How could US drop the a-bomb on Civilians?

Discussion in 'History' started by aaqucnaona, Jan 18, 2012.


Was Us justified in dropping the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. river


    war is Hell indeed

    as war should be
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  3. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

    As a humanist, I strongly feel that we were not justified. One could argue that killing those lives that we did actually prevented an even greater number of lives being lost. But there is no excuse to murder non-combatants. Most people do not have control over the wars that their government choose to participate in.
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  5. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Whatever international law has to say about bombing of civilians these days (and the prohibitions would be on targetting civilians - it is perfectly legal to undertake bombings that are expected to kill large numbers of civilians as collateral damage, provided the destruction of whatever you are actually targetting provides benefits in proportion to that), it did not say anything of the sort during WWII. The war crimes treaties extant at the time did not deal with such things.

    Uh, the "US response" was to declare war on Japan. It isn't as if the war in the Pacific theater consisted of just Pearl Harbor and then the firebombing of Tokyo.

    Nor does the designation of Tokyo as a "civilian city" make any sense - there were civilian areas, sure, but that is the political capitol of Japan, where the decision-makers hang out, where various military arms are headquartered, etc. It was the very center of the Japanese war effort.

    And then there's, again, the point that WWII was a total war. The entire Japanese economy was militarized. Distinction between "civilian" and "military" was greatly reduced.

    And let's also recall Japan's campaign of indiscriminate attacks on the US mainland. Although they were almost entirely unsuccessful, they employment of mass incendiary weapons against wide swaths of the USA should definitively underut any misconceptions of greater honor and respect for civilian life on the part of Japan (supposing the Rape of Nanking left any doubts).
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  7. mathman Valued Senior Member

    As the experience of Okinawa showed the Japanese had no qualms about having their own civilians die (many by suicide). If the US had to invade Japan many more Japanese civilians would have died.
  8. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    And that would seem pretty satisfying to the humanist perspective, if successful, no?

    Even if it results in fewer people being killed? Isn't minimizing the number of human deaths squarely in line with humanism?

    And what of the question of total war, with its reduced distinction between civilians and combattants?

    That's as true of soldiers as it is of civilians. Is there also no excuse to kill enemy soldiers?

    Bear in mind that conscription was widely used by all of the militaries in question.
  9. leopold Valued Senior Member

    here's the thing about this:
    first is how the japanese defended her outlying islands.
    on iwo jima for example, less then one half percent surrendered or were captured. the rest had to be killed or they killed themselves (hari kari)
    second is the closer we got to the home islands the more fierce the japanese fought.
    third is the use of suicide bombers. at okinawa suicde bombers done a lot of damage. it's said that if japan could have maintained its suicide missions for another 30 days, okinawa would never have fell.
    this clearly demonstrates the fanatical fighting will of the japanese.
    invasion of the home islands would have been a bloodbath.
    america estimated a million losses just for the invasion, not to mention the sweep through japan.
    in short an invasion would have meant the practical annihilation of the japanese people.
    it is clear that the a-bombs spared a great many lives on both sides.
  10. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    there was another option, which was the one which would have saved the most lives on both sides. Germany and Italy had fallen, Japan was by itself. Navel blockade would have won the war, ironically for the same reasons it started it. Japan only attacked the US because the US was blockading oil supplies. Japan is a small Island, they have to import almost everything (even today)
  11. leopold Valued Senior Member

    do you really believe that america would fight pitched battles with an implacable enemy only to "wait it out"?
    yes, because of japans invasion of manchuria.
    this invasion slaughtered thousands of innocent people.
    some outright, others by torture.
    face it asgaurd, japan was a ruthless foe with one of the strongest fighting wills of WW2.
  12. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

    Where is the evidence to show that that would be the case?

    As someone that served in the military and in Iraq twice, there is a clear distinction between combatants and non-combatants. My opinion is that people who join the military join willing to sacrifice their lives in war. That is the precise distinction between us and civilians. There is no need to harm any civilians (people who are not participating in the threat against you). The bombing of Japan was uncalled for. Yes, the war would have continued on and eventually one side or the other would have succeeded. But let those who choose to fight fight and do not harm those who do not. We've moved on from the days of destroying entire populations of innocent lives in order to coerce their military.

