “old China hands” in the State Department (see the book “Blacklisted by History”) demanded that Chang call off the SUCCESSFUL offensive against the Communists in Manchuria.
That was the last chance Chang had to win the war – and because of those American demands some 60 million Chinese were murdered by the Communists (see “Mao: The Untold Story” and “The Black Book of Communism”).
You see it is possible to attack American policy from a very different direction from that of the “libertarian” left.
“Paul you are a McCarthyite”.
Yes Sir, in some was (not in others) I am.
We don’t have enough time or space to refight WWII and the Cold War in this forum. My points were discrete parts of the jigsaw puzzle, not intended to display or explain the whole picture.
You are correct that FDR and Truman were incompetent at “waging peace”, since they allowed the other side to walk all over us rather than going back to war. However, the U.S. polity was tired of war and was unlikely to support ANOTHER major war, against an erstwhile ally (as immoral and evil as that ally was). One might argue that dropping as many a-bombs as possible on USSR and then leaving would have destroyed their infrastructure and their political system without committing us to land war, but it would have cast the U.S. in the role of “evil aggressor” even if time eventually proved us right. On the other hand, we could have kept E.Europe and China free without going to war, by simply standing up to USSR and applying other forms of pressure, rather than cowering every time they tested us. That process of giving in when tested is what caused WWII. Some members of Hitler’s military High Command have stated that if the Brits and French had stood up strongly when Hitler moved Nazi forces back into the Rhineland (1936), the High Command would have assassinated Hitler; but they followed him because his calculated bluster seemed to be working. The High Command knew in 1936 that Germany was absolutely not ready for any sort of major war, which is why they were skeptical of Hitler’s plans….until they worked.
The real problem in my opinion, is that the U.S. is so risk averse that we (especially due to the bad influences of the Post-WWII anti-American State Dept.) always look for ways to “compromise” or give in so we can “look good”, rather than “doing good” by standing up to the truly bad guys. Every country on earth knows that all they have to do is stand against us for a sufficiently long interval, and they will get all or most of what they want, because we will very rarely use our economic, military, or political power to serve our own interests. We aren’t even smart enough or self-confident enough to unleash our world-leading energy resources to reduce the economic and terrorist depredations of OPEC.
If you wish to understand more about the Vietnam War, read “A Better War” by Lewis Sorley and “Triumph Forsaken” by Mark Moyar. Vietnam War unwinnable? Not even close. It just required some reasonable decision-making and willingness to avoid PC. Especially note the section in “Triumph Forsaken” that cites the actual Chinese attitude towards entering the Vietnam War, supposedly backed by their nuclear weapons. The Chinese were too terrified to even consider nukes, because they knew our nuclear arsenal outweighed theirs by 100 to 1. They knew there was no way they could survive any nuclear exchange that they started, and they weren’t about to take that risk for “Socialist Solidarity” to help a country that hated them anyway (evidence: 1979 Sino-Viet War with massive casualties for China in a short war that they lost).
Anyway, the failures you cite are correct, but I am fairly sure we could have done very well without going to full-scale war. Remember that in the 1950’s and 60’s, the U.S. had something like 1/3 of world GDP and oil production. We could have had massive influence without conducting a major war in USSR or China.
On Vietnam it is interesting that at the very time that Soviet and Chinese forces were killing each other in border skirmishes on their border – these same two powers were happily cooperating in Indochina (although their proxies later fell out).
As for the low tech human wave tactics the Chinese used in 1978 (basically World War One tactics) – the PLA is a very different animal today (the “Fourth Modernisation” is actually the most important to the Chinese leadership – and the economic reforms were put through in order to generate the wealth needed for the military transformation).
Yes a winnable war – such words as “On Strategy” and “Strategy for Defeat” make that case as well as the work you mentioned.
Truman was certainly incompetent (and corrupt – the history books that rant about the corruption in the Harding Administration, ignore the vastly greater corruption in the Truman Administration) – but Franklin Roosevelt was a lot worse than incompetent.
Although the defenders of “FDR” do have a last line of defence – the brain tumour theory.
I agree with you, Paul, about FDR, although on a personal level one should have some sympathy for the sturdy young man who went for a swim in a lake and emerged crippled for life.
Back to the Enola Gay, I believe Randy makes the point, without stating it explicitly, that the debate is, or should be, about numbers. We let emotions get in the way, as with the death penalty. But the question that should be asked is whether more people would have ended up dead with, or without, the A bomb and the H bomb. People always make the mistake (as with the death penalty) of saying ‘we don’t want anyone to die’, which would have been nice but not really an option. It really is all about arithmetic.
Yes Hugo. The Polo crippled his body – and the brain tumour (if it existed) may have crippled his mind.
It would certainly put his weird personal statements (declaring that Stalin was a “Christian Gentleman”, saying what a nice tolerant person the head of the House of Saud was – forming the demented alliance the United States has had with the, WAHABBI, House of Saud ever since – and even quoting totally false Nazi propaganda numbers against the Jews, as if they were true….) in a different light.
As for the brutal numbers……
More Japanese had already died from conventional bombing than died from both atomic bombs (and millions more Japanese would have died in the conventional invasion – the planning for which was well underway) – it was the SCHOCK value that really pushed the Emperor to personally get involved in politics – actually speaking at a Cabinet meeting (thus breaking all sorts of taboos in Japanese culture).