Monday, August 6, 2012

Blow it out your ears, Atomic protesters

Today is the 67th anniversary of the first use of atomic weapons.  The day will no doubt be commemorated by the Usual Suspects - those motivated by modern politics rather than sympathy for the souls of the dead*.

We will no doubt hear how this a a barbaric, despicable act, one that was entirely unjustified.  Those who say this will probably not have heard of anything that I relate in this post.  In short, it is the empty noise of ignorance that sees in itself wisdom.  They don't know that there was a moral justification, and a practical one.

The Moral Justification for dropping the bomb

There are people who think that justice requires a response, that karma will be balanced in this world or the next, and that crime and punishment cannot be separated.  We frequently hear this from those who seek to establish the guilt of this Republic with charges of crimes committed long ago.  And so the bill of indictment for the Imperial Japanese regime in August 1945 runs like this:

The Bataan Death March

The Rape of Nanking

The Manilla Massacre

Forced Prostitution

Experiments on Humans

This is an abbreviated list, but to those who claim that this current Republic is guilty of past crimes, and that those past crimes demand justice, this list is entirely sufficient to strike the Atomic Bombs from the moral case against us.  Using internally consistent logic, of course, which is not often seen when debating such people.  But the moral case is indeed present and accounted for.

The Practical Justification for dropping the bomb

On November 20, 1943, United States Marines hit the beach on Tarawa atoll, facing 3,600 Japanese and 1,200 (possibly forced) Korean laborers.  Three days later, only 17 Japanese soldiers and 129 laborers were alive; the others had fought to the death.  1,000 Marines died, and another 2,000 were wounded.

On June 15, 1944, the US Marines moved closer to the Japanese home islands, invading the island of Saipan.  This island would finally put the Japanese home islands within the range of the B-29 bombers, and was defended by nearly 30,000 Japanese.  All but 900 of them died, 5,000 of who were civilians who killed themselves rather than be captured by the American Devils.  3,400 Marines died, and over 10,000 were wounded.

On September 15, 1944, US Marines stormed the beaches of Peleliu.  Of the nearly 11,000 Japanese defenders, all but 200 fought to the death.  1,200 Marines died, and over 5,000 were wounded.

On February 19, 1945, the Marines landed on Iwo Jima's back sand beaches.  Iwo was the only battle in the entire war where America suffered more casualties than did Japan.  27 Americans were awarded the Medal of Honor here, more than any other battle in history.  Of the 22,000 Japanese defenders, only 200 survived the battle; a large number of these committed suicide, although a few hid out in the tunnels until finally captured.  The last of these was captured in 1951.  America lost almost 7,000 dead and nearly 20,000 wounded.

On April 1, 1945, American forces finally touched Japanese soil, in Okinawa, an outlying island.  Not quite 100,000 Japanese combatants and civilians died or committed suicide; only 10,000 survived.  America suffered over 12,000 dead and nearly 40,000 wounded.

This was the situation in the summer of 1945.  Each battle that got closer to Japanese soil became more costly for both America and Japan.  Japanese defenders were fanatically dangerous, mostly choosing to die to the man if it gave them a chance to bleed the American forces.  Looking at an invasion not of isolated atolls but of Japan itself, President Truman asked for an estimate of casualties in the planned Operation Olympic to seize Kyushu and the subsequent Operation Coronet for the remainder of Japan.

The Joint Chiefs told him that based on what had been seen in Tarawa, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, that he could expect American casualties to be in the millions.  The lowest estimate was 1.2 Million casualties, the highest was 4 million - including 800,000 dead.

Japanese casualties were not well estimated, but were assumed to be ten times the American figure.  Half a million Purple Heart medals were ordered, so many that we have not manufactured any since; the United States still has around 100,000 of these in stock.

It is entirely plausible that none of the protesters you might encounter today will have the slightest idea about this: that two thirds of a century of American wars have not depleted the medals ordered for a portion of the invasion of Japan.

The wonder is not the Truman ordered the bombs dropped, the wonder is that he waited as long as he did.  And that was the right decision.  Millions survived the war because of it.  People who do not know this, or who choose to ignore this are frivolous.

* Think I exaggerate?  Where were these people on March 9?