    Again, this is all military action, not civilian. Let those in the military handle the dirty work and suffer its consequences. It's our job.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012
  13. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    There is no such distinction in an all out war such as was fought in WW2.
    The Japanese civilian population, like the civilian population of the US, was intimately involved in the war effort, working overtime to build the planes, ships, weapons and munitions necessary to sustain an all out war.
  14. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

    Good point. But not an entire city, nor even the majority of the the civilians in that city, worked in direct support of the Japanese war effort.
  15. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Not true, no one died on our side from dropping the bomb.

    While a blockade would have been very expensive and taken far more ships and planes than we had to enforce a blockade an island nation the length of Japan,

    and given their willingness to trade their lives in kamikaze attacks, these attacks would have resulted in constant sinking of our ships and death to our sailors, particularly since not pressing the attack on Japan would have allowed them to rebuild their weapon systems, design more deadly weapons and train ever more pilots who would cause even more deaths to the military trying to enforce this blockade you speak of.

    What is it with you and all your anti-American propaganda?

    FYI, on September 27, 1940, Germany, Italy, and Japan signed the Tripartite Pact, which became known as the Axis alliance, which led to the oil embargo.

    An embargo means we wouldn't sell them our oil.

    There was no blockade however.
  16. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    So your plan for saving lots of lives, is to starve/freeze Japan into submission?

    Yeah, real humane.
  17. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    Yeah they did.

    Just like in the US, we built almost nothing that wasn't for the war effort.

    It's hard for those of us who were not part of it to really understand how TOTAL the war effort was in all the participating nations.

    It was the same (or more) in Japan.
  18. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    And it should be pointed out that in this scenario the last to starve/freeze would be the military/gov, so the less important you were to the war effort the more expendable you would become.
  19. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    In regular, non-total wars - like Iraq - that's true. A total war is defined by the mobilization of the entire population into the war effort, and this reduces the distinction between soldier and civilian. World War II was history's definitive total war. The Japanese - and American, and British, and German, etc. - populations were not doing anything other than contributing to the war efforts, at the time.

    Both the Japanese and American militaries at the time were composed almost entirely of conscripts. Those people joined because their government ordered them to do so, under threat of imprisonment. There was no question of "willing." This was before the modern era of all-volunteer armies.

    The distinction between soldiers and civilians is that soldiers participate in the war effort and civilians do not.

    Or: the fact of conscription - that very few people on either side "chose" to be soldiers, or not - directly undercuts your position, there. You are arguing exactly that there was no distinction between soldiers and civilians in the context of WWII, because the exact distinction between them - choice to risk one's life by serving in the military - was systematically denied to the population.

    There is nobody on the enemy side who is "not participating in the threat against you" in a total war. That's what makes it a total war, and legitimates the large-scale targetting of civilian infrastructure and populations. When that is not the case - in a traditional war - then, sure, you're exactly correct.

    Since that choice was not left up to the individuals - it was made for them, by the governments, through the conscription process - I don't see the relevance of that suggestion.

    It's done in order to coerce the political leadership.

    And a big part of the reason that we have moved on from such, is exactly that people saw what happens when you go in for a total war against America (America hammers your country to bits from the relative safety of the far side of the world). So now total wars tend to get avoided. Nuclear weapons further increased the stakes in that regard.
  20. mathman Valued Senior Member

    The evidence was (as I had already noted) was the experience of Okinawa. What makes you think that homeland Japanese would survive a fight to the death by the Japanese military. Even after the emperor had finally accepted surrender there was an attempt by die-hards to continue
  21. Thoreau Valued Senior Member

    That's false. The entirety of the Japanese people (and the Americans) did not support the war effort. One of my grandfathers was in the military. The other was a barber. Also, if almost nothing was built that wasn't for the war effort, how do you explain curling irons, luxury autmobiles, homes, corporate buildings, textbooks, cruise ships, passenger (commercial) airliners, hairspray, Twinkies, lipstick and other make up, cat food, and a bajillion other things?
  22. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Many of the things you list there post-date WWII (hairspray, passenger airliners - both, in fact, are products of wartime production that was later retooled for commercial uses). Most of the others were very strongly curtailed during the war, exactly because production had to be shifted to war ends. All civilian automobile sales were ordered to halt in 1942, as part of a larger system of rationing spurred by the war effort:
  23. leopold Valued Senior Member

    i would say that civilians are a valuable part of the military machine.
    they not only help produce armaments, they act as observers, and perform terrorist acts.

    i understand though the "innocent".
    war sucks man, big time.

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