UPDATE 7 August 2012 10:01: Not just lefties, it seems.  Libertarians, too.


vandiver49 said...

While I disagree with MacAuthur's 'island hopping campaign (most of the landings were unnecessary; just eliminate the power projecting capability and blockade the island afterward) it did provide valuable insight into how untenable an assault on Japan would have been.

The island had been firebombed and was under blockade, yet the Japanese would not relent. Hell, we had to drop two bombs just to get a response. And when you consider that the Emperor was almost captured by his own military once he finally decided to surrender further illustrates just how lucky we truly were.

(As an aside, I've read an alternate theory that suggests that what really prompted the Japanese surrender was the fear of Russia landing on the island first. The assumption is that Soviet treatment would have been more harsh than the U.S. equivalent)

RabidAlien said...

Read somewhere that there was one more bombing mission that took place after the second atomic bomb, one that hit a power plant or processing plant somewhere, a target of negligible military value at the time...except that there were high-ranking military leaders plotting to overthrow the emperor and continue the war. Taking them out allowed the emperor to surrender, saving face and not facing an uprising in what was left of their military forces.

Occupying US forces, after the surrender, found warehouses stacked full of sharpened bamboo "spears" that were going to be handed to the civilian population. So in essence, the first troop to hop out of his Higgins boat was going to be facing an entire nation of combatants, not just a last-ditch desperation stand by the remnants of a military force. Taking Japan would have meant destroying Japan. And then where would the treehuggers get their nicely inefficient "green" electric cars?

Oh...and your list of crimes that were karma-balanced by the two bombs....need to add "POW camps and exploitation" to the list. Those Japanese companies that benefited from POW slave labor have STILL not been held accountable for their actions.

ASM826 said...

I was stationed just south of Hiroshima when I was in Japan. A visit to the museum is horrific. The people that survived the initial attack suffered every kind of injury, many died later of effects related to the bomb.

It was still the right decision. For all the reasons you outline and more.

Anonymous said...

Lets add the Burma railroad, Changi prison on Singapore the cannibalism of allied soldiers on Papaua New Guinea and don't forget the germ warfare experiments on Chinese cities. For decades thanks to these China was plagued by the plague killing hundreds of thousands if not millions. What the Chinese did to POW's was horrific and unforgivable.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your thoughts in the matter, Linked.


James Nelson said...

Dear Borepatch,
You just don't understand. Killing brown and yellow peoples is wrong, that is if you are white. Killing killing brown and yellow peoples is fine if you are brown or yellow and your culture oks it.
White people have colonies and yellow people have CO-Prosperity spheres. See how much better that sounds? How could anyone be against prosperity.

Ritchie said...

Atomic warfare is bad, very bad. But it's not the worst thing that could happen. I sometimes refer to atomic weapons as the nuclear detergent. Those awful horrible weapons kept my Dad from flying escort and strike missions, 5-6 hours out and back, over the Pacific Ocean in a P-51, thus greatly enhancing my chances of being here to type this.

TOTWTYTR said...

Kind of scary. The first half of your post is much like my post.

Our lists combined have a lot of reasons not to feel guilty for dropping both bombs.

Still revisionists insist on equating the internment of Japanese (bad) with the Rape of Nanking.

I guess I just don't have the deep intellect required to engage in moral equivalence.

For which I'll always be grateful.

kahr40 said...

I'm pretty sure that my Dad going ashore as part of the Army of Occupation rather than in the invasion force had something to do with me arriving to this world in 1960. That may make me selfish but I'm damn glad they dropped the bombs. So was he.

Firehand said...

Ever seen this book?

Among the things that came out after the surrender was just how many front-line troops and how much equipment had been kept behind for the defense of the home islands; been a few years since I read it, but I seem to remember the intelligence people, after considering the new information, decided it would have at least doubled the worst-case scenario they'd previously worked up.

TOTWTYTR said...

I KNOW that my dad was going ashore in Japan. I know that because I have his discharge papers say that he was at the Battle of Luzon. He was in the Pacific Theater when the bombs were dropped, waiting for the invasion to start.

If the invasion had happened, there's a good chance a lot of us wouldn't be here today.